Title: Mrs. Murray’s Ghost: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1
Author: Emily-Jane Hills Orford
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
It is 1967, London, Ontario. Mary’s family has moved into a huge Victorian mansion. Mary loves her gigantic new house, especially her room. But then she begins to meet the house’s other residents. Mrs. Murray was murdered in Mary’s new house. At first Mrs. Murray tries to scare the new residents away, but there seems to be a force connecting the ghost to Mary. Even the stranded Brownies, the little people who live between the walls, feel that connection. When Mary becomes deathly ill, the Brownies and the ghost team up to try to rescue her, only to encounter a witch and her evil minions. Time is running out. They must rescue Mary from a fever-induced dream world before she is trapped there forever.
As well as being a fun read for young readers, the story gives a historical perspective to childhood in the 1960s. It also deals with some very current issues, specifically bullying.
Another whoosh and a deafening roar. Mary screamed. Sharp talons gripped her shoulders, lifting her off her feet. She heard Briddie call out to the others as the girl soared higher and higher. The grip on her shoulders hurt terribly. She tried to wiggle, to loosen the grip, but that only made things worse and the ground beneath her was getting further away. She saw the others in her group watching her, jaws dropped in shock, Brunny reaching out as if he could grab hold of her ankles and pull her back to earth. As they seemed to fade away, she saw the others being scooped up, the beasts grabbing hold of whatever they could.
Mary screamed again. She saw Briddie fall on her face only to have a vicious pair of talons grasp her back and waist, tugging her into the air behind Mary. Stocky’s head disappeared into the giant claws of another beast and Brunny, poor Brunny. He had fallen over as well, but the beast grabbed him by the ankles. Brunny was flying upside down.
Everyone was screaming, even the creatures that held them, although Mrs. Murray was the loudest of the lot. “Put me down, you insufferable creature,” the old woman shrieked, flailing her hands and legs in a feeble attempt to hit the offensive captor. “Put me down this instant!”
“Shut up, you miserable old ghost,” the creature growled, his voice evicting a sudden blast of hot, sour air. “I’ll put you down when I’m good and ready and not before.”
That didn’t stop Mrs. Murray. She grimaced when the creature’s head swerved down to face her where she dangled from its talons. “I don’t know what or who you think you are, but you have no right…”
The creature just sneered and blew in her face. “Ugh!” She grimaced. “Has no one ever taught you about dental hygiene?”
“Oh, shut up.” Her creature took off even higher into the sky and swerved and spun in dizzying circles, doing loop-de-loops above the rest of them. Mrs. Murray’s scream echoed and rebounded off the steep mountains as they approached.
Briddie and Mary were now side by side, their creatures flying neck to neck. “What’s happening?” Mary asked, turning her head toward Brunny’s mate. “What are these creatures?”
Briddie just shook her head. “I have no idea what’s happening other than we’ve been captured by some beasts, which I assume must be dragons.”
“But they don’t spout fire,” Mary pointed out. “They blow hot air at us, but there’s no fire. How can they be dragons?”
“It’s all your fault,” Mary’s captor grumbled loudly. “You’re the one who took away our fire.”
“What?” Mary shrieked. “I have done no such thing.”
Mary’s and Briddie’s dragons swooped up a steep cliff and hovered over a shallow platform, an outcropping of smooth rock. The talons released their grip and the two fell onto the platform.
“Oh my!” Briddie exclaimed. “For a moment there, I thought we were being dropped into the gully below us.”
“Me too,” Mary agreed. She pulled herself into a sitting position and gingerly rubbed her shoulders where the talons had left their painful mark.
Briddie was rubbing her back as the other dragons swooped closer and dropped their captives. Brunny landed on top of Briddie, head first. Stocky dropped and rolled, coming to a stop dangerously close to the edge.
“Don’t move, Stocky,” Briddie called out as she cradled her husband’s head in her lap.
The Brownie groaned and rubbed his head, which bore the scars of the talons along his forehead and across his cheeks. Stocky started to push himself into a sitting position but stopped when the rest of the group shrieked in unison. “Don’t move!”
Mary reached across and grabbed the Brownie’s ankle, pulling him away from the edge.
“You could have rolled off the edge, Stocky,” she scolded him. The Brownie was now sitting up, looking around and taking in his surroundings. He noticed the sharp end to the platform on which the group huddled and reached one arm around Mary to give her a grateful hug.
“Everyone here?” Brunny broke the silence, pushing himself into a sitting position next to his wife.
“Where’s Mrs. Murray?” Mary asked.
The last dragon swooped down and dropped its bundle like a sack of potatoes. “Is this what you’re looking for?” it growled as it hovered menacingly above the group. “You’re welcome to it.” And it spun off again, leaving the group alone on the cliff edge with nowhere to go.
“Now what?” Mary asked.
Mrs. Murray stirred and started to moan as she pushed herself into a sitting position. The rock face started to rumble and tremble. The group grabbed the person nearest to them, Mary taking hold of Mrs. Murray’s hand before she slid off the edge of the cliff.
“What‘s…..happ….en….ing?” several voices grumbled loudly, their voices stuttering with the vibrations of the ground beneath them.
The rock face wall behind them disappeared, revealing an opening, more like a black hole than a passageway. A voice growled, “Enter!” No one moved.
What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
Reading. Sitting by the woodstove, soaking up the warmth and deep into a good book. From best-sellers like John Grisham, Anne Perry and Philippa Gregory (and many others) to new, aspiring authors seeking a foothold in this precarious world of writing and publishing, like Tricia Mingerink, Gary Miller and so many others, I like to dig deep into the artistry of plot, character and scene development and learn from others. As well as enjoy a good story. For me, a good story is a book I can’t wait to read, can’t wait to finish, and, once finished, wished I was still reading it. There’s nothing like feeling a part of a story to the degree that you feel a sense of loss when the story comes to its conclusion and you are set adrift again. That’s what makes a great writer, and that’s what I aspire to be. So, I spend my winter hours reading and learning. And, of course, writing.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
Lots of fun and adventure. I had a lot of fun writing this book (and the other ones in the series) and my readers keep telling me they can’t put it down. There are funny moments, scary moments, adventure and so much more. My reviewers agree:
Orford’s coming of age fantasy for children and preteens will delight anyone who’s ever wondered how cool it would be to have a ghost in their house or wished there were secret passageways to discover behind the library wall. Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite
This is just the start of Mary's exciting adventures into a fascinating and scary world many of us have no idea exists. Maria Beltran, Readers’ Favorite.
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Runs March 1 – 31
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An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1 (Telltale Publishing 2018) which was named finalist in the 2019 N.N. Light Book Awards, Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 2 (Telltale Publishing 2019), Mrs. Murray’s Home: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 3 (Telltale Publishing 2020), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018) which won the 2019 N.N. Light Book Awards, King Henry’s Choice (Clean Reads 2019), and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories. For more information on the author, check out her website at: http://emilyjanebooks.ca
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