A story of forbidden love, death, and betrayal... Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell (Excerpt & #Giveaway) @The_FFBC

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Beasts of the Frozen Sun
(Frozen Sun Saga #1)
By Jill Criswell

YA Fantasy
Hardcover, Audiobook & ebook, 368 Pages
August 6th 2019 by Blackstone


Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people's souls, to see someone's true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland--one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun--Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he's been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira's life, for Reyker's soul, and for their peoples' freedom has only just begun.

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Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell

            The man lay on his stomach, water lapping at his legs. His hands clutched the spar, as if it would ferry him to the otherworlds. I knelt beside him and let out a slow breath.
            A shock of golden hair, smooth skin—he was young. From what I could see, the Brine Beast hadn’t touched him. He must have drowned and washed ashore.
            The scar on my wrist tingled.
            There was a sweet boyishness to his features. Grief tugged at me. I pushed a wet mesh of hair out of his face. “I’ll make sure your body is burned, your spirit cleansed,” I promised.
            His lashes fluttered. Blue-gray eyes stared back.
            I yelped, scrambling away. The dead man watched me.
            Not dead. The man is not dead.
            Looking into his eyes was like gazing at the ocean—swirling shades of deep-cobalt and steel-gray. Fathomless.
            “You?” I choked, wondering briefly if I was actually asleep in my bed and this was all a dream. Because, as impossible as it was, I knew this man.
            I’d seen him once before.
It happened when I was twelve, on the third anniversary of my mother’s death. Every year, when that hateful day came, I snuck away in the night, took a horse from the stables, and rode to the northern bluffs. Alone on the bluffs, I prayed and wept and let myself remember her, releasing all the pain I tried to bottle up and smother the rest of the year.
            On this night, I heard something as I rode home from the bluffs. I’d grown up in these woods, and I knew them as well as my own skin. The strange sound that slunk across the land was not one that belonged. I dismounted and crept nearer, searching. Several shadowy figures gathered, speaking with grunts and snarls that barely resembled language.
I felt the man watching me, like his eyes could burn holes in my flesh.
            He was behind me. Before I could turn, his arm closed around my chest, his hand covered my mouth. My nerves crackled where his skin touched mine. I couldn’t see his face, but his breath was hot against my neck, his voice a purr in my ear, making threats I couldn’t understand.
            I kicked and struggled, and he shushed me, reaching for something. The tip of a blade slid behind my ear.
Another voice spoke—younger, gentler. The blade stilled. The two voices seemed to argue, and then a rag was stuffed in my mouth, a sack slipped over my head. My wrists were bound behind my back, and I was thrown over someone’s shoulder. I thrashed, drawing grunts of annoyance from whoever carried me.
            The slap of waves told me I’d been brought down to the shore. I was tossed into what must have been the hull of a boat, wood scraping my arms. I flailed, trying to stand, but hands pushed me down. The younger voice murmured softly. The hood was pulled from my head.
            My captor was tall and leanly muscled, but he was only a boy, not much older than me. Golden hair brushed his shoulders. His face was far too grave for his age, as if the world was a millstone worn about his neck.   
            We were in the stern of a small boat, bobbing just offshore. There were three other prisoners lying on their stomachs in the bow, tied up as I was, with sacks over their heads. In the dim moonlight, I could see the men bore no warrior-marks on their hands; they were not from Stony Harbor.
I scrambled to my feet and spit out the rag. “Don’t touch me.”
            The boy stared at me curiously. His eyes were ocean blue. There were strange black markings around one of his eyelids.
From his belt, he drew a knife.
            My foot caught on something as I tried to back away, and I tripped, toppling onto my side. The boy hovered above me, too big for me to fight. Maybe if I’d had my own knife I’d have stood a chance, but it was strapped beneath my skirts, out of reach.
“Go on then,” I said. “Kill me.”
            He grabbed my wrists, kneeling behind me. There was a long pause, and then the blade bit into me, slicing into the underside of my wrist as I cried out. It went on for a full minute before his palm brushed across the stinging cuts and an almost-pleasant heat simmered under my skin. He picked up the rag I’d spit out, and I felt him wrap it around my bleeding wrist. A moment later, the rope that bound me fell away. The boy hauled me to my feet.
“What did you do to me?” I motioned to the bloody rag on my wrist.
His eyes drifted over me again, but he remained silent.
“Whatever you want from me, you won’t get it.”
            The boy looked up toward the forest, like he heard someone coming. He mumbled something. When I didn’t reply, he jostled me and spoke again, more insistent. “Svim?” he asked, gesturing at the water.
Did he mean swim, as in, Can you swim? Confused, I nodded.
He shoved me off the boat.
            I hit the water, cold seeping into me instantly. I swam hard, staying under as long as I could, aiming for one of the sea caves carved along the cliffs. Once I was inside the cave, I dug my fingers into the sloping rock wall and climbed onto a ledge. I waited there, shivering, until daylight seeped in.
By the time I made my way through the forest and back home, I was feverish. Father ordered sentries to scour the woods, but no trace was found of any intruders. It was assumed that I’d taken ill, fallen asleep on the bluffs, and dreamed it all. With no proof otherwise, I’d begun to believe it myself. No proof, except the mark on my wrist that could not be explained. Father suspected I’d cut myself out of grief, but I didn’t think so. 
And each year since, on the anniversary of my mother’s death, when I crawled into bed after returning from my prayers at the bluffs, I dreamed of eyes the color of oceans.

About the Author

Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

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Ends August 28th, 2019

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