Happy Book Birthday to author C.S. Johnson!
Her latest story is officially out in the world and it is one I am personally so excited to dive into due to the fae aspect. (Any other fae lovers here?) I started reading it last night and I’m already throughly engaged! Kaipo sounds like he’s going to be pulling my heart strings at one point, and if today’s post doesn’t confirm it, I don’t know what will!
To celebrate the release of The Princess and the Peacock, I’m sharing an exclusive snippet with you. *squeals*
Read on, friend, and tell me what you think of both Kaipo and Queen Jaya!
About the Book
The first time I fell in love with Princess Mele was when I saw her smile, and I fell in love with her the second time the moment I heard her sing.
Two memories burn within Kaipo’s heart — the death of his mother, which left him alone to die, and the arrival of Princess Mele, which gave him a new reason to live. Together with his adopted brother, Kaipo seeks out Jaya, the Fae Queen who lives on the Forbidden Mountain, in order to gain the beauty he requires to win Mele’s heart. But Jaya has other plans for the scarred outcast who climbs up her mountain …
The Princess and the Peacock is the first in Birds of Fae, a fantasy fairy tale novella series from C. S. Johnson.
Appa once said that the fae were the offspring of fallen angels, still roaming free among the earth. He would look up to the Forbidden Mountain as other men and women passed it by, expressing everything from wonderment to skepticism to ridicule, before shaking his head.
“The fae might do good, Kaipo, but they will never be good. And they all know it, too.”
His words ring through me now, setting of all sorts of internal alarms.
But the thought of Princess Mele shines inside of me again, and I ball my fingers into a determined fist, feeling the ragged edges of my scars.
I had made it here, into the presence of Queen Jaya, and she had promised to grant me a wish.
Now was my chance. I had to find a way to get rid of my scars. I had to find a way to be the man that Princess Mele deserved as a husband. How could she ever love me as I was, so long as my mother’s death had marked me as an outcast?
At that thought, I step forward and clear my throat. “I have come to wish for the beauty required to win the heart of Princess Mele.”
Jaya rolls her eyes. “I’d almost forgotten about her,” she says with a sigh.
“You know of her?” I ask, and immediately feel silly. Of course she knew of the princess. Who wouldn’t know of Mele and her legendary beauty?
“Of course I do.” Jaya looks out past me, seeing into a world of her own. “I sent her a message after her mother died a few summers ago.”
I say nothing for a long moment, recalling the sad passing of Queen Kalani. The queen had been ill for a long time; Appa had even been called to tend to her a few times, but there was nothing that could be done.
I wonder what was in the message Jaya sent to the princess.
“So, you wish for beauty?” Jaya asks, as she gives me an assessing look. “Why?”
“I love her,” I say, trying my best not to blush.
For the first time, I wish I did not have Rahj with me as I speak with Jaya. Sometimes is easier to be honest with strangers than it is with family. While Rahj knew of my feelings for our kingdom’s princess, and even agreed she was a beautiful girl and would make a perfect match for me, I did not want him to think I would be satisfied with her if it meant losing him, especially after he nearly fell off the mountain.
“So you love the princess,” Jaya says. “Is that not enough?”
“I am not good enough for her,” I say. “My father was a simple healer who passed two summers ago. My mother died soon after, disgracing my family. That was how I got these scars. I … I tried to save her, but I was too late.” I gesture to my arms, shifting so she can see they go up beyond my tunic. “Rahj is my only family now.”
“I feel for your plight,” Jaya says, but the insincerity of her words makes my anger spark.
“Do you really?” I dare to ask, and she scowls.
There are further hints of her sinful state as I see the lines in her face. Her scowl is more than chilling, the hellish results of being cast down to live in time with mortals.
“You’re right. I don’t,” she says. “Why would you wish for something that you already have?”
“Then there’s no reason to pretend that I have any outward appeal that would entice the princess,” I scoff, now more angry than frightened. “Maybe at one time, I would have drawn her notice, but those days are over. I am an outcast from society because of my scars.”
“And because he does not denounce me,” Rahj adds from behind me. I glare at him, trying to let him know I do not care about that, but he gives me a sheepish look. “What is it, Kaipo? It is the truth, and she should know it.”
“I do not appreciate attempts to deceive me,” Jaya agrees. She stands up and bangs her staff against the ground. “That is enough. Honestly, you humans are so boringand so stupid. I do not want to grant your wish, Kaipo, for many reasons. Fae magic requires no effort for me to maintain. Beauty can be given as easily as a smile, riches with a wave of my hand. But there are deeper forms of magic, and there is a great difference between the beauty that comes from magic and the beauty that is shaped inside the heart. One side is only ease and pleasure; the other is painful but lasting.”
My hope begins to dwindle, but I refuse to believe I had come so far—to think I had almost lost Rahj, and my own life as well—only to leave with nothing.
About the Author
C. S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.