“Little Forest is the only place I’ve ever lived, and it’s the place where I’m going to die. Tonight.” These are the words of Beth Powers, long-time resident of Little Forest. On the surface, she’s just an ordinary English girl in a typical English village, but appearances can be deceiving… extremely deceiving.
There’s something lurking beneath the picturesque façade of the English village of Little Forest, something dark and disconcerting, something which the vast majority of the residents are refusing to see…
Fed up with living in the tiny, gossip-fuelled village, twenty-one year old Beth resolves to escape to London with her best friend, Veronica Summers. That is, until something throws a spanner in the works. A rather large spanner. A dead body, to be exact. A dead body found early one morning in the spooky surroundings of the Great Specton Woods.
The apparently accidental death of Beth’s work colleague sets off the small community’s well-oiled rumour mill, and Beth soon finds herself in the middle of a bizarre village conspiracy. Potential suspects start appearing in all shapes and sizes – including the handsome new resident, mystery man Connor Maguire, who has conveniently just arrived in Little Forest – and with the police refusing to consider murder, Beth takes it upon herself to investigate. At least it’s a good distraction from the other strange and unusual things that have started happening in her generally boring life; let’s just say that Beth’s work colleague isn’t the only dead person she has to deal with these days. After all, it isn’t always something as innocent as the ghosts of past memories that come to get you…
With the help of rather unlikely ally Will Wolseley, Beth delves into the village’s sinister secrets and, in turn, uncovers a terrifying truth about herself that could change her life forever.
Unfortunately, she might not have much of ‘forever’ left, as when it comes right down to it, it’s not a question of whether or not she’ll decide to leave her childhood home. The question is whether or not Little Forest will let her go.
The Former World is reminiscent of a good old-fashioned English mystery thriller, updated to the twenty-first Century but still relying on the quaint locations of the beautiful English countryside: close-knit villages, local pubs, ancient castles, large, looming forests and magnificent Stately homes. This enchanting rural environment gives Beth the perfect setting to explore the ominous events that threaten to shake up her small village and her life.
Targeted Age Group: 16 – 60
Genre: paranormal mystery
The Book Excerpt:
Little Forest is the only place I’ve ever lived, and it’s the place where I’m going to die.
My life wasn’t flashing before my tear-filled eyes and no beloved childhood memories entered my muddled, exhausted mind. There was no time to remember loved ones, no chance for bravery of any kind and absolutely no hope that I’d somehow be saved from this crushingly swift fate.
At 21 years old, my time was up.
Considering what had happened to me over the past couple of months, it seemed darkly poetic that everything should catch up with me at Hallowe’en.
It would make a sensational headline.
If I was ever found.
For just one second, the sheer terror of my current situation was overridden by another – more unexpected – feeling; wonder. Pure and simple wonder that the tiny village I’ve lived in my whole life could harbour such sinister secrets. Wonder that the place I’d always moaned about being boring was actually anything but. Wonder that I could have ignored all the signs for so long.
My persistent tears had at last succeeded in blurring my vision and everything in front of me was now in an eerie soft focus; the ground, the grass and the trees were now just smudges in the darkness.
With my sight impaired, the sounds of the forest suddenly bombarded my ears. I could hear the cold autumn wind blowing shrilly through the leaves of the surrounding trees, the scuttling of some small, nearby animal, and the calm hooting of a distant owl.
But there was only one sound that I was waiting for; the sound that would be the last I ever heard.
At this gut wrenching thought, my trembling legs finally crumbled and I reached out to hold onto the rough bark of the tree branch in front of me, scratching my already bloodied hand in the process; I didn’t even register the pain.
I was just steadying myself when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I blinked frantically to remove my cloud of tears and shifted my now slightly clearer gaze to the large hollow tree about ten feet away. I saw a silhouette of someone standing next to the bark and for one brilliant second my heart leapt in hope.
I blinked some more, wanting to get a better picture of my possible saviour. I felt a familiar sick feeling clawing at my stomach as my vision cleared and I realised there was no one there.
No one could help me now.
My desperate thoughts were cut off as the distressed voice next to me rasped, “I’m so sorry, Beth.”
It was the first thing either of us had said since we’d realised it was the end.
I didn’t even try to reply; the effort of talking seemed impossible. I wanted to tell him that it was alright and that it wasn’t his fault, but words, like my courage, failed me.
I let the stinging tears run freely down my damp, dirty skin as I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and waited for the gunshot.
Sometimes, ‘impossible’ is just an excuse.
It is a convenient defence for the billions of people worldwide who just refuse to believe their own eyes. These people go out of their way to make sure they don’t believe. They ignore what’s right in front of them in favour of a logical explanation, they pretend to miss the unmissable, they try and rationalise even the most bizarre of occurrences.
How do I know this?
I used to be one of them.
I used to put bumps in the night down to the house settling, shadows in the corner of the room were just my imagination, wailing screams in the night were just the wind.
I played this game with myself for years, but I didn’t win.
Sometimes, impossible is just an excuse.
I say ‘sometimes’ because, more often than not, the bumps in the night will be the house settling, shadows will be your imagination, and unearthly wails will be the wind. Sometimes, they will be something else entirely; I learned this the hard way.
I don’t expect everyone to believe my story anymore than I expect them to suddenly start trusting their own instincts and accepting what’s right in front of them. For most people, this will never happen. They won’t let it happen. But for those who find that the following pages conjure up familiar feelings, resurrect cryptic childhood memories, or make your stomach churn with reluctant acknowledgement, I urge you to open your mind up to the possibility that my tale, like many others before me, is true.
Sometimes, you need to look past the impossible and see the world as it really is.
Sometimes, you just need to believe.