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Lyndi Alexander (aka Barbara Mountjoy) has been a published writer for over 35 years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at the South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Florida. Her list of publications includes the non-fiction book 101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce, published by Impact Publishers in 1999, stories in A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women, in December 2008, and A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Parents, in June 2009. Her Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series (as Lyndi Alexander) is available from Dragonfly Publishing; THE ELF QUEEN and THE ELF CHILD , with THE ELF MAGE coming out in early 2012.
BACK COVER COPY:
Jelani Marsh finds a glass slipper on the city sidewalk and tries it on for laughs. The slipper shatters, slicing her foot, and dozens of tiny men scatter from the bloody remains. A moment later, her foot is miraculously healed and they’re gone.
This is the first in a series of meetings that will unravel everything she knows. In the following weeks, the sassy barista from Missoula, Montana, will learn she is not an orphan, as she’d been taught to believe, and that her life story has been a deception, right down to the circumstances of her birth. A menace arises from her family’s past that could threaten everything she holds dear, including her own life.
Two groups help untangle the mystery: her human friends—life skills coach Iris Pallaton, computer geek and gamer extraordinaire Lane Donatelli, and “Crispy” Mendell, an agoraphobic abuse survivor—and her new-found elf companions, Daven Talvi and Astan Hawk. Can she learn about her true roots and absorb the implications of her new life in time to save her friends, her family, herself.
Jelani pulled Iris’ cell from her pocket. “You have to see this.” She held out the cell, activated the playback, then watched their warm smiles change to dead shock.
“Where’s that from? YouTube?” Lane took the cell from her, played it again.
“No! That’s on Broadway just before Higgins Street. That’s Iris’ phone. That’s my foot.”
Lane stopped, looked at the cell. “Oh. So it is.”
Crispy gasped. “Aliens!”
“What?” Jelani stared at the little man.
“Aliens! You must have been taken aboard the mothership! Maybe that other summer, remember when you disappeared for a week and—“
She tried to grab his hand, but he was too agitated. “Crispy. Crispy, listen! I didn’t disappear for a week. I told you that! I went to Mount St. Helens with the University’s ecology club.”
Lane rolled over to the Cave to start tapping on a couple of the keyboards. “Yeah, buddy, remember? She even brought you some ugly chunk of lava from the last blow.”
Crispy’s forehead furrowed, trying to recall such an event. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess.” His smile was only tentative. “Maybe they got you some other time.”
“Aliens?” Jelani bit her lip. She couldn’t rule it out. The little men did have an E.T.-kind of feel to them. But… No. No way. That would be crazy.
Lane was still moving from screen to screen, clearly searching for something. Jelani couldn’t decide if she found it comforting that he had some answer in mind. That made the whole crazy mess seem too real.
“Not aliens,” Lane finally said, after an uncomfortable silence that seemed to stretch on forever.
“Great! What then?” She walked over, watching where she stepped once she crossed the threshold of the Cave, wary of thick wires and unrecognizable bits of discarded food on the floor. He’d plugged Iris’ phone into a wire that led somewhere deep in the tangle of cables behind the nearest computer tower. The enlarged video blurred and broke up into small squares when anything moved, but there were the little naked men, fuzzy, and revealed in more detail than she’d been able to see on the tiny cell screen. They had faces, fingers, small—
She blinked as she realized they were anatomically correct.
Crispy inched closer, obviously unwilling to come within range of the webcam. “Not aliens?”
Lane shifted his bulk in the chair, rolled to a second keyboard where he brought up several pictures of other little men who resembled those running in a continuous loop on the first screen. “Homunculi. Just like the ones in Fullmetal Alchemist,” he said in admiration.
“Full Metal what? Isn’t that a Vietnam movie?” Jelani was puzzled. “They’re Asian?”
“Manga,” Crispy interjected softly.
“Oh, comic books.”
“No!” Lane growled. “Manga are not ‘comic books.’ They’re an art form! Graphic novels. Archie is a comic book.” He rolled back to the first screen, studied it. “In Fullmetal Alchemist the homunculi were artificial humans, named for the seven deadly sins, with a piece of the Philosopher’s Stone instead of a heart. Magic enemies. ”
“Magic?” Was he nuts?
“Deadly sins. I don’t like the sound of that."
My question to you. If you like fantasy, what is your favorite fantasy movie?