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threatens eleven-year old Mara’s home, she makes up her mind to
save her family, one way or another. But when the knights protecting
her village arrest her favorite aunt for witchcraft, she discovers
that the difference between friend and foe may not be as obvious as
she once thought.
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.”
“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?”
“Righty-ho.” Mr. Vance grinned again. “Oh, and tell your master I said hallo. Tell‘m I owe him a pint.”
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. Then he hustled me forward, continuing down the street. He leaned 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.
taught international relations at a British university for close to
twenty years and brings his insights concerning real-life war and
politics into his fiction. He takes a character-based approach to
writing, paying attention to his protagonists’ personal relationships
and inner lives.
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