This Is The Free Story You Need Right Now

Stories help us in so many ways, but one palpable way they help us is by giving respite from the pressures of our world. We’ve been writing COVID Chronicles to help with this, and now we find in our culture even more turmoil.

Stories can help.

Stories always help.

Derek Elkins has written a story to take you from our world for a just a minute and join his. Our Chronicles have had all kinds of genre mashups, but we’e not had myth and fantasy. Derek gives us both. Click on the tear catcher to read “The Farmer, The Demon, and the Canyon of the Four Winds”.

Click on the middle of the vial. If you click the top, the water demon will suck your soul from out of your eyeballs. Just saying.


Ravenmarked was written by Amy Rose Davis, an indie writer in Portland, in 2011. A sequel titled Bloodbonded was released earlier this year. The genre is 100% fantasy–magic, myths, oaths, runes, curses, spells, and even shape shifting demigods. The material is rated M for mature as there is a lot of sexual activity, sexual violence, violence in general, and strong language. These mature themes are not gratuitous in that they serve the plot, yet this book is not for children. It is a long book–you will get your moneys worth. 1902106297

What I Really Liked

I liked several things about Ravenmarked. I liked the main female lead, Mairead. She is tough, kind, devoted, but also impetuous, curious, and a bit naïve. There are times when she reminds me of Daisy Ridley from the Star Wars universe, and there are also times she reminds me of my own character Amber from my first novel. She doesn’t want any of these things going on around her, but in the moment of decision, she knows she has a greater destiny.

I also really liked the fight scenes and battle scenes. Davis does a great job with these. Not much to say more than those are done very well.

What I Liked

I liked the world Davis created–as I can tell, there are three different conflicts occurring at the same time, in different realms, and somehow they are connected. The first realm is the realm of human beings. This is the political and social realm of kingdoms, tribes, and ambassadors. Then there is the realm of fairies, which the book calls Sidh. These Sidh possess magic, and often intertwine themselves in human affairs. The third realm is the supernatural, where the Supreme Being is at odds with the dark one and the Forbidden.

These three weave in and out, and once I got my bearings straight, I really liked that world.

What I Didn’t Like

There were a couple of things I didn’t like. For the most part, I didn’t like the names Davis gave her characters or the people groups. The only one that was easy for me was the male lead, Connor. All the rest are hard to say in my mind, and there are so many “Mac These” and “Mac Those” to keep up with. I just find a lot of them unpronounceable.

The second thing I didn’t like was the romance. There is a lot of romance, particularly the palace intrigue type of romance. That is just not my cup-of-tea. Other people like might like it, but I’d rather see how they kill the bear or get out of the grips of the evil slaver than read about how her cheeks blushed when he looked her way.


I highly recommend this book to those people who enjoy grown-up fantasy tales. There are places where the book feels like French Renaissance love novels, other times it feels Tolkienesque, other places that it is like a Medieval battle diary, and then some places it reminds me of Dune.


Several months ago I was blessed to be read a preview copy of A. R. Horvath’s newest book, The Warden-Watch.  To say it was delightful is an understatement.  The book, written primarily from the first person perspective is about a boy who finds himself wrapped up in a dangerous world where fantasy, faith, history, and reality blend in ever increasing ways.  The big idea of the book is, “What if all the old stories were true,” and from there it takes off.  One of the best ways to describe it is as a mash-up.  This is the first novel in a series.417caJJFvaL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ With Horvath’s permission I have included part of the first chapter here for you to read.  You can buy the book at Amazon or the author’s website  I recommend it as fun reading for anyone, but it might really be a good fit for those looking for fantasy YA that is written from a Christian perspective.  It would also make great beach reading.

It was about mid-afternoon, and the sun had already dropped quite a bit from its noon-day position at the top of the sky. A telephone pole cast its long shadow over the tool shed. The first thing that caught my attention was the sound of something ceramic getting tossed to the ground, presumably on account of the wind. Something wasn‟t right. The trees were waving in the wind and the swing on the swing set was creaking, but there wasn‟t breeze enough to push pottery around. I turned around to see what was broken and, out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a shadow leap, as though startled. The strangeness of this observation did not register in my mind. I continued to gaze blankly in that direction until it dawned on me that there were now two long, narrow shadows lying across the tool shed: one explained by the telephone pole and the other explained by… Well, that was the thing. There wasn‟t an explanation for this second, new shadow. There was no corresponding object like there was with the telephone pole. Still, as odd as that might be, I wasn‟t feeling particularly inquisitive. I probably would have never thought any more about it except that as I sat there on the back deck, the new shadow began rotating in a circle, like the hands of a clock. I could remain no longer in my summer daze; I scratched my head. The shadows of the trees were sweeping back and forth on the lawn as would normally be expected. That is proper behavior for a shadow. No sooner did it occur to me that here was something worth fighting the heat and humidity to investigate did the insolent shadow cease moving. It was as though it had spied me spying it, and froze. It was all to the worse, however, since now the shadow was perpendicular to the shadow of the telephone pole! Not only was there a shadow with no corresponding object, but it was lying in the completely wrong direction. With a sigh and a groan, I stood up. Some instinct kicked up in me, and I felt like if I was going to make a move to learn more, I had better be sly: this shadow was clever. I nonchalantly made my way in the direction of the shed. The shadow didn‟t move. The wind was still blowing, the trees were swaying and the swing set was creaking, but the shadow held fast. I knew that when I got closer I wouldn‟t be able to see on top of the shed, so I decided to make off for the tree-line, which was about halfway up a modest hill. Then, when I circled back, I‟d be on the slope of the hill and would be able to see the roof of the shed for a little longer. I feigned that I saw a butterfly and wandered towards the trees. I had never tried to outwit a wayward shadow before, but I hoped it didn‟t take much more cunning than this. After all, I am just twelve years old. I have only begun to fill up my bag of tricks. Though my legs took me on a long, out of the way ramble, I never took my eye off of the top of the shed. It was probably for this reason that the shadow refused to budge. Even as I changed my perspective as I circled the shed, I couldn‟t deduce what was making the shadow. The more I thought about it, the more I was certain that I had seen that shadow leap into existence out of nothing. I steeled myself; one doesn‟t let one‟s guard down around such renegade shadows! As I finally drew near to the shed, it seemed to me that the shadow was now moving, but just a bit. It was very hard to tell. Could it be that the shadow knew I was approaching, and it thought that by slow, incremental movements, it could fool me? Do shadows have brains? I concluded that my best bet was a surprise burst of speed to take the shadow off its guard. That is what I did. When I got closer to the shed, I leapt towards an old milk crate, alighted upon it, and pulled myself up so that I could just get my eyes over the edge of the roof and could see on top of the shed. Who was surprised more? Take a piece of paper and hold it so you are looking at its edge. If you knew nothing else about 2 paper, you would think it was just a thin, white line. Now take the paper and slowly tilt it. The surface of the paper gets bigger and bigger until at last you can read clearly what is on it. My first glimpse of the shadow was a bit like that. As I made my leap, the shadow „tilted‟ to reveal a larger form. Only, what I saw was not a drawing or a scribble. It was a full bodied ape-man, poised to jump, and hiding in plain sight on top of my shed! When my eyes locked with its eyes, it fell over backwards, startled. I was pretty startled myself, and I fell off of the milk crate. The ape-man had fallen off the shed on the side opposite of me and I, like a fool, gathered up my five-foot, three-inch self and darted around to catch it in the act of retreat. It was Big Foot. Sasquatch. The North American Yeti. It was a huge beast and I was a little man, but I just had to get one more look! It was tall and hairy but its face was wise and startled, rubbing its head in apparent pain. When I came around the corner of the shed and looked upon it, it regained its composure and made like it was going to run away. I don‟t really know what I was thinking. Maybe I felt that if such a large thing was scurrying away in fear from me, then I had nothing to fear from it. Maybe I knew what all the adults would think if I told them what had happened but had nothing to show for it. More truly, I considered the fame I‟d enjoy if I came away from the incident with a fistful of hair that couldn‟t be identified. At any rate, before it could make its run to the woods, I was already leaping towards it. I grabbed hold of its arm… its eyes grew large and white… and my eyes grew large and white… as what I was doing started to settle in. It jumped!—I was still attached! To my astonishment, the world grew larger and larger. Big Foot and I were getting smaller and smaller as we hurtled through the air. I just barely had time to notice that we were falling into a cleaned out mason jar that had been resting against the edge of the shed for who knows how long, before even the jar was so large it seemed like it contained the sky… and then it was dark, dark, dark. “And that,” I said, “is how I came to be in the Great Cavern Council of the Wardens.” I was explaining myself to an assembly of large, hairy creatures. I was standing…

You’ll have to buy it to read more!