By Mary Karlik
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: September 18th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Young fae girls are disappearing.
Layla has never belonged to the fairy realm – at least, half of her hasn’t. She’s never known anyone with human blood, not even her father. When she was three, the dragon Fauth attacked the fairy festival, murdering her fae mum & stepfather. Frankly, some fairies think she should’ve been eaten too.
As she grew, despite being called names like “fuman” for being a half-blood, she’s discovered that being half-human isn’t terrible. She may lack magic, but she is immune to iron sickness, and she can wield a sword with elven skill.
Magic in the human world is disastrous.
Sixteen years later, when Layla’s half-sister is kidnapped and taken through a portal to the forbidden human realm, Layla rushes to the rescue. She’s older and stronger, and she’s not about to let her last living family member be taken from her without a fight.
Only someone who belongs to both worlds can find the truth.
The portal spits her out in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, but neither her sister or the kidnapper are anywhere to be found. Stuck in a world she only knows from school books, Layla forges unlikely alliances to find her sister. As she becomes tangled in the dark world of fairy trafficking, magic harvesting, and murder, Layla will have to find the strength within if she is to survive and save her sister.
It was early morning, but already the sun had filtered through the leaves to warm the fairy cottage nestled between the twisted roots of the cottonwood tree. A cloud drifted away from the sun, allowing a single ray of light to make its way through the window and on to the wooden planks of the tabletop.
Layla poured tea and slid a cup through the sunbeam to rest in front of her sister’s empty chair. “You’re not going to the fête. The dragons would like nothing more than to make a fine afternoon snack out of unsuspecting fey.”
“Dragons. Seriously? There haven’t been dragons for years.” Ignoring the tea, Esme stood behind her chair and continued her plea. “It’s the biggest celebration of the year. I’m sixteen. Well old enough to go without you or your permission.” She unfurled her wings adding an extra flip at the tips as if to prove the point.
Layla choked the cup cradled in her hands—better that than her sister’s neck. Aye, Esme was old enough to go alone and had been for three years, but had never pushed it before. Just the thought of her sister’s going brought a variety of bone-chilling, breath-stealing, heart-stopping scenarios to mind. But clearly, telling Esme she couldn’t go wasn’t going to stop her.
No. To keep her sister home and safe, she’d have to stay calm and try reason. “The whole thing is madness. Year after year, fairies too drunk and distracted to see danger coming. It should have been stopped after the massacre.”
Esme jutted her jaw. “Are you really my sister? Because you sound more like a grandmother. Aye, there’s drink and dancing because we’re celebrating the harvest. It’s not meant to be a dirge.” She placed the heels of her hands on the table, dropped her wings low on her back, and bent at the waist until she was eye to eye with Layla. “The rest of the clan has moved beyond the past. Why can’t you?”
Moved beyond the past? A searing streak of anger flashed through Layla and exploded in a double-fisted pound on the table, rattling the cups in their saucers. “This isn’t a piece of history that should be forgotten!” She hit the table again and tea dripped like a fountain from cup to saucer to tabletop. “How can you dance upon the ground where so many fey died? Where our parents died?”
Filigreed shadows splashed across the floor as Esme straightened and popped her wings wide. “Because I don’t remember that day or our parents, and especially not their deaths. To me it’s no more than a legend.” The words blasted straight into Layla’s heart.
“No more than a legend?” Layla’s hands flew to her chest as if they could protect her from the stabbing cold reality that her sister didn’t care. “The mass murders of our people, of our parents, no more than a half-forgotten legend?”
“Why are you so affected by this? You weren’t even there.” Esme’s voice strained with the drive behind the words.
How could Esme not understand? Layla wanted to shout, to beat the table again and again, to throw dishes against the wall and revel in the sound of porcelain shattering into shards.
Instead, she forced quiet into her voice. “Aye. I was. I was there. I was with Mum and Dad.”
Esme’s wings stiffened as she gripped the top rung of the chair back. “What do you mean? Everyone’s always said you were with Kenna and me.”
“You were too young to remember. I think Auntie Maeve hoped I was too, or maybe she tried to create a memory for me.”
The cràdh—the ethereal entity that lived within Layla to feast upon pain, criticisms, and doubt—surfaced in her chest. Anguish poured from it, squeezing her heart until she struggled to breathe. Tingles started behind and beneath her eyes and marched to her nose and mouth. And she knew that as soon as she spoke, tears would fall and sobs would follow. But it was a story that had to be told. “But I was there. And I remember.”
Layla stared at the dust suspended in the beam of light that washed over the spilled tea as visions of the massacre played in her mind. “It was my first fête. I was so excited. The smell of the food, the sound of the music, laughter, and Mum and Dad on either side of me holding my hands. It was magical. And then it all changed. We heard shouts as a shadow flew over the crowd.”
“Fauth.” The word croaked from Esme’s throat.
“Aye. Mum dumped out a citrus crate, shoved me inside, and told me to stay hidden. I lay there among the straw and the smell of rotten fruit with my hands over my ears to block the sound.” She ran trembling fingers across her lips. “But it didn’t block the cries. And, I smelled dragon and blood and death.”
Mary Karlik has always been a dreamer. When she was a teen, she read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and then sat in every wardrobe in her Nanna’s home, trying to open the door to Narnia. She didn’t find it, but she did discover her voice as an author: one filled with her young adult self, and grounded in her roots as a Texan and her Scottish heritage, nourished by obscure Scottish folklore.
You can find her Texas roots in her YA contemporary romance Hickville series , which has been described as “100% solid storytelling,” and begins with Welcome to Hickville High, a “lovely story about growing up.”
She digs deep into her Scottish roots – there is magic there, she just knows it – for the forthcoming YA epic fantasy Fairy Trafficking series, beginning with Magic Harvest.
She makes her home in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of Northern New Mexico where she is a certified professional ski instructor, but she also loves visiting Scotland where she is currently studying Scottish Gaelic at the University of Highlands and Islands in Skye. Mary also earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, has a B.S. degree from Texas A&M University, and is a Registered Nurse.
Mary currently serves as the President of the Young Adult Chapter of Romance Writers of America and looks forward to raising a glass or two of gin and tonic with her fellow writers every year at RWA’s national convention.
From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.
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