Today I am very happy to give you an extract of Zoe Markham’s “White Lies” a book that I loved and that was beautifully surprising. You can see a repeat of my review after the extract – enjoy!
I had to battle wind almost strong enough to blow me over as I crossed the field, but the graveyard was more sheltered. Or parts of it were at least. I didn’t fancy the bench much this time – I didn’t have a hat and my ears were already starting up a dull ache as a ton of West Oxfordshire wind rattled through them. I made straight for the thick pines instead, huddling into them and properly getting myself out of the gale.
And that was when I saw him. The tall, hunched shape in the shadows: the strange boy I knew nothing about but couldn’t stop thinking about. He’d think I was mental for sure if he knew how much of an impression he’d made on me. And he’d probably do the same, I realised a split second too late, if I yelled out his name and lurched onto the path like a madwoman. Even more so if I tripped over a raised root in the process and went flying onto the path, face first.
Dear root, please take me back down – far, far underground – with you.
I heard hurried footsteps. I wondered if he’d believe me if I said no.
Cold hands carefully pulled me up. “Abby!” He gently brushed me down. “Are you hurt?”
“Nope,” I managed, doing that thing where you bite your lip to stop the knee-jerk reaction of surprised tears. “I’m good. I just…you know…” often launch myself across graveyards madly calling your name… “…tripped.”
“What are you doing here?” he shouted, as a fresh gust of wind bent the trees behind me almost double. “It’s been so long; I thought your insomnia must have packed up and left you alone.”
“Yeah. No. Well, sort of,” I answered. “My nemesis has packed up and left me alone. Which is cool. It’s just that she took pretty much all my stuff with her.”
I didn’t know if it was the wind, or just the general vagueness of my rambling. “Nothing,” I shouted. “Sorry.”
“It’s this wind!” he roared, and I laughed. “I can’t hear you very well.”
I’d finally found him, and now we wouldn’t even be able to talk.
“Do you want to come for a coffee?” He had to shout it twice before I was sure he’d actually said it. “The Red Lion!”
I nodded, not wanting to bellow back at him, and as he smiled and turned I followed him down the path, watching my feet this time, trying to avoid a repeat performance. He held the gate open for me against the wind, and as we turned out onto the pavement I felt a small pickle of panic at the thought of going somewhere with someone I didn’t know. I hadn’t realised that the graveyard had felt like my safe zone until the second I’d stepped outside it; but we weren’t even fifty yards down the street before the warm lights of the small pub spilled out into the night. Few things could really have looked less threatening. I switched my inner terror alert back down to ‘at ease’. As we ducked inside out of the wind, the sudden warmth was delicious.
“That’s better,” he said, his voice surprisingly loud in the sudden silence. “I wanted to ask you how you were doing, without having to scream it at you. Come through.” He held the door for me, the perfect gentleman. “What would you like?”
The pub was quiet and homely, just a few drinkers over in one corner, and two people taking a darts match extremely seriously in another. A fire blazed in the hearth, and two large, invitingly soft chairs sat empty right beside it.
“Coffee’d be great, thanks. I, erm, didn’t bring my purse.” You sort of don’t, when you’re only going to a graveyard. Then I was inspired. “Maybe I can get them next time?”
He smiled. “Of course.”
Maybe I really was getting better at the whole people thing. Beth wouldn’t have recognised me.
We sat by the fire and sipped rich, dark coffee as we slowly defrosted.
“So, how are you?” he asked. “Your eyes don’t look as sad as they did. I’m glad.”
“I…yeah…that’s probably just the wind,” I said. “Erm, outside, I mean.” Didn’t want there to be any confusion. Still wanted that root to take me away and bury me.
“I’m OK,” I finally answered when he let the silence hang, a little surprised to find that I wasn’t actually lying. “I’ve been sleeping better. I did come and look for you though,” I blurted, horrified, before trying to cover my tracks. “I mean, I’ve been back, a few times, you know…in case…not that…erm…”
“I’m honoured.” His tone was light, but he did look genuinely pleased. “I haven’t been quite myself the last few weeks. As if I’ve been fading in and out, a little, at times. I had to go away for a while. I’m sorry I missed you.”
“Oh, that’s OK, it’s not like…you know…I just…I like to walk out this way, anyway.” I shrugged, and he looked at me so intently that I flushed.
“You do look different,” he said, after an agonising pause. “Better. It’s more than just your eyes. You look better.”
“Yeah? That’s pretty cool. It’s not something you think’ll show…”
“Everything shows,” he said, “when you know where to look.”
I took a gulp of coffee while I tried to decide if that was cool or creepy.
“So what’s this about a nemesis?” he asked…
About the Book:
For Abigail, a new school could be the fresh start she so desperately needs. With her parents in the army and her sister Beth too far away to run to, she knows this year needs to be different. She’s never been part of the cool crowd and for the first time Abby wants to fit in. And all it takes is just one little white lie…because some truths are too painful to share.
But at Cotswold Community College, Abby isn’t the only one with a past she’d rather forget. And when she stumbles across a closely-guarded secret, Abigail realises that her one little white lie could reveal everything she’s worked so hard to hide…
Before I talk about this one it should be mentioned that Zoe Markham’s first novel, Under My Skin, was another stand out read for me when it was released and bears checking out, just in case I forget to mention it later…
Onto her new novel, White Lies, and here we have a very different sense of feeling but with the same compelling edge and absolutely addictive quality. Of school cliques and family drama and one girl, Abigail, determined to fit in at yet another new school, this time she’ll get it right. The ebb and flow of travelling army life has seen Abby go to many schools and she has never quite managed to settle..it seems that if she just tells one tiny white lie, she’ll be accepted and popular here. But things soon spiral out of control…
I LOVED this one. I was utterly engaged start to finish and I devoured it in beautiful spells of reading time – there is a dark edge to the narrative, a scary feel to some of the events and just that little *something* that touches you on an emotional level when reading that grips you utterly.
Abby was fascinating as a character, beautiful levels of personality and when pitted against Scarlett, another absolutely brilliant creation, the sparks began to fly. Add in some truly spooky and dark dealings, a touch of inspiration and a killer twist that I never once saw coming and you have an imaginative, clever and intelligent thriller that just happens to be in the Young Adult market. Pish to that, its better than any one of 150 girl books you might read this year or did last…
Tight plotting, dark humour that may well have you laughing out loud occasionally and the authors ability to ensure you run like hell next time you see a Magpie means that this one comes highly recommended from me.
You could find out more about the author right here
Follow Zoe on Twitter. https://twitter.com/ZoeMarkham
To purchase White Lies clickety click here