An orphaned girl fights for survival in Georgian England.
Georgian England, mid-eighteenth century.
As a foundling the young Em Smith is brought to the Cheshire country home of the ambitious Waterland family, where she serves as a companion to their daughter, Eliza. But as they grow up, Em's position becomes uncertain and she is increasingly troubled by the mystery of her birth. When Eliza goes in pursuit of a husband and a fortune in London, Em finds herself implicated in a horrific crime and must flee for her life.
Her frantic escape takes her across country and onto the high seas, where she is at the mercy of the enigmatic smuggler, Captain McDonagh. But there is a more potent force drawing Emily on: a spirit whose presence she has felt all her life, and whose irresistible design - be it malicious or benevolent - will force her onwards to a distant shore. There she will confront the astonishing secret of her origins.
I marvelled at this novel. Gripping, assured and powerfully atmospheric; you know at once you are in the hands of a master storyteller - Rowan Pelling
A glorious, intricate period romance: a perfect mix of Georgian high society blended with wild
Irish magic. Em is a feisty heroine and the denoument is as perfect as it is unexpected - Manda Scott
Gripping, tautly plotted and hauntingly beautiful: Debra Daley is a writer to watch - Vanora Bennett
Debra Daley was born in New Zealand and grew up in west Auckland in a family of Irish extraction. After graduating from the University of Auckland she was employed as a journalist and editor in London and then in Sydney. She also worked as a screenwriter and as a public health journalist in Auckland, while raising two sons. She subsequently lived in Ibiza, and London again, where she wrote her first historical novel, Turning the Stones. She now lives in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.