Queen of Thorns


Princess Khione travels to Agraunia with Gerda and Kai, in order to protect those who sheltered her from her wicked mother, Queen Eleanor. She intends to seek sanctuary at Tormain Palace, the home of her mother’s cousin, Queen Katrina. However, life there is not how she imagined and she discovers that the apparently impeccable, Crown Prince Tristan is harbouring scandalous secrets.

Meanwhile, Gerda and Kai’s wedding plans are about to be shattered by some heartbreaking news. The suspected return of the Snow Queen also puts their future in jeopardy.

Eleanor decides to move forward her political and personal alliance with King Wilbur. A decision she may yet regret. 

Queen of Thorns, book 2 of A Dark Faerie Tale, is a blended retelling of Snow White, the Snow Queen and other fairy tales, with action/adventure and a magical touch of romance.

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Read a short sample below

When the sun rose to greet the sky, a small party of wood elves and humans, assembled outside the elves’ dwelling in the Forsaken Forest of Turia. The dwelling where Princess Khione had taken shelter after fleeing from the murderous Griff, her mother’s huntsman. Khione took a final glance at the little wooden house between two enormous oak trees, and at the wooden bridge spanning the length of the roof and onward to the tree houses in opposing directions. She had no recollection of the contented six months she had spent in the home of the elves. Those memories were blank for Khione, as the incident with Griff was the last memory she could recall.

Aya and Gifford, Khione’s faithful bird friends paid a visit and promised they would fly over to see her as soon as they could. Khione had the gift of understanding the languages of all animals and birds, and they, in turn, possessed the ability to understand her. Her feathered friends were a particular source of comfort to her as a child, for when her mother banished Gerda and her mother Agnes from Turia; she had not a friend in the world.

All those close to her had risen early to bid farewell to Khione and to her recently betrothed friends, Gerda and Kai. Soon they were to embark upon their journey to Bracan in Agraunia, the hometown of her friends. After resting for while in Bracan, Khione would continue to Tormain Palace, in Faremoor, the home of her mother’s cousin, Queen Katrina.

Garion volunteered to accompany the travellers as far as the Turia border with Agraunia. He saddled Arien and Ahern and brought the horses to the waiting party. As the travellers said their goodbyes, he filled the saddlebags. One by one, Khione bid the elves goodbye. However much she tried, she could not recollect any affection she had once felt for them. She thanked them for their extreme kindness, in sheltering her from her evil mother, Queen Eleanor, and shook them each by the hand.

“There will always be a welcome for you here,” said Alwin— the eldest of the elf brothers— to Gerda and Kai. Addressing Khione, he said, “This is still your home if at any time you wish to return.”

She nodded her head. “Thank you, Alwin.”

Avira, the wood elf physician, who before Khione’s memory loss had become her close friend, embraced her and wished her well. “Cameron and I, feel it is a pity that you will not be here to see our wedding. I truly hope all will go well for you from now on.”

 Cameron shook Kai’s hand and slapped him on the back. “Good luck, I wish you both happiness and peace. Khione, I will miss your presence here, but do whatever you feel is best for you.” She had made the decision to leave the forest and seek shelter at Tormain Palace, even though the elves had assured her of her safety. However, she wished to protect them from Queen Eleanor and her guards. Griff, the Queen’s Guard and the queen herself had all tried to kill Khione.

Erlan was next to speak, “I too will be leaving here at the week’s end. I am returning to the wood elf village. You are welcome to visit Lenna and me anytime you wish. Farewell, I wish you all happiness and contentment.” Erlan was the second eldest brother. He recently reconciled with his wife Lenna, after separating from her for a number of years.

Virion, the youngest of the elf brothers and the most distraught at Khione’s departure, attempted to smile. He presented her with a new recurve bow he made as an especial gift. “I kept it to give you as a birthday gift, but you may as well have it now.” She could not recall how to use it but accepted it graciously. After giving a small wave to the farewell party, she turned to speak to Garion. “I am ready to leave now.”

Garion mounted Ahern and assisted Khione. He held out his hands. “Stand on my foot in the stirrups and hold on to my hands,” he instructed. She grasped his hands and did as she was asked, and once seated she hooked her leg around the saddle pommel. Placing herself in a side-saddle position, she then rearranged her gown. Garion placed his arms around her and took hold of the reins.

 “Is this safe?” she asked.

 “You are quite safe,” said Garion.

Ahern nodded his head. She patted his head, “Thank you, Ahern.”

 “Lean against me if you wish,” suggested Garion.

 As she leaned against him, the aroma of sandalwood on his clothing brought about feelings of fondness and familiarity. For a short time, she allowed herself to indulge in those feelings, but when they had passed her thoughts frustrated her: Why do I feel so drawn to him and his touch feel so pleasurable. She gave out a long sigh.

“Is there something bothering you?” He asked.

“No I feel well, but tell me are we akin to one another or close friends?”

He hesitated before answering, “Yes— you could say that we are close friends.” Khione sighed again. “I see. It is so vexing not knowing.”

“Perhaps it is for the best. When you return to your world, consorting with elves will be frowned on.”

 “I wish to consort with whom I please, besides your father was human, was he not. Surely there would be no objection?”

 “That differs. He was not of royal birth, and although I may appear to be more human than elf, Virion and I are neither fully elf nor human. Elf folk accept us as we are. Humans always see that we are different, that we are part fae and they will object.”

“That should not account for anything,” she said, with an indignant tone in her voice. “I do not care where my friends come from. Gerda and I are like sisters and it shall always remain so.”

 “Khione, all do not think as you do. One day the fate of Turia will rest on your shoulders and things will be much different than they are now.”

She racked her brain for something poignant to say and drew a blank. “I have much to think of,” she whispered, more to herself than anyone in particular. She then turned her attention to Gerda. Her friend wore trousers, a shirt and a broadcloth coat, given to her by her benevolent faerie friend Lucy. Gerda concluded that male clothing would be far comfortable for riding. She watched as Kai helped her onto Arien. Khione remembered Gerda’s dislike of horses after one threw her as a child. So it was no surprise, once seated behind Kai, she gripped onto him out of fear. Kai waved goodbye to the farewell party, and then they departed. 

 ©Paula M. Hunter 

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