Welcome to one of the November 4th stops on the blog tour for Willow’s Way by Cheryl Headford, organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more spotlights with excerpts, guest posts by the author, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
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Dark Fairytale Book One
by Cheryl Headford
Publishing 6 November 2020
by Devine Destinies
Genre: YA Fantasy, LGBTQIA
Page Count: 258
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Cale always told Tay that fairy tales were dark. But they always have happy endings, right?
Taylor Preston is a normal sixteen-year-old whose biggest worries are his GCSE exams. He’s right in the middle of them, but he has a summer of fun with his parents to look forward to after. Or not.
Despite their promise to spend the summer focusing on their one and only son, Tay’s parents, Local Authority specialist foster carers, take on one more special case.
Willow’s arrival throws more than Tay’s summer into chaos. Suddenly, his best friend is possessed by a demon, his parents aren’t his parents after all, and he’s literally living a nightmare in a fairy tale world that as dark as anything Cale ever warned him about. All he has is Willow and a burning desire to save his friend before he succumbs to the demon and Willow kills him.
“Did you hear that?” Tay asked.
“I did,” Cale said.
“I heard nothing,” Willow said.
“That must be what they did to us, blasted the ability to understand their language into our heads. Can you do it to Willow, too?” Tay asked the little fairy.
“He is not our Lord. He is not kind to us like you are.”
“Well, Cale isn’t your Lord either, and he’s not been particularly nice. Not that he’s been nasty either,” he added hastily at Cale’s indignant glare.
“He is Lord’s friend, and he is hurting bad. We want to help him, help Lord.”
“That makes sense, I guess, but Willow is my friend, too. He’s my protector.”
“Is he worthy? Does he have a gentle heart?”
“I don’t know that his heart is very gentle. He’s a deadly killer. Can killers have gentle hearts? But he is lonely. People are afraid of him, so he doesn’t have many friends. It would be nice for him to be friends with you.”
“Oh no. Spare me. Please.” Willow rolled his eyes, but a tiny smile tugged the corners of his mouth, and he stood still as the buzzers swarmed. They patted his face and pulled his hair and then, when he didn’t slap at them, they zapped him. Willow didn’t fall as Tay and Cale had, but he did reel against the parapet and shook his head to clear it, looking as dazed as they had been at first. The buzzers flew up in a cloud, giggling.
“He is sworn to protect you?”
“Until we return to… um… ” Tay struggled to remember the name Willow had used, “the queen.”
“Heart’s Home,” Willow supplied.
“Yes, that’s it. He’ll protect us until we’re safely… um… home.” He had a lot of difficulty saying that word. As if anywhere he’d never even been could be home. Still, he’d probably better start getting used to it. It’s not as if he had much choice and it wasn’t going to do anyone any good if he pissed off his… the queen and princesses. He guessed they could make his life a misery.
“You are going on another journey. You seek help for your friend.”
“Yes. His name is Cale.”
“Are we permitted to use it?”
“Of course you are,” Cale said. “In fact, it will be a relief that someone does. Most people seem to want to call me demon kin, as if that’s all I am.”
“We don’t fear demons. They cannot hurt us.”
“That’s true,” Willow said, in a thoughtful voice. “I’ve never heard of a buzzer being possessed.”
“Do you know how to protect yourself from demon possession? Do you know how I can protect myself?”
Waves of relief washed over Tay. At least that would be one huge thing to cross off his list of worries.
“Can you teach me?”
“No, Lord,” the buzzer said, looking sad.
“But you said… “
“We know how, but we cannot teach you how.”
“I don’t understand. Why can’t you teach me?”
“It is not something that can be taught. It is something that has to be found.”
“Okay, where do I find it then?”
Tay ground his teeth. He forced himself not to show his irritation. “How do I find it?”
“We cannot tell you. You must find it for yourself. You must find where your power is bound and release it.”
Tay deflated. “I can’t do that yet, can I?” he asked Willow who shook his head.
“Not until you’re eighteen.”
“You told me that already, didn’t you? That I’ll be immune from possession when I’m eighteen and can use my powers.”
“Well, thank you anyway. Oh, I don’t know your name.”
“It is Aria. I am leader of the ethen of the forest.”
“Ethen? Is that what you call yourselves? Not buzzers?”
“No, Lord, not buzzers. We are ethen.”
Tay nodded his head. “I’ll remember, and I’ll try to have people call you that now, and not be so mean to you. Of course, it will help if you don’t tease people and fly in their faces.”
Aria put her hand in front of her mouth, and her shoulders shook. Her long-lashed eyes peeked up at him, and he had to laugh. “Just try to be a little more… um… well… less mischievous. People will take you more seriously if you aren’t constantly annoying them.”
“We will try,” Aria said, trying to control her giggles, “but we like to play.”
“Find other ways to play.”
“Will you teach us new games, Lord?”
“Huh? I… well, I… I suppose I could, although I don’t think I’ll have much time.”
“We will accompany you, Lord. You can teach us games, and we will protect you if the demons come. We are good at fighting demons.”
Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, bearded dragon and three cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art, with a healthy smattering of magic and mayhem
One lucky follower of the tour will walk away with a $15 Amazon gift card and another will walk away with a free Cheryl Headford book (your choice of title!) Don’t forget to check out other stops on the tour for more chances to enter. Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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