Hello awesome readers. Tomorrow a new haunted house mystery, Clarissa’s Warning by Isobel Blackthorn will be released! Good news to Kindle Unlimited subscribers who will be able to read this book for free! I have it on my TBR, if you read it I would love to hear what you think! Below you’ll find an excerpt that takes you to the setting of old ruins on a desert island.
She buys an ancient stone ruin on the island of her dreams. Her mystic aunt Clarissa warns her of danger, but Claire pays no heed.
Soon after moving to the idyllic island, Claire is confronted by a mystery. As the sinister story of her home slowly uncovers, Claire enters a world of inexplicable events and ordeals. Someone or something doesn’t want her there.
But is it really a curse, or is there something else behind the events?
Buying a Dream
Everyone has their price. It is my father’s favourite saying. He is a used-car salesman turned property developer. I am neither of those things. But when I read in a local newspaper that the owner of the house of my dreams was intent on demolition I took swift action. I tossed sanity into the Jetstream and, in a single if complicated move, threw my all into saving that house.
In truth, not a house, it was nothing that could be called a home, the building – not much more than sections of stone wall and roof – holding on through its own tenacity, little left to brace against a relentless wind. For the ruin was located not among the folds of green in my home county of Essex, nor in any other quarter of bucolic pasture, but on a flat and dusty plain in desert dry Fuerteventura, an island I had been visiting each year for my annual holiday.
I wasn’t entirely devoid of common sense. My ruin was situated in the inland town of Tiscamanita, a safe distance from beach-crazed revellers yet not so far off the beaten track as to be isolated and remote. The island was desolate enough without secreting myself away in one of its many barren and empty valleys. In a well-established village, I would have everything I required for a comfortable life, secure in the knowledge that there were others nearby if I needed them. As a single woman used to living in a bustling English town, one had to think of these things.
The troubles began the moment I decided to act. The former owner of my beloved ruin, the gentleman poised with his wrecking ball, had not been difficult to identify. His name was mentioned in the same newspaper article, the Fuerteventura journalist at pains to detail some of the recent ownership history. The various genealogical details meant nothing to me. I could read Spanish well enough—I’ve been learning for years—but I had no understanding of Spanish nobility, and I lacked a deep knowledge of Fuerteventura’s colonial history. In the age of information technology, when business deals could be conducted remotely with a few mouse clicks and the odd signature here and there, nothing might have been simpler than purchasing a property overseas. There were websites talking prospective buyers through all the legal requirements, pitfalls and traps. Were it not for the fact that the possessor of my coveted dream home resided somewhere in mainland Spain and had he not been bent on using the property for whatever development aspirations he may have held dear, the purchase would have sailed through to completion in a few months.
The first complication was locating the owner’s address. Entering the name in a few online searches revealed his business interests. With those scrawled in my notebook, I hired a lawyer to make the initial contact and establish my credentials: I, Claire Bennett of Colchester, a humble bank teller by profession until my fortunes turned on the numbers of a lottery ticket and I found myself astonishingly well-off.
Possessing all that wealth had taken possession of me, given me the will to leap, to take a chance. The greater part of me remained shocked I had the courage to go through with it.
Much to my chagrin, the owner, Señor Mateo Cejas, responded to my inquiry with a cool and firm refusal. The ruin was not for sale. Well, I knew that. The local government, in a fit of guilt over letting so many old buildings fall into ruin, had deemed the dwelling of special interest and already made an offer and it was declined. A full account of the frustrations of various officials and the local community were felt by the writer of the newspaper article who shared their view.
I suspected Señor Cejas opposed the building’s transformation into yet another island museum, the restoration of a traditional windmill in Tiscamanita already serving the purpose. Or perhaps he had in mind the construction of holiday lets on the substantial parcel of land. It was the sort of plan my father, Herb Bennett of Bennett and Vine, would have had in mind. Demolish and rebuild. Sell at a premium to investors keen to rent out to holidaymakers; developers couldn’t lose. They were an inexorable breed, prepared to play a long game. No doubt Cejas would have waited until the walls collapsed to rubble then the government would have given in and granted a demolition permit. That Cejas may have had a deeper, more complex reason for wanting to erase the structure didn’t enter my mind.
My father tried to talk me out of my plans. He took to phoning me in the evenings when he knew I was watching Kevin McCloud, and he would go on and on about how there were a million better uses for my winnings. I would hold the phone away from my ear and let him rant until he ran out of advice.
I was immutable. I had passed by that ruin numerous times on my drives down the island’s backroads and grown fascinated by it. I stopped one time and took a photo. Over the years, I had taken an abundance of photos of the ruins littering the island, but I had that one blown up and framed and it hung above the fireplace in my living room. I would stare at it every day, the image becoming for me a focus of wishful thinking, fervent at times, a potent symbol of longing for a different sort of life to the one I was stuck with. Until I won the lottery, that was the nature of my desire.
One very large deposit into my bank account and I was no longer stuck where I was. I had freedom and that freedom entered my life like a lightning bolt, destabilising me to my core. Suddenly, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. Out of all the old dwellings falling to ruins on the island—a combination of lack of interest, strict restoration regulations, apathy and the ease of building with concrete blocks—I had chosen to save that one, like a child with her nose pressed to a sweet-shop cabinet, her pointy finger tapping the glass.
Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of brilliant, original fiction across a range of genres, including dark psychological thrillers, gripping mystery novels, captivating travel fiction, and hilarious dark satire. Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism and carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives near Melbourne, Australia, with her little white cat.
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