ICYMI, Julia Ember’s The Seafarer’s Kiss is one of my favorite queer YA fantasies of literally ever, so I’m thrilled to be revealing the cover of its companion, The Navigator’s Touch here, along with an excerpt! Here’s the story, which releases from Interlude Press on September 13, 2018:
After invaders destroyed her village, murdered her family and took her prisoner, shield-maiden Ragna is hungry for revenge. A trained warrior, she is ready to fight for her home, but with only a mermaid and a crew of disloyal mercenaries to aid her, Ragna knows she needs new allies. Guided by the magical maps on her skin, battling storms and mutiny, Ragna sets sail across the Northern Sea.
She petitions the Jarl in Djalsford for aid, but despite Ragna’s rank and fighting ability, the Jarl sees only a young girl, too inexperienced to lead, unworthy of help. To prove herself to the Jarl and win her crew’s respect, Ragna undertakes a dangerous expedition. But when forced to decide between her own freedom and the fate of her crew, what will she sacrifice to save what’s left of her home?
Inspired by Norse mythology and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, The Navigator’s Touch is a tale of vengeance, valor, honor, and redemption.
And here’s the cover!
But wait, there’s more! Check out this excerpt!
The sunlight faded to a dim shimmer, as the forest grew so dense we could barely pass between the trees. We dodged between low branches and tangled roots. The ground was a blanket of pine needles. The air smelled of evergreen and damp earth.
Ersel stopped to touch one of the trees. Her eyes widened as she ran her fingers over the gnarled bark. It was an ancient foxtail with a trunk the width of three men. Lacey frost clung to its bark and ice made fragile icicles at the end of each needle. Ersel plucked one of the crystals and cupped it in her palm, transfixed as it melted in her hand.
When she noticed me watching her, she shrugged. “Plants in the sea don’t grow anything like this. It reminds me how far I am from home.”
I plucked one of the crystals and popped it into my mouth. The fresh water soothed my dry tongue. The water was faintly sweet, infused with sap from the pine. Ersel laughed and took another icicle from the tree. She placed it on the edge of her tongue cautiously, then a grin stretched her cheeks.
For a few blissful minutes, I forgot about the men, the ship, and the invasion. We ran around the tree, gathering the sweet crystals and sucking on them until our foreheads ached and our teeth tingled.
Behind us, Smyain cleared his throat. He was a quiet man, who mostly kept to himself and was one of the few who didn’t seem to hang on Torstein’s every word. Ersel turned to him, and he pressed a frost-covered pinecone into her hand. She turned it over and then held it to her nose. She inhaled deeply, as if committing the crisp scent to memory.
“All of these trees start out like this,” Smyain said. He peered down at her shyly. “If you plant this in the ground, in a hundred years you’ll have a tree like this one. You should take it with you. You can start a forest anywhere.”
Ersel tucked the pinecone into the pocket of her dress. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Smyain didn’t meet my eye. He blushed and scuffed his foot on the wet ground.
I scowled. We’d been foolish to let our guard down. What had I been thinking? Running about, gathering sweets like a child? I couldn’t afford to let any of them see me like that. Taking Ersel by the arm, I steered her straight ahead. I walked quickly to put distance between us and the crew.
Julia Ember lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her partner, two cats and an adorable pony. In 2016, she published her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, with Harmony Ink Press. She has subsequently published three further works for young adults. The Navigator’s Touch is the sequel to The Seafarer’s Kiss, which was released by Interlude Press in May 2017. It was heavily influenced by Julia’s postgraduate work in Medieval literature at the University of St. Andrews.