What if an original manuscript of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with an inscription to the playwright’s wife, Anne, and signed by Shakespeare is discovered? Not one fragment of an original manuscript penned by Shakespeare has been unearthed in the last 400 years. Such a manuscript would be priceless.
To Be or Not To Be Shakespeare, a hazardous search for just such a manuscript, is undertaken by Dr. Bradford Holt. “Holt” is the author of To Be or Not To Be Shakespeare, a book that claims Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Joining “Holt” in unraveling the mystery is Calista O’Donahue, an Oxford graduate student of Shakespeare studies who is clairvoyant. Using her psychic abilities and a gold ring that once belonged to her ancestor, Anne (Hathaway) Shakespeare, Calista narrows the search for the manuscript to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.
Calista O’Donahue thought she was dead.
She felt the skin on her stomach quiver as though someone had dropped a sliver of ice down the front of her dress. Shivering, she forced her eyes open to see—nothing. The darkness was everywhere, a black pool of chilling water that cloaked her body like a shroud.
I’m . . . in a grave, she thought, afraid to roll over, to reach out with her hands and feel the sides of the coffin. She listened hard, only to hear the whisper of her own breathing, the throb of her heart as it raced ahead of each breath.
Hesitantly, she smoothed the palm of one hand over the earthen floor beneath her, searching, until she found a cluster of dry chaff and fiercely crushed the brittle grass in her fist. Inhaling deeply of the dry odor, Calista told herself: Relax . . . Relax . . .
Her pulse rate began to lessen. She scratched her fingers in the dust at her side and was rewarded with the sound of her fingernails scraping a stone wall. Closing her eyes, she let her mind search the space she was in.
No. It’s not a coffin; it’s like a tomb. Now, think. How did I get here?
She opened her eyes again, and strained against the darkness. I was in the hotel bedroom alone. Holt hadn’t returned from—
“Holt!” she cried aloud, and the name was like a thunderclap reverberating on the sides of the tomb. The crack of sound startled her. She repeated his name, softly this time: “Holt.”
Calista touched the gold ring on her finger, felt its warmth. Use your power . . . The tension in her body ebbed, and she breathed in slowly, deeply. She sneezed and the sharp sound echoed off the stone. She crawled around on her hands and knees. The ground was now pebbled and the sharp stones tore at her hose. She bumped her head into a stone wall, then scooted back until she felt the other wall with her feet. The space was larger than a burial tomb, she thought.
She stood, slowly, one hand reaching out to the side to feel rough stone, the other hand above her head. Nothing. She stood on her tiptoes and this time touched a moldy surface that adhered to her fingers. Walking her fingers forward, she felt an iron grate with thick bars of rusted metal; flakes of rust dropped to her head. She poked her finger though the bars and felt stone.
Where am I?
Calista remembered looking down through the iron grate at the pitiful hole in the ground where medieval prisoners were lowered to rot in what they called the pit of despair. And she knew. The oubliette! I’m sealed in the dungeon within a dungeon at Warwick Castle.
A silent scream ripped across her mind, and she felt a thrust of fear that was on the edge of pain. She held her cries in check, knowing she had to use all her power to escape.
You can make him hear you, Calista told herself, tears smearing the grime on her cheeks. She grasped the gold ring tightly and closed her eyes.
Silently she called out: Holt. Find me.
Holt . . .
Quotes and Accolades
“Your adventure thriller (like The Da Vinci Code) is a story about a perilous and suspenseful pursuit in which the characters, Calista and Holt, are challenged by a number of dangerous adversaries all seeking the same goal, the discovery of the Romeo and Juliet manuscript. What makes this story even more fascinating is that Calista is clairvoyant and uses her powers in the search for the manuscript.”
THE CHARLOTTE GUSAY LITERARY AGENCY