Title: The Five Things
Author: Beth Merwood
Genre: Thriller and Coming of Age story
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.
The following day Anna, Sam, and I went to look for the camp on the beach. It was a cooler day and a little misty. The sea lapped against the shore, otherwise everything was quiet and still. We went to the end of the wall and climbed the first steep section of rock to the level area. We couldn’t hear anyone else up on the cliff. The pine trees were giving off their pungent smell. We walked along, holding on to branches to steady ourselves, up a little hill and down again. We didn’t need to walk far. In a gap between the trees, we found the camp. There was definitely no one else there.
“Wow!” I said.
“It’s a really good place,” said Sam.
“It’s really fab!” said Anna.
“How did they get all the stuff up here?” I said.
We admired the work that had gone into it. There was actually a sort of building made from pieces of corrugated iron.
“Those crates must be for sitting on,” said Sam.
“There’s even a carpet!” Anna said.
Sam went to the corner and took three crates from the pile. We arranged them on the sack matting and sat looking out.
“No one would ever find you here,” said Sam.
“Oi!” We heard a shout, the cracking of vegetation breaking underfoot, and the swishing of branches. Someone rapidly approached. It was Robbo.
“What are you doing in the camp?” He pretended to be annoyed with us but soon forgot and started to show us around. “Look,” he said, “we put up a swing.” He pulled a long, thick length of rope down from an upper branch of the tree opposite. It was tied to the branch at one end and there was a knot in the other, so you could sit astride it and go for a ride. You could swing quite a long way to and fro. He demonstrated. “Not only that,” he said, “we can also make tea.” He scrambled over and revealed an old kettle, pushed into a hole in the cliff face behind. “There’s water, and I have matches.” He pulled over another wooden crate, which had been camouflaged under some foliage, and took off the makeshift lid. It contained a box of tea and some enamel mugs. He uncovered a jerry can filled with water. He set about gathering some sticks and trying to light a fire.
Robbo was older than we were. He had a reputation for being a bit of a tough guy, but we knew that in fact he was quite friendly. He was a big, strong-looking boy with lots of curly, dark hair and already had the first signs of a dark hair growing on his chin. We watched him in admiration.
“Shall I help you?” I asked.
“I might have messed up,” he admitted. “I think the matches have got a bit damp.” He smiled at me, a warm-hearted sort of smile. We all liked Robbo and we trusted him.
“You won’t tell the others we were here? They might be mad,” I said.
“Nah,” he confirmed. “You know I always look out for you lot.”
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Writing, reading, swimming and gardening. Some of each would make for a perfect day!
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
The Five Things will transport you back to 1969 and the intriguing world of three young friends on their long school summer holidays. Be prepared for some dark issues, but overall the spirit of the story is charming and uplifting. For one of the friends, Wendy, the events of 1969 are to remain a part of her life forever, and there are a number of twists and turns to negotiate along the way.
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Runs May 1 – 31, 2021.
Drawing will be held on June 1, 2021.
Beth Merwood is a writer from the south of England. The Five Things is her debut novel.
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