Strangely enough, this was not a book I intended to write after I finished Darkspire Reaches, which was supposed to be a stand alone novel. However, there was a certain expectation from my publishers that there would be a sequel and I will admit to prevarication until I saw the comments in the reviews for Darkspire Reaches. While I will never respond, I always take notice and I saw people were asking questions about the world, in particular the Shangrove and also wondering about a sequel, so I go to thinking about what would happen next. This book was so much fun to write and now I guess I am thinking about a third in the series. Maybe I’ll call that one Wurms of the World. We will see.
Woo Hoo! Does happy dance.
Eve reviewed Darkspire Reaches
Not your Typical Fantasy Novel January 3, 2017
I am a large fantasy reader, and that mostly is recent. But this goes beyond the standard dragon fantasy outline and is really about a young woman’s journey of self-discovery, and rising above the hardships of the hand dealt to her in life. I loved this book. The character development is what jumped out at me the most; I almost always love a book where I can connect to the characters, and this book did not disappoint on that front. This was a grab you from word one to the finish. I can’t wait to get a chance to read more from this gifted author. The plot was very well paced, my mind tends to stray from what I am doing if my attention is not grabbed and kept, and this book managed to keep me reading from page one to the very last page. Again the growth of the main character Raven is amazing and what really gives this novel the five-star rating I have rated it. To end this review, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more from this author.
The book begins without preamble. I was thrown right into the trouble and mistrust that seem to plague Copper from birth. He had been able to ignore it, but in this instance he found it difficult coming from the one he’d least expect, Rosella, his childhood mate. It hurt even more when his friends stood by and did nothing. (But I’m jumping ahead of myself). The pace was set, and the reader is taken on a fast-paced ride, which sometimes have you reeling, and holding on to the edge of your seat. As a non-fantasy reader, I held on, and got so into it, I was sadly disappointed when it came to an end. But the truth of the matter is, even in fantasy worlds, jealousy, strive, and mistrust still exist when it comes to those that are different to what’s accepted or expected as the norm. Envision the possibility, a world ruled by serpents and Shangroves: “We coversss the whole worldsss sooon and then no more peoplesss, only ssserpentsss and Sssshangroves I highly recommend this book to fantasy readers.
This story kept me reading into the small hours of the morning. Gripping story, with a good development of characters, I grew fond of Raven, the female protector who is as much a mother as she is a warrior.
I felt the Drakkens’ pain was well expressed in Connor’s mishap, Cooper’s struggles to become a man and in Rosella coming of age learning compassion in a harsh and horrible manner.
Their world is not an easy one with conflict waiting around every bend. Yet this is a story we can also reflect to today’s times and bring into our own world. Food for thought. After all, most people will find preferable to learning any lesson we encounter along the way in a more tasteful manner—prevention being the ounce we can take. Well done!
Amazon Customer reviewed Darkspire Reaches
Darkspire Reaches had me from the first page July 20, 2016
I didn’t know I enjoyed fantasy novels until I read Darkspire Reaches. I picked up the book because I was intrigued by the cover, but after reading the first two pages, I just couldn’t put it down. I finished it in two sittings because I had to go to work, and even then I managed to sneak out and read a few pages.
Magic, fantastic beasts, mysterious maidens, love, betrayal… Immersing myself into the rich and imaginative world created by CN Lesley felt like a guilty pleasure. The reader roots for Raven, a young girl abandoned at birth, who has to hide her mysterious magical powers to escape persecution by her hostile adoptive clan. A very entertaining and enjoyable ride!
Disclaimer, this had not been edited and may well be modified when it is.
The morning shone clear and the roads were relatively clear, having had no snowfall the previous night by the look of things. Still, Rowan engaged the four by four, aware how treacherous the route through the mountains could become with a simple puff of wind, or an animal setting off an avalanche. Even the Icefields Parkway was closed; something he regretted as he would have preferred the route to Vancouver through Jasper rather than Banff. Still, it meant getting to Kelowna quicker, which was a good thing. Walmart would be open by the time they arrived and the staff probably too sleepy to pay much attention to people. He hoped there wasn’t going to be a fuss about Morgan getting new clothes from there because he really didn’t have time to start shopping at the sort of places the surviving remnants of her clothing indicated that she preferred. On top of that he didn’t want people to notice them and she was a pretty girl. Dress her up right and she would be stunning. A glint of sunlight ground into his eyes from the rear-view mirror; he winced, tired eyes watering.
Morgan lightly touched his arm. “Can I drive? I could use a change.”
“Thanks, but no. You are too new to trust behind the wheel. If you saw a prey beast you may well go off road after it with the truck and then we would be stuck in the mountains. It is a very, very long run to a decent town.” That reminded him, he needed to also purchase kiddie back packs so they could take their possessions with them if they needed to shift into fur. He flexed his shoulders, trying to get out the kinks, aware some were caused by tension. Sooner or later he was going to be cornered into an awkward conversation with Morgan on the subject of clothes and shifting. He had to hope she could be sensible over the choices.
“Why is a vampire head of a mob and how does he get away with this? Don’t the rest of them know what he is?”
Dammit, if only the old bat had not found them last night. Now his puppy had a whole host more of questions requiring answers. He really didn’t want her making them stand out by looking up at the sky every five minutes, like she was doing now.
She poked him in the ribs. “Look, you might as well talk to me. It is a good way to stay alert when you are driving tired.”
Rowan now remembered precisely why he preferred his own space, rather than sharing with a female, who chattered. He guessed she wasn’t about to let up, convinced she needed to stop him falling asleep at the wheel. “If you were in a mob and your leader could drain your blood if you didn’t behave, what would you do? Stand up to him?”
Morgan rooted around in the carrier bag of stuff she had taken from the cabin for tissues and a water bottle. A small mirror with suction cups on one side followed. She tried sticking the mirror to the windshied first, but that didn’t work too well because of the slope, so she stuck it to the glass on the passenger window, to begin wiping off the now cracked and messy makeup. “I thought his bite would turn the victim into a creature like himself?”
“Oh, it will if he wishes.” Morgan sighed, accepting that this was going to be a long session. “He would need to give the victim some of his own blood once he had drained all of theirs. That is how a person would get turned. Borinsky is very unlikely to do that as he would end up having to share power. Sharing is not one of his strong points.”
“But how does a vampire get in control in the first place? I mean, it must be difficult when a person can’t go out in daytime. No banks, no formal documents, as those offices will not be open at night.”
Yes, this was going to make for a very long morning. “He is very old and very wealthy. Internet banking is very convenient for all sorts of reasons and as for documentation, why would he want that if he has people fronting for him? If he doesn’t exist, he doesn’t have to pay taxes. He wouldn’t need a driver’s license, either, now would he?”
“But surely he would need one if it was raining?”
Oh boy, she was going to go into every last detail, while all he wanted to do was quietly think through a plan of action. How could he shut her up? “That is what minions are for. But what about you? Exactly what did you see to land you in this mess in the first place?”
And the floodgates opened. She began her story, starting when she got up on that fateful day, the clothes she chose and who she had intended to meet. Rowan smiled and made encouraging noises while he let his mind drift in the direction of their problems right now.
Rowan had decided to buy an eyewash by the time he pulled into the parking lot in front of Walmart. His eyes felt like they had been rubbed in sand, but he was still alert. By his side Morgan had the window wound down a little and was taking in the aromas. He could smell the meat, too. The Macdonald’s burger joint inside the store was firing up. Yes, they had to eat and soon. He wondered how disappointed the girl would be when she dug into her meal, which brought him to another decision.
“Here is the plan. We go into the store for you to pick your clothes and then you meet me at the electronics, where I will be getting a phone. Once we are done we get a take out from McDonald’s. Figure out what you want while you are shopping and remember they will be serving the breakfast menu. You need things high in protein. Is that clear? So milk over a pop to drink. We go eat in the truck and you change there into your new stuff. Everything we need, or discard gets packed into the Walmart bags and comes with us.”
She frowned. “But why not just leave the old clothes and stuff in the truck?”
“Because we are going to be getting into a taxi and it has to look like we are regular customers. We have shopping bags, then we blend in and become invisible.” Not to mention leaving a messy truck would draw attention to it far faster, but she didn’t need to know that.
Morgan grabbed a cart and scurried off in the direction of womens clothing without a backward glance, or a complaint at having to wear less than high fashion, which both surprised and relieved him. He just hoped she wouldn’t fill the thing as he guessed he would end up being the one carrying all her excesses. Rowan detoured passed kids apparel to snag a couple of backpacks, one with a monkey face and one resembling a black kitten. Not ideal, but the other choices were a blue hippo or a pink elephant. Somehow the color of the last gave a clue as to why the consignment would end up on sale in this particular store. Had the joker making the statement about alcohol through pink elephants gotten themselves fired, he wondered. Whatever, the two he chose would blend in with their fur the best and he trusted he hadn’t lost his hunting instincts to warn if any humans were near, should they have to shift.
The phone proved easy enough as they stocked an android suitable. While he preferred Iphones, there was no way he wanted to spend so much on what would probably be a throwaway item. The choice narrowed to the cheapest and the smallest they had in stock. Now he had to wait for Morgan, as the man serving would need to walk the product to the checkout. Fortunately, she turned up just as the choice had been made, astonishing him.
“That was quick.”
“It is all nasty, so I just grabbed the best of what would fit.” She looked down with disdain at the modest heap of clothes.
He was relieved at her color choices, which were all subdued. It looked like she had confined herself to jeans and t-shirts for outerwear, although he couldn’t be sure as there was more under the initial heap. “Looks like we are ready then. Did you figure out what you wanted to eat, like I said?”
“I’ll have a sausage egg McMuffin with a box of milk, but I can order for myself.”
“I thought you would like to take your stuff to the truck once I have paid for it and stow it away while I get the food.” He hoped she would pick up on what he was really saying, giving that the man carrying the phone was well into earshot. She could get changed without him there if she caught on to the gist of his words.
Morgan looked entirely different when he got to the truck with their takeaway. She had gone more for a college look with designer threadbare jeans and a blue t-shirt with a dragon motif on the front. She also had a goth look for her makeup, too heavy for his taste and yet wildly different from her granny look. Yes, she would do nicely like this. He thought she must have had a lot of practice with different looks in her time of hiding. Smiling, he handed over her package and drink.
“Hey, I only asked for one. There are three in here.”
“Try it. I think you will find out why when you do.” He casually stripped the bun off his own sausage egger leaving just the protein. He had restricted himself to four, explaining to the girl at the counter that they had kids waiting. Whatever else happened, they couldn’t afford to stand out for any reason.
“What is the matter with this? It tastes like mush.” Morgan said, talking around the food in her mouth before she took a big gulp of milk to wash it down.
“We are carnivores. You will find bread doesn’t agree with your taste anymore, which is why I got several of them. Good enough?”
Glaring at him, she stripped the edible protein away from the useless. Yes, sometime soon she was building up to a huge argument about her changed state. He reckoned he was going to hear all about her fury once they were free and clear. For now, all he had to suffer was multiple instances of the stink eye in his direction.
This has not been edited. It might change when this happens.
Crimson light glistened off the snow, casting an angry glow on the world. Rowan sat in the truck, his hands clenched around the steering wheel, waiting for retribution. The sounds of Morgan dressing ceased in the back, making for a charged silence. She climbed over the seat, easing down into the passenger side. The stiff anger on her face told him exactly what she thought of him.
“How?” She balled her fists hard, pushing them into her lap and took a deep breath, facing him. “How did you do that to me? There was no bite. Everything I have read about werewolves or seen at the movies says there has to be a bite. You told that creature he would change if he got bitten. I heard you.”
Damn, why did she have to start with that question? He briefly considered running, but she would follow, demanding her answers. He stared straight ahead. “The virus is in the fangs. I don’t have to break skin to inject it. I can let it flood into my mouth.”
“You …” She covered her face with her hands, rocking back and forth for a few moments. She looked away into the darkness of the trees. “You kissed me.”
She might as well have said ‘You pulled my head off’ from her tone. “Yes, it happened then.”
“Does this always happen when you kiss someone, or share a glass, or cough, or sneeze?”
Damn, she hadn’t been listening properly with her rage upon her. “I can kiss without infecting. Letting down the virus from my fangs is a choice. I chose to alter you.” Rowan braced for the screeching to start. He glanced at her when silence continued. She trembled, making him wish she had screeched. He could live with noise, but not this guilt trip.
“Why.” She still didn’t look at him.
“Because I knew who was behind the killings as soon as the henchmen on the skidoos arrived. His scent was all over them. I knew the old bat would find you eventually. He has all the time in the world to look.”
Morgan examined her hands in the light, especially the palms. Did people really believe the nonsense about hairy palms? “Vampires don’t exist. They are a myth. Werewolves aren’t real. I had an accident, and now I am in hospital in a coma and I’m dreaming this. I’ll wake and find the witness protection program has more men guarding me. I haven’t turned into a werewolf. This is part of my nightmare. It is an hallucination caused by a brain injury.”
“You’re not dreaming.” He tried to take her hands in his, but she slapped him away. “Vampires, us, and other creatures have always existed. We benefit from disbelief. All the movies about us have led to a peaceful life.”
The shaking increased.“That vampire is real … he is going to find me, isn’t he?”
Rowan sighed. “He is going to be busy back-trailing me for where he thinks I might have stashed you. He knows me. We are old enemies, and he knows I don’t increase my kind by choice, so he won’t imagine you, a werewolf with me, ad his target, not yet.”
“What happens when he does?”
“I would imagine he will have a serious problem. His instinct is to bite, and he can’t without getting infected. He’d go for a bloodless kill, but he needs to fight me to get to you.” Rowan basked in the first rays of the rising sun with spiteful relish. “Stanislav was responsible for almost outing me not so long ago. I would welcome a final reckoning.”
She wasn’t listening to him. Now she was out of fur, the shock consumed her. He revised his plans, for going to Siberia wasn’t going to prevent the old bat coming after them. Once Stanislav found the trail cold, he would have people looking out for a couple buying a ship passage. No, he’d take her to Vancouver Island for the winter. The climate was temperate, and he could teach her how to adjust in the untamed forests of the north of the island where they would blend in with other packs. Let the old bat chew down his talons down to the flesh in frustration.
Rowan started the truck. He had daylight hours to drive through the interior, get the ferry at Vancouver to Nanaimo, head north from there until he could hook up with the Pacific Rim highway to Sprout Lake and then they could take a back road to Strathcona Provincial Park.
Heavily forested in a wild way, the park was not vehicle friendly, and definitely not friendly to large aerial objects. Rowan couldn’t remember there being any motel near the place, which meant a long flying distance. The vampire was going to have to send his henchmen unless he chose to fly his wings down to stumps and walk his feet off.
If he were Borinsky, he would be phoning the moment he had put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on his motel room door and secured the drapes over the window. Given the truck hadn’t been reported as stolen by the absent owners; it would take the old bat a goodly while to convince someone to run the plates. That someone wouldn’t act without contacting the owners.
Morgan fixed her wig in place with an expression of distaste. She clicked on the overhead light to touch up her old lady makeup in the rear view mirror. “How are we going to get a boat if that monster has the harbor watched? He will, won’t he?”
“Change of plans. We stay in Canada, but move across to Vancouver Island.” He readjusted the mirror.
“How? On the ferry, in this truck with the description circulated? I saw the monster write down the plate number while he waited for you to stir. Have you forgotten I am wanted for murder?”
Damn. He must be getting old to not wake sooner in the presence of danger. He should have stirred before the vampire had found a perch. Maybe they wouldn’t be getting the ferry to the island with the truck. Perhaps it was time to call in a few favors. Terminals would be watched but they couldn’t station people at every single jetty pocking out into the ocean. No, he needed a smallish fishing boat with an outboard motor and new exactly where he could hire one.
“First, lose the old lady makeup. It is possible someone saw us together with this truck and may remember when Borinsky wakes up from his nap and starts reporting in. Then we get you some new clothes and a smart phone for me. I need to access some funds for a car hire since the truck is of no use, not if he took the plates.”
“What about the money you took off those men?” Her face radiated disapproval.
“Morgan, if you were a car hire company, how would you feel about hiring to someone who couldn’t produce a credit card, proof of identity and was a tad shy on luggage to boot? I can book it remotely through one of my companies. They won’t ask questions if it is a corporate hire.”
“Oh, I see. The ferry will be good, then.”
No, it wouldn’t but he was too tired to explain right now. The old bat would have the port watched by now and he was smart enough to figure out the truck would be history. The watchers would be for people. He would have made those arraignments the moment he settled into his room for the day. Rowan didn’t intend to leave a trail when he went to ground this time.
And now for some cat spam because I love my fluffies.