OUR CHILDREN IN THE SHADOWS
12-year-old Haven is recruited by The Guild of Whispering Shadows – to extinguish peculiar threats to national security.
When people start turning to stone Haven begins a mission to find out why…but she never expected the perils that lay ahead. Dark magic, mythical beasts, and a foe with a taste for lost souls – each awaits our young spy on her path towards the truth.
Can she conquer evil and save Great Britain from doom? There’s talk of a grouchy unicorn…but surely that can’t be true? Why is the door to the clocktower permanently closed? And when will she find the time to finish her piles of homework!!
The Tails Of Widows Valley
‘Do we have to go in there? Me father said it’s haunted,’ moaned Clement Deer, fumbling in his pockets for a few more lemon bonbons. He wagged his short white tail, scratched his snout and wiggled his branch of antlers, as the sour balls of lemony sugar fizzled and danced on his tongue.
‘Don’t be such a scaredy stag,’ blurted Prunella, eager to twist his arm. She was a squidgy barrel of short black fur with patches of white on the face and has a belly any pig would be proud of. Trekking through the meadow had taken its toll on her blue buckled sandals, and spots of mud have tarnished her bright white socks – but she was never afraid to get messy. Her salmon dress swooshed as she span around in circles, waiting for her friend to cave; being a potbelly, she cast a wide shadow over the deer, who was sat with crossed legs on the path, gobbling all his sweeties.
‘Blackthorn Abbey’ was carved on a burgundy shield which had been firmly attached to the gates. They found themselves at the entrance to a mysterious mansion, tucked at the end of a singular winding path and encircled with trees, each pulling a somber face. There are few who would venture this way from the village. Only fearless young adventurers, passing away the summer hours till it’ was time again for school, would dream of exploring such grounds – though gloomy grey walls surround the site, so it was no easy feat to trespass.
Clement removed his spectacles, coated them with warm exhaled breath, then gave them a wipe with a rag. His mother insisted on dressing him despite the fact he was fast approaching adulthood – which might explain the combination of tweed shorts, plain white vest and olive-green socks pulled up close to his knees (Even for 1932 this wasn’t the greatest look – but villages at this period in time rarely included stylists).
‘How do we even get in, Pru? Gates are closed. And probably closed so ghosts can never escape.’ Two bonbons landed in his mouth. He crunched rather than sucked.
‘Clement. Wherever we go, you convince yourself there’s ghosts and ghouls on the loose. Like that treehouse we found last week, or the barn we found at the edge of Frognal Field. You always find such silly excuses-.’
‘Can’t help it if Widows Valley’s crowded with evil spirits, can I?’ replied Clement, brushing dust off his knobbly knees.
‘Look, let’s have a quick snoop, then straight back to mine for tea and hot buns. I’ve sneaked in before and never been caught, and never laid eyes on a phantom. There’s a gap in the wall around the corner somewhere, we just need to try and crawl through. If you’re brave enough that is.’ Prunella Belly dashed away to find the secret entrance, waving as she did so as a gesture for Clement to follow. Not wishing to be left alone, the deer untangled his legs, jumped to his feet, and pranced after the pig.
‘I saw a ghost once. Tall as lamppost, chalk white, and eyes like puddles o’ tar,’ says the stag confidently, as he catches up with Prunella. She ignores his latest fantasy and focuses on finding the hole, but long grass and swathes of ivy do a fine job of making it tricky.
‘Lies, lies, lies,’ comes a voice, as an apple core lands on Clement’s head. Ouch.
‘Hey, who was that? Come out ya daft puddin’ shouts Clement, rubbing his shiny bump. ‘Caught me right on the noggin, so they did.’
Prunella delays her exploration to see who’s scoffing apples. A stocky young bull hops from the meadow’s darkness, and with him a look of smugness. He’s every inch the troublemaker – cap tilted to one side, long black shorts and a pond green threadbare cardigan.
‘You’ve never seen a ghost, Clement Deer. Unless it was that of your uncle,’ snaps the bull and bully. His hooves drag along the ground when he walks, like they’re struggling to cope with the weight, and there’s little to no sign of a neck – only a head between bulky shoulders.
Prunella scoffs and punts a mound of mud in the bull’s direction. ‘Hudson Bull, don’t be so mean or I’ll rip off those horns and wear them as dangly earrings.’
Hudson Bull puffs and sniffs through snotty nostrils. ‘Breaking into the abbey. Why wasn’t I invited? You never invite me along.’
‘Because you’re always so rotten, that’s why,’ replies Prunella, waving an angry trotter. ‘And we don’t take trips with rotters.’
Clement steps forward, paws behind his back and chin held high, like a colonel addressing the troops. ‘And we’re not breaking into the abbey. This, is a search party.’
‘Search party? Searching for what?’ scoffs the bull.
‘Not what, but who, you big oaf’ booms Prunella, clipping the bull’s horns. ‘We’re looking for Doctor Otter. Three days missing, not a peep from Inspector Boar, so me and Clement have decided to explore for ourselves. We’re private investigators, for the newly formed Widows Valley Detection Agency.’
‘First port of call, local creepy mansion. Bet you three bonbons we’ll find the doctor in here, and probably a dozen more bodies with him,’ adds Clement, now marching around the bull in perfect circles.