Monday, October 19, 2015
White Sky (In the Shadow of the She-Wolf, Book 1) by Lara Campbell McGehee
Release date: October 18, 2015
Subgenre: Social science fiction
In a forgotten village on the windswept tundra of a small planetary colony, a young man called Jem is the only Sanndai. He knows nothing of his own people but the stories told by the Torvik villagers: stories of how the Sanndai came from the sky, bringing weapons that made people disappear, and banished the Torviks to this harsh land.
Now that Jem is grown, the elderly midwife who raised him can no longer protect him. Strong-willed and defiant, Jem struggles to prove his worth, but he’s shunned by most of the villagers. A man with mad eyes who seems to know something of Jem’s unknown past despises him most of all—a brutal man who could kill Jem without remorse.
If staying alive means leaving, Jem must have the courage to seek a new life outside the only world he has ever known—and to face the people he knows only from tales of their arrogance and cruelty.
With a sharpness of movement that betrayed keen senses and instinctive wariness, the old man looked up. Through the shifting light and the haze of the smoky air, his piercing clear eyes met Jem’s, and it was as if he’d reached across the room and struck him a physical blow. “Ah, there you are,” he said. The voice, although not loud, was strong and unwavering.
Jem felt a shiver run through him. He opened his mouth but was unable to speak.
“Come closer,” Avakab ordered. Jem obeyed, coming around the fire pit until he stood only a couple of meters from the seated figure. The man’s features were not unlike those of Goplak, the poultry keeper, though perhaps he was even older, and his thin hair was as white as new snow. But beyond that he was no ordinary old man. His eyes held Jem with an incredible force, and a kind of accusation; the boy felt as if that gaze could split him open and see inside of him.
It seemed only fitting when Jem noticed, as a glint of firelight glanced off the blade, that one of the thin hands held a dagger. The other held a piece of wood the old rebel had been carving, but both hands were strong and supple—unlike Waltak’s—and it was all too easy to imagine them holding the knife for another purpose.
The old man made a soft sound in his throat, though whether it meant disgust or merely disapproval, or even humor, Jem wasn’t certain. The intense eyes narrowed, and Avakab said, “How old are you, Sanndai?”
Jem struggled to swallow and managed to say, “Fifteen.”
“Hmm,” the man said, this time clearly with wry amusement. He smiled strangely. “Ah, yes—I suppose you wouldn’t look quite so tall if I were standing in front of you. No doubt you’ll grow taller still. But I remember well . . . your people. I’ve seen many of them. And for some who saw me, I was the last thing they ever saw.” The menacing smile had gone, but there was still dark humor in his expression.
So much for my theory, Jem thought. He forced himself to take a deep breath, embarrassed by his reaction.
“I hear you’ve been seen around the Sanndai station.” The eyes shifted from Jem as the hands resumed their work, the knife flashing as strips of wood peeled away under its sharp edge.
Jem nodded, feeling his heart quicken again. This man is nothing any more, he told himself. He’s the one the old women sneer at. But now he understood why there was that uneasiness, that presence of a respect born out of fear, that filled a room whenever Avakab’s name was spoken. Here was someone whose true power was his own will and, in spite of everything, he would never lose it.
When Avakab lifted his eyes from the carving, again Jem felt his gaze like a knife blade pressed against his flesh. “I got them out of there—did you know that, boy?”
Lara Campbell McGehee grew up in a house full of books and began writing at an early age. A native of Arizona, she attended Northern Arizona University, where she earned a BA in Anthropology and an MBA. She's an avid equestrian and passionate about the outdoors, especially the wide open landscapes of the Southwest, and her favorite places often find their way into the otherworldly settings of her stories. She writes social science fiction and fantasy of the kind that is often called 'literary cross-over'.