Whispers in the Sand

Whispers in the Sand

by Barbara Erskine

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"A gripping time-slip suspense story." —The Bookseller

Recently divorced, Anna Fox decides to cheer herself up by retracing a Nile cruise her great-great-grandmother, Louisa, made in the mid-nineteenth century. Anna carries with her two of Louisa's possessions—an ancient Egyptian scent bottle and an illustrated diary of the original cruise, a diary that hasn't been read in a hundred years. As she follows in Louisa's footsteps, Anna discovers in the diary a wonderful love story from the Victorian past—and the chilling, more distant secret of the little glass bottle. Meanwhile, two men on the cruise are developing an unfriendly rivalry for Anna's attention—and a disturbing interest in Louisa's things. Most frightening of all, Anna finds herself the victim of a threat that grows in strength and darkness as the dramatic stories from three different eras intertwine along the mysterious waters of the Nile.

What Readers are Saying

"The images she creates are fantastically interwoven in a mysterious romance. I couldn't stop reading."

"Great! Chilling and full of betrayal, revenge, and heat."

"All Barbara Erskine's books have the excitement, detail, slight historical slant, and twists which make the reader look over their shoulder."

"I found myself gripped by the story of Anna and her ancestor, Louisa. The two stories are skillfully threaded together with a magical blend of the stunning descriptions of Egypt and the love stories that enfold the two women."

"It is a mystery that is unfolding before your very eyes. A real page-turner."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402261763
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 07/01/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 534,413
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Barbara Erskine is a historian and internationally bestselling writer whose books include Lady of Hay, Daughters of Fire, Hiding from the Light, Kingdom of Shadows, Child of the Phoenix, and Midnight is a Lonely Place. Her books have sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, and she is published in 24 languages. Visit www.barbara-erskine.co.uk

Read an Excerpt

In the cool, incense-filled heart of the temple, the sun had not yet sent its lance across the marble of the floor. Anhotep, priest of Isis and of Amun, stood before the altar stone in the silence, his hands folded into the pleated linen of his sleeves. He had lit the noon offering of myrrh in its dish and watched as the wisps of scented smoke rose and coiled in the dimly lit chamber. Before him, in the golden cup, the sacred mixture of herbs and powdered gems and holy Nile water sat in the shadows waiting for the potentising ray to hit the jewelled goblet and fall across the potion. He smiled with quiet satisfaction and raised his gaze to the narrow entrance of the holy of holies. A fine beam of sunlight struck the rim of the doorframe and seemed to hover like a breath in the hot shimmer of the air. It was almost time.
"So, my friend. It is ready at last." The sacred light was blocked as a figure stood in the doorway behind him; the sun's ray bounced crooked across the floor, deflected by the polished blade of a drawn sword.
Anhotep drew breath sharply. Here in the sacred temple, in the presence of Isis herself, he had no weapon. There was nothing with which he could protect himself, no one he could call. The sacrilege you plan will follow you through all eternity, Hatsek." His voice was strong and deep, echoing round the stone walls of the chamber. "Desist now, while there is time."
"Desist? When the moment of triumph is finally here?" Hatsek smiled coldly. "You and I have worked towards this moment,
brother, through a thousand lifetimes, and you thought to deprive me of it now? You thought to waste the sacred source of all life on that sick boy pharaoh! Why, when the goddess herself has called for it to be given to her?"
"No!" Anhotep's face had darkened. "The goddess has no need of it!"
"The sacrilege is yours!" The hiss of Hatsek's voice reverber­ated round the chamber. The sacred potion distilled from the very tears of the goddess must be hers, by right. She alone mended the broken body of Osiris, and she alone can renew the broken body of the pharaoh!"
"It is the pharaoh's!" Anhotep moved away from the altar. As his adversary stepped after him, the purifying ray of sunlight sliced the darkness like a knife and struck the crystal surface of the potion, turning it to brazen gold. For a moment both men stared, distracted by the surge of power released from the goblet.
"So," Anhotep breathed. "It has succeeded. The secret of life eternal is ours."
"The secret of life eternal belongs to Isis." Hatsek raised his sword. "And it will remain with her, my friend!" With a lunge he plunged the blade into Anhotep's breast, withdrawing it with a grunt as the man fell to his knees. For a moment he paused as though regretting his hasty action, then he raised the bloody blade over the altar, and in one great sweeping arc, he brought it down on the goblet, hurling it and the sacred potion it contained to the floor.
"For you, Isis, I do this deed." Setting the sword down on the altar he raised his hands, his voice once again echoing round the chamber. "None but you, oh great goddess, holds the secrets of life and those secrets shall be yours forever!"
Behind him, Anhotep, his bloodied hands clutching his chest, somehow straightened, still on his knees. His eyes already glazing over, he groped, half blind, for the sword above him on the stone. Finding it, he dragged himself painfully to his feet and raised it with both hands. Hatsek, his back to him, his eyes on the sun disc as it slid out of sight of the temple entrance, never saw him. The point of the blade sliced between his shoulder blades and penetrated down through his lung into his heart. He was dead before his crumpled form folded at the other man's feet.
Anhotep looked down. At the base of the altar the sacred potion lay as a cool, blue-green pool on the marble, stained by the curdling blood of two men. Staring at it for a moment, Anhotep looked round in despair. Then, his breath coming in small painful gasps, he staggered across to a shelf in the shadow of a pillar. There stood the chrismatory, the small, ornate glass phial in which he had carried the concentrated potion to the holy of holies. He reached for it, his hands slippery with blood, and turned back to the altar. Falling painfully to his knees, sweat blinding his eyes, he managed to scoop a little of the liquid back into the tiny bottle. Fumbling with shaking fingers, he pressed in the stopper as far as it would go, smearing blood over the glass. In one last stupendous effort he pulled himself up and set it down on the back of the shelf in the darkness between the pillar and the wall, then he turned and staggered out towards the light.
By the time they found him lying across the entrance to the holy place, he had been dead for several hours.
As the bodies of the two priests were washed and embalmed, the prayers said for their souls stipulated that they serve the Lady of Life in the next world as they had failed to serve her in this.
It was the high priest's order that the two mummies be laid inside the holy of holies, one on each side of the altar, and that it should then be sealed forever.

Customer Reviews

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Whispers in the Sand 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Anna Fox is recently divorced and free from her controlling husband, but she doesn't know what to do with herself. Her aunt suggests she retrace a Nile cruise her great-grandmother had taken years before. She says yes, but doesn't realize just what awaits her in Egypt. Ms. Erskine writes a very solid novel. Every word she uses is there for a purpose and she weaves pictures of Egypt and its scenery, imbues you with a sense of danger, and makes you wonder if anyone is safe on this journey. Her plot is well thought out with lots of nooks and crannies for secrets to hide in. And she uses the diary from the past for good effect in this cruise in the contemporary time period. If you are at all familiar with Egyptian myths, they have gods they honor. Not all of them are nice gods, either. The gods are at work in this story also. When Anna gets on the plane to go to Egypt, she meets her first odd character. He's not the least bit friendly or even socialable sitting next to her. But he has interest in her great grandmother's diary. The author starts Anna out as a shy type after years of her husband controlling her and telling her what was appropriate for her life as his wife. As the cruise continues, she runs into other men of this type, but she starts to come out of her shell and lets them know she won't be treated that way. By the end of the story, after fighting gods and attempting to keep her artifacts from being stolen, Anna is returning to a woman with full confidence that can make her own decisions. The transition is fun to read about. All the characters in the "diary" and in the current day are believable and strong. The gods follow the traditional legends and are just as nasty as they were in those stories. It's full bodied story with lots of twists and turns that holds your attention until the last page. I especially enjoyed the Egyptian lore and the visit to the country. Why not get yourself a copy of this book and go on a Nile cruise, too? Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the story. The whole journey down the Nile and having the journal to tell about the great-great-great grandmothers same trip was well written.
pinkeyRS More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Its really my kind of book. I could see Egypt setting on my couch.
BrokenTeepee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my first book by Barbara Erskine but if given the chance to read another I will certainly do so. I found myself thoroughly loving (most of) the characters and certainly the locale of this book. I have a fascination for books that take place in Egypt; so mysterious, so old. In this tale Anna Fox is recently divorced and is feeling totally diminished by an ex-husband who used her as nothing more than a social secretary. Encouraged by her aunt she takes off to Egypt to follow in the footsteps of her somewhat famous great-great grandmother, Louisa Shelley, a water-colorist. Louisa has left a diary of her experiences and a mysterious scent bottle.The story is told in three parts; Anna's current day adventures, Louisa's Victorian tales and the mystery of two Ptolemaic priests who are looking to reclaim the scent bottle and it's "Tears of Isis." The three stories are seamlessly bound together as Anna starts seeing the sames visions of the priests that Louisa did. As Anna reads Louisa's diary and becomes more involved in Louisa's life she becomes more afraid of the ghosts of the priests. In her current world her new acquaintances on the cruise ship in Egypt including two men who both want different things from her - including Louisa's diary - try to woo her for their own purposes. Just who can Anna trust?This was a fascinating book with a good story at its core. I enjoyed Anna's present and Louisa's past. Anna's relationship with Toby (one of the two men) was fun and well developed. The other man, Andy was not as well developed and he seemed a bit one note but it didn't detract much from the overall book. I found myself turning the pages wanting to know what would happen to Anna and what did happen to Louisa.
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A very good read. You must check this out.
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Whats your name?