LAKE CHILD by Isabel Ashdown | Blog Tour Extract

Published by Trapeze
Ebook & Paperback (19 September 2019)
336 pages

Congratulations and Happy Publication Day to Isabel Ashdown for Lake Child and welcome to my turn on the blog tour with an extract to tempt you! My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part in the tour.

My blog tour co host today is Nicola of Short Book and Scribes – do pop over to her blog for more about the book.

ABOUT THE BOOK

You trust your family. They love you. Don’t they?

When 17-year-old Eva Olsen awakes after a horrific accident that has left her bedbound, her parents are right by her side. Devoted, they watch over her night and day in the attic room of their family home in the forests of Norway.

But the accident has left Eva without her most recent memories, and not everything is as it seems. As secrets from the night of the accident begin to surface, Eva realises – she has to escape her parents’ house and discover the truth. But what if someone doesn’t want her to find it?

An edge-of-your-seat, atmospheric psychological thriller for fans of Lucy Clarke and Erin Kelly.

EXTRACT

I’m in the passenger seat of a stranger’s truck, on the snowy road between the forest and town, when the fox appears on the path ahead, her breath rising in the dark night, the white of her fur merging with the snow. Feet planted, eyes fixed ; I know her. Beside me, the driver is a hazy figure, as indistinct as the fox is clear, a static fuzz, blurring into the snowstorm that sprays vicious slants of ice against the windscreen. There’s a slow-motion quality about the way in which the vehicle moves along the road, and I’m wondering if I’m dreaming, when, with a distant shriek of tyres, we come to an abrupt halt and all but the fox disappears from the landscape. I lean in, pressing close to the windscreen, my gaze locked with that of the animal, some ancient communication connecting us in thought.

Just as I believe I might decode the creature’s meaning, I turn to look at the driver. He opens his mouth to speak, but the piercing night-scream of the Arctic fox fills my head, and the scene disappears to a cool white blank. Blank, just like the space inside my mind, the space where my memories are meant to live.

I wake in the middle of the night, empty. In the space where waking dreams usually linger, there is nothing, and in the darkness I dwell on this thought for long minutes, wondering how it is that I’ve never experienced the sensation before. Fleetingly, it is liberating; I feel almost nothing, aware only that I am Eva, that I am sixteen, that I live with my parents in a forest by a lake. In my mind’s eye I can picture the landscape beyond the shuttered windows of our red wooden lake house: the dense woodland to the front of us, a canopy of pine leading out to the water’s edge, indigo-deep in winter, sparkling crystal in the spring. To the rear are snow-cloaked mountains, dazzling white peaks rising up to the heavens, a panorama of waterfall and heather and rock. Other than these clear images, anchoring me to my bed, my mind is a peaceful blank.

But this serenity is short-lived, because in a breathtaking rush my body catches up with my thoughts and pain rips through me, sharp as a knife, causing me to gasp into the darkness as my fingers clutch at the bedsheets in shock.

The room is silent and cold, black as the grave, and I am gripped by the sudden and irrational thought that perhaps I am dead. Yes, we are used to the quiet, we live remotely – and yet, this silence is disturbing. There is no creak of heating pipes, no murmuring snore of Pappa on the other side of the wall, no regular tap-tap of the willow branch as it brushes my bedroom window in the night breeze. Something is wrong; something is very, very wrong.

Summoning up every effort to lift my arm from my side, I reach out for my bedside table. Slices of pain scream through me, from my ankles to the top of my head, slowing me down, confusing my movements. Where is my bedside lamp? My fingers fumble, not finding the switch where it should be, and I ease my legs from the bed. The surface beneath my feet is wooden. This is not my bedroom floor. I feel along the edges of the bedframe, not recognising the metal slats of its structure, the creak of its springs. Slowly, sluggish like my body, panic begins to creep through my mind; it connects with my heart rate and my blood begins to pump faster than I can stand. Fighting the swell of nausea, I rise, staggering across an empty space, my arms held out before me until my fingers make contact with the slatted surface of a wood-panelled wall. Where is this? Where are my parents?

Blindly, I feel my way along the contours of the wall, until at last I stumble down a single step and my palms connect with a door. Thank God! I breathe with relief, shards of agony punctuating my every movement. A way out! But when I curl my hand around the handle and turn it, the door remains shut. It’s locked from the outside.

I have no control over what happens next, because fear overcomes me, and there is only one thing I can do. I scream. And the scream goes on and on, taking on a life of its own, until at last a crack of light appears beneath the door, and rapid footsteps make their way up the stairs on the other side.

‘Eva?’ a voice says, a low whisper as she draws back the bolt. It’s Mamma. Oh, thank you, God, it’s Mamma. ‘Eva, darling, keep it down!’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the Sussex coast. Her writing career first took off ten years ago when an extract of her debut novel GLASSHOPPER won a national writing competition and was twice named among the Best Books of the Year. Today she is the author of seven books, a Royal Literary Fund Lector, and a regular creative writing host at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. She lives and writes in West Sussex with her family and their two dogs.

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