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The Witches of Crannock Dale by Thomas M. Kane is a Stress Busting Festival pick #fantasy #giveaway
The Witches of Crannock Dale
Thomas M. Kane
Spies. Witch-hunts. A little girl who asks dangerous questions.
When invaders threaten, eleven-year-old Mara must grow up fast. All her life, her homeland has been on the brink of war. But as bells warn of approaching enemies, her own realm’s knights arrest her favorite aunt for witchcraft. This prompts her to rethink much of what she has been taught about her country. When adults ignore her points, she teams up with unlikely friends in a bid to rescue her aunt and protect her village. Mara must make sense of grown-up politics to save the people she loves.
This is Book One of the political fantasy series Mara of the League. Later books follow Mara’s life into her forties as she rises to the top of her ruler’s spy services and defies orders in a bid to save her country from invasion.
Available in print, e-book format and audio.
Mr. Vance stiffened and turned. “You again.” He was wearing a dark gray tunic with a starched collar and a waistcoat. The sleeves were cut to puff out around his upper arms, but I could see the shape of his muscles bulging under the loose cloth. He also wore a rapier in a shiny black scabbard.
“I’m looking for my pappy. Could you help me find him, please?”
“You’re coming with me.” Mr. Vance didn’t sound jolly, the way grown-ups usually sound when they’re talking to their grown-up friends’ children. He spoke in a low growl, and his eyes flashed. Then he reached for me. I stepped back, but he was faster. His meaty hand closed on my shoulder.
“You’ve been following me, haven’t you?” Mr. Vance’s deep voice was almost a whisper. “This way. Walk.”
Mr. Vance turned me to the east and marched me across the market square. People were shopping all around us, and I could hear their mingled voices. I was frightened, but I told myself that nothing bad could happen with people all around. Every minute that Mr. Vance spent with me brought Mr. Fenwick and Mr. DeWitt another minute nearer to closing their shop. So, I took the smallest steps I could get away with and let Mr. Vance guide me onto Dyer’s Lane.
There really is a dyer’s workshop on Dyer’s Lane, and a soapmakers’ on the other side of the street. My nose wrinkled at the ammonia smells of the soapmaker’s shop. One of the apprentice dyers was coming down the street with bundles of blue cloth in a handcart. No one else was on the street.
“Who put you up to it?” Mr. Vance squeezed my shoulder so hard that it hurt. “Who?”
“Up to what?” I wiggled in Mr. Vance’s grip. “Please, I don’t know what you mean—”
“Don’t lie to me. I saw you in the market yesterday, don’t think I didn’t. My neighbors saw you at my shop. Now here you are again. Why in Bel’s name are you following me and who put you up to it?”
I planted my feet on the worn cobblestones. “Let me go!”
“Shut up.” Mr. Vance dragged me forward.
“Help!” I turned my head to look at the dyer’s apprentice. His ginger hair was cropped almost to fuzz and sweat had soaked through his shirt.
Mr. Vance smiled at the dyer’s apprentice, or maybe it was a snarl. “Hallo, Gus.”
“Sir?” Gus flinched back.
“This is Bennet’s girl. She’s been lost, maybe you heard—”
“I said shut up.” Mr. Vance’s grip tightened on my shoulder until I gasped. His thumb was inside my collar, and I could feel the sandpaper roughness of his skin. “She’s a bit excited. Lucky I found her, or Bel knows what she might have got into. Dangerous for a kid to be about on her own, am I right?”
Gus’s brow wrinkled.
“Am I right, Gus?”
“Aye, sir, I reckon you’re right.” Gus spoke slowly, as if afraid of making a mistake.
“Glad we agree.” Mr. Vance chuckled. “I know the girl, Gus. Know her folk. I’ll take care of this. You just forget about it. It’s not your concern.”
“Righty-ho.” Mr. Vance grinned again. “Oh, and tell your master I said hallo. Tell‘m I owe him a pint.”
“Right you are, sir, that I will.” Gus laughed nervously.
“Please help me.” I meant to shout, but the words came out as a whimper.
Gus hefted the handles on his cart and continued down the street. He looked paler than he had looked before, and he kept his eyes fixed on the cobblestones ahead of him. The cartwheels clattered as he passed us by.
Mr. Vance grabbed my other shoulder and shook me until I was quiet. Then he hustled me forward, continuing down the street. He leaned down to talk in my ear, and I could feel the heat of his breath. “Who put you up to it? You know I can make you tell me.”
I stamped on Mr. Vance’s foot as hard as I could.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Get the complete Mara of the League series box set and save:
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/44ivKph
Book One: The Witches of Crannock Dale
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3LJ3o0a
Book Two: The Rebels of Caer City
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/42htBIZ
Book Three: The Hideous Garden
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3ViEZSt
Book Four: The Rending of the World
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3NoKDAr
What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
Climbing to the lake on top of nearby Tumbledown Mountain!
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
The Witches of Crannock Dale features a cozy small-town setting, a daughter healing her relationship with her mother, and a very naughty cat. It’s an adventure story which explores persecution and injustice, but it celebrates a wholesome way of life that anyone experiencing stress could with a little more of.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs May 1 – 31, 2023.
Drawing will be held on June 1, 2023.
I grew up in the woods of Maine, with bears as my closest neighbors. Got started writing by publishing supplements for role-playing games. While studying international relations in California, I took an opportunity to finish my PhD with a noted British scholar named Colin Gray. I ended up living in England for twenty years and teaching at the University of Hull. Since then I’ve returned to Maine and published my Mara of the League series of fantasy novels.
Social Media Links:
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Join the conversation! Discuss the Mara series and other thought-provoking stories in the Facebook group Kane’s Coffeehouse. www.facebook.com/groups/211871796613331