By Ellie Di Julio
Date Published: 3/4/2014
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Average family. Average job. Average existential crisis.
After thirty boring years, nothing about Cora Riley’s life has measured up to her childhood dreams of being truly extraordinary. It’s too bad that the night she decides to seek out her specialness she crashes on a rural highway.
Cora wakes in the clutches of the Mistress of the underworld who sets her a seemingly impossible quest. If she wants a second chance at life, Cora must find her way through the dozen heavens and return to the castle in three days.
With the help of an unusual guardian angel named Jack and a little boy named Xavier, Cora navigates the afterlife doorfield and quickly learns that gods and monsters are very real indeed. Terrifying and tempting obstacles litter her path; only the power of belief – in the Otherworld, in her companions, and in herself – will return her to the land of the living.
The Mistress half-drags, half-leads Cora to the row of doors. As they get closer, a second row becomes vaguely visible, as if they’re a long way off. But Cora doesn’t get a chance to investigate further as she’s spun around and released in front of door with a brass number one in its center.
The Mistress takes a step back and holds out an arm to indicate the field of doors. “Here is your quest, Cora Leigh Riley. You are tasked with returning to the castle through the thirteenth door within three days. You must begin at the beginning, and anything you bring with you on your return is forfeit to me. Should you succeed, I will release you back into the mortal world as you have asked. Should you fail to return by the appointed time in the appointed way, your soul will forever rest where it stands in that moment.” She grins with wicked satisfaction. “Those are the terms of your quest. Do you accept?”
Cora takes a slow, deep breath and considers the gently swaying grassy field. How hard can it be to find a door, anyway? Six are practically visible from right here. Thirteen should be a piece of cake.
Turning back to the Mistress, she squares her shoulders and nods. “I accept.”
A rushing breeze nearly knocks Cora to the ground with the smell of apples, and a chord of metallic chimes peals across the sky. The Mistress inclines her head in acknowledgement, somehow more regal and imposing. The same oozing sensation she felt in the dungeons creeps down over Cora’s scalp in what she’s come to recognize as the sealing of a deal.
Two mystical oaths in twenty-four hours –not the best idea I’ve ever had.
Ellie Di Julio is a nomadic writer currently living in Hamilton, Ontario with her Robert Downey, Jr. lookalike husband and their three cats. Between nerd activities like playing Dungeons & Dragons or watching Top Gear, she enthusiastically destroys the kitchen and tries to figure out what it's all about, when you really get down to it. She also writes urban fantasy novels riddled with pop culture references and sexy secret agents.
Her first novel, Inkchanger, could easily be considered Forgotten Relics #0, and as such, rewards readers of the rest of the series, sort of like watching Thor before The Avengers. Her second novel, Time & Again with Kyeli Smith, has nothing to do with super powers or secret agents but is very cool nonetheless.
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