Clare Harlow – YA Fantasy – A PATCHWORK OF GLASS
Discovering your twin has super-powers is mind-blowing. Having to take their place is on a whole other level.
All Liv wants is a kick-ass birthday party. Instead she’s faced with an incredible revelation: her twin sister, Lex, is a Wanderer – able to walk between worlds and sworn to protect the gateways between them.
But someone is hunting the Wanderers. Before Liv can learn more, Lex is hit by a car. As Liv races towards her comatose body, people from her twin’s double life emerge. They promise Lex can be healed by morning but are desperate to keep the attack secret. With the ambulance arriving and no time to ask questions, Liv agrees to impersonate Lex at a mysterious ceremony that night.
Although the plan succeeds, Lex sleeps on, not in a coma but trapped by a spell. Liv is left to navigate the secret side of Bristol, where every innocent-looking mirror might be a door to Beyond. When the mirrors crack, soul-sucking Hounds invade, threatening the lives of anyone touched by magic, and Liv must find a way to wake Lex up. Fast. But her search for the person behind the enchantment leads her to a vengeful sorceress and an impossible choice – between the life of her twin and the fate of the entire city.
‘A Patchwork of Glass’ is an 86,000-word YA fantasy. Grounded in the real world, with an ordinary heroine’s take on extraordinary events, it would sit well on a bookshelf between ‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here’ by Patrick Ness and Sophie Cameron’s ‘Out of the Blue’. In 2016, it was longlisted (as ‘The Wrong Twin’) for the Society of Children’s Book-writers and Illustrators ‘Undiscovered Voices’ award. Since then, I have reworked it under the tutelage of Catherine Johnson at Curtis Brown Creative.
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The world assembles itself in fragments. Heat and darkness. A rustle of leaves. Hard ground beneath my bare feet. Hands gripping my shoulders.
Lex’s hands. Lex’s face, backlit by an orange haze. Her mouth, making shapes. Speaking.
‘Liv? Liv, can you hear me? Come on, we have to move.’
She grabs my wrist, tugging me sideways. Details slide into focus. Not ground under my feet but the smooth grain of floorboards. That spindly, spidery shape is the coat-rack, not a tree.
Our coat-rack. Our hall. I must have imagined the leaves. But the sound is still there. More of a crackle than a rustle, like paper scrunching.
‘What’s going on?’ My tongue won’t cooperate; the question comes out in a slur.
‘There’s a fire. In the study.’ You’d think Lex was telling me I couldn’t copy her physics homework or that Mum wanted us to pick up some milk from the shops. ‘We need to get out.’ She gestures to the front door but heads for the stairs. ‘I’ll wake Mum and Frank. Just go. Yes, hello, fire brigade, please.’ She holds a blue phone to her ear. My phone. I must’ve dropped it when…
When what? My memory’s watery, reforming in drips. Waking slicked in sweat, creeping downstairs towards the cool of the kitchen tiles, the ice-cubes in the freezer.
Except I didn’t make it that far. Something caught my attention. A noise from the study. Light splashing into the hall, softer and paler than the light streaming through the doorway now.
Between one heartbeat and the next, reality crashes in. The study is burning. Ragged flames gnaw at the base of the desk, lapping across the rug towards the bookshelves. Panic slices my spine. The house is lined with books, top to bottom. It might as well be stuffed with kindling.
We need to shut that door before the fire spreads.
‘Liv, go!’ Lex’s voice tumbles down from the landing.
Ignoring her, I shove my feet into the first shoes I find in the jumble by the radiator, grab a coat from the rack, use it to mummify myself from nose to waist, then scurry over to the study. Careful not to let my skin touch the metal of the handle, I yank the door shut, making sure it clicks into the frame. Darkness envelopes the hall, broken only by strips of moonlight slanting through the shutters. Either the heatwave’s rotted my brain or the chaos is playing tricks on my ears. I’d swear Lex’s footsteps thunder the wrong way, towards the spare room rather than Mum and Frank’s bedroom, but the next moment she’s bang-bang-banging on their door.
It opens. It shuts, swallowing Lex’s shouts.
Go, she said, and I do.
Outside, I wait. One, one-elephant, two, one-elephant, three, one-elephant, four. It takes thirty-seven seconds of silence for the others to emerge. Thirty-seven seconds of picturing the flames. Long enough to realise there was something strange about the fire.