Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sign of the Throne by Melissa Eskue Ousley Review & Giveaway & Guest Post

Abby is an ordinary girl haunted by dreams of an ivory castle, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as a babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, California, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelgänger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby’s life is changed forever.
Encountering the queen of Cai Terenmare, a magical kingdom in a parallel world, Abby learns of an evil lord hell-bent on usurping the throne, the murder of Cai Terenmare’s king, the Solas Beir, and the kidnapping of the Solas Beir’s infant son.
As the kingdom struggles to endure, the queen shows Abby the full extent of her destiny. She must convince her mysterious crush, David, that he is the lost heir. While braving attacks from the dark lord’s sadistic minions, David must realize his true identity and return to Cai Terenmare to claim his throne before time runs out, lest the evil that was temporarily locked away be unleashed, threatening to destroy both the kingdom and all of humanity.

Author Picture - Melissa Eskue Ousley

Melissa Eskue Ousley is the author of The Solas Beir Trilogy. “Sign of theThrone,” the first book of this young adult fantasy series, will be released onSeptember 14. She is currently working on the second and third novels in thetrilogy, “The Rabbit and the Raven” and “The Sower Comes.”
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found swimming, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.
Before she became a writer, she had a number of educational jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping roadkill off a molten desert highway to years spent conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona.

Abby spent the next evening babysitting for Cassandra and Riordan. She putthe kids to bed and laid out her homework on the coffee table downstairs. She was immersed in her work when she realized—the house was quiet. Eerily quiet.
She was used to the familiar creaks and groans of the old house, and night ushered in the occasional chirp of a cricket or flutter of moth wings around theantique sconces lighting the room. Tonight she heard nothing—there was only dead silence. She felt a prickle at the back of her neck and realized she was shivering. The room had gone unnaturally cold, and she had the distinct sense that she was not alone.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadowy presence, someone standing still, watching her. She turned to look, but there was no one there. She felt a terrible unease twisting in her gut. Something was wrong.
Responding to her intuition, she got up and climbed the stairs to check on thechildren. Ciaran was snoring, perfectly at peace. He had wriggled out of his covers in his sleep. Abby tucked him back in.
Leaving his room, she walked down the hall to the twins’ room. The nightlight inthe hallway began blinking erratically. She entered the room and froze. Perched monkey-like on the corner of Rowan’s crib was a shadowed figure thesize of a small boy, leaning over the sleeping child. Sensing Abby, it turned its head, blood-red eyes meeting hers.
Abby gasped with horror as the creature leapt with unnatural agility from thecrib and crouched like a spider high on the wall, staring down at her. Slowly, it smiled, revealing rows of pointed narrow teeth, sharp as razors. And then…it pounced.
Abby raised her arms to shield herself, scrunched her eyes shut, and screamed. But there was nothing. She heard a low chuckle behind her and saw the creature near the door. The shadow boy laughed and ran out. Thesmoky form changed into a large black housecat before disappearing throughthe hallway wall.
Abby ran to the twins’ light switch and turned on the lights. She checked to make sure Rowan and Siobhan were unharmed, and then hurried to Ciaran’s room, flicking on lights as she ran. Ciaran was still fast asleep—her scream had not disturbed him at all.
She jerked open his closet door and found his aluminum baseball bat. Then, scooping him and the quilt up from his bed, she ran back to Rowan and Siobhan’s room. She shut the door and nestled the five year old into a make-shift bed on the floor. Sitting against the dresser next to him, she hummed, trying to reassure herself. Armed with the bat and the adrenaline coursing through her body, she waited.

My Review:
I liked this story for a couple different reasons. The biggest reason was how strong the love was from mother to child. I also liked the portals and how they worked. It was definitely interesting to read about them. I also was reminded of fairy tales with the evil family member trying to steel the throne.I was happy that a childless couple found a baby on their doorstep, but I felt even worse for the baby's real mom. The "creatures" were also very imaginative. The ending was pretty good as well. I am giving this book a 4/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own.

Guest Post from the Author:
Sign of the Throne Guest Post for Deal Sharing Aunt
Melissa Eskue Ousley
The Merfolk of Cai Terenmare
In Sign of the Throne, Abby meets the queen of Cai Terenmare, who tells her about several different types of aquatic beings who live in this magical parallel realm. First Abby learns about the sirens, who are predatory creatures dwelling near the Island of the Western Oracle. The Western Oracle is a powerful seer with dominion over the sea. The sirens are the daughters of the Western Oracle, and serve her, preying on the merfolk of Cai Terenmare and feeding on anyone foolish enough to seek counsel with their mother. From the waist up, the sirens look like beautiful women. However, just below their waists, these creatures possess a secondary set of arms, each tipped with the head of a venomous snake. Their black-and-white striped tails end in paddles, much like a sea krait.

The merfolk, in contrast, are a peaceful people, aligned with the Light. Their skin and tails tend to be grey and are sometimes mottled, like a dolphin’s. They have powerful flukes and can swim as fast as any fish or cetacean in the vast oceans of Cai Terenmare. Queen Eulalia tells Abby about Nerine, a mermaid who rescued the knight Cael after his terrifying encounter with the sirens. Nerine is the daughter of the Sea King, and she will play an important role throughout The Solas Beir Trilogy. Her name means “daughter of the sea.”

Finally, Abby meets a nixie named Nysa. Similar to a mermaid, Nysa is a water sprite with the ability to shape-shift, but she is much smaller, standing about a foot tall when she has legs. She can appear as a small girl or as a golden-orange koi. Eulalia describes her character by saying, “Sometimes in the middle of changing forms, she gets distracted and ends up half girl, half fish, and it is anyone’s guess which half will be the girl.” Nysa is over one hundred years old, but is still a child in faery years.  She makes her home in the reflecting pool of the abandoned Spanish Colonial mansion in Newcastle Beach, and she loves collecting shiny things, like lost keys and jewelry.

Abby’s first impression of the water faery is that she resembles a Kewpie doll come to life with her sweet baby face, bright amber eyes, and a body like a chubby cherub, including a little potbelly stomach sticking out. Nysa’s skin has an orange tinge, and her cropped hair, in varying shades of yellow and orange, looks like a dandelion fluff set aflame. Abby learns that her new friend played an important role in helping the queen get a message to the abducted prince, the boy Abby knows as David Corbin.

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