Songs of Seraphina
Publication date: June 30th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Some battles bleed so much, and for so long, that the earth never truly forgets their dead. Some battles are born of oppression, and some of greed, and some simply because it was written in the stars.
Three sisters—Charlemagne, Cairo and Pendragon Agonistes—are sent from America to England to live with their eccentric grandparents after their mother disappears and their father falls to pieces. But before the girls have time to find their feet, Charlemagne is married off to a dead man, Penny takes a nap and wakes up as a boy, and Cairo is swept into a dangerous romance with a man who wants her for more than her considerable charm. With the girls wrapped up in a conflict they barely understand, they don’t notice that their grandmother is transforming, or that the two demigod assassins who took their mother are now coming for them—if one of them can get over his crisis of conscience.
In this richly painted tale, at whose heart is the unbreakable bond of family and blood, the world of Seraphina collides with our own as three unique girls are dragged into twilight lives past, fighting for vengeance, retribution, and the survival of their exiled people.
She ran through the outcrops of forest and brush, through the smallholdings where the trees had been cleared for Calliope farmlands, then on to the border of the wetlands. Here she began to slow. The marshy terrain was treacherous, breaking into pockets of continuous water three or four feet deep. There were well-worn pathways criss-crossing the wetlands. The area was often tapped for irrigation, but in the middle there was a giant causeway of rocks, scrub and caves that created a dry island in the otherwise sodden terrain.
The Stony Marsh almost looked man-made, but it was too vast and had been a feature of the terrain since the Gildas first came to these lands. Song was taught that they were formed by volcanic eruption, but when she actually saw the Marsh, she couldn’t help thinking there was something else at work, a wiser power. The rocks looked sculpted, so smoothly were they hewn, and hidden caves stood like witnesses of some ancient civilization.
As Song trekked along the path, she kept away from the trees. Though this meant occasionally stepping into the water, sometimes up to a foot high, it was safer. The trees of this part of the marsh had snakes in them; the black death serpents hung in tight nests and spiralled down onto their prey. One drop, one bite, one death. They were so sensitive to light and temperature, they existed across just one degree of latitude, but on that latitude they were as plentiful as they were deadly.
The water was at its highest just before the Stony Marsh, and the trails narrowed and became increasingly uneven, limiting her movements. This was where the traps would be. Song wondered what form they would take. Nets triggered by the brush of a tine? Holes harbouring poisonous arachnids? She imagined both would appeal to the Acrapheans.
She looked for silver threads and disturbances in the earth, but saw nothing. Suddenly she became conscious of a strange flapping noise above her head; strange because egrets and other birds tended to be near the ground. Looking up she saw a large piece of parchment tied between two cypress, and next to it another, and then another.
In the still night air they made an eerie susurrus. She stared at them for a moment, trying to see what they were supposed to do or how the trap worked. It made no sense. Craning upwards she moved cautiously forward. Her toe snagged on a mannequin hair, very fine but too strong to snap outright with her weight. In the same instant an arrow, released from a tree to her left, buried deep into her shoulder. She stumbled, looking at it with incredulity. The blood came thick and fast.
How could she have been so stupid?
She felt something spread through her arm—the cloudy progression of poison.