on October 6th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Twenty-four year old book worm and blogger Zoe Graves was looking forward to the fourth and final instalment of her favourite book saga – The Augustin Chronicles. The evening was meant to be spent in line at the local bookstore with hundreds of other fans, getting the book, maybe even meeting the author, and ultimately spending the night with the dreamiest hero of them all, Lucien de Forest and the love of his life Noomi Augustin.
But somewhere someone thought otherwise.
Confused and hurt after a mugging by the bookstore, Zoe is somehow transported to another world, and suddenly finds herself in a snow-covered landscape witnessing a bloody fight far away from the English summer, and is left to rely on the help from the rather reluctant Matis, who just happen to be out to kill none other than Zoe’s favourite hero and heroine, Lucien and Noomi.
Although convinced she might be in some sort of limbo or maybe even in a coma, Zoe figures that her role in the story is to prevent Matis from killing her all-time favourite fictional couple.
Zoe and Thora found a pocket right of the entrance shielded by a few large rocks that protected them from straying eyes. There, Thora washed and re-dressed, and now it was Zoe’s turn.
Zoe stepped out of her dress with a relieved sigh. Finally, she was free of the nagging, coarse wool, and even though it was only temporary, it felt so good.
“I know,” Thora said as she brought Zoe a pot of water, warm from the fire. “They itch like crazy, don’t they? But they keep you warm in the winter cold.” When she put the pot down on the ground, she gasped as her eyes trailed over Zoe’s back. “My goodness, you’ve got bruises all over. Are you sure there’s nothing broken, like a couple of ribs or something?”
“But Zoe…?” Thora brushed her fingertips over a particularly nasty-looking black bruise above Zoe’s left hipbone. Zoe twitched, and Thora quickly retracted her hand. “I’m sorry,” she said. “She really wanted to kill you, didn’t she?”
“No need to feel guilty then,” Matis’ voice sounded from the fireplace.
“It’s not nice to eavesdrop, Matis,” Thora shouted back, laughing. But when Zoe shot her a tight smile, her laugh quickly died down. “What’s wrong?”
“This is not my world,” Zoe whispered.
Thora nodded. “I’m sure you can go back as soon as we find Olander and the book.” Her eyes flickered and she had trouble remaining eye contact. Apparently, even Thora had a feeling that that would take a while.
“I have a family,” Zoe said. “They’ll be wondering where I am.” She crouched down to the pot and filled her palms with the lukewarm water, splashing it against her face, rubbing her neck, and dipping her hands back into the pot.
“Husband?” Thora inquired tentatively.
“I’m not married. I have parents, though, and a sister.”
“What’s her name?”
Zoe glanced up at Thora who looked genuinely interested.
“Um, her name is Emma.”
“Older or younger?”
“Older. She’s married and has twin boys.”
“So you have nephews.” Thora smiled. “Any suitors?”
Zoe scoffed. “You sound just like my sister.” She splashed some water on her shoulders allowing it to trickle down her back. “No, no suitors. And you? Do you have any family? Any brothers and sisters?”
“No. I’m an only child. It’s very rare, actually.” She winked and shot Zoe a naughty smile, making Zoe see flashes of rabbits humping vigorously in her mind’s eye. “But my mother was very small and weak, and she wouldn’t have survived a second pregnancy.” Thora laughed. “You’re finding it hard to believe that I come from the womb of such a woman, but my father was a big man, and all of this, this is pure muscle that I’ve worked really hard for.” She flexed her biceps and flashed Zoe her strong white teeth.
“I imagined all Kraquars were strong.”
“Well, how could you think otherwise, when the only Kraquar people you’ve met are the three of us? No, my mother was a potion-maker. She didn’t need the muscle power.”
“Your parents aren’t alive anymore?”
“No. I only have remote relatives like the ones living in Eldgaard. The ones we never made it to before you got yourself caught by Noomi’s guards.” She smiled. “No, Silas and Matis’ family is my family now.”
Zoe gaped at Thora, pointed a discreet finger in the general direction of the other inhabitants of the cave, and lowered her voice to a whisper. “Wait? Those two are related?”
“Not by blood, no. But they grew up together. Silas’ family took in Matis and his brother when their parents died just a few months apart. It was a long time ago, though. If you ask them, they are brothers.”
Thora shook Zoe’s dress, before offering it back to her. “You’re shivering. Here, put this back on.”
Zoe sighed, her eyes fixed on the purple dress. She stroked the coarse fabric with her fingertips. “Oh well, I suppose it’s better than freezing to death.”
Neel Kay lives with her husband and two kids in rural surroundings in the south of Denmark, not far from the German border. She’s a trained milliner, studied English at university, and now works a day job as a web editor. But she’s been writing always.
Love coffee, scarves and sea views. Oh, and butt-kicking heroines who know how to swing a sword and aren’t afraid to get a little dirty.