The First Day of Spring, by Nancy Tucker

An extract from this gripping and dark book club debut with a compelling voice at its centre.

A bright orange background, with a hardback book at the centre. Book has a dark grass green cover, with auburn hair laid over. Text in white reads 'The First Day Of Spring'

‘So that was all it took,’ I thought. ‘That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn’t so much after all.’

The wind picked up my nightie, and I felt like it would have lifted me into the sky if there hadn’t been something heavy holding me down.

‘Soon I won’t feel this way any more,’ I thought. That was what was holding me on the ground. ‘Soon everything will be back to normal. I’ll forget how it felt to have hands strong enough to squeeze all the life out of someone. I’ll forget how it felt to be God.’

The next thought came as a voice, dropped into my head. ‘I need to feel it again. I need to do it again.’

The time between doing it once and doing it again was suddenly mapped onto a clockface, with hands that ticked the seconds away. I watched it tick, heard it tick, felt it tick. The clock was a special secret just for me. People would sit next to me in the classroom and walk past me in the street and play with me in the playground and they wouldn’t know who I really was, but I would, because I would have my ticking to remind me. And when the clock had ticked all the way round, so the hands were twinned at 12, it would happen. I would do it again.

My fingers and toes were cramping with cold, so I started to walk back to the house. I felt even lighter than I had when I set out, and I knew it wasn’t just because I was going downhill instead of up. It was because I had a plan. The front door was still stuck with the mat, and I closed it behind me with a careful click. I put the sugar back in the kitchen and climbed back up the stairs. Everything was still quiet. Everything was still dark. In bed I tucked my knees up under my nightie and put my hands in my armpits. I was very cold but very real. Very living. Every tiny part of my body had its own heartbeat, its own clock beat.

Tick. Tick. Tick.


Two books standing upright with a dark green grass cover. Auburn hair is across the front cover of one book and each has large and small font in orange and white with quotes from authors

If you would like to read more of The First Day of Spring, we are offering ten lucky readers the chance to win an advanced readers copy of Nancy Tucker's debut novel. To enter, all you need to do is email your name and address to firstdayofspring@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk by Friday, 2nd April at 23:59.

Ten lucky winners will be selected at random, and contacted by Monday, 9th April 2021. T&Cs on the competition can be found below.


1)          By entering this free prize draw, you agree to accept and be bound by these terms and conditions.  All entry instructions form part of the terms & conditions of this prize draw. 

2)          This free prize draw is open to anyone aged [16] or over who is a resident of the UK, except for employees of The Random House Group Limited, Penguin Books Limited (promoter), its subsidiary companies, their families and any other company connected with the prize draw.  

3)          Entries must be received by [ Friday, 2nd April 2021 by 23:59 GMT] (closing date).   Entries that are illegible, incomplete, corrupted or which fail to be received by the closing date for any reason, will not be counted. The promoter is not responsible for entries delayed or lost in the post. Automatically generated entries or entries via agents or third parties are invalid and shall not be counted.

4)          Only one entry per person. No entrant may win more than one prize.

5)          To enter [please send your personal details, including name, age, address and email address to firstdayofspring@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk

6)          All correctly completed entries will be entered into a prize draw which will take place on [Monday, 5th April 2021]. The first [10] entries drawn at random by an independent person will be the winners.

7)          The prize is [one advanced readers copy of The First Day of Spring, which will be posted to the specified address above] (prize). The prize is non-transferrable and no cash alternative will be offered.

8)          Events may occur which render the awarding of the prize impossible due to reasons beyond the control of the promoter and the promoter may, at its absolute discretion, vary, amend, suspend or withdraw the prize with or without notice. 

9)          The winner will be notified [by email] within [seven] days of the closing date (i.e. by [Friday, 9th April 2021]). The winner(s) must claim their prize within 30 days of the promoter sending notification. If the prize is unclaimed after this time, it will lapse and the promoter reserves the right to offer the unclaimed prize to a substitute winner selected in accordance with these rules.

10)       Other than those specified above, the promoter shall not be liable for any costs or expenses arising out of or in any way connected with this prize and does not accept any responsibility for any damage, loss or disappointment suffered by the winner as result of accepting this prize.

11)       By entering this competition, all entrants consent to the use of their personal data by the Promoter for the purposes of running the competition as detailed in these terms and conditions.  Details on how we process the personal data of entrants can be found in our Privacy Policy ((http://penguin.co.uk/company/about-us/notices/privacy-policy/full-privacy-policy.html)

12)       We will make the winner’s name and county available on request to the following email address firstdayofspring@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk (please state the name of the competition in the subject heading 10 weeks after the closing date).  If you do not want your name and county to be made available in the event that you win, please let us know by emailing firstdayofspring@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk Please note we are required to make the winner’s details available to the ASA if requested.

13)       Promoter may disqualify any entrant whose entry does not comply with these terms and conditions (in promoter’s sole opinion) or who, in promoter’s sole determination, has acted in a manner that is fraudulent, dishonest or unjust to other entrants including, without limitation, tampering with the operation of the competition, manipulating or rigging votes, hacking, deceiving, using multiple accounts to submit multiple entries, cheating or by harassing or threatening other entrants, the panel or a representative of promoter

14)       The promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into in relation to the competition.  

15)       These terms and conditions are subject to English Law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

16)       The promoter’s contact details are: The Random House Group Limited, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA.

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