Friday, January 24, 2014

"Ill-fated" by Evelyn Ink

by Evelyn Ink

Today we feature Ill-fated by Evelyn Ink. You can also enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a paperback copy of Ill-fated (US only).
Also available: Silver Tongue (read my blog post).

This is the story of a girl. A quest she does not expect to survive, a boy without a memory, and a vague, ill-fated prophecy...

Crossing the wall for the first time in her life, Leila Edgewick finds a world where magic meets machine. Skyships, daguerreotypes, and automatons merge with the ‘earthdolven’ magic of the South, leaving her to question, “What is sorcery and what is science?”
Simultaneously, an unknown boy wakes up in the sunken hull of a decrepit cargo ship. Captured and mind-locked, the boy – dubbed “Sam” by the ship’s crew – must escape the infamous Bonesplitter and the dark schemes of one Captain Erastacus Oren.
When Leila and Sam’s paths finally cross, fate ties them together, sending them deep into the Ramble in search of the Wasteland Witches. Plagued by Sam's erratic memory and Leila's dubious rationale, they must outwit the Southland drudge hunters while taking on the dangers of the Ramble. Their friendship develops quickly, but as Leila’s quest unravels, Sam’s past is pieced together – and when Sam’s identity is finally revealed, Leila must face up to a bloody family secret that could rip their friendship apart ...

Leila's map of the Lands beyond the Wall.

The wind began to whip up around them, bushes of dead rashweed rolled across Blister’s path and it wasn’t long before they were being pelted by large drops of rain. Sam was right to be worried. The storm clouds pushed up against the ever-ashen skies of the Brackenfire Mountains, sealing them in darkness. Only when Leila looked back towards the southeast corner of the sky, could she see the pale blue of evening. Unfortunately, she also saw something else.
“Sandwolves.” Sam had to holler through the wind.
Leila nodded to show she had heard. There were at least five, and all much larger than she would have guessed. The wolves were following from some distance, matching Blister’s gait with an easy loping pace. Sam had said they attacked in packs, but would they try and take down a horse as large as Blisterwitch? For now at least, the wolves were keeping their distance, and riding into the wind, Leila doubted Blister had caught their scent.
As the rain increased to a downpour Leila lost sight of them, she had last counted eight. Sam pointed forward. “I think I see a light.”
Sure enough, straight ahead something flickered; then steadily brightened. It was difficult to guess how far away the light might be. The rain was hard, but the wind was worse, biting their wet skin raw. They were squeezed together into the saddle, but Leila was already shaking from the cold.
A crackling rumble shuddered through the air, followed by several skittering flashes of lightening. For a split second, everything from the grass below Blister’s hooves to the distant hills was lit up like day. Blister started, suddenly aware of the wolves, let out a screaming whinny and bolted. Rain was flung into Sam and Leila’s faces with such force neither could see the road or the flickering light they hoped was Atara’s.
Shooting through the darkness at such a terrifying pace, Leila was caught off guard by the sight of dark shapes suddenly surging in around them. The wolves. One leapt forward, teeth snapping. Jerking her foot back, Leila grabbed the blunderbuss, and when the wolf leapt again she slammed the butt of the gun into its head. Sam shouted something in her ear and pointed. Leila looked up. The light, bright and glowing, was straight ahead. They might make it. Blister barreled on, but the wolves were closing in on both sides. Leila aimed the blunderbuss and fired, blowing a hole through the pack of shadows. Despite the good shot, she felt instant regret. The gun was spent. It would be impossible to reload.
“Lean forward,” Sam ordered.
Leila glanced back; Sam was fitting her arbalet to his forearm. She lay flat against Blister’s neck, so he could turn and aim, taking one creature out just as it leapt at Blister’s hindquarters. As Sam reloaded, a sharp, painful jerk sent Leila lurching sideways off the horse. One of the wolves had got ahold of her boot. She screamed throwing her arms around Blister’s neck. There was a clink and thwap next to her ear, as a bolt sunk through the wolf’s head. Another leapt, but she had regained her balance and hammered the butt of the blunderbuss right down into its gaping mouth.
The light was as bright as a beacon now. Sam was drawing faster. Each thwap was followed by a yelp or yowl, but the only thing truly saving them was the horse’s blistering pace.
Despite the rain, Leila could see they were nearing the base of a hill, where the outline of the small windmill sat, lit up and glowing through the rain. As close as they were, Blister was losing ground to the pack, and just as they hit the upward slope Sam let out a scream of pain. His body wrenched left suddenly, almost dragging both of them out of the saddle. Leila lost her grip on the blunderbuss as she scrambled to keep a hold of Blister. Sam was being dragged to the ground, one of his legs firmly in the mouth of an enormous grey beast.
Luckily, the arbalet, strapped to his right arm, had hooked around the saddle, caught, and held fast. Sam kicked at the wolf violently with his free foot. Another wolf lunged, but Blister kicked it away. “Hold on!” Leila cried, suddenly remembering her sword. She ripped it from the scabbard near the saddle horn and turned, but something odd was happening. The wolf had let loose on its own, and was now yelping and hopping about as though mad. Leila yanked Sam back into the saddle and Blister plunged on. They both turned and watched in shock as the wolves, scattered and yowling, disappeared into the darkness.
“Not the kartivaus?” Sam was slumped forward, breathing hard.
Leila glanced at Blister, despite the horse’s heaving chest she appeared calm. “No. I don’t think so.”
She looked at Sam. Rain was running down his face, dripping off his hair and lips. He looked ashen in the darkness. There was blood and water, dripping – draining down the side of the horse. Leila went dizzy at the sight of it.

The author did an amazing job. The colorful characters, descriptive landscapes, and the lore of this imaginary world of hers was expertly woven together, brining it all to life in my mind, and I did appreciate the fact that she didn't bog my mind down with unnecessary details that didn't move the story along. Leila and Sam had quite the adventure, and the characters they met along the way were quite appropriate, given the circumstances of each situation. The author expertly gave you just enough information about the world she built, and the characters she put in it that you didn't even feel like you were trying to imagine an entirely new world. Without giving anything away, let me just say that it ended exactly as I had hoped it would :) A solid 5 stars for this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I will be watching for other titles by her!

About the Author
Evelyn Ink was formally trained to be a parachutist, but found it did not fit her longstanding desire to avoid heights and thus decided to study a much less vertically horrifying subject; English Literature.
Due to the world-wide web of conspiracy which surrounds Evelyn Ink, she rarely appears in public, but when she does its best to avoid her due to her enduring history of social disrepute. There has been more than one regrettable event regarding bent cameras and shattered umbrellas.
It's hard to say how old she is, but it is likely she was born well before you were. Her childhood home, deep in some unknown, but undoubtedly pleasant countryside, was turned into a plastic bubblepuck factory forcing her family to move deep into the Stonegrave Mountains. These Mountains were unfortunately chosen to be used as an experimental avalanche catastrophe (EAC) site and once again the Ink Family was forced to move. It seems ill-fortune struck again and again as they were repeatedly obligated to change locations: once due to a plague of urban badgers, a fracking sinkhole, and then again when a tuna factory's waste disposal site was established just outside their home.
As an adult she has continued on in this nomadic lifestyle, crossing oceans and continents when necessary. Necessary being: under the scrutiny of the press, unwarranted investigations, and an ill-timed anarchist fan base. Mrs. Ink was quoted saying, "The prompt, brutal reports of the local tabloids are most inaccurate. Unrelated to that, I advise everyone to avoid the newspaper as it is insufferably dull these days." Mrs. Ink also prefers the term "vacation" to "exile."
That said, Mrs. Ink continues on writing and publishing while in exile ... sorry, on vacation, with her husband, who (name unknown) is thought by many to be both an anarchist and mad philosopher.
You may choose to follow Evelyn Ink on her blog, although due to her absolute terror of electronics and a crippling phobia of the social media (technical term: Socmephobia), her blog posts tend to be infrequent and erratic. Also, due to several post exile investigations and her current relocation program, she is generally prevented from giving specific information regarding her whereabouts (though, by the hollowly echo and vintage-like hum of a rotary phone, I would suspect from our last conversation, she is somewhere deep underground).
This report was conducted by:
Mr. Edwin Riddle
Of Public Relations, Personal Investigates, and Subterfuge.

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of Ill-fated (US only).