The heest are enormous monsters that live in the magically-sustained ice of Luar Island. They are both more and less than they seem.
When I was eighteen years old and living in Indonesia, I invented a fantasy world called Rahana. It is a place with thousands of islands and millions of potential stories, where magic is considered to be just another trade. Rahana is like Narnia, but with pirates.
The HEEST trilogy is written for children (but is, as always, the kind of thing I love to read as an adult). It will begin release with a Pirate Ball on February 17th 2018 (next month).
The first book is THE MONSTER APPRENTICE. All three books will be illustrated by the glorious talents of Tash Turgoose.
It’s available for pre-order through Odyssey Books, and I’ve also seen it for pre-order on Amazon Australia, which means it is or soon will be at all the usual online places, and will gradually trickle into some bookshops. You can order it into any bookshop or library.
ISBN: 978-1-925652-13-0 (pbk) | 978-1-925652-14-7 (ebook)
The cover is here!!
FYI, if you haven’t read Sandy Fussell’s books, you’re missing out. I especially love the Samurai Kids series. She is also a fantastic human being, which doesn’t hurt!
While we’re waiting for the cover, here’s the first version of the trailer:
And the final version, with sneak peeks at some of the glorious internal illustrations by Tash Turgoose, is here:
And here’s the opening:
I awoke from a dead sleep – for once, a sleep without nightmares. My bedroom was pitch black and silent, but my heart was racing. Then the sound came again – a man shouting at the top of his voice. He pounded at my family’s front door.
“Elder!” The man’s voice was sharp with terror. “Elder, wake up!”
The night air was hot and still. My sheets lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. At the open window my curtains hung in unmoving black lines. No wind slid through to ease the stifling heat. My mane oflong black hair felt heavy around my head. I didn’t dare move.
Dad would check on me before he went to answer the yelling. Ever since my twin sister died, he was that type of dad. Whenever he felt worried about something, I was told to go to my room – to sleep, if it was night time. No matter how many nightmares I had.
He was forever telling me to be careful, – but I was definitely not going to miss out on the fun this time. So I remained curled on my side as if I hadn’t heard a thing. If he didn’t tell me to go back to sleep, sneaking out wasn’t disobeying him. Not exactly.
“Elder, please!” The man’s voice broke, and I recognised him. It was Watchman, who spent each night staring out over the sea. I felt my first delicious shiver of real fear.
Still I didn’t move. I stared at my curtains, since they were directly in front of me. The black stripes looked like prison bars. Everyone single person on the island had jail-bar curtains, since only one ship had brought curtains to Luar in twenty years. Dad could have organised more traders, but he chose instead to keep Luar Island as secret as possible. He wanted everyone to be safe.
Watchman hammered again on our heavy wooden door. I held my breath. Something was happening, and I was going to find out what it was – no matter what.
My bad eye skittered to the side, giving me half a view of the three carved masks hung on hooks on my wall – my most recent school project, worth a king’s ransom on any other island. Luar Island’s odd trees didn’t grow anywhere else – only magic could excuse the fact that explain how they grew at all – and as a result Luar’s art was more delicately carved than anywhere else in the world. And more valuable. We only used it for art – never for houses or burning. And on Luar, everyone was an artist.
“Elder!” cried Watchman. “Elder!”
“I’m here!” Dad called back.
The air tasted thick, like porridge. I wrinkled my nose at the smell of my own sweat, and listened to Dad’s measured footsteps. Dad never hurried anywhere. My door shushed in and out as he checked on me and then went to answer Watchman. Yellow light from his candle danced beneath my door, casting monstrous shadows.
After I counted three of his footsteps, I placed my own feet one by one on the cool trader wood of the floor. I slipped my shoes out from under the bed and put them on, lacing them tightly. Biting my lip, I ignored the clumsiness of my shaking hands.
If Dad called me I’d be dressed and ready: a proper daughter to Luar’s Elder. Just like my sister would have been.
If he didn’t call me, there was always the window.
The front door squeaked as it opened. Watchman stopped yelling. Usually he spent the night huddled on the far hilltop, keeping an eye out for the rare ships that knew to bring grain or cloth to trade for our precious carvings. It was his job to light the beacon fire to guide them to shore.
“Raise the village,” he gasped. “Pirates!”