ARC Tour Sign Up: The Heart of Neverland by Natalie J. Reddy (Nov 28 – Dec 2) Genre: Fantasy/ Romantasy/ Pan Retelling @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books #FantasyBooks

Pan Retelling? Yes please!!!

I am so excited to FINALLY announce this ARC tour! I am looking for people to host reviews (mainly) and features of The Heart of Neverland by Natalie J. Reddy! The tour will run from November 28th to December 2nd and digital ARCs are available.

Sign up below!

eBook - The Heart of Neverland

The Heart of Neverland (The Neverwitch Chronicles #1)

Expected Publication Date: November 30th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy/ Romance/ Adventure/ Pirates/ Pan Retelling

One night.

That’s all it takes to turn my life upside down. It’s not like I had the most stable childhood to begin. Most of it was spent on the run from the villains in my mom’s head. It isn’t until after she’s murdered right in front of me that I realize maybe they weren’t in her head after all.

After her death I go to stay with an uncle I didn’t know existed to try to make sense of my life and find some answers about who I really am. As I search for the truth a guy named Peter shows up and makes it his mission to constantly get in my personal space. He’s gorgeous, flirty and completely infuriating. And possibly not actually human or from this world.

The things he tells me sound insane and I don’t think I can trust him. It doesn’t matter that each heated touch draws me deeper into his web. Things like magic, pirates and Peter Pan just aren’t real.

PRE-ORDER HERE!

About the Author

Author

Natalie J. Reddy is a Canadian Author who spends her days trying to escape reality by making up stories about the characters in her head.

Natalie realized at an early age that she had a passion for storytelling and that passion followed her into adulthood. There is nothing she loves more than to be pulled into a fictional world whether it’s in her own writing or the writing of others. Natalie is the author of the Scar of Days Forgotten series, a New Adult Urban Fantasy series with characters who have supernatural abilities and dark and sometimes unknown pasts to overcome.

When she’s not writing, Natalie can be found having all sorts of real-life adventures with her husband and daughter or curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.

To keep up to date on upcoming books, subscribe to Natalie’s newsletter at nataliejreddy.com

Natalie J. Reddy | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

 

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Book Tour Sign Up: Hot Ash (An Angela Hardwicke Sci-fi Mystery) by Russ Colchamiro (Nov 14 – 18) Genre: Sci-Fi Mystery @AuthorDudeRuss @RRBookTours1 #RRBookToursBook

Russ Colchamiro is back with another Angela Hardwicke book!

I’m organizing a book tour for Hot Ash, a sci-fi mystery that can be read as a standalone like all Angela Hardwicke novels. The tour will run from November 14th to the 18th and our priority is reviews. There will be some spots open for spotlights. We have 5 physical copies for the first 5 reviewers to sign up (US only) and digital for everyone! 

Sign up below!

Hot_Ash_Front_Cover_RGB FINAL 06.22.2022

Hot Ash

Publication Date: September 6th, 2022

Genre: Sci-Fi Mystery

Intergalactic private Angela Hardwicke is Eternity’s most daring spy for hire…

Following the mysterious and ill-timed death of her elderly husband, Camille Engquist was set to inherit the family’s real estate development company. But her stepkids stole it from her first. Or so she claims.

As Hardwicke and her protégé Eric Whistler dive into the world of affordable housing, synthetic concrete, and corporate succession planning, their investigation put them face-to-face with the haves and have-nots, a new form of cocaine, a boundary-pushing neurobiologist, a majestic domed city and a violent conspiracy that stretches farther and deeper than they ever could have imaged. But the most insidious betrayals are sometimes closer to home.

In Hot Ash, Russ Colchamiro’s most action-packed Sci-Fi mystery yet, Angela Hardwicke must grapple with the worst pain of all—that the people we love are the ones we should fear most.

Goodreads *Excellent reviews!

About the Author

Russ Groovy headshot

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive EditionGenius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson KeepPangaeaAltered States of the UnionCamelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Camelot 13, and Brave New Girls.

Russ ColchamiroFacebook | Twitter | Goodreads  

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Book Tour: The Maze Cutter (The Maze Runner Series) by James Dashner – Genre: YA Dystopian @jamesdashner @KeriBarnum @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #TheMazeCutter #TheMazeRunner #BookTour

We are celebrating the upcoming release of The Maze Cutter by James Dashner, and we are thrilled that the series continues with a new generation of chacters! Read on for more details and make sure to pre-order a copy today! 

There are fabulous giveaways too — A book box containing a hardcover edition (US only) and a $25 Amazon gift card, audiobook download, and signed bookplate for one lucky international winner!

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The Maze Cutter (Hardcover/ Kindle/ Audio Editions)

Expected Publication Date: November 15th, 2022

Genre: YA Dystopian/ Teens

Publisher: Akashic Media Enterprises

Seventy-three years after the events of THE DEATH CURE, when Thomas and other immunes were sent to an island to survive the Flare-triggered apocalypse, their descendants have thrived. Sadina, Isaac, and Jackie all learned about the unkind history of the Gladers from The Book of Newt and tall tales from Old Man Frypan, but when a rusty old boat shows up one day with a woman bearing dark news of the mainland–everything changes. The group and their islander friends are forced to embark back to civilization where they find Cranks have evolved into a more violent, intelligent version of themselves. The islanders are hunted by the Godhead, the Remnant Nation, and scientists with secret agendas. When they cross paths with an orphan named Minho from the Remnant Nation, the dangers become real and they don’t know who they can trust. The islanders will have to survive long enough to figure out why they are being targeted, who is friend or foe, and what the Godhead has planned for the future of humanity.

Add to Goodreads

The Maze Runner Series

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Pre-Order The Maze Cutter at These Fine Retailers

Amazon | B&N | Waterstones | Bookshop | Kobo | iBooks

About the Author

James Dashner

James Dashner is #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Maze Runner series, including The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, The Kill Order, and The Fever Code, and the bestselling Mortality Doctrine series (The Eye of Minds, The Rule of Thoughts, and The Game of Lives). Dashner was born and raised in Georgia, but now lives and writes in the Rocky Mountains.

James Dashner | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

 

The giveaway will run from October 3rd until October 9th!

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Book Tour Schedule

October 3rd

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

@jacleomik33 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jacleomik33

@brandidanielledavis (Review) https://www.instagram.com/brandidanielledavis/

@bri_serena_reads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bri_serena_reads

@books_inthecity (Review) https://www.instagram.com/books_inthecity/

The Librocubicularista (Review) https://thelibrocubicularista.wordpress.com/

@courtneys.shelflife (Review) https://www.instagram.com/courtneys.shelflife/

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

October 4th

@caffeinatedbibliophilia (Review) https://www.instagram.com/caffeinatedbibliophilia/

I Smell Sheep (Review) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@margiebythebookcase (Review) https://www.instagram.com/margiebythebookcase/

@marvsbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/marvsbooks/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

FUONLYKNEW Blog (Spotlight) http://fuonlyknew.com/

October 5th

The Book View (Review) https://thebookview.com/

@theenchantedshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theenchantedshelf/

@all.you.read.is.love (Review) https://www.instagram.com/all.you.read.is.love/

@by_hckilgour (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/by_hckilgour/

@authortaylorkillpack (Review) https://www.instagram.com/authortaylorkillpack/

@better_0ff_read (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/better_0ff_read/

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

October 6th

Cheryl’s Book Nook (Review) https://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@my.bookish.mind (Review) https://www.instagram.com/My.bookish.mind/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

@rainbowbookdragon15 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/rainbowbookdragon15

@themagicofworlds_be (Review) https://www.instagram.com/themagicofworlds_be/

October 7th

@its_b.e.l.l.e (Review) https://www.instagram.com/its_b.e.l.l.e/

Didi Oviatt (Review) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

@inkspit.blog (Review) https://www.instagram.com/inkspit.blog/

@happily_undignified (Review) https://www.instagram.com/happily_undignified/

@atypical.tales (Review) https://www.instagram.com/atypical.tales/

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

@tabithabouldin (Review) https://www.instagram.com/tabithabouldin/

@junk.journal.librarian (Review) https://www.instagram.com/junk.journal.librarian/

@bhaneereads_ (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bhaneereads_/

@readingwithwrin (Review) https://www.instagram.com/readingwithwrin/

 

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Book Tour & Giveaway: Secrets of a Rose (Royal Blood #1) by Adina Chiles – Genre: YA Fantasy @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BookTour #Giveaway

Welcome to the book tour for this absolutely stunning novel, Secrets of a Rose by Adina Chiles! Read on for more details and dive into this brand-new series!

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Secrets of a Rose (Royal Blood #1)

Publication Date: June 8th, 2022

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Midnight Tide Publishing

A kingdom built with secrets is bound to unravel.

During the month of Amira, the silver moon emerges, and the kingdom of Zyra comes alive with anticipation for its annual ball. Mellana Goodwick, finally at the rightful age of sixteen, receives her first invitation, but when unexpected events take place, immediate regret sets in. Mellana finds herself caught in a strange storm-casting down green lightning and filling the sky with ear-splitting thunder. To make matters worse, the kingdom comes under attack by Prince Lorian, a man removed from the line of succession for murdering his sister, the future queen, and her newborn child.

After escaping the attack with her best friends, Mellana stumbles upon a box left by a woman named Rose. With the power to see glimpses of the future, Rose warns Mellana of hidden powers the kingdom has covered up and Lorian’s desire to unleash them all. Rose instructs Mellana to gather the sacred article from each of the seven kingdoms before Lorian and his deadly group can gain access to them. Together, the items unlock a barrier that is meant to stay shut.

In Secrets of a Rose, Mellana will discover remarkable abilities that stir around her and some that even rise within. In order to keep what she loves, she must embark on a race against the person who dares to threaten it all.

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150 Years Ago

“It is a death sentence you have damned us to. If there was a way to pay this debt with your blood, I would cut you this instant and spill every drop.”

The very thought of her words slice just as viciously had she carried out her threat.

Prince Verren, eldest son of the High Whimsy King, sits slouching over the desk of his study. Some of the last words spoken to him by his wife play on a torturous loop in his head.

He envisions silver locks, the touch like satin sheets between his fingertips gliding down her back. In his mind, he brushes the dimples of her smile, gentle enough to stop a war, but he smirks, knowing she carries a temper that can easily start one.

Despite the beauty of the bustling golden streets just beyond his window and the diamond-dusted buildings that reflect all of Melzy, his heart sits hollow. What he won’t give to find his wife. Blood pools into his knuckles; he knows it’s not at the hands of another but because she wants it this way.

After she ran away, he went straight to the castle’s mixer. Someone capable of crafting a mix powerful enough to extract the pain.

The man had suggested a sleeping mix, for agonizing nights, or even a forgetting mix, so that Verren would never remember what she had done.”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Adina Chiles is a fantasy author who loves taking her readers on whimsical adventures. She adores stories with endearing friendships, people who possess unique powers, and witty banter.

She lives in Northern California with her family. When she is not writing, she is buying books she knows she doesn’t need or experimenting with new baking recipes.

Adina has partnered with Midnight Tide Publishing to bring you the young adult fantasy series Royal Blood.

Adina Chiles

 

Book Tour Schedule

October 3rd

R&R Book Tours (Spotlight) http://rrbooktours.com

@better_0ff_read (Review) https://www.instagram.com/better_0ff_read/

@balancing_books_and_beauties (Review)               https://www.instagram.com/balancing_books_and_beauties/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

@mels_booksandhooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

@dreaminginpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpages/

October 4th

@elinasbookstagram (Review) https://www.instagram.com/elinasbookstagram/

@wraithreads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/wraithreads/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@wife_mama_booknerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/wife_mama_booknerd/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

@accio_mischief (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/accio_mischief/

October 5th

@bookswithstacie (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookswithstacie/

@junk.journal.librarian (Review) https://www.instagram.com/junk.journal.librarian/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

I Love Books & Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

@readingwithwrin (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/readingwithwrin/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@itsabookthing2021 (Spotlight) http://www.instagram.com/itsabookthing2021

October 6th

@amber.bunch_author (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

@wickedbeebooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/wickedbeebooks/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Review) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

@caffeinatedbibliophilia (Review) https://www.instagram.com/caffeinatedbibliophilia/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Freelance Writer, Janny C (Spotlight) https://freelancewriterjannyc.com/

Books + Coffee = Happiness (Spotlight) https://bookscoffeehappiness.com/

October 7th

@its_b.e.l.l.e (Review) https://www.instagram.com/its_b.e.l.l.e/

@booktreasuresau (Review) https://www.instagram.com/booktreasuresau/

@margiebythebookcase (Review) https://www.instagram.com/margiebythebookcase

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

@wolfesbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/wolfesbooks/

@authortaylorkillpack (Review) https://www.instagram.com/authortaylorkillpack/

@Pjsandbooks (Spotlight) https://www.tiktok.com/@pjsandbooks

https://www.instagram.com/pjsandbooks/

 

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Book Tour: Seekers: The Winds of Change by Troy Knowlton – Genre: High Fantasy/ YA Fantasy @troy_knowlton @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BookTour

Welcome to the book tour for epic fantasy Seekers: The Winds of Change by Troy Knowlton, perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faisal!

UPDATED-FRONT-SEEKERS

Seekers: The Winds of Change

Publication Date: July 12th, 2022

Genre: YA Fantasy/ High Fantasy

After an assassination attempt that could lead to an all-out war, Tyras and Oren, two young Seekers of the Argan Empire, are each given secret missions in an attempt to thwart the coming chaos. Both tasks require the Seekers to venture through the war-torn continent of Tiarna where the young men face mortal danger, horrible monsters, and hostile groups – all challenges Seekers are trained to combat. Luckily, the two Seekers also find guidance, friendship, and romance along the way. However, powerful and mysterious forces are conspiring behind the scenes and both Tyras and Oren will have to overcome a host of obstacles, including their own inner demons, in order to maintain a glimmer of hope for success. With war imminent and the unknown ahead, will the Seekers triumph, or will they be swallowed by the turbulent, relentless Winds of Change?

Set in a new, masterfully created high fantasy world, Seekers: The Winds of Change is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faisal.

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seekers

The Phantom in Blue

The night sky was like a dark and shifting ocean, pitch-black and ominous. Strong winds kicked up swaths of desert sand into the horizon. The waves of brown earth raged across the heavens with a low roar. The rough weather spewed thousands of coarse, rocky grains that tore into anything standing in their path. It made the inhabitants of the Koterran mining camp miserable. The small encampment sat at the edge of a large rift in the sands, where precious iron and sandstone had already been torn from the earth. Webs of scaffolding hugged the edge of the chasm and stretched deep into the hole below. The tents of the camp were arranged in two circles. A dozen or so constituted the outer circle, and five made up the inner circle, the largest of which housed the spoils of the dig. A robust campfire sat in the center, which shone defiantly against the darkness of the wild night.

Serana sat on a rock at the edge of the campfire’s light and peered off into the distance. She wondered why her father made the decision to send her to this bizarre corner of the kingdom to guard this tiny, insignificant camp. A whole party of knights accompanied her, which seemed unnecessary. There’d been reports of bandits attacking caravans in the area, causing the High Commander to take action. He’d entrusted his daughter with organizing the camp’s protection. On the surface it made sense, but this was a job for regional guards, not Serana and thirty royal knights. Perhaps there’s some other reason, besides bandits. What if there’s a threat too dangerous to reveal, one he wanted to keep secret? The idea both terrified and excited her.

A powerful gust of wind smashed through the circling encampment like an ocean tide crashing against rocky shores. It ripped through the tents and carried enough force to extinguish the fire, shrouding the camp in near-total darkness. Bedlam ensued as miners and knights ran around in that darkness, fumbling like blind infants, trying to find where they had left their torches.

Serana didn’t join in the hysteria. She listened through the commotion, blocking her ears from the miners’ squabbling and sensing outward. She could feel a presence approaching the camp’s edge. She squinted at the outer circle of tents and saw the shape of a figure moving across them, like a predator circling its prey. Her hand reached for the sword at her hip, but she stopped short. She realized there was a danger in having her weapon drawn, with so many people running around in the dark. In her moment of hesitation, she lost sight of the figure. She shouted a command to her knights: “Gather your bearings and spread out. We aren’t alone!”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Troy Knowlton always had a burning desire to tell stories. He started at a young age by drawing maps of made-up continents and fantasy kingdoms. The empty kingdoms beckoned to be given life, and his work eventually blossomed, leading him to create full narratives and characters for his worlds. He currently lives in California where he works as an X-Ray technologist and teacher when he isn’t writing. He’s also a great lover of history, currently working to earn his bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science.

Troy Knowlton 

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Book Tour Schedule

October 3rd

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

@tabithabouldin (Review) https://www.instagram.com/tabithabouldin/

@authortaylorkillpack (Review) https://www.instagram.com/authortaylorkillpack/

@wendyreadsforfun (Review) https://www.instagram.com/wendyreadsforfun/

Cocktails & Fairytales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

   October 4th

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

@louturnspages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/louturnspages/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Spotlight) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

October 5th

@caffeinatedbibliophilia (Review) https://www.instagram.com/caffeinatedbibliophilia/

I Love Books & Stuff (Spotlight) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com

@mels_booksandhooks (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

@wolfesbooks (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/wolfesbooks/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/

October 6th

@booktreasuresau (Review) https://www.instagram.com/booktreasuresau/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Haddie’s Haven (Spotlight) https://haddieshaven.blogspot.com

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

@calmstitchread (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/calmstitchread/

October 7th

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

Sophril Reads (Review) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Book Reviews by Taylor (Spotlight) https://www.bookreviewsbytaylor.com/

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

 

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Book Tour & Giveaway: The Abdication by Justin Newland – Genre: Fantasy/ Supernatural @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #MatadorBooks #BookTour

 

Welcome to the book tour for fantasy novel The Abdication by Justin Newland! Read on for more info and enter the giveaway at the end! You could win a signed copy!

The Abdication - Final flattened. Front cover (titles)

The Abdication 

Publication Date: July 4th, 2021

Genre: Fantasy/ Supernatural

Publisher: Matador

The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.

Excerpt

Tula’s swollen ankle ached as she trudged up the mountain. It had moaned incessantly, ever since she had left her home in the city before embarking on this journey. Then again, it had always hurt. Perhaps since birth: she could never remember that far back. She had complained to her parents, who could not afford to get it seen by the doctor.

A gust of wind whipped up particles of sand which spiralled in the fractious air ahead of her. She squinted and pulled her keffiyeh up to cover her nose. At this altitude, the air was a thin gruel, offering paltry nourishment. Her gut was rumbling, but that was nothing new. She had walked uphill all afternoon from Seliga in the valley below and now she was gasping for breath. Her backpack seemed to weigh as much as that boulder up ahead. A vulture circled effortlessly in the azure blue sky. There was another one above the next valley, griffon vultures searching for prey; so long as they left her alone.

Wisps of straw-coloured grass sprouted beside the graves of an unkempt cemetery. The top of the surrounding low stone wall was speckled with reddish spots, like splashes of copper rain. A few of the gravestones had fallen over and kissed the parched earth. This was the summit of a mountain and even the grand old yew trees huddled in one side of the cemetery were bending to the east, bowing to the omnipotent goddess of the winds in her distant unseen shrine.

Between the cemetery and the town lay a vibrant carpet of blue thorns; large cones of tiny blue flowers surrounded by a spiky, electric-blue collar.

Up ahead were the town walls, shimmering in the waves of heat rising from the scorched land. Finally, her journey’s end was in sight. On the side of the road just outside the town’s South Gate was the Welcome Boulder. It towered above her, which was not that difficult because in the city she was constantly mocked as the shortest amongst her peers. Most of the boulder was coated in that brownish-red dust. Towards the top of it was the immortal sign that declared the town’s identity:

Welcome to Topeth.

The First Free Town and

‘The Top’ Town of all.

Long before her arrival, her parents and teachers had fired her imagination with their stories about Topeth. As the sign proudly declared, it was once ‘The Top’ town, not only because it was perched precariously on the highest mountain in the range, but also because it was the living exemplar of humanity’s stumbling progress. Many years before, that epic story had featured Herman, the First Man. It told how he had ushered in a brilliant new freedom for mankind – hence the First Free Town. Yet, after that early spring advance, there was now a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Many people asked whether their forefathers had used that freedom wisely. Some answered with a resounding ‘Yes’, but Tula had doubts. That was why she was in Topeth; to find out for herself.

On either side of the entrance road was a row of tall, spiky cacti, standing like pale, bloated fish out of water.

To the west of the town was a large area of open ground. Huge scars pitted the land which was dotted with peaked mounds of reddened earth. A gnarled ghost haunted the land. Crouched amidst its shadow lands were rickety sheds and wooden shacks, all dowsed in the same brown-red dust. Even the town’s walls were tainted in the same hue. This was the infamous Topeth open cast copper mine.

In these dangerous times, many towns shut their gates well before sundown. Thankfully, the main gates to Topeth were still open.

An old man sat cross-legged with his back against one of the gate posts, whittling a long, rod-like piece of wood and chewing on a wedge of tobacco. What an obnoxious substance. Yellow pouting lips glared at her from within a grey, untended beard. On his head, he wore a scruffy, black and white chequered keffiyeh.

“Who’s there?” He completed the question by spitting prodigiously onto the earth.

“Me, I’m Tula. And you are?”

“Can’t you see I’m blind or are you as well?” The man was gruff. He faced her. Empty sockets peered into the void.

“No, I mean yes. I’m sorry, I didn’t notice. I’m exhausted. It’s been a long day.”

“Don’t recognise your voice. You new here?”

“Yes, sir. I’ve just arrived.”

“Got your pass?”

A blind man was asking her for a pass to travel. That she had not expected. She pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper from her knapsack and hesitated, not knowing what to do with it.

“Give it here,” he demanded. “I may be blind, but do you think I can’t see right through you?”

“No, sir. I’m sure you can. It’s just that…” She gave him the travel permit.

He held it to his cheek. He rubbed it first against his left cheek, then against his right, and nodded to himself, as if reading its contents with inner eyes. She gazed at him wide-eyed.

He handed it back to her. “Go on. All in order here.”

“What did you just do?”

“When I hold something against my cheeks, I get pictures in my mind.”

“I never knew that was even possible. What did you see?”

“I saw a fair-haired young woman with blue eyes, sparkling like rays of sunlight dancing on a flowing river. I saw a smile that warms the day, a pretty face. Your fringe and pale skin and freckles will drive the young men crazy.”

“That’s kind of you to say,” she said, failing to hide a blush. “May I ask you something?”

“Carry on. You’re good at asking questions.”

No one was going to intimidate her. No one.

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About the Author

J21A3490

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

Justin Newland

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