Welcome to What to Read Wednesday. Today we have author Melissa Eskue Ousley visiting with an interesting guest post about two brothers and a cautionary tale. She’s also giving us a sneak peek into her latest release SIGN OF THE THRONE Book One in the Solas Beir Trilogy. This is in the young adult genre and sounds like a wonderful read. And check out her amazing cover…WOW!
Also, Melissa is offering a wonderful giveaway. Click HERE for your chance to enter to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card or one of ten signed copies of Sign of the Throne.
Take it away Melissa…
Two Brothers: A Cautionary Tale
(In Sign of the Throne, Queen Eulalia tells Abby Brown a story regarding the founders of Newcastle Beach. I hope you enjoy her tale.)
A long time ago, there lived twin brothers who found a magical hand mirror in a cave by the sea. The two young men discovered that mirror had the remarkable ability to transport a person from one place to another. When they opened the clasp of the mirror’s silver case, they were no longer in the cave, but standing within a faery ring in the forest outside their village.
Soon the brothers found they were able to travel greater distances, which proved very profitable. They could journey from their homeland in Scotland to anywhere in the world in seconds, bringing back valuable goods from exotic locations. Because they were not limited by conventional methods of travel, the brothers had an advantage over their competitors, and became wealthy businessmen. While other traders were robbed by bandits or lost ships at sea, the brothers continued to prosper.
Eventually, to avoid inquiry into the secret of their success, the two men and their younger sister immigrated to the coast of California, to the place that would eventually become the city of Santa Linda. Although they were already very rich, the brothers profited from others who had dreams of finding gold.
Even though they had traveled the world, the brothers’ wanderlust was insatiable. The two men longed for adventure, and continued to use the mirror, seeking out places they had not yet explored. It was only a matter of time before their ever-widening circle of travel expanded so much that they broke through the membrane separating their world from Cai Terenmare.
There, the brothers met the Solas Beir, ruler of a magical parallel kingdom. And there, they learned about the mirror’s origins. The Solas Beir had encountered the mirror before. It was created by the ancient one who first dwelt in Darkness and took pleasure in the destruction of others. The Solas Beir told the brothers that the mirror had a dual nature—while it initially showered them with good fortune, sustained use would reveal its darker side. The mirror was alive with an energy that testified to the nature of the one who made it. Its purpose was one seduction and destruction. Once a traveler had fallen under the mirror’s spell, gaining confidence that he or she had control over the mirror and the destination, the mirror would turn on the traveler, abandoning him or her in a savage land ruled by monsters.
After hearing the warning, the brothers promised the Solas Beir they would stop using the mirror. The Solas Beir agreed to create a portal between the two worlds, and the brothers would be charged with guarding it, in exchange for continued prosperity. Two mansions were built, one for each brother, and a stone circle was laid to protect the portal, establishing what later became Newcastle Beach.
The first brother, Thaddeus, was able to forget about the mirror. He went on to live a long life, and had many children and grandchildren. The other brother, Samuel, met a very different fate. He traveled frequently between his world and Cai Terenmare, and this only fed his desire for discovery. At night, he could feel the mirror calling to him, tempting him to break his covenant with the Solas Beir.
One night Samuel no longer resist. He forced his sister to give him the mirror she had locked away, and with a mad wink, he disappeared. Unfortunately, it was then that the mirror chose to betray him. He found himself at the feet of a beautiful monster who called herself the Western Oracle. The Oracle claimed the mirror for her own and no one ever saw Samuel Buchan alive again.
Abby is an ordinary girl haunted by dreams of an ivory castle, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as a babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, California, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelgänger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby’s life is changed forever.
Encountering the queen of Cai Terenmare, a magical kingdom in a parallel world, Abby learns of an evil lord hell-bent on usurping the throne, the murder of Cai Terenmare’s king, the Solas Beir, and the kidnapping of the Solas Beir’s infant son.
As the kingdom struggles to endure, the queen shows Abby the full extent of her destiny. She must convince her mysterious crush, David, that he is the lost heir. While braving attacks from the dark lord’s sadistic minions, David must realize his true identity and return to Cai Terenmare to claim his throne before time runs out, lest the evil that was temporarily locked away be unleashed, threatening to destroy both the kingdom and all of humanity.
Abby spent the next evening babysitting for Cassandra and Riordan. She putthe kids to bed and laid out her homework on the coffee table downstairs. She was immersed in her work when she realized—the house was quiet. Eerily quiet.
She was used to the familiar creaks and groans of the old house, and night ushered in the occasional chirp of a cricket or flutter of moth wings around theantique sconces lighting the room. Tonight she heard nothing—there was only dead silence. She felt a prickle at the back of her neck and realized she was shivering. The room had gone unnaturally cold, and she had the distinct sense that she was not alone.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadowy presence, someone standing still, watching her. She turned to look, but there was no one there. She felt a terrible unease twisting in her gut. Something was wrong.
Responding to her intuition, she got up and climbed the stairs to check on thechildren. Ciaran was snoring, perfectly at peace. He had wriggled out of his covers in his sleep. Abby tucked him back in.
Leaving his room, she walked down the hall to the twins’ room. The nightlight inthe hallway began blinking erratically. She entered the room and froze. Perched monkey-like on the corner of Rowan’s crib was a shadowed figure thesize of a small boy, leaning over the sleeping child. Sensing Abby, it turned its head, blood-red eyes meeting hers.
Abby gasped with horror as the creature leapt with unnatural agility from thecrib and crouched like a spider high on the wall, staring down at her. Slowly, it smiled, revealing rows of pointed narrow teeth, sharp as razors. And then…it pounced.
Abby raised her arms to shield herself, scrunched her eyes shut, and screamed. But there was nothing. She heard a low chuckle behind her and saw the creature near the door. The shadow boy laughed and ran out. Thesmoky form changed into a large black housecat before disappearing throughthe hallway wall.
Abby ran to the twins’ light switch and turned on the lights. She checked to make sure Rowan and Siobhan were unharmed, and then hurried to Ciaran’s room, flicking on lights as she ran. Ciaran was still fast asleep—her scream had not disturbed him at all.
She jerked open his closet door and found his aluminum baseball bat. Then, scooping him and the quilt up from his bed, she ran back to Rowan and Siobhan’s room. She shut the door and nestled the five year old into a make-shift bed on the floor. Sitting against the dresser next to him, she hummed, trying to reassure herself. Armed with the bat and the adrenaline coursing through her body, she waited.
Melissa Eskue Ousley is the author of The Solas Beir Trilogy. “Sign of theThrone,” the first book of this young adult fantasy series, will be released onSeptember 14. She is currently working on the second and third novels in thetrilogy, “The Rabbit and the Raven” and “The Sower Comes.”
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found swimming, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.
Before she became a writer, she had a number of educational jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping roadkill off a molten desert highway to years spent conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona.