HIDDEN in a dusty bookshop is a package containing a strange manuscript. It is discovered by a scholar who, on impulse, steals it. Further research uncovers an incomplete history of a West Yorkshire village belonging to a parallel world that overlaps with our own. Is it real or the ravings of a troubled mind? Is the scientific world ready for this, or should it remain a secret?

Daniel Shiel’s book Thorntichronicon is an “illustrated history and guide to a parallel world”, told in extraordinary short stories. A map helps the reader explore the village through the eyes of an historian from another world.

Thorntchronicon highlights the bizarre, dramatic history of a village that, says Daniel, “would be a fantastic, bewildering and exhausting place to live”.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Real Thornton building, left, re-imagined by Daniel's photography as 'Thornton Lighthouse'Real Thornton building, left, re-imagined by Daniel's photography as 'Thornton Lighthouse' (Image: Daniel Shiel)

‘The villagers, mainly agricultural labourers and wool workers, looked on in wonder and dread as a captive balloon filled with ‘flammable air’ described by one as ‘like unto a monstrous wasps’ nest’, was winched into the sky. From this commanding position, the Count could direct and govern the work below with a combined speaking trumpet and blunderbuss of his own design.’

Says Daniel: “In my career as an archaeologist, trying to understand the past and those that peopled it, an active imagination is required. Living and working in Thornton for many years, I became fascinated with the village and its architecture. I began writing the stories that make up Thorntichronicon about 20 years ago, but hadn’t seriously thought about writing a book.

“My career intervened and I went to live and work in Ireland. Although I carried on writing short stories, taking a course in writing, I left the Thornton stories unfinished. In 2009 I returned to West Yorkshire, developing a second career as a photographic artist with a focus on creating imagined, surreal landscapes. It was during lockdown that I decided to complete the Thornton stories and combine them with photographic art to create Thorntichronicon.”

The book was recently launched, with an exhibition of artwork, at Thornton Community Centre. Available at Thornton Furnishings, Bingley Gallery and danielshiel.com

l AS the Telegraph & Argus court reporter, Jenny Loweth has covered some of the district’s most high profile cases over the past two decades. A keen horsewoman, Jenny has also competed in showjumping events. Now she combines her love of horses with her knowledge of crime to write her Sheldon & Splash adventures.

The latest book in the series is The Magic Lantern Tree, which takes the fantasy strand running through the stories to a new level. It reunites the regular characters and their horses at the livery yard as they prepare for a snowy country Christmas. While previous books have been partly set in West Yorkshire and the east coast, The Magic Lantern Tree unfolds in rural Oxfordshire, and historic family piles Priory Park and Roseberry Manor.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Magic Lantern Tree takes one character back in time The Magic Lantern Tree takes one character back in time (Image: Jenny Loweth)

Young Layla is sent on a quest by the mysterious ghost, which regular readers will know as a black cat. Here she appears in Miss Marple-like human form, but for this transformation to take place, Layla must find the Magic Lantern Tree - a mission taking her to the 16th century, where dashing Jarrod Cavendish welcomes her to his family castle.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jenny Loweth and her horse, Lady Spiritus Jenny Loweth and her horse, Lady Spiritus (Image: Jenny Loweth)

The time travel is an intriguing twist and Jenny hints at more to come in future adventures. “I have great plans for Jarrod,” she says. Throw in a grim discovery in the ancient woods - with a possible Mafia connection - and nicely developing relationships between the inter-generational regulars, and this is a hugely enjoyable read. Catching up with Jenny’s characters - among them Sheldon, Alice, Zak, Melissa and the two aunts - is like meeting old friends. Available from Amazon.

l ILKLEY author Phil Batman drew on his career as a forensic pathologist for his heart-wrenching new novel about a murder in 1950s York. Part courtroom drama, part social realism, Our Ethel (Book Guild) is about a young woman accused of murdering her newborn baby. Exploring themes of ‘cot death’ and how it has been approached historically by medical and legal professions, the novel keeps the reader gripped up to its exhilarating climax.

Timid Ethel Slater grows up in a squalid terrace. A “soft target for cruel men”, she falls pregnant and gives birth alone at home. When her newborn is found dead, Ethel is plunged into a legal world she doesn’t understand, facing the death sentence for a crime she may not have committed.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Phis drew on his expertise to write his moving novelPhis drew on his expertise to write his moving novel (Image: Book Guild)

Phil went to Cambridge University then trained as a pathologist. Specialising in the investigation of suspicious deaths of babies, he became an expert in the medico-legal defence of parents charged with murder. Says Phil: “I witnessed bereaved parents battered by a flawed medical and legal system. I was moved to set the story in a narrow community in 1950s York, where I was born, and recall vividly the stigma of an illegitimate pregnancy.”

Available online and from bookshops. Visit bookguild.co.uk

l YORKSHIRE firefighter Joe Moorwood teamed up with his artist sister, Anna Stephenson, to create a children’s book in 2021. Now their follow-up, Beyond the Brambles, (Great Northern) celebrates outdoor play. Written by Joe and illustrated by Anna, it’s inspired by their childhood adventures.

Joe grew up to become a firefighter and Anna a primary school teacher. Their debut book, The Outside Is Inside, was about a boy whose grandad moves in during lockdown, leading to magical indoor adventures. It was praised by children’s mental health professionals for encouraging imaginative play.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Anna Stephenson and Joe Moorwood with their book Anna Stephenson and Joe Moorwood with their book (Image: Great Northern Books)

Says Joe: “Anna and I enjoyed a childhood packed with opportunities to explore. The premise for Beyond the Brambles came on our first family holiday after lockdown. Ducking through brambles, I was struck by a sense of appreciation and nostalgia. I knew I had to convey this feeling in our next book.”

In the story, a young sister and brother venture beyond the brambles one summer day to face what their imaginations muster. Will they encounter the infamous Bramble Beast? “I couldn’t wait to bring to life juicy blackberries, lush greenery and the prickly Beast,” says Anna. “I hope the book will inspire children to read, play imaginatively and use outdoor spaces.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Anna and Joe with their book, Beyond the Brambles Anna and Joe with their book, Beyond the Brambles (Image: Great Northern Books)

Joe’s first two Great Northern books, The Yorkshire Meaning of Liff and Yorkshire Wisdom, sold over10,000 copies. Anna creates Lino print collages from her studio. Visit gnbooks.co.uk