Ready or Not in Five objects by Tracy Darnton

My latest thriller, Ready or Not, has just been published. Teenager Kat goes missing during a game of hide-and-seek on holiday with a group of three families in Cornwall. I tell the story through the eyes of 15-year-old Millie, who’s devastated by the absence of her best friend, Kat. The remaining teenagers all go back to Cornwall one year on, and secrets are finally revealed. 

I’m sharing five of the important objects from the book and how they’re described to give you a sense of Ready or Not.

Horse chestnut tree

Person wearing gloves and hat hugging a mossy tree

I’m counting this enormous tree as an object! 

I gave Constable Shah a step-by-step account of hide-and-seek. I said I’d stood by the horse chestnut tree to count, and how I guessed Kat had headed across the lawn from the direction of her footsteps and her voice still calling out numbers. I explained how I’d found Jem first, then Matt and Charlie, how I’d assumed Kat was hiding by the sunbeds or behind the giant planters which edged the terrace. But she wasn’t. 

Camera

Different types of cameras

Kat’s mum has a new boyfriend – photographer Dom. But why does he have so many pics of Kat?

I straighten the Polaroid photo on the fridge. All of us last summer. Kat with her statement hair, me mousy brown with a sunburnt nose and Jem, spiky blond hair and tanned. Jem is tall, like her mum, inches above me. Kat’s in the centre, as usual, her arms intertwined with ours on each side. Charlie’s leaping up to make rabbit ears behind Matt’s fuzzy blond mop of hair. They’re both in shorts and loud Hawaiian-style party shirts. There’s nothing to hint that it’s the last group photo we ever had. We look like we’re on the edge of something, the start of our future. We look like we’re the best of friends.

Millie’s Notebook

Notebook

Millie is told to write her innermost feelings in the form of letters to her missing friend Kat. 

Writing to you is meant to help. Even if the letters aren’t proper ones and never get posted and just sit here in my notebook. That’s what the counsellor Mrs Edmondson said. 

But then she’s said a lot of things that were meant to help but didn’t. 

Backgammon

The story is full of games – the ones they sit down to play and the ones they’re playing in life. Backgammon is the last game Millie plays with Kat before the last night party and the game of hide-and-seek where Kat disappears.

“What’s the one game you want us all to play?” asked Kat.

…I wanted to play the one game that I had the best memories of, the one I’d always enjoyed the most. The one I planned for and strategized over. The one that Creek House with its beautiful, quirky gardens was made for.

I didn’t hesitate: “Hide-and-seek.”

Statue of the Angel

A statue of a person with wings

Description automatically generated with low confidence

One throw after another caught the statue of the angel in the big flower bed. Kat had said she looked like Angelina Jolie and called her St. Angelina. She’d placed a garland of flowers round her head like a halo. Charlie’s direct shots chipped away at the plaster. He was treating this like target practice. Maybe it was the closest he could get to being angry with God. One block dislodged the statue’s wing, which swung freely. The next knocked it off. 

I wanted to break something like Charlie was doing. But he was a boy, he was her brother, he was allowed to let it out. I wanted to howl and scream and bash my fists against the window until the glass broke and cut my skin and made me bleed. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I held back. I hid inside my head.

These objects give you a taste of the intrigue and games at play in Ready or Not. Now you’re ready to read the book!

Ready or Not is available now at your favourite local bookshop or online. Be sure to check out the other stops on the Ready or Not blog tour for additional insight via the banner below. A huge thank you to Tracy Darnton for this fabulous feature.

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