They gather slowly, the hare women, moon transformed. They wait at the edge of the wood where it borders the meadow, bodies strong and lithe, whiskers twitching. There are far fewer now; some have learned to ignore the call and many no longer hear it.
She has tried to evade it. Tried to reject it. In her flat in the city, she does her best to tune out the longing, but when the full moon is bright, it’s impossible. The sister song spirals through her soul; unanswered, it makes her listless and irritable. She seeks solace in distraction but it’s not enough. She paces like the caged animal she is, jumps at shadows, hugs herself, asks yet again why she puts herself through this. Why she needs to force herself to be something she’s not.
Ordinary. Non magical. Just a woman, not a hare.
She is glad to be with them again. When she joins the circle, finds herself in the sisterhood, when she changes and loses herself in the richness of a new sensory world, she remembers. The connection to the earth, the profusion of scent and sound, the freedom of running faster, faster, worry and self abandoned in the pure joy of the moment.
Each time, she feels she could keep running forever.
Each time, it gets harder to bring herself back.
They break from the tree line, bounding across the meadow, zig zagging through the streams of pure silver light that spill from the sky. They nibble on wildflowers and pause to rest, sheltering by the hedgerow; they warn each other of predators, fox, owl, badger, and dance with the shadows and gaze at the moon.
As the dawn begins to wash the ink from the sky, they stream from all corners of the field back to the wood, finding their own secret spaces to transform. And one by one, before the day has fully broken, they slip away to their cars and their bicycles and their other lives.
She starts the engine, pulls onto the road. She leaves the radio off. Her senses are still heightened, tingling. It is always a wrench, to return to the ordinary world; the sadness is like a vice around her heart. The choice becomes harder each time; this is why she tries to deny her hare, to stay away from the meadow and her sisters and the moon.
Because she knows that one day, she won’t come back.
It was on the doorstep when Cinderella and Snow White got home from lectures, no card, no note. Cinderella took it inside, despite Snow White’s misgivings, and set it on the table in the kitchen diner.
An apple. Perfectly formed, with deep red skin that glistened like a ruby. It rested on a small wooden platter beneath a glass dome.
Cinderella’s fingers danced on top of the glass. It was so tempting.
“Don’t.” Snow White had deliberately stayed on the other side of the kitchen. “You don’t know where it’s come from. It’s just weird, leaving it like that. We should throw it away.”
Snow White hated apples. They made her choke.
Rapunzel looked up from the sofa. A book, as usual, lay open on her lap. She watched Cinderella’s long fingers curl round the handle of the dome.
“Don’t be daft Snow,” Cinderella said as she lifted the glass. A heady scent swirled through the room. “It smells gorgeous. What do you think Rapunzel? Schrodinger’s apple? Poisoned AND not poisoned?”
“There lies the conundrum.” Rapunzel pretended to be nonchalant. She tried to ignore the strange gift. It stirred melancholy within her; it reminded her of…
Cinderella plucked the apple from its platter, holding it up to the light just as Alice wandered in from the back garden. She’d been trying yet again to fix a hole under the fence where next door’s rabbit kept getting through.
“What’s that?” she asked as she added her mug to the line.
“A gift,” said Cinderella.
“A curse,” said Snow White. “But she won’t listen to me.”
Alice examined the apple in Cinderella’s hand. She was wary of food with no provenance. She had been caught out before. Badly.
“I wouldn’t eat it if I were you,” she said. “Don’t know if I’d even have touched it. You need to be careful with these things.”
“THANK you.” Snow White distributed the mugs, then sat by Rapunzel.
Cinderella turned it this way and that. It shone. It was the most wondrous apple any of them had ever seen, rounded and luscious, full of promise.
Rapunzel sipped her coffee, kept sipping even though it burned her tongue. Anything to block that pervading scent, the bitter sadness it awakened.
“Really. What harm could it do?” The apple drifted closer to Cinderella’s lips.
“I’m sure Eve said the same thing,” Snow White said. “It could kill you, is what.”
“Don’t Ella, really,” Alice added. “Who leaves apples on doorsteps anyway? It’s beyond curious.”
“But it smells soooo good.”
Alice took the apple gingerly by the stalk and put it back on its wooden plate. She clapped the glass dome over it and placed it up on the windowsill. The tantalising fragrance disappeared immediately.
But not for Rapunzel. It was in her bones now, her blood, in the tears that burned behind her eyes. He’d always brought her apples. He knew how she loved them.
“We need to get moving,” Alice continued. “We’re supposed to be at Dorothy’s in an hour. Don’t want to be late.”
“You coming out tonight, Rapunzel?” Snow White asked. Rapunzel shook her head.
“Essay due on Monday,” she said. “No time.”
“You work too hard,” said Cinderella. “Live a little. It’s just one night.”
“Might do you good,” Snow White added. “It’s been a while.”
They didn’t understand. How could they, with all those happy endings.
Later, as the front door closed, Rapunzel stood in front of the mirror, curling a strand of hair round her finger. It was short now, chin length. She’d had it cut when he’d left her. The scent of the apple reached up from the kitchen, curling and twisting through her memories.
How he had been a prince amongst frogs.
How perfect they had been together.
How he had led her out of her turret into the light.
How she had taught him to love books.
How his eyesight had begun to fail.
How the headaches had got worse.
How he had changed, become harsh and unkind.
How the doctors had found the tumour.
How he had left her, refused her support, discarded her love.
He was still out there. She’d heard that treatment had been successful. But he wouldn’t take her calls, reply to her messages.
She still loved him. He didn’t love her.
She had climbed back into her tower and she was the one who had fallen to break, spectacularly, on the ground.
Bitterness tainted her tongue. She was tired of feeling stuck. Change was possible, she knew that. The strange gift proved it.
Rapunzel left her room and went down to the kitchen. The apple beckoned from the windowsill and without hesitation she freed it from its prison. Then, standing by the window, watching next door’s rabbit hopping through the daisies on their lawn, she opened her mouth and took a great big bite.
See the little cottage in the clearing ahead. That is where we will take our repose tonight. We have walked for many hours; you are hungry and need to rest.
“Who lives here?” you ask.
No one now, but it is a place of welcome. You will find whatever it is you need. Food, drink, warmth. A bed to sleep in. Comfort and healing for everything from a broken heart to a wound of the flesh. See, there are lanterns lit in the windows. It is all ready for you.
How did they know you would come when you did not know yourself? Well, that is the magic; it is not to be questioned, just accepted with gratitude. Try the door. It is not locked.
The table is laid for us and the fire is dancing in the grate. Come. Sit and I will tell you how this cottage became enchanted.
Once upon a time, long ago and far away, a great king lived in a beautiful castle with his wife and their daughter. The land he ruled was peaceful and prosperous, for his greatness lay not in the battles he had won or the power and wealth he had accumulated but in his fairness, his honesty and his generosity. Merchants traded freely and fairly with the neighbouring realms. Farmers grew abundant crops and their livestock were healthy. Artisans and crafters flourished, creating both the practical and the beautiful. There was music and art, poetry and learning. People cared for each other and disputes were settled quickly and honourably.
Often the King would ride out amongst his subjects to share with them their fortunes good and bad. The Queen and the Princess rode by his side. As the Princess grew up, she learned justice and government from her father and healing from her mother. She knew herself to be truly privileged and wished only to become as good a leader as the King.
Now in that country there was a legend: that whosoever held the sacred jewels of wisdom, truth, justice and love was the true ruler of the realm, and that so long as the jewels were protected then so also was the land. The gems were kept safely within the castle. The sapphire of wisdom, the diamond of truth and the emerald of justice were set into the crown that the King wore during state business; the ruby of love was deemed so precious that it was kept in a secret hiding place.
Some had tried to take the jewels, by theft or by force, but none had ever succeeded.
Years passed. But In the shadowy forest at the northern edge of the kingdom, a dark force was growing, cloaked by malevolent magic. There lived a powerful sorceress, whose greed and hatred knew no bounds. All she saw she needed to possess; the wealth and abundance of the realm had drawn her to it and the jewels were her heart’s desire. So she plotted and planned and conjured all manner of evil to do her bidding. She sowed seeds of destruction and discord throughout the region; a fight here, a failed crop there, food spoiled in a tavern kitchen, missing coins from the notary’s pouch. Whispers of plagues and rumours of war spread and festered, making the people fearful and angry. They began to doubt the King’s integrity and to question his leadership. Into this cauldron of distrust the sorceress poured false promises of a better way, a new leader to protect them.
The King tried to reassure his subjects but he did not know what he was fighting. Turmoil and trouble grew until, at the state celebration of the Princess’s seventeenth birthday, the sorceress swept into the castle with her legions and claimed it for her own. The King was cut down instantly, and a spell cast on all present, immobilising them.
“Where are the jewels?” she demanded of the Queen, but the Queen would say nothing save “They are all here.”
So the sorceress had her minions ransack the castle and they returned triumphantly with the crown. Setting it upon her head, she seated herself upon the throne, saying “I am truly the Queen now, and you will kneel to me or die.”
With that she cast another spell; the guests knelt before her, whether or not they wished to. They found themselves back in their homes, still on their knees.
The Queen and the Princess stood, unable to fight the evil magic.
“Where is the last jewel?” the sorceress asked, but the Queen refused to speak. “Very well. You will pay for your stubbornness. Cast her into the dungeon with the brat.” She walked over to the Queen, spoke just before the guards dragged her away. “It will not stay hidden for long. You will tell me. She,” she indicated the Princess, “will make sure of it.”
The two women were bundled away by the guards and dragged down into the dungeon. It was dark and empty – it had not seen a prisoner for years. One guard lifted a set of rusty keys from a nail in the wall while the others cast them into a cell. The door clanged shut and the footsteps faded away.
Tears blurred the Princess’s vision. Her mother took her by the shoulders. “They will be back soon,” she said. “When they have searched again and failed to find the ruby. You must not be here when they return. I fear what she may do to you.” The Princess opened her mouth to speak but the Queen hurried on. “I have a charm. It will create a door for you to escape through. You will have to hide who you are but at least you will be safe. One day you will return. I know this.”
“You must come with me,” the Princess said desperately but here mother shook her head. She reached into her pocket and drew out a silver pencil. Holding it momentarily over her heart, she used it to draw a rectangle on the thick stone wall. A door appeared, light glimmering round its edges.
“Open it,” the Queen instructed and her daughter obeyed. On the other side was a room.
“I cannot come with you,” the Queen continued. “Only one may pass.” She embraced her daughter. “Be safe, my darling. May we meet again.” Then she pushed the Princess gently through the door. As soon as she was on the other side, the opening vanished and the wall became stone once more.
Thus the Princess found herself in a tiny cottage in the woods on the border of the kingdom. (This cottage). Scared and alone, she had little choice but to try and make a home there and learn to live off the land. She remembered watching farmers planting seeds and bakers baking bread, how the seamstresses sewed clothes and the maids lit the fires in the hearths. She recalled the knowledge she had gained from her parents and from all those who had lived and worked around her. Though her heart was well and truly broken, she would not give up.
As days became weeks and weeks became months, she began to carve out a new life, simple and quiet. She planted a garden and grew food and the healing herbs her mother had taught her. She collected fallen wood for her fire and water from the stream. Sometimes she would walk through the wood and onto the road, following it to the village nearby where she exchanged vegetables for bread, flowers for cloth, kindling for sugar and salt. She offered healing for those that needed it, balms, tinctures, liniments and syrups. These she gave freely.
“This is the gift my mother gave to me,” she would say. “A gift that I can pass on to you.”
But she noticed the change. A deep sadness covered the land like a blanket. The sun struggled to shine and the stars were dull in the heavens. Gales whipped the air and the rains were heavy. It was as if the very skies wept.
As one year became two and then three the people struggled more and more. There was little music or poetry. Smiles were rare, laughter rarer still. The new Queen, angry that she had not yet found the last jewel, ruled with an iron rod. Her guards searched constantly, leaving terror in their wake. She demanded tithes and tributes from everyone, even those who could not afford it. Fields became fallow, livestock sickly. Flowers would not bloom and children could not play. The Princess grieved for her parents and her beautiful country as she continued to offer healing for those in need. Her garden, somehow, seemed unaffected by the blight that cursed the rest of the land.
Word of her abilities and her kindness spread. People came from further and further away to seek her skills. One day a woman knocked at her door, hooded and cloaked. The Princess ushered her in, thinking that she must be very afraid to need to stay so hidden. Once inside, the woman lowered her hood and the Princess recognised her mother’s maid.
“I have come to bring you home,” the maid said. “For you have grown into a wise and strong woman and your kingdom needs you.”
“What can I do against the wicked magic of the sorceress,” asked the Princess. “I don’t have the power to fight her.”
“You have more power than you think,” the woman said. “You are the heart of this land. That is why your garden grows when little else will. Why you still heal others when all around you people fight and steal. You are the reason that the sorceress cannot find the last jewel.”
“I don’t understand. Please, sit. Tell me first of my mother.”
“She still languishes in the dungeon. The sorceress was furious when she realised that you had escaped. She keeps your mother prisoner to taunt her. She still believes that eventually she will gain the location of the ruby.”
“I do not know where it is. How is it that I keep her from finding it?”
The maid smiled. “Because it is in your heart. Unlike the other gems, the ruby chooses its own guardian. It chose you. That is where your healing power comes from, the strongest magic of all. Love. And that is how you will defeat the sorceress. The wicked cannot survive in the light of pure love. Come back with me now. Save your people.”
The Princess was aghast but she did as she was asked. Fearful as she felt at the prospect of facing the sorceress, she longed to see her mother again and bring harmony back to the land. She was shocked as they travelled, by the bare fields and dried up rivers where before there had been a velvet patchwork of crops and softly flowing waters. There were few people on the roads now and many of the buildings were in a state of disrepair.
The castle however was as beautiful as she remembered it. She wrapped her cloak around her and pulled up the hood as she knocked on the door and asked for an audience with the sorceress.
“On what business?”
“I have information about the missing jewel.”
That got the guard’s attention. She was shown into a small anteroom while he scuttled off to announce her. Finally she was shown into the great hall where the sorceress sat on the wooden throne, the King’s crown on her head. She walked toward her, suddenly unafraid.
“Why do you not bow to me?” the sorceress demanded. “And why have you not bared your head in my presence? I am your Queen.”
The Princess stood in front of the dais in silence.
“Your audacity astounds me. I should hang you from the tower as a snack for the buzzards. Tell me where the jewel is or that is exactly what I will do.”
The Princess calmly lowered her hood and stared at her. A shock of recognition crossed the sorceress’s face.
“The jewel is here,” said the Princess placing her hand over her heart. “It has come home but it will never be yours.”
“We’ll see about that,” the sorceress shrieked. She rose, pulling from her robe a sharp black blade. “I will cut it out myself.”
But the Princess stood fast and light began to shine from all around and within her. It grew brighter and brighter and as it did, the sorceress grew smaller and more withered until finally she was nothing more than dust. The crown fell to the floor, Truth, Justice and Wisdom glowing brightly in the light of Love. Her guards were shocked into stillness, not sure quite what to do. The Princess picked up the crown and turned to them; they bowed deeply, in awe of the gentle strength that emanated from her.
“Please free my mother.”
The two women wept with joy as they were reunited. The Princess offered the Queen the crown.
“It is yours now,” said the Queen, “but I would be honoured to help you in any way I can.”
That is how the Princess began her next adventure, rebuilding the realm into the happy and prosperous place that it had been before. And this cottage is the legacy that she left behind, a place of welcome and of refuge, where anyone may come to find food, rest and safety.
So, now we should eat and take the chance to sleep. We still have a long way ahead of us.
Come, I will show you something magical. There is a glade not far from here where wonder can be beheld. Here; let us settle on this log and observe. It’s beautiful, isn’t it, the way the moonlight plays on the leaves, turns them to mirrors. They shimmer like mercury. See how it silvers the grass that covers that mound on the other side of the clearing; how it ripples very slightly even though there’s hardly a breeze. It almost looks as though the ground is breathing.
Look up. Have you ever seen so many stars? Diamond bright, all those gems, as if some sky pirate has scattered treasure far and wide, so no one being can ever gather it up again. I see you tracing out patterns, some familiar, some less so.
different here,” you say.
Indeed. For we
are between here; between worlds, between planes, call it what you will. But we
can see many sets of stars, a myriad of constellations. I know you will
recognise Orion, Draco, Ursa Major and Minor. Others too. But some will be new.
The doe, the fox, the serpent. And some are more surprising than others. You’ll
see. Not long to wait now.
I see your eyes
widen but you are not mistaken. It seems that the stars are moving, coalescing,
taking on their true forms. And yes, here they come, tumbling and dancing,
flying down from the heavens and leaving crystalline trails behind them.
The hare is
first, silver whiskers twitching as she bounds, weightless, across the
clearing. The fox follows and a shoal of glittering minnows dart impossibly in
and out of the trees. The badger and the mouse amble across the grass and the
serpent coils luxuriously around the mound that seems to draw them to it like a
The ground is stirring. He is waking up.
A small giant, a
green man made of earth and roots, bark and leaves, sits up in his loamy bed
and stretches. His eyes are a deep bright green and he is smiling as he greets
his friends, stretching out his hand to stroke heads and backs. A flock of
birds swoop in to land on his shoulders and arms and the starry creatures whirl
around him until he too stands up and begins to dance. Faster and faster they
spin and turn until his guffaw of delighted laughter shakes the leaves on the
trees. The star creatures fall to the grass to rest.
The green man remains standing. They wait and sure enough the last visitors arrive, gently and quietly, a doe and a stag, their feet barely touching the grass as they stop in front of the man. Such a moment of peace descends; have you ever felt anything like it?
Then the man bows
to the two deer and they return the courtesy. He watches as they turn and
gallop back up into the sky, the other animals following one by one. They
become smaller and smaller until they resolve back into constellations,
sparkling in the indigo.
The green man
goes back to his earthy bed and pulls his grassy blanket over himself. He will
slumber until the next turn of the wheel.
“I’m so excited.” It was Tuesday evening and Tallie flung herself down beside Seth on Gaia’s big sofa. “A little bird just told me who’s playing at the Hare next Saturday.” Her eyes twinkled. “Pause for effect.”
“You do look more excited than normal,” Gaia commented, “which is a worry in itself.” She ignored the face Tallie pulled at her. “And as much fun as it would be not to ask you who but just to watch you try not to tell us, I will be kind and gracious and put you out of your misery. Who is it?”
“You’re fiendishly mean,” Tallie retorted, “But right of course. I’m nearly beside myself. It’s Underhill.”
Rob was grinning as Gaia, Ethan and Seth’s faces lit up. Serena was baffled.
“Really?” Gaia was elated. “Oh, I haven’t seen them in way too long,”
“Me neither,” Seth agreed. “Still the same guys?”
“As far as I know,” Tallie confirmed. “Well, Luke, Holly and Bryn for sure. Maybe Jonno, maybe April. Maybe both.”
Gaia rubbed her hands together. “That’s so great.”
Ethan nodded agreement, then noticed Serena’s puzzled look.
“They’re a band based in Cornwall,” he said. “Folky metally fusion.”
“Oh, but they’re so much more than that,” Tallie said pointedly, poking Gaia in the ribs with her elbow. “Aren’t they?” She grinned at Serena. “They’re the reason these two,” she gestured at Gaia and Ethan, “are together.”
Rob laughed and Seth was smiling. Gaia explained.
“Tallie and I were at uni together. She was the year above me but we were in the same flat. Luke was in her year, he’s the drummer. We were all good friends and Luke’s band got booked to play at the Summer Ball. Ethan and Seth came down and, well…” She took Ethan’s hand.
“The rest is history,” Tallie finished for her. “Oh, I can’t wait.”
Underhill did not disappoint. Serena had never seen a band quite like them. The energy seemed to crackle off the stage; most of their stuff was quite fast and heavy but the few ballads they played were hauntingly beautiful. the sound of the pipes seemed to reach right into her, touch her soul and the empty place beside it where her magic had once lived. She enjoyed chatting to them afterward when they came over to catch up with the others. Ethan noticed how Holly, who played the pipes and whistles, seemed to be watching Serena with interest. He moved to stand next to him.
“Picking something up, are you?” he asked quietly.
Holly grinned. “That could be taken in more than one way, but if you’re asking about magic, then yes.”
“I thought so.” Ethan was oddly pleased that he’d been right. After all, he’d picked it up about Holly, so he wasn’t sure why he doubted himself. Still… it sounded so farfetched. Holly wasn’t human, he was one of the fey, moving between the realm of magic and the human world as he chose. Despite his psychic gift, Ethan had been truly shocked when he’d realised how close true magic really was. He had never told anyone; Holly had asked him not to.
“I’m not sure what it is,” Holly went on, “But there’s something wild and mysterious there. I have no doubt you’ll find out.” He grinned impishly. “Didn’t take you long to find out about me, now did it?”
Today is a very exciting day. My second novel, Three Words is officially published and it’s a thrilling feeling. For an avid reader who as a child ate books for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and decided aged 9 that she wanted to write them, to have one novel published was a dream come true. To have another one out seems nothing short of miraculous. I’ve written on here about the magic of books before but I think it’s worth revisiting.
From the reader’s perspective, each book we open is an adventure, a journey into another world full of new people and situations. As we read, that world becomes real in our minds; we see and feel it, become part of it, if only for a few hours or days. When we finish the book and put it back on the shelf, the real world is just that little bit altered by the experience that we have had.
From the writer’s perspective, a story just needs to escape from the head onto the page. All writers work differently so I can only speak for myself, but my characters are very insistent that their stories are told. Their world becomes as real to me as my own; I can see them, hear them, I know what they’re thinking and feeling. Somehow I have to get that down on paper or screen. It doesn’t always go to plan, it’s not always easy, but I owe it to them to complete the tale, to give them their freedom.
And when those thoughts and ideas then become an actual physical entity, a real book, that’s extraordinary. That’s magic.
I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote from the scientist and author Carl Sagan:
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
Something’s afoot in faeryland. Something’s coming this way. Perhaps it’s because Halloween is approaching and the veils between worlds are beginning to thin that it’s so much easier to sense it now.
Can you feel it? Will you let yourself?
In the quiet small hours of the night or the tiny moments between the hustle and the bustle of the day; when you catch a movement out of the corner of your eye or look through branches to the sky beyond; when you see a rainbow shimmering on a soap bubble or a diamond caught in a raindrop; that’s when you’ll feel it. Always unexpected yet always there – the magic in and beyond what is. Let yourself go. Look through faery windows, wonder about half hidden doors, follow a new path. Because you never know what you may find…
And if you should happen to wander this way on Halloween, there may just be a story from faeryland waiting for you…
Dreaming The Moon was officially released on 14th February and I’m still dancing on air! Even now I can’t quite believe that there’s an actual official real paperback with my name on it. Much as e-books have transformed the way we can access and read stories, there’s something about a proper book with pages and a cover. Maybe I’m old fashioned but that’s a piece of magic right there.
Because that’s what books are, aren’t they? Little bits of magic that transport us away from our lives for a while and into someone else’s landscape, some other person’s quest or dilemma, an alternate existence with a new point of view. Whether it’s a light, quick read or something deep and challenging, every story will teach us something. And the best ones will resonate with us long after we’ve finished them, the characters staying in our heads, making us think. A change occurs when we read a book, often so subtle we may not really even notice it. But it’s there. We may learn something. Realise something. Understand or empathise more than we did before. Find something that piques our interest or leads us down a new road. Or simply gives us a good laugh and leaves us feeling uplifted.
Every book is an adventure. Each new author is a risk, but also a guide along an untrodden path. Still, the same can be said for life in general, so, if you fancy your next adventure with a new guide, click on the ‘buy my books’ icon at the top of the page and see the wonderful range waiting for you at Magic Oxygen.
As you know, I hate writing! And I also loathe reading! So don’t you feel sorry for me, having to read amazing new books and make editorial suggestions to earn a few pennies? Oh, the trauma…
Meanwhile, back in the real world (whatever that is)…
I have been privileged to have been given the opportunity to edit three absolutely cracking new books over the last few months, and they are all due out on very soon. So here’s a little summary of each to tempt you.
‘The Dreamer’ by Sue Hampton
This children’s book, set long ago and far away, is a green allegory encompassing adventure and fairy tale. Moro, a rich, heartless landowner holds a village in his power, but it isn’t enough. Lark, the mute peasant girl, can never please her father however hard she works. She finds solace in carving animals from clay and wood, her art frequently destroyed by her bullying brother. Her friend Fedor, the lame goatherd, never understood why his father left and still hopes he will return. The pair befriend The Dreamer, an old blind man who lives alone on the mountain. He introduces them to the magical world in his crystal story bowl and the myth of the Flower Bird. Their world falls apart when Moro obtains the bowl and – coveting the crystal which lies behind the waterfall – wreaks havoc on the mountain. As greed threatens to destroy the life of the village, can two children and a blind man find the courage and resources within themselves to stand up and lead the way to a better future?
The Empire of Evil by Gordon Strong
Magic is a paradox, one that can never be fully resolved. Within other worlds are mysteries beyond the imagination. It is these extraordinary realms that our psychic investigator willingly explores. Standley-Strange, arch magus, scholar and man-of-the-world is saved from becoming an eternal recluse by a surprise visitor.
Vivacious Cyndi flees to England from a dangerous darkness in America, her intuition guiding her unerringly to the very door of Standley-Strange! He offers her shelter and they speedily become magical allies when Standley-Strange is called to the aid of Debroneth, a Medieval province, inexplicably manifested in another dimension. The magus vows to protect its people from the ravages of the Evil Empire, but must also face his own challenges when he confronts the Emperor Tortius and Bredon Shaft, his vicious Chief Inquisitor.
Treachery, tyranny and a ruthless desire for power are the hallmarks of the Empire. Add in a lost lady, a magical minstrel, kidnapping, rebellion and multiple dimensions and the ride is set to be anything but smooth.
Blind Cupid by Max Brandt
Nick Sloane has a moral compass that no one understands but him. The last thing he needs is a touchstone that hurls it into confusion.
Simon Nicholson’s job at Freeways children’s home is tough, fighting on the front line of child abuse cases and coping with the fallout from neglect. The last thing he needs is one of his youngsters disappearing.
DCI Montgomery Flute has dark memories that are interfering with his work. It’s almost a year to the day that his life-partner, Tom, committed suicide and the last thing he needs .is a complex murder enquiry throwing fuel onto a fire that’s already burning him up.
The discovery of a tortured body in an isolated spot turns out to be an ex-resident of Freeways. Dark secrets from all their pasts are being skilfully woven together by a calculating killer. It’s the very last thing anyone needs; especially the children.
So… it’s 2015! Happy New Year! It’s already shaping up to be an exciting one and we’re still only in January! One of the most exciting things for me is the publication of my first novel, coming out in paperback on 14th February.
Called ‘Dreaming The Moon’, it’s a fantasy story set in Cornwall (a land of mystery and magic itself) where Robyn, an ordinary girl haunted by strange dreams, discovers that not only is there another hidden, magical world linked to our own, but that the barrier between the two is failing fast and she is the key to restoring it and preventing the forces of darkness from overrunning both realms. With everyone in danger and everything she loves at risk, can she and her friends outwit the malevolent creatures sent to stop them and fix the shield before all is lost?
Here’s a taste:
By the time Robyn fell into bed that night it was past midnight, and she was exhausted. She curled up under the duvet and dropped into a deep sleep.
It was dark – intensely, terrifyingly dark. The barest sliver of a new moon illuminated a silver thread of sea in the distance, but where she stood the blackness was total and heavily oppressive. Just moving through it was like walking through treacle. She stumbled forward, desperately trying to see something, anything. A branch caught her arm, making her jump, and she stumbled again, feeling her way but not seeming to move anywhere. Eventually she stopped and looked around again, straining her eyes to pick out something familiar, some outline or shape. But she could see nothing except for the narrow ribbon of sea far ahead of her, hear nothing except her own ragged breath. Everything around her was perfectly and absolutely still. She tried again to move, slowly easing her way toward the silvered water, concentrating hard so as not to lose her footing in the inky darkness. And despite the silence, the stillness, the sense of isolation, she was acutely aware that someone or something was watching her.
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