Work-in-Progress Status: Partial first draft. On hold until I finish other projects.
What if your sister wasn't really your sister?
And what if no one believed you?
In the summer of 1913, William Woodley’s little sister falls into the lake on their English country estate. But the half-drowned girl rescuers pull from the water minutes later is not Astrid. Convinced that his sister is still alive, William vows to find her and bring her home safely, even if that means exposing painful secrets from his family’s past and confronting otherworldly forces no less than the King of Faerie himself.
An Edwardian-era fantasy adventure about conflicted loyalties, family, and the things we'll do to find our way back home.
Excerpt: (first few pages of the Prologue, first draft)
The King of Faerie dreamed one night of a motorcar. A gleaming carriage of beetle-wing black, it moved by its own power, harnessed to neither horse nor stag, while inside its mortal occupants rested on cushioned seats and viewed the passing scenery through crystal windows.
This vision so delighted the King that by dawn, the King’s Summoner roused Grackle from his own disordered sleep.
Grackle sat up and gripped his head in his hands to still the pounding. “Ballocks, Sokuda, can’t you knock? Preferably in about six hours?”
“His Radiant Majesty calls for his Collector.”
"Of course he does.” Grackle groaned, trying to pull his face into some semblance of sobriety and decorum. “Will he want me to depart at once?”
“Very likely, sir. He has had a dream.”
“How marvelous for him. How absolutely delightful.”
The tall, angular Summoner nudged a tangled heap of bedding on the floor with his toe. The heap grumbled and unfolded itself to reveal Robert the Bard, the Queen’s pet human, red eyed and bleary, crawling out of the embrace of Isula and Keva, two of the King’s beautiful winged assassins. The two each gave the human a kiss on the cheek and, still rumple-haired and sleepy, wiggled their fingers in a silent goodbye to Grackle, stepped to the open window sill, spread their enormous, blindingly feathered wings, and with a whoosh, stepped off into the air and soared towards their own quarters on the other side of the royal compound.
“Is it morning?” Robert mumbled.
“No, the King has sent for me. Sounds like I have a new mission. Go back to sleep. I’ll see you when I get back.”
Robert hauled the blanket back up over his head and began to snore almost at once.
While Grackle slipped into his clothes, splashed some water on his face, and smoothed his blue-black hair, the Summoner fished a sodden Naysayer out of a puddle of wine spilled on the table. He lifted the fuzzy yellow sphere by a wisp of fluff pinched between his thumb and forefinger and held it far away from his body with an expression of disgust. “Really, sir, I don’t know why you consort with such people and stoop to this kind of entertainment.” He tossed the Naysayer out the window where it squeaked in alarm then levitated back up and trebled angrily at the Summoner before swooping off in a drunken, looping flight over the courtyards below.
Grackle adjusted his jacket collar, slicked back his hair one last time, and shouldered his pack of equipment. “I do it because it is one of the very few things I’m allowed to choose for myself. Do you understand that, Sokuda?” Grackle had found that one of the best defenses in his shameful state was to acknowledge it openly. People rarely knew how to respond, and usually dropped the topic.
Sokuda, however, was very familiar with this technique, and regarded him levelly, unreacting. “Indeed. If you are ready sir, may I escort you to the King?”
“By all means. Stars know I couldn’t be expected to find my way there on my own. I’ve only been there a thousand times or so before.”
“This way, sir.”
Prompt as always, Grackle sauntered into the breakfast court while the nymphs and shelantafees were still nibbling honey scones and sipping bramble tea. Ignoring for the moment the interested feminine whispers and rustle of wings, he approached the King. He permitted himself not even the slightest outward show of emotion, not a clenched jaw muscle, not a smoldering glance, not an insolent lift of a brow. Whatever he might be feeling, he bowed his head to exactly the correct degree and waited to be given his orders.
Immediately, the King described his dream. “Is such a thing possible? In your travels, have you ever seen such a wonder?”
“Yes, your majesty. You have seen true. In the mortal world, I believe these conveyances are now being used by the wealthiest mortals.”
“Fascinating!” The king beamed at all those around him, and they dutifully smiled and looked impressed at his true seeing. “You must bring me one of these… what are they called, did you say?”
“I believe the mortals call them motorcars.”
“Motorcars,” The King savored the unfamiliar taste of the word. “Delightful. You must bring me one of these motorcars. I must have one in my court.”
“Of course, your majesty.” Grackle bowed carefully and backed away, pressing his lips into a subservient smile.
Once outside, he leaned against the wall and rubbed his aching head. Why today of all days, when he was still feeling the effects of last night’s revels?
Glimpsing the mortal world in dreams was easy. Even the lowliest hodboggin or grindlepik, snoring in a hollow stump, might do it. Crossing over in the flesh, however, and bringing things back, was difficult and very dangerous. The charms and skills required to do so were rare and little known. Mainly because no one was fool enough to practice them. Grackle had those skills. He also had no choice. Reluctantly, he shouldered his gear and headed for the Wosewood.