Thursday, September 3, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Crow King (Wintervale #1) by M.H. Woodscourt

Title: The Crow King
Series: Wintervale #1
Author: M. H. Woodscourt
Publication Date: September 1st 2020

Print Length: 400 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Magic is against the law. He must use it anyway.

The Crow King has outlawed magic. Despite the kingdom’s edict, Gwyn plunges into the ancient and deadly True Wood to find a magical cure for his dying brother. Within the shadowed realm, he must fend off more than violent and fallen fae-like Ilidreth when he learns the king is out to stop him at whatever cost.

On his desperate quest, he is joined by a unicorn, a quirky girl, and the maddest of the fallen fae. Together they must outrun enchanted crows and enemy armies, and face the ghosts of a shattered age, all while racing to save Gwyn’s brother. Meanwhile, war brews between countries, and a secret order of mages hunts Gwyn down.

Yet none of this can prepare Gwyn for the harrowing truth behind the fall of the Ilidreth long, long ago, and what it means for his life and his homeland.

The leaves whispered and the figure stepped into view, an arrow nocked and pointed at Gwyn’s heart. The boy lifted his hands to show he held no weapons, eyes wide as he stared for the first time upon a fae creature.

It was beautiful; tall and lithe, slender, with long hair of glossy black and slanted eyes of purest blue. High cheekbones and pointed ears framed the Ilidreth’s face. He — for Gwyn thought it was a man — wore close-fitting clothes, deep greens and browns and reds in motley patterns made from a material not unlike silk, though sturdier.

The creature glided forward, making the barest hint of noise. His arrow never strayed from its target and he halted several yards away, blue eyes burning into Gwyn.

“Were you but a year or two older you would already be dead, young one,” the being said in a melodic tone that brought to mind twinkling stars and a burbling stream. “Why do you seek the Ilidreth?”

Gwyn steeled himself. “I seek a cure for my dying brother.”

The being’s eyes narrowed a little. “You would ask for our aid?”

Gwyn nodded. “I would and I do.”

The being canted his head. “So bold. What is your name?”

“Gwynter ren Terare.”

“Ren Terare? I know the name. Another of your kin came here not many seasons past, seeking the same. He demanded we save his heir and when we refused, he tried to kill us.”

Gwyn bowed his head. “Is that the truth of it? Yet you confess you would have killed me were I fully grown, before I had even a chance to speak. Did my father know better courtesy than this?”

The being’s gaze softened, or perhaps the light overhead changed. “You ask a fair question. I did not expect such from ren Terare’s ilk. Dismount and I shall show you courtesy, young Lord Gwynter ren Terare of Vinwen.”

Gwyn hesitated. “What is your name, if you please?”

The being studied him for a moment. “Celin, perhaps, in your tongue. Come.” He gestured for Gwyn to follow and glided back toward the tree where Gwyn had first seen him. The boy dismounted and followed, leading Tia. “Leave her,” Celin said without glancing back. “Tamed beasts are not permitted in the glade beyond. She will be safe enough here.”

Gwyn hesitated to leave Tia and his weapons behind but followed the Ilidreth past the vine-like branches of the willow.

He gasped.

Before him stretched a vale, wide and bright with white light emanating from the sentinel trees whose crystal flowers shone in full bloom upon the twigs and branches. Celin stood before him, but where before his hair shone black, now it gleamed white, and his raiment had become an intricate robe of woven silver. His eyes, however, were the same pure blue.

Celin wore a faint smile. “Welcome to the Vale of Life, where dwell the Ilidreth. Tell me, young lord, is this courtesy?”

Gwyn tried to drink in every detail. Water flowed like liquid silver, cascading down from a waterfall and into a glistening pool. Though moments before it had been daylight, here a black sky sparkled with myriad stars burning brighter than any Gwyn had ever seen. Strange constellations hung against the heavens, yet foreign names tumbled into his head as he stared at the shapes they sketched. Did something above whisper them to him?

“We cannot be in the same place.”

Celin’s smile grew. “We are not. The Vale is not of Simaerin, but of another Realm.”

Gwyn took a step forward. “I don’t understand. How can this be so?”

“It is magic, young lord. A thing humans have proclaimed as witchcraft performed by sorcerers. Yet the Ilidreth weave magic, no matter your commands, no matter the commands of your king.” Celin’s eyes narrowed, sharp as daggers, then his gaze softened. “Your father was not shown this sight, for he was forceful and impolite. Had he conversed with the Ilidreth as one man to another, as you have done to me, he might have lived.”

Gwyn’s heart constricted. “Did you—”

“Blow out your temper before it flames. I did not slay your father. ‘Twas the deed of another, more prone to violence. Alas, there are many Ilidreth now aligned thus. That is the doing of man.”

“We’ve been taught to fear and hate you. I believed you to be savage.” He searched the Ilidreth’s face.

Celin lowered his eyes. “And so we are becoming, one Vale at a time. Many of my kin are Fallen.”

“But if humans knew of this beauty, surely they would believe you mean us no harm.”

Celin laughed lightly. “Most would not see this even should I lead them here. You, young lord, I have shown because your eyes are willing to see truth where others’ are not. But I see that field of vision narrowing even now. A year or two more and you shall see as other men: a vision tainted by shades and shadows.”

Writer of fantasy, magic weaver, dragon rider! Having spent the past 20 years devotedly writing fantasy, it's safe to say M. H. Woodscourt is now more fae than human.

Her published titles include The Crow King, book one of her YA/High Fantasy Wintervale series, A Liar in Paradise and Key of Paradise of her YA/Portal Fantasy Paradise series, as well as October Cove, an Urban Fantasy novella.

All of her fantasy worlds connect with each other in a broad Universe, forged with love, sadism, and no small measure of blood, sweat, and tears. When she's not writing, she's napping or reading a book with a mug of hot cocoa close at hand.

Win an eBook of The Crow King by M.H. Woodscourt - three winners!