The Grave Artist by Paula Lynn Johnson
16-year-old Clare can't stop drawing the bizarre, winged skulls she calls "Sammies". Her psychiatrist assumes the compulsive drawings are just expressions of Clare's grief over her father abandoning her. But then Clare discovers that her Sammies are exact matches for the Death's Head on the grave of Samantha Forsythe, a teen who reportedly fell to her death over two centuries ago.
Before long, Clare's drawings morph into cryptic writings that urge her to uncover the truth behind Samantha's death. Together with Neil -- the friend she might be falling for -- Clare scours the local history for clues. She finds that, although Samantha was engaged to a wealthy landowner, there were whispered rumours of her involvement with a younger, biracial man.
Soon, Clare is haunted by disturbing dream images -- a mysterious eye, a broken chain -- that point to someone Samantha called her "Dearest". But who is Dearest? And why does Samantha need Clare to find him so badly?
Isolated and carrying hidden scars of her own, Clare fears her obsession with Samantha will threaten her sanity and safety. But it seems she has no choice in the matter . . .
The Grave Artist is a compelling paranormal murder mystery and a poignant story about loss and what it means thrive in a less-than-perfect reality.
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The Grave Artist: Excerpt from Clare’s Diary
Can’t sleep. Tried watching some stupid reality TV show about a pet grooming salon, but couldn’t concentrate. Mom had left a pen out on the couch, along with the Sunday crossword. Tried filling in a few words, but then I started drawing again, before I could stop myself. As if I could stop myself.
Surprise, surprise. I drew another winged skull – this one bloodied on one side. Concave, too, with deep cracks in the bone, like someone bashed it in with a baseball bat. I think this must be my millionth Death’s Head by now, and my grisliest to date. I drew it right over Mom’s crossword, too. She’s going to love that. Back to the shrink, Clare.
I wish I could call Gollum, but it’s two in the morning. Talking to him always makes me feel better. He almost convinces me that my compulsive drawing makes me artsy and interesting, as opposed to completely psycho. I’m kind of attracted to him – who wouldn’t be? He’s talented and smart and has the kind of eyes you can get lost in for hours. But I’m pretty sure he only thinks of me as his friend.
Make that his crazy friend.
Ugh. Now it’s 2:15. I’ve got a math test tomorrow at school, plus a history report to finish. It would help to get some rest. The best thing would be to go back to bed, relax, and drift off. But every time I try, I sense a nightmare coming on. My nerve-endings light up like warning signals, and I find myself awake and staring in the dark.
Those nightmares. Who is that man who keeps stalking me, and why does he seem to savor my fear? Does he push me from the ledge, or do I slip and fall? I know they’re just dreams, but the crushing pain in my head seems all too real.
Gollum thinks I’m channeling Samantha, that she’s trying to tell me something. But for all I know, maybe she’s just a dead girl who enjoys messing with my head . . .
This is a tour wide giveaway, US only. You can win a hand-hammered sterling silver pendant (about 3/4" wide) on a sterling 16 inch chain. Good luck! :)