Sarah Fine introduces her new book, Fractured, out on October 29.
second book in my Guards of the Shadowlands series, picks up soon after Sanctum, the first book, left off. But
where Sanctum was set in a grim,
hellish netherworld, Fractured is set
in… well. A sometimes grim, somewhat hellish… hereworld?
In other words, present day Rhode Island. (Don’t get me
wrong--I have nothing against Rhode Island. I like it a lot, actually.)
Sanctum was a
pure, intense fantasy setting, but in Fractured,
the characters must negotiate even more dire challenges within a very contemporary
environment. It muddies the waters a bita lot. While Lela and Malachi
have many of the same duties and responsibilities as Guards in any realm of the
Shadowlands, they have none of the authority and are constrained by the
realities of modern society: Curfews, police on the streets, vigilant probation
officers (in Lela’s case), and the lack of a driver’s license (in Malachi’s
case, which is probably good because he doesn’t know how to drive).
As they face an insidious, remorseless enemy in the Mazikin,
they also have to face the drama of high school. While they try to prevent the
Mazikin presence from becoming a full-on infestation, they also have to weather
the strain on their newly formed personal relationships. Lela and Malachi are
damaged but strong individuals with fearfully fragile hopes, and in Fractured, the two of them are stretched
to their emotional and physical limit.
The phrase I most associate with Sanctum has been “hell is what you make of it.” The phrase I most
associate with Fractured is “hell is
a state of mind.” I think it captures the struggles Lela and Malachi must
manage. They are committed to their mission, but what does that mean for the
two of them as a couple? They know they can’t exactly quit being Guards, but
what does that mean for their dreams of having a future? Why the heck isn’t
life any easier now that they aren’t in hell?!
I believe this excerpt captures all that tension, and I hope
you enjoy it.
“That was good, Lela,” Malachi said when
the door to the basement clicked shut.
“What?” I tore my eyes from the stairs
to look at him. He was wearing warm-up pants and a sweaty T-shirt that clung to
his lean torso.
“Henry thought you would judge him for
his past crimes. But you showed him that you value what he can do now. You’re
earning his loyalty. It’s a good thing to have as his commander.”
“If only I could do the same with Jim,”
He nodded, his jaw tightening. “I don’t
think Jim has been a Guard for very long.”
“What makes you say that?”
His eyes met mine. “Because when Guards
are first sentenced, they often don’t...accept it.”
He rubbed his hand over the hair on the
back of his head. “I tried to escape at least three times before I realized it
was impossible. Worse than that, I attacked my Captain at the time, Philip, and
Takeshi, who was my Lieutenant, on numerous occasions, unable to control my
anger about the situation.”
“How long did it take you to adjust?” I
Malachi considered this. “It took me
over a year to resign myself to my new existence.”
“A year?” I asked in a choked voice.
Malachi folded his arms over his chest.
“Hopefully, Jim will learn faster than I did.” The corner of his mouth lifted
slightly. “You certainly have.”
“I’m trying, but I’ll be honest: part of
me wants to blow off my responsibilities and go to a movie or something.”
He smiled and closed the distance
between us. “Could I go with you?”
“Of course,” I whispered, suddenly
breathless as his fingertips skimmed along my neck.
“There are so many things I’d like to
experience here,” he murmured.
“What would you do, if you could do
anything?” I asked, remembering how he looked when he was at school: like he’d
hit the lottery. “If you were free. If you weren’t a Guard.”
He pondered that for a
few moments. “I think I’d travel. I want to see the world as it is now. I’d go
to Bratislava, maybe. I would walk the streets and breathe in the scents of the city
and not worry about who was at my back.”
“And after that?”
“I think I’d like to go to university,” he
said, and then gave me this adorably sheepish look. “I would perhaps study to
be a teacher. Or maybe do something with computers. I like them.”
My voice was husky and strained as I said, “So
basically, you’re saying you would be an ordinary guy. With a normal kind of
He slid his arm around my waist. “I would love
nothing more than that. To have a job. A home. A family. To wake on a Sunday
and choose to stay in bed with my love warm beside me. To chase my children
around the backyard. To watch them grow and know they would have that chance.
That it could not be taken from them.”
My chest ached fiercely. Suddenly I wanted
these things for him more than I wanted anything else. And more than that, I wanted
to be part of it. I touched his face, smoothing my fingers along the plane of
his cheekbone. “Maybe you could have that someday. Maybe it’s possible.”