Publication Date: October 10, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 350 Pages
Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fantasy
Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Bronte lives to tell stories. She longs to improve her fortunes through her writing. Charlotte’s father expects her to leave behind her childish fantasies in order to set an example for her three younger siblings.
But the Bronte children hold a secret in their veins—a smidgen of fairy blood that can bring their words to life.
When Charlotte discovers that the characters from their childish stories exist in an alternate world called Glass Town, she jumps at the opportunity to be the heroine of her own tale.
The city of Angria teeters on the brink of civil war and Charlotte and her siblings must use their magic and their wits to save its people from a tyrant with magic abilities. But entering the fictional world means forfeiting control of their own creations. If they fail, the characters they have come to know and love will be destroyed.
Charlotte is determined to save the city and characters she loves, but when the line between creator and character becomes blurred, will she choose her fantasy or her family?
Sarah Parke writes fantasy and historical fiction (sometimes at the same time) for young adult readers and those young at heart.
She has a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. Her work has been published internationally, most recently in the July 2015 issue of The Writer magazine.
Blog Tour Schedule
Wednesday, April 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Sunday, April 23
Review, Excerpt, & Interview at Quitterstrip
Monday, April 24
Review & Excerpt at Rainy Day Reviews
The Mourning Ring by Sarah Parke (Excerpt #3)
The air was thick and the sky was moonless. Thunder rumbled in the distance. They moved forward, more out of instinct than intention. They had no idea how far they would need to travel to find the doorway. Charlotte led the group over the rolling hills, along the familiar path they had worn from years of long walks. The ring’s vibrations grew stronger, more persistent as they got further from the parsonage.
“We’re headed toward the old hawthorn tree,” Emily said.
Charlotte supposed that made sense. That was where she had found Emily sleepwalking all those weeks ago. Had it really only been a few weeks since she returned home?
They continued on for several more minutes, sometimes stumbling over stones and roots. Branwell cursed the darkness, but it hid their movements from the prying eyes of neighbors.
When the silhouette of the hawthorn tree appeared over the next ridge, the ring on Charlotte’s finger burned white hot. The pain filled her with panic, but also relief. They must be close.
At the base of the bent tree was a large flat boulder that Charlotte remembered using as a throne, a table, and a boat on various occasions throughout her childhood. It was strange being back in this place that held so many memories tinged with innocence.
“This is the place,” Charlotte said, and without understanding how she knew it to be true, she felt confident.
“Where is the door?” Branwell asked. He walked in a circle around the tree, peering up into the branches, and poking the toe of his boot beneath raised roots.
“When Emily’s dream brought her here, she was trying to dig up that boulder.” Charlotte pointed at the rock the size of grave stone.
Anne, Branwell, and Emily knelt around the base of the tree and began to move the soil from around the rock. Branwell used his hands, fingers pointed like a spade. Emily and Anne found sticks to carve away at the loose dirt. The ring on Charlotte’s finger flared brightly, as if it caught the light from some other world.
A fork of lightning split the sky, illuminating their work for a moment. Thunder boomed louder this time, but still there was no rain.
They continued to dig until the boulder could be levered up and away from the tree. Beneath the rock was a tunnel built into the roots, its diameter the size of a wine cask. A cold draft of air escaped from the darkness like an exhaled breath, bringing with it the smell of damp and decay.
“It doesn’t look very magical,” Anne said. Her nose wrinkled in distaste.
“It looks like a badger den.” Branwell wiped the sweat from his forehead and left a streak of dirt behind.
“Well, the only way to find out is to go in,” Emily said.
She stood at the edge of the tunnel and tossed a pebble into the blackness. Nothing came storming out of the hole, so Emily started to climb in on her hands and knees. Her shoulders cleared the mouth of the tunnel, followed by her hips. When all that remained of her was her booted feet, Emily’s voice came echoing out.
“It gets larger further in. I might even be able to stand.”
Anne followed Emily, then Charlotte, with Branwell taking up the rear and pulling a fallen branch over the opening to conceal it from passersby. The mourning ring provided enough light to see a few feet in each direction.
Emily was right. About two yards down the tunnel’s steep slope, the hole widened gradually and leveled out until they could walk upright, two across with their shoulders brushing the irregular curved walls. Hair-like roots and spider webs grazed their faces. After thirty paces, the tunnel ended abruptly in an ordinary wooden door bound with cross bars.
The mourning ring flared again.
“Now what?” Branwell asked, panting slightly. The evening’s activities were more physical exertion than he had experienced in many months.
“The stories say to picture the place we want to find on the other side of the door. Emily and I will go first.”
Charlotte clasped Emily’s hand.
“Imagine Gondal,” Emily whispered.
Charlotte closed her eyes and pictured the mountains. She could almost smell the earthy scent of Gondal’s grassy meadows; feel the sea spray from the waves crashing on the cliffs. The sounds of their breathing changed as the door in front of them swung inward of its own accord. Charlotte kept her eyes screwed shut.
A breeze twisted stray locks of hair around her face. Together, she and Emily took a step forward, over the threshold between the worlds.
Something inside stirred to life as Charlotte’s feet left her world and found purchase on Gondal’s rocky soil.