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The Silent Serpent by J.A. Dowsett – Part 2

If you haven’t read part one yet, click here. Otherwise, please continue enjoying this short sci-fi serial by yours truly!


Boopboop. The door button sounded. There was a long pause, then the door whooshed open to reveal the Captain of the Silent Serpent, James Claw, in his underpants.

He blinked a few times, staring down at Xendri, his glowing blue eyes the most striking thing about him. He was a Terian, like Quattro, and therefore also taller than Xendri, but she was used to being the smallest one in a room, so she didn’t let that bother her. “Did you know there are bombs in your cargo hold?”

Surprisingly, James Claw chuckled at this. “As a matter of fact…”

“Are they supposed to be armed?”

That brought him up short. “Armed?”

Xendri nodded. “Yeah, on a timer, I think. I could hear ticking. Through the side of the crate. There’s more.”

The Captain’s eyes widened further. “More?”

She nodded again. “It’s not all bombs. There’s metal in there. Gold, I think. Can’t be sure unless I open the crate.”

“Let me get a shirt on.” The Captain retreated and was out again in a second, pulling fabric over his exposed torso. Xendri waited, trying not to show her impatience or her disinterest in whether the Captain was wearing clothes or not; some races were particular about that sort of thing, she wasn’t. “Okay, show me what you found.”

Xendri led the Captain down to the cargo bay and between the two of them they were able to pry open the crate Xendri had been inspecting earlier. It took some digging and some scanning, but soon the bombs’ arming mechanism was located and so was an interior canister that was sealed shut. According to the scanner it contained metal, specifically gold, and not more bombs.

“Dammit,” Claw swore. “I knew we were carrying explosives, but they’re supposed to be for a mining operation on Elu. They are NOT supposed to be armed!” He paced a few feet and back again. “They aren’t on a timer, at least,” he commented, looking up at Xendri who was still perched on top of the now open crate. “These’ll blow on impact, so as long as we don’t hit anything before then…”

“But the drop off point…” Xendri pointed out. “I heard what the instructions were. We’re just supposed to open the cargo doors and drop the shipment on the loading dock. Why would the mine owners pay you to blow up their own mine?”

“Gold, huh?” Claw considered this a moment. “Well, that’s the only thing that makes sense. I’d bet all the gold in here that their mine isn’t as profitable as they’d like it to be, so if there’s an ‘accident’ that reveals a hidden pocket of gold, they’ll get all the funding they need to refinance the mine. Even if it means the loss of what they have now, they’ll actually be better off.”

Xendri frowned. Mining in her home system was always done with respect for the land and the lives involved. This just sounded underhanded, devious, and downright evil to her. “Do you think they’ll have evacuated the place first?” she asked, fearing she knew the answer already.

Claw shook his head. “No, they’ll have to make it look like an accident. Whoever’s down there they’ll consider expendable.”

Xendri narrowed her eyes in distaste. “We can’t let them get away with this.”

Claw raised a brow in her direction, but after a moment he conceded. “No, you’re right, we can’t.” Xendri’s respect for the Terian Captain climbed a notch. “Okay, Xendri, here’s what we’re going to do…”


We’re revealing the cover of The Ghost in the Gardens by HL Carpenter!

Until the first spooky visit, ten year old Chrysantha Howe doesn’t think about ghosts. She thinks about plants.




She has her future planned out, and that future includes plants. Chrys is going to be a plant scientist like her uncle and her favorite teacher, and she’s determined to find the very rare Coralroot orchid.

The ghost is not in the plan.

But when her teacher disappears and the police suspect her uncle was involved, Chrys has to figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her—before it’s too late.

CoverArtGG copy.jpg

Book Details:

Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal Mystery

Page Count: 152 pages

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (



This book launches June 17th, 2018! Saphs Book Promotions

Pre-Order Links:

Mirror World Publishing




HL Carpenter full size (1).jpg

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter writes family-friendly fiction. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Connect with HL Carpenter: Website:

Author Page:

The Silent Serpent by J.A. Dowsett – Part 1

It’s time for another short story! This one’s not a pre-quel, or attached to any book at all, it’s a stand-alone sci-fi adventure following a group of characters that have been bouncing around in my head for a while. Please, enjoy! For more about me, just look around, or check our authors page here. 


The Silent Serpent hurtled through space at a speed only made possible by Jump technology. The old cargo hauler shuddered in protest at the velocity, but the pilot, Nell, paid the vessel no mind. Instead, her golden-green cat eyes were narrowed lazily over the cards in her hand as she deliberated her next play, her metal-tipped tail twitching idly.

Xendri watched her carefully, but the black and gold tortoiseshell cat, or Pentaurii as her race was called, gave nothing away by her expression; she was good at this game. Nell played the Queen of Spades, placing it on the foldout tray between them in the cockpit. Xendri frowned, looking between the cards at play and the ones in her hand before realizing all of a sudden that she’d been outmaneuvered. There was no way she could win now.

Xendri clicked her tongue in displeasure, speaking a few less-than-polite words in her native language before standing. “I’m going to check on the cargo.”  

“Cargo?” Nell questioned. “We’re mid-jump. It’s not going anywhere.”

“Yeah, but I haven’t seen it yet.”

Nell rolled her eyes. “Suit yourself.” Yawning, she put her hand of cards down as she turned to inspect the ship’s controls, absently going through the motions her job as thes ship’s secondary pilot required.

Xendri left her there and swung out into the main body of the ship, nimbly making her way to the ladder that led down into the detachable cargo bay.   

“Hey, Kiddo,” a deep male voice rumbled, catching her off guard. “Where you goin’?”

Looking up, Xendri found one of the loaders, a human man named nicknamed Quattro, looking at her curiously. He was much taller than her, six feet to her four, well-muscled, and he wore a impressive-looking pistol on his belt. Despite all that, there was no malice in his expression or in his glowing purple eyes, so she decided to let the ‘nickname’ he’d chosen for her slide, for now.

“Looking around,” she answered briefly. “Stretching my legs.”

Quattro nodded. “Yeah, gets a little boring in Jump-space, doesn’t it? Alright, go on then. Can’t hurt nuthin’.”

But Xendri wasn’t listening to him any longer; her eyes had fixated on the other device his belt contained. “Hey, can I borrow that?” she asked, gesturing with her chin.

Quattro looked down, confused. “You mean the scanner?” He unhooked it and tossed it to her. “Sure thing, Kiddo, knock yourself out.”

Xendri nodded, catching and pocketing the device before scurrying down the ladder, dismissing the burly loader from her thoughts. She took the ladder rungs two at a time and jumped the rest of the way to the floor of the cargo bay, landing gracefully on all fours before standing and making sure she was alone. The cargo bay was quiet; the only sound the occasionally creak to remind her that they were still moving very very fast, even if the floor beneath her feet felt stationary. She tapped the metal-plated floor with her foot as if to test the artificial gravity, but it felt the same as standing on any other surface. Space travel was weird that way, the universe had no up and down, but people made their own. Xendri wasn’t sure she’d ever really get used to it. She shrugged and pulled the scanner device out of her pocket, fiddling with the dials and buttons until she got the display to show what she wanted.

Walking slowly between the long cargo containers that filled the bay, Xendri let the scanner device do its thing, even going so far as to climb on top of one of the massive containers to scan closer to the middle.

“That’s odd,” Xendri muttered after some time spent in contemplation of what the hand-held device was telling her.

Eyes still on her findings, Xendri climbed back down off the crate, then back up the ladder to the rest of the ship. There was no sign of Quattro, but she wasn’t looking for him anyways; she went straight for the Captain’s quarters.

To be continued… 

New Release: Mirror’s Deceit by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred!

 Mirena Calanais is destined to change the world. 

Her rival has made a desperate flight to the past to stop her.


A gifted student of majik, Mirena is on the verge of graduating from a secret college that will give her a leg up in her political career, when her achievements are overshadowed by the arrival of a mysterious woman with an unknown agenda. Desperate to keep what she sees as her rightful place in the spotlight, Mirena goes to astounding lengths including taking it upon herself to pose as a double agent to investigate a rebel force plotting to destabilize the government. Unfortunately, her actions cost her the trust of those around her, so when she is proclaimed the Dark Avatar of the Destroyer, she finds she has nowhere to turn. 


In a seeming utopia, Mirena is now a pariah with the force of Destroyer behind her and her once bright dreams have darkened, leaving her a threat not only to herself, but to those she cares about. Can she turn her life around, or will someone need to stop her before she goes too far? 


Book Information:


Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition

Publication Date: May 17, 2018



Genre(s): Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy


Page count: 240 pages


Read an Excerpt:  


The extra quarter turn of the hourglass Caralain spent in the waiting room helped her to calm her nerves and gather her thoughts. By the time Mirena left the Panarch’s office with a bounce in her step that sent her long white-blonde hair swinging, Caralain was ready. She stood, brushed imaginary dust from her clothing, and strode into the Panarch’s office with purpose.


“Panarch, thank you for allowing me to speak with you,” she began as soon as she was across the threshold, doing her best to avoid meeting his gaze directly lest she be overwhelmed again.


“Of course,” Terrence Lee answered, shutting the door behind her and heading for the chair behind his desk. “I have an open-door policy, as you know, so it’s no trouble.”


“Right, of course.” In fact, she did know that, in theory. In practice was another matter altogether. “Well, either way, I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak my mind. You see, I have…important information regarding the woman who was just in here speaking with you.”


He lifted a brow in question. “Mirena?”


Oh no, they’re already on a first name basis. Caralain felt a momentary panic seize her heart. Maybe I’m too late.


“Uh, yes, Mirena Calanais. Well, you see, I have reason to believe that Mirena has plans…” She hesitated, but having come this far, she knew she had to continue. “Plans to remove you from office and install herself in power in your place.”


To Caralain’s surprise, a wide grin spread across the Panarch’s face, his blue eyes twinkling with amusement. “Oh?”


She couldn’t help but feel discomfited under that blue-eyed stare. She wriggled uncomfortably in her seat. “Uh, yes. I know it seems ludicrous from where you’re standing, with Mirena’s relative anonymity at this point, but…”


“No, it’s not that,” he chuckled. “Mirena was just in here saying exactly the same thing.”


“She what?!”


“Mirena is a bright girl with a bright future ahead of her,” the Panarch told her and Caralain felt the world beneath her feet begin to fade away, leaving in its place only a dark abyss from which there was no return. “I’m thinking of making her my apprentice, actually. She showed great promise in the meeting we just had.”


Caralain’s heartbeat picked up speed and the air suddenly felt thin as she tried to take in enough to keep breathing. She was halfway to her feet and stumbling out of the chair before she realized that there was nowhere she could flee that would be safe from what she was hearing. “No! I mean, you can’t! She’s…she’s a monster. She’ll destroy this world and everything good in it.”


Terrence Lee’s look of patient amusement turned quickly to one of concern and alarm. He also got to his feet. “Ms. Dashar? Are you all right?”


He was coming around the desk now and Caralain realized abruptly how she must look and sound. She fought desperately to bring her fear under control and to compose her face. “Yes, yes, of course, I’m fine.” She started for the door and was relieved when her hand found the handle. “This was a mistake. I’ll just go.”


She wrenched the door open and allowed the gentle murmur of the waiting room comfort her nerves.


“Are you certain?” He wasn’t just going to let this drop, but Caralain couldn’t let her sanity, and therefore her credibility, be called into question. “I can call someone for you if you need me to. A Healer, perhaps?”


“No, no, I’m fine. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.” And with that, she fled.


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Meet the Authors: 1us

Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of eight novels and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally roleplaying with her friends. 


With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a new mom living in Windsor, Ontario, ready to embark on a new career as a medical technician. 


Connect with the Authors: 




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The Search for the Golden Feather by Elizabeth J. M. Walker – FINALE!!

“Corbin is my boyfriend,” Chantelle said.

“Corbin is your boyfriend? I didn’t even know he was dating anyone,” Trina said, glancing at Oriella.

“Because we were keeping it a secret, because my friends would never approve of me dating a phoenix mage,” Chantelle said. “But then Loukas asked me to the dance. I told him I could never date anyone from Knox House but he was persistent, so finally I told him I had a boyfriend. I refused to tell him who, but he followed me, he saw me with Corbin and he got angry that I was already dating someone from Knox.”

“Wait, what’s wrong with dating someone from Knox House?” Trina asked.

“Pixie mages don’t date anyone from…from Knox House,” Chantelle said. “Loukas knew I didn’t want my friends to know I was dating the don of Knox House, so he forced me to steal the feather. He didn’t say why, but he said if I didn’t he’d tell everyone at Flora House my secret. But then Eddy came to talk to me and he was asking all sorts of weird questions about the feather and Knox House. I had no idea the stupid feather meant so much to Knox House. I didn’t know it was your heirloom. I didn’t know Loukas made it into some stupid game to steal Corbin’s room.”

“First of all, it’s not a stupid feather, it’s Sir Gadison’s Golden Phoenix Feather,” Oriella said, “and second of all, it’s not just Corbin’s room, it’s a suite that takes up the entire fourth floor and has its own pool table.”

Trina nodded. “Loukas was the one who suggested that the suite should be the prize.”

“I’m sorry,” Chantelle said. “I didn’t mean to cause such a mess. I got the feather back from where I hid it in the greenhouse and took it with me into the woods. I was waiting for dinner, when everyone would go to the meal hall and I could sneak back into Knox House and return the feather, so no one would win and Corbin wouldn’t lose his suite because of me. But then the greenhouse caught fire and I figured I could sneak back in while everyone was gawking at the fire.”

“So…let me get this straight,” Trina said. “All of this happened because of some stupid pixie mage dating rules?”

Chantelle’s cheeks turned pink with embarrassment. “I’m sorry.”

“I hate pixies,” Oriella said.

Trina sighed and looked at the golden phoenix feather she held in her hand. “I’m putting the feather back before the others return,” she said. “And you,” she said, pointing at Chantelle, “are escaping through our window so no one sees you leaving Knox House. You’re going back to Flora House and pretending none of this happened.”

“But…you’re going to take credit for finding the feather? You’re going to take Corbin’s suite?” Chantelle asked.

“No, we’re not,” Trina said as she put the feather back in its rightful place above the fireplace.

“We’re not?” Oriella asked.

“Corbin doesn’t deserve to lose his entire suite because Loukas is jealous of his silly pixie mage girlfriend,” Trina said. “He worked hard to become don, he didn’t just get the job handed to him, and whoever is don deserves the suite.”

Oriella nodded. “Fine.”

“Now c’mon, let’s get you out of here,” Trina said and led Chantelle up to their room.


Mere minutes after Chantelle’s escape down the ivy-ladder they heard people returning to the house. Footsteps came down the hall and there was a knock at the door. Trina opened it to see Ludella, the Headmistress of the Mage Academy. Ludella was a petite fairy mage who didn’t look a day past twenty, but Trina knew she was actually much, much older.

“Oh!” Trina gasped. “Hello, Headmistress Ludella. How may I help you?”

“You can invite me in,” Ludella said.

“Oh, yes,” Trina said and stepped back so Ludella could enter the dorm room.

Ludella glanced at Trina’s bed and the charred comforter she had yet to clean up.

“I believe you may have had something to do with the burning down of our greenhouse?” Ludella asked smoothly.

“Um…no,” Trina said, but she felt her cheeks grow hot.

“It’s okay, you can tell the truth,” Ludella said. “I had no idea your fire powers were becoming so strong. It’s obvious now what we must do.”

“Please don’t expel Trina!” Oriella said.

“I’m not expelling you,” Ludella said. “I think it’s about time we start searching for an apprenticeship. We need to find you an experienced dragon mage, one who can teach you how to control your powers. We need to find you a proper teacher.”

“We do?” Trina asked.

“Yes,” Ludella said. “It’s not every day a student burns down a greenhouse.”

“I’m very sorry,” Trina said. “I’ll find a way to fix it…I’ll help rebuild it, I’ll-”

“That’s enough Trina,” Ludella said. “You are a dragon mage. It’s about time you learn what that truly means.”

You can continue to follow Trina’s adventures in the novel:

Cover SDOD4

She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth J. M. Walker

Our first #Bookclub pick: Lost and Found by Sharon Ledwith

Yes, you read that right, Mirror World has started a book club! And it’s not too late to join in if you’re interested. Currently for the month of May, we’re reading Spellhaven by Sandra Unerman. You can check out that book here, and get a discount off the purchase of the ebook or the paperback with the code: MWBOOKCLUB. Once you’ve got the book and you’re ready to start chatting, come join us on Facebook, here.


In April, we read and reviewed Lost and Found, the first in Sharon Ledwith’s Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series about psychic teens in a cottage town setting. Lost and Found features teen protagonist Meagan Walsh who was born with the ability to hear the thoughts of animals. After causing some trouble back home, Meagan is sent to Fairy Falls to live with her aunt and perform 200 hours of community service. Her Aunt, Izzy, just so happens to work at the Fairy Falls Animal Shelter, where the shelter animals, led by an old calico cat named Whiskey have decided to send their thoughts to any humans who will listen to try and find a pack leader to help them save the shelter from closing due to ‘no money’.

Here’s what some of our readers thought about Lost and Found:

 I enjoyed this book a lot, but it’s hard to write a review without spoiling the book itself. So, you have my two thumbs up for this novel. I am eagerly awaiting more tales from Fairy Falls, and hope that others take a peek at this seemingly gentle town covered in a fog of mystery, and get hooked as well.  ~ Sabrina

Lost and found is a fast-paced mystery and psychic adventure sure to please readers of all ages.  ~Rita

I absolutely love the concept behind this new series by Sharon Ledwith – teen psychic, no-kill animal shelter, animals that can talk. Sharon wrote this book with an unmistakable amount of passion. The reader knows that she is an animal lover and supporter. I read the book with an equal amount of passion as an animal lover and supporter.

The character development and world building created a book that played like a movie in my head. The dialogue between the human characters and the animal characters was conversational and never awkward or choppy. The pacing was the perfect speed – not too fast, not too slow – and I read the book in one sitting. There are parts of the book where my emotions matched the characters. I felt what the characters felt – anger, frustration, sadness – and that is what makes a book a favorite of mine. I really enjoyed Lost and Found and look forward to reading more from Sharon Ledwith.  ~Amber

Sharon Ledwith’s “Lost and Found” (the first in her “Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls” series) is a truly fun mystery for middle-grade and young adult readers (and readers of all ages, honestly). As an author, canine (and feline) massage therapist and all around general animal lover from Ontario, the story suited me to a tee, what with it’s setting in an animal shelter in a small town in northern Ontario!

A unique way to allow animal characters to talk, a mystery that keeps you guessing and twists and turns ensure the reader simply cannot put the book down—what more could an animal-lover and avid reader want? ~Regan

So there you have it! It seems that pretty much everyone enjoyed Lost and Found by Sharon Ledwith. And if you’re an animal lover, or just love paranormal YA books set in a a town you can easily picture, then this series is for you! You can pick up Lost and Found by Sharon Ledwith wherever books are sold, or in our store, here. 

The Search for the Golden Feather by Elizabeth J.M. Walker – Part 8 (of 9)

If you’re new to this story, I suggest starting at part 1, here. Otherwise, read on!

The greenhouse was a tiny building just south of the main school building. It was frequented by gnome mages who took classes in gardening, as well as other mage disciplines that involved nature, such as elf mages and fairy mages.

“Why would she choose the greenhouse?” Oriella asked as they walked briskly.

“Because fire mages rarely go there?” Trina suggested.

Oriella nodded as the greenhouse came into view. No one else was around so the girls quickly ran inside. They looked around the interior of the building; there were long wooden tables full of potted plants and hanging baskets hung from hooks in the ceiling. There was green everywhere with spots of brightly coloured flowers. The greenhouse had a musty feel to it that was very similar to when Trina followed Oriella through a tree. They searched the entire greenhouse but there was no pixie mage to be found.

“She’s not here,” Trina said.

“Maybe she hid the feather here and already left,” Oriella suggested. “Could you see in the pool-image where she might be hiding it?”

“Not really…it was kind of blurry. I just knew it looked like she was in the greenhouse,” Trina said.

“Yeah, same here,” Oriella said, “but where could it be?”

Trina scanned the rows and rows of potted plants but nothing looked out of place. Most of them looked like they had been recently watered and many had been recently planted or repotted. It was impossible to tell where Chantelle may have hidden the feather.

“I say we go back to Flora House,” Oriella said, “and see if Eddy figured anything out from his chat with Chantelle, like where exactly she hid the feather.”

Trina inhaled sharply and began to sneeze. No, not now, she thought. She sneezed five times before she could stop herself. Flames were shooting everywhere and the wooden tables caught fire. The flames grew taller, until they were reaching the hanging plants, and soon the roof rafters began to burn. Oriella grabbed Trina, yanking her out of the greenhouse and into the cover of the Whispering Woods.

“Great gryphons!” Trina said as she watched the greenhouse burn. She could hardly believe she had created such a huge disaster. She had no idea she was even capable of setting an entire building on fire. She felt her stomach tighten with…fear? With dread? What would happen to her if they found out it was her fault? What if she continued to accidently cause more destruction?

She continued to watch the flames as a crowd began pouring out of the dorm houses and gathering. There were at least three water sprite mages who could create spouts of water, similar to Trina and her flames, except they actually knew how to control their water powers.

Within minutes the flames had died down. More water sprites arrived to douse the greenhouse with even more water, just to be safe, but the damage was done. There would not be any classes in the greenhouse on Monday – or anytime soon.

“Let’s get out of here!” Oriella said and yanked on Trina’s arm again, pulling her away from the scene of the fire.

“Where are we going?” Trina asked as they ran along the edge of the Whispering Woods, still under cover of the trees.

“Back to Knox! We’re going to pretend this never happened!” Oriella said.

The girls ran out of the woods as they reached Knox House. Instead of running to the front door they went to the left side of the building where their room was. Ivy grew up all sides of the building, especially on their side, and it was particularly thick right beneath their bedroom window.

“I’ve been doing some tweaking,” Oriella explained and quickly found handholds in the ivy. Trina watched as her nimble friend scaled the side of the wall, with the ivy growing in the pattern of a ladder.

“I’m not so sure I can do that,” Trina said.

“You have to at least try,” Oriella called as she reached their window and slid it open.

Trina took a deep breath and found the first handholds of ivy Oriella had used. It was surprisingly stable; the ivy was so thick it felt like she was climbing a regular wooden ladder. She took a deep breath and continued to climb, reminding herself to not look down. Oriella reached out when she made it to the top and helped her climb through the window.

“Now, let’s casually walk down to the common room as if we’ve been here all along,” Oriella said, brushing bits of leaves and dirt from her clothes.

“They’re never going to believe us,” Trina said.

“Only one way to find out,” Oriella said and headed out the door.

When they entered the common room, Trina was surprised to see someone with sky blue hair.

Chantelle gasped as Trina and Oriella entered and the pixie mage dropped the golden feather.

“Sir Gadison’s Golden Phoenix Feather!” Trina said and rushed forward to pick it up. “Why did you steal this? What are you doing here?”

“No, I’m returning it!” Chantelle said. “I’m trying to help!”

“How?” Oriella asked. “Why are you even here?”

“I’m trying to return it,” Chantelle said again, “because I feel awful, and so Corbin doesn’t lose his suite.”

“So, you did steal it?” Trina asked.

Chantelle hung her head. “Yes.”

“Why?” Oriella asked.

“Because Loukas asked me to the spring dance,” Chantelle said.

What?” Oriella asked loudly.

“Loukas asked me to the dance, but I said I couldn’t go, because I already have a boyfriend,” Chantelle said.

“Great gryphons, what pixie nonsense are you talking about? Who’s your boyfriend? What does any of this have to do with our feather?” Oriella asked.

The Search for the Golden Feather by Elizabeth J. M. Walker – part 7

Here’s Part 1 if you haven’t started this short serial story yet. Otherwise, read on!

Trina caught a glimpse of something white through the trees. It was just a flash between trunks and then it was gone. Then she caught another flash out of the corner of her eye, but she moved too slowly to see what it was.

“Oriella?” she called again. No answer.

She heard footsteps behind her, but no, they weren’t quite footsteps. It sounded more like…horses? She turned around and gasped. Behind her stood a trio of pure white unicorns. They gazed at her with their huge brown eyes, looking eerily more intelligent than any horse she had ever come across. Their horns spiraled out of their foreheads, white and shining in the sun. She had never seen a unicorn before. She knew a herd lived in the Whispering Woods, but it was rare for them to come near humans.

“Hello?” she said tentatively as two more unicorns came to join the first three.

“Great gryphons!” she heard Oriella say, and Trina turned to see her friend with leaves and twigs stuck in her hair.

“Are you okay?” Trina asked her and then turned back to look at the unicorns.

“Yeah. You?” Oriella asked, also staring at the unicorns.

“I’m fine. I’m sorry…about the sneezing. Do you know what happened?” Trina asked.

“No idea,” Oriella said. “I’ve never had a tree-travel interrupted like that before.”

“Um…” Trina said, nodding toward the unicorns. “Do you think they’re friendly?”

“I think so,” Oriella said and reached out a hand toward the closest unicorn.

The unicorn whinnied and backed up, shaking its head. Oriella quickly dropped her hand as two unicorns circled round the girls, looking fierce and pointing their horns at them.

“I’m sorry,” Oriella said. “I…I won’t pet you.”

“They’re not horses,” Trina said. “They’re highly intelligent, like other mystical creatures.”

“I know,” Oriella said and then gasped. “Did you…hear that? Or…I mean…feel that? I can’t tell…”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Trina said, glancing back at the unicorns behind them.

“We don’t mean to hurt you,” Oriella said, addressing the unicorn she had tried to pet. “We just want to get home.”

The unicorn shook its mane and started walking in the opposite direction. The other four unicorns followed, with two of them moving behind Trina and Oriella to coax them forward. The unicorns led them to a small pond and circled it, leaving room for the two girls.

Trina watched as Oriella locked eyes with the lead unicorn. The elf mage furrowed her brow.

“He’s saying…they’ll let us go…but only if…” Oriella began but then shook her head. “I’m sorry…what? I didn’t catch that last part?”

“What are you doing? Can you talk to them?” Trina asked.

“Sort of…it’s like…hearing snippets of conversation mixed with pictures all at once. It’s kind of confusing,” Oriella said to Trina and then turned back to the unicorn.

“He says I can understand because I’m one with the trees, because I’m…because I’m an elf mage,” Oriella said. “He says you have fire inside and are not one with trees. No kidding.”

“Are they going to let us go?” Trina asked.

“He says…he says he needs our blood…we must swear to not tell anyone where they live,” Oriella said.

“We don’t even know where we are,” Trina said.

“Yeah, we don’t know where you live. We won’t tell anyone,” Oriella said, but then furrowed her brow again, looking as if she was listening.

“He says it’s not enough…he needs our blood?” Oriella said.

“Great gryphons,” Trina whispered. “That doesn’t sound good.”

“Just a drop,” Oriella said, “and to let it drop into the pool.”

“Just a drop?” Trina said. “I guess that doesn’t sound that bad.”

“He says…our blood in the pool will show him whether we can be trusted and the pool will answer a question,” Oriella said. “It sounds like…if we ask something specific, we might get an answer.”

“We could ask about the golden feather,” Trina suggested.

“Good idea,” Oriella said. “He says we can go at the same time.”

Trina watched as Oriella held her index finger out to the unicorn next to her. Trina did the same to the unicorn closest to her. The unicorn bent the sharp tip of its horn toward her finger and used it to make a tiny puncture. Trina squeezed a single drop of blood into the pool at the same time as Oriella and they watched as their blood mixed in the water.

The surface of the pool flashed red and then Trina saw a huge dragon fly in the sky. But no, she was supposed to be thinking about the golden feather! She focused on an image of the golden feather and the dragon faded to reveal a blurry image of the blue-haired pixie mage Chantelle in what appeared to be the Mage Academy’s greenhouse. And then the image was gone.

“Did you see her?” Trina asked excitedly. “It is Chantelle!”

But Oriella seemed to be listening to the unicorn again. She nodded. “Thank you,” she said, and turned to smile at Trina. “He says they trust us. We can go.”

“Thank you!” Trina said to the unicorns.

“Now…I just need to find the right tree out of here,” Oriella said.

Trina and the unicorns watched as Oriella walked around the woods, putting her palm up to several trees until she found one she could use and then called Trina over.

“No sneezing!” Oriella said sternly before opening the portal in the tree.

“Goodbye! Thank you!” the girls called to the unicorns as they entered the darkness of the tree.

Trina held her breath. She saw the light of a doorway opening up at the other end of the dark tunnel. Oriella stepped through and Trina quickly followed, relieved to have made it through sneeze-free.

“Did you see the same thing I saw in the water?” Trina asked. “Chantelle hiding the golden feather in the greenhouse?”

Oriella nodded. “To the greenhouse!”

It’s Launch Day for Ghosts and Exiles by Sandra Unerman!!!

We’re super pleased to be able to announce that Ghosts and Exiles by Sandra Unerman is now available worldwide! Whether you have read Sandra Unerman’s first novel, Spellhaven, or not, you’re sure to enjoy this quasi sequel set a generation later in historical 1930’s London, England. And now, you can pick up an ebook or paperback copy anywhere you buy books, or in our online store! 


Spellhaven is no more, but its spirits remain…

GEcover copy

Tilda Gray hates Spellhaven, the city where her husband was born, even though she has never set foot in the place, and she does not believe in the magic it’s supposed to have held. Now her husband is dead, she would rather avoid any mention of the city. But her sons, Nicholas and James, have befriended Hugo, a young boy threatened by forces none of them understand. When Hugo’s uncle and guardian, Stephen Cole, visits the Gray family to ask for help, Tilda agrees against her better judgement. Between them, as they search for ways to banish or at least help Hugo cope with the ghosts that are driving him mad, they seek out the dubious aid of the exiles from Spellhaven. In doing so they must face new dangers and unknown magic, unlike anything Tilda could have believed possible.


Print Length: 300 pages

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing

Publication Date: April 17, 2018


Genre(s): Magical Realism, Historical Fantasy


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Praise for Spellhaven: 

‘…Spellhaven is an intriguing novel with no easy answers or way out, which means you can keep rereading it and drawing different conclusions every time. Jane is never going to be entirely happy and settled in life – but would she ever have been, even without her magical summons? 

Refreshingly, it does not appear to be part of a series: that ending ambiguity is all you’re getting and it will keep buzzing at the back of your mind for days.’ ~ Ben Jeapes, author of Phoenicia’s Worlds and other SF novels, from the BSFA review.


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Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in science fiction and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. Her latest stories are in Sword and Sorcery magazine, June 2017, and Fall into Fantasy, an anthology from Cloaked Press. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.





The Search for the Golden Feather by Elizabeth J. M. Walker – Part 6

If you’re new to this short story, I recommend starting at Part One. Once you’re caught up, read on!

Trina felt as though at least an hour had passed. Her right leg was cramped under her and had completely fallen asleep. She was pretty sure Oriella had fallen asleep; she could hear the familiar sound of her roommate snoring. But just then, her nose began to tickle! She tried not to get too excited or to accidently do anything that would stifle the sneeze.

“Achoo!” Trina sneezed and a burst of flame shot from her nose, catching the second bed sheet of the day on fire.

Trina tore at the fabric and freed herself. She tried to stand but her leg was numb and she fell over. She crawled back to the flaming bed sheet and put out the remaining fire with her hands.

“You sneezed!” Oriella shouted. “Are you free?”

“Yes!” Trina said as she pulled herself over to Oriella’s bed sheet and pulled apart the knot the boys had made.

Oriella came tumbling out. “Did I fall asleep?”

“I think so,” Trina told her, and then looked around at their surroundings. “Do you have any idea where we are?”

Oriella looked around and frowned. “Not really, but I still might be able to find a tree to take us back to the school grounds.”

One of Oriella’s elf mage powers was being able to travel through trees and take companions with her. Trina had travelled with her several times already. She watched as Oriella went from tree to tree, searching for one that would take them back to school.

“This one…I think,” Oriella said.

Trina stood, her leg now stable, as Oriella put her hand on the rough bark of the tree. Trina walked over as a black doorway opened in the tree’s side, just big enough for Oriella to step inside. Trina had to duck to follow.

Inside the tree was dark and silent. All the other forest noises ceased and all Trina could hear were her own footsteps and Oriella’s much quieter and more graceful footsteps. The doorway they’d come in through sealed behind them, making the tunnel completely dark. The opening on the next end had yet to appear. Trina’s nose began to tickle.

“Uh-oh,” Trina managed to say before she sneezed and then sneezed again and again. Flames began to lick up the tunnel’s dark walls.

“We’re not there yet!” Oriella said as she began to run forward.

“I know!” Trina said, frantically trying to put out the flames, but there were too many.

There was a white burst of light and Trina felt herself blown over. She went flying to the ground and rolled head over heels at least twice before coming to a stop against a tree trunk. Her whole body ached, but nothing felt severely injured. She pushed herself up and got back to her feet. She was surrounded by trees.

“Oriella?” she called. Her friend was nowhere in sight.