Hello, people! I’m temporarily back from my indefinite hiatus for a Halloween tour.
I welcome you to the First Annual “Trick or Treat” Blog Tour hosted by Jaiden @ Moonlit Reads! During the last 13 (haha lucky number!) days of October up to Halloween Day, I, and several other bloggers will treat you (no tricks here) with giveaways, interviews, blurbs, and more! You can find the start of the tour and its schedule in Jaiden’s post here!
And here are the other tour participants. I’ll update with their links as soon as the posts are up.
Jaiden @ Moonlit Reads // Auburn @ Blunt Book Blog // The Book Bratz // Shirley @ Shirley Cuypers // Cassandra @ The Bibliophagist // Aimee @ Aimee, Always // ME @ The Little Miss Bookworm // Writing Follies // Between the Folded Pages // Perks of Being Noura // Shorty Says // Browsing for Books // Ohana Reads
Today’s treat is an excerpt from Laurie Forest’s The Iron Flower! I wouldn’t want to prolong your waiting by my ramblings so here it is:
Title: The Iron Flower
Series: The Black Witch Chronicles, Book 2
Author: Laurie Forest
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: Harlequin Teen, 18 September 2018
Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.
With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.
Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.
Welcome to the Resistance.
Vice Chancellor Quillen’s words echo in my mind as I bow my head against the driving wind and hurry through the torchlit University streets. I pull my cloak taut, no longer daunted by the wanted posters nailed up all over the city. Instead, I’m overcome by a renewed sense of urgency and purpose.
I need to find Yvan.
I have to tell him that Professor Kristian and Vice Chancellor Quillen are going to help my friend Tierney and her family escape to the Eastern Realm. Yvan was the one who suggested that I go to our history teacher, so Yvan must know about Professor Kristian’s connection to the Resistance.
And like Tierney, Yvan clearly has Fae blood. He needs to get out of the Western Realm, too.
A sudden rush of emotion swamps over me at the thought of Yvan leaving for good. My steps slow, and tears sting at my eyes as I come to a halt beside a torch post and brace myself against it. Pellets of snow fall from the pitch-black sky, their icy points needling the exposed skin of my face and hands as the torch spits crackling sparks into the frozen air.
I struggle to catch my breath, the full force of Gardneria suddenly pressing down, threatening to engulf everyone I love.
A cluster of Alfsigr Elfin scholars silently pass by without even a cursory glance my way, their ivory cloaks wrapped tight as they glide like phantoms through the gauzy veil of falling snow. I watch their pale forms blur, then blend into the misty white as I force myself to take deep breaths and beat back the tears.
Urging myself into motion, I resume my advance down the snow-slicked streets. Eventually, I come to the winding path that leads to the rear entrance of the main kitchen, and a wave of blessed warmth envelops me the moment I step inside. I glance around hopefully for Yvan, but find only Fernyllia, the Kitchen Mistress, scouring the remnants of sticky bread dough off one of the long tables.
“Ah, Elloren.” Fernyllia greets me with a warm smile, her pale rose face beaming, strands of white hair escaping her bun. “What brings you here at this late hour?”
Her calm demeanor is so at odds with my roiling emotions that my thoughts scramble for a moment. “I’m looking for Yvan.”
Fernyllia gestures toward the back door with her bristled brush. “I asked him to bring some waste to the pigs. There’s a few more buckets to go out. I suppose if you and I were to both grab one or two, we could finish the task, save him a couple trips?”
“Of course,” I agree eagerly.
“You go on ahead. I’ll be right behind you.”
I hoist two of the heavy buckets, the muscles in my arms easily absorbing the weight after months of kitchen work. I shoulder open the back door and make my way up the hill toward the livestock barn, a frosty wind swirling the glittering snow up around me.
As I step inside the barn’s door, the sound of muffled conversation reaches my ears. Cautiously, I move toward the voices and peer through the wooden handles of propped-up rakes and hoes and shovels. Two familiar faces come into view, and I freeze.
Yvan and Iris.
Yvan’s expression is serious, as is hers, their eyes intent on each other. And they’re standing close together—too close.
“They’re going to start iron-testing everyone,” Iris says to Yvan in a quavering voice. “You know they will. I have to get out. I have to get out now.”
My thoughts spin into confusion as the meaning of her words sweeps through me.
Iris Morgaine is… Fae?
I struggle to remember even one time I’ve seen Iris touch iron in the kitchen and realize that, unlike Yvan, she never goes near the iron pots or the stove. She’s always preparing pastries and bread.
If she’s so afraid of being iron-tested… Iris might be full-blooded Fae. Glamoured, just like Tierney.
Iris begins to cry as she looks up at Yvan imploringly. He pulls her into a gentle embrace, murmuring softly to her as his strong arms hold her close, bending his head down over her shoulder, his tousled brown hair mingling with strands of her golden locks.
A stinging ache rushes through me, along with the unbidden and thoroughly selfish desire to be the one encircled by Yvan’s arms—and the sudden, fierce wish to not look exactly like my cursed grandmother. Maybe then Yvan would want me instead.
You’ve no right to feel this way, I rage against myself. He’s not yours.
Iris tilts her head and kisses Yvan’s neck, nuzzling against him with a soft moan.
Yvan stiffens, his eyes widening as his lips part in evident surprise. “Iris…” He moves slightly away from her as a frustrated longing for him, so raw that it hurts, explodes inside me.
Suddenly, as if sensing my torrent of emotion, Yvan looks straight at me, his fiery green eyes locking hard on to mine with blazing recognition. And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that somehow, he can read the full intensity of my feelings for him.
Horror and humiliation cut through me. I drop the scrap buckets and run from the barn, out into the snowy night, nearly knocking over a very surprised Fernyllia as I sprint past, almost losing my footing on the snowy hill.
Tears stream down my face as I race into the kitchen and out through the empty dining hall, my breath coming in ragged gasps as I run down corridors and finally duck into a deserted lecture room, collapsing onto one of the many chairs in the dark space and crumpling onto the desk before me. I bury my head in my arms and break down into great, shuddering sobs that strain painfully at my ribs and choke the air from my lungs.
I’ve let myself fall for him. And he’ll never want me.
The pain of Yvan’s continued rejection is like a thundering ache, and I’m wholly unprepared for the force of it.
Lost in misery, I’m not aware of Fernyllia’s quiet presence until I glimpse her out of the corner of my eye and feel her calloused hand on my shoulder. The chair next to mine scrapes against the stone floor as she sits down beside me.
“You care for him, don’t you, child?” Fernyllia asks, her voice kind.
I squeeze my eyes tightly together and nod stiffly. She rubs my back gently, murmuring softly in Uriskal.
“I don’t want to be Gardnerian,” I finally manage, internally raging, not wanting to wear my black Gardnerian garb ever again. Not wanting the heinous white armband, an unspoken gesture of support for High Mage Marcus Vogel, around my arm. Not wanting any part of the cruel tyranny my people have inflicted on others.
Wanting to be free of all of it.
Fernyllia is quiet for a moment. “We don’t get to choose what we are,” she says finally, her voice low. “But we do get to choose who we are.”
I look up to find her staring at me intently. “Did you know I was married once?” Fernyllia asks with a slight, nostalgic smile. “Before the Realm War, that is.” Her face grows troubled, the wrinkles around her eyes tightening. “Then your people came and killed all our men. After it was over, they rounded up the survivors and put us to work for the Gardnerians.”
Fernyllia grows quiet for a moment. Then, in a whisper, she adds, “They took my young son down, as well.”
My breath catches in my throat.
“Life can be very unfair,” she says, her voice strained.
Shame ripples through me. My problems pale in comparison to Fernyllia’s. She’s been through so much, yet she’s still strong, still working to help others. And here I am, feeling sorry for myself. Chastened, I swallow back my tears, straighten and struggle to pull myself together.
“That’s it, Elloren Gardner,” Fernyllia says, her expression steely, but not unkind. “Buck up. My granddaughter, Fern… I want something more for her. More than being a servant to the Gardnerians and told she’s worth less than nothing. I want her to be free of mind and free of body, the former being the hardest part for any of us. They don’t have your mind, though—do they, Elloren?”
I meet her gaze squarely and shake my head.
“Good,” she says, pleased. “You make sure it stays that way. There’s much work to be done. A lot needs to change so that my Fern can have a good life.”
Excerpt from The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest, © 2018 by Laurie Forest, used with permission by HarperCollins publishers.
About the Author
Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. The Black Witch (Book 1.0, The Black Witch Chronicles – OUT NOW) & Wandfasted (Book 0.5, The Black Witch Chronicles Prequel) are her first published novels. Coming in 2018 are Light Mage (Book 1.5, The Black Witch Chronicles) & The Iron Flower(Book 2.0, The Black Witch Chronicles). She is currently ensconced in the woods, hard at work on The Shadow Dryad (Book 3.0, The Black Witch Chronicles).