Dirt poor Rachel and rich kid Danny are a pair of History students who wouldn’t normally mix, but their destinies become entangled when an old gravestone catapults them back to 1912 and they find themselves in a race against time to prevent the murder of a teenage girl at the hands of her abusive father.
Exploring their city’s dark past - a gritty, violent, gaslit world of real danger - they find that every action has an unforeseen consequence that can ripple through generations.
Touchstone builds into a moving coming of age fantasy series that has won plaudits from young and old readers alike with its intelligent blend of time travel adventure, science fiction, historical romance and fantasy.
*** LENGTH: 20,000-words (100 pages) ***
This first part of the Touchstone saga is a self-contained novella set in 1912. Parts 1 and 2 of Touchstone are also available in a special double paperback edition.
They turned and looked down the alley and gaped in wonder. It was the same alley they’d walked down this morning but everything was different. It was a grim back-to-back slum. A group of snotty pauper children stood staring at them, frowning, silent. They were half dressed and filthy, their saucer eyes reminding her of starving African children she’d seen on TV adverts for charities. She gagged.
‘Oh God, it stinks.’
‘I think I’m gonna chuck.’
‘Come on,’ he said.
He still had hold of her hand and seemed to realise for the first time. He mumbled something, looked down at the floor and let go of her. She followed him down the alley, passing the blank-eyed street urchins, giving them a wide berth, keeping one eye on them. She had the feeling they might turn feral at any moment, but they just stared and said nothing. It was creepy.
They left them behind and headed for the strip of light at the end, and emerged to the village green, both gasping out loud at what they saw.
It was a busy crossroads hub of horse-drawn coaches, electric trams and promenading Edwardians. It was like turning a corner and walking into a film set. They stood there frozen, mouths agape in wonder.
‘Oh my God,’ she managed to say.
‘It’s true,’ he said.
‘This is really…’ She floundered for the word, but nothing came. There was no word for it.
‘Yeah,’ he said.
‘When are we?’
‘I don’t know.’
He saw the news stand on the green, manned by a shabby old man.
‘There,’ he said. ‘Come on.’
He walked over. She watched him go, cringing inside, feeling that if they stepped foot in this world something awful would happen. If they stood and stared from the safety of the alley’s mouth, maybe no one would see them. But she didn’t want to be alone so she scurried after him. He grabbed a newspaper from the stand and looked at the front page. It was called the Gazette & Express.
‘Hey! That’s threepence.’
‘I’m just looking,’ said Danny.
‘I’ll give you “just looking” you cheeky…’
The shabby old news stand man stopped and stared at Danny.
‘Hang on,’ he said.
Danny shoved the newspaper back at him and grabbed Rachel’s arm and walked her away, back to the alley’s dark mouth.
‘It’s today,’ he hissed.
He frog-marched her back up the alley. She glanced back over her shoulder and saw the news stand man staring after them. There was something about his look that wasn’t right.
‘It’s today’s date,’ said Danny.
‘Today? That doesn’t make sense.’
‘Today’s date. But in 1912.’
They scurried up the alley, heading for the gate to the churchyard.
‘Why are we going back?’
‘We need clothes and we need money.’