Thread of a Spider
by D.L. Gardner
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
When all attempts to save her fiance fail, Ailis must rely on the magic of the forest folk.
Following an ambush at the Upton Rail Station in 1921 Ireland, British troops burn Ailis' home to the ground and arrest her fiancé, Liam, for murder. She and her younger brother Paddy flee to an enchanted glen. Lured by a haunting song, Paddy is abducted by forest folk. Perilous obstacles, and a questionable stranger, hinder Ailis' attempts to find her brother or free her fiance, until her only hope for survival rests on the magic of the Fae.
˃˃˃ A bitter uprising in Ireland is taking place and two siblings are tossed in the battle, facing death, believing in love, and hoping in magic.
1920 found Ireland at the peak of tensions that had been building for centuries. Famine, tyranny and strife robbed the Irish of their homes, their lives and their country. Four years after the Easter Rising, pressure became so great, that the southern Irish took up arms against the British and fought for a free nation. Thread of a Spider, a historical fantasy, weaves history and Irish myth together to tell a story about two teenage siblings caught in the war and swathed in the legends of Erie.˃˃˃ A fantasy based on history woven with rich Irish lore.
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The Captain looked Ailis in the eye. “Do you have a weapon on you?”
“No,” Ailis said.
His face hardened, his eyes narrowed. “A man has lost his life because of you. Would you care to explain?”
Ailis wasn’t sure how to answer. She dared not incriminate her brother in case he found his way out of the forest and back home. They’d track him down and arrest him, perhaps hang him as a murderer like they did that 15-year-old in Dublin after the Rising. She waited too long to speak, but had no idea what to say.
“Well, maybe we can get some information out of you if we try a little harder. What do you think?”
Again, she had no answer. If they meant torture, she vowed to Saint Peter she wouldn’t talk.
“What is your name?”
“Say that again.”
“My name is Ailis.”
“Nonsense. I want your civilized name. Your English name!”
Ailis drew a breath. There was no sense resisting. “Alice Kilpatrick.”
“Your home is where?”
“Where do you live, Alice? Is that a hard question for you?” He glanced at his strongman, who reached for his pistol. Perhaps they were going to apply some sort of torture after all. Ailis didn’t know, but her heart skipped a beat, and a cold sweat formed on her brow.
“Sand Cross, sir,” she answered as she watched the bullets slip into the barrel of the revolver.
“Sand Cross? What were you doing up here in these woods?”
“Foraging. I have an ill sister at home and needed to gather bilberry.”
“Pity,” he snickered. “And who came with you?”
“No one.” Ailis bit her lip, anticipating his reaction.
“No one? Come on, little pikey. You expect me to believe that?” His voice became harsh.
Pikey? She cringed at the insult. She’d have slapped his face, if her hands were free. Instead, she clung to her lie. “No one was with me. I came alone. I saw your men and got scared, so I hid. I don’t know who fired the shot that killed your soldier.”
The two scouts who had been searching for Paddy appeared out of the forest and jogged down the hill to the lorries. Her interrogator turned to them.
“Did you find him?”
“No, sir, he disappeared. No sign of his trail, either.”
Ailis bit the inside of her mouth to keep from smirking. The officer glanced at her again.
“You don’t know who fired the shot.” What should have sounded like a question, was a spiteful remark instead. It was obvious that the Captain didn’t believe her lie. Her heart thundered and her face heated.
His nose nearly touched hers. “You’re a liar. I’ll tell you who fired and killed my soldier. Someone who cares about you. Now tell me who that might be.”
She felt a fever coming on. Panic. Her lips were chapped, her mouth dry. “I don’t know.”
“I see.” The officer stepped back.
“What do we do with her, sir?” Strong Arm asked. He held his revolver so she could see him spin the barrel, and looked hard into her eyes.
Dazed, Ailis waited. She knew some of the options they had. She’d heard what happens to prisoners of war. She was at the mercy of these men.
She loves a tale that ignites imaginations, strengthens friendships, spurs courage and applauds honor. Though she targets her stories for young adults, her books are enjoyed by all ages.
D.L. Gardner is a columnist for the science fiction and fantasy publication Amazing Stories Magazine
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My favorite character in my book is Paddy. Whereas the story is mostly about his sister Ailis and her struggles to free her fiancé, Paddy’s the one that befriends the Fae, and convinces them to help the Irish win the war. He’s a feisty 15-year-old wanting to fight, yet hating himself for killing a man. He loves his family, his country and he learns to love the forest folk as well. There’s something to be said about passion, and Paddy is passionate!
“Magic,” he snarled. “Fae!” He crumpled the cloth with his fist, and shoved the fabric into his pocket. “I’ll find you Tommy, I swear. By the sword of Saint Michael, I’ll find you and bring you back home.”
A tease to his sister.
He interrupted her thoughts. “You’ve heard the tale of the Black Boar? The dark swine is evil, Ailis.”
She glanced at him. His eyes were still closed. “What are your blathering ‘bout?”
“The spirit of the Black Boar. Chased from Northern Ireland to West Cork.”
“Sure, and that’s but a tall story!” she said.
“Thought they had killed him, but he came alive again, and lives to this day.”
Paddy opened one eye and stared at her intensely. “In the form of a Brit.”
Passionate for his country and his countrymen.
There was fury in Paddy’s voice, and his face burned red with passion. “He’s a snitch. He’s going to have everyone we know either shot or hanged. Ailis, he shot you and left you for the buzzards! No one does that to my family. No one! He needs to die!”
What happened to the leprechauns?
Of all the fae and fairy stories that we hear of these days, the remaking of magic, hobbits, wizards, witches and gremlins, I have not heard what happened to the leprechauns.
It makes me wonder-
Are huge machines with copper gears and steamy presses manufacturing fairy shoes now? Is the art of cobbling fading into the sunset alongside the elves that migrated out of middle earth?
Worlds ago a Leprechaun was a much-needed worker, tapping away as he made a shoe for a fairy, though if he made two he kept one hidden in case he had to flee from a human.
He hibernated in the winter, but he loved summer, so with global warming one would think the leprechaun might be seen more frequently. His bright green coat and red hat used to be a merry sight in the hillsides. Now the only thing red we see in the fields are the red poppies akin to the ones that put Dorothy to sleep.
I suppose we’re all the better for it. They say Leprechauns hated to be seen. And if they were they would throw the contents of their snuffle box into the poor souls face, which would then suffer a terrible sneezing fit thus allowing the little critter a sure escape.
Perhaps that’s why I sneeze when I walk through the grass in the summer. And all this time I blamed it on allergies. Well then, maybe I should think twice about inviting him back.
Irish Fae folk.
You’ll see an unusual-to-Americans fae folk (fairy, faeries) in Thread of a Spider. Those of us who grew up in the States are accustomed to the pretty Tinkerbell fairy that, though mischievous, was full of light, enchantment, and fun. I did do my research when I wrote my novel, because I didn’t want to fall into a trope that wasn’t authentic. We’re in Ireland, and in Ireland the tales of Fae are not so quite as innocent as Disney made them out to be. Fae stole babies out of their cribs for who knows what reason. And it was important for people to stay on the good side of them less they pull a prank on you, or steal from you or cause you all sorts of headaches. Fae also warred with the Pixies from Cromwell. It’s true. And this gives them a definite purpose for abducting the older boys, like Tommy and Paddy.
I admit I don’t know all the legends, but I have had a few Irishmen read the story, including Lee Brophy, my narrator of the audio book (honestly you have got to listen to it. He does such an awesome job and while recording time and again he told me how enchanted he was with the story!).
I hope this sheds a wee bit of light on the real Fae folk. Enough to make you cautious when you walk in the glen.
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