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The Master of Heathcrest Hall

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The Master of Heathcrest Hall

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Even as her husband is about to attain undreamed-of power, Ivy Quent fears for her family's safety. With war looming and turmoil sweeping the nation of Altania, Ivy finds the long-abandoned manor on...
Even as her husband is about to attain undreamed-of power, Ivy Quent fears for her family's safety. With war looming and turmoil sweeping the nation of Altania, Ivy finds the long-abandoned manor on...
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Description-
  • Even as her husband is about to attain undreamed-of power, Ivy Quent fears for her family's safety. With war looming and turmoil sweeping the nation of Altania, Ivy finds the long-abandoned manor on the moors a temporary haven. But nowhere is really safe from the treachery that threatens all the Quents have risked to achieve. And an even greater peril is stirring deep within the countryside's beautiful green estates. As Ivy dares an alliance with a brilliant illusionist and a dangerous lord, she races to master her forbidden talents and unravel the terrible truth at the heart of her land's unrest--even as a triumphant, inhuman darkness rises to claim Altania eternally for its own.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter ONE

    The people huddled in the cave as the wind shook the branches of the trees outside.

    The cave was damp and musty from disuse, for it had been a long while since they had last journeyed to it. In years past, they would dwell here during the darkest winter months, when the thick stone offered protection from the winds that swept out of the north--­and from the wolves that prowled the frozen land, their fur ragged, desperate enough to brave fire and arrow in search of something to fill their shrunken bellies.

    For most of the year, the people lived five days' walk to the south of this place, in a camp by the blue sea. There they would spend the long days as they had for time out of mind, prying mussels from the rocks and spearing fish and cormorants, until they became as sleek as the otters that basked on the shore in the sun.

    At least, that was how things used to be. Layka still remembered what it had been like when she was smaller. She would spend the warm evenings walking along the beach, clad only in a supple doeskin, choosing shells that might be strung on a piece of leather--­saving them for the day when she was old enough to begin making herself beautiful for the young men who visited on occasion from the other camps down the shore.

    But that was before everything changed.

    It began one day with a violent shuddering of the ground. An awful groaning noise filled the air, and the sea pulled away from the shore. All knew this was a sign to flee to a higher place, but even as they did so a sudden night fell over the world. It was as if a fist had closed around the burning ember of the sun, snuffing it out. The people looked up and, for the first time, saw an unfamiliar red spark smoldering among the stars. What this new object in the night sky was, no one knew--­not even Nesharu, who of all the people was the oldest and wisest.

    At last the trembling of the ground ceased, and the ocean roared back upon the beach. Dawn came, and the day seemed to pass as usual. But when it ended, the red spark again shone in the sky, a little brighter than before. The night that followed lasted too long. The world grew cold, and though it was yet early summer, stars that should only have risen in autumn spun into the sky. By morning, when Layka walked along the shore, she found it rimed with frost. She shivered despite the aurochs hide she had thrown over her shoulders, and had to use her nails to pry up shells from the sand.

    After that, the days no longer continued their gradual and steady lengthening toward midsummer. Instead, one night might flit by, swift as a bat, followed by a day during which the sun seemed to hang motionless overhead, blazing so fiercely that the otters were forced to slip into the sea to escape its heat. Then, without warning, the heat would give way to bitter cold after the sun failed to show itself for what felt like days.

    A fear came over the people. Plants wilted and shriveled in alternation. Animals grew torpid and confused, wandering across the land as if they did not know which direction to go. Many dead fish washed up on the shore, carried by currents that had gone too hot or cold to sustain them. Sometimes other things washed up on the beach as well: gelatinous remnants of unknown creatures that smelled so foul even the dogs would not touch them. And all the while the red spark grew larger in the sky, glaring like the eye of some angry beast.

    That had been three years ago. Or at least so they guessed, for they could no longer count the years by the passage of the seasons. Winter no longer gave way to spring; bright summer never dulled to autumn. Instead, the sequence of days was as...

Reviews-
  • Jacqueline Carey, author of Naamah's Curse, on The Magicians and Mrs. Quent "A charming and accomplished debut, sure to delight fantasy aficionados and lovers of gothic romances alike."
  • Fantasy Book Critic, on The House on Durrow Street "A novel of manners, wit, great characters and immersion in a world that is lovingly described . . . one of those novels that stay with you for a long time."
  • SFRevu, on The House on Durrow Street. "A splendid fantasy that is both magical and very proper."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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