‘Second on the Right’ by Elizabeth Los, is a wonderful fantasy novel. I received an early PDF copy to read and review. I loved it! You can view my Book Review at:
Spawned from an ancient promise, treachery and intrigue follow the protagonists through our world and one lost to the waves. Bound by an invisible bond, they are thrust into a fantastical world of pirates and demons.
James Benedict is a just man haunted by evil. Pushed to the edge, everything stripped from him, a new man arises . . . a man whose name strikes fear into the hearts of all who hear it: “Captain Hook”.
Eileen Davis was a timid woman. Through a fateful cruise she finds herself in the company of the Captain of the Mistral Thief. With his guidance, and the meddling of the local barista, she eventually finds her inner strength.
Will the two of them unite through time to fulfill the promise of their ancestors or will tempers ignite leading all to failure?
Eileen woke with a start. Carefully, she peeled back the privacy sheet. A lump caught in her throat. The cabin door was open. She frowned. In the dim moonlight, a shadow stood just within the captain’s quarters. It moved. Her heart raced. She blinked, then stared. The dark silhouette glided silently. She watched, unbelieving. The shape loomed over the captain. She released the sheet.
He doesn’t know. He’s still asleep. I have to do something. But what? Her thoughts rattled through her mind. She had to be quick.
As quiet as possible, she slipped from her hammock. Her stocking feet made no sound. She crouched. Her fingers slid down her leg until they found her dagger. She removed the blade. Her hand trembled as she pulled back the sheet. Squinting, she could make out the shape. She rose. The floor creaked under her shifting weight.
Red eyes stared at her from across the room. They seemed to float in midair. She held her breath. The hairs on the back of her neck rose. She blinked. The eyes grew larger. She looked to the door. When she looked back, the eyes were closer. She panicked. The shadow lunged towards her.
Eileen screamed. “Captain! Captain, wake up!” She stomped on the floor boards and yelled, “Smythe! Anyone! The captain’s in danger!”
The creature howled.
Eileen swung her dagger at the intruder. He slid to the right. She slashed. He slipped to the left. She thrust. Her blade met air. He moved with little effort. And now, he drew closer. She slashed haphazardly. She hit nothing.
The shadow hissed. She felt a rush of wind. The creature flew at her. A powerful blow to the chest, her back slammed into the wall. She tried to defend herself. Another rush of wind and her dagger was knocked out of her hand. Her head hit the wall. Sliding to the floor, she felt cold. She heard a raspy inhalation. Looking up she was met with red eyes that glared at her. A cold breeze wrapped around her. She tried for her dagger, but it was gone. As she struggled for breath, her hearing diminished. The shadow loomed over her. Eileen’s vision tunneled until darkness enveloped her and there was nothing.
The night grew its darkest, just before dawn, when every man aboard the Mistral Thief heard a strange triumphant crow. Benedict shot up with a start. Recognizing the familiar sound, he grabbed hold of his sword and burst out onto the deck. He could make out the figure of the boy, Peter.
He heard the sound of his crew, spooked by the noise of what shouldn’t be on board a ship. They scurried to light the deck lamps. As the light grew stronger, Benedict could see more clearly a petite figure on the mast, hands on hips, weapon at the side. Glancing back to the deck, he saw James coming from below. Benedict decided to hold off on approaching the figure, knowing of James’ desire for revenge. He kept a watchful eye, fully aware of James’ tendency to act on impulse.
“Peter,” James said in a low growl. “Show yourself!” he shouted.
“That crow. I’ve heard that before,” Benedict commented.
Peter alighted onto the railing with such ease and grace it irritated James. He gave a slight bow, as if observing the niceties. Pulling one of two bags from his belt, he held it up in his hand. James held the sheath of his sword with his hook, struggling only momentarily to hurriedly unsheathe it.
Peter laughed and shook his bag, “Need a hand?” He laughed even more, causing chills to run through James.
James advanced towards him, but stopped short. Peter had reached into the bag he had been holding and had removed a rotting hand, with fingers missing. It was all too familiar to James: his right hand. James and Benedict cringed, disgusted at the sight.
Peter tossed it at James, who jumped back in disgusted. The splat of soft, wet flesh hit the wood, matching the feeling in the pit of their stomachs. Laughing, Peter spun up in flight, and landed back down on the deck, retrieving the hand. Pieces had been left behind from its initial fall.
“No? Much happier with a hook, are we? You’re welcome,” he sneered. “There’s one who would appreciate a hand, yours, in fact.” He floated to the railing to glance at the waters below. “Come, take a look. I promise I won’t bite,” he grinned, taking several steps away to allow James to draw near.
James and Benedict cautiously took a glimpse. What they saw was the shadowy shape of an enormous crocodile.
James said to him, “Impossible. They can’t grow that large, can they?”
Benedict had no response. He had never seen one that large. In the water, the crocodile, nearly twenty meters long, ticked and hissed. The sounds were eerily similar to a clock.
Benedict and James peered down again at the beast. The crocodile thrashed and clawed its way partially up the side of the Mistral Thief. Sweat dampened James’ brow. Benedict looked at Peter, who was now dangling the remaining portion of what he assumed was James’ right hand over the side of the ship. The crocodile leapt from the water, greatly desiring either the hand of James or James himself.
Both James and Benedict cringed, though it was James that moved away from the railing. The scratching of the crocodile’s claws on the side of the ship seemed to make him tremble. Peter laughed maniacally, and tossed James’ hand to the crocodile.
“You’ve been using it for bait?” James looked at Peter, horror and disgust evident on his face. “This is all a game to you.”
Pan. He hasn’t aged. Should I tell James? Benedict thought. His eyes shifted in James’ direction. He needs to know.
James pointed his sword at Peter. “What do you want?” He shouted.
Peter unsheathed his knife, circling around the deck. James followed suit. Occasionally, Peter would tap the end of his sword. However, Benedict knew James was a man of indomitable courage. James held his sword steady, firmly in his left hand, his hook slightly hidden behind him. His eyes were cold as steel. At that moment, James appeared to be in complete control of his emotions and actions. Benedict couldn’t help but beam proudly at what he had done for James.
“What do I want?” Peter asked himself thoughtfully. He looked back at James, his eyes glowing faintly red. “I want you to pay,” but he stopped. “Then again, perhaps you are suffering a bit. After all, I’m finding your son to be a delicious addition to my lost boys.” He ended this with a slight hiss.
“I’ve done nothing to you,” James replied. “I believe you’re the one that will pay for taking my family.”
Benedict subtly moved closer to James. He could see how the boy was manipulating James, using the loss of Eileen and Robbie to rile him to the point of pure rage. Benedict knew all too well how easy it was to make James angry.
“Jas,” he said in quiet warning, seeing James’ shoulders rise and fall more frequently.
James voice wavered, “What are you?”
Benedict hesitated to offer his knowledge. What would it serve but to merely fan the flame the boy had started. Quietly he said to James, “Me thinks he’s Pete, a boy I met years ago. Feeds off humans.”
“Explain, please,” James murmured to Benedict, not taking his eyes off Peter.
“Not quite o’ changeling. Thought ta be mere legend, but I’d seen it with me own eyes. A powerful creature, though from what world, I’m not sure. Feeds off tha young, slow and sure ta stay alive. No doubt, yer boy be one he’s feedin’ on,” he explained.
Peter held a penetrating gaze at Benedict. “Oooohh. You’re a rather smart one, aren’t you? But I am at a disadvantage. You seem to know me, but I do not recognize you.” The boy’s face scrunched up in contemplation until he seemed to have an epiphany, “The one who set me free! You’re so…old!”
James looked over at the captain. “You set him free?” he whispered angrily. “Why am I not surprised?”
Benedict did his best to avoid eye contact. He knew he would have to explain all of this later. Perhaps he’ll forget. Not likely though.
“It’s true.” Peter said with a grinned. “I did feed on her. The red hair had to go.” He made a violent motion as he spoke.
“Jas,” Benedict warned, seeing James tense, the muscles in his jaw tightened.
James waved him off, stepping forward.
Peter continued. “Her white skin, so soft and supple. Her screams of terror and pain, delicious. Oh, she was wonderful!” He paused for a moment, then finished, “Particularly the chewy center within.” With the last sentence, his wicked eyes fell on James.
James screamed in anguish. He charged for Peter. Benedict reached out to stop him, but he was too slow. Peter flew up to the top of the mast. James, whose momentum had gotten the better of him, teetered at the rail. The crocodile waited eagerly below. James grunted in an effort to push himself back.
Peter howled in laughter, pointing, mocking and pantomiming actions as if he were James falling over the railing. James ran to the ropes, set to climb. Benedict shouted, but James didn’t hear. Not being heeded, he and a few crewmen pounced on him, holding him down.
“Take him ta me quarters!” he barked at the bo’sun. They held James, who thrashed violently. It took five men to drag James into the captain’s quarters and slam the doors shut. Benedict addressed Peter, “Ye best be leavin’ now, or ye be facin’ my wrath.”
Peter shrugged off the threat. “I have no quarrel with you, old man.” He jumped off the mast, floating high above. “Tell him I’ll be waiting, in Neverland.” And he flew off.
Benedict rubbed his sore eyes. “I’m gettin’ too old fer this.”
At his quarters, Benedict’s hand stopped at the door. James’ screams of rage could be heard from within. Benedict opted to take his time. Making a course adjustment, he continued towards El Tiburón.
eBook ISBN-13: 978-1310988455
Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4427270 (available on May 9th)
Amazon: Coming May 9th!
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Elizabeth uses writing as therapy, her release from everyday stress. At night, after work and once the children are finally tucked in bed, for the fifth time, she sits at her laptop and lets her imagination flow.
Elizabeth has produced short stories, one of which will be published in an anthology. She’s had fun writing a Sherlock Holmes fan fiction story, A Case of Need, based on the BBC’s Sherlock. By July 2011, her first novel, Second on the Right, had been completed. She spent several years polishing the story in order to provide a high quality product to the public. Second on the Right is her first professional novel.
Author Links (Website, Facebook, etc)
My blog: http://www.elizabethlos.com
Youtube audio excerpt: http://youtu.be/Z3rU6mDNVXY
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