Sunday, September 24, 2017

#Spotlight on The Space Between: The Prophecy of Faeries by Susan Rooke

36011964The Space Between: The Prophecy of Faeries 
(The Space Between Series Book 1)
by Susan Rooke
Kindle Edition, 435 pages
Published September 12th 2017
Mellis, a courageous and resourceful young woman, is kidnapped from the human world and taken to the Space Between by a tribe of faeries called the Penitents. Because of guilt over an ancient sin committed by their angel ancestors against the Maker, the Penitents have cursed themselves with grotesque physical disfigurements. Mellis can help them reunite with the Maker and find their way back to redemption, but she would need to give up the life she’s always known to remain in the Space Between. As she struggles with this heart-wrenching decision, one of the Penitents, bent on revenge, commits a gruesome attack against the tribe, and they learn he has taken Satan—the Maker’s greatest enemy—as his ally. All in the Space Between are facing grave danger. Will a long-awaited act of vengeance save them?

Susan Rooke builds a rich and fantastical world of angels and demons, monsters, faeries and dragons. Abounding with spirituality and humanity, this faery tale for adults has a cast of vivid characters you won’t soon forget. 


The fall seemed to go on forever. Sometimes plunging through clouds of icy shards, his flesh burning, scraped raw. Slowing sometimes, or seeming to, in the firmament’s cold hollows. Once he thought he glimpsed the rim of eternity. A fiery radiance shimmered there, crackling at the farthest reaches of his sight. So empty were the heavens. Nothing to cling to. And thus he continued to fall—faster, slower—until he thought he would fall for the rest of time.
He understood the emptiness was not complete. The only true void had existed in an age before his own. But in these infinite distances, the few bodies were a sparse scattering of tiny specks of light, so removed as to have no relevance. Like his shattered heart, a vast emptiness dotted with rocky, sterile hopes. The darkness he saw upon the face of the deep frightened him. It was like the darkness growing within himself.
As he fell, he had time to ponder. Why such fury, this ultimate punishment?
He had acted boldly, with imagination and daring, and for that he should have been rewarded. Instead, he had come to this. Great and manifold his blessings had been—then were stripped away. How far he had come from the first light of morning, the light that brought day out of night!
Ice crystals flayed him, searing with a chill fire. His single comfort as he fell was the thought he held close to him in the measureless universe. I did not fall alone.

Chapter One:
Two young male observers stood at the edge of the small clearing that lay in the secluded heart of a sprawling suburban park. They were of average height. One had short, curly brown hair; the 
other had a long sheet of fine white hair that glowed in the afternoon light and spilled down his shoulders like a waterfall. Except for the faint shouts and shrill whistles from the soccer fields over a hundred yards away, it was a peaceful spot.
Oak trees and undergrowth shrouded in wild grape vines concealed the young men. They watched a young red-haired woman who appeared to be in her early twenties; she was seated on the grass in the center of the clearing.
A shaft of late afternoon sunlight slanted through the trees, and her hair flashed like a sheet of polished copper. One of the men released a low hiss from between his teeth, the sound of a teakettle verging on the boil. The other man stepped hard on his foot, and the hiss was cut short.
Mellis looked up and glanced around the clearing but saw nothing out of the ordinary. A thick curtain of leaves surrounded her, in varying shades of late-summer green. Just an insect, she decided. She went back to watching her dog and to thinking.
Orlando leaped and bit at the flies that buzzed in the warm, moist air. He moved gracefully for a large dog, and his dark, shaggy coat gleamed with good health. When he reared up and spun around on muscular hind legs, Mellis smiled at his excitement. The dog bared his teeth and snapped at a passing fly, his jaws meeting with an audible clack.
The two men heard this, and one of them took a half step back from the clearing. The one with long, pale hair didn’t move, but only stared at the girl and her dog more intently. As he studied his quarry, a fat bumblebee landed on the crown of his shining head, and began to crawl slowly toward his face. The man ignored it. The bee continued, down one side of the forehead, across the fair skin of the cheekbone, back up around the orbit of the blue, blue eye, and again to the forehead, unlined and glassy smooth. Still the man paid no heed.
The bee had inched halfway up the forehead when it lost its hold and dropped. It fell to the ground and lay there for a stunned moment before remembering its wings—then it lifted off and flew away, staggering like a drunk through the steamy air.
Mellis, meanwhile, was pondering her life, something she did often lately—in this spot, which she liked to imagine as her secret retreat. No one ever disturbed her here. And she had Orlando for protection. Her dog would defend her at any cost to himself. She sat cross-legged on the soft grass in jeans worn smooth at the knees, plucking blades of grass and shredding them between her fingers. Her eyes were still on her dog, but without really seeing him now. Instead, she was trying, with little success, to look into her future.
She contemplated her limited options. I could go back to school, I guess, but what would I study? Her three semesters of college had left her empty and frustrated. Although her mother had tried to reassure her that, at twenty-three, she had time to decide, Mellis still felt an urgency to accomplish something—anything—but what? School had no answer for that urge.
The idea of marriage was laughable. There’d been no shortage of nice men her age who wanted to spend time with her, but they’d all seemed as vacant and purposeless to her as she did to herself. After turning down—nicely—the last two who’d asked her out, she stopped accepting invitations. She didn’t want to waste their time. Or hers.
Since high school she’d held a part-time job, working in the kitchen at Goodwin’s Permanent Care. Minimum wage, but enough money so that she didn’t feel like a burden to her mother. She found the work gratifying because she was helping people who had a genuine need. But she couldn’t see herself working in a nursing home for the rest of her life.
She looked down and noticed a small hole near the hem of her T-shirt. The blue of her jeans showed through it, like a small, faded blue flower in the field of her green cotton shirt. She put a finger through the hole and wiggled it. Why can’t I plug the holes in my life this easily? She shook her head. I wish Mom were happier.
Her mother’s dissatisfaction was something Mellis had been aware of as long as she could remember. She’d never known the source of it; they never talked about it. Mellis had no doubt that her mother loved her with every bit of her body and soul, but there’d always been an underlying sadness too. Because of her father? All her mother ever said about him was that he’d been “a good man.” Once, as a child, Mellis had made the mistake of asking her grandparents about her father. Her grandmother had fixed her with a cold, pinched stare. Her grandfather had patted Mellis on the arm and changed the subject.
A wet black nose poked itself into the crook of her elbow, startling her out of her reverie. Orlando’s expression made her laugh, and she wrapped an arm about his neck to give him a playful squeeze. He squirmed out of her grasp, put his paws on her shoulders, and together they tumbled down onto their sides and rolled in the grass.
She sat up, still laughing, and finger-combed her hair. A few leafy bits dropped into her lap, and she flicked them off. Orlando gave himself a vigorous shake, his tags jangling.
Mellis looked at her watch and sighed. “Time to go, I guess. Come on, Orlando.” She got to her feet and brushed off the seat of her jeans.
Orlando growled deep in his throat. Startled, Mellis followed his gaze, and saw a tight knothole in a live oak tree open like an eyelid and blink twice on an expressionless, bark-brown eye.
Mellis froze. As she stared, the knothole squeezed shut again, leaving a scar in the tree’s trunk. I must’ve been mistaken. Then the two watchers stepped into the clearing and moved toward her.
She had an instant to form an impression of two fair young men dressed in strange clothing. What’s happening? What do they want with me?
Orlando lunged at them, then, much to her horror, backed away from the men and sank to his haunches beside her—hesitant and confused. What is he doing?
The two men stopped. The curly-haired one said, “Don’t worry. This won’t hurt.” He reached for her with both arms.
She was shocked to see that his hands looked like giant lobster claws—pale pink, fleshy and crescent-shaped. Each one fingerless, but with a long thumb.
She tried to scream, but all she could muster was a breathy, panicked squeak. The blond man said to his companion, “Let’s get this done before one of them interrupts us.”
One of them?
“What about the dog?” The first pointed at Orlando with a lobster claw hand.
The blond shrugged. He flipped a long, limp forearm at Mellis and Orlando. From the elbow down, his arm appeared boneless, and tapered to a blunt point where his hand should have been. “Let’s bring them both.”
Mellis found her courage. Lurching backwards, she slipped a hand in her front pocket, and yelled, “Stay back, Orlando!” Then she held up her keychain and shot each of her assailants in the face with pepper spray.
* * *

It felt like she was floating in a warm bath. Snatches of low conversation came to her.
“What—? What did I say?” someone asked in a strangled voice.
“Apparently you weren’t convincing,” another answered.
There was a loud sniff.
“I always hate this part,” the first one said.
She drifted into oblivion again, escaping what the last remark implied.
* * *

About the Author:

Susan Rooke is a Pushcart-nominated poet and author of the forthcoming The Space Between Series. Her short stories and poems have appeared in publications such as The Christian Science Monitor and The Twilight Zone Magazine, among many others. She resides on a square of green, peaceful country not far from Austin, Texas, with her husband Glen, who runs a small cattle operation while Rooke writes fiction about angels and demons, monsters, faeries and dragons. Her upcoming novel: The Space Between: The Prophecy of Faeries contains J.R.R. Tolkien-style worldbuilding, with fantastical characters such as those in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland whose stories unfold with a seamless melding of dream and reality like that in Neil Gaiman’s works. Look for it wherever books are sold in September 2017.

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