E B Finke
'A small village in Cornwall hides a dangerous secret.'
The prologue sets the scene. Someone - a woman - is going to tell us the story of what happened behind the newspaper headlines. For a change, it appears that the newspapers didn't exaggerate or sensationalise what happened. Or rather they tried to, but the events were so far beyond belief that the papers failed miserably. But here comes the true story of the child adopted by Trevor and Edith Penharrow.
And then we hear of a legend recorded in the journal of Dr A J Meinert, a strange tale of a land where people dwell in caves far beneath the ground to avoid the sun, coming out only at night. There is a city of stone with an abandoned palace. One day a new King will come.
And then the story starts. Trevor and Edith adopted a little boy they called Danny. Jessica, who is telling the story, is young herself, a bit unsure abut having a new baby brother. She wasn't enamoured with him, and certainly wasn't afraid of him, which was a good thing, as most people were.
Danny grew quickly, didn't talk, didn't eat, didn't sleep, yet appeared to be perfectly healthy and intelligent. He read books far beyond his years, even though he had never been taught to read. He was soon taller and looked older than other kids his age. He was beautiful. He did exactly what he want paying little, if any, attention to the adults around him who were doing their best to care for him. The only person he had any sort of relationship with was his adopted sister Jessica.
At first his strange behaviour was perhaps to be expected and allowances made for; he was after all found abandoned at Lanyon Quoit, a Bronze Age monument in Cornwall, not far from where his adopted family lived.
Jessica never thought of Danny as being part of her family, which may explain her later thoughts towards him. To be honest, there were times when she wasn't sure if he was even part of her human race - though her common sense told her not to be stupid. She had left her childhood dreams of finding Narnia firmly behind, hadn't she? Jessica came to realise that their relationship was destructive so she left for university leaving Danny, her parents and Cornwall with its strange legends behind her.
There she met Hal, who could easily be mistaken for an elf, so beautiful and willowy was she; Hal introduced Jessica to Dr Meinert. Jessica's life spiralled into another world as she struggled to come to terms with the information she now had, and how it related to Danny.
Jessica raced back to Danny when she discovered that he was in real trouble at home in Cornwall, his name all over the newspapers. The story escalates quickly. Jessica finds that the strange things she has been told about Danny are true. Danny intends to leave which she knows is a good thing for him, but she can't bear to be parted from him.
The answer may lie in the police report that ends the story.
The fantasy world that fills the pages of this novel is astounding in the detail and complexity, and yet it raises questions we have probably all pondered at some stage. The beings who have walked the earth that are not quite like us - the changelings, the gods, the powerful - where have the myths come from? Could there be any truth in them?
E B Finke has a wonderful way with description that places you there so you can see for yourself. The strict and haughty woman at the orphanage had a smile 'plastered across her face like some strange graffiti sprayed on a wall.'
Jessica waved to her parents who 'were standing backlit in the door of the cottage.' You know that exact scene as it's getting dark and time to go.
She describes the narrow twisting Cornish lanes where locals drive at breakneck speed. Anyone who has driven in Cornwall knows exactly what she's talking about.
The story pushes boundaries and at times can make you feel a little uncomfortable which adds tension to the reading experience. You're not sure of what to expect, sometimes dreading it. Despite the oddity of the main character, he is strangely endearing. And Jessica loves him.
I asked the author to tell me a bit about herself and her publishing journey.
I have been writing books for several decades, most of them when I was in my twenties/thirties, but never tried to publish before last year. One reason was that I write in English, but live in Germany, and I was told that it's no use trying to find a publisher in the UK or the USA if you're a foreigner.
More recently - a few years ago - I was able to publish a few short stories in German anthologies, and I began writing a long novel in German. I sent it around mostly to fantasy- oriented publishers. Some of the smaller ones were interested but said it was too big for a small publisher. The big publishers never bothered to reply at all.
Then Covid hit, I had time on my hands, and I started to look into self-publishing and into polishing up those older books that I'd written in English. I had previously shied away from self-publishing and I'd have preferred doing it the traditional way, but honestly I'm too old now to invest years in shopping around for a publisher. Besides, I'm quite enjoying the fact that I have full control over what I'm doing.
I wish I could afford an editor, honestly, but I literally have no money to spare and I have to do it all on a zero budget So I do everything myself. it helps that I have worked, and still occasionally work, as an editor myself. I get really mad at people who call self-edited and self-published authors lazy, because I edit my socks off. It's hard work and it takes a lot of time and effort and you always miss something you only discover when you look into the finished book. (I'm actually terrified of doing that.) On the other hand, I have found more really bad mistakes in supposedly edited self-published books by other authors than I found in my own, so having an editor doesn't always help that much, either...
I have a Facebook page for my books where I keep a blog and post a lot of background info and artwork.
Thanks for this Betty. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the Chronicles. Why not take a look at Betty's page for further info.