#BlogTour The Unmaking of Ellie Rook by Sandra Ireland
The Unmaking of Ellie Rook
by Sarah Ireland
A single phone call from halfway across the world is all it takes to bring her home . . . ‘Ellie, something bad has happened.’
Desperate to escape her ‘kid from the scrapyard’ reputation, Ellie Rook has forged a new life for herself abroad, but tragedy strikes when her mother, Imelda, falls from a notorious waterfall. Here, according to local legend, the warrior queen Finella jumped to her death after killing a king. In the wake of her mother’s disappearance, Ellie is forced to confront some disturbing truths about the family she left behind and the woman she has become. Can a long-dead queen hold the key to Ellie’s survival? And how far will she go to right a wrong?
£8.99, paperback ISBN 9781846974823 Published JULY 2019
Outside, everything reminds me of my mother.
I walk as if my limbs are frozen, as if a wrong step might dislodge the frost. Past the police van and Shelby’s immaculate, green-painted caravan, curtains drawn against unwanted intrusion. There’s an unmistakeable scent of bacon. I slow down, spend way too long deliberating over whether it’s a just-cooked sort of smell or a days-old lingering one, and trying not to judge him on it.
Somewhere on the caravan are my mother’s initials. She helped him paint the gold and red curlicues and fleur-de-lis, the loopy fairground lettering between the windows: ‘Value & Civility’. Her initials, I. S. R. – Imelda Smith Rook – are hidden there somewhere, but I am too fragile to look. I am an icicle, waiting to snap.
I remember the morning Shelby towed his caravan into the yard. I must have been about twelve; River was still a toddler, clutching my hand. The caravan’s curtained windows were heavy- lidded, giving nothing away. Handfuls of grass festooned the undercarriage, as if the vehicle had been pulled free from a place where it shouldn’t have been. All the men came from the yard to witness this strange spectacle, and there was a lot of banter, a lot of revving and general kicking of tyres. I’ve noticed guys do that a lot when faced with a strange vehicle, as if they need to put their mark on it. Kicking is more civilised than pissing, I guess.
When I think of that time, I remember my mother’s expression. She never ever looked like that, all lit up from the inside. Shelby Smith was the closest thing she had to family, a distant cousin many times removed. He brought a blast of fresh Nottingham air to the Aberdeenshire coast, I suppose. It turned back time for a small while. Made her sparkle.
His hair was dark back then, the hat less dusty. I can still see him sliding out of his Land Rover to plant a kiss on my mother’s cheek. I was fascinated by the faded denim jacket, the single gold earring. We had a campfire in the yard that night. The men got legless on cheap lager and Shelby played some old tunes on a battered melodeon. River fell asleep against my shoulder and turned all rosy in the firelight. It was a good night.
About the Author
Sandra Ireland was born in England but lived for many years in Éire before returning ‘home’ to Scotland in the 1990s. She is the author of Beneath the Skin, a psychological thriller, which was shortlisted for a Saltire Literary Award in 2017. Her second novel, Bone Deep, a modern Gothic tale of sibling rivalry, inspired by an old Scottish folktale, will be published in the UK by Polygon in July, and in the US (Gallery) and Germany (Penguin) next year. She also writes poetry, often inspired by the seascapes of Scotland’s rugged east coast. Her poems have been widely published in anthologies, including Seagate III (Dundee), and New Writing Scotland. She won the Dorothy Dunbar Trophy for Poetry, awarded by the Scottish Association of Writers, in 2017 and 2018. Sandra is Secretary of Angus Writers’ Circle and one third of the Chasing Time Team, which runs writing retreats in a gloriously gothic rural setting.