Today I am sharing an extract from The Five Things by Beth Merwood, as part of her blog tour. Many thanks to Beth for allowing me to share this extract, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.
For nine-year-old Wendy, the summer of 1969 will never be forgotten.
Local kids have always told stories about the eerie wood on the outskirts of the village, and Wendy knows for sure that some of them are true. Now the school holidays have started and she’s going to the wood again with Anna and Sam, but they soon become convinced that someone is trying to frighten them off.
When a terrible event rocks the coastal community, the young friends can’t help thinking there must be a connection between the incident, the tales they’ve heard, and the strange happenings they’ve begun to witness. As glimpses of a darker world threaten their carefree existence, they feel compelled to search out the underlying truth.
In this extract, it’s the school summer holiday of 1969. Wendy has heard stories about the fields and the wood where she and her friends like to play. She believes her older brother also knows a few tales – he would have played there too when he was younger. She’s trying to tease some stories out of him. The fields and the wood, and the mystery about them, are to be key to the events of the summer.
The next afternoon, Philip and I were at home. He asked if I wanted to go shrimping. We gathered up the nets, found a large bucket, and set off for the rock pools that appeared at the far end of the beach at low tide. We walked to the end of the sea wall, beyond the breakwaters, and past the camp on the cliff.
“Do you think there’s anyone up there?” I said.
“Can’t hear anyone.”
“It’s a good camp, isn’t it?”
I knew Philip admired it, but being older meant he had to be a little dismissive too. We took off our plimsolls and paddled through the shallow water to the first stranded rocks. We began sweeping our nets beneath their overhangs, under the weed, and into the pools that had formed between them.
“I suppose you kids are going to Bridges’ fields?” Philip said.
“There’s a lot of stories about those fields, you know.”
“I know. I’ve heard some stories.”
“And some people say the wood is haunted.”
“Yeah.” Philip’s net came up jumping with glistening shrimps. “Look, there’s tons here! Come and help me.” We knelt on the sand and carefully sorted them out. Most went into the bucket, but we’d been taught to return the small ones and also any females that were carrying eggs.
Philip was soon striding on ahead toward the next cluster of rocks. I followed, almost having to run to keep up.
“What stories do you know?” I asked, keen to hear some tales I could pass on.
“About the fields? I can’t really tell you.”
“Why not?” I said.
“I’ll tell you when you’re older.”
“Tell me now!”
“Look, there’s a hermit crab!”
“Let me see.” The tiny creature was scuttling across the drying sand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beth Merwood is from the south of England. The Five Things is her debut novel.
Make sure you visit the other blogs joining the tour to find out more about The Five Things.