Indie Book Spotlight: House of Shadows, by Abbey Franer
A world drained of once-plentiful magic, three legendary powers lost to time, a fierce and desperate race to find them. If the wielders fall into the wrong hands, the fate of magic hangs in the balance...
Abandoned as a child, Kali’s longing for family and belonging lures her beyond the safety of Cardend. Kidnapped on her way to the academy, she is rescued by a mysterious elemental mage and becomes a player in a dangerous game, but the insidious ties she begins to form may threaten to destroy her.
Distraught by Kali’s sudden disappearance and trapped between duty and desire, her childhood friend, Rai, ventures into the desert to find her. Forming bonds with a band of raiders led by an elemental mage turned raider lord, Rai joins the hunt for the powers that pits him and Kali on opposing sides.
Thrust into a delicate balance of adventure and danger, Kali must unleash her own hidden potential to battle her way through a shadow realm in order to save the legendary powers from enslavement to a cruel master.
The harsh landscape burned beneath the molten rays of the dying sun. Day and night sharply contrasted in the deep desert, one nothing but light so blinding and fierce it seemed it would never end, the other a dark void. A rare wind whipped across the vast, empty stretch to toss Cassandra’s sheer, white scarf about her head of coiled, golden hair. Life in this wilderness was far different from the existence she had known before, but that was the past. As dead as the world below her feet, rubble and ash buried beneath the sands of time.
Cassandra ran her hand along the craggy surface of the stones that made up the lone tower. What had once been sleek and gleaming was reduced to roughness camouflaged with the endless dunes. With each step up the winding outer stairs, her legs grew leaden and her heart sharpened to steel. The key around her neck weighed heavy, the chain digging into the skin at the back of her neck and snagging stray hairs. Fingers dug into the narrow, coated iron rail, bitten by rust.
Pain was no stranger, and Cassandra had first been taught to hone it into a weapon by the cruel words and stones hurled by village children. Her father had told her to rise above.
Cassandra had clawed her way through pain and violence and had risen. The day she had razed that village was a searing ember in her memory, a reminder not of where she came from but of what she had achieved. The memory of tears burned at the back of her eyes and the echo of grieving screams raked the back of her throat. Throwing names and stones at an outcast child was one thing. Killing her father for no sin other than the power he was born with was another.
He had held kindness in his smile, tenderness in his hands, and darkness in his blood. The one-room house with walls of dirt and thatched roof had been a kingdom, a haven, brightened by his easy laughter and the mesmerizing wonder of the glittering tendrils of night that danced around his fingertips.
“Mages were once abundant and powerful, my princess,” he said nightly as constellations swirled on the roof of their modest home. “We were broken into three classes: the elementals, the illusionists, and the wielders. Shadow was once considered just like any other element to be manipulated, but as magic has faded from the earth and villages have grown around the elementals who have mastery of water, the other elements have become rare and mistrusted.”
“But your shadows are beautiful,” little Cassandra had protested, twisting in her mound of patched quilts to look at her weak, powerless hands. “Why don’t I have any shadows?”
“Do not wish for them.” Her father’s voice was burdened with sorrow and his fingers trembled as he dabbed at the scabbing cut on his daughter’s temple. “Do you remember the myth of Malik Sihir, the Mage King?”
Cassandra knew the story by heart, but never turned away the chance to hear it from her father. His words spun magic just as beautifully as his shadow-laced fingers created vivid illustrations on the walls.
“He was a master wielder and used his gifts to strengthen and protect this kingdom, but the cost of such power is too great for one person to wield. For decades great and terrible mage wars were fought as neighboring kingdoms sought a way to take the King’s powers for themselves. What magic was in the earth was slowly leeching away, drained by the endless years of fighting, and reducing the once prosperously lush land to a barren desert. To save the kingdom and what little magic was left, the Mage King split his gifts and bestowed them upon his three most trusted noble families, sacrificing his life in the process.”
The powers were separated and, like single grains of sand sifting through an hourglass, were lost over time and forgotten in the forging of a new world.
Cassandra reached the top of the tower and turned her gaze to the golden rise and fall of the desert she called her kingdom, though she was an unnamed queen with no crown but the one she promised to make for herself. Night crept down towards the horizon like inky tendrils, smothering the world. Cassandra welcomed the dark like familiar arms as she turned the ancient key in the lock.
About the Author
Abbey is a wife, mother, and lover of all things fantasy. She enjoys a good slow burn romance, tons of action, unique storytelling styles, lyrical prose, and lush world building. Though her books aren't Christian in theme, her faith informs all her endeavors. Her journey to becoming a published author began with fairytale retellings in second grade and progressed to hand-written original novels when she was in middle school. She took two courses with The Institute of Children's Literature when she was 15-17 and began taking her dream of a writing career more seriously when she wrote her first fantasy trilogy that, many years later, became Dragonhearted.
When she isn't reading or writing, she's either dreaming up more house projects or tending to her growing collection of houseplants.
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