Rebel (Enclave Publishing)
No Ordinary Fairy Tale Book 2
By R. J. Anderson
The last time Timothy broke a rule, he got suspended.
But when he defies the faery empress, it might well get him killed.
Timothy Sinclair doesn’t believe in faeries—after all the hardships he’s suffered since his missionary parents sent him away to boarding school, he’s not even sure he still believes in God. But when a tiny winged girl named Linden bursts into his life and begs him to help save her people, the skeptical Timothy finds himself drawn into a struggle against a potent evil that threatens humans and faeries alike.
With a deadly pair of hunters on their trail, Timothy and Linden flee across country, drawn by the legend of a white stone that could be the faeries’ salvation. But the dangers that await them test their courage and resolve to the limit, threatening to tear their unlikely partnership apart. And when it comes down to one last desperate battle, they and all the people they love will be doomed unless Linden and Timothy can find the faith to overcome…
Book two of the No Ordinary Fairy Tale series.
Previously published in the US under the title Wayfarer.
The Queen is dying.
The knowledge sat in Linden’s belly like a cold stone as she hunched over the tub of greasy water, scrubbing her thirty-ninth plate. She’d promised Mallow, the Chief Cook, that she’d wash all the Oakenfolk’s dishes in exchange for a second piece of honey cake at dinner, and at the time it had seemed a reasonable bargain. But now that she knew what was happening at the top of the Spiral Stair—that the faery Queen was lying pale and weak upon her bed and might never rise from it again—she wanted to heave up all the cake she’d eaten and throw the last few dishes straight back in the Chief Cook’s face.
How could Mallow look smug, after bringing them such terrible news? The moment she’d spoken those words the whole kitchen had gone silent, Gatherers and cooks and scullions all staring in horrified disbelief. Yet the corners of Mallow’s fat mouth were curled up in obvious self-satisfaction, as though the important thing wasn’t Queen Amaryllis’s fate, only that she’d been the first of the to find out about it.
Still, Linden didn’t dare to question Mallow, or beg her for more details—unless, of course, she was prepared to bargain for the information. The other faeries in the kitchen must have thought the same, for they’d already gone back to work, downcast faces and trembling hands their only signs of emotion. But Linden could imagine the anxious thoughts running through their minds, because the same fears chilled her own:
How much longer can the Queen live”
Who will rule the Oak now?
And most of all: Oh, Great Gardener, what will become of us when she’s gone?
Linden bowed her head over the tub until her long brown curls almost brushed the water. She squeezed her eyes shut and her lips together, trying not to weep. To be brave, like her foster mother Knife had taught her—but oh, she wished that Knife could be with her now!
“Don’t forget these,” said Mallow’s voice from behind her, and a silver tray clattered onto the counter by Linden’s side. “Not that she’s eaten much, so be sure to scrape them first.”
In Mallow’s language scrape them really meant save all the good bits for me. Linden looked at the almost untouched food—a plate of delicately carved roast finch with mashed roots and chestnut dressing—and felt sick all over again. If the Queen couldn’t even muster the will to eat, how would she find the strength to do magic? If the spells that protected the Oak weren’t renewed on a daily basis they would start to weaken, and then it wouldn’t take long for disease, insects and a host of hungry predators to start gnawing their way inside . . .
“Someone else can wash the Queen’s dishes, Mallow,” said a calm voice from the doorway. “Her Majesty wishes me to bring Linden to her at once.”
Linden looked up, her tears draining into the backs of her eyes as she recognized the tall, grave-looking faery who had spoken. “Me, Valerian? Why?”
But Mallow spoke up before Valerian could answer. “Linden made me a bargain, Healer. You can wait.”
Someone gasped, but quickly turned it into a cough as Mallow swung round. “Stop gawping and get back to work!” she barked, then returned her glare to Linden. “Well?”
Anger surged through Lindn, and she clenched her soap-slick hands. It was one thing for Mallow to bully her own kitchen workers, or a temporary servant like Linden herself. But to be rude to Valerian—worse, to deny a request from their own dying Queen—it was intolerable.
Yet what could she do about it? At fifteen Linden was by far the youngest faery in the Oak, and one of the smallest besides. She had no magic, no influence, not even a proper occupation yet. It was ridiculous to think she could stand up to someone like Mallow. Linden swallowed, nodded, and began removing the uneaten food from the Queen’s plate.
“No,” said Valerian, walking over. She took the plate from Linden, gently but firmly, and set it aside. “Her Majesty is not dead yet, Mallow. And even among faeries, there are duties more sacred than a bargain.” She bent and looked into Linden’s face with her searching grey eyes. “The Queen has need of you. Will you come with me?”
Not commanding, but asking: that was Valerian’s way. And yet that simple courtesy was enough to straighten Linden’s spine, making her ashamed that she had bowed to Mallow for even a moment.
“Yes, of course,” she said. “I’ll come at once.”
– – – – –
R. J. (Rebecca) Anderson isn’t trying to pretend she’s not female, she just thinks her initials look writerly. The daughter of a Bible teacher who read Tolkien and Lewis aloud to his children, she grew up daydreaming about Narnia and Middle-Earth, watching DOCTOR WHO from behind the sofa, and hanging out in her brothers’ comic book shop. Now she writes novels about knife-wielding faeries, weird science, and the numinous in the modern world.
Her debut novel KNIFE was longlisted for the Carnegie Award in 2009 and became a UK bestseller; it and its sequels REBEL and ARROW are now being re-released in US paperback and e-book by Enclave Publishing. Her teen thriller ULTRAVIOLET (2011) was shortlisted for the 2012 Andre Norton (Nebula) award and the Sunburst Award for Canadian SF, and was followed by a companion novel, QUICKSILVER (2013). Her newest book is a magical mystery-adventure called A POCKET FULL OF MURDER (Atheneum, September 2015)