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Series Name: Shadows of the Vale

Book One: When Shadows Fall

Genre: YA Fantasy

Status: Released June 5th, 2023

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When the sun sets in Merak, a terrifying shadow world appears, guarded by nightmare beasts that prowl the darkness enforcing the rule of a tyrant lord.

Terrified of the night and plagued with crippling panic attacks, seventeen-year-old Ara Holstenner’s only solace from her anxiety is the bond she shares with her brave younger sister. But when Lan is taken by shadow creatures, Ara must embark on a perilous quest to rescue her, aided only by a strange boy who claims to be from her past.

But the night is not what it seems. If Ara cannot untangle the dark secrets lurking within its shadows, she will condemn her sister—and herself—to a lifetime of unimaginable torment.

Read the first page of When Shadows Fall below!

Chapter 1

The Changing

“Lan…”


My voice came out as a pleading whisper, but Lan didn’t move. She sat cross-legged on a slab of rough stone, brown eyes watching hungrily as the sun sank ever closer to the tree-lined horizon. Colour kissed the clouds drifting near the sun, but my eyes were drawn inexorably to the dark forest below. Shadows stretched from the Morwood like twisted black fingers, creeping up the slope of rich pastureland toward us. I shivered, despite the summer heat that still hung heavy on the plains.


“Just one more minute,” Lan said, her gaze unwavering. “The Changing hasn’t even started yet.”


Sweat trickled down my brow. The bell in the ancient clock tower had tolled its third and final warning: fifteen minutes to sunset. By third warning, it was assumed everyone was already secure inside their homes. That had been four minutes ago.


“Lan, we have to go,” I said, urgency making my voice high and thin.
But Lan wasn’t listening. Her brown skin was flush with excitement, and she leaned forward, pointing a slender arm at the Morwood. “Look, Ara—it’s started… Look at the trees!”


Cold with dread, I followed her gaze. Even from here, I could see the distorted edge of the forest, as if the fabric of reality had begun to fray. The air grew charged with a foreboding energy that prickled my skin, raising the hairs on my neck and arms.


I squeezed my eyes shut. “Lan, please!” I begged, the words edged with hysteria.


She gave an irritable huff. “It’s not like I was going to stay until the end.”


There was a scuff of work boots on rock and a warm hand took mine. “Come on,” she said, pulling me toward town.


I didn’t want to open my eyes but couldn’t keep them closed without stumbling. Beneath my feet, the thick grass and scattered rocks were hazy, as if out of focus, and the sarr trees in the forest were similarly blurred. Reality burned away as new shapes took form, shadowy impressions of rocks and trees where none had been before.


An unshakable sense of wrongness permeated every fibre of the world. Unease skittered up my spine as I stared at Lan’s thick, brown hair, trying to ignore the shadows taking shape around us. Memory clawed at the back of my mind. Screams in the night. Wood shattering. An empty bed…

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