Friday, October 14, 2022

SPOTLIGHT: THE ABDICATION BY JUSTIN NEWLAND | EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY

TheAbdiction copy

Welcome to the book tour for fantasy novel The Abdication by Justin Newland! Read on for more info and enter the giveaway at the end! You could win a signed copy!

THE ABDICATION

Publication Date: July 4th, 2021 
Genre: Fantasy/ Supernatural 
Publisher: Matador 

The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf. 

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch! 

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.

Excerpt

The Curse of Topeth

Five places were laid: one for Esther, one for Irit and one for Amina. There was a fourth place set next to Esther and a fifth at the head of the table. It dawned on Tula that one was for Irit’s dead baby daughter while the other was for Jevros. Irit had laid the table as she had done only a few days previously – before her tragic losses. On the night before the burial, their errant spirits seem to roam the house, searching for, yet unable to find, the last resting place.
“Where shall I sit?” Tula asked.
“I’m so sorry,” Irit said. “I’ve forgotten to lay a place for you.”
There was a touching silence, akin to the solemn gap between the peals of a church bell, waiting to hear if another was coming. Irit said these words as if they were the most poignant thing she had ever had to say. “He won’t be coming home anymore, will he?”
Her hostess stifled a tear and said in a shaky, quivering voice, “Please, take his place. It’s the seat of honour, Miss Tula.”
Irit went to serve the stew but realised she had forgotten to lay the serving spoons. When she went to fetch them in the kitchen, she broke down in tears and sobbed into a kerchief. Amina went to comfort her sister.
Left alone with Esther, Tula was sitting in Jevros’s seat. It was cold and empty – a place prematurely abandoned by its rightful occupant. Her limbs were heavy, a great weight pressed down on her chest. The skin on her face thickened, her eyes narrowed, her chin jutted out, her body was taut and wiry. Lord, what was happening to her?
Her inner voice said: “Don’t worry.”
What do you mean, don’t worry?
She was more than worried. Terror gripped her by the throat. Because something, someone, was taking over her mind and her body and there was nothing she could do to prevent it. She licked her lips at the smell of the stew, yet she had never enjoyed the dish.
Grabbing some cutlery, she closed her right hand around the knife and her left around the fork. She never handled cutlery like that and, besides… She was left-handed. She knew not how, but she was thinking Jevros’s thoughts, feeling his feelings. She was Jevros. He enjoyed lamb stew. He was right-handed. He adored his wife and children. Her chest ached and her heart beat like a drum.
Images presented themselves in her mind’s eye – pictures of Jevros weeping by the corpse of his little daughter. Despite his skills as a doctor of medicine, he had been powerless to save his child. What good were all those years of dedication and all that training?
Witnessing his little girl struggle to breathe, his heart had been savaged. She had fought valiantly, but it was a battle the little girl had been destined to lose. An awful sense of desolation weighed on Tula’s chest. Her breathing was shallow.
The room was spinning and the walls pulsating. Clouds of pale-yellow dust billowed before her eyes. When they cleared, Jevros was there again, this time at the moment when she had seen him at the front of the riot in the market square.
In the depths of her soul, Tula heard him cry out, “Every breath, nearer to death!”
That was the moment Jevros went to the Devils’ Bridge. Rightly or wrongly, he believed that he would encounter the devils there. Grasping his dead child in his arms, tears rolled down his cheeks, just as they rolled down hers. Fractured doubts and black thoughts of his failure to save her swooped on him like a murder of crows, preying on his spirit, invading his mind, perverting them towards their nefarious intentions and turning him against his family.
Tula could not condone the act, but she understood why he had chosen suicide. Such was the shame at his failure to save his precious little girl, that he had feared that, in the madness of his grief, he would lash out at the very things he loved so much, his wife and older daughter. To kill, the very things he cherished, that was something he could never, ever, do.
Then, he had seen his suicide as a mercy killing, as a way to salvage life from death, to save his wife and other daughter.
She realised that the devils were an illusion; they were the thick, dark reflections of his own fears and anxieties. Walking in their shadow, they had persuaded him to take his own life – long before he had even set foot on the bridge.
As her mind hovered on the edge, on the subtle boundary between her consciousness and Jevros’s, a final thought winged into her mind from his. It was so shocking, Tula immediately recoiled from it. It was an instinctive act of self-preservation on her part.
Something in her had decided that she should know this thought, but not think it, and that she would consider it when she was good and ready and that this was not the moment.
“Are you all right? You’re crying,” someone spoke to her.
“Urrghh,” Tula murmured. Twinkling stars pulsed before her eyes.
“Are you unwell?” The voice spoke again. It sounded muffled and far away.
“The room’s going round and round,” Tula said.
A woman was standing over her, a hand resting lightly on her shoulder. “There, that’s better. You blacked out. You’re exhausted. It’s been too much for you. Here, take a kerchief. Do you know where you are?”
Tula mumbled something; she was not quite sure what. She wiped the tears from her eyes.
“I’m Amina. We’re at my sister’s house. This is her daughter.”
“Now, I remember,” Tula said. “Jevros. His child.”
The moment she spoke his name, the veil lifted from Tula’s eyes. His errant spirit left her body and moved on to the next stage of its journey, back to the world of ephemera from whence it had come. It was a world which had always seemed as far away as a distant constellation but now she
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About the Author

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Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England. Justin Newland 

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