The Secret of Spellshadow Manor

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A magic school story with a spine-tingling twist, perfect for adults or teens who enjoyed Harry Potter…


What would you do if you spotted a man following a young woman, but no-one else could see him?

Like most sane people, student Alex Webber thought he was hallucinating – perhaps he’d consumed something bad at the party he’d been attending that night, or he was severely overtired.

But when he sees the mysterious man following Natalie again the very next day, he can no longer disbelieve his eyes.

Although she denies the man’s existence, Alex sees her walking with him down a road in his neighborhood he’s never seen before – and can’t help but follow. After a bizarre, but strangely short journey, he finds himself standing before a towering iron gate wreathed in gray ivy, behind which looms a decrepit old mansion named Spellshadow Manor.

Spellshadow, with its beautiful yet sinisterly decorated hallways, ever-changing outdoor scenery and very unusual residents… Alex will quickly learn it is a place that is as wondrous as it is deadly.

Especially for a normal person like him.

What if you found yourself recruited to an institute of magic, only to discover you really couldn’t do magic?
What if your enrollment there was all one big, terrible mistake?

If you were at Spellshadow, you’d keep it a secret. A deep, dark, deadly secret…

Because Spellshadow’s elusive Head is hiding a secret of his own, one that Alex soon realizes he and Natalie must uncover at all costs if either of them wishes to leave the Manor alive… and before it’s too late.

Mystery, suspense, and oodles of twists and turns; an unforgettable experience awaits you in Spellshadow Manor… Welcome in.
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*Over 650 worldwide 5 star reviews of the series. Overall Top 10 Bestseller.*

What Amazon Readers are Saying:

“It will leave you breathless and wanting more with each page! Amazing story!
It’s a must read if you love Harry Potter.” 

“Magical and mind-blowingly gripping; I couldn’t put it down”

SPELLBINDING! Pure magic.

“An absolute delight to read. If you loved Harry Potter you will love this series.”

“a mesmerizing read full of intrigue, mystery, laughter, and surprises.

Buy now!

*Beware of spoilers in the reviews below that are without spoiler alerts*


Chapter 1
 
A hard knot formed in Alex’s stomach as he stared at his laptop screen. He’d hoped this would be the month he finally earned enough to provide a meaningful contribution toward his mother’s bills—that all the sleep he’d sacrificed to hone his coding skills would pay off and he’d begin earning a real income. Scrolling through his latest earnings report, disappointment swelled in him. He was on track to earn less this month than the last. Barely three hundred dollars. Most seventeen-year-olds in the sleepy town of Middledale, Iowa, would have been happy with that kind of side income, but most seventeen-year-olds in Middledale didn’t have a mother with a serious heart ailment.
Alex ran a hand over his face, tracing the lines in his furrowed brow. Then he dimmed the screen and pushed back in his chair.
He was being unreasonable. He’d started looking for a way to earn money from home only five months ago, after his mother had returned from a two-week stay in the hospital barely able to walk. Coding websites had seemed like a natural fit for him because of its linear and analytical nature, but he needed to get a lot better at monetizing them. Still, five months wasn’t long in the grand scheme of things. He just had to keep working at it.
His eyes travelled to the clock on his bedroom wall which had just struck 2 a.m., then to the pile of neglected homework on the right side of his desk. He was glad that it was Friday—or Saturday, now. He’d make time to get through his school assignments over the weekend. “Alex?” his mother’s voice called softly from her room across the hallway.
“I hope you’re not still awake?”
He whispered a curse as he realized he’d forgotten to line the crack of his bedroom door with his jacket, to stifle the light from escaping under it. He’d promised his mom he’d stop staying up so late and get more sleep. She hated that he felt pressured to earn money, and worried he didn’t live enough—go out and act like other boys his age. That would have been easier for Alex if his father hadn’t left them before he was born. His mother’s health had been deteriorating for the past three years, and he didn’t like to leave her alone whenever he could help it.
 
He rose from his chair and moved to the door, opening it with a sigh. “No, I’m asleep,” he said wryly, making his way to her room. He pushed her door, which was always left slightly ajar, fully open and stepped inside. She was sitting up in bed against a pillow, her dark hair in a braid, the TV playing on mute in the background. Her blue eyes looked rheumy against the flashes of the TV—as they usually did when she was in pain—and became tinged with disapproval as she took him in.
“It’s Friday night, I’ll sleep in,” he reassured her quickly, moving to the bed.
Noticing that the bottle of medicine closest to her on her bedside table was pain medication, he felt a stab of worry. “Are you okay?” She caught his hand and pulled him down to kiss his cheek. “I’m okay. Just a headache.” She cupped his face in her hands and narrowed her eyes. “But you look like death warmed over.” Alex smirked, knowing it wasn’t much of an exaggeration. He felt exhausted. Catching his reflection in the mirror above the bed’s headboard, his eyelids looked heavy, his dark brown hair mussed, and the premature lines in his forehead deeper than usual. He’d always looked unusually old for his age—now closer to a man in his mid-twenties than late teens—which his mother worried was from stress, but tiredness made it more pronounced.
“Goodnight to you too, Mom,” he said, stooping to kiss her cheek before heading for the door. “Goodnight, honey.” As he left, he caught her mumbling, “Good thing Natalie’s getting a taxi here after all.” Alex stopped in the bathroom doorway. Natalie Chevalier.
He’d almost forgotten about their guest tomorrow morning. It had been his mother’s idea to volunteer as host for the French student who was supposed to be staying with his classmate Garth’s family. Garth’s parents had dropped out of the arrangement at the last minute due to a “family emergency”, leaving Natalie with tickets booked but no place to stay. Alex had a sneaking suspicion that the bit of extra money they’d earn from hosting her wasn’t his mother’s only reason for volunteering.
Certainly the idea of having someone his age hanging around the house for two weeks wouldn’t have slipped her mind—and a girl, at that…
 
A French girl.
 
As Alex brushed his teeth, he found himself pushing back his hair and glancing at his reflection again, a little more critically. Then he shook his head and rolled his eyes at himself. With his school and business schedule, he barely had time for the few guy friends he had. He really didn’t have time for girls.
 

Chapter 2
 

Alex awoke to sunlight trickling through his curtains and the aroma of fresh pancakes. The sound of an unfamiliar voice drifting up from downstairs quickly oriented him. It was light and had a pretty, almost musical tone.

He sat up, pushing off his covers and rubbing his eyes. He glanced at his closed pristine white laptop, and then toward his door. The pancake smell made his stomach grumble, reminding him that he’d skipped dinner last night.

He approached the door and opened it slowly. Now he could hear the French voice clearly.

“Oh, this is so very good, Mrs. Webber. These strawberries are even better than I’ve had in my town.”

“I’m glad you like them!”

Alex raised his eyebrows. He hadn’t expected Natalie’s English to sound quite so polished. As he slipped out into the hallway and crept to the bathroom to take a shower, his mind was conjuring up images of what she looked like.

After he had washed and dried, he pulled on a pair of jeans and a loose t-shirt—his usual attire—and, after giving his hair a quick comb, returned to the hallway. Before moving to the staircase, he poked his head into the spare bedroom he had cleared out a few days ago. A large suitcase rested on the bed and the room was suffused with a pleasant flowery scent Alex couldn’t quite put a name on.

He turned and headed down the creaky stairs.

“Oh,” his mom’s voice announced, “I think somebody has woken up.”

Alex reached the bottom of the stairs, now in clear view from the kitchen, whose door had been left open. His immediate view was his mother, but as he drew closer, he caught his first glimpse of Natalie Chevalier, sitting on the opposite end of the table.

Alex’s first thought was that her voice perfectly matched her appearance. Her face was pretty and delicate, with large brown eyes, a pert nose, and framed by silky black bangs. Her skin was light tan and her build was slim and athletic. Although Alex couldn’t gauge her height too well from her sitting position, he suspected she was at least five foot eight.

“Hi,” he said, clearing his throat and entering the room.

“Hello, Alex,” Natalie said brightly, rising from the table and holding out her hand. He shook it, unable to help but notice how nice her skin felt. “Your mother has been telling me about you!”

“Oh dear,” Alex said with a small smile, before seating himself in one of the only two seats available, both—most likely strategically—positioned next to Natalie.

Natalie chuckled. “Only good things.”

Alex moved to busy himself with the pancake container, but before he could, his mom rose, supporting herself against the table with one hand, and served him.

“I told her that you’re a budding entrepreneur,” his mom supplied, and Alex looked back at Natalie.

He smiled placidly. “Budding being the operative word.”

You know, I think that is so wonderful,” Natalie announced, beaming at him with genuine enthusiasm. “I don’t know anybody my age back home who is an entrepreneur. You make websites, yes?”

“Uh, yeah.” Alex glanced swiftly at his mom, who gave him a knowing look. He was a little surprised that she would’ve told her this already, since she didn’t usually encourage Alex’s extreme work ethic.

Though, Alex supposed there wasn’t much else to say about him at the moment. Other than working on his business and playing the piano, he currently didn’t have any extracurricular activities.

From Natalie’s build, he wouldn’t have been surprised if she was a member of a basketball team, or maybe a tennis player.

“Yes, websites,” Alex confirmed in a louder voice. “It’s not very interesting, though.” He’d been experimenting with building sites around narrow audiences in order to avoid competition and make it easier to attract traffic, which had led him to some very “niche” subjects that weren’t exactly sexy. From Halloween dog costumes to dating websites for farmers, Alex had probably thought of it.

“I find it very interesting,” Natalie replied. “I would love to see them—oh.” She paused, her eyes widening. “I completely forgot. I said that I would video-call my parents as soon as I arrived at your house.”

“Why don’t you go ahead and do that now?” Alex’s mom suggested.

Natalie ducked beneath the table, reaching for a backpack she had resting by her feet. She resurfaced holding a small laptop. She started it up and the sound of dialing filled the sun-streaked kitchen.

“Bonjour!” enthused a voice that sounded almost identical to Natalie’s, but older.

Natalie began speaking in rapid French, looking up constantly to Alex and his mom, smiling and flashing her pearly teeth.

Then she picked up the laptop and hurried to Alex, who had just been in the middle of his last mouthful of pancake. He quickly swallowed, managing not to choke as Natalie stood beside him, presenting him with the screen. Gazing back at him was clearly Natalie’s mother, father, and a younger girl who must’ve been her sister—perhaps middle school-aged, he guessed.

“Hello Alex!” the three greeted at once.

“Hi,” Alex replied, wiping his mouth with a tissue before giving a small wave.

“Thank you for having Natalie!” Mrs. Chevalier said. “I hope you both have a good time.”

Before Alex could respond, the young girl fired a bout of French at him. He blinked, uncertain of what she’d said, when Mrs. Chevalier laughed and translated, “Elena says to promise to look after her sister!”

“Ah, right.” Alex grinned. “We—I—promise. Don’t worry.”

Natalie chuckled and then moved on to Alex’s mom, where they had a similar, slightly longer greeting.

Alex’s mom eyed him with quiet amusement as Natalie ended the conversation with a flurry of air kisses. He averted his gaze to a strawberry.

“Now, have you had enough to eat, dear?” Alex’s mom asked after Natalie ended the call.

“Oh yes, certainly.” She leaned back in her chair and rubbed her stomach.

“And you, Alex?” his mom asked.

Alex looked up, frowning. “Uh, yeah,” he replied, unsure of where his mom was going with this.

“Well, I was going to suggest you take Natalie on a tour of the town while it’s so bright and sunny outside.”

Natalie sat forward. “That sounds perfect!”

He was an idiot to not have seen that coming. He thought of all the work he had planned to do this weekend, including that stack of homework, but he couldn’t refuse without appearing extremely rude…and if he was honest with himself, he thought a break from his laptop screen might do him some good. It was a beautiful day, after all.

Pushing his plate and cutlery away from him, he glanced at Natalie and smiled. “Okay, let’s go for a ride.”

His mother winked at him as the two of them left the room.

I’m gonna be honest, there’s not a lot to see in Middledale,” Alex said, as he opened the passenger door of his car for Natalie to slide in. She did so gracefully, pulling the small handbag she’d unpacked onto her lap. She had changed out of the clothes she had arrived in—leggings and a pullover—in favor of an outfit that oddly mirrored his; a casual t-shirt and jeans.

He moved around to the driver’s seat and got in, scooping up a pair of sunglasses from the dashboard and donning them before starting the engine.

“I mean,” he continued, pulling out of the driveway and swerving onto the road, “it’s a nice place. Some beautiful scenery”—he gestured to the sprawl of fields that was already coming into view behind the

row of houses on their left—“and a lot of peace and quiet. There’s a mall in the center of town, which has a small movie theater, a bunch of shops, restaurants, a bowling alley…”

He trailed off as he caught a glance of Natalie. She sat stiffly, looking straight ahead and clutching her seat a little too tightly.

“Hey,” he said, drawing her gaze to his, “are you okay?

“Yeah,” she said quickly, offering him a smile. “You just, um, drive quite fast.”

“Oh, sorry.” Alex reminded himself what it must be like to be a first-time passenger in a vehicle he was commandeering. His style valued efficiency over leisure, as his mom would describe it. “I’ll take it easier.”

He slowed down, and Natalie instantly relaxed.

“I’ll take you past the school, it’s coming up just on our right,” Alex informed her as they rounded the corner.

“How do you like school?” Natalie asked.

“It’s fine,” Alex replied. He couldn’t really think of a better adjective than that. He neither loved nor hated school, though recently, it was becoming more and more of a distraction from his entrepreneurial endeavors.

They arrived within view of Middledale High. It was a large, very boring rectangular building, its exterior in need of a renovation. But it was a decent school by most standards—average, but decent.

“Do you have many friends?” Natalie asked.

“Mmm, not many,” Alex replied honestly, and decided not to embellish his answer. He tried to hide the fact from his mom that his social life had deteriorated along with her health. He was so busy these days and rarely saw friends outside of school hours, which resulted in him growing apart even from his best friend, Colin.

Natalie probably found his short answer a little odd but didn’t press. Instead, she moved on to a topic that was much more interesting to Alex—herself. She began to talk about what it was like to grow up in France, and the differences between there and America. She said she’d visited New York before when she was younger, and this was her second time in the United States. Alex had never been abroad—heck, he’d hardly been out of Iowa—but hoped to someday. When his mother got better.



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Author

Bella Forrest