TITLE: The Book of Three
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Three unlikely conspirators—Janey the miller’s daughter, her suitor Dickon, and a young prince with a price on his head—are thrown together by a civil war sparked by a regicide baron of the magic-working race who conquered Salix three hundred years ago. Janey befriends young Val before learning his identity, but his enemies hunt him with beasts spawned by corrupt magic. To save themselves, their families, and Salix itself, Janey and Dickon must persuade young Val to embrace his perilous birthright, then help him unite their oppressed people against the baron’s army and evil powers.
The day of Thane Scammony’s flour distribution, my father ordered me to make the trek to Ulworthy to collect our portion, despite Mam’s protests that a girl shouldn’t be alone on the road. Time was, I’d have been glad to go. Time was, I’d sought any chance to go to town, eager for the shops and exotic wares river traders brought—for a world wider than our village mill.
Now, three years on from the old king’s death, I was afraid. Too many of Thane Scammony’s hard-eyed soldiers quartered in Ulworthy, and the royal foresters had been withdrawn, so the road through the Arrowood scared me as never in my almost seventeen years. What with the fighting down south, rumor whispered of masterless men killing folk on the roads.
Worse, last month, I’d heard a scream rising outside Grimsby village that froze my marrow. Next day, Mistress Pymm couldn’t find her pigs, only a pool of blood in the sty. No wolf left so little trace. It was a fiend-cat haunting us, evil come to life out of ancient tales.
Fiend-cats stalked by night, the tales said. I prayed so, for if I didn’t go to town, we’d have no flour. No bread in lean times meant my family starved. Da couldn’t go, not with him doing the work of three, laying in wood and fodder against the cold months and draining our rented fields. Not that he’d go anyhow—not Da, the miller of Grimsby Dale, to beg someone else’s flour.