Australia is a long way from the Old World and its fae denizens … but not far enough.
Isla is determined to understand her heritage and control her new abilities, but concealing them from those close to her proves difficult. Convincing the local fae she isn’t a threat despite her mixed blood is harder still. When the dazzling Everest arrives with a retinue of servants, Isla gets her first glimpse of why her mother’s people are hated … and feared.
But Isla isn’t the only one with something to hide. Someone she trusts is concealing a dangerous secret. She must seek the truth and stop Everest from killing to get what he wants: Isla’s oath.
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As we reached the floor of the valley, my ears strained to hear the sounds of a village going about its evening business. The air was still. I could clearly hear the sighing of the distant trees between the rhythmic slapping of our footsteps against the cobbles. Part of it was the lack of electronic noise from the buildings we passed—no televisions, gaming consoles or radios chattered here. But it was more than that. And it couldn’t be that everyone was asleep either. Jack had already made the point that the duinesidhe were primarily nocturnal.
“Is it normally this quiet?” I whispered.
Jack shook his head.
“They’re hiding from me.” It wasn’t a question; I already knew the answer.
“I warned them you might be coming. They are cautious.”
He nodded, eyes sad.
The thought made my stomach churn. “Let’s get this done so I can leave and they can get back to normal then.”
Jack led me through the deserted streets to a small garden cottage surrounded by bushes and climbing vines that sagged, heavy with flowers. Most of the blooms were shut for the night, except for a spray of white evening primrose near the gate. The sweet, heady scent of the blooms eased my anxiety, intermingling with the aromas of fragrant herbs—I could smell lavender, basil, lemon balm and mint—from elsewhere in the garden.
If I were a creature who collected smells, this was the sort of garden I would grow. Although given I had a black thumb I might need Aunt Elizabeth to come and tend it for me.
Jack knocked on the wooden cottage door. There was no answer. I stood patiently by his side for a minute or so before raising my eyebrows at him. He shrugged apologetically and knocked again.
Maybe the puca would be more likely to answer the door if I weren’t standing so close? I wandered back towards the garden beds. I wasn’t an avid gardener like my aunt. I knew enough to identify some of the flowers, at least those that were common Canberra varieties. Most of these plants were strange to me. One, with glossy green leaves and plump buds, caught my eye. From the wicked, curved thorns that pierced the stems like the hooked claws of a cat, it was probably a variety of rose, although not one I’d ever seen. The petals were a vivid royal purple.
I heard murmuring voices behind me and glanced back to see Jack was bent over double, head poking through a dog flap in the bottom half of the cottage door. I couldn’t hear what he was saying but he sounded irritated. A muffled voice replied, “I’ve changed my mind. Go away!”
Pretending not to notice, I turned my attention back to the flowers with a sigh, running a luminescent finger—I didn’t think I would ever get used to that—along the outside of one of the fat buds. The petal was soft as fine silk.
The flower unfurled under my fingertip.
I gasped. The sweet, distinctive aroma of roses in bloom filled the air as, one after another, radiating out from the flower I’d touched, the rest of the buds on the bush opened to the night sky.
About the Author
Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat—despite being allergic to cats. She has loved to read since primary school, when the library was her refuge, and loves many genres—although urban fantasy is her favourite. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?