Genre: Contemporary fantasy/Supernatural fiction
Publisher: NightLark Publishing
Date of Publication: 08/28/2018
Number of pages: 163
Word Count: 43000
Cover Artist: RL Bender
Tagline: An ancient evil is murdering residents in the isolated village of Mistwalk. Can Shannon survive long enough to save them all?
Shannon lies to almost everyone she meets. When she gets lost and winds up trapped in an Appalachian valley village, her lies don’t get her far.
Mistwalk Vale may look like a fairy tale, but nightmares lurk in the shadows.
Villagers are dying grisly deaths, their bodies reduced to bones and left in the streets for their friends and family to find. Worse, some people suspect that Shannon is involved. They accuse her of coming from the tribe of vicious earth witches down in the hollow.
A man named Owen believes Shannon is innocent. He tries to protect her as best he can, but there’s only so much he can do. She feels herself falling for him, despite her plan to leave as soon as she gets an opportunity.
Caught between angry mobs and an ancient darkness, she will be forced to fight for her survival. Can she save herself and the village before evil consumes them all?
Excerpt from Chapter 1
I stood at the edge of the trees, staring at the light deep within the forest. Between it and me, a sea of shadow concealed the underbrush and all that lurked there. This forest, like many other forests, would have its insects, snakes, tangles of who-knew-what, maybe wildcats or some other thing ready to pounce on and maim me.
After hours of walking along a secluded, mountain highway, my brain was thoroughly scrambled. I knew enough to know that, and I knew enough to not fully trust what I was seeing.
It might be a lie, the light, a mirage conjured by some desperate part of my mind. I'd told enough lies to others, why not myself?
A fantasy of stumbling upon a cabin with friendly occupants swam through my mind. They’d have food left over from dinner, a plate they’d be happy to hand over to someone who really needed it, and I did really need it. Lunch was a distant memory, as well as the Skittles from my backpack, my bottle of water. If I made it anywhere alive, I would really have to reevaluate my packing priorities.
I sighed. Unless I wanted to sleep next to the highway, that light was my only hope. I adjusted my backpack straps and stepped into the trees.
I plodded through the darkness in high tops that weren’t made for terrain any more intense than a mall floor. I also regretted wearing shorts and a t-shirt because there was no trail, only weeds and trees and rustling sounds made by small animals nearby.
All the while, the light in the distance remained bright, burning my eyes, but I kept my sights on it because that was hope, even if it never seemed to get any closer.
I kept my mind off my creepy surroundings by considering who I would be for the people who awaited me. Had someone picked me up as I attempted to hitchhike, that lucky individual would’ve had the opportunity to hang out with a model, who was on her way to Miami.
Everybody likes to hang out with famous people and people who are about to be famous. I’ve noticed this before. When I tell them whatever version of the story I’d concocted for the evening, their eyes would light up as if I had offered to take them along to fame and fortune.
The model story was my go-to. I was lanky and odd looking in a way that some people found attractive or interesting, at the very least, plausible model material. This was not the person I would be in the cabin. I didn’t have the energy to keep up the behaviors that went along with that lie.
Models didn’t eat substantial food. Models ate iceberg lettuce and drank lemon, cucumber water. My model did, anyway.
There in the woods with possible food ahead of me, there was no way I could keep that up. I didn’t care what food someone shoved under my nose. The idea of grilled opossum made my mouth water. Boiled weeds? Fine. I'd eat anything.
I tried to come up with another story, but the most compelling at that moment was my own. Broken car. Girl wandering the woods in hope of finding food and shelter. I was filthy and growing filthier by the minute. If I had scissors in my backpack, I would’ve chopped off at least half of my long, brown hair just to get rid of the tangles. That evening, I wouldn’t have to fake a look of utter desperation. So I let the story be what it was.
About the Author:
Lea Ryan is the author of several books and stories. She writes about the strange and the dark, as well as the light and love and strives to immerse readers in vivid fictional worlds. She currently lives in Indiana with assorted family members and various pets. Her website and blog can be found at www.LeaRyan.com.
Website and blog - https://authorlearyan.wordpress.com/
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