Helen Watts Author

No Stone Unturned

No Stone Unturned
by Helen Watts
published by Bloomsbury (ACB Originals)

"A fabulous historical mystery"

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No Stone Unturned was shortlisted for the Warwickshire Junior Book Award 2015 and the Historical Association's Young Quills Award. The book was also runner-up in the 2015 Alcester Schools Book Awards.

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The latest historical fiction novel from Helen Watts


Kelly and Ben are both outsiders. Mysteriously drawn to one another, the two teenagers spend the summer exploring an abandoned quarry, intrigued by rumours that it is linked to a devastating fire which destroyed the Palace of Westminster over 170 years ago. But they unearth more than they bargained for, including the shocking truth behind a rail tragedy in which lives were lost and families were torn apart.

Story summary

Thirteen-year-old Kelly Hearn isn’t like most girls her age. She is different. She’s an outsider. She’s a Traveller, and children from her community don’t usually go to secondary school. But Kelly isn’t bothered about being different. She has dreams. She wants to become a writer. So she convinces her parents to let her continue her education and no one – not even Charlotte, the school bully – is going to stand in her way. However, the long summer holidays can be dull with only a little dog named Tyson for company, so when the chance of an adventure comes Kelly’s way, along with a mystery to be solved, she jumps right in and leaves no stone unturned in looking for clues.

Like a modern-day Alice in Wonderland, Kelly’s adventure begins with a rabbit being chased through a hole. But in this case, it’s Tyson who does the chasing and there’s no drinking potion to be found on the other side: just a tatty old boot. Yet the boot turns out to be no less magical, as it triggers a chain of strange events which lead Kelly to unearth the details of a nineteenth century tragedy in which four people from the nearby village of Wilmcote lost their lives in a horrific railway accident.

All good detectives need a partner, and Kelly meets hers unexpectedly on a bridge over the railway where the mysterious boot was found. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Ben is the same age as Kelly and the two teenagers discover that they have lots of other things in common, too. Like Kelly, Ben seems determined to unearth the truth about the railway tragedy and, working together, the pair discover a link between the railway and Wilmcote’s abandoned quarry, once the source of stone for one of the country’s greatest architectural masterpieces – the new Palace of Westminster, rebuilt after a great fire in 1834. Then the two friends discover something even more surprising – a link between one of their families and one of the rail accident victims.

The action travels back and forth in time, between Kelly and Ben’s modern-day adventures and the years leading up to 1860, when architect Sir Joseph Adams was fighting to complete a project that was long overdue and well over budget; when Wilmcote quarry was struggling to deliver on the biggest limestone contract of its lifetime; and when the railway company was under pressure to complete the new branch line which would help to keep everyone’s heads above water. With so much at stake, might corners get cut? Might people’s lives be put at risk? And if they were, how far would those responsible go to cover their tracks?

170 years on, strange forces appear to be at work, guiding Kelly towards the truth so that the full story of the rail tragedy can be pieced together for the first time. But will there be a happy ending?   

Read the reviews of No Stone Unturned here

Hear the author, Helen Watts, reading Chapter 2

NEW: Group Reading and Class Sets

Helen's children's books are now available for teachers to buy in Group Reading Sets (6 pupil copies plus a free teacher copy) and in Class Sets (24 pupil copies plus a free teacher copy). As well as your free teacher copy you can also make savings of up to 15% on RRP.
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