Flame of Sevenwaters
Sevenwaters Book 6
When Maeve, twenty year old daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, accompanies a skittish horse back to Erin, she must confront her demons. For Maeve carries the legacy of a childhood fire in her crippled hands. She has lived with her aunt in Britain for ten years, developing a special gift for gentling difficult animals.
Maeve arrives home to find Sevenwaters in turmoil. The forest surrounding her father's keep also has uncanny inhabitants, including a community of Fair Folk. Now the fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son return to the Otherworld to rule after him. To force Sean's hand, Mac Dara has made innocent travellers on the Sevenwaters border disappear, and now their bodies are appearing one by one in bizarre circumstances. Mac Dara's malign activities must be stopped. But how? What human army can defeat a force with magic at its fingertips?
Maeve's gift with animals earns her respect at Sevenwaters. She bonds with her enigmatic small brother, Finbar, his druid tutor Luachan, and two stray dogs. When Maeve discovers the body of one of the missing men, she and Finbar are drawn into a journey where the stakes are high: they may bring about the end of Mac Dara's reign, or suffer a hideous death. For Maeve, success may lead to a future she has not dared to believe possible.
Finalist in the Aurealis Awards for best Fantasy Novel (2013)
Finalist in the Tin Duck Awards for speculative fiction by Western Australian writers (2013)
See all of Juliet's Awards
Excerpt: Chapter 1
My aunt taught me to hold my head high, even when people stared. My uncle taught me to defend myself. Between them they made sure I learned courage. But I could not be brave about going home.
I was ten when the accident happened: young to be sent away from home and family. My parents must have believed Aunt Liadan could achieve the impossible. True, if any healer could have cured me, she was probably the one to do it. But my hands were beyond fixing. Although she never said so, I think my aunt expected to keep me at Harrowfield only until I had learned to live with my injuries. But days grew into seasons, and seasons into years, and whenever the suggestion was made that perhaps I might return to Erin, I found a reason for saying no.
At Harrowfield the household knew me as I was, not as I had been before. They had learned quickly that I hated fuss. People let me do what I could for myself. Nobody rushed to snatch things away when I was clumsy. Nobody treated me as if I had lost my wits along with the use of my fingers. They did not stare when I chose to walk about with the scar on my head uncovered. All the same, I did not need to travel far from the safe haven of my uncle’s estate to know that in the eyes of the outside world I was a freak.
Back home at Sevenwaters, the world changed without me. A little brother was born. My sisters married, had children, moved away. Family joys and tragedies unfolded. I would hear about them many moons later, in the occasional letters that reached us in Britain. I could not write back. I sent words of love, penned for me by the Harrowfield scribe.
If I could have slipped back into my childhood home without a ripple, I would have done it long ago. When I’d been under her care two years, Aunt Liadan had spoken to me frankly about my situation. My hands had healed as well as they ever would – there could be no further improvement. I’d always need someone to help me. I’d never hold a knife or spoon with my fingers. I’d never use a spinning wheel or a needle. I’d never be able to comb my own hair or fasten the back of my gown. Swaddling a baby, holding a child’s hand, those simple things would be forever beyond me. My aunt set it out with kindness and honesty. She did not insult me by couching the hard truth in gentle half-lies. In her embrace, I allowed myself to weep. When I was done, I dried my tears and vowed not to weep again. I was twelve years old.
The next morning I made two lists in my mind. Firstly, the things I might as well forget about. Marriage. Children. Plying a craft of some kind. Managing a household, whether that of a chieftain like my father or a more modest establishment. The list was long.
Next, the things that were possible in my future. I struggled with this, wishing I were a different kind of girl. It was a shame my sister Sibeal was the one with a spiritual vocation, for if ever there was a future suited to a person in my circumstances, it surely lay among the sisters of a Christian nunnery such as St Margaret’s, situated less than a morning’s walk from Harrowfield. I considered this for some time, liking the notion of a sanctuary where folk could not turn that special look on me, the look that mingled pity, horror and fascination. I saw that look on the faces of strangers passing on the road. I saw it in the eyes of visitors to my uncle’s hall, though they concealed it quickly when they learned who I was. And I did like quiet. But try as I might, I could not find much of a contemplative streak in myself, nor a wish to spend my days in prayer to a deity I was not quite sure I believed in. Besides, nuns worked hard. The sisters at St Margaret’s were up at dawn gardening or cooking or performing the hundred and one tasks that kept their establishment going. What use would I be with that?