Review of ‘Amazing Grace’ by Robin Chambers

Amazing Grace by Robin Chambers

Robin Chambers hooked and reeled me in with the first book in his Myrddin’s Heir series ‘A Wizard of Dreams’ and immediately after finishing it I bought the second, ‘Amazing Grace’, eager to find out what happens next. I can see that this will be the pattern until I have caught up with all Gordon’s adventures in time, outer and inner space, the Land of the Forever Young, and the worlds of fairy, myths and legends. It promises to be a long haul, thank goodness, and I’m looking forward to every minute of it.

In this second book we come to understand more deeply Gordon and his fascinating alter ego/guardian angel Zack (a character that as a psychotherapist I find particularly intriguing.) We met Grace at the end of Book 1, and in Book 2 she shares the stage with Gordon as his comrade along with Zoe, her own spirit companion – or however else we might define these other worldly aspects of the children. They do defy categorization, which adds to the intrigue! Robin Chambers cleverly manages to keep the story-line rooted in modern everyday life with its moral dilemmas and challenging lessons, while shifting our attention periodically to the world of dreams and other realities – which merge and knit wonderfully together.

Any child (or anyone who remembers their childhood) will recognize the difficult issues that arise, such as finding a way to withstand sadistic teenage bullies already on their way to becoming hardened thugs. Gordon and Grace and their friends Nick and Amanda are given by means of various magic the power to deal effectively and compassionately with many of the everyday problems against which children generally feel powerless. Their mission, fully supported by the forces of Good they encounter, which include a troubled Mother Theresa continuing her work in the spirit world, is to make the earth a better, safer, happier place.

They discover in the course of the book what their own individual special powers are – Grace is an intuitive telepath who can promote healing, and Gordon is… well, Gordon is the most extraordinary boy, destined for great things yet humble with it. How could you not love him for that? We also witness the way their parents come to terms with the powers the children possess, and help them achieve what they need to as well as fully appreciating their gifts. What child doesn’t long to be perfectly understood and accepted in this way?

Once again I am impressed by the psychological and emotional validity of Robin Chambers’ writing. He understands children so well, and is able to teach with a humorous, gentle touch. I learned even more new things through reading this second book, was reminded of some I’d half forgotten, and had my imagination tickled by many of the ideas he introduces. I love the literary references, the wordplay and the humour, as well as the alternative worlds he plays with, which all manage to seem utterly believable within the context of the story. His books are so entertaining and clever, and at times touchingly insightful, and keep me gripped to the very last page and beyond… which is why I’ll be reading the third in the series, ‘The Quality of Mercy’ very soon.

You can buy Amazing Grace on kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CKKTSG0

Robin Chambers

Find out more about Robin Chambers and the rest of his books at his Authors Page on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Robin-Chambers/e/B00CYLM20O

Review of ‘Dying for a Living’ by Kory M. Shrum

Dying for a living

By the time I’d reached half way through ‘Dying for a Living’ I was already quite in love with Jesse Sullivan. She is my kind of heroine: feisty, headstrong, and entirely her own person: a loner with a dark, enigmatic past and an ambiguous sexual orientation. She also doesn’t suffer fools, and has an impatient disregard for rules.

She has good reason to be cautious. In an unlikely yet utterly believable alternative universe she is one of the limited but increasing numbers of Necronites, born with a genetic condition that means they cannot die – unless their brain is completely separated from their body. By a fluke, it has been discovered that they can take on the death of another person and subsequently be revived, over and again, apparently never ageing.

This ability was initially exploited by the military, and then utilised by an organisation that supposedly safeguards their interests – as long as they continue working as death replacement agents when each new assignment is given to them. The United Church (an amalgamation of all religions) is orchestrating a fierce campaign against Necronites – ostensibly because they are an abomination against the natural order of things. But who is responsible for the sudden spate of Necronite murders? There are ways to destroy them, and someone has made it their mission to hunt them down and kill them all. This is the basic premise on which the book rests. What follows is breathtakingly absorbing.

Kory M. Shrum’s skill as a writer is such that I entered this fabricated paranormal reality without a qualm or a backward glance. Her attention to dialogue and characterisation is masterful. The people in the book are immediately real people with strong identities, interacting with one another in sometimes unpredictable ways – just as real people so often do. As a result the storyline kept me on my mental toes throughout the admittedly sometimes confusing convolutions of the unfolding conspiracy drama.

Once I was thoroughly hooked on Jesse and ready to understand her more deeply, the complicated back story began to emerge, opening up more questions as fast as it answered them. As I began to approach the final denouement I was preparing myself to be disappointed at leaving Jesse’s world, with still so many threads left hanging – but by a happy coincidence on the very day I reached the end of final chapter the second book in the series, ‘Dying by the hour’, was launched. I went straight to Amazon and bought it.

You can find more about Kory M. Shrum and all her books at http://www.amazon.com/Kory-M.-Shrum/e/B00IQWJLLI

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Review of ‘Brother’ by Jim Murray

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There are some books that cause me a real pang of regret as I approach the inevitable ending, knowing my relationship with the characters will soon be over. This is how I felt about ‘Brother’, although conversely I was so gripped by it that I had to continue reading the final tantalising chapters in one sitting. I finished it with tears in my eyes… although I’m not going to tell you why. I wouldn’t want to spoil your pleasure. Jim Murray had me hooked from the first few paragraphs, and his narrative kept on reeling me in, chapter after enthralling chapter.

The story line is deceptively simple – or appears to be at the start. Gradually we discover increasingly more of Dominic’s complicated sibling bond with his brother Spencer. Intrinsic to the story is the background to the ongoing feud between the brothers, and Dominic’s perception of Spencer as being the almost demonic changeling baby who burst his childhood Eden bubble and created all the family dysfunction that ensued. Of course in life, as in this novel, nothing is quite so straightforward. Many of Dominic’s perceptions are challenged and altered during the course of the book, as circumstances force him to reflect on the true picture of the past, as well as his various relationships, and the reasons for his own dysfunction.

Who are the real monsters in this novel? As I read on they kept emerging, or seeming to, only to be vindicated or displaced by others. I found myself wondering at one point: was it Dominic who was the real monster? Could he possibly be so out of touch with himself? I was intrigued by his strangely submissive response to the bully Mangan, who reappears like a hungry ghost from the dark vault of his boyhood and intimidates, entraps and manipulates him in adulthood, with dire consequences. This oddly compelling connection between them creates the pivotal thrust of the narrative. I found myself squirming as I read the later chapters, reminded of pantomimes where the audience shouts as the villain appears on stage: “Look out behind you!” The frustrated tension built up as Dominic remained almost willingly blinded by his prejudices and near trancelike acceptance of Mangan’s terrorizing tactics.

I never want to tell too much of the story when I write a review. For me, the quality of the writing and the depth of characterisation are what makes or breaks my enjoyment of a novel, however great the story line might be. Jim Murray is a superb story-teller – that much is a given. But what makes the book a 5* triumph for me is far more than that. His characters, made flesh by the interplay and dialogue between them, have a solid reality to them that made me feel I would recognise them if I met them, and know them deeply. He has a skill for deftly painting their portraits, layer upon layer, so that as a reader you come to understand them in the way that you do your friends: as rounded, utterly believable human beings. His psychological insights are offered with a light, almost invisible touch, which makes their impact all the more profound.

But what delighted me beyond all this was the beauty of Jim Murray’s language, his adroit use of simile and imagery throughout. I made some notes as I read, capturing some of my favourites on the wing:

“…fear re-emerging like a slick black insect unfolding from a pupa…”

“…each morning I entered the school yard as a small bird anticipating a lawn…”

“…many small scars like the slug trails of a hundred shitty days…”

“…my brain buzzed like a flatlining monitor…”

Jim Murray does not flinch from describing bad pennies in all their atrocious, unquenchable behaviour – but he also manages to evoke a degree of sympathy for them, without ever becoming sentimental. In ‘Brother’ he has skilfully woven an epic tapestry out of those traits we least like to own: jealousy, betrayal, murderous hatred – yet ultimately this is a book about love, which in real life is never an easy ride. I recommend this novel wholeheartedly, and I am confident that I’ll enjoy his new one, ‘Double Ugly’, just as much.

Jim Murray

You can find out more about Jim Murray and both his books at his Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Murray/e/B00CLOUMGK

Meet my character: blog tour

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Are you perhaps wondering just what a blog tour is? So was I, until Lisa Devaney approached me and asked if I’d participate. I’m tempted to describe it as the blog equivalent of a chain letter, but since I have a never-with-a-barge-pole policy with them, I prefer to think of it as a game of tag, or even better, an author’s relay race – the idea being that you take the baton when it’s passed to you, run with it, then pass it on to other authors. So, to begin with, I extend my hand in gratitude to Lisa Devaney for holding the baton out to me.

Lisa has told me a little about herself, describing how she wrote and illustrated her own comic books as a child, created cartoon-inspired websites in the 90s, and took to the stage in New York City to perform in SLAM-poetry style. Even when spinning publicity campaigns for business clients, Lisa has always been enthralled by storytelling and the mediums that can be used to tell her stories. Her imagination finally led her to writing and self-publishing books, and her debut novel ‘In Ark: A Promise of Survival’ is earning 5* ratings and reviews. I’ll be reviewing it myself in due course. You can follow #InArk on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and read more about Lisa and her novel at her website http://www.lisadevaney.com

In Ark cover for web

The idea of this blog tour is to introduce one of our own invented characters, and tell you more about them. With several novels and three short story collections to choose from, I had a queue of them clamouring for my attention, as soon as I began to muse upon which of them I’d pick. I had them draw lots in the end (some just point blank refused to sink that low) and the one who emerged as the winner is Fynn, the narrator of my novel ‘The Drowned Phoenician Sailor’ – typical of her, I might say, to somehow push herself to the front of the queue like that. Of all my characters she certainly is the one with the gift of the gab. She even insisted on writing the novel with her own distinctive voice, rather than let me tell the story.

So now, to comply with the blog tour rules, here are the questions and answers:

What is the name of your character? Are they a fictional or historic person?

Fynn is my character’s name – or is it Kaya? This is a ‘soul name’ bestowed on her in childhood by her ageing hippie mother, Phoebe. Fynn is sceptical and pragmatic, disdaining all things fanciful, but uses the alternative identity of ‘Kaya’ to infiltrate her therapist’s funeral, and the name sticks. She’s a fictional character – she’d probably even say that of herself. One of the things she is well aware of is how much we invent and reinvent ourselves throughout our life – and you might consider, therefore, that there is significance in the fact that it’s in using her ‘soul name’ that she discovers more of who she really is throughout the course of the novel.

When and where is the story set?

The story takes place in the here and now, although if I wanted to be fanciful and clever I’d remind you that the words now and here together make the word nowhere. I just love how words play with our mind (or is it the other way round?) The narrative also takes a bit of a detour into Fynn’s past, much as we all do when we reflect on our life right now and wonder how it was that we got to be exactly here. Our history is only as significant as what we learn from it, and we learn a great deal about Fynn from delving into hers – both childhood and more recent history. The novel is mostly set in Oxford, where she lives, and Cornwall, where her delightful mother, Phoebe, lives, and where she meets the mysterious Jack – another major player in the novel. He looked suitably enigmatic and just smiled when I asked if he wanted to take centre stage for this question and answer session. He knew I knew it was the last thing he’d want.

What should we know about her?

Fynn is strongly independent and a bit of a loner, although if you want to understand more of what she doesn’t reveal – often even to herself – pay particular attention to her relationship with her nefarious cat, Morpheus, which exposes an insecurity and vulnerability she wouldn’t want to own. At the start of the novel you’ll soon discover that she has been in therapy for two years – a last resort after twenty-five years of being haunted by her sister, Abby. She doesn’t believe in ghosts, which is a bit of setback for someone who manages within a few chapters to have two of them dogging her every move. She hasn’t been too successful in relationships, and she certainly isn’t looking for one now. But sometimes relationships – and fate – come looking for you.

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life

Fynn wants to know if her ghosts are real, or whether she is crazy. She is still grieving for her sister – but which of them truly is it who can’t let go? And it’s not just the loss of her sister Abby that haunts her, but everything that went before, and quite a lot since. Her therapist, Paul, had begun to guide her towards the heart of the matter, but then he went and died suddenly and created even more of a mess in her psyche. And what terrible timing – just when she needs him to help her sort out that mess more than ever. Her mother, with a long history of gullibility when it comes to lame dogs and lost souls, seems to have been entirely taken in by Jack, the oddball drifter she met on the beach in Cornwall. He is fast infiltrating himself into Phoebe’s life, and Fynn is suspicious of his motives and protective of her mother. And why is she so strangely drawn to Jack when she doesn’t even like him?

What is the personal goal of the character?

That’s an easy one for me to answer, although I don’t think Fynn herself would be able to articulate it – not at the start of the novel anyway. She sees herself as a free spirit who doesn’t want to be tied down – even though she’s beginning to realise she uncharacteristically tied herself down two years before by adopting a cat and embarking on therapy. What she longs for, couched in denial within her unconscious, is freedom from the pain of grief, and everything that lies behind it: guilt and regret, frozen in time. Isn’t something like that what we all long to be free from? We carry the grief for our own unlived life every day, whether or not we know it. We want to be loved for who we are, and to stand fearlessly in our truth, rather than hide behind an identity that doesn’t honestly reflect who we are. This is very much the underlying theme in the novel, and you will discover in reading it whether this is resolved for Fynn in the end.

What is the title of this novel, and can we read more about it?

‘The Drowned Phoenician Sailor’ is the title – it’s been published on kindle since January 2014. You can read more about it and what led to me writing it on my blog….. and on my website…. and on Goodreads …and of course on Amazon…. where you can also ‘look inside’ and decide whether Fynn’s voice and story is one that speaks to you. All those 5* reviews can’t be wrong!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GPN71GM

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Today I am nominating two talented authors whose work has excited, fascinated and delighted me in very different ways – they will in turn carry the baton forward and tell you more about their main characters:

Brett Hawkins

Brett lives with his angelic wife, 2 sons and 2 dogs in the Northwestern suburbs of Sydney. After 20 odd years of sailing the high seas of the corporate world plus another 5 running his own business Brett finally made his decision. That thing, the voice, you know, the one that’s been whispering in his ear ever since he was a teenager. Follow your passion the nagging voice kept saying until eventually in late 2013 he listened. Brett’s reunion with his lifelong passion has been an elated one that has spawned his first novel in the making. Entitled ‘The Stars of the Soul’ it is a provoking Science Fiction/Fantasy adventure spanning 1400 years of man’s eternal search for his soul. For sneak peeks and to discover more of Brett’s writing you can visit his blog: Brett’s Future http://www.BrettsFuture.com

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Robin Chambers

Once upon a time Robin was born in Bootle, Liverpool. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis but instead was plunged into the maelstrom of inner city education. Even so, he found time to write children’s stories, published by Penguin in the 1970s. He returned to his northern roots after 14 years of headship in Hackney and in 1993 met his wonderful wife Amy. In 2008 they left for a life by the western shores of the Caribbean. Surviving a murder attempt by local thugs in November 2010, Robin realised he could have died without accomplishing a cherished ambition. They returned to the UK and he began work on ‘Myrddin’s Heir’: the epic story that will be his legacy. It took three years to write the first four books and Book 5 was published in April 2014. They are all on kindle at Amazon for just 99p. This magical story is ideal for bright children from 10–110 years of age – longer than ‘The Lord of the Rings’, longer even than the entire ‘Harry Potter’. To complete it Robin reckons he needs to live another 15 years. He has to finish it, because only he knows how it ends… You can find his website at http://www.myrddinsheir.com

A Wizard of Dreams-cover

Review of ‘Darkly Wood’ by Max Power

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Entering Max Power’s mesmerizing novel is like venturing into Darkly Wood itself. Just as the book within the book, discovered by the heroine Daisy May, begins as a seemingly innocuous tale describing the unfortunate history of those who have wandered past its outskirts, so does the bewitching narrative of the novel prove increasingly sinister, the further in those reckless enough to cross the initial boundaries go.

I was lulled to begin with – just as Daisy was lulled – intrigued by this apparently random collection of tales of people who had one way or another found their dreadful destiny waiting deep in the heart of Darkly Wood. It reminded me, during the first enticing chapters, of those many pleasant hours I spent as a child, sitting by the fire listening to my grandmother recount the old gossipy stories of people she had known – characters whose quirky personalities and drama-soaked lives remained etched on my memory. I therefore stepped boldly and eagerly through the early pages of ‘Darkly Wood’, warmed by the distinctive, lyrical voice of the author and not too alarmed by the increasingly macabre turns of the individual histories of the residents of the village of Cranby, and the narrative itself.

As the novel progressed Daisy’s own story gathered momentum and the account of the history of Darkly Wood was a task taken over by the mysterious Benjamin, who became her companion. By now the novel had taken on certain aspects of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ – but a very dark ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (which is, let’s face it, already pretty dark.) I also by now realised that the magic of the story ‘Darkly Wood’ had ensnared me as surely as if I’d been stumbling my way through its dense, shape-shifting forest. There was no discernible exit – only the mystery unfolding, and my increasing fascination to find out how Daisy’s story was resolved. I was taken on a journey as convoluted as a densely thicketed maze, with unexpected openings and suddenly blocked pathways. The novel was Darkly Wood, I realised. Its darkness gathered as I continued to turn the pages with escalating avidity, never sure, even to the very last pages, what would happen next.

But despite your inevitable curiosity I am not going to tell you what happens to Daisy – or to Benjamin – or describe the monster that lurks in Darkly Wood, as fascinating in both essence and history as the Minotaur that is chained, trapped in the very heart of the labyrinth in the ancient Greek myth. That same mythical quality hangs in the air in Darkly Wood – the sense of otherworld and allegory which we instinctively feel drawn to, however terrible. What I will do is urge you to read the book, to allow the experience of it to beguile you and menace you and ultimately touch you to the core with its poignant and unexpected ending. I am giving Max Power’s novel 5* and have already put his second novel ‘Larry Flynn’ on my reading list.

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You can find links to Max Power’s novel ‘Darkly Wood’ and learn more about him at http://www.amazon.com/Max-Power/e/B00LGPWHN6

Review: The Song of the Mockingbird by Bill Cronin

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Books are like people, in my experience, in that either there is an immediate rapport that can lead to falling in love by chapter 2 and an affair of the heart you never want to end, or a slow burn affection that grows steadily throughout its pages. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, it can be a combination of both. Those are the books you best remember, even many years after having read them. I so wanted Bill Cronin’s book to be one with which I fell in love. The promising subject matter was all there, guaranteed to entice me: the blocked writer with a troubled present and a dark past, scarred with secrets to be uncovered in order to release him from his spell of depression. But it didn’t quite happen for me. About three-quarters of the way through the book there was a moment when I thought it would, when the narrator, Jack McNamara, spoke of the “one true sentence” that he strived for, just as Hemingway had. I believed then that the one true sentence would emerge, either in the dialogue or the interaction between the characters, or in my relationship as a reader with the main protagonist – but although it came close, it somehow missed the mark.

This is my subjective take on it, however, and I am not declaring the book less because of it. I have given it 4 stars, which I think it merits. It would have earned 5* for me if there had been a greater depth of characterisation, and that alchemical magic that occurs between novel and reader that brings about emotional involvement. There were opportunities to expand on the relationship between Jack and his mother, for instance, and although the book was psychologically well observed I never quite connected enough with the central character. The slow burn effect was there, and I warmed to him, and to his half sister, as more of each of them and their history was revealed, but ultimately I remained unconvinced by the emotional veracity of their relationship. I wanted to know more, and to really feel along with Jack as the trickiest aspects of the truth were uncovered. To elicit genuine emotions in the reader is a skill, and I would like to read more of Bill Cronin’s books, as I believe he can do it. As it is, this undoubtedly literary novel is well crafted, well written, and tackles without flinching difficult subjects and those sticky, inexplicable dynamics that fester on in families throughout generations.

The story begins by describing Jack’s dilemma – as a successful well-established author who has been paid a large advance for his next novel, he finds himself unable to write. Whether this creative hiatus has been caused by his slippage into depression, or the other way round, it has become an inescapable cycle of despair. His marriage has been badly scuppered by the lack of attention he has felt able to pay it and as a result has now floundered on the rocks. His wife Emily leaving him is the catalyst for Jack to begin a serious interrogation within himself as to the reasons for his angst, the roots of which seem to be firmly anchored in the various traumatic events that took place during the summer when he was an impressionable boy of 14. This was the time of the inauguration of his career as a writer, when his first short story was published. By then Jack’s mother’s long-time obsession with the work of Ernest Hemingway had transferred itself to him, and with his mother’s encouragement he had continued to identify with Hemingway in the years since. Jack’s journey of self-contemplation in present time continues both inwardly and outwardly as he sets out to track down his long lost half sister, Billie, hoping she will provide the answers to past secrets which have remained locked away since his mother’s death. As we journey with him, we learn much about Jack’s relationship with his judgmental, disparaging, emotionally closed off father, with whom Jack aches to connect. Is Jack’s current inability to write something to do with the fact that his father has never valued writing as a career, and thereby by extension Jack himself? The long undeclared tension between them reaches a climax towards the end of the book. Piece by piece we build up the picture of Jack’s blocked emotions, and by then we have come to hope for some kind of catharsis to release him, not knowing to the very last whether this will bring his wife back or free him into a future in which his anger and confusion about the past have been resolved. You will have to read the book yourself to find the answer – a reading experience you will not regret.

I felt throughout that Bill Cronin dealt with this potentially hazardous psychological material well, and he certainly knows how to tell a tale. His descriptions of the city and country landscapes were superb. So why not give the novel 5*? I suppose I was left wishing this had been a longer, richer and more emotionally and psychologically satisfying novel. I think he has such a book in him, and I’m looking forward to reading his next book, which I understand is already work in progress.

Bill Cronin IMG_83941-472x295

You can find more about Bill Cronin at his website: http://www.billcroninwrite.com

Review: Deep as Bone by Malla Duncan

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In the very first sentence: “The girl made him uneasy…” Malla Duncan sets the scene for the whole of her novel, ‘Deep as Bone’. Who exactly is this girl? We spend the rest of the book discovering the answer to this conundrum. The book is a cleverly crafted and beautifully written jigsaw puzzle of clues that eventually fit together in the way that most gratifies a reader – it is so satisfying to feel you have solved the riddle single-handedly without any unduly obvious interference from the writer!

Anyone who enjoys the music of language will delight in the way her narrative flows. Malla Duncan is an expert at imagery, bringing vividly alive both the backdrop of deceptively peaceful rural England and that of the sheep farm in the Karoo, where the novel’s narrator, Ilse, was born. This desert in South Africa she eloquently describes as a place where “time is a component of the landscape, branded in stone, sculpted by the wind…”

Time is a significant factor in the book – throughout it we are taken back into teasing glimpses of Ilse’s enigmatic past, which strangely mirror events that transpire in the present. We are given hints about a tragedy – a back story that unfolds in parallel with a more recent secret history within the family in which Ilse has become so intimately involved.

Ilse is a complex, intriguing character, and we see everything through her eyes – but can we entirely trust her take on things? I found myself at times suspicious of each of the major characters – all of whom are skilfully drawn. There is death at the dark heart of the story – as we continue to read we realise increasingly that the 5 year old child, Amy is haunted and disturbed with good reason. She has been the unwilling witness to something traumatic that happened before she had the language to describe it, and its horror wakes her every time her missing aunt Clare is mentioned.

Ilse, who has arrived to take on the job as Amy’s governess, seems to be the only adult who really understands her and relates to her – seeing reflected in this troubled child her own distressing, lonely childhood. We feel sympathy for them both as Ilse sets out to find the cause for Amy’s nightmares. What is it she has seen? What does she know?

Like me, you will read on with increasing fascination as the story takes you on a journey into Ilse’s mind as well as following her quest to dig deep enough to find the truth. To the very end, you will remain uncertain as to how things will turn out. And the revelatory denouement will finally make sense of the chilling beginning as the last few pieces fall into place.

When I began reading ‘Deep as Bone’ I recognised elements of Gothic fiction, and was reminded of Jane Eyre – the dark mansion, the house of secrets, the handsome husband who has lost one wife and is in thrall to her successor, the coldly resentful Melissa. But as I continued reading I found that this was not fiction that belonged to any particular genre, nor does it need to. It is literary psychological fiction at its best, worth every one of the 5 stars I have given it. I will be reading more of Malla Duncan’s novels, all of which can be found on kindle at Amazon.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007MCOD7A

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007MCOD7A

Malla was born and still lives in Cape Town, although she usually sets her novels in England. She writes mainly women’s psychological murder mystery suspense thrillers, about real women characters who find themselves in tricky situations, often with their lives at stake. If you like pace, non-formulaic writing, and some quite chilling stuff, her books are for you.

Malla Duncan

You can follow Malla on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MallaDuncan and on twitter at @MallaDuncan

Rainbow Child

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When I first wrote ‘Tiptoes the Elf’ many moons ago, I wrote it primarily with a heart full of love and gratitude for my children, who show up as Moonfish and Sunram in the story. Little did I know that all these years later the story would still be spreading its magic and connecting me with wide awake elves all over the world. I put it on my blog because I wanted to share it rather than sell it. I’m an old hippie at heart and I still believe that love is something you give away for free. Not everyone knows how to receive love, which saddens me, but most of us are immediately touched by the innocence of children and remember somewhere inside us the joy it brings. I met Sylva Fae in this virtual cyber world (which often seems remarkably like fairyland to me) when she contacted me after reading the Tiptoes story. She said she was curious to know what happened next. She is a writer skilled at creating bedtime stories for her own children, so I suggested she invent the next chapter. And the wonderful story that follows is hers…

Rainbow Child

Alice was a lonely child. You’d think living in a busy flat, people packed in on every floor, she would have plenty of friends but Alice had none. She had a mum and dad who loved her but they were always just a little too busy to play the way Alice wanted to play. Alice craved companionship. She’d had a friend once, a long time ago but Alice couldn’t remember why they left or where they went. The memory eluded her yet sometimes when she would draw chalk rainbows on the flags in the little backyard outside the flat, a hazy tingle of a distant memory would almost surface; a fraction of a name or a swirl and flash of colour but nobody ever mentioned her friend and slowly Alice began to believe she’d imagined him.

Through all of her loneliness, Alice was most content escaping to her secret space, a small concrete yard enclosed by huge ivy covered walls. In the corner where the broken flags hadn’t been replaced was a small patch of dirt. This was Alice’s garden. She nurtured the straggly weeds that struggled to survive in the shade of the giant wall. Each visit she carried small cups of water down the three flights of stairs, careful to not spill a drop of the precious water. Occasionally she’d plant seeds but nothing really grew. It was here Alice would sit and dream about what lay beyond the wall, a princess’ castle, a fairy village or an enchanted forest. The characters of her musings became her friends.

One gloriously sunny day, Alice, cups in hand, wandered down to wild flower garden. She bent to water her flowers and stopped in dismay. The delicate pink and white weeds had withered and curled in the hot sun, their leaves lying brown and crisp on the dry earth. Alice kicked at the dust in frustration. She knew it was futile but it felt good to take out her anger on the useless soil that had failed her flowers. Feeling the tension leave her body she gave one last kick. As the dust rose up around her something glinted from the soil. Alice poked it with her toe and a rainbow of light sparkled in the grey. Kneeling down her eager fingers dug the rest of it out and wiped it clean on the bottom of her T-shirt. She ran her fingers down the smooth crystal of a broken prism.

Delighted she turned her treasure round and round in the sunlight marvelling at the dancing beams darting round the drab yard and transforming the grey into a rainbow of light. As she spun and twirled something inside her stirred, that familiar tingle when she tried to remember her lost friend surfaced and warmness spread from her heart right to the fingertips clutching the prism. Alice soon stopped wondering what the strange feeling was and lost herself in the magical moment. Soon though it was time to go back, she hung the prism from a woody ivy branch so it could spread its magic over her dead garden. If she couldn’t have flowers, she would at least have a rainbow garden.

MelancholyAlice

As Alice slept that night something was awakening within her, that drowsy slow awakening where it really didn’t remember going to sleep or even how long it had been asleep. Three floors below in the little yard the prism, gently swinging in the breeze was soaking up the silver moonlight. Shimmers of rainbow moonbeams reached up to Alice’s bare window and caressed her sleeping form. Her gently rising chest warmed and tingled rejuvenating the sleepy elf inside. Ever so slowly the realisation of his self and his purpose came back to Tiptoes. He was here for Alice, to be her friend and guardian and maybe add in a little mischief when things were getting boring. Tiptoes listened in on Alice’s dreams saddened by her longing to find a friend and recognising that incomplete feeling lodged deep in her young soul. Tiptoes vowed to find a way to help her though he wasn’t sure how; after all, what could he do other than cast rainbows?

The next day Alice rose feeling amazing. Something had changed within her and she no longer felt quite so melancholy or alone. She peeped out of the window and stared in amazement at the flash of colour in the corner of the little yard below. Eager to get down there she grabbed the nearest clothes and ran down the three flights of stairs. Her eyes had not deceived her. The brown, curled weeds of yesterday stood proud, fresh green leaves weighed down with dewdrops and beautiful dainty flowers adorned every stem. The prism’s rainbow rays kissed the delicate petals of each one till they glowed with iridescent light.

Tiptoes smiled as he felt the spirits of the lonely little girl soar. Kneeling in the new rich soil, Alice stroked each flower in her amazing magical garden revelling in their beauty. But after a while she leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, her shoulders dropped and a single tear made its way down her cheek. What good was it to have a beautiful garden if you have nobody to share it with? That single sad thought encompassed her and her little body shook with silent sobs. Tiptoes called out to her to reassure her she was not alone any longer but her grief had closed off her mind to the little voice she held so dear just a few years previously. Alice made her way back to the flat, tired and dejected she crawled back into bed and pulled the covers over her head.

The next day she was awakened by something, but what? She knew she should remember what it was but it was like trying to find a shiny coin at the bottom of a cloudy pond. She did know, or rather felt, that the familiar tingle in her chest was getting more insistent. Swinging her legs out of bed she felt drawn once again to the window. Her flowers were still there but that didn’t seem to be what the tingle was trying to show her. Alice pulled on her T-shirt and shorts and skipped down the stairs to the yard.

Inside of Alice, Tiptoes was also building with excitement like he was about to be given the most special gift. He had no idea why he was feeling this but the same pull that was drawing Alice had its grip on him too.

Once outside Alice breathed in the cool morning air; the sun was just lazily spreading its rays and the prism sent them darting around the small space. Tiptoes reached out to the rainbow sparkles sending his own rainbow out to join with them. The air around became charged, Alice shivered and goose bumps rose on her arms. Something was about to happen. Something magical.

To her amazement the tiny coloured rays rolled out a path in front of her, beckoning her to follow. Alice took a few tentative steps, Tiptoes willing her on, the strange tingle became an urgent buzz like a whole bag of popping candy exploding in her tummy, forcing Alice forward to the ivy covered wall. Not knowing why she was doing it she put out her hands and entwined her fingers in the ivy stems. First gently separating them then prising them roughly apart as she realised with glee there was a hole hidden behind the thick bushy vines. At last she would see what was on the other side of the wall. Would it be a castle, a forest, a cave full of sleeping dragons? The draw in Tiptoes was also escalating, he could feel her elation and understand her joy at having the mystery of the giant wall almost in her grasp but he felt he had a different purpose here.

BeyondThe Wall

Soon the hole was big enough to stick her head through. Alice took a deep breath and savoured the moment of excitement. She was just about to kneel down and peep through when a noise on the other side startled her. Alice jumped back tumbling over. As she lay on the ground the rustling noise started again.

‘Hello,’ a friendly voice called through the hole. ‘Is someone there?’
‘M m me,’ stuttered Alice to the invisible owner of the voice.
‘We just moved in next door. Do you want to be our friend?’ said the voice.

Alice rolled forward onto her knees and slowly crawled to the hole. She’d dreamed of many things on the other side of the wall but other children? She took another deep breath, poked her head through the hole and wriggled her shoulders through the twiggy hole. The ivy bows gave and Alice tumbled at the feet of a rather grubby little boy with the widest grin. Behind him a little girl shyly held out a paper bag of sweets. Alice stood up and beamed at her new friends.

Tiptoes’ heart swelled with joy at her elation but there was something else. The pull strengthened as Alice moved towards the two children and the stirrings of realisation took seed in his soul. He felt complete once more as he recognised the sleeping elves. Could it really be? His rainbow heart glowed and reached out to his beloved siblings…

RainbowDance

You can read more about Sylva Fae, and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SylvaFae where she will be shortly announcing the inauguration of her blog. You can also follow her at @SylvaFae on twitter. This is a writer I will be following with great interest. Her mother, the accomplished artist Christine Southworth created the beautiful water colour pictures for the story.

Review of ‘A Wizard of Dreams’ by Robin Chambers

A Wizard of Dreams-cover

Not since reading C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books have I so much enjoyed a novel written for children of all ages, especially those who have managed to preserve the infinitely curious magical child in their heart. In his ‘Myrddin’s Heir’ series Robin Chambers masterfully brings magic right up to date, while exciting the imagination about its long reach of influence in the past.

So far I have only read the first book, ‘A Wizard of Dreams,’ but am eagerly anticipating continuing the adventure throughout the rest. He prefaces the novel with this sound advice: ‘Love Learning; Respect Difference; Protect Your Planet.’ These tenets are firmly yet tenderly embedded in the heart of the book, the message always soundly delivered with the lightest touch.

We join Gordon at the beginning of his life, and know from the first enticing paragraph that this is an extraordinary boy. At the same time we are introduced to the mysterious Zack. Is he imaginary friend, alter ego, guardian angel, spirit guide? You will keep wondering and guessing. Zack is as integral to the plot as Gordon himself, and equally real. We come to love them both.

They – and all the characters in the book – are so skilfully drawn that they take on a life of their own. We follow Gordon and Zack through his time in nursery and primary school right up to the day when he starts secondary school, just after his momentous 11th birthday when he discovers in an incredible encounter with the legendary past the extraordinary destiny lined up for a boy blessed with his extraordinary powers.

Prior to this, as we join Gordon on his everyday adventures through a boy’s young life as well as his more mystical journeying, we learn on the hoof a vast wealth of information about dinosaurs, the planet, language, literature, and magic.

Robin Chambers writes in a way that inspires a delight in learning and whets the curiosity, with a trail of reminders after each chapter, which lead to extensive notes at the end of the book offering elucidation for those who want to learn more.

I quickly grew fond of Gordon, and some of the descriptions of his experiences brought tears to my eyes. For me, one of the essential marks of a good writer is that they arouse empathy for their characters. Why else would I go on reading unless I cared what happened to them, and were in some way touched by them? The issue of bullying was particularly poignant in the way that it was handled by the author. We are shown the reasons behind it as well as Gordon’s response to it, and towards the end of the book there is a resolution for the bully himself that again moved me to tears. Yet there is nothing mushy or sentimental about the story. It’s an adventure that spans space, time and other dimensions, which for a whole generation of children (including me – old enough to be Gordon’s grandmother!) is what we have come to expect. Brought up on Dr Who, Star Wars and Harry Potter, we are hungry for more magic and are ready to soar with Gordon to wherever the flights of the author’s imagination dares to take us.

I have been careful here to give nothing of the actual story away, because I want you to have the wonderful experience of reading it, to follow the sparkling threads of narrative along the magical paths that lead to the brilliantly inspiring and suspenseful conclusion… Except, it isn’t the conclusion, and as the final chapter ends we are left breathless on the brink of Gordon’s next adventure – nothing for it but to do as I did and immediately download the second book! I know already I will be entranced by the beautifully composed language as well as the twists and turns of narrative created by this most accomplished author.

Robin Chambers

You can read more about Robin Chambers and all the books in the ‘Myrddin’s Heir’ series at his website: myrddinsheir.com

Tiptoes the Elf

Elf child

A long time ago in earthly years, but the merest distance of a dream away as far as the Fairy world is concerned, there lived an elf child called Tiptoes, who was the beloved of his many brothers and sisters, and of the Elf Queen and King who ruled over Elfdom with wisdom and love.

Tiptoes had a special gift, as all elf children do, and since there are so many magical gifts to go round it isn’t difficult for each to be unique. Tiptoes had the gift of weaving rainbows, one which made him especially popular – because everyone is touched by rainbow magic, whether they see it in the eye of a crystal or peeping behind a rain cloud or shimmering in a summer waterfall. And Tiptoes could weave the kind of rainbow that would circle your heart like the softest of gossamer, bright and beautiful and sprinkled with hope.

One day, the Elf Queen came to Tiptoes where he was dancing in the forest, and she gently drew him to one side, her large iridescent wings quivering as she spoke: “Tiptoes – it is nearly time.”

“Time?” answered Tiptoes, curious because until now time had not been of particular significance. Days began when light filtered through the green canopy of his tree nest, and ended when his eyes grew heavy with the dusk. Time trickled like the bubbling stream on the forest floor: it flowed and flowed, and would always flow. There was always time: time enough, time to spare, plenty of time. And now the Queen was telling him it was nearly time. For some odd inexplicable reason that phrase filled Tiptoes with a feeling he had never felt before: he had no words to describe it to himself, but it crept with cold and left him suddenly with a vision of himself as separate.

Elf Forest

A word formed in his mind, as if he had always known it somewhere, but just forgotten: alone. Somehow he understood that what it was nearly time for would cause him to be alone.

“Oh, Tiptoes,” sighed the Elf Queen, who heard and felt all her elf children’s thoughts. “Yes, it is time for you to leave us, as we all have to leave at some time.”

“For ever?” said Tiptoes, this new idea of what always might contain settling in him like the coldest of winter water, numbing his heart.

“No, not for ever,” reassured the Queen, touching him lightly with the tip of her nearest wing, so that Tiptoes felt the tingling warmth ripple through him and free his heart again.

“Then how long?” he asked quaveringly. “And why?” To a little elf, happily engaged in play and merriment, this exile made no sense.

“Well, Tiptoes,” explained the Queen. “This is how it is with us: when elves reach a certain age they go to be a life companion to a human. It’s an old agreement we have with humankind.”

“Humankind…” Tiptoes repeated in an awed whisper. He had heard myths about humans, but had never really believed they existed.

“Yes,” said the Queen. “For humans need us. They would die away completely without our magic. Their lives are so full of sorrow and suffering. They have chosen the hard way to learn, the way of what they call Reality.”

“Reality?” said Tiptoes wonderingly. All these new words, bringing strange feelings along on their tails, like kites fluttering in the wind… This felt like a very heavy word.

“You’ll understand when you’re there,” said the Queen. For a moment she looked sad, then she lifted Tiptoes on to her knee and kissed his brow gently. “You’re a brave little elf, and a strong one, and I know you’ll be just fine. Let me tell you how it happens…”

Elf Queen

Tiptoes snuggled up to her as her silvery voice explained to him what until now had been a secret mystery, far beyond the imaginings of himself and all his playmates.

“…You join your human right at the start of their life in Reality,” said the Queen. “They can see you then, because they’re still a baby and they haven’t been taught the ways of the human world. But in a few years they learn not to believe in you any more, and…” Here the Queen sighed and curled the edges of her wings around to make a warm shawl for little Tiptoes.

“I’m afraid that when they stop believing in you, you will feel yourself grow very faint and it will be a hard time for you to endure. Our task is to endure, Tiptoes, for their survival depends on ours. And we have found a way of succeeding with our mission. When you eventually become invisible you will feel yourself grow very tiny, and you will discover then the way to still reach your human – from inside their heart. Because from then on, that is where you will live. And, Tiptoes…”

The Queen could see the expression on her much loved elf child’s face, and feel the surge of his resistance… “I know how impossible that seems to an elf, loving freedom as we do, and for that reason we have devised a way to make it bearable. It’s called Forgetting.”

“Forgetting?” echoed Tiptoes, once again with quizzical awe.

“Yes,” explained the Queen. “You will forget your self, forget your separate elf self, and be so close to your human you will believe you are part of them.”

“And will they believe in me then?” asked Tiptoes eagerly. “Will they see me inside them?”

“Sometimes,” sighed the Queen. “It’s a struggle for a human to see the elf inside them. And yet our task is to keep on nudging them, to find ways of reminding them, to reveal our self to them. I can’t pretend it will be easy.” As Tiptoes’ face dropped, she added: “But you know, when they do see you, when they recognise you, when they come to love you – well, that’s wonderful!”

“Will I be lonely?” asked Tiptoes, this new word coming to him with all the chill of that other word alone. He felt his tongue tingle with another new sensation: fear.

“I’m afraid you may be, sometimes,” said the Queen sadly. “But in spite of your Forgetting, a part of you never forgets, and will always recognise another elf when you see it in a human. And they are truly magic moments, Tiptoes, when one awake elf meets another and they make contact through their human hearts. You’ll always know then, even if you Forget again, that you’ll never really be alone. And one day, of course, you’ll come back here, and be with your brothers and sisters again.

“And will everything be the same then?” asked Tiptoes.

The Queen shook her head slowly. “Ah, Tiptoes, nothing can ever be the same once you have dwelt inside a human. We change each other with our connection. You’ll be a grown up elf then, when you come back. A Wise Elf. You’ll have a different place in the Elfdom then. So far you’ve only seen the nursery, the forest garden. It’s a much bigger world than that.

Tiptoes knew that what she was saying was the truth: already he felt different, just by knowing that his life would change.

“How soon will it happen?” he asked.

“Soon enough,” replied the Queen. She lifted him in her soft, gentle arms, kissed him tenderly, and put him back on the ground. He stood in front of her, scuffing his toes in the bracken, for the first time feeling an ache in his chest that he supposed was to do with the thought of missing her – another strange new concept. She smiled at him and Tiptoes felt the warmth of her smile surround him, like sunlight in the woodland clearing. He looked up to bask in it as she spread her Elf Queen magnificence in all its full glory.

“Go back to your brothers and sisters now,” she said, touching him lightly on his shoulder with her outstretched fingertips. “In a while, one of the Wise Elves will come and explain more of the details to you. For now, enjoy your freedom as you play.”

Elf Passage

Tiptoes wandered slowly back to the place he had known as home for as long as he could remember. It was odd to realise that there was a bigger world outside it, that beyond this forest there was a larger Elfdom, and somewhere beyond that, he supposed, the human world. And what other worlds might there be, that he had yet to learn of? His head felt full of new words, and all the peculiar feelings that came with them.

As he walked, he absently wove a rainbow scarf that trailed behind him, winding about his shoulders as if to protect him from the breeze. As he noticed this, he became aware of a Stranger Elf, who had approached through the trees and was walking alongside him. There was something in his bearing that made Tiptoes realise this was one of the Wise Elves of whom the Queen had spoken. This elf was clad in green, like Tiptoes, but was taller, older, with a kindly smile and a mischievous gleam in his golden eyes.

“That scarf is a perfect way of using your rainbows, Tiptoes,” he said. “You take your gift with you, you know. And not just to share with the humans – although that’s the most important part – but to protect your elfness, too. Even when you forget where it came from, your gift will go on working. It comes from the place where all gifts are bestowed, and must be used, in order to go back to its source. It’s a kind of recycling process. It has an energy of its own, that will stir you even in your deepest forgetting.”

“Protect me from what?” asked Tiptoes, searching in the golden eyes of his companion for some clue.

“From humankind,” said the Wise Elf. “Just as they need protecting from themselves, from the curse of their disbelief and fear of magic. And from that other kind – more like us than the humans, but with a very different King and Queen to rule them.”

Tiptoes gulped. “Other kind?” he said.

“They live in the Land of Darkness,” said the Wise Elf, putting his hand on Tiptoes’ arm to steady his trembling. “Don’t be afraid, little elf. It’s a battle for the Wise Ones, not one you will have to fight alone. You have a different part to play. You are a young elf, a rainbow weaver. That will be your work.”

Elf-Dark

As suddenly as he had arrived, the Wise Elf left, and Tiptoes found he had reached the place under the Biggest Oak where the Elf Queen had first come to him that day. There were his brothers and sisters, still playing in the sunlight, laughing and calling to one another, jumping up to catch the breeze on their gossamer wings, letting themselves drift with the warm air currents to the lowest branches, rolling over and over as they went, chasing the butterflies.

Innocence – the word came to Tiptoes from somewhere deep inside him. Had there been another Forgetting, at some other time, from which he was remembering these strange words now?

Tiptoes was thoughtful as he went to join the others, no longer feeling able to join in their games in his old, careless way. He was aware now of a different way of seeing them, of seeing himself in relation to them, and of another new concept: Last Time. He felt an odd ache inside him. He stood on the edge of the group, watching them, wondering when his next summons from the Elf Queen would come. He knew what it would mean. Or would it, he wondered, be the Elf King who gave the final call?

But he was not an elf for brooding over-long, and soon he was joyfully up to his usual tricks, living as always in the perfect golden moment. Sitting by the stream next morning, dangling his toes in the gurgling water and teasing the darting multicoloured fish, he caught glimpses of his reflection in the broken surface.

Suddenly, he saw another reflection dancing beside his own, and turned to see a beautiful elf wearing a shimmering gown of luminous rainbows. Just looking at her made him want to weave yet more colours to adorn her. He could tell at once that she was another of the Wise Ones, sent to instruct him, and immediately a thousand questions formed themselves inside his mind.

She laughed at his eagerness. “Oh, little one, you must be patient!” she said. “Some questions only you can answer for yourself. You’ll see… In the meanwhile, let me show you something of what is ahead of you…” And she bent forward and dabbled her fingers in the stream until there were no more fragments of images, only the pattern her fingers made.

Mother

And there, in the water, a picture formed, as clear and still as if it stood beside them on the bank. It was the figure of a young woman, barely more than a girl, who smiled a secret smile to herself and seemed to stare out at them as if she could see them, although Tiptoes knew that she was very far away from this elfin grove. Although he had never seen one before, he could tell at once that she was a human. His heart seemed to skip a beat, and he gasped, breathless with the strangest new feeling of all.

“Oh, she’s beautiful!” he said.

“She’s waiting for you, even though she doesn’t know anything about you,” said the Wise Elf at his side. “She is an important part of your mission. She needs your rainbows more than anyone. Her elf is hurt, and already very sick, and it’s possible he may slip into a long, long sleep to protect himself. This sometimes happens.”

“How can I help her?” asked Tiptoes, prepared to leave in that instant to rescue this lovely maiden in distress. “How do I reach her? What can I do to restore her elf to health?”

“You’ll know,” said the Wise Elf. “When the time comes. Dear Tiptoes, we Wise Ones can see a lot further ahead than you, and far further than it would be good for you to see. Your mission won’t be an easy one, you know. And there will be many others who need your rainbow weaving to make them well. For when their elves fall sick, their humans too are not themselves, and they often ail without ever realising it is the elf in their heart who needs reviving.”

“I don’t mind how difficult it is,” said Tiptoes. Since the day before a change had come upon him. He was already an older and wiser elf, if only by one day. “Just let me know how I’ll find her.”

“Oh, you’ll find her,” said the Wise Elf, smiling. “She is to be your mother.”

“Oh,” said Tiptoes. “Mother.” Another new word, and one which belonged to that strange, full feeling in his heart. A wonderful word. He spun round in the air with delight.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” he cried, brimming with joy at the splendid adventure ahead. How had he lived only for play, without knowing the glorious passion of having a mission?

“And the child?” he asked. “The human baby I’m to be companion to?”

“Why, she’s just a twinkle in her father’s eye,” said the Wise Elf. “You have to join her right from the start, you know.”

“Her?” repeated Tiptoes. “A girl!” Somehow it had never occurred to him that he would have to spend most of what amounted to a human life inside a girl. He wondered how it would feel, and whether his mother would spot him there. And then, just for a second, the enormity of his task seemed to crush his vibrant energy. The Wise One understood.

“To make it easier, we’ll send on two special elves to follow after you, and help you remember your elf nature when you need to. You won’t have too much trouble recognising them when they arrive, since they’ll be so wide awake, and you know them so well.”

“Sunram and Moonfish?” asked Tiptoes, hardly daring to believe this might be true. For these were his favourite brother and sister, and already they had shared so many adventures and games in their forest home.

elves-2

“Yes,” agreed the Wise Elf, smiling at his delight. “In earthly years, it will be quite a while before they come to join you – in fact your human will become a mother herself in order to get them as close to you as they could be. But Forgetting helps to take the edge off waiting, Tiptoes, and once they’re with you they will never leave you, and your mission will get easier with their help.”

“And they are both champion rainbow weavers, too!” cried Tiptoes excitedly, thinking of all the fun they’d had together, inventing new colours and spinning them into the world.

“Would you like to go and say goodbye to them, before you go?” said the Wise Elf gently. “The Queen has already explained to them both by now. I expect they’re eager to make plans with you for when you meet again.”

“Goodbye…” said Tiptoes wonderingly, tasting the feel of it. It was a word none of them had needed until now.

When they met beside the Biggest Oak the three elf friends hugged one another, and chattered about the times they would have in the human world, and the even better times when they were back together in this magical place they knew and loved.

“Oh, I feel such a pain in my heart!” cried Moonfish, a silvery tear falling down her cheek. She touched it, then lifted the wetness to examine it with awe. There had never been a cause for tears before.

“That’s missing me,” said Tiptoes, who had always been the one to invent and explain words.

“It’ll be excellent fun – what a laugh!” said Sunram. He was the boldest of the three. But even he looked uncertain at the prospect of the Great Unknown.

“You will make sure of waking me, won’t you, if I’ve fallen asleep by the time you come?” said Tiptoes, suddenly anxious.

“You’ll always know us by our rainbows,” said Moonfish.

“And by our laughter!” added Sunram. “From what the Queen said, those humans aren’t a merry lot!”

“It will be all right, won’t it?” said Tiptoes. He knew it was almost time, he could feel the future coming through the forest to meet him. And then he remembered mother and the beautiful achy feeling he had experienced, just looking at her.

He knew he would be transformed by his time with the humans – a word the Elf Queen hadn’t used, but the only one that would do. He also knew that it was the way of things, the ancient way, the way that as a young elf he couldn’t expect to understand, but that already he accepted.

An elf had to do what an elf had to do. And there would be rainbows.

Rainbow-1

© Lesley Hayes 1990

You can read more stories and link to my books on kindle at Amazon at my website www.lesleyhayes.co.uk

The Lesley Hayes Blog

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