Greetings! Today I have a treat for you for my stop on the book tour for The Rarkyn’s Familiar by Nikky Lee, a young adult high fantasy novel that boasts a lot of themes that speak to me. Without further ado, let me present this new trilogy to you.
The Rarkyn’s Familiar by Nikky Lee
An orphan bent on revenge. A monster searching for freedom. A forbidden pact that binds their fates together.
Lyss has heard her father’s screams; smelled the iron-tang of his blood. She’s witnessed his execution.
And plotted her revenge.
Then a violent encounter traps Lyss in a blood-pact with a rarkyn from the otherworld and imbues her with the monster’s forbidden magic. A magic that will erode her sanity. To break the pact, she and the rarkyn must journey to the heart of the Empire. All that stands in their way are the mountains and the Empire’s soldiers—and each other.
But horrors await them on the road, horrors even rarkyns fear. The most terrifying monster isn’t the one Lyss travels with…
It’s the one that’s awoken inside her.
See Also: Winter is Coming • Always on the Run (Lenny Kravitz) • You Shall Not Pass
Lyss studied the creature again. It was at least three heads taller than any of the Wildner, and over four heads taller than her. Thin too. A full set of ribs were visible beneath its mottled-red plumage and its limbs were knobbly and emaciated. Even the two black wings cocooned about it were dull and missing feathers. Under it, a long tail stretched, crooked feathers flaring from the end like the fletch of an old arrow. Lyss frowned, this was not an aetherling she recognized.
“It’s a rarkyn,” Darrin said.
Rar-kyn. She searched her memory for the name. And stopped, remembering the stories she’d heard. Songs of unwitting heroes dragged into the Otherworld by these creatures; rumored sightings of whole flocks winking in and out of the skies deep in the wilds. Curiosity flickered inside her, despite herself.
“Sepp be, what is it doing here?”
“I don’t know, but it’s not looking well.” Darrin nudged the sigil around the rarkyn’s wrist again. “And this isn’t helping.”
Lyss took in the starved creature. Aether was to them like water was to humans. They couldn’t live without it. She blinked as the full implication hit her. Kratting shit, he can’t be serious. “You want to free it?” she gawped. Her rage stirred again, hot and angry in her belly. “For Sepp’s sake, Darrin, just let it die!”
“If it dies, what do you think will happen?” Darrin’s voice remained steady, tone reasoning, as if explaining to a child. Lyss ground her teeth. Gods, she hated it when he did that. Never mind that they were the same age. She pursed her lips.
Truth was she had no idea what might happen. Aetherlings were Iga’s wheelhouse, not hers. She hadn’t got up to that bit in her mentor’s lessons, nor did she plan to. Her grip tightened around her medicine bag. Not after what happened to Fa. She knew all she needed to: Aetherlings were dangerous.
Darrin scowled. “Gods be Lyss, haven’t you heard the stories? When it dies, it’ll tear a hole to the Otherworld as it goes.”
He released an exasperated huff. “So? It could pull everyone within a shout of here in with it. Of course, it might have enough self-control left not to, but do you want to bet on it while it’s like that?” He pointed at the rarkyn’s ribs.
A sinking sensation pooled inside Lyss’ stomach. She recalled the rush of Hane’s words back at camp: I need help. Where’s Iga? Their mentor had been off tending the herds. Lyss was all there was.
“What about its mancer?” she asked. After all, where there was an aetherling, there was a mancer. There was never one without the other. She searched the clearing. Mancers summoned aetherlings from the Otherworld, bound them to their will, and by undoing their runes, could return them there just as easily.
Darrin pointed to the pile of rubble. A lopsided carriage lay crumpled within it. “They’re dead. Probably. It’ll be a while until we can clear it all to be sure.”
If it’s one of the Order, you’re better off leaving them to die, Lyss thought, but didn’t say. She shuffled closer to the circle, marveling at its stability. Hane’s power was truly something. Envy twisted inside her. Not even a crease of concentration on his brow from holding the ward with his mind. He wasn’t even panting as the magic burned through the Aether reserves in his body. It was then she noticed the odd shapes of the runes scored in the dirt. Invented runes.
Meet the Author
Nikky Lee is an award-winning author who grew up as a barefoot 90s kid in Perth, Western Australia on Whadjuk Noongar Country. She now lives in Aotearoa New Zealand with a husband, a dog and a couch potato cat. In her free time she writes speculative fiction, often burning the candle at both ends to explore fantastic worlds, mine asteroids and meet wizards. She’s had over two dozen stories published in magazines, anthologies and on radio. Her debut novel, The Rarkyn’s Familiar—an epic tale of a girl bonded to a monster—was published with Parliament House Press in April 2022.