Elizabeth Tanner is no Tinkerbell, and her life is no fairy tale. Broke and drowning in student loans, the one thing she wants more than anything is a scholarship from the Trinity Foundation. But after the ancient Irish text she’s studying turns out to be more than just a book, she becomes their prisoner instead. And when Trinity reveals Elizabeth is half-Fae, she finds herself at the center of a plot to save the magical races of Ireland from a brutal civil war.
Wiping the crumbs off his jeans, Finn reached into his backpack and threw an apple at me, which I caught with a deft hand.
“Nice catch,” he said, grinning.
I flung the apple up into the air and caught it in my other hand. “I played third base. Little League.”
“You mean baseball?”
“Never seen a game myself.”
I gaped at Finn. “You mean you live in Chicago, and you’ve never been to a Cubs game?”
He shrugged. “Not interested.” Finn’s eyes lit up, and he shoved me playfully with his shoulder. “Now hurling. That’s a good game.”
“Well, they’re totally different. That’s not even a fair comparison,” I said with a sniff.
“Fair enough,” Finn said, wistful. “Really, nothing can compare with hurling.”
I laughed. “Moiré tried to explain the rules to me once, but she lost me after hurley stick.”
“Oh, it’s simple, really.” Finn jumped down and rummaged around the rubble until he found a large branch. He swung it, the stick cutting through the air, slowly at first, but then with more force. Finn’s chest muscles rippled between the flaps of his leather jacket, and my blood pulsed in my ears at the sight of him, dancing from foot to foot as he practiced his swing.
“Now the point of hurling,” Finn began, “is to use this stick, the hurley stick.” He raised the old branch in the air. “To get a little ball called a sliotar either over or under your opponent’s goalpost.” Finn picked up a handful of small rocks and, using his “hurley,” sent a pebble whizzing over the stone wall, inches from my head.
“Hey, watch it!”
Finn smiled up at me. “You with me so far?”
“Now,” Finn said. “If the ball flies under the goalpost into the net, it’s worth three points.” Finn sent another pebble skittering against the wall, right next to my boot. “But you have to get it past the keeper, and that can be a challenge.” His eyes glittered at me as he swung his stick again. He threw a rock up in the air and with a loud thwack sent it zooming over the wall. I held out my hand and caught the stone, the look on Finn’s face making up for the sting of impact.
“And he’s out!” I cried, jumping off the wall and doing a mock victory dance. “Cubs win! Cubs win! Wooooooooooooo!”
Finn stalked over to me and grabbed my fist. “Will you settle down!” he said, attempting to pry the pebble from my grip. “I’m trying to teach you a three-thousand-year-old art form and you’re nattering on about the fecking Cubs.”
I giggled, snatching his hurley stick from his hands.
“Technical foul!” Finn barked behind me, but I sprinted away, swinging the hurley over my head as I climbed the wall.
“Get back here, you brat!” Finn bolted after me so quickly, he lost his footing on the stone wall and tumbled to the ground. I laughed as he came to his feet, his hair loose, chasing me.
“It’s the bottom of the ninth, bases are loaded!”
Finn made a snatch for the stick, but I feigned to the right.
“Tanner’s up to bat.” I climbed a set of old stairs to nowhere and tossed up the stone. I popped out my hips and, following through on the turn, sent the stone flying over the hill and down the cliffs below. I jumped down, swinging my baseball/hurley bat. “Homerun by Tanner! And the Cubs win the pennant!”
Finn smacked into me, and I collapsed to the ground, his wide body over mine as he grasped for the stick.
“Dammit, O’Connell!” I gasped beneath Finn, his whole weight crushing my chest. “Now I know for a fact hurling is not a contact sport!” I laughed as I squirmed to get away, holding out the stick just beyond his reach.
“Neither is baseball!”
With a devilish grin, Finn tickled my armpit, and I curled up in a fit of giggles. He made a grab for my wrist, pinning me to the ground, and his gray eyes danced as he looked down at me. My laughter faded, and running my other hand through his hair, I pulled his face to mine. He kissed me, a low moan rumbling deep in his throat.
Finn nipped my bottom lip with his teeth, and my back arched as our hips melded together, my better judgment forgotten. He slid his arm beneath my shoulders and pulled me close against him, kissing me long and hard, and I gasped, gulping for air as he lowered his mouth to my neck.
And Then Came Jane…
I don’t remember a time without books. My parents say I brought stacks of books with me wherever we went, and while they might be exaggerating a bit, it’s true that even at an early age I surrounded myself with them. Their cool pages, the smooth texture of the ink somehow soothing to me. My dad was a touring musician in the Army and my mom worked full-time, so my brothers and I were left alone to our devices a great deal. I spent whole summer days in our local library, and I read everything in the kids’ section, graduating eventually from picture books to endless volumes of Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High.
One of my favorite books, something I never grew out of, was a collection of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales. The illustrations were glorious, but the stories had an incredible darkness to them I found fascinating. I felt I had been sold a false bill of goods by Disney because in these stories, the brave princess didn’t always prevail, the heroes weren’t always brave, and sometimes the villains had the best storylines of all.
I also had a strong affinity for children’s literature’s greatest anti-heroines: Mary Lennox, Jo March, Harriet the Spy. I grew up with a great awareness that there was something in my personality, something in my core that kept me from fulfilling this sweet, Shirley Temple standard of girlhood that a lot of people seemed to demand from me. These girls offered an alternative of the cult of “sugar and spice” that I so desperately needed at that age.
But one day, when I was probably about eleven, I walked into my bedroom to find a copy of Jane Eyre on my bed. My mom had found it for 99 cents in a used book bin, and she mentioned that she read it when she was about my age and enjoyed it. The Victorian language was difficult for me at first, but there was something in young Jane’s voice that kept me reading. The tenacious Jane, Jane the outsider, Jane the brave. I had never met a character like her, and I devoured this book, reading it over and over again.
To give you some context, adolescence was not kind to me. I was overweight, had a face full of acne, and a head full of frizzy hair I couldn’t tame no matter what I did. In a culture that values female beauty, I was starting to feel valueless, and as my hormones started going crazy and my head filled with visions of Christian Slater (I was obsessed with Heathers) and the boy in my Algebra class, I started to feel I might never experience this thing called “love” because of my genetics.
And then came Jane.
Jane taught me that even if you are “poor, obscure, plain, and little,” you can still be a heroine. No matter who you are or where you come from, you can still be smart, capable, amazing, interesting, and powerful. You can still live a kick-ass life and have adventures. And for this lonely, impressionable eleven year old girl, she taught me that no matter what you look like, you are still deserving of love. And not just any love. Love on your own terms.
If I could point to my earliest influences for Through the Veil, they derive from these formative literary experiences, of connecting with the darker things, the people who don’t quite fit in. When I finally sat down to write, after years of putting it off—going on my own adventures, finding my own great love, having kids—I knew I wanted to bring these two things together. I didn’t set out to write a dark fairy tale, but it seemed the only way to explore the heroine I wanted to create. And while she is tested throughout the novel, she also finds a way to exist in this mad world without compromising herself.
As a child, Colleen Halverson used to play in the woods imagining worlds and telling stories to herself. Growing up on military bases, she found solace in her local library and later decided to make a living sharing the wonders of literature to poor, unsuspecting college freshman. After backpacking through Ireland and singing in a traditional Irish music band, she earned a PhD in English with a specialization in Irish literature. When she’s not making up stories or teaching, she can be found hiking the rolling hills of the Driftless area of Wisconsin with her husband and two children.
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