The Secret is a thrilling novel by Katherine Johnson, the author of the bestselling book, The Silence. This story is set in Italy and revolves around two girls who grow up during wartime.
Here is an extract from the book.
Taken from chapter 3:
At last, the gates of the villa came into view. There was a
board tied to them, but Sonia had to get closer, had to read it
for herself. Her heart raced as she climbed up through the
honeycomb of cobbled alleys, under stone arches and lines
of washing. She’d forgotten how steep these streets were.
Somehow that had never occurred to her in all the years
she’d spent walking up and down them when she had the
cleaning job at the little church below Villa Leonida.
The houses up here were hunched up together as if
conspiring; shutters closed, doors shielded by beaded
curtains, keeping their secrets inside. At first sight it was
hard to tell which of the buildings were still lived in. So
many these days were left empty. But another glance
revealed glimpses of life: pots of well-tended geraniums
stacked on a stone step; a bicycle stashed up on a balcony; a
sleepy dog lying across a doorway; canaries in a cage on a
window ledge. The occasional cheeping of the birds, a burst
of music from a radio, and the smell of cooking were all
that disturbed the stillness.
Narrow arches and passageways between the houses
revealed slices of brilliant sky and glimpses of the turrets
and bell towers of the town below. Steep stone staircases led
down to cellars built up against the rock.
The solid front doors displayed tarnished brass knockers,
simple rings, lion heads, and human faces – some cherubic,
some demonic. The walls were adorned with terracotta suns
and moons, and other good luck symbols. After all, this was
a village that couldn’t afford any more bad luck.
The final lane that led to the villa, along the high walls of
the convent, was cloaked in cool, dark shadow for most of
the day, regardless of how much sun splashed the piazza
below. At the top, up a flight of overgrown steps beyond the
little church of Santa Maria del Soccorso, stood the villa.
Villa Leonida stared back at Sonia – coolly defiant,
battle-scarred but intact, daring her to come closer. The
lemon trees on either side of the door had died in their pots.
Grass had sprung up waist-high amid the stone chippings of
the forecourt. The shutters were closed, and the skeletons of
geraniums were all that remained in the window boxes. The
sign tied to the rusted curlicues confirmed the rumours.
Vendesi. For sale. Which meant only one thing – that the awful
business from last year would be dragged up again. A
shudder passed through Sonia. Everyone would be talking
about the discovery of those bones and the deaths that had
followed in this tiny village a year ago. And each time that
story resurfaced, the thought twisted inside her – would this
be the moment when one discovery led to another and her
own secret clawed its way out?
How thrilling! Can’t wait to read more, right?
Check out The Secret
There is also an exciting giveaway open for UK residents to win a paperback of The Secret.