Story spotlight: “Like a Snake” by Adrianne Aron

In Adrianne Aron’s “Like a Snake,” an American is surprised to learn that the man she meets in a poor rural village that doesn’t even have electricity has two sons going to Mission High School in San Francisco. But is it really a surprise?

~ ~ ~

“Like a Snake” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

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Excerpt

Everybody stops to listen: Broken glass rattling in tin barrels? An explosion of ice cubes?

Hail battering cars in the parking lot?

A huge commotion on the outskirts of San Salvador at nightfall. A pupusa vendor stops turning her masa from one palm to the other. She dabs her fingers in water, wipes them on her oversized tee-shirt, and shakes her head: “Loros!”

Loros? Parrots?

She’s right. It’s the angry screeching of a thousand homeless parrots scolding two rolling bulldozers that are paving the way for Westinghouse and Wendy’s. The corporations are having a party where the parrots used to have a forest.

A shopping mall? In this poor country where more than half the population lives in poverty?

I shake my head, too.

—from “Like a Snake” in The Golden Door by Adrianne Aron

About Adrianne

Adrianne Aron writes both fiction and non-fiction, with social justice as a persistent theme. Her writings have been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and have been awarded prizes by Able MuseNew Millennium WritingsWomen on Writing, the Jack London and San Francisco Writers’ Conferences, and the California Writers Association. Human Rights and Wrongs: Reluctant Heroes Fight Tyranny, her essay collection about refugee asylum seekers, won the Sunshot Nonfiction Award and was published by Sunshot in 2018. She is the translator, from the Spanish, of essays by Ignacio Martín-Baró (Writings for a Liberation Psychology, Harvard University Press) and of Mario Benedetti’s play, titled in English Pedro and the Captain (Cadmus Editions). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is at work on a novel, but continues to spend a little time with her “day job” as a liberation psychologist. She possesses a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Find Adrianne

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Find The Golden Door

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Spotlight: “Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver” by Charlotte E. English

Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is a beautiful, engaging tale about curses, predicaments, magic, and love. Pour yourself a glass of ice-wine, grab a cloudy starcake with jelly pearls, and enter the world of Aylfenhame!

In the frozen depths of winter, 1812, Phineas Drake struggles to make ends meet. Wearing away his youth making plum-cakes for the people of Lincoln-on-the-hill, he dreams of a better life.

Out of the faerie realm comes Lady Silver: beautiful, angry—and determined. Desperate to reverse an ancient curse, she will stop at nothing to find the traitor, the hobgoblin Wodebean.

Together, princess and baker’s boy make a formidable team—and so they must, for their quest will take them deep into the lawless depths of the Hollow Hills…

Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Later, when darkness once again shrouded the streets and he had lit all his cheerful candles afresh, he had reason to feel glad that he had declined, and stayed where he was. For the door opened, and in swept a flurry of wind and snow and cold air—and in its midst, the lady of the rose.

She stood framed in the doorway for some time, her eyes eagerly scanning the contents of the room. Those eyes were odd, Phineas noted with dazed interest: hazy silver shaded with grey. Her dress was purple today; some draped velvet confection with a great deal in the way of skirt and sleeve, but not much in the way of warmth. She did not look cold, however, even though snowflakes glittered in the pale mass of her hair. She looked a little flushed, heightened colour blooming in her cheeks. Had she been running again, or was it the eager way in which she surveyed all of Phineas’s decorations that brought the pink glow to her face?

She was beautiful. The word flitted uselessly across Phineas’s thoughts, insufficient to describe the perfect coils of her pale hair; the exquisite features of her pale, perfect face; and those eyes… A glow seemed to hang about her, an air of vibrancy, of energy, of—of—Phineas could not describe it.

He thought, briefly, of the girls he had previously considered comely. Lizzie Batts, and little Jenny Worther… they withered in his imagination, mere weeds to this woman’s glory. Phineas stood with weakened knees, words fleeing from his lips as quickly as he strove to muster them, and said nothing.

— from Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver by Charlotte E. English

About Charlotte

English both by name and nationality, Charlotte hasn’t permitted emigration to the Netherlands to change her essential Britishness (much). She writes colourful fantasy novels over copious quantities of tea, and rarely misses an opportunity to apologise for something. A lifelong history buff and Jane Austen fan, the Tales of Aylfenhame series combines her love of Regency history with her deep appreciation for fantasy, whimsy and magic—and all things fae.

Find Charlotte

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Spotlight: “Faerie Song” by Anthea Sharp

Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales contains stories about magic, music, and the fey. Several of her tales incorporate elements from traditional ballads and songs, and Anthea’s love of music (she plays⁠—and sings!⁠—Celtic music) is evident throughout this beautiful collection.

Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Emer withdrew to the straw-stuffed mattress, but sleep did not come. The clan would go to war in four days. The words echoed in her mind, along with a rising sense of urgency. She must do something. But the chieftain’s daughter did not have the power to command the clan, however much she might wish it.

Wish…

The thought sparked through her, and with it came a rush of hope. She could not change the course the council had decided upon, but she could invoke the old gods. They had the power to avert the coming war.

Some distance beyond the boundaries of her clan’s territory lay a sacred spring. Above the spring a hawthorn tree grew, where for generations people had come to leave their wishes, tied to the branches in the form of cloth strips and long pieces of thread. In all seasons the tree was aflutter with color and movement, the cloth braiding and unbraiding in the wind, the strands dancing in the breeze.

At the wishing tree a girl could perform small magics, beseeching the powers to grant her heart’s desire, whether it be love or vengeance or greed. Or peace.

Above the hawthorn tree rose a hill crowned with a circle of standing stones. It was a place of power, and peril. The old gods slept there, and the Fair Folk were known to dance in the ring. Any mortal who offended them brought trouble down upon her head, and upon her entire clan.

One did not go lightly to the wishing tree.

But go she must, for the specter of war panted at her shoulder like a wolfhound, fierce and insatiable, sharp teeth hungry for her father’s blood.

— from “The Tree of Fate and Wishes” in Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales by Anthea Sharp

About Anthea

Growing up on fairy tales and computer games, Anthea Sharp has melded the two in her award-winning, bestselling Feyland series, which has sold over 150k copies worldwide. In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, she also writes Victorian Spacepunk, and fantasy romance. Her books have won awards and topped bestseller lists, and garnered over a million reads at Wattpad. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction River, DAW anthologies, The Future Chronicles, and Beyond The Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge, as well as many other publications.

Anthea lives in sunny Southern California, where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays Celtic fiddle, and spends time with her small-but-good family.

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Spotlight: “Faery Prophet” by Leslie Claire Walker

Faery Prophet is the second book in Leslie’s Young Adult series Faery Chronicles. Will the blossoming powers of a faery seer’s apprentice be strong enough to prevent a demon from rising? Or will he lose, and become a demon himself?

The first two books in this series, Faery Novice and Faery Prophet, are available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

“Thanks,” she said. “This anger thing? It’s not about him. It’s not even about my mother. It’s like power surges or something. I can’t control when it happens. I can barely keep from punching my fist through the wall. And I know stuff. It just pops into my head. Like what you are. And where to find you—like I could…”

“What?”

She hesitated. “Smell you. From all the way across town.”

“The only people I know who can do that aren’t human. But you are.”

“Not entirely.”

I blinked at her.

She flushed. “I know it sounds crazy.”

“No.”

“Maybe not to you. You’re a freak who hangs out with other freaks.” She sucked in a breath. “No offense.”

I tried not to take any. After all, it was kind of accurate. “So if you’re not one-hundred-percent human, what else are you?”

The words tumbled out fast and low, for my ears only. “Demon, I think. Like you said.”

I couldn’t think of a worse thing. Not one. “How?”

“I found some stuff in my mom’s diary. Stuff about my real dad. I was looking for money, you know? Sometimes she hides bills in there. I mean, she hasn’t written anything in it for years, but she still keeps it. And it says outright that my actual dad wasn’t human. That she had suspicions when she met him, but she didn’t find out for sure until after I was born. She said my eyes were red, Rude. They turned blue, the way other kids’ eyes start out blue when they’re born and then turn brown.”

I studied her face. She didn’t seem to be making up any of this. She spoke the dead-on truth as she understood it. “Whoa.”

“Exactly. What do I do?”

— from Faery Prophet by Leslie Claire Walker

About Leslie

Since the age of seven, Leslie Claire Walker has wanted to be Princess Leia—wise and brave and never afraid of a fight, no matter the odds.

Leslie hails from the concrete and steel canyons and lush bayous of southeast Texas—a long way from Alderaan. Now, she lives in the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest with a cast of spectacular characters, including cats, harps, fantastic pieces of art that may or may not be doorways to other realms, and too many fantasy novels to count.

She is the author of the Awakened Magic Saga, a collected series of urban fantasy novels, novellas, and stories filled with magical assassins, fallen angels, faeries, demons, and complex, heroic humans. The primary series in the saga are the Soul Forge, set in Portland, Oregon, and the Faery Chronicles, set in Houston Texas. She has also authored stories for The Uncollected Anthology on a mission to redefine the boundaries of contemporary and urban fantasy.

Leslie takes her inspiration from the dark beauty of the city, the power of myth, strong coffee, whisky, and music ranging from Celtic harp to jazz to heavy metal. Rock on!

Find Leslie

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Spotlight: “Windmaster’s Bane” by Tom Deitz

In Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, tales are told of strange lights, of mysterious roads…of wondrous folk from enchanted realms. All these are hidden from mortal men, and those who have the gift to look on them are both blessed and doomed…

Young David Sullivan never dreamed that the myths of marvels and magic he loved were real. But in his blood was the gift of Second Sight. And near his family’s rural farm lay an invisible track between worlds…where he would soon become a pawn in the power game of the Windmaster, an evil usurper among those the Celts called the Sidhe. David’s only protection would be a riddle’s answer and an enchanted ring…as he began his odyssey of danger into things unknowing and unknown…

Windmaster’s Bane is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

A sound.

A sound of Power.

A low-pitched thrum like an immense golden harp string plucked once and left to stand echoing in an empty place.

And then, ten breaths later, another.

But it was the golden Straight Tracks between the Worlds that rang along their sparkling lengths, as they sometimes did for no reason the Sidhe could discover—and they had been trying for a very long time. Success eluded them, though, for the half-seen ribbons of shimmering golden light that webbed the ancient woods and treacherous seas of Tir-Nan-Og—and which here and there rose through the skies themselves like the trunks of immense fiery trees—were not of Sidhe crafting at all, and only partly of their World.

In some Worlds they were seen differently, and in some—like the Lands of Men—they were not seen. This much the Sidhe knew and scarcely more, except something of how to travel upon them—and that was a thing best done only at certain times.

Yet the Tracks were there, in all Worlds. And they had Power—in all Worlds. For Power was the thing of which they were chiefly made.

— from Windmaster’s Bane by Tom Deitz

About Tom

Tom Deitz grew up in Young Harris, Georgia, a small town not far from the fictitious Enotah County of Windmaster’s Bane, and earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Georgia. His major in medieval English literature led Mr. Deitz to the Society for Creative Anachronism, which in turn generated a particular interest in heraldry, historic costuming, castle architecture, British folk music, and all things Celtic. In Windmaster’s Bane, his first published novel, Tom Deitz began the story of David Sullivan and his friends, a tale continued in Fireshaper’s Doom and more books in the series. He won a Georgia Author of the Year award for his work and a Lifetime Phoenix Award from Southern fans. In addition to his writing, in private life a self-confessed car nut, Tom was also a popular professor of English at Gainesville State College (today the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia), where he was awarded the Faculty Member of the Year award for 2008. On the day after his birthday in 2009, he suffered a massive heart attack and in April of that year he passed away at the age of 57. Though he was never able to realize his dream of owning a small castle in Ireland, Tom had visited that country, which he loved, and at the time when he was stricken with the heart attack he was in the planning stages for a Study Abroad trip to Ireland that he would have led. The trip took place, and some of Tom’s teaching colleagues scattered his ashes in a faery circle.

You can learn more about Tom and his work at Wikipedia.

Spotlight: Books 1-3 of The Fey by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Sacrifice, The Changeling, and The Rival are the first three books in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s series The Fey.

The Fey, a beautiful, complex people, have conquered have of the world, and are determined to control it all. Kris weaves elements from mythology together into a world rich with battle, intrigue, mystery, and love.

All three books are available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Arianna peered into the wavy silvered glass, and jutted out her chin. The birthmark was the size of her thumbprint, darker than the rest of her already dark skin, and as obvious as the pimples the new hearth boy had.

She pulled her dressing gown tighter, then glanced behind her. Still no maid. Good. Her bedroom was empty. Sunlight poured in the open window, and the birds in the garden chirruped. The bed was made, and she had thrown her new gown on the coverlet. The dress had a low-cut bodice, which her father wouldn’t approve of, and a cinched waist that tapered into a flared skirt. The dressmaker had begged her not to use that pattern, but Arianna had stared the woman down.

The last I knew, Arianna had said in her best haughty voice, I was the Princess. Has someone given my title to you?

The dressmaker had had the grace to blush. She had done what Arianna wanted, knowing that if she didn’t the palace wouldn’t hire her again.

The palace might not hire her again anyway. Arianna had heard the woman curse when she thought Arianna wasn’t in the room.

Demon spawn.

— from The Rival: The Second Book of The Fey by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

About Kris

New York Times bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy, award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov’s Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award. 

Publications from The Chicago Tribune to Booklist have included her Kris Nelscott mystery novels in their top-ten-best mystery novels of the year. The Nelscott books have received nominations for almost every award in the mystery field, including the best novel Edgar Award, and the Shamus Award. 

She writes goofy romance novels as award-winner Kristine Grayson.  

She also edits. Beginning with work at the innovative publishing company, Pulphouse, followed by her award-winning tenure at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, she took fifteen years off before returning to editing with the original anthology series Fiction River, published by WMG Publishing. She acts as series editor with her husband, writer Dean Wesley Smith.

Find Kris

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Spotlight: “Daughter of Winter” by Amber Argyle

In Amber Argyle’s Daughter of Winter Elice, the Winter Queen’s daughter, lives a life of isolation in the land of ice and snow, unaware that she is a key part of a bargain that was made long, long ago.

When a whaling ship crashes just offshore, Elice doesn’t hesitate to rescue the lone survivor, Adar, who quickly becomes her friend. But the closer Elice and Adar become, the more desperate she is to keep him hidden from her mother at all costs.

For if the Winter Queen discovers Adar trespassing, she’ll kill him.

When her mother reveals just how dark her soul has become, Elice realizes she is as much a prisoner as Adar. Worse, she begins to see hints of something more nefarious. The darkness that has taken hold of her mother is spreading, staining the world with its influence.

Daughter of Winter is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Her grandfather rested a hand on her shoulder. “She’s your mother and she loves you. She just doesn’t see the world the same way.” Elice folded her arms over her chest and looked out across the sea without actually seeing anything. Her grandfather sighed and pulled her around to face him. “Where Ilyenna sees facts, you see possibilities. Someday she will understand that your way of seeing the world is a gift and not a burden.”

The bells at the palace pealed again. The Winter’s End ceremony would begin shortly. Elice gritted her teeth as she watched her mother disappear into the open-air throne room without a backward glance, the details of her lost to the distance. “Lowl gives that speech every year. And it’s always the same. Every year, we get closer to winning. But we never really do. I hate it.”

“Elice,” her grandfather softly reprimanded. She dropped her head. He brushed the crook of his gnarled finger down her cheek and then stepped into the net her mother had left behind—only one net, not two. It took a few thousand fairies to carry her grandfather, and they were all waiting, their movements erratic with their impatience. “You best hurry. The ceremony starts soon and your mother hates it when you’re late.”

Elice debated telling him that her gift wasn’t finished yet. When the light hit the tree . . . but she turned away instead. “You go. I’ll be along later.” He hesitated, and she knew he was deliberating whether or not to push the issue. But then he nodded to the fairies, who lifted him up and toward the palace.

Elice simply waited. She’d started this project the year before, marking exactly where the light crossed the pinnacle of the glacier and hit the spot where she stood. Alone, she watched the tree as the sun crept into view, bathing the tree with a rosy light. One by one, each of the thousands of prisms inside the tree lit up in smoky sparks, shooting fractured light all across the newly fallen frost, which she’d laid down last night. It glittered like the dusting of a thousand diamonds.

—from Daughter of Winter by Amber Argyle

About Amber

Bestselling author Amber Argyle writes fantasies where the main characters save the world (with varying degrees of success) and fall in love (with the enemy). Her award-winning books have been translated into numerous languages and praised by such authors as New York Times bestsellers David Farland and Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Amber grew up on a cattle ranch and spent her formative years in the rodeo circuit and on the basketball court. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in English and physical education, a husband, and a two-year-old. Since then, she and her husband have added two more children, which they are actively trying to transform from crazy small people into less-crazy larger people. She’s fluent in all forms of sarcasm, loves hiking and traveling, and believes spiders should be relegated to horror novels where they belong.

Find Amber

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Spotlight: “Faeborne” by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson’s Faeborne takes us to a land where the Morrigan, the goddess of war and strife, aspires to become more powerful through the use of violence and sacrifice. This is a wonderful tale of how even in dark and complicated circumstances, one can find love, trust, and happiness.

Stolen from his family at the age of sixteen and forced to use his glamour in the service of Eilé’s most malevolent goddess, Brennon Roarke has little room for warmth in his heart. For seven long years, he endured hardship and pain, only to escape and find his parents and sister murdered, his nephew left blind and broken. With the stain of dark magic on his soul, Brennon perseveres for the sake of his young ward, always worrying that one day the evil infecting his spirit will destroy him for good.

Born to the Fahndí tribe of the Weald, Seren’s glamour allows her to transform into a deer and grants her the power to heal grave wounds, but it also caused her to become an outcast.

Seren and Brennon are brought together in a single, life-altering moment.

Faeborne is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

Brenn sighed, running his hands over his face and through his hair as he fell back against the mattress. Well, he couldn’t very well go downstairs and tell the girl to leave now. And in all honesty, he didn’t want to. He was intensely curious about her. Where had she come from? Why was her glamour so powerful? And more importantly, what was she? No common Faelorehn woman, that was certain.

“If her powerful glamour and the fact she had transformed from a deer into a woman before his very eyes hadn’t convinced him she was a stranger in these parts, then her other physical features most definitely did. Her skin tone was the most obvious difference. Darker than his, it reminded him a little of the beautiful red clay he sometimes found by the creek when he was a boy. A golden, pale rust color and smooth as an eggshell. Her eyes were different as well. Larger than his and Rori’s and slanted ever so slightly at the corners. They reminded him of the sly, cunning eyes of the wild things that roamed Dorcha Forest. This girl would definitely stand out in a crowd of people in Dundoire Hollow.

The very thought of Dundoire Hollow and its denizens drew a groan of annoyance from Brenn. He had very few friends living in the settlement closest to his home. Had he decided to turn Seren away and send her into the village, they would as soon stone her to death for her differences as offer her aid. No. He had made the right choice in extending his hospitality. He would keep his honor and keep his word. And protect her from the cruelty and prejudice of those he once called his neighbors and friends.

— from Faeborne by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

About Jenna

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson is a bestselling, multi-award winning author of epic and contemporary fantasy.  She has published several novels, novellas, and short stories in her Legend of Oescienne, Otherworld, and Draghans of Firiehn series.

Jenna’s writing is heavily influenced by the Celtic mythology she studied while attending college.  When not working on her books, Jenna can be found at home tending to her chickens, camping and hiking in Yosemite, and practicing German longsword.

Find Jenna

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Spotlight: “Midwinter Fae” edited by Jamie Ferguson

Dance with the Fae on the shortest day of the year!

On the day of the shortened sun
A battle between two kings has begun.
The old year dies, and the Oak King rules
We celebrate with logs of Yule!
But the Holly King is defeated, not dead
To Caer Arianrhod he heads.
Until Midsummer, when they battle again
And the Holly King will once again reign…

Midwinter Fae, the second volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries, brings you nineteen tales of magic, beauty, wonder…and sometimes danger, as the Fae can be unpredictable, and follow their own rules.

Midwinter Fae is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

The Faerie Folk come when the veil between the worlds is thin, spinning their sticky-sweet glamour and stealing children away in “The Madness of Survival,” by Dayle A. Dermatis. The only thing standing in their way: a motorcycle gang made up of broken, lost people who managed to escape from the Faerie Realm after their own abductions.

Part human, part fox, Todd is the grandson of Renart, the king of foxes in Diana Benedict’s “Summerland’s Paladin.” He escapes the deadly wrath of his step-brothers, only to find himself in Faerie on the eve of Midwinter. The queen offers him two choices: find a way to keep winter from tightening its grip on the faerie kingdom, or return to the land he came from and face death at the hands of his brothers. But winter is not the only enemy Todd faces in Summerland.

In Leah Cutter’s “The Ice Skating Fairy,” Cindy is stuck on the sidelines with a broken leg, instead of figure skating in the mid-winter jubilee put on by the best teen figure skaters in the state of Washington. Then a fairy appears next to her…and invites Cindy to her own ice skating practice later that evening.

Addie pays quick cash for cursed objects in Leslie Claire Walker’s “Treasure.” That’s how she makes the innocent safeand how she atones every single day for the terrible bargain she made as a young, abused girl on the street. She never speaks of the vile price she paid for freedom or the crime she committeduntil the victim strolls through the door of her shop carrying the worst curse of all.

In “Winternight,” by Eric Kent Edstrom, Two Starside thieves set out to steal coin for their Winternight feast. But when one is framed for murder, they find themselves in deep trouble with the city’s most feared crime boss.

Fairy magic is rich, beautiful, and filled with the threat of danger in Ron Collins’ “First Rays of New Sun.” Unable to return to the mortal world herself, Katazarra is commanded by her fae lord to entice a human man so that he, too, will be trapped in the land of Fairy and stay beyond the Winterfest celebration. But the man knows something that Katazarra doesn’t…or perhaps it’s something she knows, but doesn’t want to remember.

The biggest festival in Stratford, North Carolina approaches in Rei Rosenquist’s “At the Heart of Trickery”: a Midwinter celebration of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the midst of the excitement, the magical powers around town swell. And Chandraa transwoman witch in hidingonce again finds it impossible to hide. And then a friendly stranger appears at Chandra’s window, reaches out…and offers the ability to travel to a whole new world.

Once a warrior of the Seelie Court, Rose now exists as a changeling in a twisted human body devoid of magic in Karen L. Abrahamson’s “A Squalor of Chickens.” Only on midwinter day can she taste magic again, in the form of a single spell that allows her to reconnect the ice-cold Earth with the sun’s life-giving warmth. Her one power is the single most important oneushering in Spring. But then she’s offered the chance to have a real life of her own…

In DeAnna Knippling’s “By Winter’s Forbidden Rite,” a desperate mother summons the spirits as her infant son’s last hope…but what if she’s wrong? A group of women hold a seance on a dark and snowy winter’s night, hoping to summon forth wisdom from beyond the grave in order to save a sickly child. But what is the real nature of the spirit that answers the summons? And will they have to call forth something even worse to save them from what their seance brings?

Brea is the daughter of a fisherman and a sea-wild woman who carried magic in her blood in Anthea Sharp’s “Passage.” Brea’s father is dead, her village banished her, and she barely managed to escape the brigands who robbed her. Now she lives alone in the Realm of Faerie, until the winter day when she follows the taste of the rowan berry and finds herself being chased by the Wild Hunt. But fate has more in store for Brea than a simple existence as one of the fey folk, and when she runs afoul of the Dark Queen, she must embark on an adventure that will change her future…forever.

In the deep cold of a midwinter night, Annalise races through a frozen wilderness to bring her injured father to help in Marcelle Dubé’s “Midwinter Run.” But when she stumbles across a pixie on the frozen river, she will have to face a band of angry Fey who blame her for the pixie’s death. If she leaves, she risks the wrath of the Fey—but if she stays to explain, she risks her father’s life.

In Deb Logan’s “Faery Unpredictable,” Claire Murray, a real live faery princess, is spending her first midwinter holiday with her many-times-removed grandfather, the King of Faery. When her boyfriend Roddy, the Prince of Winter, is accused of stealing the Wyrd Stone, a magical artifact that governs the turning of the seasons, Claire must discover the real culprit before the all important celebration of the Festival of Alban Arthan. Can she clear Roddy’s name before he’s banished from Faery forever?

Samuel Lee spent the past few years creeped out by the strange man who lived next door in T. Thorn Coyle’s “The Stars of Neverwhere.” His mother didn’t understand, but she hadn’t seen the man slide through the shimmering air, his skin as white as moonlight on birch bark, and his chin and cheekbones sharp as knives. And then all the neighborhood cats disappeared. 

After finding out she didn’t get her dream job at the arboretum, Holly takes her normal path home through the city park in Jamie Ferguson’s “The Kiss of the Horned God.” Holly is so upset she doesn’t pay attention to where she’s going, and is startled when she notices the pathand the lights of the cityhave vanished.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Destiny” follows the Shapeshifter Solanda. The Black King wants her to use her special abilities on a job that will change the Fey forever. But Solanda wants to change the life of one child. Can she do both? Or should she do nothing at all?

The Holly vs Oak exhibition fight looks to be the event of the winter, until someone attempts to poison the Holly King in Rebecca M. Senese’s “Holly vs Oak.” Who is trying to kill him and threaten the peace between the normal world and the Nether Realm?

In Stefon Mears’ “A Last Meal for the Holly King,” after Steve’s wife dies he heads for their cabin in the Oregon wilderness, not intending to come back. There’s no point in going on without Jess. He comes across an old man with scraggly, snow-white hair and a sprig of holly tucked in just above his right ear. Steve offers the old man a meal, but what he receives in return surprises him.

What’s a girl to do when her duties as bridesmaid suddenly require her to wear a wedding dress, too? In Brigid Collins’ “Bride Thief,” the bride’s odd family tradition is meant to confuse evil spirits who seek to steal brides away on their special day. Chelsea might think it cute if she weren’t still nursing her wounded pride after her own disaster of an attempted wedding. But Jennifer’s been there for her as she put the pieces back together, so the least Chelsea can do is put on a stupid dress. Besides, it’s not like a real evil spirit is going to steal her away. Right?

On the Boar Islands in the cold North, Eithni awaits Winter Solstice with equal parts pride and fear in “The Giving Year,” by Alexandra Brandt. Eithni, chosen to enter the chamber of the gods, prepares to leave her human community forever. On the other side of the Stone Door, Sable stands guard in anticipation of a successful solstice, when the veil between worlds will lift…and when Sable’s liege, a lightlord of the fae, will claim the human woman who willingly steps across into the Summer realm. But everything changes when Eithni breaks the rules.

Midwinter Fae is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Spotlight: “Tales of Arilland” by Alethea Kontis

Step into the enchanting, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous world of fairy tales in Alethea Kontis’ Tales of Arilland. Alethea received a volume of unexpurgated fairy tales for her eight birthday, and the impact of reading those stories of magic, monsters, darkness, blood, and hope is clear in the nine tales in this wonderful collection.

Discover the story of Bluebeard’s first wife (“Blood From Stone”), what really happened to Snow White in those dark woods (“The Unicorn Hunter”), how dangerous the Little Mermaid might have been (“Blood and Water”), and just how far Little Red Riding Hood was willing to go (“Hero Worship”). Included in this collection is “Sunday,” the original novelette that inspired the award-winning novel Enchanted, as well as “The Cursed Prince,” the previously untold history of Prince Rumbold of Arilland…and more.

Tales of Arilland is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Excerpt

The king liked to surround himself with fairies and fey-bloods. It was common knowledge that proximity to someone with fairy blood elongated one’s lifespan, and while no one could remember exactly how old their handsome king was, they knew he had been around long enough to outlive one queen and marry another while still in his prime. Rumbold recalled the prevalence of dark-hair among the dignitaries at court, darker than his mother’s long chestnut curls, but none of them with tresses as black as Velius…

“Am I fey?”

Soft fingers paused in their meandering trail across his furrowed brow and slid down his cheek. “My never-constant son. What makes you ask such a thing?”

“The boys at the training ground today said that Velius was fey.”

“Velius. The duke’s son.”

Rumbold nodded. Velius was a duke’s son, but nobody ever called him that.

“Well, they’re right in any case,” she answered. “It’s too late an hour for me to go into, but yes. Your cousin has more wild fairy blood in him than anyone I’ve ever met.” She looked away, and the lamplight turned her blue eyes golden. “Almost anyone,” she added as an afterthought. “What does any of that have to do with you?”

“The other children say that I’m fey too, because I have dark hair.”

Contagious as his mother’s laugh usually was, it didn’t make Rumbold feel instantly better. The enthusiastic kiss she placed on his forehead did. The pillow haloed her dark brown curls around her as she settled back down and took a deep breath. Rumbold knew that breath meant a story, so he closed his eyes and snuggled into her warm body again.

“Faerie is a land so large its size mirrors the human world—perhaps even surpasses it; no one knows for sure. Deep in the heart of Faerie lives the Fairy Queen. She is its only Queen, and has reigned over the land since the beginning of time. Her hair is as black as night, her skin as white as pearl, and her eyes are deep violet, as deep and rich as dragon’s blood.

“She has no children because she cannot; in order to give life to another being of her own flesh, she would have to sacrifice so much of herself and her power that there would be nothing left. But it is said that those humans with the most fey blood in their hearts look very much like the Fairy Queen.”

— from “The Cursed Prince” in Tales of Arilland by Alethea Kontis

About Alethea

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a voice actress, and a force of nature. She is responsible for creating the epic fairytale fantasy realm of Arilland, and dabbling in a myriad of other worlds beyond. Her award-winning writing has been published for multiple age groups across all genres. She is the host of “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants” and Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow every year at Dragon Con. Alethea has narrated for ACX, IGMS, Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Cast of Wonders, Shimmer, Apex Magazine and Clarkesworld Magazine, and she contributes regular YA book reviews to NPR.

Alethea’s YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won both the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award and Garden State Teen Book Award. Enchanted was nominated for the Audie Award in 2013 and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Both Enchanted and its sequel, Hero, were nominated for the Andre Norton Award. Tales of Arilland, a short story collection set in the same fairy tale world, won a second Gelett Burgess Award in 2015. The second book in The Trix Adventures, Trix and the Faerie Queen, was a finalist for the Dragon Award in 2016. Alethea was nominated for the Dragon Award again in 2018, for her YA paranormal rom-com When Tinker Met Bell. In 2019, the third in her Harmswood Academy trilogy–Besphinxed–was nominated for a Scribe Award by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

Princess Alethea was given the honor of speaking about fairy tales at the Library of Congress in 2013. In 2015, she gave a keynote address at the Lewis Carroll Society’s Alice150 Conference in New York City, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She also enjoys speaking at schools and festivals all over the US. (If forced to choose between all these things, she says middle schools are her favorite!)

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea currently lives on the Space Coast of Florida. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.

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