I am thrilled to be involved in the tour for the new novel by Marti M. MacNair. Many thanks to the author and Lynsey Adams of Reading Between the Lines for including me and for supplying a gripping extract for my readers.
In the wake of an apocalyptic End of Days, a totalitarian regime emerges. New-born belong to the state and are transported to the island of Ruin. Deprived of love and nurturing, children eke out an existence with a grim reality. Amidst the bleakness, Jasmine and Coral stumble upon a mysterious old woman washed ashore. Defying the regime’s grip, they secretly shelter her within the depths of the Black Cave. The girls soon unravel the regime’s web of deception. Jasmine is betrayed, the old woman is found, and a momentous trial begins. Will Jasmine be able to reclaim her stolen life? Be sentenced to death, or spend the remainder of days toiling in the mines?
It was the last thing we expected to find washed up on the shore.
Coral poked a bundle of rags with weathered driftwood, waving frantically with her free hand.
‘Jasmine, over here,’ she yelled, desperately trying to make herself heard over gusts of wind.
‘Let me secure my nets first,’ I called back, pegging them down with heavy stones from the rock pool before heading over. As I crunched over shingle and grit towards the vast shoreline, the relentless collision of waves against dark slate rock surrendered to a tranquil lapping of white surf meeting sand. My brain stuttered at the sight, as if my eyes played tricks.
‘I think she’s dead,’ Coral said, prodding the old woman again. Sparse white hair sprouted in clusters from scabs on her scalp and her skin was wrinkled and worn. Soiled clothes clung to her and, tangled in seaweed, she conjured the image of a sea monster long lost to this world. I had never known a person to be so old.
‘Where has she come from?’ I asked, straining my eyes over the turbulent Pewter Sea. No watercraft was visible.
‘How would I know? She must have fallen from her craft. She might be a poacher or a rebel.’ My gaze returned to the old woman. ‘I don’t see any weapons.’ Long bony fingers stretched out and brushed Coral’s ankle. Shrieking, she jumped back, and reached for the spear strapped behind her back. ‘It’s okay,’ I said, grabbing her arm. ‘She’s probably more scared of us than we are of her.’ I ditched my backpack and knelt down taking her fragile hand in mine. Her skin was paper thin, coated in sand and smelled of saline.
‘You shouldn’t touch her, she might be contaminated,’ Coral warned. ‘I’ve taken my anti-sickness tablets, and you should have too.’ ‘But who’s to say they’ll work? We could still be putting ourselves in unnecessary danger.’
I didn’t care. Emotions we’d been taught to suppress stirred and stole my heart. Falling into them, I let them take over. ‘Give me your water flask, Coral.’
‘No way, Jasmine.’
‘Don’t argue with me. Give me your water flask, now.’ Coral usually obeyed without question, but today was different. Today, we’d found a person that didn’t belong on Ruin, and every step I’d taken so far had broken our rules.
Anger flashed from Coral’s eyes. ‘This is foolish. We’ll get in trouble.’
‘If you don’t want to give me yours, pass mine from my backpack,’ I said. Coral sighed, rummaged through her bag and dumped her flask in my hand.
Marti M. MacNair is an award winning Scottish author, specializing in dystopian novels tailored for young adults and teenagers.
Marti is passionate about encouraging reading, and has immersed herself in the world of writing through various conferences, events and writing groups. She, herself, is an avid reader, and never seen without a book in her hand.
She resides in the heart of Ayrshire, Scotland, alongside her husband, and her two grown children who have flown the nest but frequently come to visit.
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