When you read Wraith Queen’s Veil, you will go with Lucky down a long, winding, treacherous path. It will take you to the Wraith Queen’s veil and through it to reach dangers and glories awaiting beyond. But a fair amount of time has passed since book one was released, so while you’re packing your travelling shoes for that trip, I’ll give you a quick “in-a-nutshell” refresher.
In Key of Behliseth, I introduced you to Lucky on his fifteenth birthday, which had not been a good-luck sort of day. In fact, his luck had been far more bad than good for three years at that point—worse than it sounds, because Lucky couldn’t remember anything before that. Not where his home was, who his parents were, or even his own name. (Okay, to be truthful, he knew his real first name was Luccan, but that was all.)
One of the most important things Lucky didn’t remember happened on his twelfth birthday. He’d been banished by a curse from his home world Ethra to Earth. It was the first time he landed in a dark cave—and oh, yes, he did remember that! He’d had nothing to hold onto, nothing in his possession at all but a pocketful of strange things he knew nothing about: coins, a knife, and a key that didn’t look to him like it could possibly work in any lock. No grouchy wizard present on that go-round, but he did have his only stroke of solid luck that same night when he met up with Hank George, an old man who’d been watching that very cave for new arrivals for fifty years. Hank became his family, his teacher, his protector, and his friend, and Lucky lived with him for two years until Hank died suddenly on Lucky’s fourteenth birthday.
Reader, I’m sure you begin to see a recurring motif: Lucky’s Midsummer Day birthdays are not harbingers of cake, candles, and party hats. They seem (to him at least) to be variations on the theme of “oh crap.”
For a year after Hank died, Lucky a led a homeless life in the mid-sized metropolis, Valley City, an isolated (fictional) city in Cirque Valley (also fictional) in central California. He tried getting by panhandling and in less savory ways—the usual ways homeless teens survive on the streets but to say they didn’t work well for him would be an understatement. Eventually he found a niche—doing household chores for Valley City’s petty criminals—and moved himself and his dog Maizie into an abandoned shed located precariously on the edge of the infamous, unpopulated Black Creek Ravine, a gorge running right through the middle of town. Basically, not such a bad setup.
But then, Lucky’s fifteenth birthday rolled around and he was right back to “oh crap.”
Bad dreams, money problems, and a bump on the head were just the beginning. On that day, he met an extremely odd, very old man (Thurlock) who insisted on talking despite Lucky’s best efforts to brush him off (while being polite). The stranger kept popping up around town, and that felt sort of creepy. Creepier still was a very strange, very mean woman (Isa) whom Lucky encountered at the grocery store. And then and there Lucky started doing things he never meant to do—being rude, to say the least, which was unsettling because Lucky always tries to be polite. Really, he didn’t stop at rude, went right on to coldhearted and mean. He would have liked to have left the memory at the store and never looked back, but surprise! Isa is a witch, and Thurlock is a wizard and they fought over Lucky in the pasta aisle.
And then… well, let’s just say stuff kept happening, and one not-so-good thing kept leading to another no better. The next few days Lucky found himself (1) getting that odd and apparently useless little key stolen, (2) crossing the scary threshold into Thurlock’s house, and (3) getting attacked by (a) his own dog, (b) a storm, and (c) a horde of black-cloak-wearing people acting like zombies led by a man (Mordred) so hateful he’s mean to his own twin brother.
On the other hand, Lucky did get to sleep in a very comfy bed in his own room—luxury for a homeless teen like himself—and he had plenty food that was damn good. Also, he repeatedly got rescued by a caring, watchful, warrior type stranger named Han (who could read Lucky’s mind and who is gay like Lucky and gives advice and who works for the wizard), and he did get to feel like a hero himself when he rescued a girl named L’Aria. He got to speak to his mother (Liliana) and his aunt (Rosishan) through an awesome magical device called a M.E.R.L.I.N., and even though he didn’t remember them, it felt right.
Overall, despite the scary—no, horrifying—people and events, in the balance he had started to feel… loved! And the idea of this other-world home, Ethra, had begun to pull on him like a magnet. So, when Thurlock suggested going home to escape all the nastiness, he got ready for the trip.
Unfortunately, he quickly relapsed into “oh crap” syndrome. Han turned out to be his uncle, but as soon as Lucky remembered that (Yes remembered!), Han left him to tend to other duties. And then, the wizard’s way home involved traveling through an awful thing called a Portal of Naught. Bad enough on its own, but Lucky got confused about which way he wanted to go, and consequently got left behind, and then kidnapped by Mordred and held captive in the witch Isa’s enormous, magically hidden, blue-glass-and-steel tower. Lucky found out there he had never before had any true notion of what evil meant. Isa’s evil deserved a capital E. And not only that, but it turned out gods (yes, reader, gods) were involved: one good and all about light and balance named Behl; one unspeakably bad, a living black hole that can never be filled, called Mahl.
Stubbornly insisting magic didn’t exist failed miserably as a safety plan. Not only did Lucky have to admit the world is full of magic, but he’d met people who kept to its darker side, and they meant to do him serious harm. For one thing, they wanted to keep him from going home world. Lucky didn’t know exactly why they wanted him away from there, but it supposedly had to do with the destiny he’d been told about—he was supposed to become the Suth Chiell, which meant Sun Child and involved having the key and wearing a crown. Much worse than that, though, Isa wanted to use him for her own masterplan—to subsume both Earth and Ethra in a lightless nothingness for the sole purpose of feeding Mahl, her chosen divinity.
Lucky had to accept another truth: he had magic of his own. He didn’t know how to use it, and though he was told its the good stuff, full of light and balance, harmony and even love, he didn’t want to learn. He would have preferred just to shed it quietly and leave it laying where someone else could pick it up and do some good with it, if such a thing were possible. He didn’t want to get acquainted with it, much less use it in dire circumstances.
Dire circumstances, reader, truly! Outside Isa’s tower, Han leads an odd assortment of allies eventually including the wizard’s horse, mighty Ethran birds called flame eagles, and a California condor shifter named Henry George, nephew of old man Hank. They wage a battle against Mordred, whose powers have been up-scaled and who leads enthralled Earthborns, huge Ethran beasts called glacier wolves and their handlers—thin, pale, humanoids called Cairnwights. Greatest among the foe and not bowing even to Mordred’s wishes, Sahlamahn, an ice-breathing blue dragon, flies aloft looking for her next meal.
Inside, Lucky faced off with the witch Isa.
Umm… Well, maybe I’d better leave this here. I mean, if you read the book, surely you remember the end. It’s kind of big. If you haven’t read it, I don’t want to spoil it. Comment here to be in the drawing for a free copy of Key of Behliseth, and if you don’t win, watch for special deals coming soon. A good place to keep an eye on things is The Sun Child Chronicles Facebook group.