A world on the brink of war.
All Avaline Hall wants is to enjoy her senior year at Blythewood Academy, the boarding school where she’s been trained to defend humankind from forces of dark magic. But when Ava is shown a glimpse into the future in the enchanted Blythe Wood, she discovers that the evil Judicus van Drood is rallying nations into a war that seems destined to destroy both the human and faerie worlds. Only Ava and her allies have a chance at stopping van Drood, but how many must die in the process? And how can Ava and the boy she loves be together when everything around them is falling apart?
Praise for HAWTHORN:
"Blythewood fans will find plenty to enjoy in the fast-paced, high-stakes series finale... A satisfying end to an epic trilogy." —
Praise for RAVENCLIFFE:
"Rife with atmosphere, adventure and romance, this is a fantasy world worth getting lost in for a while." —
"Recommend this supernatural melodrama to fans of Gail Carriger and Libba Bray." —
"[This] book is highly readable... especially to readers who have already devoured the works of authors like Libba Bray." —
Praise for BLYTHEWOOD:
"A beautifully evocative tale perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Tiffany Trent. First in a trilogy, Goodman''s story is intriguing, romantic, eerie, and adventurous...a multifaceted and mature fantasy."—
"...a beautifully told fantasy, ripe with magic, forbidden love and unspeakably dark forces...a journey well worth taking." —
"...a treat for lovers of the gothic." —
"Heavy in atmosphere with just enough romance, this novel is sure to find an appreciable following." —
School Library Journal
Blythewood is reminiscent of both
Harry Potter and
The Diviners, but in a way that doesn’t distract from the entertaining story within.”—
Forever Young Adult
BLYTHEWOOD: YALSA 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list
Carol Goodman is the author of
The Lake of Dead Languages,
The Seduction of Water,
The Drowning Tree,
The Ghost Orchid,
The Sonnet Lover,
The Night Villa,
Ravencliffe. Her works has appeared in journals such as
The Greensboro Review,
New York Quarterly, and
Other Voices. After graduating from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin, she taught Latin for several years in Austin, Texas. She then received an MFA in fiction from the New School University, where she now teaches writing. She has been nominated for the IMPAC award twice, the Simon & Schuster/Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Nero Wolfe Award, and was awarded the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her novels have been translated into ten languages. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.
“Have you ever wished you had a spell to stop time?”
I turned to my friend and roommate Helen van Beek. We had come to the edge of the Blythe Wood, and she had turned to look back over the playing fields and gardens to the great stone castle of our school, Blythewood, glowing golden in the late afternoon sun. Four more girls and one boy were walking toward us. If the moment had been arrested it would have made a fine medieval tapestry, the lawns an emerald carpet stitched with a thousand bright flowers, the stones of the castle and the sleek heads of the girls picked out in gold thread, the boy’s in silver, marking him as a nobleman or fairy prince. “The Falconers,” it might have been called, since on each of their gauntleted hands perched a falcon.
The viewer of that tapestry would imagine they were discussing the fine points of falconry or courtly love, but they weren’t.
“A Morane-Saulnier monoplane with a Gnome Omega 7 cylinder engine.” Cam’s excited voice rose into the air, her little kestrel squawking as it attempted to keep its balance on her gesticulating hand. “That’s what I’m going to fly when I get out of here next summer.”
“You should see the hydro-aeroplanes they’ve got over in England now,” Nathan remarked, excitement breaking through the pose of boredom he’d maintained since returning from Europe. “They can take off from ships now. I’m going to join the Royal Navy as soon as I graduate.”
I shuddered as I did every time Nathan mentioned joining the military, and my gyrfalcon, Eirwyn, sensing my distress, ruffled her feathers. I looked toward the three girls walking behind Nathan and Cam. Daisy, having failed to interest Helen in a description of her planned nuptials with her fiancé, Mr. Appleby, was trying to break into Beatrice and Dolores Jager’s heated debate over the relative merits of Vassar and Smith Colleges.
I thought I had an idea why Helen would like to make time stop. It was the beginning of our senior year at Blythewood. After averting a serious threat to the school last spring, we’d attained the height of Blythewood honors by being selected as Dianas, an elite guard of falconers. It should have been a happy time, but all around us our classmates were talking about what they planned to do when they graduated. Helen, though, didn’t have a happy marriage or college or a flying career or military adventures to look forward to after graduation. Her mother was insisting that the only way to save their family from financial disaster was marriage to a rich suitor, a half dozen of whom—“each as old as Methuselah”—had been waiting for Helen when she got back from Europe in August.
“No more chattering, Dianas,” I called to the others. “We’re on patrol.”
“I thought I made it clear that I was not to be referred to as a Diana,” Nathan drawled. “The male equivalent is Apollo.”
“No one’s going to call you Apollo, Nathan,” Helen replied tartly. Since she and Nathan had returned from their trip to Europe they had been bristling at each other like molting hawks. They had gone to heal Helen from the gunshot wound she had suffered while saving Nathan from Judicus van Drood at the opening of the Woolworth Building last spring. Except for a slight limp when she was tired Helen had come back miraculously cured—although she’d admitted to me before she left that she wasn’t as impaired as she had made out. She’d let Nathan think she couldn’t walk so he’d have a mission to keep him from falling under the dark influence of van Drood and his shadow creatures, the tenebrae. So what had happened to set them at each other’s throats?
Helen refused to talk about the trip except to say that Nathan’s sister, Louisa, was not doing well in the sanatorium where she’d been since she’d been rescued from Faerie over a year ago, to complain that the Viennese put schlag on everything, that all anyone talked about in the cafes were the Balkan troubles, and that Nathan wouldn’t talk about anything other than military tactics and aeroplanes. His mother, Dame Beckwith, was only able to convince him to stay at school by charging him with the protection of Blythewood by making him a “Diana.”
“Diana or Apollo, we’re all here to patrol the woods, not to talk about wedding plans”—I glared at Daisy—“or colleges or aeroplane engines. Gillie found trow tracks at the edge of the wood this morning. We need to scout the perimeter to make sure it hasn’t gotten out of the woods.”
“And what are we supposed to do if we find the trow?” Daisy asked.
“Kill it, of course,” Cam said, patting her quiver of arrows.
Before Daisy could object—I knew she had a soft spot for all creatures of Faerie—I said, “Actually Gillie says we should try to capture it. There’s been an increase in fay activity in the woods lately—creatures straying out of the woods, ransacking local farmyards and orchards, even wandering into town. Gillie thinks something must be scaring them out of the woods.”
“Scaring trows and goblins?” Beatrice asked, raising an eyebrow. “What’s big enough to scare a trow?”
“That’s what we need to find out,” I said. “Nathan and Cam, head toward the river. Have your birds fly along the riverbank. The trows might have taken to the water. Bea, Dolly, Daisy, you take the eastern perimeter. Helen and I are going to go into the woods.”
“If you’re going into the woods I think I should go with you,” Nathan said.
“Because we’re so weak and helpless?” Helen asked.
I could see Nathan bristling, about to snap back a retort, but I cut him off. “We’ll be fine. We won’t go very far. If anyone finds any sign of the trow, whistle three times. Send your falcon if you need backup. Everybody clear?”
They all nodded, looking a little scared. Of the trow, I wondered, or me? Had I spoken too sharply to them? Well, I didn’t have time to coddle them. We had a trow to find.
I turned to enter the woods with Helen close at my heels. As we passed from the bright sunshine of the lawn into the cool green shadows under the pines, I felt Eirwyn tense on my hand, her talons gripping so tightly I was afraid they’d pierce the thick leather of my glove. Was she sensing danger, or my own bad mood?
“What’s wrong with you?” Helen asked.
“What do you mean?” I countered, peering into the shadows instead of looking at her. “I thought you wanted them to stop chattering about marriage and college.”
“I did,” Helen admitted, “but why should you? You’ve got Raven.”
Raven. As if sensing my agitation at his name, Eirwyn rustled restlessly on my hand. Or maybe she just missed him. It had been a week since we’d flown with him and Gwynfor, Eirwyn’s mate, a week since we’d had the fight. Our first serious fight. I couldn’t even remember how it had started. Everything had been going so well. We’d spent the summer together, flying up and down the river and over the Catskill Mountains while Raven taught me what it meant to be a Darkling, a ferrier of souls, human and fay. Each evening we’d set down in the cliff-face niche in the Shawangunk Mountains and watch the sun set, our wings and hands interlaced.
Until a week ago . . .
“Do you think that solves all my problems?” I asked Helen now. “Maybe I don’t want to get married right out of school. Maybe I’d like to go to college.”
“So why don’t you? Your grandmother would pay your tuition. Your grades are good enough. And if you went to Vassar, Raven could visit you on weekends.”
“And how am I supposed to explain to my new roommate that I’ve got wings under my corset?”
“I’m not sure Vassar girls wear corsets,” Helen remarked. “My cousin Honoria goes there and she’s become rather a frightful bluestocking. I think you’d fit right in.”
I stared at Helen. Leave it to her to make it all a question of wardrobe. “But that’s just it. I won’t fit in. I’d be pretending I’m something I’m not with all those girls. They won’t know about Darklings or fairies or shadow masters or trows. At least here everyone knows what I am. So I wish everyone would stop talking about what we’re going to do after Blythewood. I would like to enjoy our senior year properly, for us to be Dianas together and have cocoa parties and play flush and trophies in the Commons Room and—”
“For time to stop?” Helen asked, touching my arm with her ungloved right hand, her gold hair gleaming in a shaft of sunlight piercing through the trees. With her silver peregrine falcon perched on her other hand she looked like a goddess who might be able to grant my wish.
“Yes,” I admitted, “exactly.”
“We’ll see if Mrs. Calendar knows a spell,” Helen said. As she put her arm around me her peregrine squawked and darted from her glove.
“Frederica!” Helen cried as she watched the falcon rise into the trees. “Where do you think you’re going?
To a place where no one calls her by that ridiculous name, I began to say, but then my gyr launched herself from my hand and followed, uttering a high-pitched whistle.
“That’s her hunting call,” I told Helen. “Come on, they’re tracking something.”
I plunged into the woods. My wings itched to unfurl and follow Eirwyn and Frederica into the air, but I didn’t want to leave Helen alone on the ground.
Besides, it wasn’t easy flying through the woods with a six-foot wing span, and the falcons were leading us into a denser part of the forest, the trees growing so close together their branches interlaced overhead in a thick canopy that blocked out the sun. I couldn’t see Eirwyn or Frederica ahead of us, but with my keen Darkling hearing I could hear Eirwyn’s shrill hunting cry. I followed it into a copse of flowering thorny shrubs that caught at my shirt sleeve and tugged at my skirt.
“Is it my imagination,” Helen asked in a hushed whisper, “or do the trees seem to be moving closer together?”
I halted, my gloved hand raised to push aside a thorny branch, and turned back to look at Helen. I saw from the frightened look in her eyes that she was remembering our foray into the woods last year when the trees separated us from our companions and trapped us in a thicket.
“The last time the woods acted to protect us, so we should be all right.” I turned back and pulled the thorny branch away . . .
Uncovering the snarling, slavering face of a trow.
I screamed and let go of the branch, which slapped the trow across its thick overhanging brow. The creature opened its blue-lipped mouth and roared. Hot rank breath blew into my face—it smelled like rotting meat and ashes.
Trows are naturally vegetarians in their indigenous habitat. The line from Miles Malmsbury’s Field Guide to the Lychnobious Peoples wafted into my head. I’d have to tell him he was wrong—if I lived. I reached for the dagger strapped at my waist as the trow launched itself at me, but before I could unsheathe it I was slammed to the ground by what felt like the proverbial ton of bricks. Only bricks wouldn’t have such bad breath, I thought, staring up into two glazed eyes that appeared to be covered in some kind of film behind which dark shapes moved like fish swimming under ice.
I’d seen something like that before—
Then the ice shattered.
A confused look came over the trow’s massive brow and the creature’s muscles slackened. “Mnnn,” it said, then mercifully rolled off me.
“Ava!” Helen was shouting into my face and shaking my arms. She was still grasping her bow with one hand. I turned my head and stared at the trow. One of Helen’s arrows—all of hers were fletched with snow-white dove feathers, which she deemed “smarter” than the dull brown ones the rest of us used—was sticking out of the trow’s right eye. Black bile was oozing down its cheek.
“Y-you . . . you shot it.”
“Don’t start with Gillie’s orders,” Helen cried, her voice edging into hysteria. “That thing was going to eat you!”
“They’re s-supposed to be veg . . . vegetarians,” I stammered, struggling to my knees and kneeling over the trow.
Helen made a choking sound. “Well, this one’s gone off his diet. He looks like he just finished a six-course steak dinner at Delmonico’s—why his fur . . . whatsit . . .” Helen gestured at the shaggy fur tunic the trow wore, “doesn’t fit him properly.”
The trow’s belly was indeed bulging out of his tunic and over his leather pants. It was disturbing to look at those clothes. This wasn’t an animal—it was a person of sorts, one of the fay that had wandered out of Faerie into the Blythe Wood. Perhaps it had gotten lost and been scared. Its eyes looked dazed—
No, not dazed. Glazed. As if covered with ice. With something moving beneath them . . .
I leaned over to look more closely and saw something move beneath the opaque surface of the intact eye.
“Helen,” I said, starting to get to my feet, “I think we’d better—”
Before I could finish, the trow’s eye split open, releasing a spray of black ooze. Helen screamed and covered her face, shielding herself from the geyser that spewed out of the trow’s eye—a geyser with feathers.
“Shadow crows!” I screamed, yanking Helen to her feet. “Run!”
I pushed Helen through a narrow opening in the brush into an open clearing—a perfect circle surrounded by bushes covered in white flowers and black crows. I dimly had the thought that the woods had been leading us here all along, mocking our desire to stop time. There was no way to stop time. If you didn’t take the future in hand it took you and yanked you where it wanted you to go.
Then Helen and I were falling down a long dark tunnel into the vast unknown.