Crispina Kemp, historical fantasy author of the five book series, The Spinner’s Game, and Learning to Fly, is about to release another fantastic story, this time, Roots of Rookeri, my review for which you can find below. It’s set for release on 15th April 2022, so add the date to your diary, or follow the link to pre order: Roots of Rookeri eBook : Kemp, Crispina: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
Quick Review (read on for full review)
Highly imaginative, engaging and complex, Roots of Rookeri, is a rich, well-woven tale, set in an well-constructed world. With themes of astrology, political intrigue, history, mystery and romance, this story has so much to offer. Highly recommended to fans of wonderfully-intricate, creative fantasy. 5 / 5
Summary (from Amazon)
A Key, a Tree, a Prophecy
The Cast: Booderas Rookeri-Sharmin – better known as Boody, playwright, poet, dancer and chorusmaster – orphaned nephew of the Elect…
But first an apology. My sudden, unexplained absence and lack of posting on the blog worried a number of you, for which I am truly sorry. I’m so thankful to be part of such a wonderfully caring and supportive community here on WordPress and I wholeheartedly appreciate every email and message sent my way over the past few weeks. In future, I will remember not to disappear without explanation.
Now on to the sad news and the reason for my sudden absence…almost two weeks ago, one of my cats passed away.
Khepri was my little cuddle monster, and the bestest friend anyone could ask for.
He would sit with me when I would write. Ever the smarty-pants editor, he would walk across my keyboard and change what I thought made perfect sense into random lengths of code-like gibberish.
He would always sit with me as I crafted, designed and worked on my art, doing his best to get to his favourite spot – sitting on my shoulder like a parrot!
If I was curled up reading under a blanket, you could guarantee Khepri would be there too, curled up on the blanket and trying his damnedest to take up as much of it as he could.
And when I was cooking, he was never far away. The sound of packets rustling – in fact, any rustling – and he would be there in an instant, wondering what was going on and whether it was of any interest to him.
He enjoyed sitting on part-finished puzzles. He enjoyed sleeping on my notebooks, even when I was trying to write in them. He absolutely loved padding on handknitted cardigans and blankets that took months to make. But more than anything, he loved cuddles.
He was a big part of our lives and involved in everything in the house, and now he’s gone our home feels empty without him.
And that’s why I’ve been absent. Heartbreak and sadness led to apathy and I didn’t want to switch on the computer, check emails or social media. In fact, I withdrew from the world for a bit as I tried to find my bearing. But I’m back now, still sad of course, yet ready to return. After all, I owe it to the little cat who got me through so much not to founder now.
She dwelt down in the catacombs as the dead were kinder than the living. Above ground, all was cruel and wicked. Exploit or be exploited. And she couldn’t live like that. She refused to hurt people the way she’d been hurt.
Here amongst their deathly silence she found peace. And when they woke, which they did on occasion, they offered her the secrets of the forgotten. Spells with which she could change the world.
…The premiere of the first film in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, took place. To mark the occasion, I’ve spent part (a lot) of my day reading some interesting writing on and about Middle Earth and J. R. R. Tolkien, and the academic scholarship that has grown up around it. Fascinating stuff! Lots of tea has been drunk, I can tell you.
Like many people, Tolkien’s work means a lot to me, and has shaped my reading, my imagination, my interests, and my own writing. Yes, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to Middle Earth. Anything which contained two of my most favourite things in all the world – landscape and mythology – and is accompanied by beautiful languages and fascinating maps was sure to hook me from my first encounter with them. And it did! I have lost count of the number of times I’ve read them, but I clearly remember the first time I picked up a copy…Simply Magic.
I am actually planning my own 20th anniversary celebrations for later in the month, – after all, I went to the cinema to see the film (multiple times), not the premiere 😉 There will be movie watching, biscuit-baking, and any celebration wouldn’t be complete without going back to where it all began…the books!
I’m thinking of documenting my journey through the books on this re-read, discussing aspects of them which are important to me, or that I find inspirational. The plan is to read it slowly, savouring the detail, and pausing every now and then to admire the view. I’m naturally a quick reader, and am easily swept along with the story, with an in-built desperate need to read what happens next. So a little bit of mindful exploration of Middle Earth, and even a wander or two off the beaten track into essays and other writings that tie-in with the chapters I will be reading, will be a new, intentional reading experience for me, and no doubt an enriching one.
Anyone else want to come along? Just let me know 🙂
I hit 50,000 words on the final day. This year my aim was to wrap up a few WIPs that needed finishing, and my self set challenge was not to move on from one project until it the draft was completed. Did I succeed with this? Partly, which I’m counting as a win. This is why: 5 WIPs completed, 4 had a sizeable amount of work done on them, and one of my novel WIPs has been restructured. Woohoo!
It feels good to get some of those unfinished projects finished. And now I’ve got finishing fever. That novel that has been restructured will be my focus project for December. And, that first draft should be finished by the end of the year. Fingers-crossed.
Along with my writing goal for December, I’m already thinking about what I want to focus on in 2022. I have a few ideas: there are some WIPs I want to finish, some sequels to stories already written are calling to me, as well as some books I’ve already outlined, and some new ideas too…If you haven’t guessed it by now, I want to write ALL the stories 🙂
If you participated in NaNo this year, how did you find it? Did you reach your goal? Has anyone else started thinking about writing plans for 2022 yet? Do you have any writing goals for December?
This is the thirteenth and final part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
The following evening, all the residents of the cemetery gathered on the outskirts of the Wee Woods to celebrate Samhain. The atmosphere was charged with expectation and hope. Hope of seeing loved ones again. Hope of being remembered by those still living.
Damon sat quietly off to the side, a cup of hot chocolate in his hands. Samhain was a difficult time for him. Naturally, he marked the occasion as a time remember those he had lost, especially his parents, who had never really understood him after he had been turned into a demon. Yet, unlike the other hopeful dead and undead of the crowd before him, he harboured no illusions that he would be receiving visitors when the veil thinned. He hadn’t yet.
And so he sat at the edge of the world of the living and looked across the Veil and into the world of the dead. The latter was a place forbidden to him until the day he shed his demon nature. Yet he had spent such a long time in the former, he was reluctant to let it go, as his time at the mercy of Artemon had shown him.
As the Veil thinned, the crowd dutifully whispered their ohs and ahs and sighed in anticipation, and then…the Veil was down and the spirits began to cross. Names were called out. Shouts of joy heralded happy reunions. Shouts less joyful indicated where past disagreements were picked back up, yet it couldn’t stop the smile from slowly spreading across Damon’s face. Even in crossed words there was a rekindling of connection. After all, life and death rarely went smoothly all the time.
Damon transferred his attention from the crowd to what lay beyond the Veil itself. A world of majesty and wonder, a world of growing things. He could see mountains and rivers, and hills and valleys, and oceans and meadows, and waterfalls and sandy deserts, and glaciers and forests, and flowers and islands, and so much more. The magic of Veil offered those who looked across it a vision of spectacular beauty, unspoilt by man. Our world as it should have been.
‘One day I’ll get there,’ he whispered to himself. ‘One day…’ Then he stood up, draining the last of his hot chocolate. ‘But for now, my cemetery needs me.’
And with that said, he went off to start patrolling this park of the dead and undead, and some times the living. In search of trouble. In search of anyone who required his assistance. In search of another hot chocolate.
This is the twelfth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
The roof was falling in. Candles were falling over. And Damon, stunned by another bang to the head, this time the result of flying through the air and been thrown against a pillar, couldn’t make sense of what was going on.
Someone was screaming. He couldn’t tell who.
Flashes of fur seemed to be darting all around the room.
Were they connected? He had no idea.
It only took a few seconds for his vision to clear, but it felt much longer. He looked around and realised the door to the mausoleum had been blown in. Standing in the doorway, with a crossbow in her bony hands was Shelly the Skelly. Damon rubbed his eyes, believing what he was seeing must have been as a result of a concussion, but she was still there when he looked again.
Tabitha was just inside the room, wielding a slingshot, which she was employing with deadly accuracy. Magic balls of…something, Damon didn’t know what, were hurtling across the room, and whoever they hit disappeared in a puff of green and purple smoke. She paused in her slaughter momentarily to offer him a thumbs up, before she diligently returned to her task.
Yet the most surprising thing of all was happening towards the rear of the room, where a giant squirrel was holding Crispin in one of its paws and shaking him until he turned green.
A movement close to the altar alerted him to the cowardly, cowering presence of Artemon, who was doing his best to hide behind it. Damon stood up and walked over to him.
‘Doesn’t look like you’re too fond of surprises either, does it?’ he commented. ‘Now what are we going to do with you?’
‘Well, naturally nothing awful,’ Artemon whimpered. ‘After all, those on the side of good never harm their enemies. Instead they try to show them the error of their ways so they may relinquish the evil in their hearts and never again commit a foul deed.’
‘Nah, that doesn’t sound right to me,’ Damon said. ‘You were going to sacrifice me, so forgive me if I think the punishment needs to be closer in kind.’
‘Damon the Demon, stop what you are about to do, ‘ a voice boomed around the ruins of the building. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked around, trying to locate from where it was coming from.
Using the distraction, Artemon began crawling away, but the voice sounded again. ‘Artemon the faithless. You cannot leave this place with a debt owing.’
Only then did Damon realise it was the book talking, and so he directed everyone’s attention to altar.
Wisps of ether curled out from the pages of the book until they took on the form of a spirit, though it remained hazy and indistinct. ‘Artemon’s life is mine now. Do you remember what the punishment for failure was, Artemon?’
‘Fail and you lose everything,’ Damon recalled for him.
‘Shush!’ Artemon hissed angrily.
‘He’s not asking you because he’s forgotten, silly.’
‘Artemon of the Black River, you have gambled, and you have lost.’ The spirit of the book broke apart into dozens of curling fingers of mist, and though Artemon tried his best to run away, they caught him quickly, dragging him kicking and screaming into the pages of the book. Only then did the mist reform into the shape of a spirit once more. ‘You are a good person, Damon the Demon, with a kind heart. For you to have enacted vengeance upon so worthless a specimen as Artemon, would have been disastrous for this cemetery and those under your care. I could not let that happen.
‘Now what to do with him,’ the book spirit said, indicating Crispin. ‘Ah, I know. Great Squirrel, bring him hither. Now be gone from this place and never think to return!’ The spirit transformed into the curling misty fingers and took hold of Crispin from the squirrel and threw him out through the broken door and out into the night. ‘Be gone!’ it shouted one last time. ‘And now it is time for me also to leave here. Damon, you are now the keeper and guardian of my book. Goodbye.’
‘No! Please! I don’t want to be the keeper…’ Damon bemoaned, but it was too late. The mist had dispersed and the spirit had returned to the book, which had closed shut, sealing itself from the world. ‘At least the eye’s gone,’ he muttered. However, he wasn’t keen on handling the hairy thing.
Two arms, one fleshy, the other bony, were then draped over his shoulders.
‘Girls,’ he said, ‘you saved me. What would I have done without you?’
‘Thank Shelly,’ Tabitha said. ‘She thought there was something odd about Crispin and came to tell me. But then we couldn’t find you anywhere.’
‘And then this furry darling said he could help,’ Shelly chirped in. ‘Being made much bigger has given him an increased sense of smell and he managed to track you to here. The rest, as they say, is history.’
‘Well, I’m just grateful you arrived when you did. That reminds me, did anyone find out where that scream came from?’
‘The Undead Amateur Dramatics Society. They were rehearsing for their latest play, And They All Were Killed Horribly.’
‘Oh,’ Damon said, a little disappointed with the answer. ‘Come on. I think it’s time to go home.’
He started walking towards the door when Shelly, who hadn’t moved, said, ‘Umm…aren’t you forgetting something, Damon?’
He turned back around to find her staring at the book. He sighed but returned to collect it, only to find a letter addressed to him was sitting on top of it.
‘To Damon the Demon, Keeper of the Book of Secret Spells, Guard me with your life, such as it is. Protect me, and thus the world from those who would wreak havoc and harm. I suspect you’re more adept at this sort of thing than you let on. Otherwise, were all going to be in a lot of trouble. Supernaturally yours, The Spirit of the Spell Book.
‘It’s so unfair. All I ever wanted was a quiet life,’ he bemoaned as they exited the ruined temple and headed towards home.
Apologies to those who have been waiting for the final parts of this story. I managed to get them written by the end of last week, but I had no time to post them, or read everyone else’s responses to the prompts, or respond to comments. Sigh. I will catch up this week, but for today, I will share Part 11, 12 & 13. Then it’s time to make a start on my NaNo goal 🙂
This is the eleventh part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
‘Crispin, will you do the honours?’
It was over before Damon had a chance to protest, let alone react to what was about to happen. A small ceremonial dagger cut the top of Damon’s arm. Then the knife was handed over to the Master.
‘And so it begins,’ he said, holding the knife above the book. Damon watched entranced as the tiny amount of blood on the blade trickled ever so slowly downwards. Then it gathered in volume until one large drop spilled from it and splashed upon the dark fur.
An eye appeared on the cover of the book. Damon screamed because it was quiet horrible.
‘Who thinks himself fortified with such wisdom as to dare trouble me?’ The words seemed to emanate from within the book itself.
‘I do, Artemon of the Black River.’
‘And you think yourself worthy?’
‘I know I am.’
‘Then let us find out.’ A clasp appeared on the side of the book, which opened itself. Then the cover lifted and pages began to turn quickly as if stirred by a gale.
‘Destiny picks the ritual that will prove your worth,’ the book proclaimed. ‘If it ends without your destruction, you will have all that you seek. Fail and you lose everything.’
‘I hardly think so, but I do not exist to remind you of your stupidity. Only to bring into effect what this book decrees.’
Damon saw the man he now knew as Artemon blanch in the candlelight. Had he believed the consequences of failure might be less fatal than the book suggested? Still, he could not back out now.
Suddenly the grimoire fell still. Artemon leaned closer to see what ritual the book insist he performed. ‘The Spell of the Well of Unending Riches,’ Artemon read aloud. ‘Deep inside the Forest of Knowledge, at the source of The River of Understanding, there lies the Well of Unending Riches, where the wise may go and draw power and wealth without limit…Yes, I have heard of such a place and long have I desired to take my rewards from its waters…Yet in order to receive both in such vastness as only the Well may grant, something of great value, of equal value, must be given in return…Surely nothing can equal such a gift,’ he mused, looking up from the book and scratching his chin, before he continued reading. ‘Work the rite on the night before the Samhain Veil falls…yes, yes, that is tonight…And have with you a worthy sacrifice, a sacrifice you have chosen.’ His head snapped up and his eyes, burning red and gold with the reflected light of the candles, locked on to Damon.
Artemon’s arm stretched out towards Damon. ‘Crispin! Bring him to me.’
Damon stepped backwards, only recalling that they was a ring of candles behind him, just in time to pause.
‘Damon, don’t you think it’s a little late in proceedings to decide that you don’t wish to be part of tonight’s main event?’ Crispin asked, stepping towards his brother.
‘I don’t remember ever saying that I wanted to be here, brother. Now, if you would kindly point me in the direction of the exit, I’ll make my own way out.’
Crispin lunged at Damon. Damon sidestepped him and leapt over the candles and into the clear space beyond. Just when he thought he had a moment to get his bearings and make a plan, a creature the likes of which he had never seen before, came bounding out of the shadows towards him. This time he wasn’t quick enough to get out of the way, and together they fell to the floor, scuffling.
‘Don’t harm him, my pet,’ Artemon called out above the din. ‘I need him alive.
Sharp teeth snapped inches from Damon’s face. He aimed a punch at it’s nose, but the thing didn’t seem to register it. As it sat on the demon, Damon could tell the creature was all muscle for it was heavy as hell and crushing the breath from him.
Stars started to swim before his eyes. He could feel his strength leaving him. Then, just as he thought he was about to breath his last, Crispin was standing over them.
‘Leave! Drop!’ he shouted at the creature, as if it was some sort of dog, but to no avail. In the end Crispin had to haul the beast off him, flinging him back to the shadows from where it had come.
Then it was Damon’s turn to be hauled, this time back on to his feet. ‘Now that’s enough silliness for tonight. Promise you’ll be good?’
Damon made no answer. He was breathing heavy and could barely hold himself upright.
‘Is he undamaged?’ Artemon called.
‘He’ll do. Go on,’ he said, pushing Damon back towards the circle of candles. Yet neither he nor Crispin, ever reached it.
There was an explosion of stone, flashes of light, rumbles of thunder and the screaming of banshees. Something else had been unleashed in the cemetery that night. Something none of them ever expected.
This is the tenth part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here. Or find the story index at the top of the page.
There was nothing for Damon to do but sit and wait and to see what happened. To see if the chance arose in which he could attempt an escape. It was clear from what the diminutive, sharp-toothed fellow had said he wouldn’t be coming out of this alive. And, to make matters worse, no-one knew where he was.
Looking about him, he could tell he was in one of the rooms beneath the fake mausoleum. And, to confirm his suspicions, as if after all he had heard and witnessed wasn’t proof enough, there was a newness to his prison that you just simply didn’t find with ancient tombs. There was no dust on the floor. No cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. The smell of damp and decay was missing too. The stone floor wasn’t cold from the earth beneath it, and the one wall Damon could touch, the one he was now leaning against, did not run with damp.
The sunbeams strengthened as the day wore on. Then they faded as noon turned to afternoon, and then afternoon to evening. When the sunlight had been exchanged for the softer silver of moon and stars, noise from the other side of the door grabbed his attention. He stood up.
It was Crispin. ‘Come along, dear brother. Your presence is required. And don’t try anything silly. I don’t think you would enjoy another bash over the head, given you’re having a bit of trouble with healing, so I hear.’
‘You really are detestable,’ Damon said with contempt.
‘Spare me the lecture.’
‘As if I would bother wasting my last breath on you.’
Damon was in fact pleased to be leaving his small cell. The only way he had any hope of getting out of this was to play along until things turned in his favour. And he held on to that thought like it was a life preserver, because if he let it go, there would be no question of the outcome. He would be as dead as a dodo.
Surprisingly, Crispin led Damon up a set of stone steps, which led into the ground level room of the imitation sepulchre. The room was in darkness except for the dozens of candles which were lit around the room. Yet they seemed negligible against the blackness. Shadows rose up around the room. The corners were pitch. If was there was anything hiding in them, Damon would not have known.
In the centre of the room was a stone altar. On the flat top sat a closed book; beneath on a second marble bed and surrounded on three sides by carved pillars, was the prostrate figure of the small, ancient creature who appeared to be master of these proceedings. Around this altar, at a distance of perhaps a metre and a half, was a circle of candles.
‘Master, it is time to wake,’ Crispin said. His voice was quiet but it echoed around the chamber.
Slowly the figure rose and announced, ‘It is time. Bring our…guest.’
Damon was led to the altar, but not before he had to carefully step over the barrier of burning candles. On the other side of the stone platform waited the little man who reverently laid his hand upon the book.
Now that Damon was closer he could see that the book was no ordinary book, for there was no cover to it as such. You could not simply lift the cover and turn the pages, the latter being also concealed somehow. And, the tome appeared to be covered in a thick, dense, dark fur.
‘I have waited a very long time to see what secrets lie within,’ the man Crispin had called Master said. ‘And now, my wait is over.’
‘If you don’t know what’s in it, how do you know you want to open it?’ Damon asked, looking aghast at the horrid item.
‘Be quiet or I shall silence you, demon. Now, to unlock the grimoire we need one drop of our sacrifice’s blood.’
Damon felt all eyes turn to him, and knew something very bad was about to happen.