The Mystics of Little Edmunswick

by Sarah Bond. Shortlistee of the Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults competition 2023

A Thin Place is a spot on Earth where the barrier that separates the Spirit world from our world, is at its thinnest. It is a place where wandering Spirits can break through, and once more walk amongst the Living. So if the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, if you feel a shiver down your spine, and the pressure of a thousand unseen eyes watching you…you’re likely in a Thin Place…

It’s hard to picture how far down ‘six feet under’ really is until you’re digging up a body.

‘In the 1800s, grave robbing became such a huge problem in Edinburgh, that families would put heavy stone slabs over graves to stop people from stealing bodies. It was because scientists needed them for medical research, so−’

‘That’s great, Soph,’ Toby panted, pausing to lean on his spade, sweat running down his face in muddy streaks. ‘But I really could do with a hand, if you’ve got a second.’

His interruption brought his sister’s lecture on ‘ye olde grave digging’ to an abrupt end. Sophie clearly had more to say, if the dirty look she cast his way meant anything, but she bent down to pick up the only other tool they had managed to smuggle from Grandpa’s shed; a trowel. It was woefully inadequate and Toby had to bite his tongue to stop himself from snapping so, as Sophie began scraping away at the edge of the dirt. The scratching of metal against frozen Earth was grating his frayed nerves.

‘This is going to take all night.’ Toby huffed, slamming the spade into the hard ground with all his strength. They had been out there in the cold for hours, Sophie dancing on the spot to stay warm while he stripped off layer after layer as the effort of digging worked up a sweat.

‘Not if we keep digging.’ Sophie muttered, ‘It can’t be much further.’

Toby raised an eyebrow at the shallow hole before them. His sister was a rubbish liar. By his estimation, they had a long way to go, and his poor hands were starting to blister. He paused to look up at the heavy sky, stretching out his aching back. Without the sound of his spade cutting the ground, the night was oppressively silent.