Orca, 2010. Cover art by Cathy Maclean.
I surfaced, struggling, from a well of dreams in which I had floated for time out of mind, drowning, with nightmare creatures surrounding me, pawing me, claws and slimy frog fingers on my skin.
In the nightmares, the monsters were my own family, their faces horribly distorted by expressions of hatred and hunger. Waking did not end the nightmare. The darkness was nearly absolute. Only the faintest pattern of light floated like stars above my eyes. Fireflies? No. My head pounded, and a foul stench in the air made my heart race. Not fireflies. A ceiling of wood pressed close above my nose, light seeping through a pattern of tiny holes.
I was...I was... In a coffin. I smelt of death, of rotting flesh.
Betrayed by a member of his own family, abducted, poisoned, and forced to recreate an ancient spell that might -- if it doesn’t kill him -- open the lost Shadow Road, Nethin, son of a Nightwalker lord and a human witch, is thrown into a struggle for survival in a dying land. Alabeth, an orphan who survived the slaughter of the last warlocks by their own kinsfolk, is willing to trust him, but her people have rejected her and all mages. Capture means execution for both, but an even deadlier foe plans vengeance against Nethin. Not only Alabeth’s life and his own, but the lives of every Nightwalker of the Homeland rest on Nethin’s ability to survive death itself and defeat a prince of the Nightwalker-hating Yehillon cult on a suicide mission....
"The adventures that ensue are complex and carefully constructed; Johansen is adept at presenting intricate political and social intrigue, supported by strong characterization... She has created a fascinating, original fantasy world, one which readers will want to enter in to dwell. As with Middle-earth, we imagine the shadowy spaces outside of the narrative, peopled by characters we have yet to meet, partaking of incidents that have yet to happen, and we fervently hope that K.V. Johansen will continue to tell their tales for years to come. ~ Karyn Huenemann, Resource Links
"Followers of The Warlocks of Talverdin will relish this fourth book, while those new to the series can jump right in with very little confusion and become fans themselves. Readers will be hooked from the first few pages ..." Patricia Fischer, Pennsylvania School Library Association