Friday, 2 February 2018

Feathered by Rachel Wollaston

Title: Feathered
Series: Swan Maiden – Book 1
Author: Rachel Wollaston
Genre: Fantasy

The light and the dark were never meant to be separated.

When her bargain with a malevolent wizard goes terribly wrong, Marion DuVal finds herself trapped between two forms: a beautiful but darker parallel of herself, and a swan. Somehow, she must adhere to the wizard’s wishes, but it’s hard to perform epic magic when your feet are flippers and your neck’s the length of a small fishing pole. Caught up in a lie of royal proportions, her task is to get close to the queen, and such a thing is difficult when a certain handsome prince keeps getting in the way.

One girl; two identities. Marion must stop the darkness inside her before it’s too late.

Based on the classic tale of Swan Lake.

Excerpt #1:

I move to sit up but my limbs feel off-kilter. Since waking, I’ve known something is wrong with me. I don’t know what, but something’s happened to my body. It takes me a few minutes to work up the courage to look down, and when I finally do, I’m greeted with a shock that nearly kills me for the second time today.

I scream. I want to run. But it’s hard to escape when the only thing you’re running from is yourself.

In place of my arms, white, feathered appendages stretch out to my sides: wings. And where my feet once were, orange flaps of rubbery skin now take their place. I appear to be some kind of . . .

“Ah, Princess. I see you are awake.”

My eyes—feeling strangely out of proportion on my new face—narrow at the familiar voice. Only one person I know uses that nickname.

“Elward,” I say. Well, that’s what I mean to say, but what comes out is more of an angry honk. “I should’ve known you’d be behind this.” I still have little control over my new body, but manage to turn my head towards the man in the velvet waistcoat. His face is twisted into the same smug smile he gave me at the guillotine. He understands my animalistic noises just fine.

“Behind what?” He raises a straight black eyebrow. “I believe I have just saved your life, Princess.”

“By doing what?” I squawk back. “Turning me into some sort of . . . duck?”

Elward rubs at the stubble on his chin—a gesture I’ve always despised. I wish he wasn’t so young—then I might hate him a little less. As it is, our proximity in age only heightens my dislike for him. To think I might have anything in common with the sorcerer is enough to make me want to retch.

“The term, my dear, is swan. There is a big difference. I transferred your soul into its body. I found it dying on the bank. Some sort of heart disease, I think. Be thankful it wasn’t a skunk I saw first.”

“You turned me into a swan?” I blink. “A dying swan?”

If I still had hands, they would be clawing through my hair by now. Well, feathers. Curses, has my whole identity been stripped from me?

Author Bio:

Born and bred in Gloucestershire, UK, Rachel Wollaston is a huge lover of all things fantasy. From an early age, her dream was to be a fairy, but the pay was no good, so she decided to become a writer instead. A Creative Writing student, Rachel is the author of young-adult fantasy and loves to build worlds that she wishes she could be a part of.

Besides writing, Rachel also enjoys a range of other artistic hobbies, including dancing, drawing, and an unhealthy amount of arts and crafts. You will almost always find her with a cup of tea and a cat watching old ‘70s comedies.

Excerpt #2:

I hear something plop to the floor and a cry of, “Oops!” from a woman beside me. I glance over to see what she dropped and immediately wish I hadn’t.

Something ball-shaped rolls underneath the table towards me, stopping when it hits the side of my foot. I nearly retch at the sight of black, beady eyes staring up at me.

They’re eating swan.

Feeling sick to my stomach, I back away from the decapitated head as it watches me, a silent warning of what my fate will be if I get caught. I only take a few steps when a sharp pain shoots up my wing. Stifling a shriek, I look down to see a man’s boot clamping the appendage to the ground. I try to yank myself free but the weight is too much and the pain is excruciating. Eventually, the man lifts his foot and I go flying backwards, colliding into the man opposite. The force of the impact makes him drop his fork. It lands with a reverberating clatter on the stone floor. I look around to see where it landed. The hesitation costs me.

I don’t see the hand until it’s too late. The blind fingers grope around but, instead of landing on the fork, they find my tail feathers. I squeal as whoever the fingers belong to yanks the feathers hard, tearing a couple of them free from my skin. I ram into one of the table legs, making the whole section of the table lurch forward.

A startled clamour takes over the room and faces start to appear under the table, curious as to what caused such a racket. Another hand stretches towards me in an attempt to grab me. Without thinking, I bite down on one of the podgy fingers before it comes anywhere near touching me. A female voice yelps.

“There’s a beast under the table!” I hear her scream. I take that as my cue to start running. This time, I don’t take much care in dodging the many feet threatening to trip me up. Instead, I sprint down the length of the table, paying no attention to what I hit in the process.

A few feet farther down, I hit a blockade. One young man crouches under the table holding his hands out, ready to catch me as I run. I have no choice but to dart out from under the table. With no time to slow down, I skid out into vision. Guests gasp and shriek as I tumble out from under the cloth. A few try to grab me.

Only one thought is on my mind, and that is that I have to get out of here. What I’ll do then, I’m not entirely sure. I’ll have to worry about that when the time comes.

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