I’m delighted to welcome my friend, author, and blogger, Denise L. Finn, as my guest today. Please join me to celebrate her new release of In the Tree’s Shadow, a collection of short stories.
Thank you, Miriam, for having me visit today to talk about my short story collection,In the Tree’s Shadow.
“Playdate” was a part of my personal short story challenge. I had a family member pick a word, and then I used that word to find an image on Canva. The image that came up would inspire a story. My husband picked the word, ruthless. So, between the image found, and it being right before Halloween, I was led down an interesting path.
What if you took your child to a house for a playdate, and it was like visiting the Addams family, minus the good humor? Sandy brings her son, Bobby, for such a play date. The house is dark, and the windows keep the light out, and on a wall are some scary photographs.
Sandy and her son get into a situation that might not be a way out of that house.
A collection of short stories where dreams and nightmares coexist.
Nestled inside these pages, you’ll meet a couple in their golden years who take a trip with an unexpected detour, a boy desperate to give his brother the Christmas gift he asked for, a girl with a small glass dragon who is at the mercy of her cruel uncles, and a young mother who has a recurring dream about murder. You’ll be introduced to worlds where people get second chances and monsters might be allowed their desires, while angels and dragons try to help. Happy endings occur, but perspective can blur the line between good and evil in these twenty-seven tales. Since the stories vary between 99 and 12,000 words, whether you have only five minutes or an entire evening to settle into reading, there is something that will suit your time and taste.
I forced a smile and turned away from the picture. The yellow eyes were watching me. I nervously stuffed a cucumber sandwich into my dry mouth. Big mistake. It caught in my throat and then burned. I could taste the hot peppers as I coughed. I was positive I was going to die.
“Are you okay, Sandy?” Jessie’s clear blue eyes showed concern as she handed me a glass of water.
“Yes, I swallowed wrong.”
Bobby clung to my arm while Freddie sat on the couch, wearing a frown. This playdate was a huge mistake.
“Freddie, honey, why don’t you show Bobby your room?”
Freddie’s face lit up. “Sure. I can show him my new ax!”
I cleared my throat. “Ax?”
“He asked for it for his birthday, but it’s been put away. He knows we don’t play with weapons when we have guests. Right, Freddie?”
Freddie let out a loud sigh. “Yes, Mommy. No weapons on playdates. I remember. But can we show him later?”
Jessie winked at me. “Maybe later.”
I gently detached myself from Bobby’s tightened grasp. “Maybe we should go with them.”
“We’d be in the way.” She waved. “You two be good.”
Bobby followed Freddie down the hall like he was on death row making that last walk to his end. I was with him. They decorated the place like a haunted house, and the windows had dark drapes keeping the light and the world out. What wasn’t black was gray, and the pictures! I shuddered. These were things of nightmares, including the so-called school picture of Freddie.
I never tire of watching it snow. The first time I saw it happen was when I was a teenager.
We have what we call a hall ghost. It’s friendly and patrols the hallway.
D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include children’s books, adult fiction, a unique autobiography, and poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.
Chris Hall, Willow Willers, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer,
and Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Comment and let us know you were there and get a chance to win a copy of Poetry Treasures 3: Passions in the digital format of your choice. Follow the tour and leave your comments along the way. One entry per stop.
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My first guest is Diana Wallace Peach. Diana and I have been friends in this blogging community for years. Many of you agree she is the most supportive person in this blogosphere. On every blog I go to, she is there reading and commenting in the most positive and meaningful way. Diana, Terri Webster Schrandt, and Marsha Ingaro, met in Portland, Oregon in September 2022. It was my first bloggers’ get-together. It felt like we had known each other for ages. And now, I moved to Portland four months ago. When I told Diana, I only used the umbrella once during the four months of raining and snowing. She said, “You’re a true Oregonian!” What a great way to welcome me. “Thank you, Diana.” I have to remember wearing something with a hood to keep my hair dry, though.
One poem Diana includes in this anthology is “Timeless.” Here’s her poem and her reading of it.
Diana, please share with us about “Timeless.”
The inspiration for the poem “Timeless” came from my relationship with my husband. We’re in our mid-sixties now, but when we met, we were in our twenties, at the peak of youth – no gray, no wrinkles, no flubber, no aches and pains. We could dance all night. One of the beautiful things about getting older with a loved one is that our current vision of our partners tends to reflect those early imprints on our hearts. When I look at him, or he at me, we still see each other with those youthful eyes – still in love, still beautiful. It’s an exquisite illusion.
About Diana Wallace Peach
Best-selling fantasy author D. Wallace Peach indulges her imagination in the world of words. She’s published twenty fantasy novels and participated in anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. An avid supporter of the arts, she’s produced annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.
My next guest is Abbie Johnson Taylor. I met Abbie Taylor through our mutual friends in this blogging community. She is a talented poet, writer, compassionate therapist, and a great supporter of visually impaired adults.
One poem Abbie includes in Poetry Treasure 3 is “The Black Hole.” Here’s her poem and her reading of it.
About Abbie Taylor
Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in The Weekly Avocet, The Writer’s Grapevine, and Magnets and Ladders. She’s visually impaired and lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, she cared for her totally blind late husband, who became partially paralyzed as a result of a stroke soon after they were married. With a BA in music, she has worked as a registered music therapist with nursing home residents, facilitated a support group for visually impaired adults, taught Braille, and served on the advisory board of a trust fund providing adaptive equipment and services to the blind and visually impaired.
It’s my pleasure to welcome Kaye to my blog today to celebrate her new release of Delilah–Book 1 of the Women in the West Adventure Series. In this post, she’ll share the story behind writing Delilah.
If you like strong and capable female protagonists, you’ll love Delilah.
Kaye is giving away two digital copies, and one signed print copy of
Leave a comment to enter. Multiple entries are allowed. So, leave a comment at each stop for more chances.
About the Book
Delilah is a woman haunted by her past.
Her homecoming from prison quickly turns into a quest for vengeance when she is brutally raped and left for dead, and her fourteen-year-old ward is abducted. Sheer will and determination take this tough and gritty heroine up against wild beasts of the forest, Indians and outlaws to Leadville, Colorado.
Can the colorful inhabitants of the Colorado mining town work their way into Delilah’s heart, offering a chance for a future she thought she’d lost along with her innocence?
Writing Delilah – strong female characters right out of history
One of the cool things about Delilah and the Women in the West adventure series is the fact that there is a true-life historical female character in a supporting role, along with a strong female protagonist in each book. In Delilah, the supporting character is Elizabeth “Baby Doe” McCourt Tabor, dubbed Colorado’s Silver Queen, who was prominent if the slightly notorious, figure in helping to turn Leadville from a ‘tent city’ mining camp into a prominent Colorado town. In the story, Baby Doe hires Delilah to assist in the preparations for the grand opening of the Tabor Grand Opera House in 1882, and she pops in on pivotal scenes throughout the story. You might say that she’s the smart lady behind the scenes, who keeps the story moving smoothly but keeps back out of the spotlight.
Elizabeth ‘Baby Doe’ McCourt Tabor – From Rags, to Riches, and Back to Rags
Born Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Bonduel McCourt – youngest of fourteen siblings – father was a storekeeper/ tailor? in Oshkosh, Wisconsin– married Harvey Doe in 1877, and came west to Central City. Harvey was either unwilling or unable to work the mines, so she traded in her dresses for miner’s garb and worked the horse-drawn hoists in the mine owned by Harvey’s father, acquiring the nickname of “Baby” Doe from the miners, who admired her gumption.
Harvey abandoned her in Blackhawk in 1879, when he learned she was pregnant and accused her of stepping out on him but returned to take her to Denver and make amends in 1880 after the child had been stillborn. It was short lived, and they were divorced 1880, after discovering Henry in a brothel. Once divorced, Elizabeth decided to try opening a clothing store in Leadville with a friend.
There, she caught the eye of H. W. Tabor (State Senator) in 1879, a public figure who struck it rich in the mining industry when he invested in the Little Pittsburg and Matchless Mines. Their scandalous liaison was public knowledge, as Horrace was still married to his first wife, Augusta, and Baby Doe was freshly divorced. A May/December romance, he was forty-nine and she was twenty-five. Tabor divorced wife, Augusta, and he and Elizabeth were married privately in 1882 in St. Loius, and publicly the following year in Washington D.C.
Baby Doe was still shunned by the women of both Denver and Leadville society, in spite of the contributions to both cities. In Leadville, the Tabors built the first three story buildings, the Clarendon Hotel and the Tabor Grand Opera House, bringing culture and gas lighting to the untamed mining town. Regardless, the Tabors lived in style in a lavish mansion, throwing lavish parties, and entertaining the crème of the societal crop, and the couple was dubbed “The Silver King & Queen”.
Following the de-monetization of silver in1893, the Tabors lost their fortune, and Horrace died in 1899. The Matchless Mine produced more than $11 million in silver. She lived over thirty years in Leadville, in the caretaker’s cabin, outside the Matchless Mine, chopping wood, hauling water and trying to work the mine herself.
Her frozen body was found in the cabin following a blizzard. Although many say that she froze to death, it is likely that she died of a heart attack and the fire in the potbellied stove went out after she was already dead and no longer stoked it.
Baby Doe died alone and penniless, at the age of 81 in March of 1935, leaving two daughters behind, who had deserted her long ago. Her ‘tenacity and pioneering spirit earned her a place in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, and her life is immortalized in the opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe.
Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing and an M.A. in Publishing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you.
She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”); and Where Spirits Linger (“The People Upstairs”). Her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, and her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, are both available in both digital and print editions at most of your favorite book distributors.
In addition, she keeps up her authors’ blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. Kaye Lynne has also created her own very small publishing house in WordCrafter Press, and WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services, where she offers quality author services, such as publishing, editing, and book blog tours. She has served as a judge for the Western Writers of America and sitting on the editorial team for Western State Colorado University and WordFire Press for the Gilded Glass anthology and editing Weird Tales: The Best of the Early Years 1926-27, under Kevin J. Anderson & Jonathan Maberry.
In her spare time, she is bird watching, or gardening, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.
It’s my great pleasure to host this virtual book blast for Natural Selection (Dawn of Humanity Book 3) by Jacqui Murray. Jacqui and I followed each other on an exercise app Strava, and give kudo to each other. When her son was in Japan, he signed up for the app also. It was wonderful to watch her son’s walking trails!
In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribemembers captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events.
Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.
A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!
Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray
I asked Jacqui to share some insight about the early man with us. This is the topic I asked her to share.
Was Early Man Spiritual?
The answer to this question—was early man spiritual–is complicated. There is no obvious evidence that our earliest ancestors—like the character Lucy in my novel—was spiritual. They didn’t bury their dead. They didn’t draw on cave walls or carve statuettes of creatures that looked nothing like those who inhabited their environs. They didn’t write on rocks or tablets, sing songs or tell stories that were passed on to children and tribe members. If Lucy prayed, she left nothing behind to prove that to scientists and researchers. The limited artifacts available from earliest man indicates nothing about activities pursued other than those of their prime instinctive directive–to procreate and survive. It would be over a million years before scientists got the first hint of religious behavior from evolving man–he began to bury his dead, sometimes with flowers to ease his passage.
So, if we can’t find proof in artifacts and cultural remains, how about in their growing brain. Scientists tirelessly study what skulls they have available to see if they provide proof of a belief in something spiritual. Lucy’s brain and those of her kind is larger in different places than other mammals, portions that in modern man we believe is engaged in problem solving and critical thinking. These skills arguably differentiate our genus Homo from the prior genus Australopithecus. As man’s brain continued to evolve, those portions continued to grow as did man’s skill with symbolic and critical thinking, and maybe—or maybe not—spiritual belief.
None of this says the early man was or wasn’t spiritual. All it says is, whichever it was, we can’t prove it.
In Natural Selection, Book 3 of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Garv found Lucy and started their own tribe, separate from Raza. Raza’s tribe members were captured by Xha’s former tribe. Lucy traveled a great distance to track down the captors in order to rescue the captives. The temporary new leader, Advak, and the leaders in Xha’s tribe captured Raza and his tribe members to be their slaves. Some slaves did as demanded, feared of being killed. Xha joined Lucy and her tribe to search for his former tribe and claimed he was a more capable leader of his tribe. Lucy confirmed Xha was not among the captors.
During the journey, Lucy showed her communication skills through facial expressions, hand gestures, and vocal sounds. Lucy had the skill of healing using honey and leaves. There was plenty of action in the wild along their way such as a large pack of hyaena killing a gazelle, nipping at their legs, faces, and chests.
Lucy’s group finally caught up with the captives and realized they had settled into the camp’s routine, complied with demands, and accepted this life as their new reality. Raza survived, but many of his tribe members didn’t. Xha suspected that this home base was where Advak settled and proclaimed to be their new leader. Lucy wanted Xha to take her to the camp as a new captive. When they got there, Xha discovered the warrior Vex was ill. Lucy healed him and established herself as a healer. Lucy wanted Vex to help the captives to escape. In the epilogue, Ms. Murray shared some research and interesting findings about Xha.
This is the first prehistoric thriller I’ve read. Jacqui Murray’s glossary, names of the tribes and their members, questions & answers prior to the first chapter, was very helpful for me to follow the who, where, how, and why. I appreciated her extensive research to create this wonderful fiction.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to the United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.
The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.
He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.
To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.
He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.
Or a cliff.
When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.
Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.
He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.
But no one else in his pack did.
Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.
Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.
All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.
Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.
Why did she go here?
He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.
Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.
But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.
Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.
Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.
His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.
While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.
Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.
He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.
He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.
Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.
Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright world.
Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.
It’s my great pleasure to welcome my friend, the author, poet, and artist, Diana Wallace Peach, to my blog. I had a delightful time meeting with Diana, Terri Webster Schrandt, and Marsha Ingrao in Portland, Oregon, in September. We chatted. We laughed. We shared about the latest in our lives. I was happy that Diana’s husband was recovering well from his surgery. We’re in the process of selling our house in Southern California. It may take a while since people may not want to move during the major holidays. It’ll be exciting to see her more often after our move to Portland.
It’s my privilege to host Diana’s blog tour to share her new release, The Necromancer’s Daughter.
A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.
Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.
While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.
Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.
A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.
I’m a huge fan of Diana Peach’s fantasy books. I admire her poetic writing. Her vivid description of the characters and well-developed world engages my imagination and takes me through an unforgettable journey from the beginning to the end.
The Necromancer’s Daughter is a heart-wrenching yet beautiful story of love, politics, power struggle, and prejudice. The story grabs the reader’s emotions from the beginning. King Aldring loves his wife, the Princess of Blackrock. He summons Barus, the necromancer, to resurrect the queen and the infant should they die. In her last breath, the queen pleas to save the child. When the king learns the queen is dead and the baby is a girl, he sends Barus home. Barus is in love with the infant and hides her under his garment to take her home.
Barus follows the recipe in her adopted mother, Olma’s book, to awaken Aster from the dead and raise her as his own. Aster grows up as a passionate and gentle soul with silvery flowing hair, practicing herbal medicine and resurrecting animals. She is natural to connect with a dragon emotionally. The king knows she is his daughter and visits her every year on her birthday. As the king’s health declines, he summons her on her nineteenth birthday to return to the palace as his successor.
The vicar Tamus Graeger denies Aster and condemns the resurrection as evil. He orders the soldiers to kill Barus and Aster. Once captured, he wants to hang Aster. Aster helps her crippled father flee when their home is burned to ashes. She ensures Barus’s safety at Rebeka’s home and continues to run to get help from her uncle, the Blackrock King. Tamus’s son, Joreh, accompanies Aster’s escape and believes she deserves a fair trial.
The journey of escape through the forest is full of danger from the wild creatures and the tribes’ attacks on each other. After being raised from the dead, the funny character Teko at Cattieut forest, with one green eye and one blue eye, joined in escorting Aster to Blackrock.
To ensure Aster’s claim as his niece, King Atrayal of Blackrock wants her to show her ability to connect with dragons, the trait her mother queen possesses. King Atrayal is pleased with the test. He wants Aster to claim the throne of Verdane and serves as an ambassador for the peace of all the tribes.
I listened to the book with the text-to-speech feature on my iPad. The story was engaging with vivid descriptions of the characters’ interactions and scenes. Each chapter ending hooked me on to the next. I was emotionally connected to the characters and wished for the safety of Aster and Barus. The genuine friendship between Aster and Joreh warmed my heart. Diana Peach created believable characters. Aster and Barus were humans practicing healing. They didn’t possess magic or superpower to defeat their enemies. They went through struggles and suffered ill-treatment from their attackers. All they could do was use their wisdom to survive the adversaries understanding that “every time you choose one path, you must live with the possibilities of the other.”
This is a masterpiece and a wonderful creation. I had my secret wishes for the ending, but it came as a surprise. The book ended, but my emotions linger. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this beauty.
A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.
In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.
Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.