E. Catherine Tobler’s new novel, Watermark, was officially released today. It’s a faerie story, the best kind, the dark kind, about goblins and kelpies and the unseelie court. To help celebrate her book-birthday, the author has kindly shared a sneak preview, and she’s even giving away a copy. Enjoy this exclusive sneak preview…
I joined Finn in the circle as he tore off small chunks of bread. He set one piece atop a mushroom and the cap turned itself inside out as the mushroom consumed the bread. A small sigh echoed through the chamber, even above the roar of the water. The other mushrooms leaned in, closer to Finn, the bread, and me.
I tore off a bite of bread and followed Finn’s actions, but was too slow. The mushroom sucked the bread down, but also caught the tips of my fingers. It suckled briefly then pulled away with another satisfied smack.
“They won’t hurt you,” Finn said. “They know you. You’re kin.”
I didn’t fear them, not even when I realized the mushrooms were growing to enclose us in a living, hungry cage. I fed those mouths more bread and stared as the mushrooms stretched over Finn’s back, caps and stems slithering across his shoulders. At the cold caress of rippling gills against my cheek, I reached for Finn. There was fear then.
“Breathe,” he said, and the world winked out.
My slick fingers slid against Finn’s arm and there came an answering squeeze from him. But his hand was not his hand at all, for his fingers were being swallowed by… Coffee? Ink? Oil? The fingers gleamed for a moment, then pressed firm into the hollow of my elbow. He held tight to me, even if I didn’t understand what I could both see and not see in the same instant.
When the world resolved itself, we were somewhere else. I could hear the pounding waterfalls, but that cavern was far distant. A quiet wood spread around us, grass rising in aquamarine spikes. I knew grass was not that color and as I watched, the color bled out of it until the grass hummed with a green color that remained unearthly.
But this wasn’t Earth.
And Finn wasn’t Finn.