There's hidden places all over this land-old, old places. Places with a chain for them to chain up the wolf when it's time.
A bone-chilling tale of werewolves and love, set in medieval Scotland
A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for wood carving soon wins the admiration of the weaver's daughter, Maddie. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust, only to find herself drawn into a terrifying secret that threatens everything she loves.
There is an evil presence in the carver's life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most to her-and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.
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Clare B. Dunkle worked for years as a librarian. She lives with her family in Germany. Her first book, The Hollow Kingdom, won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and was named a Publishers Weekly "Flying Start," a Bank Street College of Education Best Book, and a Locus Magazine Best YA Book.
Maddie had just taken supper to Lady Mary in the castle, and now she was looking forward to her own meal. She stepped out of the tower into the clear light of a summer evening, studying the silhouettes of the great birds flying down to the loch.
"Madeleine!" called a low voice. She turned to find the woodcarver standing there. He was staring straight at her with those piercing green eyes, and her heart skipped a beat.
"I didn't know you could talk!" she said in delight. "It's Maddie, though; only Father Mac calls me Madeleine."
The carver looked around cautiously and stepped closer. "Help me find Ned," he said in a husky whisper. "I've searched for him everywhere."
"The old man's chained up with Mad Angus. He and Black Ewan had a fight."
"Chained up!" exclaimed the young man. "He can't be chained up! When will he be free?"
"Probably in a few weeks," Maddie answered. "Dad said Black Ewan said after the harvest."
"But what am I going to do?" he asked, looking stunned. "Can we free him somehow?"
"What, take the key from Black Ewan?" She laughed. "It's a little beyond us, I'd say. He'd knock me silly, for a start, and it's more than your life's even worth."
"More than my life's worth," muttered the young man. "That's not much." He stood for a minute looking around at the castle, the loch, the far hills. If he sought inspiration, he didn't find any. He looked at her again, hopeless and frustrated. Then he walked away.
"Where are you going?" demanded the mystified girl, but he didn't answer. By the time she could follow, he was well ahead of her. She watched him walk off into the distance, taking the path along the shore of the loch.
Maddie fell asleep thinking of the good-looking carver boy. If he had been remarkable before, he was close to perfect now. His speech wasn't foreign, like the drunken Englishman. He spoke just like she did. Maybe he'd been stolen from his cradle by the wandering Travelers, and that was why he wasn't like Ned. He might be a nobleman by birth. He might even be the son of a chief.
But if Maddie's thoughts were pleasant ones, her dreams were dark and grim. She wandered through her town as thunder rumbled in the swollen clouds above, but not one living person did she find. The houses were silent and abandoned, their belongings tossed about. Filth covered the dirt floors, and some of the roofs had fallen in. Everywhere was the smell of decay.
Strewn across the weedy ground between the houses lay an untidy mosaic of bones. They glimmered white and phosphorescent in the dim twilight of the storm. Flesh still clung to some, dried and blackened. So many were underfoot that she couldn't help stepping on them.
The little parish church was completely destroyed, the rock walls torn apart. Gravestones were tossed aside and graves dug open, to let something in-or to let it out. Not a single creature moved in that ghastly land of death. The only sound was the sighing of the wind and the ominous growling of the thunder.
The girl stood bewildered in the middle of her town. What could have accomplished this destruction? Human raiders would never have dug up the churchyard. Animals wouldn't have left the bones behind. Some evil of the ancient world had descended upon this place, a thing that kept both people and animals away. Maddie froze, caught by an abrupt foreboding. That thing was still here.
An enemy stalked the vacant houses and corpse-littered ground, hunting her as its prey. She saw nothing, heard nothing beyond the empty rush of wind. But the air grew cold, and then very cold. A black shadow fell over her.
Maddie sat bolt upright in the box bed, her heart pounding wildly. Her mother and father slept peacefully beside her, and her town was not a welter of bones. Bright moonlight poured into the room through the open doorway, and perfect stillness reigned outside. But the room was freezing cold, colder than the bitter nights of winter, and Maddie felt a hideous presence. The enemy had not stayed behind in her nightmare. It had followed her here.
A low murmuring came to her, a hissing, bubbling, muttering sound from the back wall of the house. Slowly it passed along the windowless wall, and she followed the noise to the storeroom. The muttering thing was moving around the end of the house. It was coming toward the open doorway.
Teeth chattering, Maddie made the Sign of the Cross and knelt by the hearth in the middle of the room. Shutting the door wouldn't help. It was nothing but a wickerwork panel covered with hide. Waking her parents wouldn't help, either. The thing was almost here. She scraped the ashes of the hearth, hoping to find a friendly spark underneath, but the peat coals had been bedded for the night and would need coaxing to come back to life. Like a hare in a trap, she stared at the moonlit square of the open doorway, the only way out of the house. Her hands fumbled over the hearthstones and found her mother's bannock spade.
Colin the Smith had made his sister a spatula of iron to turn the oatcakes on the hearth. Its wooden handle felt solid in Maddie's hand, and its thin, heart-shaped wedge came to a point at the front. It wasn't a knife, but it was a weapon of sorts, and Maddie felt glad of it. She clutched it and listened as the bubbling sounds came nearer.
The square of moonlight vanished into inky blackness as a shape moved in front of the door. Maddie prayed for her life and hurled the iron weapon. A sound burst from the thing, a loud whistling shriek. When she opened her eyes, that great black shape was gone.
"What is it?" demanded her father, scrambling up from the bed, and then Fair Sarah's arms were around her.
"Something outside," she whimpered, hugging her mother. "Something big at the door. It hissed."
"I'll go see," decided James Weaver, taking his knife from the top of the wall. Then he froze right where he was. Maddie stopped in the middle of a word, and her mother's arms gripped her tightly.
A weeping, worrying sound rose into the night from somewhere very close. It keened and whined, gaining strength, until it became a scream, wavering in the air while time stood still. As it faded away, the three huddled together, clinging to each other for support.
"I'll just-just-go see," stammered her father, holding the knife in trembling hands.
"Jamie," sobbed his wife, "oh, Jamie, don't go out there."
A shadow fell across the doorway again, and Maddie gave a gasp. "James," called Black Ewan's voice, "is all well with you?"
"Yes," answered the weaver, shaking off his family. He wrapped his woolen blanket around his waist and shoulders, and he and the farmer walked away into the moonlight. Maddie and her mother heard the voices of neighbors calling from house to house, the bawling of cattle, and the wailing of children.
Fair Sarah knelt by the hearth and built the fire, whispering over the spent coals the morning prayer to the Trinity. The frightened girl followed her lead, starting her chores, and the night began to brighten into the dim gray of early dawn.
They heard the men coming back, talking loudly, their voices strained and excited. "Did you find it?" demanded Fair Sarah anxiously, going to the door. "What was it? Did it get away?"
The men came into the house. Black Ewan and Colin the Smith were carrying something heavy, but Maddie couldn't see what it was.
"It got away," said her father. "We don't know where it went. But it found that young woodcarver on the path near the castle, and we don't know if he's going to live."
Copyright © 2005 Clare B. Dunkle
This text is from an uncorrected proof.
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Descripción Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 2005. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110805074961
Descripción Henry Holt and Co. (BYR). Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. 0805074961 New Condition. Nº de ref. de la librería NEW7.1312426
Descripción New York, New York, U.S.A.: Henry Holt & Co, 2005. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Estado de la sobrecubierta: New. 1st Edition. An extremely rare American true first edition, first print hardback in an unblemished dust-wrapper(fitted with a removable, clear, thin film protector) Clare Dunkle very kindly signed, dated(1st May 2005) and has written the following line from the book " In the far northern hills of Scotland") all directly to the title page.The book is in brand new, totally unused fine /fine condition. All my books are securely bubble wrapped and sent in sturdy professional book boxes and swiftly dispatched within a maximum of two working days, often less. *****please note, I do Not charge extra for individual books that weigh heavier than an average of 0.9 kilos gross(when boxed) and will reduce shipping costs when processing orders for books that weigh less than 0.9 kilos Gross. Signed by Author(s). Nº de ref. de la librería ABE-854434266