Just so you know what has been keeping me so quiet recently. A teeny tiny bit of the new book:
Mup flew upwards through the falling snow, a red-coated dash of colour skimming the stones of the castle walls. She had kicked the window shut before leaping into the air, and she doubted Dr Emberly Snr would guess she’d gone outside. But she knew she needed to get to the roof as quickly as possible, and away from the prying eyes. Up she flew and up, zigging and zagging to avoid the windows, up and up until she was among the turrets and the gutters and grim stone faces of the gargoyles. She paused, floating. The ground was a postage stamp of white below her, the walls dropping sheer like cliffs.
She wasn’t even slightly afraid of the height.
The wind sliced across the peak of the roof, whipping the ears of her rabbit hat, flapping her scarf like a banner. I’m glad I grabbed my coat, she thought, tying the hat-ears below her chin and squinting up at the towers and turrets and roofs which still loomed above her. Why on earth does Crow like it so much up here?
She knew her friend would be on the highest tower, perched on the weather-vane. Dad called this Crow’s thinking place. Crow called it his sulking place. Mup suspected it was a little of both. After years of not being wanted, Crow wasn’t used to living with a family, and Mup knew he needed to be alone sometimes. More than that, Mup suspected Crow needed a place he could call his own. Cold and lonely and uncomfortable as it was, the roof had become Crow’s territory. He would retreat here in the same way that Mup might retreat to her bedroom, for a bit of peace and quiet. Mup had always respected that, and had never tried to intrude on his privacy.
Until today, that is. Today she didn’t hesitate to intrude, and she launched herself upwards, following her own shadow across the steep slopes of the roofs and around the snow-covered turrets until she got to the place where she knew Crow would be.
He was perched on the weather-vane, his back to her, watching the sky. A distant gang of ravens flew in loose formation, heading North. Mup could just about hear their rusty cries as she landed on the narrow ridge tiles.
She crouched for balance, still completely unafraid of the height. Snow dislodged from beneath her booted feet, rolled down the roof, and fell to the yard below. It was extraordinary to be up so high. Witches Borough stretched out on all sides: the frozen river, the miles of sleeping forest, and far off in the foggy distance the hint of snowy fields. By some trick of the architecture, the wind wasn’t so bad up here, and the snow fell quite peacefully all around them, the sky close and grey and soft as feathers.
Mup rose to her feet. At this movement, Crow spun around, startled, and Mup realised he hadn’t noticed her arrival. He covered his fright in a furious bristling of feathers. He hopped from foot to foot. He chattered his beak in outrage.
Mup held up her hand. ‘Crow, I need to talk.’
OK. Hope you enjoyed that.
Back to work for me now,