The Spooky Forest

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When I was a child, my grandparents lived on a golf course. It was a beautiful place, mysterious and sprawling with woods, lakes and paths. A good place to go fishing, only mind the snakes and snapping turtles. Not far from my grandparents’ house, a path went through a dense patch of woods with a stream running through it. We called it the Spooky Forest. It was generally agreed upon that straying from the path was a bad idea.

Far be it for me to write something that doesn’t have woods in it–the creepier the better. So I’m honoring my childhood haunt with today’s release of the Second Edition Ebook of Wizards Woods and Gods, a collection of twelve dark fantasy tales exploring the mysteries of the Otherworld through tree and animal lore, magic, cosmos, love, war and mysticism.

These stories reflect some general themes, as follows. Click on the story links for descriptions, excerpts and illustrations.

The Power of Creation

Shade Falls

“These things three, your garden needs
“To make the dark and light the same.
“Slis, a frog,
“Gea, the spring and
“Retch, the oldest wizard’s name.”
– From “The Trouble with Tansy”

The forces of creation exist in all things, flora and fauna, seasons, worlds, every act of the heart, every loss and turn of a mind. Light comes from the Void and surprises its creators with something new and heretofore unknown. In “The Trouble with Tansy” and “The Fifth Verse,” two women, a mortal and an immortal, discover the power of creation through the inexorable forces of death.

The Immortal Hunter

Sioros

Had she not been so entranced, Oona might have noticed the shadow falling over her, soft and quiet as a forgotten dream. A wizard can be very sneaky when he wants to. And there he stood, in the fading light of the setting moon, staring down at the remains of his crow with an expression that could have cracked a standing stone. – From “Eating Crow”

Wizards call him sioros, an immortal predator with the body of a male god, towering black wings and the claws and fangs of a mountain cat. To lay eyes on him means either heartbreak or death depending on how the winds blow that day. In “Eating Crow” and “Marked,” one woman attempts to elude the hunter and pays with her heart; the other tries to bargain with him and pays with her life.

War and Transformation

The Glass

A sun’s cycle had passed since Solfaron set its predatory gaze on the Glass. With a warrior’s edgy calm, Liros had told Pael that he lived on the wrong side of the border, in the wrong land, with his forest, his visions, and his sacred observatory. But Pael cared little for his older brother’s admonitions. He loved the land of Moth with all his heart; he had touched the towering crystal observatory of the Glass and he knew what it could do. Solfaron could try to take it but they would fail. Only his love for Liros kept Pael concerned with it at all. War did not affect him, a mystic living in the wilds like an animal.

He questioned this now, as he ran for his life beneath the thunder of warhorses and the shouts of his brother’s men. – From “DeathSeer”

War destroys the fortresses of innocence with the awesome indifference of a natural force such as an earthquake or a hurricane. Whatever its causes or intentions, it changes things. Permanently. But while it can drive us to the depths of human depravity, sometimes, as with any traumatic event, it can also awaken us to our potential. In “The Bridge,” “DeathSeer” and “Earth Blood,” a priestess and two warriors find themselves caught in wars that strip the veils from their eyes to reveal their true natures.

Awakening Gods

The Temple of Math

Between the gnarled, twisted trunks of two oak trees loomed a black opening. Roots draped over and around the darkness inside as if to feed on it. Sethren walked slowly, his body aching and his heart pounding, until he stood at the threshold. Cool air breathed from the shadows. He could barely discern the images in the cracked stones for the moss and ivies clinging in the lines—except for one at the top: an interlocking five-pointed star with a black stone eye in the center.

Five points, five lines and a raven’s eye.

He had found the Temple of Math. – From “The War God Sleeps”

Some say that everything we know is the dream of a god. I am fascinated by the idea of a sleeping god, a being who comes from and must occasionally return to the quiescence of the womb, as all things do, for healing, renewal and rebirth. In “The War God Sleeps” and “The Origin,” one god is awakened by a mortal; the other, by his own creation.

Love

dormouse-in-ivy

Movement caught his attention. In the distance, Rosamond sat on the edge of the rushing water, on a wide rock, her long legs bared and her face tilted back to the sun like a contented cat.

Urien called out with enough force to shake the ground. “ROSAMOND!”

She stirred, beamed a glorious smile and waved.

Urien’s foreboding rose with the force of the river. He cupped his hands to his mouth. “Get away from the water!”

Her smile faded as she turned. From the north, an enormous bore from an unseen tide rose up into a wall of crashing, maleficent, white-green waves. Rosamond shrieked and jumped up. Urien raised his hands and cried a string of words that rent the course like a scythe, but he could not drop the river before it swept her into its foamy clutches without a sound. – From “Raven of the West”

Love, being every bit as powerful as, if not easily compared to, a creepy forest, naturally rears its head in most of these stories. But in “The Om Tree,” “Pattern Sense” and “Raven of the West,” an assassin, a knitter and a wizard are caught up in love’s brambles and encounter their powers there.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

© F.T. McKinstry 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Wizards, Woods and Gods

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The Otherworld takes shape in this collection of twelve stories told on a rich, fairytale tapestry of swords, sorcery, romance, dreams, visions and verse.

You never know what a wizard will do, so it’s best to be prudent. Concocting a nasty poppet might get you hunted by a wolf. Turning spring to winter will certainly get you turned into a grasshopper and fed to a frog. But whatever you do, don’t ever shapeshift into a cat and eat a wizard’s crow.

Strange and full of shadows, woods are a staple of every good tale. Trees hide things, wondrous, tricky things best to avoid. Witches like forests, where they wait for wily lovers and knit spells with ash needles. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find an ancient tree that knows many wicked things indeed.

It’s a good bet that if you encounter a god, you’ll be changed in some way. But once, in the dawn of a forest grove, it was the other way around. It’s also generally wise not to awaken a sleeping god, especially a warrior the world has forgotten. And of course, falling in love with a god is, well, daft for a start.

Some of these stories inspired my novels, others were inspired by them, and some take place in the same worlds. This collection also includes Raven of the West, a novelette that takes place in the world featured in the Chronicles of Ealiron.

Many of these stories were originally published in fantasy/scifi magazines; the first edition ebook of Wizards, Woods and Gods was published by Wild Child Publishing, 2012; and Raven of the West was published as Water Dark by Wild Child Publishing, 2013.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Click on the following stories for illustrations and excerpts.

Earth Blood – The earth keeps secrets.

The Om Tree – Trees know things.

Pattern Sense – It all started with a mouse.

The War God Sleeps – An age of ignorance ends on the edge of a sword.

The Fifth Verse – The wise men of the world called her a Shade.

Deathseer – Death doesn’t take sides.

The Trouble with Tansy – Gardens are made of darkness and light entwined.

Marked – Beware the pitfalls of mingling with immortals.

Eating Crow – It is never a good idea to anger a wizard.

The Bridge – Gods appear to wizards as one thing; to warriors, another.

The Origin – Things aren’t always what they seem.

Raven of the West – In the calm deep waters of the mind, the wolf waits.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Second Edition
196 pages
Reviews
Story Illustrations
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© F.T. McKinstry 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Wizards, Woods and Gods: 2nd Print Edition

WWG Print Cover Art

The Otherworld takes shape in this collection of twelve stories told on a rich, fairytale tapestry of swords, sorcery, romance, dreams, visions and verse. Ancient gardens, lost temples, cosmic alignments, immortal predators, assassins, shapeshifters, warriors and maidens will transport you to realms where the rules are different and nothing is as it seems.

The Second Print Edition of Wizards, Woods and Gods, originally published as an ebook by Wild Child Publishing, includes “Raven of the West,” a novelette that takes place in the world featured in The Chronicles of Ealiron.

Click on the following links for illustrations, descriptions and brief excerpts.

The Om Tree – Trees know things.

The Trouble with Tansy – Gardens are made of darkness and light entwined.

Pattern Sense – It all started with a mouse.

The War God Sleeps – An age of ignorance ends on the edge of a sword.

The Fifth Verse – The wise men of the world called her a Shade.

Earth Blood – The earth keeps secrets.

Eating Crow – It is never a good idea to anger a wizard.

Deathseer – Death doesn’t take sides.

The Bridge – Gods appear to wizards as one thing; to warriors, another.

Marked – Beware the pitfalls of mingling with immortals.

The Origin – Things aren’t always what they seem.

Raven of the West – In the calm deep waters of the mind, the wolf waits.

Little Tree, by F.T. McKinstry

Twelve Stories
160 Pages
Available on Amazon.

Reviews

“All the stories are interesting and fun to read… This author gives her stories depth and gave this reader the feeling I was actually in that time and place…” – Long and Short Reviews

“These are short stories but there is a lot of story in each one. They are well told and I enjoyed every one. I will be buying more McKinstry books.” – Review on Amazon

“F.T. McKinstry writes in a way that involves all the senses. It’s not something I read line by line, but sensation by sensation. Highly recommended.” – Review on Barnes and Noble

“…filled with poetic imaging and storytelling that breathes more than just life into the stories…elevated the telling into the fantasy realm even without subject matter that also took place there.” – Review on Goodreads

“Short stories that run the gamut from humour, fantasy all the way to science fiction. I found it a very easy read and would highly recommend it!” – Review on Goodreads

“Each story is set in a fantasy setting, in a world full of magical elements and mythical beings. They are told in a language that is richly descriptive and in my opinion, it helped to make the reader get into the atmosphere of the stories.” – Review on Goodreads

“I think my favorite story was Eating Crow, involving a shapeshifting female who rarely takes the form of a mortal woman. In Deathseer, there is such a memorable quote by an assassin of all people: ‘Love is the difficult choice, Thorn said quietly. Fear is easy.'” – Jessica Nicholls, author of Into the Arms of Morpheus.

“This is my introduction to the literature of FT McKinstry, and I’m positively in love with her writing style!” – R.A. Sears, The Ragnarok Legacy

” was an engaging dark fantasy. It was very well written, plot driven, and pulled me in immediately.” – Wicked Readings by Tawania

“Raven of the West is a tale that should delight both fantasy fans and devoted followers of F.T. McKinstry. It provides an unexpected conclusion keeping the novel rather cryptic and mysterious…” – Writer Wonderland

© F.T. McKinstry 2015. All Rights Reserved.