“A very well written story full of adventure, humour, wit, and action. It would definitely deserve to be made into a movie.”
Page Turner Awards Finalist
Fifteen-year-old Noah is shipped off to the Bahamas to spend time with a man he barely knows: his biological father Magnus.
His mother had always depicted Magnus as a penniless drifter so Noah is surprised to discover that he runs an archaeological consultancy from an amazing yacht equipped with military-grade security. Desperate to forge a bond with his father, Noah asks to be included in the consultancy’s next assignment – the search for a mysterious medieval ring.
Together with young uni drop-out Viggo and unrequited crush Isabelle, he follows the ring’s trail from Mexico to Sicily. But someone else is after it. Someone who will stop at nothing to lay his hands on it.
As Noah faces danger after danger to delve into the ring’s mystery, he discovers the truth about his father. And it’s a revelation that will change his life forever.
PRAISE FOR THE TWELFTH RING
“A great suspense mystery drama played out in the Bahamas. A cross between a Dirk Pitt and Indiana Jones adventure.”
“A seamless blend of adventure and comedy. Yet it is gripping you at every twist.”
“Great read. Compelling story, adventurous and fun! Looking forward to the next one.”
Targeted Age Group:: 11 and above
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love adventure, historical mysteries, unlikely heroes, and novels that bring a smile (or a chuckle) to the reader's face. The Twelfth Ring is a fun read perfect for fans of Indiana Jones and Uncharted. Those who appreciate the excitement of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series as well as endearing awkwardness of Tom Holland’s Spiderman will enjoy this book.
The black cab was outside our house. Much to the driver’s joy, the metre was running and we were late. Mum had forced me to wear my smart suit because I had to make a good impression on a bunch of virtual strangers: the flight crew, the custom officials and my biological father. For a change, instead of algebra, I was battling a tie with a mind of its own. I had been booked on a special programme for minors travelling alone, which felt a lot like a prison transfer. I would be handed over to the British Airways crew in Heathrow airport and they would release me into my father’s care once we got to Nassau. Like a prisoner, I had no choice in the matter.
Thirteen pounds later – at least according to the meter – we were cruising along the rainy streets of London. Mum was absorbed in her emails. I still couldn’t believe that she had traded her role as a cardiothoracic surgeon in a London clinic for a six-month volunteering position in a Lebanese field hospital. We didn’t get along, but the idea of not seeing her for such a long time made me feel strange. The idea of seeing my father for such a long time made me feel even stranger. After ignoring me for the best part of fifteen years, he had unexpectedly agreed to look after me while she was gone. Apparently, he wanted to get to know me better. His spur of the moment decision, coupled with the fact that he lived in another country, had plunged me into my current predicament. Six months away from school meant six months away from Cressida Rothschild, the most beautiful girl to ever walk this earth. She had been in my class for the last three years and we were like two planets sharing the same universe, but travelling on completely different orbits. She was popular, I wasn’t. In an ideal world, she would throw her arms around me and beg me to stay; in the real one, a taller-than-average speed bump tore me from her imaginary embrace and brought me back to earth. My mother was studying me with such intensity that I felt like bacteria under a microscope. She couldn’t possibly read my mind, where Cressida was waiting for my return in an outfit mum would never have approved of, but I blushed anyway. Unfortunately, my mother is first and foremost a doctor, constantly on the lookout for symptoms to diagnose. She leaned forward and squinted her eyes. ‘You’re red.’
I felt myself go even redder. ‘I’m fine.’
‘It’s doesn’t look like a rash. Is it itchy?’
Before I could answer, she had grabbed my wrist and was taking my pulse.
I snatched my arm back. ‘Mum, please, leave it.’
She began poking my face instead. ‘I need to identify the origin of the problem.’
‘Maybe it was the yoghurt I ate for breakfast,’ I said, in a desperate attempt to get her away from me. ‘It had a bit of a funny smell.’
Typically, my excuse backfired. She straightened her back against the seat, like a cobra ready to strike. ‘You ate expired food right before your flight? Are you trying to make yourself sick not to get on that plane? It’s not going to work, Noah! We agreed that you would spend some time getting to know your father, it’s too late to change your mind now.’
Considering that I had found out about her plan to get rid of me only two days before, “we” was a stretch to say the least. I kept my thoughts to myself. I had learnt from experience that there was no point in defying the Cobra, in particular when she was in attack-mode. At least she had stopped poking my face.
‘I know I have to go, but I’m kind of nervous. Dad seemed nice enough whenever he visited, but I have met him thirteen times in my whole life. What if we don’t get along? What if I don’t like living on his barge?’
She glided over my first question. ‘I may have been a bit hasty when I described it as a barge. It is a fairly nice vessel. I don’t necessarily approve of his nomadic lifestyle, but I’m sure you’ll like it.’
‘Maybe, but… my life is here. My friends—’
‘You don’t have any friends. Unless you’re referring to that underachiever you play videogames with.’
‘Tom isn’t an underachiever, he’s dyslexic!’ I protested.
‘At least he has an excuse for his poor grades. Unlike you.’
‘My grades are not poor, they’re average.’
‘Mediocrity is nothing to be proud of.’ Thinking of my grades made her face even sourer. ‘In any case, solitude won’t be a problem. There is another girl of your age living on the boat and her tutor has agreed to take you on.’ She glanced at an incoming text and continued. ‘Look, I understand your hesitations, but your father has assured me that he will act sensibly and responsibly. I have made it very clear to him that failure to meet you at the airport or comply with my instructions will result in a lawsuit, so you really have nothing to worry about.’
My jaw dropped. The thought of not being picked up hadn’t even crossed my mind.
‘The rash has faded,’ she said. ‘As a precaution, I will get you some antihistamines when we get to the airport.’
She returned to her emails, a clear sign that our conversation was over. I switched my I-pad on and googled my destination. The Bahamas, an archipelago of over seven hundred islands, enjoyed three international airports – the odds of meeting my father weren’t in my favour. On the plus side, it used to be a cool place. In the late sixteenth century, its waters were infested with pirates and buccaneers. The harbour of its capital city, Nassau, was a particularly notorious hotspot. I’ve always been a sucker for pirate stories, probably because my life is so incredibly dull. I wondered if mum was writing to Jean-Claude, her super-secret French boyfriend who I wasn’t supposed to know about. Despite seeing her every day at work (he was a doctor at the same hospital), he rang more often than a life-insurance salesman. I suspected him to be the driving force behind her Lebanese adventure, because I had accidentally discovered that he would be going along. Médecins Sans Frontières had left a message on our answerphone confirming details of their joint accommodation in Beirut.
She briefly lifted her eyes from the email she was composing. ‘Yes?’
‘Before the divorce, Dad was a scientist, right?’
She pursed her lips in annoyed expression. She hated acknowledging that he had done something right. ‘That’s correct. Technically, he still is. As I told you before, he holds a PhD in Marine Biology and a master degree in Archaeology.’
‘It’s just that on his website—’
She nearly dropped her phone. ‘Has he got a website?’
‘Sort of. Most pages are under construction.’
‘Does he mention me?’
I hoped not to hurt her feelings. ‘No.’
‘Thank goodness! What is this site called?’
‘He uses his real name?’ she asked in disbelief.
I typed the website address and handed over my I-pad. My father’s face appeared on the screen. Dad’s originally from Sweden and definitely has a Nordic look about him. Blond hair, blue eyes, nice smile and regular features. Despite being forty-one, he’s a good-looking guy – if one can ignore his long hair and goatee beard, which are often styled in Viking plaits. With a hammer in his hand he could pass for a Thor impersonator. Or a Viking handyman. I could never decide if he was totally cool or utterly embarrassing. How he and mum ever decided to get married remains a mystery. A droid and a hippy would be more compatible.
‘On his About Me page,’ I said, tapping the correct tab, ‘it says that he’s an archaeologist and creep… a crypt… a zoo…’
‘A cryptozoologist,’ she said, taking me out of my misery and shaking her head in disapproval at either my father or myself. Or maybe both, she loved multi-tasking.
‘What does it mean?’
‘It’s another word for time-waster.’
‘Mum, I’m fifteen now and I deserve to be treated like an adult! You never talked about Dad and I respected your choice. I always accepted your version of the events and I never challenged your requests to be present at our meetings. You never gave me a chance to figure him out and now, all of a sudden, I have to spend six months with him. I don’t know who he is, mum, I really need some straight answers.’
I had never challenged her so openly. The taxi was engulfed by an icy silence. She was expecting an apology but, this time, I wasn’t going to budge. I meant what I said. We both waited for the other to make the first move.
‘Cryptozoology is the study of animals whose existence has not been proven,’ said the taxi driver who, up to then, hadn’t proffered a word. ‘Like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.’
I gaped, mum stiffened, the driver found an empty parking space in the drop off area. ‘Welcome to Heathrow Terminal 5,’ he said, pocketing his fare, ‘the Bermuda Triangle of suitcases.’
Mum tipped him and he winked back. Thankfully she didn’t notice and he narrowly escaped an eye examination. We entered the airport and silently made our way to the British Airways desk. We handed my papers to a friendly hostess who commented on how smart I looked in my suit and tie. She was rewarded with the most approving smile my mother could muster at such short notice and I had to do with one of her “I told you so” looks. The hostess stepped away to give us the chance to say goodbye. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did know what not to expect: hugs, answers or a couple of tears.
Mum spoke first. ‘About our conversation in the car…’
‘Why your father chose to become a cryptozoologist is beyond me. When we met, he was a promising and respected academic, his papers were regularly published and universities were fighting over him. He threw it all away and devoted himself to a pseudo-science. Cryptozoology is not based on concrete evidence, it relies on unproven sightings, old legends and local folklore. I never thought your father would go down that route. I’m sure you understand the repercussions of his choice on his career and on our marriage.’
‘Is that why you divorced him?’
‘It was the final straw. But there were other reasons which, as I’ve said many times before, I’d rather not discuss.’ She straightened my tie and, for once, didn’t speak my name confrontationally. ‘Noah, I would like you to use these six months to get to know your father, but do not get carried away with his ridiculous theories. With hindsight, I should have been less interfering when he came to visit, but I didn’t want him to put any of his preposterous ideas into your head.’
She took a step closer and, to my astonishment, hugged me. It wasn’t exactly a warm embrace, more of a mechanical one, but her displays of affection were so limited that I was grateful all the same. I hugged her back. ‘Bye mum.’
She dusted my already clean shoulders and gestured to the British Airways lady to come over. Before stepping through security, I turned to wave, but she was already gone.
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Sam Clarke is addicted to rock music, coffee, and Japanese manga. Her gardening skills are abysmal and she is rumoured to have killed a potted cactus. She currently lives in London next to a very noisy bar. Her first book, The Twelfth Ring, is a Page Turner Awards finalist and a BBNYA semi-finalist. Her second book, The Templar Sword (also a Page Turner Awards finalist) will be out in 2022.