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The Spirit Trap Paperback – December 11, 2015

4.8 out of 5 stars 27 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

After a childhood spent travelling the world in the wake of a military father, Veryan married and had four children. She worked for many years at the College of Psychic studies in London and lives on the edge of Dartmoor.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Spirit Trap

By Veryan Williams-Wynn

John Hunt Publishing Ltd.

Copyright © 2014 Veryan Williams-Wynn
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78535-074-0

Contents

1. Threads of the Tapestry,
2. Enlisting Marcus's Help,
3. Natasha's Request,
4. A Physical Link,
5. Revolution – 18th century France,
6. An Invitation,
7. Drawing a Blank,
8. Another Reality,
9. The Ossuary,
10. Outer Dimensions, Inner Worlds,
11. Here, There or Where?,
12. Labyrinth,
13. Of Dreams and Reality,
14. Revolutionaries Past and Present,
15. Blizzard and Blackout,
16. Moonlight Shadows,
17. Haydn's Music,
18. Linking the Pieces,
Epilogue: Completing the circle,


CHAPTER 1

Threads of the Tapestry


Tatiana glanced over her shoulder for the third time in as many minutes. She couldn't help it; the eerie rustling as she scrunched through the dried leaves carpeting the damp mossy-smelling earth was making her jittery. She rubbed her arms and shuddered, was it just a wintery chill or the unnatural cold she felt whenever ... no, surely she'd be safe from ghosts out here? She needed to concentrate, focus on the poem she was supposed to be learning for school and forget about the picture and the inexplicable goings-on in the drawing room. Praying it was just the cold, not some unseen presence in the garden playing tricks, she stopped chewing her lip, crossed her fingers and began to recite.

'"Is there anybody there?" said the traveller,
knocking on the moonlit door;
While his
... no ... And his horse?'

'Which is it?' said Tatiana, struggling to remember the lines. Thrusting her hands deeper into her pockets, she paced backwards and forwards until coming to a patch of dappled sunlight filtering through the overhanging branches. There she released her hair from its clip and shook it loose allowing the sun to form splashes of russet on the wild, unruly mass spilling over her shoulders; if only it was always this wicked foxy red instead of its usual boring auburn colour. Tatiana tossed her hair back from her face and frowned, her mind searching for the words she was trying to memorize for homework.

'And his horse in the silence champ'd ...'

'Hey! I think I've nearly got it.'

'Is there anybody there?' she shouted to the wind, and flinging her arms out wide, spun around like a windmill.

She stopped spinning and sensing a slight movement, cocked her head, listening. She looked around half expecting to see her mum, but there was no sign of her and as far as she could see nothing other than herself was disturbing the hazy winter's afternoon.

'Where was I?' she muttered, leaning her back against the gnarled bark of a sprawling cherry tree. 'Oh yes ...'

'Is there anybody there? he ...'

Her sentence remained unfinished, as a prolonged mewing-shriek filled the air. Momentarily, Tatiana froze before cowering to the ground. Without knowing why, she found herself making the sign of the cross over and over again. Oh, God! What was that? She wanted to run, but her legs had turned to jelly and wouldn't move. Swallowing hard she squeezed her eyes into slits and stayed where she was, crouched amongst the exposed tree roots. After several silent minutes had passed, she uncurled just enough to make a surreptitious survey of the seemingly empty garden. Dare she make a run for it?

She was getting shakily to her feet when another shriek pierced the air, this time coming quite distinctly from the bushes behind the cherry tree. 'Please, whoever you are, go away,' she whispered. Beads of sweat were forming on her ashen face, but she daren't move. Instead she shrank back onto the dank ground shielding her head with her folded arms.

Whatever could have produced such a terrifying noise? It sounded like someone being tortured, and there most certainly was 'somebody there'.

A rustling in the dry leaves beneath the camellias made her turn; seeing nothing, she decided to make her escape, but as she stood up a head shot out from between the shiny leaves, its button-black eyes staring directly at her. Slowly she turned to confront the intruder and watched as the strange blue face with black and white markings topped with an upstanding crest of feathers advanced towards her. The head, attached to a blue snake-like neck, became more and more elongated until the body emerged from the undergrowth.

Tatiana released her breath with an exaggerated whoosh. 'After all that you're just a bird!' What on earth was a peacock doing here? Seemingly oblivious to her, the intruder shook out its feathers and strutted away, its trailing tail sweeping a path through the leaves. She was still staring at the retreating bird, when it looked back and their eyes locked.

'Tati! Tatiana! Where are you?' Her mum's heavily accented voice was accompanied by the sound of her footsteps pounding along the path to the hidden garden. 'Tatiana!'

'I'm here, by the cherry tree,' she shouted, as her mum, hair flying in all directions rounded the corner.

'Are you all right?' she gasped. 'I heard you scream.'

'No I didn't, it did,' said Tatiana, pointing at the peacock.

'Goodness! Whatever's that doing here?'

'Don't know. It just appeared out of the bushes.'

'That's strange,' said her mum. 'I didn't know anyone in the village kept peacocks.'

'Well it can't stay here,' said Tatiana giving the bird a baleful look.

'Why ever not?' said her mum, moving closer to the creature. 'It has the most fabulous feathers I've ever seen. Think how lovely they'd be on a hat, or I could make them in —'

'Mum!'

'Only the ones that drop out! I'm not about to pluck it!'

Tatiana continued staring at the bird unaware that her knuckles had turned white or that her nails were making sharp indentations in the soft cover of her schoolbook. Mystified as to why she should be so nervous, she turned slowly to her mum and in a shuddering voice, whispered, 'It gives me the creeps.'

'You can't be scared of such a magnificent creature, Tati, you're fourteen not four and you know perfectly well it won't hurt you.'

'I'm not frightened of it exactly ... but there's something sinister about it that I really don't like,' she said, lowering her voice.

'Well I expect it will fly back to wherever it came from,' said her mum, giving her a reassuring kiss on the forehead before wandering off.

Tatiana continued to watch the bird as it scratched amongst the fallen leaves, but even from a safe distance it put her on edge. Why should she be so rattled by a bird? It couldn't be because of its size and it seemed pretty harmless; her mum was right, the way its bright blue feathers shimmered in the sun was quite amazing and reminded her of dragonflies she'd seen with her cousin Marcus in the summer.

'What is it about you?' she asked, shaking her head. She was about to leave the garden when the bird strutted towards her, drew back its head and let out another high-pitched eeeooowwww right in her face.


Later that evening, the incident of the peacock behind her, Tatiana sat at the piano in the drawing room, her hands flying up and down the keys, practising for her lesson the following day. Yes! She'd got it. No problem there then, but she wasn't so sure about her English homework.

'I'll see if I can recite the poem for you,' she said turning to the woman in the picture hanging on the wall behind her. Tatiana looked at the gilt-framed portrait of her ancestor, the beautiful Isabella Lafont. It was a picture she'd known all her life, although until recently it had hung in her grandparents' apartment in Paris and had only come to England after her grandmother Natasha's death. Her grandfather had insisted on her mum taking it away at once, along with the urn containing her grandmother's ashes. Tatiana loved the picture almost as much as she'd loved her grandmother. The eighteenth-century artist's style and detail fascinated her, if only she could paint like that! But what she admired most was the woman's sky-blue silk dress with its wide pink sash and lace-edged sleeves. It was so beautiful; though she couldn't quite imagine wearing, let alone running in, such a long skirt! She was so intrigued by Isabella that she frequently found herself chatting out loud to her, as if she was actually there in the room with her.

She'd decided to make up a tune for the poem; singing the words would make them easier to remember. Tatiana picked out a simple melody and began to hum. She was getting on well and focussing on the final verses when her mum stuck her head around the door.

'There's a film on television I think you'd enjoy, why don't you come and watch it?'

Tatiana didn't look up. 'Can't,' she said. 'I'm doing my homework.'

'Doesn't look much like it to me, tinkering about on the piano. It's set during the French Revolution, the same period that Isabella lived, so it might interest you.'

'This is homework! I'm learning a poem —'

'Come on, you can finish it later, besides, you can't stay in here, it's freezing. The heating must have gone wrong,' her mum said, and pulling her cardigan tightly around herself, went to check the radiator. 'How peculiar, it's hot! Have you opened the window?'

'Of course not, Mum. Haven't you noticed, it's nearly always cold in here these days?'

'Not until now,' she said.

'It's been like this ever since the picture and granny's ashes arrived. Sometimes the cold swirls around the room and I get a weird sensation like icy fingers running down my back ... if I ignore it, it prods me!'

'Tati! Stop it!'

'Well it's much worse than goose bumps. And I can feel someone watching me. I think it's the picture, Isabella's eyes follow me, like they're pleading ... I think it's ... her ghost.'

'Don't be ridiculous, it's nothing but your imagination!' her mum said, hurrying to the door, but Tatiana couldn't help noticing how she glanced sideways at the picture as she went by.

'It's just the way the artist painted the eyes that gives the impression of them following you,' she said. 'And remind me to get the heating fixed tomorrow.'

'Mum!' But it was no use, her mum just didn't get it; didn't believe the cold could be caused by something she could neither see nor name.

'Come on, the film will soon dispel all this nonsense.'

'Have I got to?'

'Yes. It's a great Dickens classic.'

Tatiana followed her mum to the cosy snug and slumped onto a creaky leather beanbag in front of the television where a drama with people dressed in eighteenth-century costume was playing.

'What's this?' asked Tatiana scowling. 'It's not even in colour!'

'Well it is quite old,' said her mum. 'It's A Tale of Two Cities, and probably made in the nineteen fifties.'

'You must be joking! No way I'm watching this.'

'It's a good story, at least give it a try.'

Tatiana let out an exaggerated sigh and crossing her arms, wriggled deeper into the shifting beans. She'd watch the film till the next advert to please her mum, then go back to her poem.

Her mum was right. The ladies with their high powdered wigs and floor-sweeping gowns were of exactly the same period as the portrait next door. It was only because of the picture that she had a vague interest in the French Revolution, but she knew very little about it other than a whole load of people, mainly aristocrats, had their heads cut off. Here, for the first time, the reality of those turbulent years was being revealed in all its gory detail. She watched as innocent people lost their heads to the hated guillotine and was so absorbed in the story that it wasn't until a peacock outside a chateau let out a screech that she was brought back to reality. Tatiana jumped, and covering her ears, cast a bewildered look at her mum.

'That's done it!' she cried, and scrambling awkwardly out of the beanbag, hurtled from the room. She was standing in the passage, wondering whether to go back, when she overheard her parents talking about her.

'Whatever's the matter with Tatiana?' she heard her dad say. Oh no! He sounded irritated, why? What had she done to annoy him this time?

'I've no idea, she doesn't usually get upset by films, but she has become rather over-sensitive recently,' said her mum. 'She even wanted to move the piano out of the drawing room, until I pointed out there was nowhere else for it to go.'

'What did she want to do that for?

'She thinks she's being watched ...'

'Watched? Who by exactly?'

Tatiana shot back to the drawing room and was staring at the piano when her mum came in. 'What's wrong, Tati?'

'It's those horrible birds, I can't stand them,' she said, trying to stop her voice from quavering.

'But they're so beautiful ... and it's only a film.'

'It's not them, it's the noise they make.'

'I know it's not very nice, but it's nothing to be frightened of,' she said, putting an arm around her. 'Come back or you'll miss the end.'

Wrapping her arms around her mum, Tatiana glanced at the portrait. She really didn't understand why she was scared, and of what exactly? A noise?

This time she curled up on the sofa beside her mum, and watched the remainder of the film clutching a cushion to her chest. All went well until she saw a young girl, who she judged to be about fourteen, like herself, climb the steps of the scaffold and kneel at the feet of the executioner. The girl's brimming eyes were fixed on his black-hooded face pleading for mercy, but at a signal from him, she rapidly made the sign of the cross, and bent forward placing her slender neck on the blood-stained block. When Tatiana heard the swish of the falling blade followed by a dull thud, an icy tremor swept over her.

'How could they?' she cried. 'She was no older than me!' and dropping the cushion on the floor, rushed out of the room. Taking the stairs two at a time, she bolted to her bedroom and flung herself face down on the bed.

Tatiana found it difficult to sleep. Fragments of her tune, a persistent repetition of 'is anybody there?' from the poem, muddled echoes of the peacock and images of people being beheaded, kept revolving through her mind, which, although not so frightening in themselves, combined to fill her with an inexplicable dread. Then she remembered the girl in the film making the sign of the cross before being guillotined, just like she'd done in the garden; strange. It's not as though she was catholic or even particularly religious, how weird was that? And so she continued to toss and turn, until her beloved cat, Pushkin, jumped onto the bed. That was better; she pulled her under the covers, hugging her soft warmth until a rumbling purr lulled her into a fitful, dream-filled sleep.


Where was she? She appeared to be in a long narrow corridor formed of tightly clipped hedges so high they reached far above her head. Looking up she saw how the lowering sun was edging the uppermost leaves in a coral glow in stark contrast to the deep indigo shadows where she stood. She seemed to be trapped in a vast maze and wasn't sure she liked it, but propelled by curiosity she set off along the path. Almost immediately she came to a T-junction. Which way? Left or right? Whatever she chose, she'd inevitably arrive at either a dead end or another similar junction. Tatiana hurried on, continuously twisting and turning, but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't find the middle, nor could she find her way out. She was beginning to panic and longing for the dream to end, when she heard music.

Could this be a clue? With renewed hope she set off in pursuit of the sound only to meet yet another hedge blocking her way. 'I can't get out! Please help me,' she yelled.

'This is how life is,' said a disembodied voice. 'The whole of life is a question of choices.'

'Well how am I supposed to know which is the right one?' she asked. It answered in a mocking voice. 'You aren't, that would make it too easy, pointless in your being here, in being born; trust yourself and follow your instincts.'

She was pondering this strange statement when she heard the music again and although the words were indistinct, she could tell it was a young girl singing.

'Who's there?' she called. The singing immediately stopped. 'I know you're there,' she shouted, swivelling on the wet gravel. 'Please help me find the way out.'

But the silence remained leaden and the chill air swirling through the maze did nothing to ease her sense of foreboding. With the sound of scrunching gravel ringing in her ears, she ran to the next junction where she caught a glimpse of the girl. 'Wait!' she cried, sprinting after the retreating figure, but upon reaching the next bend all she saw was a disappearing flash of blue velvet. Then she heard the girl singing again, and this time the words were clear. The girl was singing in French.

'Hey! That's my tune!' Tatiana shouted. 'But you're singing the wrong words!'

She set off again, slowly and calmly, this time letting her intuition guide her. As she followed the ebb and flow of the notes, she caught occasional glimpses of the elusive blue cloak and in what seemed like no time, was out of the maze. Free at last, she was enjoying the warmth of the final rays of the setting sun when the sound of a peacock calling nearby made her jump. The sound reverberated around in her head until evaporating into the descending dusk, when to her dismay she looked up to find herself back amongst the imprisoning hedges.

'How can this be? I was out a moment ago.'

She ran frantically twisting and turning this way and that as a childishly high-pitched voice taunted, 'See, you can't get out, you will never escape; not until you've solved the riddle and saved your maman, will you escape!'

Tatiana ran and ran trying to get away from the voice, but no matter which way she turned, she couldn't get rid of it. 'You have to reach the centre of you, know yourself for who you are, only then will you both be free.'


(Continues...)Excerpted from The Spirit Trap by Veryan Williams-Wynn. Copyright © 2014 Veryan Williams-Wynn. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
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.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lodestone Books (December 11, 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 184 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1785350749
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1785350740
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ Baby - 17 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ Preschool - 12
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7.5 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.41 x 0.39 x 8.46 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 27 ratings

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Veryan's childhood, spent travelling the world in the wake of her military father, led to a somewhat eclectic and multinational education. She trained as a Transpersonal psychology councillor and also worked at the college of Psychic Studies in London. She is now an audio describer at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and writes. She has written prize-winning short stories and a YA spiritual / historical novel ( The Spirit Trap) published by Lodestone an imprint of John Hunt Publishing. She has also had several short stories published in newspapers, in anthologies and on broadcast on the radio.

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