is out now!
Here’s a sneak peek inside the first two pages.
I had been lying in the snow ready to give up; ready to die; and then I saw her. She was leading her little sister through the snow, both their arms fill of wood, still a meagre haul for all that; their rags dragging through the snow scrawling strange designs behind them in that bitterly cold winter. They didn’t see me, of course, with my coat so white. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-one or less than seventeen. I tried not to shift, straining instead to hear what was making the little one laugh.
“Again, Tara!” she demanded in delight.
Her older sister complied, singing the rhyme again. A curious one, but a fine one; and hugely funny unlike the singing and tellings of the courtiers. It was hard not to chuckle myself. It was then I chose not to die. If these two desperately poor girls could still find joy on a bitter winter’s day then maybe my plight was not as fatal as I’d thought. It was easier getting up than lying down had been. I followed the two girls.
My father, it is true, was the king of a vast kingdom stretching over snow-covered mountains, long rivers, woodlands and plains. The mountains circled it to the west and the desert to the east. This was our blessing for it kept those who coveted our peaceful, prosperous kingdom at bay. Save one. He was my uncle, brother to my mother, and a great sorcerer from the mountains. Such gifts were common in Mother’s family–my mother being gifted enough for a jealous few to whisper that she had used her crafts to ensnare my father, the King. But there are always such rumours, are there not? And my own gifts, growing yearly, probably did more to encourage them. No-one thought that my father might have been equally gifted. So there I was, twice gifted, but still ensnared in that colossal body.
But back to my uncle, the Sorcerer Erland. A more patient and evil man there never was. It was he who had befriended my father when they were still youths. It was he who had encouraged the marriage, never once guessing that mother would truly love one as passive-seeming as my father. And it was he who had taken it upon his shoulders to nurture my gifts and direct my thoughts since I was four. To my constant grief now, I followed him; blindly believing his half-truths and lies about my father–the vile deeds he had attributed to him though they were Erland’s in truth. Is it any wonder that I spent all of my youth hating and rebelling against my father? Never knowing how it hurt my mother who persisted in loving us both despite Erland’s ever-growing attempts to wedge my family apart at the seams.
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