Book # 1
By- Jessica E. Paige
Genre- YA Fairy Tale/Folklore
Orphaned at a young age, 15-year old Anouk’s punishment for being too outspoken is an arranged marriage worse than any she could imagine. Fleeing on horseback, yet without a sense of where to turn, she stumbles upon an idyllic village where she finds safe haven. Could this be home?
Ultimately, it will lead her to confront the very face of death, yet amidst the danger and darkness, she meets a handsome woodsman and finds a glowing blue flower with power beyond her wildest dreams.
Inspired by Russian fairy tales and steeped in ancient folklore, Paige’s novel is ripe with fantasy, love, and courage.
About the Author-
Jessica Paige hails from the Seattle area where she lives with her husband and two dogs. Though she was raised in the Pacific Northwest, Jessica has long been intrigued by the ancient folklore of her Slavic and Lithuanian roots. Her love of horses and the outdoors led her to a career in environmental outreach, and her studies in herbalism. When she’s not working or writing, you’ll find her digging in the garden, creating herbal remedies, or walking in the woods with her dogs. You can visit her at www. jessicaepaige.com.
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As the weeks passed, Anouk’s cheerful disposition slowly reemerged and she began to wake each morning looking forward to what the day might bring. Though many in the village feared the forest as a place full of spirits, Anouk loved being there. She grew to know each part, from the shady, dark corners, damp and thick with duff, to the dry, open spaces where the sun filtered down from above. Each place had its different plants and Anouk learned where to find each one by understanding where it would be happiest to grow. The next key was to know which part of the plant would provide healing, whether the flowers, berries, roots, or simply the leaves themselves.
The time of year in which to gather was also important. The spring and summer were for flowers like speedwell (coughs), linden (headaches), hawthorn for the heart, and cinquefoil for the stomach. In autumn, the flowers disappeared, and plants like elfdock, angelica, and barberry sent their medicines to the root. As the trees began to let go of their leaves, the forest unveiled bright red rose hips and dark purple elderberries, both good for the colds and infectious diseases that came with the rain.
Winter brought one of the most healing gifts of all, the sap of the great silver birch, which provided a cure for a myriad of ailments, from skin rashes to gout.
Though few villagers spent much time in the forest, Anouk and her grandmother always had company. The woods were abundant with life, full of birds, rabbits, foxes, and deer. One day, Anouk asked her grandmother if wolves lived there, too.
“Yes, they do,” she replied. “Are you afraid?”
No, she wasn’t.
Vahta smiled. “Good. Wolves are not to be feared, my darling. They prefer mice and rabbits.”
“What about the Leshii?” asked Anouk. She’d heard tales of the creature with horns who roamed the forest at night. Some said he ruled the wolves and could take their form at will.
“Ah, the Leshii,” Vahta replied, patting her granddaughter’s hand. “That’s why we bring him gifts. The only ones who should fear him are those who don’t pay respect.” Before a trip to the woods, Anouk’s grandmother would wrap a piece of bread in red cloth to be left under her favorite oak tree for the Leshii. Each time Anouk’s father saw his mother prepare the offering, he would gently tease her. “I take the time to educate Anouk and then you fill her mind with foolishness,” he said, shaking his head.