Ashes and Blood by @Zaberbooks is a Super Sale pick #fantasy #free #freebie #booksale #giveaway
Title: Ashes and Blood
Author: Katie Zaber
You can travel the same path countless times, but it can sometimes lead to another universe.
A mystical tree captures the attention of Megan & her friends, morphing the environment & transferring them to an exotic planet. Saved from deadly beasts by hunters, Megan finds herself stuck in a rural town still maimed by the plague. A chance encounter with a familiar face gives Megan & her friends some security during their adjustment to this new world. While settling into promising lives, they are attacked & stalked by planet Dalya’s humanoid inhabitants, who focus solely on Megan.
One dark night, after a magical attack, the Fae King’s knight is sent to fetch Megan for a reason she can’t possibly guess. When she wakes up a prisoner, she learns that there is much more to this strange place, & it is oddly more like home than she ever would have expected.
The more Megan learns, the more she realizes that finding a way home is insignificant compared to everything at stake.
How the hell did that tree get here?
Everyone stands slack-jawed, staring at the anomaly. The four of us practically walked into the damn tree because we were too busy chatting. We would never expect a surprise tree on a well-traveled trail on the way to our normal picnic spot. We were anticipating a calm fall afternoon by the lake in the woods behind Dana’s tiny house until out of nowhere an abnormal tree blocks the path.
The surrounding community has used these trails for years. Tons of people jog or walk their dogs, and kids play in the park. The township paves or gravels most of the trails encompassing the neighborhood. So how did this humongous, discolored tree grow here, and no one noticed?
“Shit. That... it doesn’t belong here.” Dana’s sea-green eyes bulge out of her head. “Where did it come from?”
No shit, Sherlock. It’s a beautiful and bizarre combination of a tall ponderosa pine and a mangrove that doesn’t belong here or anywhere. Its long limbs stretch from the trunk, with crimson pine needles as long as my forearm. Gigantic roots, similar to those of a mangrove tree, twist from the base of the tree, which is level with my head, spiraling and burrowing deep into the soil, as if it has been there for decades, even centuries. Jade-green bark, not the color but the stone, covers the wood in a tie-dye fashion. Shades of green swirl, ranging from cream to black. Too big to wrap my arms around, though perhaps six people could. Translucent, mossy spiderwebs cling to the jade surface from its roots and climb up, until they vanish into the crimson red canopy.
Wearing quizzical expressions, we approach the oddity.
“So weird. How’d it get here?” I ask. We had gone for a hike three weeks ago and there wasn’t a massive tree here. This makes zero sense. Trees don’t appear overnight.
“Screw this. I’m heading back to Dana’s. I’m going to order a pizza and watch a movie. Let someone else deal with this weird tree.” Ciara turns around, tight fiery curls bouncing against her back.
“Wait!” Sarah shouts. “How did this tree get here?” Mumbling, with her hands and knees on the ground, she inspects the translucent moss. Sarah’s fair complexion against the spiderweb moss makes her short onyx hair darker, lips deeper red, skin paler, even ghostly. She’s a modern-day Snow White, though if someone called her that, she’d punch them square in the face.
“Where the hell did it come from?” She circles the tree, walks to the other side, and gasps. “Damn... Megan, Dana, Ciara, you guys, you need to see this.”
Sarah never sounds uncertain. It gives me chills to hear the distinct change in her voice. I can’t classify the tone. Not fear, more like panic. Doubtful, as if she can’t trust her eyes.
Neither can I.
After two steps around the tree, I find an explosion of foreign foliage. Different shades of dark-green branches and roots zigzag across the landscape. Roots intertwine, snaking across the forest floor. They’re impenetrable unless you climb through the labyrinth; they make a trek through the Amazon appear easy. The average root is ten to twenty feet long and as round as me, if not bigger. Brown vines dangling off limbs give the forest a more jungle aesthetic. Odd-colored, tall, slender palm trees stick out among the giants competing for the sun. Plum-purple, blue, and orange leaves crown their tops. They resemble palm trees, but I can’t see if fruit or coconuts grow at top. I need binoculars.
“What the hell?” Dana utters as she and Ciara join us. They stand frozen in shock by the forest’s transformation into something exotic. “This isn’t right. We need to bring a scientist or a ranger here. Where did they come from?” Dana rubs her hand on the jade bark and then pulls back. “Hope it’s not poisonous.”
Ciara cracks her knuckles. She’s ten seconds away from a complete meltdown. “I’m going back. I’m not messing with anything potentially poisonous today. I’ll be on the couch watching TV.” She marches back toward Dana’s tiny home without waiting for a reply. I’m surprised she turned around at all.
I’m curious, but I agree with Ciara. I would rather relax than deal with this. “Wait! We’re coming. Come on, Sarah. Let’s go. We’ll bring experts here; it could be dangerous.”
“Ciara, wait up!” Dana shouts after her.
Sarah begrudgingly gets up after I yank on her arm. We follow Dana around the tree to catch up with Ciara, but she’s nowhere in sight. The trail doesn’t bend, it’s an overall straight walk, but things are different. The trees aren’t green like the jade jungle, but the foliage is odd. Shrubs and flowers replace the paved trail we just walked. Not alien, but unlike the normal vegetation in this environment, more tropical. Orange pitcher plants hang overhead from lime-green vines. Corpse flowers grow among bushes and ferns. Or they’re similar to corpse flowers except smaller and neon purple. Once, I saw a corpse flower bloom on display. It smelled horrible, like rotting meat. These don’t have a pungent smell. It’s fruitier, but I’m unsure what to compare it to.
Bugs buzz from flower to flower, attracted by the aromas. I can’t call them bees. Shaped similar to dragonflies, they flap iridescent wings, creating a blur of color on either side of their tawny bodies.
In seconds, the forest rearranges itself before our eyes into a vibrant jungle.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Grab your free e-copy today!
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087YJ8W87
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Don’t take my word for it, here are some reviews.
“I really loved this Adult portal fantasy, it was a lot of fun to read and definitely hooked me, so much so that I’ve already started book 2!” – Author Lorin Petrazilka
“I find the synopsis for this book does not do it justice - the storyline is a complicated maze of heres and theres, whats and whys, betrayals and secrets. There is an ever-changing narrative that happens in such a fluid way - it’s hard to explain but thoroughly enjoyable - there is just so much more to the story then the synopsis leads you to believe. The author does an absolutely exquisite job of painting the picture of another world. Her descriptive writing style truly allows the reader to feel as though they are right there in the story with the characters. While this book does not end on a cliffhanger per-sae, it does end on a note that leaves you yearning for more.” – Nicole Fall
If that doesn’t convince you, Ashes and Blood is FREE Sept. 23 & 24th.
Go on a journey of a lifetime to a whole other world.
Enter to win a $15 Amazon US or Amazon Canada gift card
Open Internationally. You must have an active Amazon US or CA account to win.
Runs September 20 – September 28, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on September 29, 2022.
Katie Zaber, author of the series Dalya and DNA, is a fantasy author whose imagination knows no bounds. As a child, her parents read stories about Atlantis and other fictional places that she dreamed of exploring, fueling her love of history, adventure, and fantasy. She loves to spend what little free time she has winemaking, baking, and reading. When she has a full day to herself, you can find her at the beach or at a winery. Her favorite meals are the ones her boyfriend cooks, and she loves spending quiet nights at home with him, binge watching new fantasy shows or play video games.
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