Saturday, August 6, 2016
Lizzie in the Land Beyond by Susan McDonough-Wachtman
Release date: July 4, 2016
Subgenre: Young adult fantasy
Lizzie is a teenager, an AP student, and a singer of folk songs. She wakes one day in a strange world. The women who revive her tell her they have summoned her to help them understand the aliens who have landed on their shores. They also tell her she can never go home because they scooped her up when she was about to die. Captured by witches, kidnapped by a dwarf, enraptured by river sprites -- Will Lizzie ever find her way home?
A beautiful mixture of sorcery, mythical beasts, and aliens, Lizzie in the Land Beyond is a fantastic read from beginning to end. I love the characters, the voice of Lizzie and her bumbling youthful arrogance, the larger than life Adeline, and curmudgeonly Sculdar, and the strong and silent Osric. -- Cynthia Varady on Goodreads
I sighed as I stepped into the chilly river, but I was already soaked through. “What’s the diff?” I asked myself. “You’ve hardly been dry since you got here, anyway.” I looked at Osric’s back and decided to vent my frustration on his unhearing person. “You must have known the raft might get swept away. Why didn’t you anchor it better? You should have wrapped that rope around the rocks a bunch more times.” I was beginning to enjoy my monologue. I had been holding my tongue for quite awhile now. “In fact, you knew this storm was coming, so why didn’t we just stay where we were? You could have pulled it right up onto the beach there! Then we could be floating along here instead of sloshing in this rain, catching pneumonia!”
I recalled, however, the distance we had traveled since then, and the rapids we had run. What would those rapids be like now with the additional water from the storm? What if the river switched direction again? I was thigh deep now, following closely behind the cat who was almost, but not quite, swimming. The water was dark with a silty runoff, and I could no longer see my feet. I stumbled on a boulder and caught myself on Mistran’s back. “Oh, sorry!” I backed away hastily. I was no longer afraid of the big animal, but neither did I mistake him for a large version of a house cat. He glanced back at me with one golden eye and flipped his tail toward me. At first I thought he was just expressing his annoyance, but then he did it again, and I realized he meant me to take hold. I grasped the thick, furry cord gratefully, but the strangeness of the situation struck me.
“I’m allowing a mountain lion to lead me, by his tail, across a river -- which might change direction at any moment -- in the rain. Beat that, Alice.” I raised my voice to a yell. I turned my face up to the rain and allowed the cat to tow me along. “Lizzie’s Adventures in -- what do they call this place, anyway? Narnia? Middle Earth? The Land? I am a heroine -- a beautiful heroine! -- in a fantasy, and I may as well enjoy it!”
My escort stopped moving. I opened my eyes and looked ahead. “What’s the holdup? Oh.” Osric had stopped mid-river and was staring at me. The cat had stopped to turn and stare as well. “G--guess you can hear now, huh?” I shivered. Osric assessed me a moment, then sloshed back to me, un-stoppering a skin bag as he came. He offered it and I drank -- and coughed. “Ahh -- wheh! I’m underage, you know!” I drank again, letting the burning liquid fill my “cockles” as my grandmother would have said. Osric took back the bag, turned and sloshed on. Mistran turned and sloshed on. I tightened my grip on his tail and sloshed on. I began to sing, softly at first: “I love to go a-wandering along the mountain track, and as I go I love to sing, my knapsack on my back.” I belted into the chorus: “Val a ree! Val a rah! Val a ree!” I bumped into Mistran, who had stopped again.
Susan McDonough-Wachtman is a writer, mother, wife, gardener, teacher, cat lover and book addict. She self-published her books Snail’s Pace and Arabella’s Gift after both were accepted for publication by companies which subsequently went out of business. Matriarchs:Eliza’s Revenge won best genre novel from the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. Lizzie in the Land Beyond is her newest offering. Ferry Findings, an anthology of short stories, will be published by Kitsap Publishing in 2016. “Well written,” “quirky sense of humor,” and “doesn’t fit the genre” are the comments she hears most about her books and stories.