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Open Water Books

Flight of the Spark (Paperback)

Flight of the Spark (Paperback)

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Book 1 in the award-winning Outlawed Myth series.

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An ancient prophecy. A forbidden love. Deadly enemies.

 Iskra is committed to following the rules—the rules that keep everyone safe. But when a savage outlaw rescues her from a gang of vicious bandits, she discovers that most of what she believes is a lie. 

As her feelings for the outlaw turn from fear to love, Iskra begins to take risks she’d never imagined. Then those who had promised her safety became her deadliest enemies, determined to separate her from her forbidden love—or destroy her in the process.

Flight of the Spark is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in an epic fantasy world. If you like dystopian worlds, tenacious heroines, and compelling characters, you’ll love this gripping first novel in the award-winning Outlawed Myth series.

Here’s what readers are saying:

“Devastatingly beautiful from start to finish.”

“Flight of the Spark left me completely enthralled.”

“Will fill you with magic you may have thought disappeared long ago.”

"A must read for all lovers of fantasy."

“Can’t wait for the next one.”

“I could NOT put it down.”

“An addictive story.”

“Impressively original, deftly crafted and inherently entertaining from cover to cover.”

“An Entertaining Story for Anyone Who has Ever Wanted to Break Free.”

“This tale hooked me from the beginning.”

“A beautiful dystopian tale that examines what we will and will not do in pursuit of happiness.”

“An excellent page turner…a really great epic fantasy novel.”

“This book gave me a book hangover…and I loved it!”

“I don't read much fantasy, but once I got into it, I could hardly put it down. Can't wait to read the next one!”


A must read for lovers of fantasy

 

This product is a premium paperback novel comparable to paperbacks produced by the finest publishing houses in the industry. 

 

    Readers' Favorite Silver Medal awarded to Flight of the Spark

    Enjoy a sample of Flight of the Spark:

    Chapter 1

    Iskra wasn’t sure about many things, except one: this would be a day she’d remember her whole life. She stared at her mug of tea, lost in anticipation. Today, for the first time in her fifteen years, she was going to leave the village of Gishin.

    People didn’t often travel from village to village; it was considered an unnecessary risk, which made no sense to Iskra. The idea of seeing a new place and new people seized her imagination and sent tingles down her spine. She was confident that the thrill of something new would be worth the discomfort of a few hours on a wagon.

    At first, her mother had been adamant: Iskra was not going anywhere. Undaunted, Iskra put her mind to convincing her mother. Every time her mother complained about the quality of candles, Iskra reminded her that better ones were to be had in Shinroo, along with soft woolen stockings and shawls. And she’d heard a rumor that the shoemaker in Shinroo was already selling summer shoes, and Luza needed a new pair.

    By some miracle, and perhaps by Iskra’s zealous attention to her chores and tireless arguing, her mother relented. In fact, she had no idea why her mother had granted her permission . . . maybe she’d decided to indulge her daughter just as she’d indulged in a little too much wine that night at the inn.

    Whatever the reason, Iskra didn’t care. Her heart raced at the thought of just seeing something, anything, beyond drab Gishin and its surrounding fields. For once, she’d taste the illusion of being free from the rules that constrained her every move. She lost herself in a daydream of what was out there, what wonders she might see in Shinroo, a town two or three times the size of Gishin.

    Then she heard whispers, the words arriving as if on a cold breeze, breaking into her happy reverie:

    “Old Cassie was taken last night.”

    Iskra jerked her head around, seeking to find the speaker. She scanned the faces of the women sitting to her left on the worn wooden benches, all huddled over the meager breakfast of runny porridge and pine needle tea the village provided. The women all looked the same, garbed in shapeless, faded, and mouse-colored dresses and aprons over woolen leggings, all with hair cropped under their ears and across their foreheads. The only variations were the colored bands that circled their left sleeves at the shoulder to announce their professions.

    “That’s right,” said a thin woman hunched over her tea. “She’s gone.”

    Iskra noticed the woman’s shaking hands and pale, fearful eyes. She wondered if Cassie was someone the woman had been close to.

    The words repeated themselves in Iskra’s mind, cramping her stomach. She stared at her half-eaten porridge, no longer hungry. Old Cassie was taken last night.

    A hand grabbed her shoulder and brought her back to reality. “Are you coming? We’ll be late.”

    “Yes, Tavda,” Iskra replied. She shook herself as if to free her mind from the fear that had gripped it and followed her friend through the crowded hall in the inn where most villagers ate their meals, since cooking was considered to be unsafe. The hall didn’t seem as noisy and energetic as it had just a few moments ago. She shivered as she stepped onto the dirt street, a chilly breeze puffing in her face, making her blink. She drew her threadbare, slate-colored shawl closer.

    Iskra hurried to catch up with Tavda, passing rickety wooden stalls displaying withered apples and potatoes with sprouting eyes, pottery and candles, shoes, and shawls, past people wearing their drab gray clothing. She caught up to her friend just as Tavda burst out from between the rows of stalls into what the village of Gishin called a main square. The town’s monument to safety stood in its center, a statue of a man holding a sword in one hand, his other arm held out to protect an old woman and a little boy. Iskra thought the woman and the boy looked as though they didn’t think the man could protect them from a cockroach. She frowned at the monument, noting it was shabby and worn down, much like the village.

    Six or seven wagons were lined up to one side of the monument, some empty, others piled with the coarse earthenware made in the village, along with stacks of newly cut wood. Brown-clad traders piled goods on wagons or checked harnesses. Tavda and Iskra sprinted to the third wagon, where Tavda’s mother, Revda, was negotiating with a trader.

    “These girls are only fifteen,” Revda said, pointing to the white bands on the girls’ shoulders that marked them as students. “You’ll look after them?” Revda looked hard into the man’s eyes.

    He smiled, his grizzled eyebrows almost completely hiding his eyes. “Like they were my own granddaughters.”

    Revda didn’t smile back. “Make sure my other daughter meets them.” She handed the man a few coins. “She’ll pay you the rest when you get there.” She hugged Tavda. “I’m still not so sure about this.”

    Iskra felt her knees grow weak. If Revda didn’t allow Tavda to go, her own mother was sure to forbid the trip. She’d looked forward to this excursion for weeks and winced at the thought of it being denied at this last moment.

    Tavda pulled on her mother’s sleeve. “Mam, you promised I could visit. We’ll be fine. See all the guardsmen?” She pointed to the opposite end of the square, where ten guardsmen wearing their dark brown leather uniforms sat on their horses. “Ten men to protect us. We’ll have no problems on the road.”

    Tavda’s mother pursed her lips and shook her head.

    Iskra hadn’t thought about the bandits known to prowl the road between Gishin and Shinroo. It just now occurred to her to wonder if going to Shinroo was such a good idea. Her mouth felt like she’d eaten dust for breakfast. Her enthusiasm for travel started to evaporate like dew on a hot summer morning.

    “Humph.” Tavda’s mother scowled at the guardsmen as if she doubted their ability to protect anyone.

    “Besides,” Tavda said, “you know the candles in Shinroo are safer than the ones here. Just like the darning needles. And you did want me to try to find a new teapot.”

    Guardsmens’ cheers interrupted her answer. Kaberco, the Ephor of Gishin, strode through the market, his long black cloak swirling around him, his leathers creaking, the gold chain of his office draped over his shoulders glinting in the sun. Kaberco walked down the line of the caravan, placing his men at the front and rear of the line of wagons. He stopped when he saw Iskra.

    “Peace and safety, Iskra.”

    “Peace and safety to you.” She smiled at the huge man who’d been like an uncle to her after her father died.

    Kaberco looked from her to Tavda. “Tavda is staying in Shinroo for a week. But you? You are coming back today?”

    “That’s right,” Iskra said. “Tavda’s staying with her sister. She asked me to ride with her, since I’ve never seen Shinroo before. I’ll be back on the afternoon caravan.”

    “Are you sure this is safe?” Revda pushed forward to get closer to Kaberco.

    “Of course. My guardsmen will make sure they arrive safely. You have nothing to worry about.”

    Iskra felt the knot in her stomach relax. She was silly to be concerned. Kaberco was right. He always was. She smiled at him, grateful for his reassurance, her excitement about leaving the village stirring back to life.

    Kaberco smiled at Revda and the girls. “Peace and safety.” He turned and continued his progress along the line of wagons.

    A loud horn cut through the crisp air.

    “Here, it’s time we got ready,” their trader said. He boosted the girls onto the wagon’s wooden seat. He settled into place beside Tavda. “Don’t worry,” he said, looking down at Revda, “they’ll be safe.”

    A few more minutes of jostling horses and shouted goodbyes, another blast of the horn, and the caravan set off.

    * * *

    An hour later, Iskra was nodding off, the slow rocking motion of the wagon and the warmth of the sun having lulled her into drowsiness. She let her thoughts wander, barely paying attention to Tavda’s chat with the trader.

    Old Cassie was taken last night.

    She hadn’t realized she’d spoken out loud until Tavda poked her with her elbow. “What did you say?”

    Iskra shrugged. “That Old Cassie’s gone. Taken. At least, that’s what I heard.” She grabbed the wood rail of the wagon as it lurched over a pothole. Hopefully they wouldn’t break an axle passing over the holes and ruts that pitted and scored the road. Dried leaves from last fall spilled onto the dusty surface, twigs and branches scattered about bore testimony to winter storms.

    “How do you know?” Tavda asked.

    “About Cassie? People in the inn were whispering about it this morning.”

    Tavda nudged the trader with her elbow. “Is it true? Is Old Cassie gone?”

    “’Tis true.” He shook the reins to spur the horses to move a little faster.

    “It’s about time,” Tavda said.

    Iskra gaped at her friend. “How can you say that?” Tavda couldn’t mean what she was saying. She often didn’t.

    “She was old,” Tavda said. “And crazy and slow. I hated to get behind her in the market. She’d study each raisin, inspecting it for anything wrong before she’d put it on the scale. Took her half an hour to buy half a pound.” She shook her head, shaking her wavy auburn hair. For what seemed like the hundredth time, Iskra noticed how the prescribed haircut of cropped hair and bangs flattered Tavda’s round face. The fact she also had thick curly hair and large dark eyes didn’t hurt, either. The short hair didn’t look well at all with Iskra’s straight dirty blond hair and long oval face. She thought the cut made her resemble a horse.

    “It’s not so crazy to not buy moldy raisins, is it?” the trader asked. His voice was low and he spoke slowly, mimicking the cadence of the horses’ hooves.

    “Maybe not,” Tavda said. She picked up her basket and started adjusting the perky red bow she’d tied around the handle. “Maybe she’s sick, and they’ll send her back.”

    Iskra pressed her lips together. She didn’t think so. When the healers came for sick people, they usually told someone, a family member or neighbor, and announced when the person might be coming back. But Cassie hadn’t been ill, so no healers would have come for her. That only left the Prime Konamei’s Guard, which removed the worst troublemakers. Those people were gone, taken in the middle of the night. Never to be seen again, not even to be spoken of. Simply taken. People who committed lesser crimes at least got a trial. Iskra wondered what kind of horrible crime an old woman could commit, barely aware of Tavda and the trader swapping gossip.

    “Maybe,” Iskra said. “Maybe she really is crazy.”

    “Who?” Tavda asked.

    “Cassie.” Iskra wrinkled her forehead, frowning. “Yesterday she grabbed my arm and demanded to know when I’d give her the ‘de-zeer-uh-dun,’ whatever that is.” She shivered at the memory of Cassie’s wide, wild eyes and menacing tone.

    The trader dropped the reins and stared at Iskra, mouth open, brows drawn together. “The what?”

    “The dezeerudun. She said I had it, or would have it, and she wanted me to give it to her.” She leaned back and blinked a few times when she saw how pale the trader’s face had become.

    “Better forget you ever heard that, girl. Don’t tell anyone. Ever.” He practically spit the words out.

    “But—”

    “Hush. A guardsman’s coming.” He picked up the reins and clucked to the horses.

    Iskra noticed the trader’s beefy hands were shaking.

    She watched the guardsman ride past their wagon, a burly man on a large horse, armed with a short sword and a bow. Iskra had always been told the Prime Konamei’s guards were there to protect the people, but somehow today she felt a sense of unease when they drew near. A cloud slid in front of the sun, casting a chilly shadow over her, making her shiver. The guardsman glanced at Iskra, Tavda, and the trader, then he moved along the caravan.

    When the guardsman was a few wagons away, Iskra asked, “Why should I forget? What’s a dezeerudun, anyway?”

    The trader’s face reddened. “It’s dangerous. Don’t talk anymore about it or I’ll put you out and you can walk the rest of the way.” He slapped the reins against the horses’ rumps. “Forget the words of a crazy old woman.” He leaned over to glare at Iskra. “Do you want to be taken, too?”

     

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