The diary, under a pile of comics, had fallen off Oz Chambers’ desk as he’d searched for his favourite highlighter. He’d riffled through it guiltily, wondering where all his good intentions had gone.
As always, the first few days of January were full. By Easter, the pages were empty.
He flicked back to page one, and a list of his resolutions.
1/ Help mum—more.
2/ Try and convince her to unlock dad’s study.
3/ Practice soccer—more.
5/ Listen in class—more.
He shook his head as he read the last entry. Fat lot of good that had done him. Miss Swinson, deputy head of Seabourne School, a.k.a. ‘The Volcano’ due to her tendency to erupt without warning, had the cheek to accuse him of cheating at math just because he’d got a hundred percent. He hadn’t cheated of course. For some reason, on that day, things had just clicked. Stranger things happened every day in year 7— well they did to Oz. Ruff Adams, one of Oz’s best mates, had called the maths result a, “buzzard miracle”—buzzard being Ruff’s substitute swear word for just about everything, good or bad.
Yet even his mother had found that ‘miracle’ difficult to swallow, though it was the absolute truth, and he had no explanation for it. Just like he couldn’t explain the grey-eyed girl he’d started seeing in his dreams, or why his mother wouldn’t talk to him about his dad’s accident, or why he’d gone to Egypt the day he died instead of flying straight home from his field trip.
That was the thing about living at Penwurt. It was a place stuffed full of mystery, with little pockets of weirdness lurking around every corner. That was why his dad had loved the place so much. Why his mum now locked the door into the old orphanage wing every night too. It didn’t even help to know that ‘Penwurt’, a mix of Celtic and Old English, meant the hill where weird things happen. The Volcano had certainly not been impressed in the slightest when he’d told her.
Oz had, of course, tried to ignore the weirdness. But he couldn’t. Not since the appearance of the ghostly footsteps he and his friends had heard emanating from the locked rooms in the old orphanage block. He’d suspected before, but the footsteps had convinced him: There was something in the sealed up rooms and dusty corners of this old house that had an answer to everything.
Even an A in maths.
Oz picked up a pen, scrubbed out the January resolutions from his diary, and wrote on a fresh, clean page.
Find out Penwurt’s secrets.
He would, too. If was the last thing he’d ever do.
The Obsidian Pebble by Rhys A Jones.
[Temp cover–artwork to come.]
Book 1 of the Artefact Quintet.
A MG fantasy/mystery for 9 to 90 year olds.
Oz Chambers lives in a haunted house. His mother wants to move, but Oz would rather do double algebra (yuck) every day for twelve months than leave. When he and his friends hear ghostly footsteps, it leads to a search for the strange artefacts that are the source of the old place’s eerie reputation. But what Oz hasn’t bargained for is that he’s not alone in that search and that solving Penwurt’s puzzles will lead to other, much darker secrets that will test his loyalty and his bravery to the limit.
Coming soon from Spencer Hill Press. October 2013.