Aria Fiction‘s lovely Vicky had gone to all her usual trouble to organize a comprehensive and varied Blog Tour for The Heart Keeper, however due to totally unforeseen circumstances, there are now only short extracts from the book available to share, rather than a mix of posts and content.
Perhaps readers, you might choose to select just one or two sites to visit, so that you are not overwhelmed with too many spoilers from the story before you get to read it for yourself, although I think that my selected extract is very poignant and emotional.
As ever, thanks to the NetGalley team for their easy download facility and best wishes to author Alex Dahl.
THE HEART KEEPER by ALEX DAHL
It’s been twelve months since Alison Miller-Juul’s world fell apart when her six-year-old daughter, Amalie, drowned.
Twelve months of sympathy cards, grief counselling and gritting her teeth, but it’s still only the vodka and pills that seem to work. Alison no longer cares about anything. She can’t smile at her step-son, she can’t answer her friends’ texts, she can’t even look at her husband.
All Alison wants is Amalie back. Then she learns that the girl who received her daughter’s heart lives just a few streets away. Unlike Amalie, this girl has a future. She’s alive because Amalie’s heart beats for her. And in the darkest recess of Alison’s brain, an idea begins to take shape…
Born in Oslo, she studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University.
A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland, Bath and London. Her first thriller, The Boy At The Door, was a Sunday Times Crime Club star pick.
You can follow Alex on Twitter
You can connect with Alex on Facebook
ISELIN – THREE MONTHS EARLIER
It’s the hottest day of the year so far. In many years, they said on the news earlier. Kaia hasn’t spent it outside with her skipping rope, or bouncing on a trampoline, or running through a sprinkler. She’s been on the sofa all day, dozing, holding tattered old Bobby Cat, Dora The Explorer flickering on the screen. I watch her through the open door from where I’m sitting on the deck by the entrance, drinking a glass of cheap, sweet rose. Dark clouds are coming in, and I won’t be surprised if it starts to rain within the hour. Kaia has been even more tired than usual, and I haven’t been able to get her to eat anything other than a couple of lemon ice lollies. The heat makes the apartment unbearably hot, even though it’s in the basement of the other family’s home and the walls are made of concrete. In the winter, Kaia and I often wear down jackets inside.
I can hear the boys who live upstairs playing in their garden on the other side of the house. They’re three boisterous little boys, and Kaia sometimes watches them from the high window overlooking their garden; they’re always moving, playing, running, fighting, jumping – activities Kaia knows little of. At home, she mostly sits and draws, or watches cartoons from the sofa. On a good day she might sit and play with the Sylvanians tree house I managed to get her for her seventh birthday. I take a sip of the wine, my one luxury of the day, and watch an ambulance helicopter fly fast overhead, so close I cover my ears for a moment. Kaia doesn’t stir. It’s the second one I’ve seen this afternoon, earlier, I heard the continuous whirr of rotor blades hovering in the distance. Perhaps something has happened in the city – I wouldn’t have known about it.
Another sound emerges from the silence the helicopter leaves behind. At first, I think it’s part of the cartoon – it’s that tinny kind of merry sound, music for children, but then I realize it’s the phone. When I finally reach it, it has stopped ringing. Four missed calls from the hospital. I glance at Kaia, whose ashen little face is pressed against a cushion. My heart beats wildly. I pull the cushion away and Kaia slumps gently against the seat of the sofa, still without stirring. She’s wearing a white cotton vest, stained lightly yellow from the ice lollies. Her thick, dark hair is braided tight against her scalp the way she likes it, a couple of stray curls escaping at the temples. I can’t live without you, I whisper. I press the dial button and pick Kaia’s limp hand up, squeezing it hard.
‘How soon can you be here?’ asks the voice on the other end.
In the taxi, I watch as the helicopter, or another helicopter, rises rapidly from somewhere near the side of the big ski jump and flies fast beneath swollen, black clouds in the direction we are heading. Could it have to do with… ? Kaia lies slumped in my lap, sucking her thumb and lightly twirling Bobby Cat’s worn-out ear. Tears flow from my eyes, so fast I have no chance of stopping them, and they drip onto Kaia, disappearing in her hair. I watch the rise and fall of her back and put my hand over where I think her heart is. I can feel it, tapping steadily against my fingertips. A little cry escapes from my clenched lips and I catch the eye of the taxi driver in the rearview mirror. He smiles uncertainly but I look away. Kaia slowly and laboriously turns around so that she is looking up at me. Her lips are almost as pale as her skin, with a bluish undertone, and the veins on her forehead stand out against her pasty skin like black swirls in marble.
‘Don’t worry, Mamma,’ she whispers. I nod and lean to kiss the top of her head, drawing in the scent of her, more tears dropping from my eyes, as the taxi pulls up on the curb at Rikshospitalet’s children’s clinic.