Friday, July 19, 2013

Reaper's Rhythm by Clare Davidson: Cover Reveal and Excerpt


Clare Davidson is an independent writer, based in Lancaster. Clare is a high school teacher, mother and character-driven fantasy writer. Clare was born in Northampton and lived in Malaysia for four and a half years as a child, before returning to the UK to settle in Leeds with her family. Whilst attending Lancaster University, Clare met her future husband and never left. They now share their lives with their young daughter, a cranky grey cat and an insane white kitten. 

She published her first novel, Trinity in July 2012. Trinity is a young adult, fantasy novel, which currently has seventeen five star reviews on Amazon UK.  

Her second novel, Reaper’s Rhythm, is due to be released on the 26th July 2013. Also aimed at a young adult audience, Reaper’s Rhythm is an urban fantasy with a dash of mystery.



When everyone thinks your sister committed suicide, it’s hard to prove she was murdered. 

Kim is unable to accept Charley’s sudden death. Crippled by an unnatural amnesia, her questions are met with wall after wall. As she doubts her sanity, she realises her investigation is putting those around her in danger. 

The only person who seems to know anything is Matthew, an elusive stranger who would rather vanish than talk. Despite his friendly smile, Kim isn’t sure she can trust him. But if she wants to protect her family from further danger, Kim must work with Matthew to discover how Charley died – before it’s too late.

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 Excerpt from Reaper’s Rhythm

Hidden: Book 1

Clare Davidson 

Chapter One

The warm light seeps through the closed sitting room curtains when I step into the drive. The muffled thump of dance music grows louder as I approach the familiar front door. I push the key into the lock, but the door swings open on its own. My breath catches in my throat, but I force it into a growl. Not only has my sister, Charley, not bothered to lock the door, she hasn’t latched it. Whatever she rushed home for must have been important.

I step over the threshold and a blast of warm air hits me, enveloping me like one of Mum’s overprotective hugs. My wind-chilled face tingles, as I close and lock the door.

"Charley, I hope you’ve set the table.” My voice competes with the din of the deep bass of my sister’s music.

I toss my keys into the wicker basket on the hall table. As I peel my coat off, I see Charley’s in a crumpled heap on the floor. Rolling my eyes, I scoop it up and hang it, then place her discarded boots in the shoe rack beside my own. Why am I the conscientious sister? I’m only sixteen. Charley will be heading off to university next year.

Stomach rumbling, I snatch up the Chinese takeout I’d picked up on the walk home and wander into the kitchen. Frowning, I flick the switch to light up the pristine room. Mum is a clean freak now that Dad doesn’t live here. The table isn't set, even though Charley promised she would do it before she rushed off ahead.

"Charley,” I call out and then dump the bag on the kitchen table and stomp across the hall to the sitting room, shoving the door open.

The music hits me first, making me jerk my head back, then the smell. An odd odour, metallic and rich, overpowers the air freshener on the mantel.

"Charley?" She must be trying to scare me. "Charley, stop messing around.” I grit my teeth, expecting her to jump out at any second.

My body shudders and my flesh tingles as if an army of ants is marching beneath my skin. I back out of the empty sitting room and bolt upstairs. The smell is stronger, snaking down my throat, making me want to gag.


I shove her door open, hard.

Charley’s lying on the bed, her blond hair fanned out over the pillow. Her arms are spread wide, palms up. Crimson blood drips from deep slashes on her wrists. Her blue eyes are open, staring at the ceiling. But they don't see. They're dull, empty.


The room spins. My stomach lurches and bile rises up my throat. I swallow and clap my hand to my mouth. Sagging against the doorframe, I can’t tear my gaze from the single lock of hair resting over Charley’s porcelain cheek. What should I do?

Charley would know what to do.

As I stumble down the stairs, my mind clicks into gear. A scream rips out of my throat, eclipsing the pounding music. My foot slips on the beige carpet, sending me tumbling down the remaining stairs. My shoulder and back slam against the wall. I scramble to my feet, screaming, sobbing, then stagger into the hallway, colliding into a young man with the darkest eyes I’ve ever seen.

My own force knocks me backwards. His strong grip clenches my arm, preventing me from falling. I try to scream again, but the sound is trapped within my constricting chest. My sister is dead. A stranger is in my house.

I writhe against his grip, lashing out with my foot. My toes crumple and sting when they hit his shin. I’m thrown off balance, but he holds me fast.

He raises his thumb to my forehead and applies gentle pressure, as he sweeps his thumb towards my brow and then hooks it back up.

"Sleep." His quiet voice acts like a sedative.

My head flops forward until my chin touches my chest. A new scent replaces the sickly metallic tang of Charley’s blood: freshly cut grass. Inhaling it makes my head fuzzy and my heartbeat slow.

I want to see his face, memorise every detail. The contours of his cheeks and jaw, the shape of his nose, the colour of his hair. The police want to know those things, don’t they? The only feature I can see for sure is the impossible darkness of his eyes.

My own eyelids droop, my limbs turn liquid. A strong arm loops round my back and lowers me to the floor. I fight against sleep. Each time I force my eyelids open, they flutter shut again.

"Forget,” he says. The word is nothing more than a whisper at the edge of my hearing. "Sleep."


Chapter Two


My eyes are closed, but I hear a soft, repetitive bleep. Where am I? Something sharp irritates the back of my right hand. My scalp itches, like my hair hasn’t been washed for a week. I’m lying in a hard, uncomfortable bed, on a mattress that rustles with the slight movement of my head. Wherever I am, it stinks like an overdose of flowers. I can tell it’s light because the insides of my eyelids glow red.

“Is she waking up?” Mum’s voice sounds strangled. “Kim?”

“Give her some space, Cath.” Dad’s voice.

Why’s he here?

I twitch my forehead into a stiff frown. Why would Dad be here? Where am I? Prying my eyes open, I grunt through my nose. Bright morning light pours in through the large window, revealing the unfamiliar room. The top half of the walls have been painted white, the bottom half mint-green. A plastic rail runs round the walls. Dark scuff marks stain the white paint. My bed is narrow, with raised metal sides. I can see the back of a board, clipped to the end of the bed. My head and shoulders are propped up on rustling pillows. I’m covered in a white sheet and a lemon-yellow blanket. Why am I in hospital?

“Kim?” Mum’s face hovers at the corner of my vision. Her eyes, normally bright as sapphires, are red and puffy. She isn’t wearing any makeup and her blond hair has been hastily pulled back into a bun.

Dad approaches and leans over the other side of the bed. He grips my left hand. “Welcome back, Kimmie.”

I grimace at the nickname. He knows I hate it. I try to speak, but my tongue sits in my mouth like a sanding block. I cough instead. Something tugs against my right hand. I glance down and realise why it’s itching so badly. An IV protrudes from my skin. I follow the tube upwards to a clear bag of fluid. I try to speak, but only manage to croak. Dad hands me a cup of water. I sip it slowly, allowing it to soothe my sore throat.

“Why am I here?” My voice is nothing more than a weak rasp. “What happened?”

Mum and Dad exchange a glance.

Dad takes the cup from me and sets it down on the bedside cabinet. He exhales. “What do you remember, Kimmie?”

I stare at him, running my tongue over my cracked lips. My body shivers. “I was walking home with takeout.” I prop myself up on my elbows, still dizzy, and gaze around the room. Flowers adorn the bedside table, the window sill, the wheeled table and even the floor. “Why won’t you tell me what’s happened?”

I don’t think anything’s broken. I don’t feel any pain.

Mum massages her forehead with her thumb and forefinger while Dad dips his gaze to my blanket. Their silence terrifies me.

“How long have I been here?”

Dad lets out a long sigh. “Two days.”

My eyes widen. “Two days? What happened? Where are Charley and Chris?” Knowing my sister, she’s probably out shopping while I’m lying in the hospital.

Sobbing, Mum claps her hand to her mouth. She squeezes her eyes shut and shakes her head over and over. “I can’t do this.” She flees the room, leaving me staring at her back.

“Dad, please, tell me what’s going on.” My whispers quiver in the air.

He clears his throat. “Kimmie… Charley, she…” he wipes his hand over his eyes.

I clutch his hand, unable to breathe. My head spins with thoughts. “Tell me.”

“Charley is gone.”

I blink. Charley wouldn’t leave without telling me. She wouldn’t. “Gone?” My mind feels like it’s been stuffed with mothballs.

Dad blows air through his clenched teeth. “She’s dead, Kimmie.”

My elbows give way. I crash onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. My entire body has gone numb. I don’t believe it.

Dad squeezes my hand. “You found her. Do you remember?” He strokes my hand. “It must have been a terrible shock for you. I’m so sorry.”

I tug my hand from his grasp. “I was walking home with takeout.” The words trip out of my mouth mechanically. “Charley went ahead. She rushed off after she got a text message. She said she would set the table.” Tears sting my eyes. I won’t believe his words. “She can’t be dead.”

Dad strokes my lank hair away from my sweaty forehead. “I’m sorry, Kimmie, but she’s gone.”

I turn my face away from his touch. It can’t be true.

“How did she seem?” Dad’s voice trembles.

The IV stings my hand when I clench my fists. “She was fine. She was happy.” I frown. “You know, Charley. She’d dragged me on one of her crusades.”

A strained smile spreads across Dad’s lips. “What was it this time?”

“Some girl at the record store sold an 18 certificate game to an under-aged kid.”

“Did anything else happen? Anything at all?”

“She flipped a guy off.” I can remember the crestfallen expression on that guy’s face as though it was seconds ago, so why can’t I remember arriving home? Why can’t I remember finding my sister?

My lower lip shudders. It’s true. Charley is gone. I flick my head round to stare at Dad. “How did she die?” Anger makes my voice shake. Grief makes tears collect in the back of my throat and behind my eyes.

Dad bows his head. It’s only then I realise he’s not bothered shaving. Salt and pepper stubble covers his strong chin and angular jaw. “Kimmie, she…” He curls his hands around the bed’s guard rail, exposing the whites of his knuckles. “Charley took her own life.”

My breath is forced out of my lungs in a gasp. “She was happy. She wouldn’t… she was happy.”

“Kimmie.” He grasps my shoulders.

I struggle and scream, wrenching myself from his grip, almost tearing the IV from my hand.

“Kimmie.” I’ve never heard Dad sound so lost and afraid.

“Charley was happy.” I gulp in air, even though it stings my throat. “She would never. She wouldn’t.” I can’t bring myself to say the words.

Dad stares at me. His shoulders are slumped, his eyes hollow. “I’m sorry.” He touches his index finger to his lips. Tears gather in his eyes and drip down his cheeks. “She slit her wrists.” His fingertips graze my bare arm. “Don’t you remember, Kimmie? You found her.”

“You keep saying that.” The words explode from my lips in a scream. I flatten my palms over my face, covering my eyes. Violent sobs shake my body and choke my throat. How could I forget?

“The police think you fell down the stairs, after you found her. Shock.” He pats my arm. “Maybe it’s best you don’t remember.”

“Charley was happy,” I whisper, not able to look at him.

He taps his nails against the guard rail a few times. The metallic clink makes my skin crawl. He strikes the metal bar with the palms of his hand. The force sends vibrations rippling through the bed.

“Kim, listen to me…”

I cut him off with a sharp shake of my head. “You’re lying. Why are you lying?” I glare at him. “Get out. Leave me alone.”

Dad steps back and wipes his hand over his chin. A sad sigh escapes him. “I’ll leave you to get some rest.”


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