Posts Tagged ‘YA Dystopian’



.

.

The Union
T.H. Hernandez
(The Union #1)
Publication date: November 18th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

After global warming and a second civil war devastated the former United States, two different societies rose from the ashes – the Union, a towering high-tech utopia, hugging the perimeter of the continent, and the devastated, untamed midsection known as the Ruins.

Seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor has an easy, privileged life in the Union. What she doesn’t have is any idea what to do with the rest of her life. She only knows she wants to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the lives of others.

When she’s kidnapped and taken into the Ruins as a pawn in a dispute involving her boyfriend, Bryce, her ideal world is turned upside down. What she learns while in the Ruins shakes her faith in everything she’s ever known, from Bryce, to her family, and even the Union itself.

Now Evan must choose whether to stay with Cyrus, the sexy, resourceful survivor who believes she’s in the Ruins for a reason, or return to the only life she’s ever known. But when she stumbles upon a dangerous plot that threatens both worlds, her decision could tear her apart.

The Union is a futuristic young adult romantic adventure.

The complete series:

.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

The Union – book 1 – is only 99¢ for a limited time!

~~~~~

EXCERPT FROM THE UNION:

My eyes flutter open to complete darkness, my brain cloudy. My shoulders ache and my arms are numb from sleeping on them. When I try to sit up, the moments before I blacked out come rushing back, filling me with dread.

My hands are tied behind my back, so the best I can do is roll to my side. I strain into the darkness to make sense of my surroundings. I’m inside something that’s moving. It’s too dark to make out anything, so I rely on my ears. A train. But not the L-Train, nor a commuter train. Maybe a cargo. My pulse throbs behind my eyelids and I fight the urge to vomit.

Shit, shit, shit. Tears fill my eyes, but I can’t afford to cry. I need to figure a way out of this mess. Lisa and Colin must have looked for me when I didn’t come back. That only provides small comfort though, since I have no idea where I am or how they’d find me.

None of this makes any sense. The only kidnappings in the Union are due to custody disputes. Maybe Eddie had me kidnapped. Except that’s completely crazy. If he was going to do that, why wait until I’m almost an adult and already on my way to see him?

This must be about money. A ransom or something. That seems so fantastic though, like straight out of a movie. There was that one kid who disappeared a couple of years ago, but it turned out he’d just run away.

Maybe it’s got something to do with my Uncle David. As one of only seven governors, he has an incredible amount of power. Only the Prime Minister has more. Unfortunately, it’s the only thing that makes sense. If I have any hope of surviving, he might have to give them what they want.

 

Author T.H. Hernandez

T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.

She loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.

When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, affectionately referred to as “the puppycat.”

You can find her online at http://thhernandez.com

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

giveaway photo: Giveaway Banner for 42nd giveaway.png

.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1

~~~~~

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

(more…)

The Surrendered
Case Maynard
Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: September 20th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

~~~~

First Chapter of Surrendered by Author Case Maynard

EXCERPT

A sinking feeling washes over me. “We’re going to Meadowood.”

He responds without opening his eyes, “I want answers.”

I start to argue that this will be a fool’s errand, but in truth, I want the same answers he does. “Do you think the man who rescued Oliver was with the Southies?”

“I don’t know who else it could’ve been.” He sits up and stretches. “It must’ve been them, and I want to know why they changed the plan without informing us. The Master and his Regulators got to the rooftop very quickly after I fired that shot. I have to wonder if someone told them we were there.”

“You think the Southies took Oliver to get the combination and then set the Regulators on us? Why would they do that?”

He rubs his face. “It doesn’t make any sense. But something’s not adding up.”

I ponder this, thinking about my brother’s strange plea. “I know you think I’m insane, but I can’t help but feel like Oliver knew someone was going to take him; I swear it felt like he was speaking to me when he said not to interfere. But that doesn’t make any sense, either. He’s been behind the fence for years.”

Cason yawns and tries to shake off the effects of the Papaver. “I don’t think you’re crazy; his message did seem odd for someone who was about to hang for a crime he didn’t commit. I don’t know, but hopefully he’ll be at Meadowood and you can ask him yourself.”

My mood elevates as I realize I may only be hours away from a reunion with my brother. The pain in my arm forgotten, I try to concentrate only on this knowledge, confident we’ll have our answers soon enough. “I didn’t get a chance to thank you for earlier. You could’ve just turned me over to the Master and walked away, but you didn’t. I’m grateful for that.”

I feel a little embarrassed as soon as the words leave my mouth. Normally I’m not one to share my feelings, but the Papaver Flower makes me breathless and lightheaded and loosens my tongue.

He reaches for me, careful not to jostle my splinted wrist, and pulls my face to his. “I’m probably going to ruin that sentiment by telling you the Master would never have let me go anyway, but know this—” he runs the pad of his thumb along my lower lip and meets my eyes “—if everyone else in the entire world leaves you to fend for yourself, if your father, your mother, your brother disappoint you, if God himself decides you aren’t worthy . . . you’ll still be able to count on me. I’ve got your back, Vera.”

the-surrendered-teaser-8

 

Author Bio:

With over 20 years’ experience in the legal and medical fields, Case Maynard decided to trade in her briefs and reports to write the stories that have been floating around in her head since childhood. She lives with her two teenagers and husband in South Georgia, while maintaining a long-distance liaison with her oldest daughter and partner in crime in Alaska. When not writing, she enjoys reading as often as possible, binge watching anything good on Netflix, and all things NCAA football (Go Noles!). You can learn more about Case and her stories on her website.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

.

~~~~~

giveaway photo: Giveaway Banner for 42nd giveaway.png

a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1

~~~~~

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky horseshoe below!

horseshoe photo: Horseshoe horseshoe.jpg

Novus

Novus by Crystal Marcos

Ideal for Hunger Games and Divergent fans, Crystal Marcos delivers Novus, a riveting novel set in a dystopian future of action-adventure, suspense, and romance. Intriguing characters and a gripping storyline keep the reader turning page after page.

Being a teenager is hard enough. And what if your life’s path is pre-determined? On top of that, you aren’t even Human?

Cayden was given life as a Cresecren. He expected to live out his days with the dysfunctional Human family he was assigned to serve. One fateful night, however, landed him in Gavaron, the home of maimed, elderly, or defiant Cresecren.

Beyond its borders is the Den, an area much more dangerous than he ever imagined. Now seventeen, Cayden unwittingly becomes involved in a conspiracy and is one of a handful of survivors fleeing a deadly attack. They set off on a perilous journey in search of refuge and the truth. Along the way, Cayden begins to comprehend the difference between fully living and merely surviving, while trying to balance his emotions and a forbidden love.


Novus Award Novus Award2 Novus Award3

Awards:

~”Official Selection” Winner in the Young Adult category, 2015 New Apple Book Awards!~

~Winner Best Books in the Young Adult category, 2016 Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards!~

NOVUS (The Cresecren Chronicles, Book 1) has recently received two book awards! To celebrate the eBook will be on SALE for $1.99 until 5/15/2016

amazon get it

Praise for the Book:

“Novus by Crystal Marcos is one of those gems that make you care about the characters within the story, and while you definitely want to know what happens to them, you can’t help but also not want to get to the end of the book. It’s the kind of book whose characters you miss when you finish the book.”

~Kim Anisi for Readers’ Favorite- 5 STARS


amazonbarnes and noble
 

 

Enjoy this Excerpt

Famous and Alecander had just reached the trees when another man jumped from the vehicle to the ground. He reached overhead to grab the rifle from the marksman as another gideon approached at top speed. I turned and joined Alecander and Famous as they rode through the woods dodging trees, bushes, and branches.
Gunshots whizzed through the woods. A sizzling sound zipped by my left ear and gouged a hole the size of my fist in a nearby tree. I had heard of the “Bleeding Heart” but never witnessed it in action. It was designed to take out an enemy’s heart. I quickly decided to run in a zig-zag pattern through the forest to make it more of a challenge to hit me. This was not easy to do as I had to avoid trees and foliage. I knew they would pursue us until they killed us. My only concern was how long I could elude them. Why did they want us dead?

add to goodreads new

 

Crystal MarcosAuthor Crystal Marcos

Award-winning author Crystal Marcos has been a storyteller her entire life. As the oldest of five children, she had to do a lot of entertaining. She lives on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State with her husband, daughter Kaylee, and infant son Jaxon. Crystal is the author of BELLYACHE: A Delicious Tale and HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE. Novus, her third book and first Young Adult novel, is Book One of The Cresecren Chronicles.

Website * Facebook * Twitter

 

giveaway photo: Giveaway Banner for 42nd giveaway.png

Blast Giveaway – $100 Amazon Gift Card or $100 in Paypal Cash

Ends 5/19/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~~~

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky horseshoe below!

horseshoe photo: Horseshoe horseshoe.jpg

LakeOfSins banner

Have I got some great reads to share for your Halloween reading!

Make sure you check out the author’s interview.

Feast your eyes on the thrilling cover art for these books.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

~~~~~

An interview with Author L.S. O’dea

Do you have any tattoos? Where? When did you get it/them? Where are they on your body?

No, but I would like to get one. I’d love to get the comedy/tragedy drama symbols on my shoulder.

Is your life anything like it was two years ago?

Besides for me squeezing in writing instead of watching TV, it is exactly like it was two years ago. I hope to one day support myself with my writing, but as of yet, that has not happened.

How long have you been writing?

I have been actually, sitting down and working at the craft since April of 2012. I have wanted to write since I was a child and read a story that my brother wrote for one of his classes. That was when I realized that stories were written by real people.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Don’t get hung up on getting it right the first time. That’s why we revise and edit. The first time, just get it down. If you find yourself stuck on a scene/chapter then summarize what you want to happen there and move on. You can always go back.

Also, don’t fall in love with your own words/scenes/chapters. They could be excellent, witty and wise, but if they aren’t necessary in the story then cut them.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

You’ll be seeing some of those characters in later books, but remember that just because they are antagonists in this story does not mean that they will retain that role. Just like in life, no one is completely bad or good.

Thanks so much for the fun interview. Best of luck with your tour!

~~~~~

Lake of Sins:

Escape

and

Secrets In Blood

Genre: YA, paranormal, dystopian, sci-fi/fantasy

Synopsis

In a world where class distinction means the difference between imprisonment and freedom and even life and death, being chosen to stay in the encampment and breed is the only way to guarantee survival for a teenage Producer.

Every year after harvest, the finest examples of teenage Producers are assigned mates; the rest are loaded onto carts and hauled away, never to be seen or heard from again. Trinity, a sixteen-year-old Producer, knows that she has no chance of being chosen to stay. She isn’t even full-blooded Producer. Her father is a House Servant and she’s spent her entire life hiding her differences, especially her claws and fangs.

She has one week to sneak into the forest and discover what happens to those who are taken. Her plan is simple, but she doesn’t count on being hunted and captured by predators long believed to be extinct. Can she elude her captors to uncover the fate of her kind and return to camp before her escape is discovered?

~~~~~

Enjoy the excerpt!

“Something’s following us,” he whispered as he unsheathed his knife.

The quiet rustle of vegetation behind them signaled that night was not the only thing approaching. He pointed to a large tree. She scurried up it and stopped on a limb high off the ground. He signaled for her to wait and then walked several yards farther before climbing another tree. He crouched on a low branch, knife in hand.

The woods were gray, the shadows growing wider as time passed. She waited, scanning the forest below, her heart pounding in her ears. What was hunting them, besides Guards? She pulled her knife out of the sheath and adjusted her position. Gaar always said that predators had to have patience, so the smart prey would too. She was still working on that. She shifted around again for a different angle. So far, she hadn’t seen anything dangerous in the forest, but she had traveled mostly with Mirra. She tried to relax her breathing, but it was coming in short pants. She had to calm down. Fear could be smelled. Fear attracted predators.

There was a soft whisper in the vegetation and a pair of glowing red eyes appeared in the brush. A few feet away were two more eyes and then another set. There were at least ten pairs, shining in the darkness.

~~~

Author L.S. O’dea

S. O’Dea grew up the youngest of seven. She always wanted to do what her older siblings were doing, especially reading stories.

Ill at a young age, she immersed herself in books. Her life changed when she read a short story written by her older brother and realized that normal (somewhat anyway, since her brother was a bit weird in her opinion) people created these amazing stories. From that day forward, she wanted to write.

However, as with all good stories, obstacles rose in her path (mostly self-created obstacles) and it took her many years to put finger to keyboard and type her first book.

Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Website / Blog / Amazon

The first book of the series is on sale for $0.99 until the end of the tour.

Amazon Buy Link

giveaway photo: Giveaway Banner for 42nd giveaway.png

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click on the banner below to follow the tour and comment.

The more you comment, the more chances to win!

Goddess Fish Promotions

~~~~~

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky horseshoe below!

horseshoe photo: Horseshoe horseshoe.jpg

SHADOW OF DECEPTION

(The Kazumi Chronicles #1)

by Sophia L. Johnson

YA Dystopian/Sci-fi

Published on April 19th, 2015

goodreads-badge-add-plus

My Review

Kazumi should feel lucky. She’s the only survivor of a plane crash that had over five hundred passengers. But she doesn’t. She feels lost, scared, hopeless. She’s lost her sense of self. Has no memory of who she is, where she comes from.

A nurse at the hospital tries to help her. She senses Kazumi is more than she appears. When it’s time for her release from the hospital, Linda sneaks her away to some people who might be able to help her. With nothing left to lose, Kazumi, though scared, goes along with it.

Deep inside the Rocky Mountains is a secret society of super humans, genetically advance people called Sarcomeres. Their enhanced strength and high tech toys fascinate Kazumi and she quickly becomes a part of the society.

Quick to learn, she trains diligently, preparing for the daunting tests to come.

She’ll need to learn quickly as the Sarcomeres old enemy, the Neuronics, are plotting world supremacy over humans and all other beings. Subterfuge, attacks, and Kazumi’s own hidden memories could bring about a catastrophe.

I should mention that Kazumi is referred to as Gabi for much of this book. The name was chosen for her in the hospital as she couldn’t remember her real one.

This books is intended for young adult readers, and as I’m much older, I worried if I’d appreciate it. I sure did. I enjoy science fiction and dystopian stories and this is a bit of both.

Kazumi is a scrappy young gal. She’s a quick study, bold, and still a bit girly. Especially around Finn.

The Sarcomeres stay hidden from society. Not because they are bad, but because of what they are and what they fight.

The Neuronics. Nasty beasts for sure. They can envelop you with their tentacles, reach into your mind and body, and control what you see and do. Quite creepy, indeed. And what’s a good villain without a plot to take over the world.

There’s lots of world building, but it flows easily in the story. The characters come to life with some well written descriptions. And the action is fast and furious.

Almost forgot. There are some sub plots too. A big one is about Kazumi’s past.

Young and mature fans of these genres will enjoy this new series.

4 Stars

~~~~~

Synopsis

2153, Toronto, United Nation of North America (UNNA)

A horrific plane crash kills all five hundred and forty-two passengers except one. Kazumi emerges from the wreckage physically unscathed but has lost all her memories. Her miraculous survival has the whole city buzzing but all she wants is to go home, wherever home is.

After waiting a month in the hospital with no one to claim her, Kazumi is deemed homeless. She is about to be sent to a nearby teenage shelter when the nurse she grew to trust ushers her down a mysterious path, one that promises safety and maybe even the chance to recover her memories. With no better options available, Kazumi takes her chance and finds herself in the headquarters of the Sarcomeres, a secret society of genetically advanced humans hidden deep inside the Rocky Mountains. The Sarc’s heightened physical abilities and high-tech gadgets are not the only things that fascinate Kazumi. Finnegan O’Riley, a fellow Sarc she meets along the way also gets her heart racing. When Kazumi discovers that she possesses the genetic potential of a Sarcomere, she jumps at the chance to train with them, not knowing the death defying tests that are involved.

Meanwhile, a centuries-old nemesis of the Sarcomeres begins to stir in the dark, setting their dark plans in motion. Just when Kazumi thinks she can help protect her new found home, past memories surface to threaten her new identity. She soon realizes that layers of deception run deep and everyone has a secret agenda, including herself.

Who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself? One wrong decision could bring forth consequences worse than death.

AmazonBarnes & NobleIndigoGoogle Play
Add it to your Goodreads list!

_________________________

All royalties made in the first year will go to a charity

called Covenant House, to help homeless youth.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With a degree in International Business Management, Sophia has worked in a major marketing firm where she realized the corporate world isn’t one she wants to be in. She then made the switch into the healthcare industry as a Registered Massage Therapist by day and a writer by night. She is now a Massage Therapy instructor and a published author living with her husband and daughter in Toronto. Her go-to genres are science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian; or anything that sweeps her away into a foreign world that promises adventure.

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

~~~

giveaway photo: Giveaway Banner for 42nd giveaway.png

International Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

Shadow of Deception by Sophia L. Johnson is now on tour!
Check the hosts and join the International giveaway running here and on each stop.

Shadow of Deception Tour schedule:

~~~

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky horseshoe below!

horseshoe photo: Horseshoe horseshoe.jpg

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing chapter one of

Vessel by Lisa T. Cresswell

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

LCresswell_Vessel_M9B_eCover_1800x2700

The sun exploded on On April 18, 2112 in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen.

They had exactly nineteen minutes to decide what to do next.

They had nineteen minutes until a geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, and every satellite in their sky.

Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.

Generations after solar storms destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth, humans reverted to a middle ages-like existence, books are burned as heresy, and all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents.

Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs even if it’s the last thing she wants.

add to goodreads

.

Title: Vessel
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Lisa T. Cresswell

Available for Pre-order:

.
amazon

excerpt

Prologue
A Class-X solar storm, the likes of which humankind had never seen, erupted from the Sun on April 18, 2112.
They had nineteen minutes.
Nineteen minutes until the geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every man-made electrical device, blacking out entire continents and every satellite in their sky.
Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew forever and prepare for a new Earth, a new way of life.
All digital data was lost, all the knowledge of the centuries past gone in an instant. Unable to feed themselves without technology, humans began to die of starvation and disease. At first thousands, then millions, and, finally, billions died. The survivors fought amongst themselves for the scraps until there were almost none left.

 

Part I Alana

 

Chapter 1

Year 2165
Master Dine’s kick sent me sprawling into the wall. Pain bloomed in my shoulder. That was nothing new, but my billa slipped dangerously close to falling off. I grasped at the awkward headgear, a giant tent designed to hide my ugliness.
No one must see, I thought.
“It’s too hot, you stupid chit,” Master Dine yelled.
At seventeen, I was officially a woman and had been for a while, but no one gave a slave girl that recognition.
“Now look what you’ve done,” he said. The clay teapot I’d been using to pour water over Master’s feet lay shattered on the floor. “Clean it up, chit.”
I silently seethed as I collected the pieces. I wasn’t a chit. I was Alana, a name I’d given myself and no one else used. I cursed him under my billa, something he’d never hear through the dark, black drapes shrouding me from everyone. I prayed Mother Sun would do terrible things to him, something that didn’t make me feel any better.
“When you’re done with that, go help Master Tow. He’s expecting you.”
“But your bath?”
“I’ll do it myself,” Master Dine spat at me, as if he didn’t trust me, as if I hadn’t been washing his feet every morning since I was old enough to hold soap.
Master Dine was one of the oldest men in our village at almost forty, too mean to die of flu fever like most old men. He’d caught it once or twice, but it only seemed to make him more determined to live.
“Yes, Master,” I whispered and ducked out of the room with the remains of the teapot. I threw them in the garbage pit behind the house as I left for Master Tow’s. I’d have to make a new one later. I wondered when I would find the time to gather the clay from the riverbank, which was a fair walk from here. Where was here? Master Dine’s village was called Roma.
Master Dine reminded me constantly I wasn’t from this place—my eyes too almond-shaped, my hair too black, and my skin too yellow to be from Roma. My looks didn’t stop him from slinking into my room in the darkness to have his way with me. I was his, bought from my own parents in a faraway place, he always said. Even in the dark, he made me cover my face. I closed my eyes anyway. Maybe if I couldn’t see Master Dine with his lazy eye and crooked teeth, he’d cease to exist. Please, Mother Sun, make it so.

***

I walked down the dirty footpath toward Roma’s center market square, past the mud and stone houses scraped together with whatever the inhabitants could find. It was early yet; fog still clung to the base of the mountains and dripped off the trees’ new leaves. Winter was breaking at last. Mother Sun had saved us again, but we always knew she could destroy us if she wanted to.
I didn’t mind wearing the billa so much when the weather was cool or misty like this morning. It trapped my own warm breath around me like a cocoon. It made doing chores outside awkward, though. Master Dine kept me primarily for house chores, although I was allowed to shop on market day, and he occasionally lent me to Master Tow. Tow had no wives and probably needed his house cleaned.
Master Tow was a young man in his twenties, still undecided on a wife. Suitable women were rare in Roma, so he was faced with the prospect of waiting until certain girls came of age or traveling to the next province for a wife. The expense of a wife was more than Tow really wanted, so he borrowed me from time to time. It was an arrangement he had with Dine, made possible by Dine’s first wife, Mistress Shel. Shel hated my position in her house as a sort of third wife, a standing I could never truly attain even if I wanted to. It was Shel who had disfigured the right side of my face years ago. It hadn’t stopped Dine’s visits to me, just made him more discrete.
Master Tow was chopping wood in the small yard next to his house. His clothes, littered with fine shavings of fir, made him smell better than usual. He was stripped to the waist, his pale chest glistening with sweat even in the morning cold. I stopped and waited. I could never address anyone without first being addressed myself. I learned that very young.
Master Tow continued his work, perhaps enjoying the fact that I was his audience. He often flirted with me, even though he had no reason to tease a slave. I think he was quite proud of his own blond hair that fell to his shoulders. Taunting all the unsuitable women in town seemed to please him tremendously. And so I stood perfectly still, watching the breeze blow the fabric in front of my face until he finally spoke.
“Hello, chit,” he said, taking a break from his chopping.
“Master Dine said you were expecting me.”
“So I am.” Tow breathed heavily, his ribs showing under his creamy skin with each exhale. He dropped his hatchet in the dirt at his feet and held up two fingers beckoning me to follow him behind his house. I hesitated. Wasn’t I doing housework? What did Tow have in store for me?
“C’mon, chit! Haven’t got until sundown,” he called, his tone good-natured as always.
I couldn’t shake the feeling he was playing a trick on me, but I followed him down the hill behind his house through a thicket of small aspen just beginning to bud. I soon saw it was a shortcut he used to reach the square rather than taking the main path that switch-backed down the mountain. Although it was easy for him, the trees snagged the fabric of my billa.
“Come on!” his voice urged. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I heard him muttering under his breath about my ridiculous garb. None of the other slaves wore what I wore. I stood out wherever I went—a black ghost in a crowd of humans. Everyone knew it was my punishment for tempting Dine. That’s what Shel told them and most believed it.
I did my best to keep up with Tow. Once out of the shrubs, it was easier to match his pace. He headed for the crumbling castle perched on a precipice over the wide green valley on the edge of Roma. Eons ago, before the Great Death that wiped out billions, some strange unknown race had built castles all across this region. Most were rubble now.
No one lived there, but the people of Roma sometimes stored things in some of the rooms or held meetings there. Windows long gone, the arches still stood in places, the stone thick with moss and lichens silently feasting on the remains of the beast. It was a forgotten place, somewhere I rarely went because I wasn’t invited to public affairs. As Tow and I got close, I heard the sound of someone singing a sad melody in a cool, clear voice. Even the birds in the trees were drawn to it, flitting away only when we came near.
As I followed Tow down a stone stairway littered with last winter’s dead leaves into the ruins and closer to the voice, my fears melted away and curiosity overcame me. Tow couldn’t walk fast enough now. Who was it? And why were they here? The singing suddenly stopped.
Deep inside the castle, where little sunshine could penetrate, Tow stopped at an old door with a small slit for a tiny window. A boy’s face, not much older than mine, with dark hair and eyes like mine, peered out of the opening.
“You can’t keep us in here,” the boy said, his voice angry.
“Don’t worry. It won’t be long before the authorities come for you. A week at the most,” said Tow. He turned to me. “These two were caught last night stealing. You need to feed them at least once a day, no more. Just enough to keep them alive for their trial.”
“Trial?” I asked.
“The Reticents have been summoned. They’ll send someone to pick them up.”
“But what do I feed them, Master Tow?”
Everyone’s winter stores were running low and few spring crops had been harvested yet. Master Dine wouldn’t allow me to use his food for such a purpose.
“Hog feed will do.”
“Hog feed?” shouted the prisoner. “We’re not animals!” I flinched and backed away from him.
“Never you mind that, chit. Do as you’re told. Put the food in here.” Master Tow pointed to a small slot near the floor with the toe of his boot. “Don’t open the door, no matter what.”
“Yes, Master Tow.”
“Any questions?”
“Have they been fed today?”
“No. Better get to work.”
Master Tow turned and bounded up the stairs. I stood motionless, watching the black-eyed boy watching me. I’d never seen anyone like me before. He looked hard at the billa like he could see underneath.
“Do you have any water?” he asked in an accent I didn’t recognize. “He’s very weak.”
The prisoner backed away from the door so I could creep up and peer inside. The oldest man I’d ever seen, maybe fifty years or more, lay on the floor. He groaned as the boy knelt down and touched his arm.
“I’m here,” he said to the old man. Before I knew it, I’d loosened the water bag I kept tied at my hip and pushed it through the hole in the wall toward them.
“Take this. I’ll be back,” I whispered before hurrying to find food.

***

Normally I fed the hogs caysha roots I dug up in the forest. A person could eat them and survive, but they weren’t kind to the stomach. They were a last resort, eaten only when all else was gone. I’d eaten them myself when the winters were hard and Master Dine saved all his food for his family. Slaves weren’t supposed to forage for their own food. It was a sign a family wasn’t wealthy enough to support them, but Dine looked the other way quite often. He allowed me to find other means of sustenance when times called for it, which was more often than not. The less of his food I ate, the more wealthy he fancied himself.
I walked as quickly as I could without attracting attention to a meadow below the castle where the caysha had started to bloom, blue lilies on tall stems. I dug a few roots to satisfy Master Tow, but I had no intention of feeding them to the prisoners. I dropped them in my basket and slung it over my shoulder, heading for the river. Checking my traps, I found a snared rabbit and smiled for the first time that day. Not that anyone knew or cared. I spent my days alone in a tent made for one, seldom speaking to anyone. But something in that boy’s eyes reached out to me behind the curtain. I wasn’t going to serve him hog feed. My decision risked a beating, but it wouldn’t mean my death. Though I didn’t fear death anyway.

***

An hour had passed by the time I returned to the ruined castle dungeon with food, water, and fuel. Midday was approaching yet the prisoners made no sound. I hoped to hear his song again the way I longed for the lark song after winter. Like a mouse cleaning up crumbs, I silently cleared away the leaves in a dark corner near the stairs and built a cooking fire. The smell of roasting meat brought the boy’s face to the hole in the door once more.
“You’re torturing me,” he complained, although his lips smiled.
“It won’t be much longer,” I said, crossing the room to the door between us. “I brought more water. Give me the water bag, and I’ll refill it.” He scrambled to retrieve the bag and return it.
“How is he?” I asked, looking at the impossibly old man.
“Better. Some real food will do him good.”
I handed the boy some jake nuts through the slot in the wall. “Chew these. They’ll help keep the food down.”
He shoved the handful into his mouth.
“Save one for him,” I said, pointing to the old man. The boy chewed hard but managed to spit out one nut for his friend. He knelt by the man again and shook his arm.
“Kinder? Wake up. It’s dinner time.” The old man sat up with the boy’s help, leaning against the stone wall. “Eat this,” he said, giving him the nut.
I refilled the water and retrieved the rabbit from the spit on the fire. It had started to burn, the grease glistening on the meat. Too big to fit through the slot, the rabbit had to be torn into pieces and slipped into the cell. The boy snatched it from my fingers and rushed to the old man, who suddenly came alive, devouring it. The boy returned and snagged a second piece for himself, ignoring me as he inhaled his food. I waited by the slot with the rest of the meat, holding it until they were ready for it. The sounds of eating, chewing, and licking made me hungry, but I didn’t eat any. The rabbit would’ve been my lunch, but I’d eat wild carrots instead.
I gave them the remains of the rabbit and returned to the corner to put out my fire. Master Tow mustn’t know I’d cooked, so I hid my hearth as best I could with damp leaves and rubble. The moss on the stone walls would hide any sign of smoke. I turned to go.
“Wait,” called the boy. “What’s your name?”
The words I’d never heard directed at me, the words I dreamt of every night, came from his lips. Was he speaking to me? Of course he was. There was no one else here.
“Is it Chit?”
“No. I’m Alana.” I’d never told anyone the name I chose for myself. It felt good to say it out loud.
“Thank you, Alana. I’m Recks, and this is Kinder. We’re grateful for your kindness. May Mother Sun shine on you.”
I stopped breathing for a second. No one had ever blessed me before. It just wasn’t done. I waited as if the sky might fall down. There was nothing but the sound of Kinder sucking the marrow from his rabbit bones.
“Is something wrong?” asked Recks.
“No,” I said. “I should go.” I suddenly remembered the bones. “Hide the bones when you’re done.”
“Kinder will eat them all.” Recks smiled at me and snickered at the thought.
“I’ll bring more tonight,” I told him.
“But Tow said once a day … ”
“What Tow doesn’t know won’t trouble him.” I hurried up the steps.
“Be careful,” warned Recks, as if he might actually be concerned for my safety. Hidden tears leaked from my eyes.
As I walked back to Master Dine’s house, I had an overwhelming urge to throw the billa off and feel the sun on my shoulders. Mother Sun could bless me too, even if she never had before. But if I did, I knew I would never see Recks again. Instead, I clasped my hands together under my billowy tent in happiness, knowing the feeling could escape me like mist in the sunlight.

***

I left the house again at sunset, making Shel smile. Dine would assume I went foraging, which I did, but not so much for myself this time. Recks and Kinder needed me. I was thankful for the billa, which allowed me to stow extra supplies—flint, a blanket, and some socks—without being noticed. The goods were mine, the cast-offs of others, and wouldn’t be missed.
I openly carried my caysha basket still filled with the roots I had collected that morning. Carefully wrapped underneath those were three sunflower seed cakes made with the last of our honey the summer before. Shel had thrown them in the refuse because they were too hard for her taste, dried out from a long winter in storage. Recks and Kinder were in dire need of fattening up. I worried Kinder might not last the week, even with a bit of honey. I stopped by one of my snares on my way through the forest, lucky to have caught a partridge. I plucked its soft feathers inside the billa as I walked to the ruins, my fingers working without me looking down. I couldn’t be gone long or someone would notice.
At first, the prisoners were so quiet I thought perhaps they had escaped. I used the flint to light a small torch so I wouldn’t fall down the steps.
“Alana? Is that you?” came Recks’s voice from the darkness.
“Yes.” Alana? He said my name. My heart raced in my chest faster than when I was sneaking around, faster than from my fear of Dine or Tow. I held the torch up to see inside the door.
“You shouldn’t have come, but I’m glad you did,” said Recks. “I have something for you.”
“For me?” Was he mad? He had nothing but an old man. I set about building a fire to roast the partridge.
“I may not look like much, but I’m a gifted performer.”
“A performer?”
“A teller of tales, singer of songs—”
“Stealer of goods!” yelled Kinder. He obviously felt better. He had at least found his voice again.
“What?” I asked, blowing gently on my fire to make it grow.
“Recks has sticky fingers, which is what got us into the fix we presently find ourselves,” said Kinder.
“I don’t hear you complaining when you’re enjoying the spoils, old man.”
“What did you take?” I asked, skewering the bird and laying it over the flames.
“Only a heel of bread,” Recks insisted. “We’re seldom paid for the service we provide.”
“Is Kinder a performer too?”
“In a manner of speaking. He is an academic, a man of studies.”
“What does he study?”
“I’m right here, you know,” Kinder grumbled from behind the door.
“Be more polite to the woman who saved your life, fool. Don’t you know how close you are to death’s embrace?”
“Better the devil you know than the one you don’t,” muttered Kinder.
“What?” I approached the door again.
“Never mind him,” said Recks. “He’s overly fond of proverbs.”
“I’ve brought some things that will help with the chill,” I said, pulling out the blanket and the woolen socks. I’d have to find replacements for myself for next winter. Recks gasped in pleasure at the sight of the gifts.
“What is it?” Kinder demanded, unable to see. I fed the blanket through the slot to Recks, who laughed as he pulled it through. As before, he rushed it over to Kinder, spreading it out over him.
“You’ll have to hide it when Tow comes,” I said, stuffing the socks through the same hole.
“Of course,” said Recks, pulling the socks onto his hands and admiring them. “What else have you got under there?”
I flinched under the billa as if Recks saw right through it. He could never see me. No one could.
“Nothing,” I said. “Is there something else you require?”
“A key to the lock would be dandy.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know where Master Tow keeps it.”
“Ah well, he’s not a stupid man, is he? He caught us. Not an easy thing to do.”
I retreated back to tend the fire and the little roasting bird, which smelled delicious.
“So my gift to you, Alana, is a tale,” said Recks. “It’s not much, but it’s all I have.”
I sat down, making myself as comfortable as I could considering the rubble that littered the room. I’d seen street performers from time to time, but I’d never been so close or had the time to really listen. For a minute, the only sound was the popping of the dry sticks in the fire. Then Recks cleared his throat.
“You’ll have to forgive me. This isn’t the best place for telling stories.”
“Never stopped you before,” grumbled Kinder.
“Shush,” Recks told him. “Your dinner’s coming. Do you have any favorites, Alana?”
The few stories I knew were ones told by Dine’s first wife to her children. They were short and generally brutal, told to teach some lesson when they misbehaved. They weren’t the kind of tales I wanted to hear.
“I don’t know any stories.”
“That’s impossible. Did your mother never tell you ‘The Fox and the Hen’? And everyone knows ‘The Ruby Quiver.’”
“No, no one’s ever told me any stories.”
“Why not?”
“Recks, you nitwit. Can’t you see the girl’s a slave?” barked Kinder.
“How can that be? She walks freely.”
“Ask her yourself. Not all are enslaved by chains. Who would wear that willingly?”
“Is it true, Alana?”
“Yes,” I said, turning the meat with my fingertips.
“But why are you here? Why don’t you run?”
“And go where? It’s all like here, isn’t it?”
“No. The world is a wide, wondrous place. It’s not all like Roma.”
“Thank Mother Sun for that!” exclaimed Kinder. “Is the meat done yet?”
“Done enough, I suppose,” I said, pulling the stick of roast partridge away from the flames. “It’s not much,” I said as I walked it over to the men in the cell and put it in the slot.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!” Kinder said, clearly delighted. They both devoured it eagerly, even as it burned their fingers and tongues. They groaned in pleasure and pain, but they didn’t stop eating until every bite was gone. When I dug the sunflower seed cakes out of the basket, they both smiled as if I’d presented them with the key to their freedom.
“We should get arrested in Roma more often,” said Kinder, crunching on the sticky cake. “I can’t remember when I’ve eaten so well.”
“Me neither,” said Recks, licking the honey from his fingers. “Just for that, I’m going to tell you the best story I know.”
“I can’t stay much longer. I’ll be missed.”
“Then I’ll be quick about it,” said Recks, wiping his hands on his shabby tunic and then holding them palms up toward the sky. “Mother Sun knows the hearts of all men. May they all please her.”
That I’d heard many times. It was the traditional prayer before beginning any work. One never knew what might displease Mother Sun, so it was customary to let her know your intentions were good in the hope that she would take pity on you.
“In the Time of Great Darkness, there lived a young boy. He had lost everyone and everything he’d ever known: his mother, his father, and his sister dead with many thousands of others. His village overflowed with the dead. No one was left to bury them all. Mother Sun willed it so, but she let this one boy live. He was special, wise beyond his years, and Mother Sun knew he could found a new race of men. She guided him to a sacred valley, high in the mountains, far from his home. On his journey, he met others like himself—thinkers, artists, healers, poets, and storytellers. They banded together and sought to create a world better than the one before the Time of Great Darkness. They built their city on the cliffs above a valley, where they live in comfort. To this day, they grow all they need. Everyone helps, none go hungry, and there are no slaves.”
“No slaves?” I asked, incredulous.
“Ask Kinder. He’s actually been there,” said Recks.
“You have?”
“Many moons ago. Then I got a crazy notion about wanting to study the peoples of the West. Now I wish I’d never left.”
“No fool like an old fool, huh, Kinder?” teased Recks.
The call of an owl outside reminded me I was in Roma, not a magical, shining city of freedom.
“I have to go,” I said, standing up. I doused the embers of the fire with my water bag, sending steam hissing into the air.
“Alana?” Recks whispered through the hole in the door. Two of his fingers poked out, reaching for me in the darkness.
“Yes?”
“Did you like the story?”
“Like” seemed too casual a word for how I felt. Overwhelmed was a better choice. It stretched my imagination, showed me how much I didn’t know about the world. I trembled, knowing I’d remember this story for the rest of my pitiful life. Now in the cover of darkness, I reached out of the billa and touched his two warm, rough fingers with one of my own.
“Yes.”

.

.

About-the-Author

Lisa T. Cresswell

Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play “The Queen of the Nile” at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that’s why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?

Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.

Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!

 

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
Title will be sent upon its release.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Button

~~~~~

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky horseshoe below!

horseshoe photo: Horseshoe horseshoe.jpg