AN EVENTFUL YEAR IN THE LIFE HISTORY OF NORBETT THICKLE
An encounter with Raphael Epstein and the world of Alchemy
A story, told in the adjective rich language of a hyper intelligent young boy with a fascination for his fellow sentient beings. A story that will indulge and develop a love of narrative and language with a vocabulary that will challenge and stimulate young readers. 66,200 words approx.
“Clearly, you have a vivid imagination and we applaud the manner in which you introduce sophisticated language to the younger reader in an entertaining way.”
Jennifer Castles Allen & Unwin July 2009
It was immediately apparent that this was no ordinary room. This was a laboratory. I had seen pictures of them in books. This was the room from which strange sounds and lights had emanated, the room from which a tabby cat had emerged with a tangerine hue.
The walls were lined with shelves on which there were books, jars, beakers, pieces of rock, bundles of feathers, bottles of coloured liquid, bird skeletons, small animal skulls, snake skins, preserved reptiles, bunches of dried flowers, trays of seeds, framed photographs of bearded men, driftwood, seashells, seaweed, tarnished coins and small figurines of grotesque, misshapen creatures. On a bench along one wall were a number of strange contraptions including the one that had transformed the weather.
In the middle of the room was another long bench and in one corner, a small desk with a reading lamp. On the middle bench were three bunsen burners and an assortment of test tubes, beakers, crucibles and cutting boards, variously stained with use. Strong, herbal aromas and pungent fumes mixed with spicy perfumes and musty book smells permeated the air. An old, wooden clock kept time in a corner as if time, here was a commodity from the past.
There were a number of concoctions hissing and bubbling on the bench but it was something else that drew my attention. On the desk, in the penumbra-encircled light of the reading lamp was a book. It was not just an ordinary book. It was an ancient tome, bound in leather, an ornate volume of strange but exquisite beauty, such that I was drawn inexorably to it, mesmerised by it.
Its cover was embossed with an illuminated title:
Beside it was a pair of fine, silk gloves. I stared at the title. I didn’t know the precise meaning of the word alchemy. It conjured images of medieval sorcerers with long, grey hair and robes embroidered with esoteric symbols, working in the dead of night on clandestine investigations into the magical realms of the universe.
My hands trembled as I drew on the silk gloves and felt their soft caress along my fingers. There was a silver bookmark protruding from the gilt edge of the pages, at which I carefully opened the book. There, in a spidery hand was written a passage that would change my life.
Concerninge thee Unutterable Phrase