The Secret of Dartwood Manor
(The Witchling Trilogy, #1)
Publication date: January 18th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Witches. Ghosts. An ancient secret. Enter a world of myth and magic through this contemporary fantasy reimagining of Jane Austen’s beloved classic, Sense and Sensibility.
The small New England town of Tarryville, Maine is steeped in history, having been settled by the Dartwood and Farris families who fled Salem during the witch trials. The Dartwood sisters, Eden, Mariah, and Melissa, unexpectedly return home after their parents are found murdered. Upon their arrival, the girls are plagued by dreams in which dark spectral beings haunt them. When the hellish creatures seem to be more than just nightmares, another mystery begins to unravel as they discover that the circumstances around the murder of their parents may be far more menacing than they appear. Frantic for answers, they must untangle the mystery of their parents ’murders and reconstruct the pieces of an ancient secret. With the help of the young assistant curator of their family museum, Baden Correia, and an estranged friend from their past, Evan Farris, the orphaned Dartwood sisters must uncover the truth before the darkness haunting their family descends upon them as well.
“Have a good night, Dr. McConnell,” Baden held the door for one of their regulars as the woman exited the Dartwood Library and Museum. She was the last patron of the evening. Locking the door behind her, he turned to finish cleaning up
for the night. Returning a few stray books to their homes on the shelves and throwing scraps of paper in the trash was all he had left to do. As he made his way toward one of the tables, his attention was drawn toward a nearby bookshelf. He could hear a voice whispering something. Someone was behind that shelf.
“Hello?” Baden called out. Hearing only more whispering, he headed for the bookshelf, spotting the silhouette of a woman. Wondering how he had missed her before, he turned the corner and said, “I’m sorry but we’re closed for the eve—” His words cut short as he froze in place, staring at the suddenly empty space behind the bookshelf.
“Baden,” a woman chimed from across the room.
“Who’s there?” he called out, spinning on his heals. How had the woman crossed the room so quickly?
“Don’t you remember me, old friend?”
Baden followed the voice into the center of the room and caught the tail of a white cloak that only partially obscured what appeared to be a toga rushing behind another bookshelf. He had finished his rounds through the museum checking for patrons. No one else had been there. He was certain. Now, staring at the strange silhouette gliding behind the shelves, he couldn’t help but think of the Dartwoods. They had been murdered at night in their own home. “This isn’t funny,” he tried to speak with confidence, but it came out as little more than a whimper.
“They’ve finally come,” the voice seemed to be coming from everywhere despite the fact that he could distinctly see her gliding in front of him.
“Who’s come?” He made his way around the shelves to face the woman, but she was gone once more. When no answer came, he closed his eyes. “You’re just tired,” he said to himself, shaking his head, before opening his eyes.
The whispering began again, this time closer. It was right on the other side of the bookshelf he was standing next to. Slowly he turned and saw the silhouette behind the shelf. Inhaling, he placed a weak hand on the spine of the massive text that obstructed his view of her. The whispering was still a constant hum, but he’d have to be quick if he wanted to avoid her disappearing again. Rapidly, he pulled the book out of its place and was met with the weary expression of a frail old woman, her milky eyes boring into him, though he doubted they could see much of anything. “Que susto!” he all but screamed, leaping back. He recognized her. She’d been in his nightmare the night of the murder. Somehow, though, her visage felt more familiar than the simple memory of a dream. He knew her, but he did not know how.
“They are in danger,” the crone hissed in warning, and then she was gone. She hadn’t run away or moved to the side. She had merely vanished.
Placing the book back on the shelf, he buried his face in his hands. There was no way he had seen a woman just disappear in front of him. It was impossible.
Feeling his phone vibrate in his pocket, he jumped. Sighing a laugh, he tried to clear his thoughts. It must have been a hallucination brought on by grief and stress. There was no other explanation. Stilling himself, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and went to finish cleaning up.
N. A. Triptow graduated from The University of Utah with a Bachelor of Arts in English Teaching with minors in History Teaching, Theatre, and British Studies. She teaches high school English and Film Studies. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Strategic Communication and Advertising from Purdue University. In her free time, you can find her reading, watching and analyzing movies and television shows, attending the theatre, going on walks or hikes, and playing board or video games with family and friends. She lives in Utah.
For more from Nicole, including character artwork, playlists, swag, excerpts, trailers, and more, visit her website!
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