A Victorian monster hunter encounters an unexpected evil.
A stay in the Derbyshire countryside should be the perfect rest for Theodore Baker. There he ought to be able to forget his wearisome secret duty and the monsters he hunts, at least for a little while.
But first he witnesses the peculiar behavior of a girl...then he hears of the girl's great-aunt, who was a strange and special woman, and about the ruins she used to visit on a lonely hilltop. Next comes a sudden death and Theodore finds himself in an unexpected dilemma. Monsters he can handle...but what about the rising power of a young witch?
Theo turned back. When he came to the same spot as before, he felt strongly torn between the Yardley’s home and the Masterson’s cottage. He couldn't deny he had a firm desire to see the cottage again.
But what use would it be? Theo thought to himself. He would learn nothing further from seeing Audrey again or from further contemplation of her actions. Why should he trouble his mind? He should just go home.
“Just this last time,” he said. “One last walk and I will be completely finished.”
Theo headed down the lane that would lead him to the Masterson home. He was very aware of passing the place where he'd first spotted Audrey yesterday. Leaving it behind, he went on to the cottage, approaching it with almost unwilling steps. He found the cottage had a quiet air, and why not, with the weather being a little on the warm side? Perhaps the Mastersons had found the afternoon a sleepy one and were taking an afternoon's rest.
She could be in the garden, was the unexpected thought that popped into Theo's mind. The idea was inconvenient and unwelcome, because it gave him another impulse that was all too easy to satisfy. Theo, despising himself for his weakness, gave into the suggestion and hurried around to the back of the house. He looked over the wall and found the garden quite absent of any person. He did not know whether he was relieved or annoyed at the discovery.
Theo was about to turn away when he noticed something was different. He was overlooking the same secluded part of the garden where the little girl had emptied the bottle of her tears. She had emptied them on plain lawn-grass, but on that very spot now stood a few tiny, delicate toadstools interspersed with sparse wildflowers. The mushrooms and wildflowers were incongruous with the rest of the garden. They had no reason to have grown there at all.
- Word Count: 29,160
- Author: R.S. Ramdial
- ISBN: 978-1-61937-106-4
- Cover Artist: Kelly Shorten
- Editor: Melinda Stephans
Night Owl Review
Review: This is one of the most imaginative and captivating stories I have read in a long time. There is mystery, adventure and more than enough…