The Free Hostage

Would you still pray for a burning wish to come true if you knew the price you had to pay for it?

The Free Hostage is a psychological mystery novel about a writer who is haunted by the spirit of a young woman sacrificed in the Middle Ages.

Lee Benson, an English writer who travels to Moldova seeking inspiration and cheap booze, becomes hooked on the special moonshine brewed by a priest who runs an illegal distillery at the back of his church.

When Lee encounters Mira, a ghostly young woman on the altar of the church, he believes he’s hallucinating, until Mira says she has deliberately sought him out to help restore justice for her ritual murder in 1514.

The novel brings together two storylines: Lee’s attempt to make sense of Mira and her mysterious agenda, an effort which takes him briefly to a psychiatric ward where he discovers a quirk of human physiology which enables him to achieve partial control over Mira’s appearances.

Alongside the contemporary timeline is the story of Mira – a young folk healer from a time when the Church was asserting its own spiritual power, accusing local medicine women of sorcery and witchcraft. In love with another woman, Mira is forced into marrying a stone-mason who is in league with the Church. While she contrives to stop her husband from building a church in their village, Mira discovers the mason’s own secret practices and the sinister reason he married her.

As Lee’s connection to Mira grows, her darker motives for befriending him become clear, setting the scene for a revenge plot centuries in the making.

This book has been inspired by works that span different genres and mediums: Thin Air by Michelle Paver, the books of David Mitchell and Jim Crace, The Wicker Man and Moldovan folk tales.

To be released.

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