Published by Vesuvian Books on September 4, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Fairy Tale re-telling
What fate awaits a girl who hears monsters at night…
Sixteen-year-old Jaclyn looks up to her father. An honest man who once fought for the king, he now teaches Jaclyn how to use her wits—and her sword.
But he has a secret. And his secret may have a connection to the one thing Jaclyn is hiding from him.
Upon hearing “monsters” are terrorizing the small villages around Black Mountain, Jaclyn’s father and his friends head out to hunt them … but they don’t return.
Armed only with her sword and three magic beans—a gift from a mysterious old woman—Jaclyn sets out for Black Mountain to save her father.
On her climb, one bean drops and grows into a beanstalk, catching her when she falls.
She isn’t the only one that takes the ride. Jack, her childhood friend and secret crush, is following her.
Jaclyn and Jack will have to work together to save not only their fathers, but the townspeople the beasts plan to lay waste to before it’s too late.
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The roar of the monsters whirled in the air—one deafening snarl after the other—and loud thumps steadily approaching shook the earth.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
From the sound of them, there were at least three. Maybe more.
Their rage rumbled the earth like a lion’s growl, but a hundred times worse. I wanted to see what they looked like, but the rain and the darkness made it impossible. I had to wipe water off my face every second to better my vision.
When the lanterns moved closer to the sheep, I stiffened. And not too far from them shone six glowing circles—radiant like the sun—high above the ground. My gut told me they were the monsters’ eyes, burning like Hell’s fire.
God help us.
“What are you waiting for?” Aldwin shouted. “Kill the beasts.”
“No, Aldwin,” Father said.
“We can’t fight giants, Richard.”
“May God have mercy.”
The angered monsters’ cries reverberated within the forest, loud enough to be heard for miles. When lightning struck again, shock slammed into me and my breath hitched, for I got a glimpse of the monsters towering over the men.
Their elongated arms possessed claws the size and shape of swords. To my horror, the beasts looked like the creatures in my vision when I’d touched the lance.
They are real … real … real. Taller than life. Claws like a beast. Teeth as sharp as knives. Phantom demons incarnate.
“Run,” William shouted, and then human screams followed.
I reached out, and just before I touched the brush, the old woman grabbed my wrist. Her probing fingers seemed to be seeking something. I gasped and jerked away from her sharp nails and the coldness of her touch.
“I apologize.” I tugged at my sleeve, even though it was already down, for fear she had seen my birthmark.
Her hood shifted and her dark, snapping eyes assured me she had. But when she peered up at me with a small smile, she eased my mind.
“Have a care, please.”
Her raspy voice stunned me, as she continued to stare, examining me like I was some kind of novelty.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized again. “I want to buy the set for my mother. I have a silver coin.”
I showed it to her. Perhaps she thought me a thief like the hat seller.
“Which one suits your fancy?”
She reached underneath her cloak for something—a dagger maybe?
My pulse raced. My mind became unsteady. Defeating an old woman would be easy, unless she was a witch. I had heard tales of witches in my younger days, but I’d never paid attention. I wished I had.
I pointed. “That one, please.”
She handed me the brush first and then the mirror. I ran my finger across the vine from the bottom, feeling the curves and indentations and the fine texture of the smooth wood. Admiring its beauty, I knew Mother would be pleased.
The old woman’s eyes stayed on my covered wrists. No fear showed through them, only recognition or something else unexplainable. Before she could ask me a question, I placed the silver coin in front of her and turned to leave.
“Stop,” she said.
I gulped fear down my throat.
Have I done something wrong? What will she ask of me?
All my life, no one had asked me about my birthmarks. I hid them well.
“Yes?” I turned to her, smiling.
“Here, I have a gift for you.”
I was foolish enough to think she would give me a silver back, so I opened my hand to her. She dropped three beans in it and closed my fist. When her hand touched mine, she gasped sharply, and her eyes rolled back.
I shuddered at her expression. I wanted to run far from her, but I remained calm when no trickery played from her. But why beans? Not a bag of beans, but three shriveled, gray, speckled beans.
“Nay, thank you.”
I tried to open my hand to return them to her, but she held steady onto me. The old fool giving me beans—she must be mad. And I needed to head back to Father.
“You look like your mother. Have ’em.” Her eyes bored into mine, and then finally let go. “You’d be wise to hold these fast. A time will come when you are in need. Use them wisely.”
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