In a world where it is normal to fly, what happens when you can’t?
About Unreachable Skies:
When a plague kills half the Drax population, and leaves the hatchlings of the survivors with a terrible deformity – no wings – suspicion and prejudice follow. Continuously harassed by raids from their traditional enemies, the Koth, the Drax are looking for someone, or something, to blame.
Zarda, an apprentice Fate-seer, is new to her role and unsure of her own abilities; but the death of her teacher sees her summoned by the Drax Prime, Kalis, when his heir, Dru, emerges from his shell without wings.
A vision that Dru will one day defeat the Koth is enough to keep him and the other wingless hatchlings alive – for a time. Half-trained, clumsy, and full of self-doubt, Zarda must train Dru to one day fulfil the destiny she has foreseen for him, even if it is quickly becoming clear that the Prime’s favourite adviser, Fazak, is not only plotting against the wingless, but is gaining more of Kalis’ trust by the day.
Efforts to fight prejudice and superstition are certain to lead to death for some and exile for others; while Zarda’s own journey to understanding her role in events may lead her to abandon all tradition in order to protect her peoples’ future.
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My own shock rendered me wordless for a heartbeat or two, and I turned the tiny nestling around to examine him from all angles. He smelled perfectly normal, giving off that pungent, wet odour of the newly-hatched. His whiskers twitched and his claws scratched as he wriggled in my grasp, mewing.
“I do not understand either, Lord,” I said at length, falling back on a formal style of address for want of anything coherent to say. “The Dream-smoke is sometimes unclear, but never misleading, and I Saw the Vision too – Vizan spoke true, I assure you.” I shook my head, and plucked a handful of moss from the nest to clean the infant’s pale fur. As I stroked the moss along his back, I felt the bumps near the shoulders, where the wings should have been. Yes – exactly like the other deformed offspring I had seen: the wings had started to form, but they had not developed. The legs and tails of the afflicted hatchlings were longer than on normal drax, but that would not help them fly. It seemed that the Sickness had indeed done more than carry off the males and the nestlings – it had left its legacy in the eggs of the females who had had the illness and recovered. Including, alas, Varna.
The nestling was still mewing and he began to look around, dark grey eyes blinking in the torchlight, his little snout quivering as he sniffed the air. Searching for his mother, of course. The newly-hatched always sought their dam, and always knew who she was, even if there were other females present. Vizan thought that it might be a throwback to a time when every drax had the Sight – assuming that the legends were true. Vizan believed they were, and had wondered if some Sickness had been responsible for leaving only a chosen few with the gift. Not that I had much faith in gifts at that moment, since neither Vizan nor I had Seen that Kalis’ heir would be wingless; nor did I have much hope of escaping Kalis' wrath.
“He is strong, Lord,” I pointed out, as the nestling squirmed in my shaking paws. “I will consult the Dream-smoke. Perhaps—”
“Perhaps we should just kill him now and be done with it,” Kalis growled, his mane bristling. “It would be the merciful way.”
“No!” Varna, her initial shock passed, rushed over to take the nestling in her arms. As she gave him his first lick, his nose twitched, catching her scent. Instantly, he stopped mewing and settled against her, one small paw clutching a fistful of her fur. “He is our pup, Kalis. He will need our help and protection. After all, none of us are perfect.” As she spoke, she set her ears upright and raised her head to look Kalis in the eyes, and I sensed some unspoken secret pass between them.
Kalis growled low in his throat and for a moment I feared for Varna as well as the hatchling, but whatever she had meant by her last sentence, it stayed his teeth.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Adventure - This book is targeted toward a general audience.
Page Count: 242 pages
Publish Date: August 17, 2018
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
"In the tradition of Ursula K. LeGuin and Anne McCaffery, with Unreachable Skies Karen McCreedy has created a nuanced alien culture populated by compelling characters." ~ James Swallow, bestselling author
Meet the Author:
Brought up in Staffordshire, England, Karen McCreedy now lives in West Sussex where she recently retired from the University of Chichester. She has written articles on films and British history for a number of British magazines including ‘Yours’, ‘Classic Television’, and ‘Best of British’.
Karen has had a number of short stories published in various anthologies. She also won second prize in Writers’ News magazine’s ‘Comeuppance’ competition in 2014 with her short story ‘Hero’.
‘Unreachable Skies’ is her first novel.