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The Chronicles of the Mira by Christine E. Schulze (Young Adult Christian Fantasy Anthology)

The Chronicles of the Mira by Christine E. Schulze (Young Adult Christian Fantasy Anthology)
 
(1 reviews)  

A forest of eternal autumn. Two sisters, one with a temper as fiery as summer's hottest day, another with a temperament calm and sweet as the first day of fall, and the magic song that would change their lives forever.

A girl with a wild spirit and a wonderful gift of song. A special horse that can fly without wings.

An intriguing romance between a mysterious healer with a notorious reputation for wooing young, unsuspecting girls and then breaking their hearts, and the young lady who loved him enough to discover the dark curse he was under-a curse of revenge forbidding him to love anyone ever again-and to break it.

The Chronicles of the Mira tells of the adventures of three girls, Autumn, Amanda, and Lily, and how they helped to restore peace between their two peoples, the mysterious Mira and their closest cousins, the Scintillates. Two noble peoples who never grow old, and, thanks to these three, whose loyalty and friendship to each other, once restored, will never grow old again.

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ISBN/EAN13: 1922066044 / 9781922066046
Page Count: 114
Trim Size: 5" x 8"

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The Chronicles of the Mira by Christine E. Schulze (Young Adult Christian Fantasy Anthology)
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1 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Sarah
(This review may contain spoilers).

So, I've read three pieces of work by this author so far and have enjoyed every one of them, so when I did my most recent spending spree, this book and another one wound up being purchased.

I very much enjoyed each of the stories. There's that sense of the much bigger world... it's almost like a jigsaw puzzle, except maybe where each piece is a picture in its own right... but you put them together and they form a massively amazing portrait.

I actually used to find it somewhat difficult to get into short stories, mainly because (I think) I grew up reading full-length novels. When I was fairly young, my Grandma vetoed one of my mother's books as being unsuitable because it dealt with a woman's young daughter having been murdered. And I once read four books (including Watership Down) in a week for a Guides badge.

I'm glad I'm getting more into short stories, otherwise I would have missed some truly amazing ones. The first story ended pretty sadly and I was quite disappointed, even though I understood why it had to end that way. Somehow, I always hold out hope that the good guys will triumph... but I think it's good that they don't always. I just like the HEA.

The reason this book has five stars instead of the four based on the fact that I wasn't too keen on the ending is because the other two stories more than made up for it. I found the zilchus absolutely fascinating and the clear link between the first two stories is interesting. (I'm actually assuming that, timeline-wise, the second story comes before the first... simply because my mind wants to believe that the zilchus in Autumn's story is Flashling).

I do think that, out of the three stories, the third one was my favourite. It was more like a novella than a short story and I found myself really getting interested in the characters. The whole concept was a fairly unique one and I thought that the two main characters were really well-written and came across as very likable people.

It might take me a while, but I'm absolutely determined that, eventually, I will read all the books by this author I can get my hands on.

(Reposted from Goodreads)
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Sample Chapter

THE THIRD CHRONICLE
ALASTAIR'S COTTAGE
CHAPTER 1
ALASTAIR

The Scintillate and Mira peoples were very closely related and thus shared many traits. Both were known to live hundreds of years and retain their youth and beauty throughout life. Both possessed eyes whose colors changed to reflect their moods and emotions. Both owned mysterious and magical powers, renowned for their gifts of healing. About the only difference between them was the hair containing their magical properties; the Scintillates possessed golden hair which shimmered with rosy tints, while the Mira had dark brown hair crowned with golden highlights.

The two peoples dwelt together for a time, but eventually went their separate ways. The Scintillates built and founded Iridescence which became the capital of the vast kingdom of Loz, and the Mira built their own, secluded city, known as the Vale, in the woods west of Iridescence. The Mira kept mostly to themselves, while fame of the Scintillates' magic and generosity spread across Loz.

For some time, the two races had shared little relations with each other. Thus, it was strange that Lily Thimbleton, a young Scintillate lady, should seek the Vale of the Mira. However, a flood of seamstresses already lived in Iridescence, so her services went unneeded. And as the only child of a poor, blind widow, it was imperative she find a way to support herself and her aging mother.

This purpose drove her to trek through the woods all day, small suitcase in hand, towards the Vale of the Mira.

As sunset drew nigh, the air grew chilly. She shivered, but her single thought focused upon reaching the Vale before nightfall. Drawing the shawl closer about her, she quickened her pace.

As darkness closed in, she felt as though someone watched her. Her gaze flickered all about the wood. A rustle rippled through the bushes, spurring her to walk yet faster. Pairs of fierce, red eyes flashed in the shadows. A sickly, fearful feeling gripped her. Knowing what followed her, she muttered a quick prayer beneath her breath and broke into a run.

But it was for naught. A wolfagone, all muscle, fur, claws, and gruesome yellow fangs, lunged towards her. Five more sprang from the bushes. Lily swung her suitcase, but her dress was caught in teeth and claws, and a sharp pain surged through her leg. She collapsed to the ground, clutching the fresh wound, then looked up to see one of the creatures crouched down, fangs bared. She closed her eyes, curled up, tucked her head, and offered up a final prayer with her last thread of hope. Snarls and growls echoed around her.

But, instead of searing claws or fangs, she felt only the warmth of a bright light enveloping her. Then, yelps and howls of pain surrounded her, before complete silence blanketed the wood as the light around her faded.

Lily trembled, shaking as tears filled her eyes. Were they gone? Was it safe? Frozen with fear, she dared not look up. But then a voice, deep yet soft, spoke. "It's all right. They're gone now. They won't return."

The gentle voice calmed Lily. Wiping the tears from her cheeks, she slowly lifted her head to gaze up into the serene, light green eyes of a tall Mira man. Lily knew her own eyes must glint with a bright green instead of their normal shade of blue, for terror still rippled through her.

The young man wore a crisp, white blouse and brown trousers with shiny black boots. Simple, yet very neat and clean, and the cloth was of fine quality. In his left hand, the man grasped a long, golden staff; on the end, the staff curved up to form a filigree, golden orb. The orb housed a hovering diamond which yet glowed faintly.

She'd read of such great wizards, fairies, and elves. She wondered which he was and if she should be scared or not. Of course, he did just save her life. Still, she had heard many stories of dark fairies and evil sorcerers befriending young girls only to eat them for supper.

Yet, she found herself not cautious, but curious. He certainly must be a very prestigious person to own a diamond staff. What was he doing in the middle of the woods at nightfall?

He offered his hand, helping her to her feet. She seemed unable to look away from his soothing, steady gaze. She calmed, her pounding heart slowing. Her eyes must have returned to their normal blue, for he smiled.

"That's better. Did they hurt you?"

"Umm...yes," she stammered, suddenly remembering she'd been bitten. She pulled up her skirt just enough to reveal the bleeding ankle. The sight of blood made her reel, and she quickly glanced away, focusing on a nearby tree. The nausea intensified as the pain throbbed through her leg, a pain she'd nearly forgotten in her momentary trance.

The young gentleman pointed the diamond end of his staff at her ankle. Both staff and wound glowed momentarily. Once the glow faded, Lily saw that the wound was perfectly healed, all traces of blood gone. Even her dress was mended and clean. She gaped and stared in awe, then looked up at him. He grinned, entirely composed, though a hint of amusement lit his emerald eyes.

"So, what is a young lady like you doing in the middle of the woods at nightfall?" he asked.

"I--I was on my way to the Mira Vale. I've been promised a position as a seamstress there."

"Oh, yes. At Miss Elenor's."

She nodded.

"Well, it's too late to go there tonight. I could take you to my house for the night. You look like you could use some proper food and rest. It's just about a half mile or so farther. Mira Vale is another half mile from there, so I can take you there first thing in the morning." He offered her his arm. "Shall we?"

She bent to pick up her suitcase, her heart racing. To his home? For what purpose? The stories of evil wizards sent fear through her. But his words brought her gaze back to his and all fear suddenly vanished.

"Don't worry about carrying that," he said, smiling. With a wave of his staff, the suitcase lifted from the ground and hovered in mid-air. He once again offered her his arm, and she took it, allowing him to lead her through the dark woods, the suitcase following obediently.

Darkness quickly enshrouded them, but it wasn't long before Lily glimpsed a faint glow through the trees. Stepping into a little clearing with him, Lily caught her breath. Before her stood a two-story, simple, yet beautiful cottage, with a garden flanking either side of the door. The glow came from tiny fairies flitting and hovering about the place.

"How lovely," Lily breathed.

"Thank you." He smiled at her reaction. "I haven't seen this one in a while. A cottage...I like it..."

She cast him a confused look, and he laughed softly. "It's a magic house. It changes form, whenever I have a new guest, to fit that guest's character and personality. You have good taste."

Lily felt herself blushing again, though she felt pleased with her taste in home d├ęcor, if she did say so herself. As they neared the cottage, a few of the fairies flew over and slipped a necklace of tiny flowers over her head.

"They like you," he mused, unlocking then opening the door.

He led her inside. The living room sprawled to the right and held an inviting fireplace, sofa, and rocking chair. On the far wall stood a bookshelf packed with books of all sizes and colors. Balls of light hovered along the ceiling. They were dimmed, and Lily assumed this was either because night had fallen, or because, well, he had been out. It occurred to her then that she'd been so flustered and then grateful for a place to stay that she forgot to find out her host's name. She inwardly giggled at herself. Wouldn't Mother have a fit if she knew I'd accepted an invitation from a total stranger?

"Please, come in and sit." He led her into the living room.

Lily started to sit on the couch when something screeched loudly. She jumped, whirling about.

Her host sighed, lifting the cushions off the couch and pulling out a small, black cat. "Twister. Hiding guiltily again? What did you get into this time, eh? Not the cocoa again, I hope." He gently set Twister on the ground.

Lily sank into the cushiony sofa while the young man placed his staff in a corner, then sat in the rocking chair facing her.

"Well," he said, the inviting smile still washing her in its tranquil glow, "I suppose the first order of business is to introduce ourselves. My name is Alastair Lance."

"Are...are you a wizard?" Lily stammered, her fear once more returning.

He laughed. "You mean, will I eat you for dinner?" He laughed louder, shaking his head. "I assure you that while I have great powers, I am merely a fairy and quite harmless."

Lily could only stare again. She'd heard of both kinds of fairies--the tiny, glowing ones with wings, as well as the human-sized ones who needed no wings to fly. She'd never seen either before, and here, in the past few minutes, she'd met both kinds. Studying him all the more closely, she reflected that he didn't look much different from a normal Mira save his ears appeared pointier than most.

"And what is your name?" he asked.

Lily blushed, realizing she was staring again; Mother would surely be appalled by such manners. "Lily. Lily Thimbleton."

"Lily. I always liked flower names," he muttered, as if to himself. His smile faded, his gaze grew distant. "Funny... she has one, too..."

Lily frowned, wondering who he was talking about. But his smile returned, and he focused on her again. "So, any questions about the Mira Vale?"

"Actually," she ventured quietly, "I was wondering why you live outside the Vale? I mean, you are a Mira, right?" Lily was surprised at her own, unusual boldness; Mother would certainly be 'tsking' away by now...

Some of the warmness drained from his smile. "I used to live in the Vale. I was a renowned healer, but people don't seek my aid anymore. The Vale has a new healer now. I'm 'old-class'. Besides, I like the woods. They're peaceful and quiet." He paused a moment. "I'm sure you're hungry. Would you like something to eat?"

Lily's face brightened. The thought of food cheered her, lifting a bit of the heavy atmosphere surrounding them with talk of the Vale. "Yes, please."

Alastair rose and left the room, leaving Lily submerged in her thoughts. She stared into the fire, her eyes growing heavy with fatigue. She absently watched as the flames changed from orange to red, then violet, blue, green, yellow, and back to orange--rainbow colors. Lily loved rainbows and wondered if the house knew this and transformed the magical embers just for her liking. She glanced towards what must be the kitchen, reflecting on the air of mystery clinging to Alastair, a mystery she hoped to unfold during her stay in the Vale. After a few minutes, she grew very sleepy and dozed off to sleep.

* * *

As Alastair returned, carrying plates of sandwiches, he grinned. How peaceful she looked in her sleep, like a contented child, still untainted by the hardships of life and the cruelties of the world. He used his gaze to levitate a small table to sit beside the rocking chair, then set the food on it. After carefully taking the blanket from the back of the couch and covering Lily, he sat down and took a sandwich in hand. Only to realize he was not hungry.

He looked upon the sleeping Lily, his eyes full of sorrow and distant longing. Please, Lord Amiel, he prayed, show me the way. Give me some sign. Let her be the one. May it be Your will that she is the one. I'm so tired of the hurt and the loneliness and...

His head bowed and he drifted to sleep.

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