One of February’s Featured Authors, along with being a Top Read. To read the interview with Alexandra, please see the issue!
How far would you go for family? For twins Marie and Thea there is no line they won’t cross. They’ve remained inseparable since birth, but, after one night, their lives are changed forever. The sisters find themselves confined behind the gates of worlds they have never imagined, populated by twisted creatures and voices filling their heads. The sisters seek more than just answers to how they ended up in these worlds or how they developed psychosis. They seek a way out and more importantly, each other. But what will it cost them to reunite with one another and will their lives be the same again? Not if the voices have anything to say about it.
Chapter 14 (This scene made my editor cry.)
Marie knocked on the wooden door nervously before taking a step back. She clutched the basket tightly, her palms sweaty as she studied the patterns in the door. She had imagined how this day would go a hundred different times and worried if her son still cared about her.
The door was opened by the wet nurse, Ciel crying behind her. “Can I help you?”
“I brought a basket of books and toys for Ciel.”
The woman looked over Marie suspiciously. “Why?”
She swallowed her nerves, tightening her grip on the basket. “Because he’s my son.”
The woman laughed. “I highly doubt that.”
In all her scenarios, Marie hadn’t imagined herself being rejected. “Believe what you will but I bore that child.”
Behind the wet nurse, her mother stood, staring at Marie in disbelief. “Invite her in.”
The wet nurse turned her head. “Absolutely not.” She said beginning to shut the door. “I don’t know this woman nor do I believe her.”
The mother approached her, holding Ciel in one arm, grabbing the door with the other. “You continue to show me that I’ve raised a fool. It is because of this that I do not deserve the right to raise this woman’s child.” She forced the door open, holding Ciel out to Marie. “Will you hold him for a moment while I speak to my daughter?”
Marie set the basket down, taking her son from the woman. “Of course I will.” Ciel’s cries stopped as his mother held him close. “How are you my baby boy? You’ve grown so quickly.”
The woman dragged her daughter into the home, the basket of toys in her other hand. She gently placed the basket in Ciel’s room before meeting the eyes of her daughter. She had learned more about her daughter in the last year than the entire time she had raised her.
“I’ve never felt more disappointed then every time you open your mouth. Here Marie stands before us and you are going to lie to her face?”
“She doesn’t deserve him.”
The woman slapped her daughter. “And what makes you think you’re worthy?” She took a step towards the door. “I don’t want to see your face until Marie has returned home and I pray she takes Ciel with her.”
“Mother I’m sorry-” The woman said holding her cheek.
“It’s not me you should be apologizing to.” She said holding the door open. “That woman has literally died and come back to us. She is an angel sent to us from Heaven. She is watching over our home and her son. You need to show her some gratitude.”
The woman nodded, returning to the entrance. “I must go into town for some time but it was nice to see you, Marie.” She said before leaving.
Marie watched the woman leave in confusion before turning to her mother. “If it’s too much trouble I can go.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” The woman said pushing her inside. “We have much to discuss.”
Marie smiled at the woman, taking a seat on their sofa. “I only saw him what feels like yesterday and he’s already so much bigger!”
The woman prepared tea, bringing two cups with her when she joined Marie on the sofa. “That’s because it’s been a little over a year since you died.”
Marie looked at the woman as Ciel smiled, reaching for her face. “It’s been that long?”
“Time must seem nonexistent when you’re dead.” The woman laughed.
Marie recalled the first time she had gone to limbo, how time felt as if it had disappeared altogether. She looked into her son’s eyes, watching as he smiled at her. She began to bounce him on her lap, listening to him as he laughed.
“He can talk now.”
Marie looked at Ciel. “You can talk? Say something to me, Ciel.”
“Angel.” Ciel mumbled.
The woman laughed. “Yes, Ciel, mommy is an angel.”
Marie laughed, gently hugging her son. “But mommy is here now.”
The woman smiled, placing a hand on her lap. “It would warm my heart if you would take Ciel with you.”
Marie looked at the woman, tears streaming down her face. She had never thought they would ask her to take Ciel. She had imagined them saying it to them but hadn’t thought she would hear the words. Now that she did she wasn’t sure what to say.
This book starts out as a historical, with two sisters, Thea and Marie who have been inseparable all their lives. Thea has been rebellious and a protector of her sister Marie, and Marie has always been the dutiful one. When it’s time to marry off Marie, her parents arrange her marriage to an older Duke, who turns out to be an abusive man. One night, the Duke rapes his wife and Marie learns she is pregnant. Staying away from the Duke from then on, she gives birth to a baby boy, keeping her son away from her cruel husband. The Duke and Marie’s parents have been destroying all the letters that Thea and Marie have been writing back and forth. And when Marie finally discovers what has been happening, she finds one letter from Thea that wasn’t destroyed with news of Thea’s nuptials, it’s time for Marie to go home. Leaving her son in the care of a wet nurse and her mother, Marie and her husband travel to attend the wedding.
Now this story really gets moving. It turns from a historical novel, to an epic storyline and fantasy novel that spans a lifetime of these two characters. For an author’s debut novel, this is an impressive first outing. I won’t tell you how it happens, but when both daughters are killed, one goes to Heaven, the other to Hell. And both will move mountains to find each other again. The originality and how the story still follows some traditions is well executed. There are a few minor editing flaws, but they are so minor that they don’t even matter. Even with Heaven and Hell, this is not a religious novel in any form, even though it pulls some traditional elements from religion. Well worth the read. Graphic violence, sexual situations – Uncaged recommends adult readers. Reviewed by Cyrene