Today we have an excerpt from Corinne Foster's fantasy novel, Secret of the Phoon! The cover is absolutely gorgeous, isn't it? Check out the synopsis:
“Striding through the Black Woods, Avira becomes aware that she is being stalked by wolves. She knows she can’t outrun them. Her only choice is something she hoped she would never have to do – summon the Phoon. A lethal supernatural force that obliterates everything in its path.
Word would never had got out about it, had Shastia’s pride not been dented, leading her to exaggerate her own powers, saying that she could summon this deadly force. This sets in train a race between two opposing factions who chase her back to Domina, each craving the power of the Phoon to ensure victory over the other.
But bigger than this threat is the one that comes from within Avira’s own community of outcast girls. When will she recognize that challenge and can she withstand it?”
Excerpt from Secret of the Phoon:
Shastia was restless. Carn had been back for three days and they still had not been to visit anyone. When at home he shut himself away in his study and the rest of the time he was meeting people or away on short journeys. She was getting bored with the sisters’ company – they seemed satisfied with their quiet lives, their greatest excitement being to go for sedate walks on their horses. Shastia had mastered riding quickly, and loved the speed of the gallop. She left the sisters far behind, careering over the hills and through the copses to the villages, scattering people and livestock as she went. But it was not enough.
So when Carn came to her to say that they were going to a party she was overjoyed.
“It’s a different group of people than we met before,” Carn explained. “They have some contacts that will be very useful to me, so I need to cultivate them.”
Shastia was just happy to be going out again. How she would entertain them with her stories!
These new people were not so easily impressed, however. Their talk was more of business than pleasure, which was of less interest to Shastia than the tales of travels and encounters that she used to enjoy. She could contribute little to discussions of negotiation and who was trustworthy or not.
She tolerated it for the first few parties, thinking to herself that when people knew her better they would start to engage her in conversation more. But during their fourth gathering she had had enough and decided to take the initiative.
At first she tried to steer the conversation towards a different topic, but was ignored. Then she made a light-hearted comment, to no avail. Changing tactic, she asked a question but received no answer.Carn could see from her expression that she was put out and tried to bring her into the conversation. He saw an opportunity when Frim, a merchant with whom Carn had just started trading, mentioned that he was planning a trip to the south.
“You should visit Demran while you are there,” Carn said.
“Demran?” Frim replied. “Never heard of it.”
“The place where Shastia is from is near there,” Carn went on. “The women sell a wide range of the things they make there. They are highly sought after.”
“What sort of things?” Frim was not really interested.
“Herbal remedies, cakes, wine, mostly. The quality is exceptional.”
Frim was even less interested, dismissive. “I can get those anywhere.”
Shastia was stung. “Not like these. These are secret recipes, developed over many years, from so long ago that no one can remember who invented them or how they knew what worked.”
“Give me an example.”
“That wart on your forehead – if I was at Domina I could give you a potion to remove that within two days.”
The man sitting next to Frim laughed. “Perhaps you could do something about the rest of his face, too.” Frim scowled.
“You’d be surprised what we can do,” Shastia replied. “We have many powers.”
“Enough to keep yourselves safe? These are dangerous times.”
“The Unloved have been through more dangerous times than most. It’s all documented. None have ever beaten us.”
There was a roar of appreciation from the table. “There’s a challenge! What defence could a feeble group of women give against proper warriors?”
“Maybe they could throw a few herbs at them!” Frim guffawed.
Shastia’s dark eyes glittered and Frim’s smile faltered. “We have defeated ‘proper warriors’, as you call them, on many occasions in the past.” Shastia’s voice was quiet but something about her tone held everyone’s attention. “And herbs had nothing to do with it.”
Carn took care to hide his curiosity. Ever since he had stood by the edge of the Black Woods he had been trying to make sense of what he had seen. He wondered if it was to this that Shastia was referring. Those strange lights! And a sound like a strong wind, although the trees were still like statues. He felt a chill run down his spine as he recalled it. He looked across at Shastia and thought, She grew up with that. Her expression was stony, far removed from her normal sociable countenance. He had never seen her cold and angry; it chilled him for the second time.
Then he looked across at Frim. Carn was concerned that Frim would be unhappy, because he needed Frim’s co-operation to complete his deal with the Varg.Carn could tell that Frim and Shastia were never going to be good friends, and he resolved immediately to get what he needed from Frim as quickly as possible, in case their relationship soured. And indeed Carn was right. Frim was feeling not only that Shastia had got the better of him in their discussion, but also that she had made him the butt of others’ jokes. How dare she be so presumptuous? She should know her place. He would look for his revenge.
Corinne lives in Buckinghamshire in the UK, with her husband and two dogs. Her two sons are now away at university. She wrote her first book on a spiral-bound shorthand notebook when she was twelve years old and hasn't stopped since, though much of her work has remained as first drafts left in a cupboard. She has written film scripts and plays – one short film script 'Peel and the Broken Boy' is in production and due for release in early 2014, and a one-act play 'Spirited' is being performed as part of the Supernova VI festival in Havant, Hampshire, UK in February 2014.
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