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The Lost Story
Cover of The Lost Story
The Lost Story
A Novel
Inspired by C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, this wild and wondrous novel is a fairy tale for grown-ups who still knock on the back of wardrobes—just in case—from the author of The Wishing Game.
“This is the book you’ve been waiting for.”—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Empire Falls and the North Bath Trilogy

As boys, best friends Jeremy Cox and Rafe Howell went missing in a vast West Virginia state forest, only to mysteriously reappear six months later with no explanation for where they’d gone or how they’d survived.
Fifteen years after their miraculous homecoming, Rafe is a reclusive artist who still bears scars inside and out but has no memory of what happened during those months. Meanwhile, Jeremy has become a famed missing persons’ investigator. With his uncanny abilities, he is the one person who can help vet tech Emilie Wendell find her sister, who vanished in the very same forest as Rafe and Jeremy.
Jeremy alone knows the fantastical truth about the disappearances, for while the rest of the world was searching for them, the two missing boys were in a magical realm filled with impossible beauty and terrible danger. He believes it is there that they will find Emilie’s sister. However, Jeremy has kept Rafe in the dark since their return for his own inscrutable reasons. But the time for burying secrets comes to an end as the quest for Emilie’s sister begins. The former lost boys must confront their shared past, no matter how traumatic the memories.
Alongside the headstrong Emilie, Rafe and Jeremy must return to the enchanted world they called home for six months—for only then can they get back everything and everyone they’ve lost.
* This audiobook edition includes a downloadable PDF that contains a map and recipes from the book.
Inspired by C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, this wild and wondrous novel is a fairy tale for grown-ups who still knock on the back of wardrobes—just in case—from the author of The Wishing Game.
“This is the book you’ve been waiting for.”—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Empire Falls and the North Bath Trilogy

As boys, best friends Jeremy Cox and Rafe Howell went missing in a vast West Virginia state forest, only to mysteriously reappear six months later with no explanation for where they’d gone or how they’d survived.
Fifteen years after their miraculous homecoming, Rafe is a reclusive artist who still bears scars inside and out but has no memory of what happened during those months. Meanwhile, Jeremy has become a famed missing persons’ investigator. With his uncanny abilities, he is the one person who can help vet tech Emilie Wendell find her sister, who vanished in the very same forest as Rafe and Jeremy.
Jeremy alone knows the fantastical truth about the disappearances, for while the rest of the world was searching for them, the two missing boys were in a magical realm filled with impossible beauty and terrible danger. He believes it is there that they will find Emilie’s sister. However, Jeremy has kept Rafe in the dark since their return for his own inscrutable reasons. But the time for burying secrets comes to an end as the quest for Emilie’s sister begins. The former lost boys must confront their shared past, no matter how traumatic the memories.
Alongside the headstrong Emilie, Rafe and Jeremy must return to the enchanted world they called home for six months—for only then can they get back everything and everyone they’ve lost.
* This audiobook edition includes a downloadable PDF that contains a map and recipes from the book.
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  • From the cover Chapter One

    Our Story Now Begins

    The drive from Emilie Wendell’s house in Milton, Ohio, to Bernheim Forest outside Louisville took a good two and a half hours. She’d wanted to make it in two hours and fifteen minutes, but accident traffic caused a bottleneck on I-­65 south. She prayed the taping would be delayed. These things never started on time, right?

    For weeks, she’d been internet-­stalking Jeremy Cox, hoping and praying he’d somehow end up near her house. Then finally, that morning, she’d woken up to a Google alert in her email. A documentary TV show called Whereabouts Unknown would be doing a taping at Bernheim that day—­special guest, the famed missing persons investigator Jeremy Cox. She’d thrown on yesterday’s clothes—­red leggings, a T-­shirt, and a hoodie, stuffed her feet into her boots, and ran out of the house.

    Two and a half hours of frantic driving was a small price to pay for the chance to meet with Jeremy Cox in person. As soon as she arrived, she parked, grabbed her backpack, and then jogged down the path to the visitor’s center.

    The day was October 10, and the weather was cloudy and cold. Cold for Kentucky, anyway. Even so, she was sweating by the time she reached the outdoor stage. She found two park employees putting chairs back into stacks. A flyer printed on neon orange paper advertised Jeremy Cox’s safety talk. It seemed to be over already.

    “Did I miss the show?” she asked the employee, embarrassed by her breathless voice. “I’m supposed to meet with Jeremy Cox,” she added, so it wouldn’t sound like she was some creepy fangirl but someone who had an appointment.

    An older woman pointed down a trail. “The talk’s over, but they’re doing the taping near the pond by Little Nis.”

    “Right, Little Nis.” Emilie thanked the woman and ran down the trail.

    She found the pond and walked around the bend until she spotted the first of the Forest Giants. She’d read about the famous art installation but wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of them. Twenty feet tall or more. Impressive in photos but jaw-­dropping in person. There were three of them, she knew, a family of enormous trolls. This was Little Nis, the son. Somewhere in the park was his pregnant mother troll and his sister.

    Emilie and her mom had planned to see them, but they’d never made the time. And then, of course, there was no more time to make.

    She pushed thoughts of her mom out of her head. Emilie had never been great at focusing, but today, she would do it. She had to.

    And there he was. Jeremy Cox. He stood on a footbridge with his back to the pond. He looked just like all his pictures online. He had rust-­red hair, a perfectly groomed beard, and was dressed like a hip young rock climber. Gray fitted long-­sleeved T-­shirt. Canvas cargo pants, the kind made for climbing. Brown hiking boots, well worn, she noted. A TV crew of three surrounded Jeremy while a woman with a pitch-­perfect NPR voice asked him questions he’d probably been asked a billion times before.

    Interviewer: So, Jeremy, why only girls? You have this incredible skill, but only use it to help find missing girls.

    Jeremy: Girls and women.

    Interviewer: Right. But why just them? No boys at all?

    Jeremy: Women get lost differently than men, who get lost differently than small children, who get lost differently than the elderly. A lot of psychology goes into it. It makes sense to...
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The Lost Story
The Lost Story
A Novel
Meg Shaffer
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