When her murderous father escapes from an institution, a young girl is forced to flee to safety with secretive pickpocket Anna.
Disguised as a boy called Viktor, and drawn into Anna’s mysterious activities, she is catapulted into a strange investigation, and learns that Anna may be able to help her uncover the mystery of her mother’s disappearance.
As she and Anna find friendship, Viktor’s disguise brings empowerment and safety, until a tragedy forces her to take on a new identity in order to survive a world full of supernatural threats.
My thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation. Who Is Anna Stenberg was published by Liminal Books on 31 October 2023 in Ebook (also available on Kindle Unlimited) and Paperback formats. For my turn on the tour today, I’m delighted to share an extract.
Lying in the dark, my sleep-muddled brain struggled to work out where the noise was coming from. Footsteps pounded along the hall below and I leaped out of bed, grabbing my robe. My heart beat faster as I heard raised voices and a flurry of activity.
Throwing my robe on and clutching it around me, I went out onto the landing in time to hear my uncle shouting instructions.
I ran down the stairs as the hall clock chimed out midnight. My blood froze in my veins as I saw my uncle in the hallway, his face ashen. When he spotted me, he dropped his doctor’s bag and hurried to me. Catching my hands in both of his, he pulled me into a tight hug. To my amazement, when he drew back, I saw his eyes were glistening with tears.
John, my father’s valet, was lighting the lamps. That done, he hurried to the end of the hall and disappeared through the green baize door which led to the servants’ quarters. From beyond, I could hear him shouting for Mrs. Armitage, the housekeeper. None of our servants ever shouted. My heart began to thump. The sound of running footsteps echoed along the servants’ corridor.
I stared at my uncle. He was breathing heavily, his expression strained. ‘Uncle Geoffrey? What is it?’ My voice cracked. Deep down, I knew.
‘It’s your father, my dear.’ The words tumbled over themselves as they rushed towards me. ‘I’m afraid he’s escaped. We have to get you somewhere safe. I fear he will come back here and…’ He tailed off, his face greyer than before. ‘His mania has not improved while he has been in our care. If anything, he has become more fixated on his strange beliefs than when he first came to us.’
A wave of light-headedness swept over me, making me stagger. My uncle slipped his arm around my waist, half-supporting, half-carrying me into the parlour. He settled me into a chair and then hurried to the window, checking the fastenings of the shutters and giving them an experimental rattle while I watched him wide-eyed. He glanced over at me and paused, and I could tell he was viewing me through professional eyes. He strode across to the decanter on the sideboard by the door, poured a strong measure, then came over and knelt in front of me, holding out the glass. Like an obedient sleepwalker, I took it and sipped, coughing as the sharp flavour hit my throat. He made me drink half the contents before he took the glass and put it by the chair leg.
‘How?’ I whispered. ‘How did he get out? I thought the asylum was secure.’
Tracey has written fiction for as long as she can remember, covering a variety of genres and subjects. She is currently enjoying success with her first stage play WITCH, a historical drama based on original English witch trial transcripts, which premiered in 2016 and has been performed continuously ever since. It has been used as Theatre In Education for Years 8 and 9 and for Exeter University undergrads and has been included as a formal seminar in two Bristol University undergrad degree courses – ‘Witchcraft’ and ‘History Outside the Box’. Its 75th performance was also its London premiere.
Tracey’s most recent publication was ‘Dark Folklore’ (2021), co-written with her husband Mark, and she has several other titles currently in progress, one of which is a non-fiction expanding on the research she undertook to write WITCH. She has written regular folklore columns for the Dartmoor newspaper The Moorlander, and is an active member of the Exeter Authors Association, a network providing support to writers and promoting a love of books and reading.