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Monday, October 14, 2013

NEWS: Neverland's Library - A Fantasy Anthology by Roger Bellini & Rebecca Lovatt, w/ exclusive excerpt by Teresa Frohock

Neverland’s Library is a joint project between fantasy reviewers Rebecca Lovatt of The Arched Doorway and Roger Bellini of A Daily Dose of R&R. They are currently running a kickstarter that is fully funded and here’s how they describe its inception:

The goal of this project was to create a fantasy anthology based around the theme of Rediscovery. Blending established, and lesser known authors, we hoped to capture the reader’s imagination and bring them back to a time when they first discovered their love of fantasy fiction. For readers who haven't already fallen in love with the genre, we hope to offer immensely entertaining bite-size stories that will pull people in and inspire their imagination! 

Growing up as avid readers, it always saddened us to not be able to share our love of literature with many of the young people we grew up around. Because of this, an idea formed: Neverland's Library.

Here’ the list of authors involved with it:

- Tad Williams ~ Introduction
- Mark Lawrence ~ Deception
- Marie Brennan ~ Centuries of Kings
- Miles Cameron ~ The Tomb (a "Traitor Son Cycle" tale)
- Tim Marquitz ~ Redemption at Knife’s End
- Kenny Soward ~ The Machine (a "GnomeSaga" tale)
- Stephen McQuiggan ~ Redfern’s Slipper
- William Meikle ~ The Last Magician
- Ian Creasey ~ Restoring the Magic
- Peter Rawlik ~ The Rendition of Ephraim Waite
- R.S. Belcher ~ An Equity in Dust
- Joseph Lallo ~ The Stump and the Spire (a "Book of Deacon" tale)
- Jeffrey J. Mariotte and Marsheila Rockwell ~ A Soul in the Hand
- Jeff Salyards ~ The Height of our Fathers (a "Bloodsounder's Arc" tale)
- Keith Gouveia ~ Fire Walker
- Betsy Dornbusch ~ Season of the Soulless
- Brian Staveley ~ Dead Ox Falls (a "Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne" tale)
- Teresa Frohock ~ Love, Crystal and Stone
- J. M Martin 

I'm already a project backer and so I would implore our readers to head over to their kickstarter page & check out the various amazing options available for backers

Also thanks to Roger, Rebecca & Teresa Frohock, Fantasy Book Critic gets to present an exclusive excerpt from “Love, Crystal and Stone” (Teresa’s anthology contribution):

 My first memory was of the sun on the Alboran Sea, glittering crystalline tears of light that bounced on every wave. The ocean thundered and foamed against nearby cliffs, clawing at the earth and dragging it away one pebble at a time. Gulls wheeled overhead, dazzling bolts of silver, they shrieked like women afire.

I sat on the beach, a toddler speckled with sand, wet curls plastered to my cheeks. I remember that I cried until my throat was sore, deep wails of loss and grief, yet no matter how I screamed, my mother would not come. Maybe the heavy waves deafened her, or the screeching gulls distracted her, perhaps she had fallen in her salt-water chambers. The reasons didn’t matter. I only knew that I was alone and afraid. I wanted my mother to take me away from this blistering, noisy beach, back into the cool safety of her arms.

Suddenly, calloused hands slipped beneath my arms and lifted me high. Shocked by the movement, I summoned the energy for a howl that sent the gulls whirling toward the cliffs. When my cry faded and I opened my eyes again, I saw a man’s weathered face close to mine. His eyes were the color of cinnamon and he wrapped me in a gaze full of warmth. He was a boxy man with square shoulders and thick fingers; accustomed to his own strength, he rocked me tenderly against his chest.

“Ya, ya, ya,” he whispered over and over until the sing-song nature of his words enveloped my world and me. Although I didn’t know what the strange murmurs meant, the soothing sounds and my exhaustion lulled me. I rested my head against his shoulder; hiccups spasmed through my body and I closed my swollen eyes.

The man, whose name was Bernardo, carried me to his home in a haunted village simply called Pueblo Blanco. He cleaned me, then teased the snarls from my tangled black curls with a little tortoise shell comb. He marveled aloud at the beauty of my eyes, all pale and green, the color of sea foam. “I will call you Alejandro,” he proclaimed as if the name was a valuable gift.

Later, I would find the true worth of that name. On this, my first day in Pueblo Blanco, Bernardo dressed me in a white robe meant for his own son, who lay against his mother’s breast in the churchyard’s cold grave. Bernardo resurrected his dead son’s cradle and polished the wood with care. I fell into a wearied sleep on a rug by the door. There I dreamt of caverns—crystal and fire and stone—where my mother lay in her labyrinth tomb.

Bernardo was a good man, and he treated me as if I was his very own. I couldn’t stand for him to be out of my sight. Although I knew he had no intentions of abandoning me, anxiety gnawed my heart whenever he left, even for a moment.

We often roamed the beach where Bernardo searched for driftwood while I played amongst the stones. Beneath a crag, I discovered a rock scooped smooth by the waves. I pressed my ear against the hard surface and listened for movement beneath the earth. I imagined that if I lay perfectly still, I might hear my mother’s voice. Once, I thought I detected words vibrating up through the rock, like a long ago echo, a whisper from the grave. Just two words, but I heard them as clearly as if a woman spoke.

Be vigilant.

Excited by the discovery, I held my breath and covered my other ear with my palm. I closed my eyes tight and tried to still my noisy heart, but the sound never came again. When I opened my eyes, I found Bernardo’s head close to mine, his ear pressed against the rock. He sat up and frowned. “What do you hear, Alejandro?”

“A dragon,” I whispered, expecting him to laugh.

“A big dragon?” He frowned and glanced at the rock suspiciously.

“Yes!” My imagination seized the image as only a child can. “She is a giant dragon with scales all blue and green.” I held my stubby arms wide to indicate a girth bigger than me.

Bernardo did not laugh, nor did he mock me. He nodded somberly as if I was an adult. I lowered my voice and shared the dragon’s secret words. “She says that we be must be vigilant.”

“Well,” he mused as he rose and took up his bag of driftwood. “Those are wise words. We shall have to watch out for one another.” I slipped my small hand into his and we walked home, Bernardo whistling a slow tune and me watching the shadows for dangers unseen.

Two weeks later, he presented me with a small dragon, which he had carved from driftwood. He had carefully tinted the scales blue and green and gave her a great horned head with yellow crystals for her eyes. The carving was familiar to me in ways that I didn’t understand; I adored it and refused to be parted from the toy, or Bernardo.

We became a pair, the carpenter and I, and were rarely seen one without the other. I had no basis for comparison, so I never noticed anything unusual about the town or its inhabitants, but a pall hung over Pueblo Blanco. Hardly a month went by without violence—a beating, a murder, a disappearance, a suicide. Bernardo tried to shield me from the more horrific acts and never let me go to the public hangings. He distracted me with his guitarra and his songs, then he taught me to play. The vibrations of strings and measures and beats insulated us from the evil that prowled through the shadows and alleys.

In the music, I found my solace, but my respites were meager. The sounds tickled my memories like an itch I couldn’t quite reach. A secret lay in those notes—a song that I knew was mine, and in that music rested my redemption, the secret to my beginning, the story of my end.

Yet no matter how often I played, I never found the right combination of chords to create my song. As the harmonies of my beginning slipped from my heart, likewise, my vision began to fade and leach the color from my life.

By the time I was fourteen, the images around me had started to darken. I wasn’t blind; instead, I was limited to nebulous shades of black against lighter shades of gray. Everything around me was indistinct and fluid as if I saw the world through a pool of water. Each morning, I opened my eyes cautiously, hoping that my sight had returned to normal, only to be disappointed. My vision became darker, the shop grew harder to negotiate, and the tools became indistinct lumps of black.

A small tumor of fear lodged in my heart. Last month, our neighbor Salvador had smothered his deformed son and called it an act of mercy. He said the boy wouldn’t have survived to his fifth birthday and even if he did, what good was a useless mouth to feed.

A horrible notion took seed in my mind: had my mother suspected that I’d one day go blind? Had she set me by the sea to die? Surely I was loathsome in her sight; otherwise, she never would have abandoned me...


NOTE: Neverland anthology cover courtesy of Roger & Rebecca. Teresa Frohock picture courtesy of Jennifer Neri.


Tim Marquitz said...

Amazing prose, as always. Fantastic work, Teresa.

T. Frohock said...

Thanks, Tim!

az060693 said...

Awesome cover and name


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