Adventure novel by Brackley author

Danielle Arney from Brackley with her first novel, Witherstone.'130413M-B771
Danielle Arney from Brackley with her first novel, Witherstone.'130413M-B771

A forgotten house, a secret room, a diary hidden in a garden.

These are the ingredients of a new mystery adventure novel by Brackley woman Danielle Arney.

Witherstone is the first novel by Ms Arney, 24, who has lived in Brackley since she was eight years old, attending Southfields Primary School and Magdalen College.

The novel is, at heart, a story about friendship, love and truth.

Witherstone Manor lies abandoned. For 84 years, the house has held nothing but secrets. Falling into disrepair, it is bought by William Thwaite who moves in with his daughter, Aira.

While William spends his days renovating the house, Aira explores the grounds of the estate.

One afternoon she stumbles upon a lost garden and uncovers a hidden diary.

Inscribed on the inside page in a childlike scrawl are the names Evelyn and Edmund. Curious to learn more about the lives of the two children, Aira reads on.

She soon becomes entangled in the mysteries of the house, seeking to uncover the truth about why it has stood empty for so long.

Aira is about to discover that the past, once remembered, is never forgotten.

Ms Arney, who works part time as a housekeeper in an assisted living complex in Brackley and is a part-time gymnastics coach, said: “I’ve always loved reading and I’ve always wanted my own book on the shelf.

“I just really want people to read it and enjoy it. It’s not about the money. it’s about people enjoying what they read.”

The two main characters in the book, Aira and Albert, are children.

Ms Arney said: “Children can go places and do things and ask questions that adults can’t, and though the adult might be a bit taken aback, they’d probably give you an answer.

“I liked the idea children have got a bit more freedom in that respect.”

The story is set in the 1990s, when Ms Arney herself was a child.

She said:“I wanted it set in a time when it was a bit more relaxed than it is now, when children had freedom and could do what they wanted.

“We’d be allowed to run out and play, it wasn’t so supervised, we could get up to things.

“Now parents want to know everywhere you’re going.”

Ms Arney is already planning her next book.

But having written the first five chapters of Witherstone by hand, this time she is saving up for a new computer before she starts.

She said: “I much prefer to write in pencil to paper, but it takes forever to type it up on to the computer.”

Published by Austin Macauley, the book is available in the Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, Waterstones in Banbury and on Amazon.