BLACK DIAMOND (age 12 and up readers)
Part One of McLean Twins Series
After her mom’s sudden death, twelve-year-old Shannon McLean has to move from the US to the English countryside to live with her mysterious father, Connor McLean, whom she hasn’t seen since she was a baby. Soon she discovers that he doesn’t want her around and her moving into his huge manor, Greyman Hill, is nothing more to him than a compulsory deal. But if he does not exactly give her a warm welcome, his servant Robert is most likely an incarnation of evil. He runs the house with an iron touch and makes everyone who works there his little puppets.
Weird things start to happen and the whole place scares the crap out of Shannon. Her dad can control her just by looking at her. The walls are full of secret passages and apparently she has the talent to awaken the ghosts in them. Every day is worse than the day before and she wants badly to run away but discovers it’s impossible. If she wants to stay alive she has to do exactly as her dad says or else she will not only jeopardize her own life but also the lives of the people around her.
While Shannon struggles to find the magic inside her, Connor is slowly turning into a demon. One carelessly spoken word from her could either save or destroy them both. In the end she has to decide whether to save herself and her loved ones, or lose her dad to the darkness and evil that threaten to eat his soul.
Shannon felt uncomfortable. It was so quiet and obviously she was the only person who was going to eat. Connor was nowhere to be seen and the third person had ignored the ‘or else’ part.
The side door opened. Three young women came in carrying trays. They were as pale as Lily had been a moment ago and they kept their eyes down. Breakfast was served in silence and Shannon could only stare at the women’s hands. Each was tattooed with a tiny lock. She grabbed one of the women’s hands and looked at the lock. It started to move and seemed like it was going to change shape into something strange that almost looked like a black diamond. The woman pulled her hand away and fled screaming. That’s it! Shannon wasn’t going to eat anything they served and she didn’t care what might happen if she didn’t eat. She stood up and left the room.
She slammed the front door on purpose and hoped that at least Connor would hear it. Then she went into the garden. The trees were full of apples and pears. She grabbed an apple. That would be her breakfast. It wasn’t much but at least she could be sure it hadn’t been poisoned by those creepy women. She spotted a path that went through the field behind the garden. She had nothing better to do so she decided to follow it. She was curious. Would it lead her away from this nightmare place, or would it lead her into some even weirder place?
The moist grass bent under her feet and wet her sneakers. The weather was clear and she could see that the path went into a small forest. She walked through the field and was surprised at how far away the forest was. It had looked closer, but it took her almost two hours to reach it. When she saw the giant trees she hesitated. The manor and the people there were obviously not normal, so why would this forest be? If she entered it would she get out again, or would it trap her there? She glanced behind her. She could still see the manor and the houses that surrounded it. What could be a worse place than that? Carefully, she took the first step and walked into the forest.
The trees were really huge. The oaks and maple trees reached so high into the sky that Shannon could barely see the blue between the leaves. The tree trunks were full of creepers that had twisted their thin branches around them, and the light that penetrated between the trees looked heavenly.
Shannon laughed. There was nothing to be afraid of. It was just a normal forest. Maybe a little bit more beautiful than the ones she had seen before, but that was it.
Her stomach rumbled. Maybe she should’ve taken another apple with her. She sat on a mossy rock and looked around.
There were at least a dozen different types of tree. She recognized oak, maple, willow, lime, elm, and rowan, but the rest of the trees were a mystery to her. One of the tree trunks seemed weird and she went to take a closer look at it. There was some odd writing on it, but she couldn’t read it. It seemed similar to what she had seen on Connor’s hands, but she couldn’t be sure. She pressed her hand to it. It felt warm and when she tried to read it out loud it started to move.
“Wow!” she gasped and pulled her hand away quickly. The words stopped moving. She walked around the tree and saw that some of the other trees had writing on them as well. She stared at it. What if… she thought and touched it lightly with her finger. It moved again but nothing else happened. She stepped back and hesitated. She had no idea why her fingers made the writing move, and she knew that if she were wise she should walk away from the forest and ignore the writing. She was not wise. She stepped forward and pressed both her hands onto it.
Instantly, it started to move. The air thickened around her and the sun went behind the clouds. She heard quiet whispering from the trees and her hands started to glow. She screamed, pulled her hands away and started to run. She had no clue where the path was and it was almost impossible to see, as the air was so thick and grey. She bumped into the trees and tried to grope her way out of the forest, but she couldn’t see a thing. The whispering got louder and the trees seemed to be awake. Their branches tore her hair and clothes and she could feel blood streaming from the tiny wounds on her body. This is my end, she thought. This is the place where I’m going to die.
She coughed. It was hard to breathe and she was so tired she wanted to collapse and give in. Her legs slowed down and she felt dizzy. She stopped and leaned on something she thought was a big rock. She couldn’t be sure of it, but it felt hard and cold, so she decided it had to be a rock. She breathed heavily and wiped her face. Then she saw it. There was light in front of her. Not much, but definitely some. She started to move again, as slowly as a cripple, and bit by bit she reached the light. Suddenly, she was in the field again. She looked behind and saw the forest. It didn’t look any different from when she saw it the first time, but now she could sense that something strange was in it. Like the whole forest had held its breath and waited, waited for her to do something. She felt a million tiny eyes staring at her and she froze. Whatever was in there, she didn’t want to know. She sobbed and started to run back to the manor as fast as she could.
What readers say about Black Diamond:
***** Black Diamond is a story about good VS. evil. It serves a good message and perfect for a young reader who loves mystery, suspense, and magic. This book was one that you could just dive into. The writing was clear and easy to follow. This was a good escape and a compelling read. Even though I am far from being a YA, I really enjoyed the ride.
“She saw the house, and now that she knew its secret it didn’t look as scary as it did before. It should have, but it just didn’t. Yes, it was a damned house now, but it hadn’t always been like that. She allowed herself to admire its beautiful decorations, the marvelous garden and its castle-like towers. She could imagine her parents living there. Happily. Mom was pregnant and Dad was thrilled.”
***** The latest novel from Jennifer Loiske is a pacey, thrilling race through the adventures of Shannon and Ian, in a old English country house as they fight to beat evil and triumph over darkness.
Forced to move from the States to England, to live with her father after her mother’s death, Shannon finds that shortly after arriving at her new home strange things start to happen and mysteries deepen. Amidst revelations of secrets and lies, Shannon finds that as time passes by more questions need to be answered, and more fights need to be fought in order to triumph over evil.
A great read for young adults, I’d highly recommend Black Diamond to teens looking for something a bit different; mysteries, secrets, lies and discoveries make for a thrilling adventure in the perfect setting. I hope to read more from the McLean Twins soon!!
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I couldn’t resist commenting. Well written!
First of all I would like to say great blog! I had a quick
question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center
yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my
thoughts out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like
the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
Any recommendations or hints? Cheers!
I wish there was a magic trick, but unfortunately no. I always have a lot of WIPs (work in progress) at the same time, so if I don’t feel like working with one, I just choose another one. Also, it helps to write everyday. Even if you don’t feel like it. If the first 10-15 minutes are the hardest write a letter to one of your characters, read what you’ve written before or do a little research on line about the subject that you’re going to write about, and before you know it, you are actually writing your story. I hope this helped.