Sunday, 20 October 2019

New Release Spotlight: Hallowed Ground by Paul Twivy

Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles by Paul Twivy

This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world - Namibia - with its foggy Skeleton Coast, buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.
Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space. They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.
Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will be discovered beneath the hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?

This is the Prologue of the book which takes place almost 190 years before the present-day setting of the main story.


Ray County, Missouri, The United States of America
13th November, 1833

The rain of the preceding days had cleared, giving way to a beautifully clear air that you could drink like water. It had been hours since the three-day-old moon had sunk below the horizon.
Alice woke up from the brightness inside the tent and called out in alarm.
‘Father, don’t keep stirring the fire. You’ll set the tent on fire!’
‘I haven’t touched the fire,’ he replied. ‘The embers are dying. You need to come out here. You’ll never see the like of this again.’
At the sound of his voice, high-pitched and trembling, stretched between excitement and fear, the whole family woke and left the tent.
Beth Wall exclaimed on behalf of her young family who were struck dumb.
‘My God, the whole heavens are on fire. Is it the end of the world, Edward?’ she asked as Alice and her brothers clung to her nightshirt from fear, sucking in the warm scent of her body for comfort.
It should have been the darkest hours before dawn, but the whole sky was ablaze with meteors. They were falling like a rain of fire, twenty or thirty of them ablaze every second. The tracks of light remained visible for several seconds. It was if their eyes were a camera set to a very slow shutter speed. The falling stars seemed to radiate from the North-east but the sheer number of them confused every sense. The brighter ones left a trail of sparks like sky rockets.
‘Fireworks!’ the youngest one cried.
Around the family, camped on the banks of the Missouri river, arose several hundred people as if a graveyard had just disgorged its dead. They were Mormon refugees sleeping out in the open. Many fell to their knees and started to pray.
Occasionally, a particularly bright fireball would explode as it neared the Earth, with a sound that echoed half-way round the planet.
‘It’s as if every star has cut free from its mooring,’ Edward cried.
The plantations were lit up for miles around. The white farmers could be seen calling all their slaves together, many of whom fell on their knees praying, arms held aloft, convinced it was Judgement Day. The owners ran around those whom they had enslaved, begging forgiveness and freeing them. Some were telling them, for the first time, who their mothers and fathers were, who they’d been sold to and where they now lived. This brought brief tears of comfort to their black, upturned faces, followed by the agony that, now, they might never live to be reunited.
Everywhere, people were screaming and praying.
‘There can be no atheists on a night like this,’ Beth said. ‘Some of these stars as big as Venus!’
‘I’ve seen two as big as the moon,’ their eldest observed.
‘You see those that just skim the horizon?’ Beth asked Alice. ‘They call those “Earth-grazers”.’
Edward raked up the fire and found more logs. The family lay down next to it, holding each other tight. They watched until the rising sun eclipsed the fire-storm. From the southern states to Niagara Falls and the frozen wastes of Canada; from the land-locked plains of the mid-West to boats adrift on the icy Atlantic, people finally fell asleep at the touch of a new dawn on their skin.

Namibia, 1838, five years later

Captain Alexander dropped the flaming torch, sending light scurrying downwards and plunging the cave into darkness.
What he had seen remained imprinted on his retinas. It raced through his neurones like a train threatening to come off the tracks.
Was he hallucinating? Or had he really seen something that would change the way the human race looked at itself?
He sank slowly to his knees and felt around the cave floor for the torch. Its coarse hessian tip was unmistakeable on his finger-tips, as was the reek of kerosene as he raised it close to his face.
He struggled to remember where he’d put the matches. Then he remembered the feel of them at the bottom of his canvas bag.
His fingers trembled as he tried to strike one. The first match sent sparks shooting down his legs in a brief explosion. The cave lit up momentarily.
The second match was steadier and he lifted the flame to his torch which hissed and spluttered back to life.
There they were: fifteen or more, almost organic in shape, laid out in niches along the cave.
Then his eyes rose upwards again. There were four paintings on the ceiling. He propped the torch up and tried to sketch them in a notebook, but his hands couldn’t stop shaking and he was forced to stop.
If only the Herero men hadn’t abandoned him, their superstitions blazing in their eyes, their priest unconscious on the floor. Then he would have had witnesses, help and comfort, and not been left feeling like a madman, utterly alone.
Mind you, they had been right to be afraid. The knowledge was too much to bear.
The Royal Geographical Society, which had funded his mission, would blacklist him. The Church and the Army would call him a traitor. He would be an outcast.
He left the tomb and brought back a platoon the next day to hide the entrance from the world. No-one was ready for this. Perhaps in a hundred or so years they might be…

Amazon UK      Amazon Com 

Paul Twivy studied English at Oxford University and became one of the most famous British admen. He has written comedy and drama for the stage and radio. He edited the bestseller Change the World for a Fiver. He is married with five children. He was inspired to write Hallowed Ground by his first-hand experiences of the extraordinary landscapes and culture of Namibia.