Excerpt from Two Storm Wood by Philip Gray, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Two Storm Wood

A Novel

by Philip Gray

Two Storm Wood by Philip Gray X
Two Storm Wood by Philip Gray
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    Mar 2022, 384 pages


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Kitty's voice sounded far away, muffled, scared. It came from her right, from the east.

Amy scrambled out of the crater. She could not see the pickets any more, or any sign of the road.


Kitty's voice: behind her – or in front?

'I'm here. I'm coming ... !' But Amy was out of breath, her voice barely a whisper.

The noises of battle were in her head. Even now they refused to be silenced. She started to run again, the ground crumbling beneath her feet. There were craters everywhere. Moving round them, it was hard not to slip.

Kitty had stopped calling to her. Could she have gone on alone? Which way was the road? Amy was not sure any more.

The light was failing. Somewhere, a world away, the sun was going down. 'Back now.' She talked to herself. But in her mind it was Edward who spoke to her. 'Go back, Amy. Go back now.'


She tried to retrace her steps. In places the pointed toes of her boots had left a distinctive print. But after a few yards the trail ran out. All around was only mud and water, churned earth and splinters of chalk.

She was still searching for her footprints when she caught sight of a light in the distance: a small yellow flame, moving unsteadily over the ground. She was about to call out when she realised it couldn't be Kitty: she didn't have a lantern.

The light grew brighter. Amy thought she heard hoof-beats. She opened her mouth to call out again, but the sound died in her throat: she was remembering Staveley's words and the horseman outside Beaussart.

She backed away. The heel of her boot hit something soft and heavy. A line of ruptured sandbags lay scattered behind her. Quietly she stepped over them. Without warning the ground on the other side shifted beneath her weight. Before she could regain her balance, it collapsed. She fell, a landslide of liquid mud sweeping her down. She clawed at the crumbling wall of earth. Dirt flew into her mouth and eyes.

A hard jolt told her she was at the bottom. She was lying in a trench. She tried to get up, but a lancing pain in her right ankle was too much.

Faint shafts of light swept over the fog, drawing closer.

Amy felt her ankle: not broken, maybe just twisted. She could still walk.

She could still get away.

Above her a wooden support protruded from the collapsed wall of the trench. She reached for it, hauling herself up. It was only when she was on her feet again that she saw: her hand was closed around a length of bone.

The rest of the body lay on its side, packed into the clay, the shoulders shifting stiffly under the force of Amy's grip. The grinning skull, like the ribcage, was pure white. It was turned towards her, jaw gaping open, as if to speak.

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Excerpted from Two Storm Wood by Philip Gray. Copyright © 2022 by Philip Gray. Excerpted by permission of W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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