I was so thrilled when I found that Brook Cottage Books was organising this tour! You know those times when you read the blurb and just know it’s a book you’re going to love? I’ve enjoyed Kirsty Ferry’s books before, but this one was something rather special – and everything I hoped and wanted it to be. Watch For Me By Moonlight is the first in the Hartsford Mysteries series (now that’s something to look forward to!), and was published as an e-book by Choc Lit on 6th October, available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, and on other e-book platforms.
“It was the first full moon since that night. She waited and watched by moonlight, as she had promised …”
When her life in London falls apart, Elodie Bright returns to Suffolk and to Hartsford Hall, the home of her childhood friend Alexander Aldrich, now the Earl of Hartsford. There, she throws herself into helping Alex bring a new lease of life to the old house and its grounds.
After a freak storm damages the Hall chapel and destroys the tomb of Georgiana Kerridge, one of Alex’s eighteenth-century relatives, Elodie and Alex find a connection in the shocking discovery brought to light by the damaged tomb.
Through a series of strange flashbacks and uncanny incidents, they begin to piece together Georgiana’s secret past involving a highwayman, a sister’s betrayal and a forbidden love so strong that it echoes through the ages…
When people ask me about my comfort read – you know, the kind of book you always enjoy, even if you’re struggling with your reading – I have to say it must be a time slip novel. But I can be a bit fussy – those slips have to be really well handled, with both stories equally strong and engaging. This book was simply perfect – two love stories that totally swept me up and away into another world, from the initial dramatic lightning strike and the dramatic discovery, and for as long as I was reading.
The modern story is strong – a real historical mystery to be solved, and totally fascinating, with the attraction between Elodie and Alex providing a lovely frisson to the story. And as for the historical love story of Georgiana and Ben the highwayman – my goodness, I so loved it! The time slip moments were so perfectly done – triggered by objects and locations, totally believable, very original in the way they are accomplished. There were little touches in this book that really made me smile – the children in the nursery, the pushes and nudges from bony hands, the ghostly cat who doesn’t need cat litter – and I really liked the way some of the historical “moments” leaked and overlapped a little into the present, so cleverly done. The characters in both stories are really well drawn – the romantic leads who you really care about, but also those around them, like Georgiana’s horrendous and dysfunctional family. Hartsford Hall gives the whole book a wonderful sense of place, vividly described.
The story is just excellent – an absorbing mystery, with moments of real drama and danger, and two moving love stories – and so very well told. And – although this is absolutely a stand-alone read – I really did like the appearances from people I recognised from Kirsty’s Rossetti series. This is a series I’m really looking forward to revisiting – more please!
Happy to share an extract too…
Elodie had no idea how she made it to the church so quickly when she could barely see anything for the rain bucketing down in front of her eyes.
Pushing her way out of the gift shop, she ran, ploughing through mud and churned up grass, splashing through ankle deep puddles. Water was fountaining out of the drain covers like so many geysers, but Elodie didn’t look down, didn’t look to see where her feet were going. Her trainers would need to be binned and her clothes would probably never dry out again, but who cared? She just kept her sights on the church.
Against the shadows, she saw a tall figure running towards the place and knew instinctively who it was.
‘Alex!’ The wind tore the words out of her mouth and blew them somewhere towards Norfolk.
He reached the church moments before she did and stopped short at the door.
This time he heard her and spun around, rain dripping off his messy dark hair and into his midnight-blue eyes. ‘The roof, Elodie, it’s been hit. I was in the greenhouse. I saw it happening.’
‘I know!’ She drew up next to him, quite breathless. ‘I saw it too, from the gift shop.’ She hurried past him and put one hand on the ancient bronze door handle, but Alex’s hand came down on her wrist and held it in place.
‘Let me go first. I don’t know if it’s safe.’
Elodie relinquished the handle and hovered near him as he pulled the door open.
They both coughed as a cloud of dust and plaster came out, but thankfully there was no smell of burning.
‘Thank God,’ said Alex, clearly expecting the worst. ‘I’m still going in first though. You stay here until I call you.’
‘Okay. But come right back out if it’s looking bad!’
‘Don’t worry, I won’t hang around if it is.’ He disappeared into the building and Elodie peered anxiously in after him. After what seemed like an age, he called out to her. ‘It’s pretty grotty, but safe enough I think. The Lady Chapel got the worst of it. You can come in if you’re careful. But if it’s too much for your asthma, go straight back out.’
‘I will. But the poor Lady Chapel!’ Her heart pounding, she hurried into the church. As she stood there in the dark with the modern-day emergency lighting glowing in the rafters, and tiles smashed beneath her feet, and one of the beams hanging at a crazy angle from the ceiling to the floor, and one candle still miraculously lit and flickering wildly in an alcove near the altar, Elodie fought back the worst feeling of dread she’d ever experienced in her life.
‘Oh, my God!’
The Lady Chapel, which housed Georgiana’s tomb, was behind the fallen beam and rain was streaming down as if someone had aimed a garden hose through the roof. If anywhere in the place had suffered the worst from the lightning strike, it was, as Alex had said, that area. It had been built on to the church especially for Georgiana’s monument and never seemed to be quite fully part of the old building. The storm had obviously decided that the time had come to sever the connection completely – and it just felt all wrong, somehow. Damn.
‘I have to check Georgiana!’ Elodie scrambled over the rubble and crunched her way towards the Lady Chapel.
‘You’re not going over there on your own! God knows what it might be like. I’m coming with you.’ Alex tossed some bits of wood out of the way and followed her. With difficulty, they climbed over the beam and choked their way through the plaster cloud, the rain still hammering down and bouncing off the stone floor, but doing little to dampen the dust. Elodie felt the tell-tale tightening in her chest that warned of lungs that weren’t particularly happy in that sort of environment, but she had other things to think about and tried to ignore it.
She’d never forget what she saw after that – Georgiana’s beautiful marble tomb was split, right down the middle. It was as if the lightning strike had come straight through the roof and pierced the heart of the monument. It was all sort of broken in half and the place wasn’t filled with plaster dust: it was more like a mist of marble fragments. There were shards of the stuff scattered around and huge parts of the figure were shattered too. Even Georgiana’s lovely face was cracked from forehead to chin, yet she still looked so, so peaceful. And with the rain flowing over her cheeks, it seemed as if she was crying.
‘Oh, Georgiana!’ Elodie whispered and reached out, touching her hair.
There was an ominous creaking and groaning – then: ‘Look out!’ Alex grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her towards him as the whole tomb collapsed in on itself. The side fell off and Alex yanked Elodie out of the way. She lurched into him and automatically buried her head in his sopping wet chest. Then there was a horrible silence and all she could hear was the rain pounding on the wreckage of the tomb and Alex’s heart beating.
The silence was broken by Alex swearing.
‘Where is she?’ he asked. ‘Where the hell is she?’
About the author
Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale Enchantment. Her timeslip novel, Some Veil Did Fall, a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, The Girl in the Painting in February 2016 and The Girl in the Photograph in March 2017. The experience of signing Some Veil Did Fall in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far!
Kirsty’s day-job involves sharing a Georgian building with an eclectic collection of ghosts – which can sometimes prove rather interesting.