Close Call: A Doris & Jemma Vadgeventure Cover Reveal

Well, here it is, the moment I’ve been waiting for. My alter ego, Eloise March, has written something exciting, fresh and fun — think Bridget Jones Diary meets The Vagina Monologues. And now I get to reveal the most amazing cover done by awesome cover artist and graphic designer (among other things) and dear friend, Sol Pandiella-McLeod. So, here it is. Drum roll….

Doris jpeg ebook cover

Close Call: A Doris & Jemma Vadgeventure is chick lit, or as they now say, contemporary women’s comedy fiction. It’s the first of a series of novellas, each one it’s own story but with the same characters — kind of like a tv series. So, what is it about? Read on.

Twenty-two year-old Jemma can’t seem to get her life in order. Her track record with men stinks, she constantly worries about getting fat and ending up a spinster at thirty, and to top it off, she has to be a bridesmaid at her most-hated cousin’s wedding. She feels like her life is over, until Doris decides to help out. Who’s Doris? Doris is Jemma’s vagina and she thinks more of Jemma than her own brain does. Doris is on a mission to save Jemma from herself, but is the task too much for one vagina to handle?

If you’re as excited as I am, don’t worry; it will be available as an ebook and paperback from all the usual outlets on 1st December, 2013. Visit the Facebook page or twitter to get the links when it goes live.

Little Dove—Epic Fantasy WIP

I wrote this short story to submit to fantasy magazines in the hope that I would gain some kind of recognition. After three rejections, and wonderful feedback from Aurealis Magazine, I’ve decided to abandon the farce that this is a short story. From the moment I wrote the first sentence, it seemed like something bigger. I have tweaked the ending to make it less like a short story, since I submitted. It is with great joy that I present the first chapter of the New Adult epic fantasy that I will be writing when the third book in The Circle of Talia series is finished. I hope you enjoy it :).

Little Dove 

Laney ran across the field, her breath burning in her throat. Billowing behind, her green dress left her ankles bare, allowing the stiff stalks of yellow grass to whip and scratch her skin. Not far now. The leaden granite walls of the keep beckoned. She hoped she wasn’t too late.

In her mind, Frederick’s urgent parting words sounded. I have taught you all I can. The time has come. You must do everything in your power so that all is not lost. I fear the blood of the Carthans has already been spilled. He had pushed her out of the door before he finished speaking, only to yell after her as she sprinted away. “Do not lose the bird, whatever you do.” She had hardly heard the last but knew this bird was her only salvation.

Glancing down, her eyes met those of the silver-coloured bird at her waist. Its wings were secured with thick woollen twine, which wrapped around its body; its body secured in a netted pouch fastened to her dress. She felt warmth from the small bird’s body radiate against her stomach. “It’s okay, bird. I won’t hurt you. You can trust me.” She panted, looking up. Almost upon her home, her feet slowed. What would she find? Was there a chance her family was still alive?

The guards standing tense at the spiked iron gates–black breastplates gleaming, hands resting on the pommels of swords hanging at their sides–were strangers. Frederick was right, she thought, they are dead. Laney swallowed the sorrow threatening to undo her. If only her brother hadn’t listened to their parents, the king and queen, when they forbade him and Laney from visiting Frederick, the strongest sorcerer in Arbalion. Rumours had persisted for weeks about the foreign king’s march upon her father’s throne, and Frederick was one of the only people who had taken it seriously or had offered a real solution–a solution her parents had feared. Laney had learnt much, over warm deelvine tea, in her many illicit visits to the wise man’s cottage. But had she learnt enough?

One of the bearded guards, a soldier of Tyrk the Destroyer, turned his head toward Laney and spat. Laney stopped, wishing she were invisible. He would see her in five, four, three…. Now only metres away, Laney’s blue eyes connected with his. Desire and cruelty lit up his eyes and twisted the corners of his mouth into a greedy smile. The bravado with which she had left Frederick’s fled, leaving her empty and frozen. She had envisaged herself striding into the keep, meeting her family’s bitterest foe on her own terms, but now all she could do was stand and wait as the enemy strode toward her. I am a coward, she thought.

Resting her hand protectively over the bird, she looked up, trembling but meeting the man’s gaze. No words separated his upturned lips as he closed a rough hand around her slender arm. As he dragged her past the other milling guards, all fell silent. Laney heard gravel crunching beneath their feet and horses whinnying in the distance. When she looked down to negotiate the two steps to the main doors, she saw that a dark stain of dried blood led the way into the main hall.

Mamma. Pappa. Her legs lost strength and she fell. The guard’s fingers dug painfully into her arm, jerking her upright before she hit the ground. She stumbled forward. Her shoes trod upon the recently warm vestiges of people she had known, and, as the soldier hauled her onward, half-digested food exploded from her mouth, covering the soldier’s black boots with barely recognizable splatters of milk, carrots and cheese. He stopped, dead. Turning swiftly, he dealt a backhand blow to her cheek, the force cracking her head to the side. Again, his grip prevented her from falling, and she cried as quietly as she could as the brute pulled her down the hall, towards the throne room.

The oak double doors to the throne room stood open. The man stopped at the entrance, shoving Laney down. Her knees slammed into the flagstone floor, and a cry escaped her. “Do not move,” the guard growled before approaching the throne and bowing. Muffled voices reached Laney, but she couldn’t make out what was said.

Breathing in a metallic tang, Laney sat back, bottom resting on her heels. Looking around, she hoped to see her parents, but also hoped not to. Her heart pounded. She gazed to her right, and her sight rested on a pile of limp bodies thrown into the corner, clothes bloodstained, limbs tangled in a lifeless embrace. She blinked, her breath coming in short bursts. None of the corpses appeared to be wearing clothes she recognised as her parents’, but, laying on the top of the macabre mound, she saw the long, black, plaited beard of her father’s chief guard, Lucas. His once stern, battle-scarred face was hidden by his burgonet, but Laney could see the fatal wound; a slice rent from his side: red, gaping, final. The fiercest of her father’s soldiers, he had always had a smile for the princess. Laney held back a sob.

The bird at her waist squirmed as a shadow fell across them. She looked up at the dark shape of her captor. He grabbed her arm once again and hauled her to her feet. Staying behind her this time, he jabbed his fingers into her back, prodding her forward until she stood at the foot of her father’s throne. Laney squared her shoulders and looked Tyrk the Destroyer in the eyes.

Tyrk rose, his wide-chest and black cloak blocking Laney’s view of the throne. Stepping down, he stood within touching distance of the young princess. Tyrk placed a hand on Laney’s shoulder, gripping harder and harder until he saw her wince. He relaxed his grip, but left his hand to rest on her slender frame. When Tyrk smiled, wrinkles fanned out from the corners of his dark eyes, like cracks shearing the surface of a frozen pond. “So, the little bird flies home. But, as you can see,” he gestured extravagantly with one arm until his hand waved towards the carnage Laney had seen piled in the corner, “you have arrived too late. Imagine that; one day you are rejecting the marriage proposal of a prince, and the next, you are dead. Life’s funny like that.”

Tyrk watched his captive’s face. Laney blinked, but the usurper saw no tears in the wake of her lids. She stared at him without expression and couldn’t believe she had once entertained her father’s idea when he suggested Laney marry the prince from Enderling. If he was anything like his father, the man who stood in front of her, Laney was sure death was preferable. Trained to keep her feelings hidden, she tucked her sorrow behind her heart, keeping it warm for later. She let it flow through her veins; the blood feeding her body with oxygen, the misery feeding her determination, determination she would surely need to accomplish what she was about to attempt.

Taking his hand off the girl, Tyrk turned to the soldier who had dragged Laney in. “Let’s do this in the courtyard; I don’t want any more blood on the floor in here–I’d hate for it to stain. Bring her.” His stride was long and powerful, the set of his head arrogant.

As Laney was subjected to another’s will, yet again, she sent her thoughts to the wind. I’m not ready for this, Frederick. I don’t want to say goodbye. A memory from two weeks ago came to her and she saw her reflection in her bedroom mirror. She would never look into her own azure eyes again. Saying a final farewell to herself, she touched the smooth rise of her cheek, slipped a finger to trace her full lips, lips that had never even kissed a boy and finished by reaching into the hidden pocket at the hip of her skirts.

Her unsteady fingers touched steel.

Reaching the courtyard, the red wetness upon the ground drew Laney’s attention. Thinking of her parents–her dead parents–gave her encouragement to close her fingers around the hilt of the dagger. Clutching it with renewed hope, she hardly flinched when the guard stopped her in the middle of the courtyard by yanking her hair until her head snapped back painfully. He held her in that position for the scrutiny of a circle of smirking, road-stained soldiers. Laney stared at the sky and imagined what it would be like to escape into its cerulean heights.

Tyrk took casual steps around the courtyard, passing the soldiers, looking each in the eyes, before halting in front of Laney. He spoke louder than in the throne room, and his voice echoed off the courtyard walls and carried a short way into the fields beyond. “You are about to witness the end to the royal Varian line. Standing before us is the youngest, and only, living child of the recently deceased King Varian.” Tyrk paused to allow the audience’s laughter to subside. “Remember this day well, for this is what happens to those who refuse me. We will send you to the heavens, little dove. It will be quick–let no person say I am a king without mercy.”

The guard holding Laney’s hair released his grip. He put his mouth so close to her ear that the touch of his foul breath caused her to shiver. “K-K King Tyrk, likes t-t to, to watch the life d-d-d drain from the eyes.”

Laney slid her hand from her pocket as Tyrk drew his sword from its sheath. One of the soldiers shouted, “She has a weapon!”

Laney rushed, almost dropping the dagger as she saw Tyrk’s eyes widen before he lunged his sword toward her stomach. She sliced the dagger across the bird’s bonds, Frederick’s words in her mind: You must be touching the bird when your soul leaves your body. So much could go wrong, and the few seconds she had to consider it seemed an eternity.

Tyrk’s sword nicked the tip of the bird’s wing before splitting the fabric of Laney’s dress and piercing the porcelain skin of her stomach. The bird fluttered in her hands as she tried to hold it, the pain of her injury almost too great to ignore.

The new king held the princess’ shoulder, forcing her to stand while he stared into her eyes. Feeling cold and light-headed, Laney smiled and whispered, “You are wrong, usurper, the Varian line lives on.”

Tyrk’s grin, as the verve in her eyes glazed to stillness, was for the benefit of his soldiers–the truth in the girl’s words reaching his ears. What did she mean? Was there a relative they knew naught about?

Laney’s limp fingers fell to dangle at her sides. Scarlet bloomed, seeping into her dress. The silver-coloured bird, a red blemish now upon it’s wing, squirmed free. With a frenzied flapping of desperate strokes, it sent a scatter of feathers to land softly upon the bloody ground.

Tyrk released his grip on Laney and his sword and leapt for the bird, his hands catching the air beneath its swiftly rising form.

The bird flew–Laney’s awareness gazing out of its eyes, to look upon her home and the lifeless body of the young princess slumped in the courtyard. Deep sadness welled within her, the lack of avian tears a confirmation that she no longer resided in human form. The castle’s towers and turrets receded as she soared west, to a new land. She cawed a final goodbye to her family.

Tyrk watched his men drag the girl’s body away, while wind, newly-risen from the south, gusted into the yard, sending goosebumps slithering along his arms. Ignoring the chill that settled in his belly, he cast superstition aside. Omens are for the weak, he thought, before shivering. Striding into the cold embrace of his ill-gotten keep, he hadn’t noticed his son watching, dark eyes peering from a second floor window. The teenager, tears grazing his face, whispered a promise, so quiet it was barely the caress of breath over his lips. In that moment, in the smothering iron-laden seconds between one fate and the next, a traitor, and hope, was born.

Short Story—A Chill in the Chimes

Here is a suspense/horror story I wrote about a year ago. I have it for sale on Amazon and Smashwords for 99 cents, but I thought ‘what the hell?’ why don’t I just share it, cause if you like it, you might go and buy Dark Spaces, my book of short, suspenseful stories. Please read and enjoy!

A Chill in the Chimes large copy

The cottage at 124 Cook Street huddled in darkness. Bony twigs intermittently tapped on the window. Yellowed curtains trembled, as cold gusts poked teasing fingers through the cracked panes. Nature’s epilepsy shook the Smith’s wind chime, sending otherworldly notes ringing into the storm.

Serrated light slashed and blinded, and deep, sonorous thunder vibrated the home to its foundations. A bone-breaking crack tore a muscled appendage from the scribbly gum. The timbered weight fell; a guillotine slicing, sending shards of red tiles stabbing into the rain. Water bled into the wound. The chimes lay strangled on the front porch while 124 Cook Street waited in waterlogged silence for morning.

***

Andrew stood amongst the carnage of last night: shredded leaves, broken branches, strips of bark from trees skinned alive. He stared at the wounded weatherboard cottage. 124 Cook Street needed help. He resisted the urge to rub his hands together as he trod up the two steps to the front door. A wind chime lay tangled on the porch, its silver fingers mangled and arthritic. Andrew prodded it with a booted toe and knocked on the door.

When no one answered, he rapped again. Still nothing. He looked over his shoulder. An SES car inched past, surveying the damage. No one else was about. He turned the handle and gently pushed. The door creaked open, and he extended his head into the gap. ‘Hello?’ His voice croaked. He cleared his throat, ‘Hello? Is anyone home?’

An elderly lady shuffled through a door at the end of the hallway. She smiled the too-perfect smile of dentures. Deep lines ran from the corners of her mouth to her jaw, and Andrew was reminded of an animated, yet lifeless, ventriloquist’s dummy.

‘Can I help you?’  She reached the front door and her wrinkled lips settled closed.

‘I’m with the Emergency Services. The branch that fell through your roof has done heaps of damage. You must be flooded. I need to come in and take a look, make sure it’s safe.’ He slid his hand into his pocket and ran a thumb along the hilt of his knife, feeling the smooth bumps, which suggested the torso of a mermaid.

‘What’s your name?’

‘Phillip Baker.’ He extended the mermaid-fondling hand, and she shook it.

‘Pleased to meet you Mr Baker, I’m Gladys Smith. Please come in.’

Andrew understood why her hand was so cold when he stepped inside the dimly lit hallway. Green floral wallpaper peeling at the cornices, and spotted with stains of rising damp, complimented the shag-pile carpet, which reminded him of dead grass in its brownness. As mould spores tickled his nose, he was six years old again, crying and waving goodbye to his mother from his grandparents’ hallway. She never returned.

As he followed Gladys he wondered if he’d picked the wrong house. What could they possibly have to steal? He hoped to find some of the old woman’s jewellery, or maybe the clichéd stash of cash under the mattress. Stupid old people.

Both his hands sought the warmth of his pockets as they reached the lounge room.  The ceiling shed flakes of dandruff over everything. A brown velour sofa sat facing an old walrus of a television; the type that you’d have to pay to have removed. He scanned the contents of a dusty wall-unit and saw the crap it had taken Gladys a lifetime to accumulate. Not much to show for her existence: lace doilies, two ceramic figurines—pink ladies with parasols—and a row of faded floral plates on stands. He turned to speak to the old woman, but the room was empty.

He hadn’t seen or heard her leave. Was he so caught up in looking at nonsensical knick-knacks that he’d forgotten what he was doing? The quicker he got this over with, the better. Looking forward to the bottle of Jack Daniels and few hours of oblivion he’d buy with part of the proceeds, he turned back to the hallway, thinking Gladys’s bedroom would be one of the front rooms.

‘Would you like a cup of tea?’

Andrew stopped and brought a hand up to his chest, goose bumps peppering his arms. When he turned back, Gladys stood right behind him. What the hell? ‘Um, ok. That would be great thanks. I was just looking for the damaged ceiling. I need to see it so I can let you know what it will take to fix.’ If she didn’t leave him alone he’d have to let the knife do the persuading: it wouldn’t be the first time he’d used it.

‘That can wait young man. I’d rather you didn’t go in there right now. My husband’s asleep.’ Her dark eyes picked at something within him, something he refused to acknowledge as fear. ‘Now sit down. How do you take your tea?’

‘Look, it won’t take long, and I’ve got other houses to look at.’

She stared at him, eyes narrowing.

‘White and one please.’

She nodded, and her mouth curled up ever so slightly.

His need itched, but he ignored it and lowered himself onto the dusty lounge. How could anyone sleep in a saturated bed? A clammy miasma enveloped him, and the room darkened. He remembered his grandparents’ wrath, and waiting for his mother; always waiting. Still waiting.

The sharp smell of freshly turned earth was so strong he could taste the grit. He looked down and imagined he could see thousands of dirt-encrusted worms writhing within the graveyard of ancient carpet.  Fuck her and her tea. He jumped up and strode to the hall, pulling the knife out of his pocket as he went.

Two closed doors waited for him to choose. The tree had fallen on the room to his left. He reached for the handle and added Xanax to his to-buy list. He looked over his shoulder. Gladys wasn’t there. He breathed out and turned the knob, muscles tensed, waiting for the squeak of the door as he inched it open. A stronger smell of earth, mildew and something else, crawled out of the darkness—he gagged. Covering his mouth with a sleeve, he paused and thought of giving up for real this time, walking out, maybe finding another house; but the thought of being so close, and the voice that called him a pathetic coward, goaded him to continue.

He ducked in and closed the door. His fingers felt for the light-switch. Click. Nothing. He pulled the knife out of his pocket and strained to see. A large shadow hulked in front of him. His heart raced, and he stepped forward, the carpet squelching under his boots. He could just make out the outline of a bed seeping out of the gloom, and the bigger shadow was most likely the ceiling collapsed on top of it, still attached by a plastered crease to the beams above.

With the door closed, the smell he couldn’t define fleshed out and became something he recognised: the syrupy tang of decay. He coughed through his sleeve, and his eyes watered. Stealing from the bottle-o would be easier than this. He found his excuse and hurried to the door, waving the knife in front of him, trying to swipe away the dread that pushed through his pores.

As he reached for the handle, the door opened in a rush, the putrefied air sucked into the void. Gladys. Her wrinkled hand, with its paper-thin, liver-spotted skin, grasped a carving knife. She smiled her wooden smile. ‘I told you not to go in there. You came to steal, didn’t you? You picked the wrong house, sonny boy.’ She cackled and thrust herself forward. Andrew dropped his knife and grabbed at her arms, his fingers sinking into wrinkled folds of flesh.

The strength of the old woman surprised Andrew, and he screamed when the knife pierced his skin. Gladys’s gurgling laugh accompanied the blood seeping out of Andrew’s stomach. He sank to the floor, gasping his demise, while his clothes soaked up stagnant moisture.

The old woman stood over him. She reached down, pulled the knife out and lifted her arm to strike again. Footsteps sounded on the porch, and Andrew screamed. The front door burst in. The knife came down.

***

Andrew woke as they finished strapping him to the gurney. He listened, eyes closed, to the voices around him.

‘Crazy shit indeed. Some SES workers heard him screaming.’

‘Lucky. How long do you reckon that old couple ‘ave been dead?’

‘Looks like at least a month. The guy we got here stabbed himself. God knows why. We found I.D. and confirmed his grandparents used to live here, before that other old couple, Gladys and Bob. He was a ward of the state for a while. Stuffed in the head I reckon.’

‘Ha, you can say that again. Anyway, better get him out of here before he bleeds to death.’

The ambulance drove down Cook Street, past injured houses, ruined gardens, ravished trees. The damage would be cleaned up, patched, made new again. What couldn’t be fixed would be taken away, dumped, and forgotten.

At 124, a policeman noticed the silver reflection of sunlight hitting the wounded wind chime. He picked it up and smiled. It would look great all polished up and hanging from his front porch. His wife would love it. As he dangled it from one hand, he brushed the chimes with his other; discordant notes sounded a lament.

A chill licked the back of Andrew’s neck. The wailing of the siren drowned out his screams.

 

 

 

 

Dark Spaces—Book of Suspenseful Short Stories—on Sale!

Dark Spaces is a collection of suspenseful short stories that deal with the darkness in human nature, and it’s on sale now for only 99 cents! OMG, what can you buy for 99 cents these days? A third of a coffee, ten toothpicks, one peanut? Trust me, it’s a bargain.

Dark Spaces by Dionne Lister
Dark Spaces by Dionne Lister

Dark Spaces has been getting great reviews, but I’ve been neglecting promotion because my fantasy series has been begging for my attention. So now it’s Dark Space’s turn. Run out and grab your copy while it’s still 99 cents. This promotion will run for two weeks (until the 18th May, 2013).

You can download from Smashwords (which has every format you could want) and Amazon. Happy reading, or should I say scary reading ;).

I Finished Book Two, A Time of Darkness—Yay Me!

He, he, I’m celebrating! I finished my second book, A Time of Darkness, and it is with the editor being beautified. You would think I would be out enjoying myself, but no, I am home with a glass of Baileys and a blog post. I was meant to do grocery shopping later but now I can’t because of the Baileys—I’m an irresponsible writer but a responsible driver—it’s okay to blog when you’ve been drinking; in fact, it’s encouraged.

I’ve enjoyed writing this second book in The Circle of Talia series, although it took longer than I’d hoped (excuses are as follows: work, uni, kids, sun baking, tweeting) and one of my beloved characters had to die :(. Anyway, I finally made it and was nice enough to end on another cliff-hanger—don’t you just love me *batts eyelashes*.

I’m soooooo happy! It feels even better than the first time because I know it wasn’t a fluke. It has certainly helped that some wonderful people out there are actually waiting for it and have kept me going with constant encouragement. So now I’m waiting for the cover, and I’ll have to get stuck into the edits my wonderful editor, Chryse Wymer, did (she’s very good, but shhh don’t tell anyone or they’ll use her to edit their books instead of me).

My cover reveal will be on the 8th (so my cover-boy-extraordinaire, Robert Baird, tells me), and the book will be available by the 15th April. I can’t believe I made it. Woohoo!!! Yay me!! “Waiter, another Baileys.” Oops, that was my husband walking past. Looks like I’ll have to pour it myself. Bye :).

The Circle of Talia Book Two Update—Epic Fantasy

So here we are with three days left of my book sale and I’m happy to report that it was a success! I’m not here to celebrate though; I’m here to give some information about the series :). I’m excited that after a week I’ve had a few enquiries from people wanting to know a) is there a book two? and b) when is it coming? They are questions we writers love, love, love to hear!

How cruel would it be if I only wrote one book in the series? Actually it would be downright evil and I’m not evil, well only when it comes to killing off my characters. So to assuage my readers’ fears I can say I am writing book two in The Circle of Talia series and am one quarter into the first draft. I’m hoping it will be ready for editing in February and released at the end of March. I can’t wait to contact Rob—the talented artist who did the first cover—to discuss my ideas. He blew me away last time and it will be so exciting to see more of my characters come to life on the next cover.

The writing has been emotional as I’ve found out that more than one of my characters will die by the end of the series and I’m mourning them early. If you are saying to yourself “Ok, she’s a total nutter,” I agree, I probably am, but my characters are like family and I know them so well.

I want to say thanks to those readers who have bought the book and especially to the encouraging readers who let me know they’re eagerly awaiting the next book. As soon as book two is out I’ll start writing book three, so never fear, the story will get finished, maybe even by the end of the year, unless there is more to tell and then you’ll have to wait for book four.

I’d better go back to work now, but I’ll leave you with an unedited (forgive me if there are mistakes) snippit from my second epic fantasy novel (which I still haven’t named) —the sequel to Shadows of the Realm.

***

Agmunsten stood taller, bracing himself to take the news on the strongest shoulders he could offer. “Tell me the price so we may get on with this blessing.” Blayke wondered what the price would be, and knew, from the Head Realmist’s voice, it would be a big one. He shut his eyes and drew a deep, calming breath.

“Listen carefully, and repeat this to no one. When the price is asked, you will have one chance to act. If you hesitate, the chance will be lost and so will Talia. The two you must sacrifice are….”

All three realmists paled, and Blayke blinked tears back. When Drakon finished speaking, the energy flows to the channels ceased, and as Blayke reached down to gather the quartz in his shaking hands, he wished he were an innocent child once again. He didn’t know how to carry this new burden and thought death would be so much easier. His fingers touched the pendant and he fell to his knees. Agmunsten and Arcese stood in silence as Blayke knelt on the floor and wept.

Agmunsten covered his face with his hands. They had survived the blessing of the quartz; so why did it feel like they had failed?

Shadows of the Realm Reviews and Thank-Yous

My fantasy adventure book has been getting a few reviews lately, which I’m very excited about. Of course they’re not all fantastic because we all have different tastes. However, in my bests interests, I have included the ones I think give you a sense of my book and yes, they’re by the people that really enjoyed it (well what do you expect?). I’d also like to thank everyone who has read my book, and in particular those who have taken the time to review it. Reviews are the best way to support authors if you have enjoyed their book. So thanks to the generous readers who have taken the time to support me. I’m blowing kisses and sending virtual chocolates, you have all made me a very happy writer.

Helen says:

I picked up this book knowing a little of what to expect, dragons, adventure, good vs evil. I started reading and then could not put the book down until I had finished. I lost track of time reading it.

The book centers around a secret group called Realmists, possessed of magical powers who are sworn to protect their world, Talia, from the evil race that exists in another realm. This race once lived on Talia and were banished, but are determined to return.

The book contains a surprising variety of characters, ranging from teenagers through to adults and magicians of advanced age. And of course the dragons, who in this case are portrayed as being on the side of the realm. The dragon characterisation is fascinating. The words used to draw a picture of their intelligence, strength, and their nature are so powerful that the reader has absolutely no difficulty in accepting them as part of the world we are drawn into. Equally the human characters are drawn as individuals, each with their own backgrounds, faults, opinions and reactions. Again it makes it very easy to find yourself drawn into their world.

Realmists can bond with one selected animal, a creatura, and even these are well drawn with a great variety of animals used. I found it a pleasant surprise to be able to read about , as it were, familiars who range from rats to panthers. Another pleasant surprise is the way that the Creatura’s point of view is also presented.

All through the book I felt an odd sense of familiarity. I could not pin down why at first, it was not that I had seen the plot or any major plot devices used before. Some elements of the world drawn can be found in other fantasy novels, for example familiars, but that was not it either. In the end I simply had to conclude that it was due to the way the writing drew me in and made me feel a part of the book from start to finish.

Wxmouse says:

4.5 stars for this beautiful high fantasy book by Dionne Lister. From a nightmare awakening, to mythical and magical creatures, this book comes together with well laid out characters to deliver a fun escape into a fantasy realm. While the book comes to a resolution, it leaves you edgy and wanting for more. I personally can’t wait until book two is out.

Amber says:

Dionne Lister’s Shadows of the Realm starts out with a scene that grabs you, and does not let go, even after you’ve finished reading. Exceptional in the fact that it is a completely unique novel, Lister creates a new world that is so realistic, it makes the reader want to grab a ticket and head over for a nice permanent vacation. I fell in love with the characters, and was disappointed when the novel ended, and am ready for more. I will be impatiently waiting the rest of the books in the series, and am desperate for more!

So if these reviews have aroused your interest, head over to Amazon or Smashwords and prepare to be drawn into a fantasy world you’ll want to call home.