Excerpt from The Magician's Daughter by H.G. Parry, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Magician's Daughter

by H.G. Parry

The Magician's Daughter by H.G. Parry X
The Magician's Daughter by H.G. Parry
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    Feb 2023, 400 pages


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Chapter One

Rowan had left the island again last night.

He had done so quietly, as usual. Had Biddy not been lying awake, listening for his light tread on the stairs outside her bedroom, she would have never known he was gone. But he had slipped out of the castle once or twice too often lately while she slept, and this time she was ready. She got out of bed and went to the window, shivering at the touch of the early-autumn chill, in time to see him cross the moonlit fields where the black rabbits nibbled the grass. Her fingers clenched into fists, knowing what was coming, frustrated and annoyed and more worried than she wanted to admit. At the cliff edge he paused, and then his tall, thin form rippled and changed as wings burst from his back, his body shriveled, and a large black bird flew away into the night. Rowan was always a raven when he wasn't himself.

When she was very young, Biddy hadn't minded too much when Rowan flew away at night. As unpredictable as Rowan could be, he was also her guardian, and however far he went she trusted him to always be there if she needed him. In the meantime, she was used to fending for herself. She did so all day sometimes, when Rowan was shut up in his study or off in the forest and had no time for things like meals or conversation or common sense. Besides, Rowan always left Hutchincroft behind to watch over things. Hutch couldn't speak to her when he was a rabbit, it was true, but he would leap onto the bed beside her, lay his head flat, and let her curl around his soft golden fur. It made the castle less empty, and the darkness less hungry. She would lie there, dozing fitfully, until either she heard the flutter of feathers and the scrabble of claws at the window above hers or exhaustion won out and pulled her into deeper sleep.

And in the morning, Rowan would always be there, as if he'd never left.

That morning was no exception. When she woke to slanting sunlight and came downstairs to the kitchen, Rowan was leaning against the bench with his fingers curled around a mug of tea. His brown hair was rumpled and his eyes were a little heavy, but still dancing.

"Morning," he said to her brightly. "Sleep all right?"

She would have let him get away with that once. Not now. She wasn't a very young girl anymore. She was sixteen, almost seventeen, and she minded very much.

"What time did you get in?" she asked severely, so he'd know she hadn't been fooled. He laughed ruefully.

"An hour or two before dawn?" He glanced at Hutchincroft, who was busily munching cabbage leaves and carrots by the stove. "Half past four, Hutch says. Why? Did I miss anything?"

"I was asleep," she said, which wasn't entirely true. "You'd have to tell me."

She pulled the last of yesterday's bread out of the cupboard, sneaking a look at Rowan as she did so. There was a new cut at the corner of one eyebrow, and when he straightened, it was with a wince that he turned into a smile when he saw her watching.

Biddy didn't think there had ever been a time when she had thought Rowan was her father, even before he had told her the story of how she first came to Hy-Brasil. The two of them looked nothing alike, for one thing. Rowan was slender and long-limbed like a young tree, eternally unkempt and wild and sparkling with mischief. She was smaller, darker, with serious eyes and a tendency to frown. And yet he wasn't an older brother either, or an uncle, or anything else she had read about in the castle's vast library. He was just Rowan, the magician of Hy-Brasil, and as long as she could remember there had been only him and Hutchincroft and herself. She knew them as well as she knew the castle, or the cliffs that bordered the island, or the forests that covered it. And she knew when he was hiding something from her.

He knew her too, at least well enough to know he was being scrutinized. He lasted until she had cut the bread and toasted one side above the kitchen fire, and then he set his mug down, amused and resigned.

Excerpted from The Magician's Daughter by H.G. Parry. Copyright © 2023 by H.G. Parry. Excerpted by permission of Redhook. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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