Oh my God, her head hurt. That would teach her to drink so much. Clare squinted as she tried to open her eyes. Tina had better be suffering as much or there was no justice. That had been one weird dream. She couldn't remember coming back to the hotel, plus her mouth tasted like the bottom of a birdcage. Not that she had ever tried licking one, but was pretty sure this was what it was like. Her hand hit thin air as she reached beside the bed for her water bottle. There was a bedside table with a glass on it. There was no hotel room, or sister in the other bed either; there was no other bed. She tried to sit up but her head thumped and she decided for now it was better to lie back down.
This place looked old, very old. The walls were white washed stone and the windows at the far end of the room had wooden shutters. They hardly let in enough sunlight to illuminate the room. The bed was a four-poster, with curtains around it that were pulled back. The other side of the room comprised a fireplace and a chair beside which were stacked books. The books, like everything else, appeared exceedingly old. They were leather-bound, not a modern looking cover amongst them.
This couldn't be happening. It had been a dream. She had been drunk. It had to be. Clare closed her eyes, hoping when she reopened them she would be awake and back in Florence. It didn't work. The panic was returning as her pulse sped up. The door opened and a man walked in with a tray. She didn't recognize him. Was he room service? He wore old-fashioned clothes and was followed by someone else. This man she knew. He was called Trevi and had taken her flying through the air and into the woods. What the hell was going on? Where was the hotel and Tina? She wanted to see her, not this. Clare pulled up the bed cover and clutched it in her hands as she pushed her body back into the pillow.
In the light of the room she could see what Trevi looked like. He had wavy brown hair, blue eyes and a somewhat angular pale face, a sad face. Then she thought about what he looked like when his blue eyes turned white. Fangs. Remember, this guy has fangs.
"Please help yourself. Hyfa, prepared this food for you, but we were uncertain what you eat in your world. I hope this is acceptable."
Hyfa placed the tray down beside her on the bed, bowed and left. Clare looked at the food. It was fruit bread and milk, which made her think she needed to be more imaginative in future dreams. Trevi moved a chair beside the bed.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to properly introduce myself. I am Trevi Foveae. You are in my home. I took the privilege of bringing you here last night when you were unwell."
She was having none of this. Then she remembered something he had said.
"What do you mean? In my world."
"You are like the offworlder who was brought through the portal for High Priestess Sari. From your appearance, I assumed you were sisters."
"I have a sister, Tina." Clare's stomach was starting to feel like it had a rat chewing away. What was going on here?
"I feared as much, I'm so sorry for your loss, Clare."
"What loss? What are you talking about?" Clare didn't like where this conversation was going. She didn't want to lose Tina, even in a dream.
"Your sister is dead. High Priestess Sari needs the life of offworlders to survive. Your sister was sacrificed."
ALSO BY MAGGIE MUNDY
Six hundred years of peace are destroyed when Daria’s settlement is attacked. It is the start of problems for the land of Majura. Daria saves people with magic and must join the magic wielding Mask wearers who rule the land. Her dreams have warned if she became one it would be the end of Majura. Are the Mask wearers keeping secrets or is she the only one who can see the power in the land is changing. A Mask wearer called Alenze believes her and offers to go on a quest with her to fix the Essence where the magic comes from, but he is keeping secrets from her that could be the death of them all.
by Maggie Munday
Reviewed by G. Lloyd Helm
Maggie Munday has written a complicated dense story that will keep lovers of fantasy literature happy for hours.
UNMASKED is a story about the breakdown of what I would call a Magical Society. The world has been run by a group of people connected to some living crystals. Those at the top of this basically feudal society are called Masks because they connect to the power of the crystals via masks which are carried until need and then worn when in communication with the power. But things are not going well for the Masks. There are internal jealousies which have festered to the point of one Mask having gathered an army made up of humans as well as non-human creatures to over throw the ruling Masks.
This is not my first encounter with Maggie Munday and I must say I am impressed with her. She writes strong, complex, interesting stories and UNMASKED is another of those.
Book Two in The Seeker Chronicles. Blood Oath is a sequel to Blood Scent. We discover more about the Rogue, Seeker world in Australia. This is the story of Cassie and Matt, based in Tasmania. Matt kills a rogue vampire who wanted Cassie. This sets up a course of events where the rogue’s twin has sworn in a blood oath to avenge his brother’s death. Throw in a bunch of vampire hunters as well and you have trouble. Things become even more complicated when Cassie’s sister is kidnapped as bait. The only option may be that Cassie will have to give up her own life to save them all.