Danny's cousin Tom has been killedand forgotten. All memories of Tom have been erased, as though he had never existed. For a while, there is peace. Until Danny remembers.
Determined to restore what has been lost, Danny seeks out Cath, living far from civilization. But other troubles loom. Shadows are spreading across the land, leaving the earth gray and lifeless. Danny and Cath must work together to set things rightbut are they even on the same side? And as they close in on Sammael, the dark presence responsible for Tom’s death, will one of them pay the ultimate price?
About the Author
Ruth Hatfield is a sometime archaeologist, sometime technician who lives in Cambridge, England. When she's not writing or digging or making circuit boards, she spends her time belting around on a bike and roaming the countryside on her cantankerous horse. She is the author of The Book of Storms and The Color of Darkness.
Read an Excerpt
The Book Of Shadows
Volume Three in The Book of Storms Trilogy
By Ruth Hatfield
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2016 Ruth Hatfield
All rights reserved.
Into the Sea
They were there again.
Danny ducked behind a half-built boat and peered through the gaps in the planks. He'd thought seven would be early enough, that Paul and his cronies would still be in bed, or stuffing Coco Pops into their mouths and watching breakfast cartoons.
But even Paul wasn't going to spend his half-term holiday in bed, apparently. He was going to spend it being in exactly the places Danny wanted to be.
For a moment, Danny looked beyond the gang of boys down on the gray beach. He turned his eyes farther out to the wide sea flecked with white foam under a dour October sky. A gust of raw salt breezed across the endless water, bringing the smell of distance into Danny's nostrils. The smell of —
His hand trembled; he pushed hard against the boat in a spasm of hope, and the boat toppled slowly sideways, off its wooden rest.
It crashed onto the pavement at the top of the beach, and the gang of boys looked up. Danny didn't waste time trying to freeze in the hope they wouldn't notice him.
He ran, like a coward.
"There he is!"
He kept to the concrete, hoping that the sand below would slow them, but they hadn't been far away, and within a few strides, they were at the top of the beach and pounding after him — Paul, the captain of the Year 9 soccer team, and his friends — his newly made holiday friends —
Danny's head jerked sideways as pain bit at his ear. Now they were throwing things. Stones. Shells. Flotsam and jetsam from the grimy beach.
And then he was hurdling the low wall around the pavement, and there was only the beach path to run along, and the land to his left was sand and gorse and chips of stone, leading nowhere but down to the sea.
He had run the wrong way. He should have taken off back into town, run to the house of his parents' friends, knocked on the door, and bolted inside.
"Go on! Get him!"
A stone smacked into the small of his back. Numbness shot down his leg, fizzing and popping. He couldn't swing it properly anymore, could only run with an awkward limp. He hopped and skipped.
"Skipping like a girl! You're a girl, Danny O'Neill!"
If only he could run with his arms, like a monkey. He stumbled, pitched into a gorse bush, pushed himself free of the thorns, and ran on without stopping to examine the angry red scratches along his arms that hissed out blood.
Another stone hit his back. He gasped, drawing burning air into his chest. But he didn't need to run so fast. They were just playing with him now. They were running him, like cowboys with a steer, herding him toward the edge of the sea. When he got there, they would surround him, and there would be nowhere left to run.
Danny looked desperately to his right and left, hoping that the sands might throw up some help — a massive hole, maybe, or a rope that would zip up out of the beach like an enormous buried snake and throw its end into his hands so he could be dragged up into the sky as if he were hanging on to the tail of a giant kite.
There was nothing like that here, of course. Only the gray morning and the autumn chill picking at the wind.
He kept running, even though there was no point, and then, a short way down the beach, he saw a little wooden boat in the shallows.
Waiting for him.
Perhaps it had come adrift from its moorings in the harbor and washed up here. Perhaps some magic spirit had taken pity on him and left it to aid his flight.
Either way, he doubled his pace and sprinted for the boat, and he heard them behind him, gathering themselves, seeing their prize suddenly slipping away. But he was far enough ahead, and he splashed into the shallows, leaping into the little boat and fumbling for the oars.
They were still in the rowlocks, neatly tucked across the seats. Danny swung them wide into the sea. Bracing his arms against the solid bulk of water, he took a pull, and the boat glided away from the shore.
For a second, he felt as though the wings of an enormous bird had sprouted from his shoulders and he was beating them against the clear air, launching himself up into the sky.
He'd done it. He'd escaped them.
They stood on the shore, their dumb faces slack in disbelief. Paul threw a bit of driftwood, but the rising wind batted it back toward him, protecting Danny.
"Big fat girl!" Paul shouted.
Danny let himself smile and kept pulling at the oars.
"We'll get you next time!" yelled one of Paul's goons.
There would be a next time, for sure. Once upon a time, Paul had been Danny's best friend. Then all the strange things had started to happen, and Danny had made the mistake of telling Paul. And it seemed as though Paul had been, through all their years of friendship, just a pile of toadspawn waiting to hatch out into a huge, warty, bullying toad.
"Just ignore him," the teachers said. But how could you ignore someone when you went on holiday, miles and miles from home, and he turned up there too? Danny just wanted to explore the place and throw stones into the sea. Apparently that was too much to ask.
The wind hissed, and the waves rose. The little boat toppled from wave to wave, throwing Danny's stomach around like a beach ball. He looked back toward the shore. It seemed impossibly far away. Paul and the others were drifting back to town, and the beach lay empty.
Without warning, a big wave hit the side of the boat, sending a cold spray of salt against the back of Danny's neck. He took a better hold on the oars, trying to steady himself. Already the sea felt too powerful.
There was no need to panic, though. Out here, he had a weapon. He wedged the ends of the oars under his armpits and reached into his pocket, pulling it out.
It was just a twig from a sycamore tree, brown-barked and smooth from handling, the size and shape of a pencil. But the taro had been the beginning of all the strange happenings. In summer, there had been a storm. It had left behind a bolt of lightning, trapped inside a stick. And then, and then ...
Danny forced himself to close his mind to all that other stuff. He shut his eyes and listened, following the sound of the waves from the bristling surface down into the dark depths of churning water, and he listened hard to the very heart of the sea. He had spoken to the sea before, a long way from here, and it had been wise and kind. Hopefully this would be the same sea.
When he could feel the sea's voice coating his mind, he said, inside his head, "Sea? Sea, can you hear me?"
The sea flattened itself in one stretching gasp, and tiny waves prickled up like the hackles of an angry cat.
"Who calls on me? Who dares to call on me?"
It wasn't the same sea as last time. This sea had a voice like an elderly woman, frail and cracked, with a core of steel.
"I need help," Danny tried. "I need to go back. Please —"
"A human!" the sea shrieked. "How dare a human call on me for help?"
"Please ...," Danny tried again.
"HOW DARE YOU?" it shrieked, in a voice as hard and thin as a rusted old spear. "HOW DARE YOU EVEN TALK TO ME?"
"Sorry!" gasped Danny, as the flattened waves rose up in a terrifying wall of white water. "Sorry — please — don't —"
The waves reared above his head and let go. They pounded onto the planks of the little wooden boat, filling it with water, pushing it downward.
"Please!" choked out Danny. "I just want to get back — to land —"
"I DO NOT HELP HUMANS!" screamed the sea. "I AM THE WIDOW MAKER! THE DROWNER OF DREAMS! I AM THE MERCILESS SEA!"
And with that, white waves rose again out of the soft gray water, clawing up at Danny's little dinghy, throwing it into the air. The boat leapt like a plunging horse. For a moment, Danny clung to the sides and thought, It's fine, I'm safe, I'll go up and come down again — and then the dinghy's prow was pointing toward the sky, and the boat was tipping over his head, and he was tumbling into the freezing water.
He gasped. Salt and foam flew into his mouth. Panic clawed across his stomach, and he kicked his feet down.
Nothing but water below.
"Please!" he yelled desperately. "Please! Stop! Help!"
"HA!" yelled the sea, so loudly that the inside of Danny's head buzzed with salt. "I don't help anything!"
Danny flailed out with his arms, clenched his fists — whatever he did, he couldn't lose the taro. He tried to swim, but his arms and legs had given up on him. He was going to slide under the rising waves and sink into the cold sea, and instead of breathing in air, he would draw icy water into his lungs, and in a few moments, it would all be over.
The waves curled up around him and pushed him down into the depths of the sea, and he could not resist them anymore.
After seconds, Danny's lungs were burning. Pinpricks of color swam up his vision, and dark shapes drifted in front of his eyes. Wisps waving from side to side, almost clear against the murky gloom of the sea. Plants? Seaweed?
The shapes grew larger, and hope surged in him. Chromos! The land of colors!
Once, he'd got to Chromos through the sea. He'd raced into the moonlit waves on the back of a stag and leapt into a fantastically changing world of dreams, and he'd raced through it, and come out again, breathing and alive —
But the pinpricks of color were fading, and only the shapes were left, looming through the murky sea. Only one shape, in fact.
What was it?
Some kind of hair.
Hair, down here?
Danny reached out and touched it. It was almost as soft as the numbing water. Was it attached to anything? He gave a gentle tug. Heavy, but not immovable. Solid, but not hard. He pulled again, using the last bit of his strength.
The object broke away from whatever had held it and floated up in front of him, pale and gloomy.
He screamed in soundless panic.
Bleach-white, the body straggled through the hazy water, limbs flailing. It was almost naked, with only a scrap of ragged cloth around one arm that might once have been a sleeve.
Danny tried to twist away, to swim in the other direction, but his own limbs were silent and still, and would not obey him.
Then the body rolled over in the shifting currents and he saw its face.
Familiar. As familiar as his own mum or dad. He knew this person.
But ... who was it?
Someone pushed to the front of Danny's head: his aunt Kathleen, tall and bony, a farmer on a windswept hillside. But this body was a young man, only a few years older than Danny.
The body opened its eyes and stared at him. Even in the dark gloom, they were clearly blue.
The body's mouth smiled.
Danny forgot that he was drowning, and that he had only moments left to live. Fleshy white arms drifted out toward him. The mouth kept smiling.
He tried to push at it, but not even his own hands would listen to him. Dead skin brushed against his arm; a white hand emerged from the tattered sleeve and curled out fingers to fix around his wrist. The face came closer, pale and flabby, with lips as gray as rain clouds.
The mouth opened.
Danny closed his eyes, waiting for teeth to sink into his cheek. But he felt a touch on his face as soft as his mother's hand, and he dared to look again.
The body smiled, one last time, a smile as broad as the hills and fields around Aunt Kathleen's farm. And then it leaned forward, and the opening of its mouth was black and fathomless.
For a second, Danny thought the mouth was going to get bigger and bigger until it swallowed him up. But he was wrong. Nothing was going in.
Something was coming out.
They floated into his mouth, giving him a single, precious breath.
* * *
And then his head was breaking the surface of the water, and the waves were crashing all about him, and there was nothing to hold on to except for the salt of the sea, soft between his fingers. Danny reached out, sure that the dinghy must be somewhere close, but he swiped and swiped and grabbed and grasped, and there was nothing.
Just as he was about to give up and let himself slide back down beneath the waves, something warm and solid knocked against him, and this time it wasn't a body drifting in eerie silence. It was a real, struggling, panting creature, striking out with four legs, keeping itself afloat and coming to his rescue.
Not once did Danny ask himself what it was doing so far out to sea. Not a thought went through his head but that he should cling to it.
Danny clung to the dog, and together they swam for shore.CHAPTER 2
Everything happened too fast. There was the dog's fur under his fingers, his hand clenched around it, never letting go, and there was the frenzied swim through the raging sea, and the gritty rising of the beach under his knees, and the thousand fragments of broken shell stabbing into his cheek as he lay panting, dragged up on the shore. Small waves grabbed at his ankles, trying to pull him back into the snarling water, but he'd come too far ashore; they couldn't get him now. He was safe, the dog's fur in one hand and the taro in the other.
Before he could think to speak, voices came, and feet running through the sand, and panic, anger —
"What the devil!"
"Is he —?"
And soft curses, hands turning him over. People peering into his face.
"Son? Son? You okay?"
"Who is he? Anyone know?"
"Damn tourists. Damn kids."
"He's staying with Tony, down along. Dunno his name, though."
Danny blinked, and tried to open his mouth to speak, but choked instead. Gulps of seawater scraped up his throat, and he mixed up swallowing and breathing. His lungs were scalded by sharp fire.
The dog struggled under his grip, and he realized his arm was as tight as iron around her.
"Don't go," he said silently to the dog. "Don't leave me."
"Of course I won't leave," said the dog. "You're safe with me."
But hands were separating them, pulling him away, and he was being lifted, cradled in rough-coated arms as the wind howled about the beach. The voices were grim and the footsteps hurried, and Danny could only clutch the stick and say silently to the dog, "Don't leave. Please stay."
And then Danny's world went blank, and he lost sight of them all.
He woke in the small bedroom he'd been staying in all week. The curtains were closed, though a weak daylight crept around the sides. A smell of frying fish and onions trickled along the sleeping air, and voices spoke softly in the room below.
Danny's head spun. He was standing on a high ledge above the world, looking down on it with nausea clawing at his stomach. He was losing his balance, and something was standing just behind him, ready to help him fall. ...
No, he told himself. It's just the salt water in my stomach, making me feel sick. Nothing strange is happening at all.
And as soon as he thought about the taro, he knew it was still in his hand, still joining him to that other world of talking animals and raging seas.
There was something real, panting heavily, waiting for him in the darkness.
He craned his neck to look at her. The thin glow from the curtain edges told him that she was big and solid, and lying patiently beside his bed. Over the frying food smell, he recognized the scent of her: warm, thick, and earthy.
"Are you there?" he asked, keeping the voice in his head very small, just to make doubly and triply sure that there was no chance whatsoever of the sea hearing him.
"Yes," came the reply in the dog's warm voice.
Danny relaxed once he'd heard it. "You saved my life."
"Yes, of course I did. I saw that you were drowning. I swam out to you, so that I could guide you back to shore."
A huge lump rose in Danny's throat, trying to force tears from his eyes. He managed to swallow before it overwhelmed him.
"Thanks," he said. It seemed a very small thing to say.
"Don't mention it," said the dog. "I was looking for something to do, anyway. But how is it that you can talk so clearly to me? It is as though you have learned the language of dogs."
She had a voice that shone with sunlight. It made her sound as though she were always smiling.
Danny peered at her. A huge, curly-coated golden dog with a pleased face and deep eyes, she was sprawled on the floor, her chin on her paws. Her coat was matted with salt. Perhaps she was some kind of search-and-rescue dog.
He hesitated. Could he trust her with the truth?
"I'll tell you," said Danny. "But tell me first — who are you? I mean, who owns you?"
"Tsk, tsk," said the dog. "You humans! I am Ori, and I own myself."
"You're a stray?"
The dog tilted her head. "Call it that if you like. I had an owner once, but life moves on."
Ori seemed so casual. Cold, almost. But if she hadn't helped him, he wouldn't be lying in this little room with the smell of frying dancing up from the kitchen below. He'd be dead.
With a touch of shame at having doubted her, Danny told Ori about the taro.
"I found it under a tree," he said. "A sycamore tree. When I hold it, I can talk to anything."
He didn't mention all the other stuff that had happened. Judging from Paul's reaction, that wasn't a good way to make friends.
"But if you can talk to everything," Ori said, "then why didn't you ask the sea itself to help you?"
"I did," said Danny. "The sea wasn't keen."
The second he let himself think about the sea, it all came back to him.
The body under the waves.
Excerpted from The Book Of Shadows by Ruth Hatfield. Copyright © 2016 Ruth Hatfield. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Into the Sea,
4 The Shadows,
6 The Great Plain,
7 A Bargain with Death,
8 The House on the Beach,
10 The Book of Shadows,
11 The Elements,
12 Four Friends,
13 Four Stories,
14 The First Shadow,
15 Playing with Shadows,
16 The Stoat,
17 A Hole in the Sky,
19 The Battle,
20 The Book of Sand,
22 The Bargain,
23 The Boots,
24 The Guardians of Chromos,
25 After the Storm,
About the Author,