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Young Writers Society
LMS V: Foxglove Road
Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:18 pm
So. Here's your mysterious, flowery synopsis:
Owen Marchfield remembers Dun. He remembers its rioting woods, its abandoned farms, its tunnelling wells. He remembers children vanishing in the night, replaced by smiling, uncanny things. He remembers what it means to live there, in a place where names weigh more than gold.
He remembers why he left, and why he never wants to go back.
But Dun has a way of getting its claws into people. Owen's sister is missing, the flowers are following him, and somebody has written a message on his mother's headstone. There are answers in the forest, and he knows he can't avoid them forever. The truth waits down Foxglove Road.
And now for a more rambling synopsis:
So, enter my second LMS novel. Foxglove Road follows Owen - a 20-year-old, partially-deaf history student with a love of Bowie and a real hatred of his hometown. He hails from Dun, the most notorious faerie village in England, the place where his mother worked and died.
Dun is an uneasy place. Situated on the suburbs of the faerlands, the village is ancient, removed, even beautiful - but saturated with mistrust. If a faerie takes your name, your life is over, so everybody is strangers to everyone. People have more pseudonyms than outfits. Children grow up without knowing their parents' real names.
Owen comes back only when he has to. Ever since he left for university, his sister has been alone in their house by the Foxglove Road, tailoring clothes for the faers. Her disappearance is sudden, and Owen knows she will never find her way back alone. But his voyage down the Road brings him face to face with countless unsettling truths - about his mother, about the state of the faerlands, and about himself.
Introducing characters such as:
- Our protagonist. Tired, partially deaf, gay as heck, and far better at running from his responsibilities than dealing with them. Catty, but not out loud. Very, very ginger.
- Owen's half sister. Six years older than him and far more responsible. Neglects her own needs to ensure everybody else is okay.
- A.K.A. a flowery, humourless, uptight faer who allies with Owen in his search for Violet, but for a vastly different reason. Not really called Snapdragon. That's just the name Owen has for him, because he wears a crown of them.
I must be absolutely nuts for taking this on but yeeeehaww let's give it a go
The backs of my eyes hum with things I've never done.
Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:44 pm
Oooh, this looks interesting!
when you're too young for half the things you want to do and too old to do the other half.
Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:13 pm
I nearly call him something unwise – one word, one syllable, rhymes with ‘runt’. But the adrenaline has stolen my breath, and I’m worried I might have pissed myself a bit, and darkness flickers at the corners of my eyes. Everything about the plain I’m lying on feels…unfinished. The moonlight has been blown out, the world flattened. Outlines shift around me; I can see the shadows of spidery limbs sifting across the ground, but nothing to cast them. When I peer past the faer, parts of the landscape seem rubbed out and streaked.
“Where are we?” I whisper.
“Somewhere else,” says the faer. “I can send you back, if you prefer.”
“No,” I say – it comes out fast, desperate. The faer smiles wider.
Careful, whispers the voice. Hold your ground. Make him small.
But it’s hard, it’s so hard, when I’m still shaking and my throat is dry and I don’t know where I am. In a situation like this, where neither traveller holds dominion over the land, power is something you either take or yield. Every moment I spent cowering, flinching at shadows, gives him more influence over me.
“I hear the forest-faer snaps its victims’ bones one by one,” he says, crouching down next to me. “Shall we see if that’s the case?”
I make myself look him in the eyes. “You can. I’ve got plans”
His jaw clenches. “Tell me where the riders are going.”
“I don’t know. Try the nearest karaoke bar.”
He grabs me by the collar of my shirt, wrenching me towards him. I smell the snapdragons in his hair.
“A funnyman,” he says. “Would you like to hear your own ribs grind together?”
Make him small, make him small. “I’d like to hear some actual negotiation tactics.”
“You believe this a negotiation?”
“Yes.” I shove him hard in the chest, knocking him off balance, and scramble to my feet. Once we’re both upright, he’s a little shorter than I am. “Here’s my offer. I won’t tell you where the riders went, but you can follow me to them.”
A bark of laughter. “I hold your life in my hand. You think you can make demands of me?”
“Yes, I do. I can’t tell you shit if I’m dead.”
His eyes gleam in the murk, white-hot and narrow. For a moment, unease swells in my gut – he’s a loose cannon, this bastard, and I wouldn’t put it past him to throw me to the forest-faer just to make a point. But his hands clench and unclench a few times, and then he grits his teeth at me.
“Fine,” he spits. “But should you obstruct me, or try to prevent me from following, I’ll kill you.”
“Noted,” I say. I wait for him to offer his hand, just to cement that he needs this pact more than I do. His grip is crushing. “Now you better tell me where we are.”
He tosses his head. “In shadow.”
“Any particular shadow?”
“I may walk through the land unseen and untouched, provided that such land is in darkness.” He glances upwards, at a sky barren of stars. “This is the same grass as before. The forest-faer knows you are here, still. But he cannot reach us.”
It’s a tall power, even for a faer, but I don’t let myself be impressed. I glace around, noting the similarity of the landscape, the muted shapes of trees, grass, rocks. The darkness is equal everywhere, as if I’m wearing powerful sunglasses. I can’t see the stream, only a curve where the world has been smeared out - I’m about to ask why, before I remember how it looked, filtered to silver by the moonlight.
“Can we go anywhere in this place?” I ask.
“Theoretically. If the shadows are thick enough.”
“Good.” I glance at him, picking out only his eyes and hair. “Let’s find this karaoke bar, then.”
The faer remains sullen. He insists that I don’t know where I’m going. I insist that I do. He knows I’m lying, which makes him sulk more. Nevertheless, he still lopes after me – stays always within a few strides, despite how sure-footed he is next to my half-blind blundering.
“Why are you looking for them?” I ask at one point. “They got something you want?”
He says nothing. He knows, surely, about Violet. Maybe he even knows why she’s been taken, but I can’t ask without revealing how deeply fucking clueless I am. The further we track through this shadow-realm, the more it staggers me – we move through clouds of will-o-wisps without being followed, even stalk past a dryad which cranes its head left and right, unable to pinpoint us. A power like this is hard won.
Hawthorn-given, the voice says.
Somehow, in the silence of the shadow-realm, it sounds more real. I shift the notebook around under my arm, thinking about the moment by the river. Mum’s handwriting, telling me to run. A voice, telling me to stand my ground.
Is it you? I think.
But there’s only silence. I don’t know whether to be glad or not.
I keep walking, but tiredness drags at my heels.
“Can we sleep here?” I ask.
“Why not? You need a feather mattress?”
He bristles. “If the shadows lift while we sleep, both of us are dead.”
And so we plough on, even though I really don’t know where I am by now. Nothing’s in a fixed place in the Faerlands. If I could only hold the location in my mind, it might be easier, but I don’t have a clue what it looks like. I think of twin hawthorns, imagining them twining up and around each, leaves mingling together.
And gradually, gradually, the trees start to thin. Our route meanders around swathes of smudgy ground, where sunlight must surely be pouring. I put my hand out into one of these non-areas, and the faer slaps it hard.
“Jesus, what was that for?” I say.
“You want to lose your hand, idiot boy?”
“Clearly you want me to, smacking it like that.”
But I keep my hands to myself from then on, steering clear of the non-areas. Eventually, we come to what appears to be a vast gulf of nothing, where the world drops away beneath our feet. The faer tuts, then grabs my arm and--
--daylight sears my eyes.
We’re at the edge of the treeline, standing at the top of a valley. A town is nestled within it – far bigger than the last one, with brick houses, metal fencing, and a lattice of real roads. The air smells of smoke.
I start down the hill, but the faer keeps his grip on my arm.
“You mean to go here?”
The backs of my eyes hum with things I've never done.
Why do we only rest in peace? Why don't we live in peace too?
— Alison Billet
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