Sunday, 12 July 2015

Blog Tour: Under My Skin | Zoë Markham

Blurb: What if we're all monsters, on the inside?

Chloe was once a normal girl. Until the night of the car crash that nearly claimed her life. Now Chloe’s mother is dead, her father is a shell of the man he used to be and the secrets that had so carefully kept their family together are falling apart.

A new start is all Chloe and her father can hope for, but when you think you’re no longer human how can you ever start pretending?

A contemporary reworking of a British horror classic, Under My Skin follows seventeen-year-old Chloe into an isolated world of darkness and pain, as she struggles to understand what it really means to be alive.

Set against the familiar backdrop of everyday, normal teenage worries, Chloe's world has become anything but...


Drawing more and more into myself, the biggest change I notice is in my nightmares. Ever since it happened, there’s only ever really been one – the same scene playing out in the same way every night. There was a brief respite when we first moved in, but now it’s back, and it’s starting to feature a whole new opening scene that makes no sense. Dad and I have talked about the dreams, because it’s kind of hard not to when you wake up screaming most nights. I’ve been trying to get my sleep during the day, to keep the tears and the terror away from him. Sometimes it works, sometimes I can read all night and sleep up in the attic most of the day, but it seems more and more that the only place I can really settle to a book is up there, and sleep tends to find me after my bath and my meds no matter what.
There’s another reason I’d rather not wake him: when I wake up terrified, and he’s there beside me trying to comfort me – when I should feel safe and secure in his presence – I really don’t. I feel the exact opposite. He’s the last person I want to see; I’m scared that if there was anything dangerous in my room, or if I was stronger, or faster, I could really hurt him in that one, painfully clear moment when I remember what he did to us.

I never hear him have nightmares. I’ve always wondered why.

The dream has only ever starred me, Mum and Dad, but now a new character has found his way in, and I don’t really know what to make of him. He feels like some kind of doctor maybe, wearing a long, dark cloak with a hood that falls down low over a breathing mask with heavy ventilators to each side, and the combination of the two completely obscures his face. I don’t know who he is, or why he’s there, and it’s weird because everything else I dream about is so personal, and so real. He doesn’t speak, or even do anything. He’s just there. The only thing I hear is his breathing, rhythmic and ragged through the ventilator. I can’t see his eyes, but I can feel him watching me, and that’s all he does, watch, and breathe. He’s only ever there at the very start of my dream. He’s waiting for something, I think. I’m not sure I want to think about what.
He makes me feel even more ‘unclean’, even more repulsive somehow. Like my body is such a perversion now that even the air around me has become dangerous. Like no one could ever be safe near me.
The point at which he melts into the blackness around him is when my dream begins in earnest, and from here it’s always the same. Back to normal. I have to live through the experience over and over, every time I fall into a deep sleep.
Don’t think.
I try not to think so much, for so long, that sometimes it feels like there’s nothing left of me.


Author Bio

Zoë writes Young Adult fiction, blending dark twistiness with urban Britishness to produce unique, unsettling tales.

A full-time editor by day, Zoë writes by night, fueled by endless mugs of tea and an increasingly blurred distinction between fantasy & reality.

Zoë lives in the wilds of West Oxfordshire with her husband, son, and the obligatory two cats.


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