Title: The Five Things
Author: Beth Merwood
Genre: English Mystery/Coming of Age/Historical Fiction
For nine-year-old Wendy, the summer of 1969 will never be forgotten.
Local kids have always told stories about the eerie wood on the outskirts of the village, and Wendy knows for sure that some of them are true. Now the school holidays have started and she's going to the wood again with Anna and Sam, but they soon become convinced that someone is trying to frighten them off.
When a terrible event rocks the coastal community, the young friends can't help thinking there must be a connection between the incident, the tales they’ve heard, and the strange happenings they’ve begun to witness. As glimpses of a darker world threaten their carefree existence, they feel compelled to search out the underlying truth.
We took the bread and walked farther on round. The gulls were crying. Sometimes they sounded as if they were laughing, and sometimes they sounded as if they were crying; sometimes they sounded like cats meowing. They soon found us. We waited until a gull flew quite close and threw a piece of bread up toward it. We were up on the wall, and the birds were a few yards away, flying low over the sea, landing and floating, flying off again. After a couple of throws, one gull caught on and swooped to get the food. Within minutes, we had attracted a large flock that could expertly pluck the pieces out of the air.
“You know Tommy is always talking about the birds in the wood,” Sam said.
“I know, and I told you he dressed up as a bird at that fancy dress party I went to.”
“Do you know what he said to me?” Sam threw another piece of bread. “He said the birds were strung through the heart. I was sort of surprised when he said it like that. He never saw them, did he?”
“No, I’m sure he didn’t,” I said. “He’s just heard people talking about it.”
“Do you really think Bridges put them there?”
“He must have done.”
Then we talked about Bridges. He was always known as Bridges, and nothing else. I’d only ever seen him from a distance. He was stout and wore the same old long coat no matter what. If we spotted him in the fields, we didn’t go in. I’d never come across him at the shops or walking through the village. Sam said he was supposed to go to the inn sometimes, but we didn’t know if that was true.
“Do you think it was him that scared Judy and Susan?” Sam questioned.
“I expect so,” I said.
“Is he old?” Sam asked.
“I think so,” I said.
“Is there a Mrs. Bridges?” he asked.
“I don’t think so. He lives on his own.”
“Do you think he killed the birds, or were they dead already?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “But why would they be dead already?”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
A mystery and more. The Five Things will escort you back to the late 1960s, where a group of young friends are enjoying the long school summer holidays in rural England. But an event is about to occur that will interrupt and challenge their carefree world to its core.
Suspense, twists, turns, and a story that will stay with you.
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Beth Merwood is a writer from the south of England. The Five Things is her debut novel.
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