Monday, 30 March 2020

Beyond The Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley

Title: Beyond The Yew Tree
Author: Rachel Walkley
Genre: Ghost story / Women’s Fiction Mystery - contemporary
Publication Date: 27th March 2020

Beyond the Yew Tree
Whispers in the courtroom.
Only one juror hears them.
Can Laura unravel the truth by the end of the trial?

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts shy juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman.

Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.

The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.

Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder. If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

Ordinary women.
Extraordinary experiences.


Night after night, the same bad dream pesters Laura, a young woman who is stuck on jury service in Lincoln crown court. Believing that it’s something to do with the building and the old prison next to it, she decides to escape to a different town and spend the night with a friend. Optimistic that she’ll have a decent night sleep, she’s about to find out she’s wrong…

      This time the tormented woman touched Laura’s arm, and Laura woke up screaming. The dream had followed her. A scantily clad Amelia ran into the room, convinced Laura had seen a burglar – there had been a spate of them recently on the housing estate. Sporting underpants and an uncovered tattoo of a dagger on his chest, Jordan searched every room armed with a sixteen-weight bowling ball. Laura’s pleas for him to stop only elicited more embarrassment.
      ‘Sorry, I’m so sorry,’ she said, struggling not to cry. The dreadful dreams had become intrinsic to her deepest sleep and perversely mesmerising. ‘It’s just a bad dream.’
      Amelia handed her a glass of milk. ‘You’re white as a ghost—’
      ‘Please, don’t use that word. I’m not seeing ghosts. It’s just ever since I’ve started jury service…’ She stopped. She didn’t say the courtroom was in a castle with a long and violent past. The unnerving intrusion, the whispering, troubled her more and more. It had to be linked to the nightmares, but how?
      Amelia’s eyes widened. ‘Is it a murder?’
      ‘No.’ Laura wished it was as it might justify the nightmares; bad dreams in her experience needed a trigger, a connection to the real world. ‘Nothing gruesome. Something else is bothering me. Look, forget it. I’ll be fine.’
      Laura had never spoken of the other nightmares, and Amelia was only vaguely aware of the accident; she’d been at university in Portsmouth when it had happened.
      ‘Sure?’ Jordan appeared over Amelia’s shoulder, the bowling ball gone.
      ‘Yes. Sure,’ Laura said firmly and wiped her eyes. She plastered her usual prosaic face over the troubled cracks that Amelia and many others failed to spot, except her mother, Angela, and Marco, who had, on the odd occasion, nearly seen past them.
      She burrowed into the sleeping bag. Coming to Amelia’s had been a mistake. She’d brought along something evil, and it had tainted her friend’s house. The details of the dream persisted, cementing themselves deeper in her waking memories: the cell, the marks around the woman’s neck, the pleading tone of strange whispers, coming not from the prisoner’s mouth, but originating within Laura’s head, just like at the courthouse. Any hope of detaching herself from the fear they created had to lie waiting for discovery in the castle. She remembered hurrying through the creepy graveyard. If there were clues, they might be within those stone walls. She should visit the Lucy Tower and take a closer look at the names engraved upon the headstones. If Brader’s trial was dull, at least the intervals between sessions might provide answers to her dreams and a cure for her affliction.

Author Bio:

Aspiring writer who pens Women's Fiction and magical tales about family secrets.
What else?
An East Anglian turned Northerner - almost.
Information professional, always.
Biologist, in my memories.
Archivist, when required.
Amateur pianist and flautist.
Reluctant gardener.
Scribbler of pictures.
And forever.... a mother and wife.
Oh, not forgetting, cat lover!

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Giveaway to Win One copy of The Last Thing She Said or The Woman of Heachley Hall (Open INT)
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  1. Thank you for sharing an excerpt from my book. Much appreciated.