Today I'm here to introduce you to a young adult book that is a mix of fantasy, myth and mystery and is also available on Amazon right now! This book is called Elemental by John Connors and it is the first book in the exciting Heart of the World series. It's premise sounds absolutely brilliant. It's available as an ebook and print book so to find out more about it then check the cover and blurb below.
Elemental (Heart of the World #1) by John Connors
Release Date: April 21, 2014
Thirteen year old Tom Allenby is plunged into the adventure of a lifetime when he moves to the village of Rooksbourne where nothing is what it seems. With the help of new friends and a mysterious stone that gives him new powers Tom battles deadly over-sized animals, plants and birds as he races to stop a plan that threatens the whole world.
-----------------------------------John has also kindly shared the first chapter of the book so you can dip your toes into the world of Elemental!
Tom Allenby ran across the road without even looking. Horns blew, brakes screeched and curses were yelled though they were already fading into the distance as Tom reached the other side. He glanced around and saw his pursuers were unable to match his recklessness and grinned across at them before disappearing along a narrow alleyway that ran down the side of a church. Emerging in a wide graveyard he quickly scanned for options. More houses and gardens lined the road opposite but to one side lay a much narrower street that he decided would be his escape route.
He had no idea where he was going and was well aware that the others would be much more familiar with the layout of the village but he’d made his choice now. When he reached the end of the street he came across a far quieter main road and on the other side nothing but woodland. What better hiding place?
It was so hot and he’d run so fast he was panting with the effort. He felt sweat dripping down his face that he had to stop for a moment. He could still hear shouting and knew he wasn’t out of trouble yet - what’s more he was loving it! This was more like it! Perhaps this place would not be as dull as he’d first imagined.
Once he set off he found harder to make progress with thick undergrowth and foliage to contend with but he knew he would have to put some distance between himself and the gang. He could hear thrashing and yells behind him so he pushed on further, straining against the heat of the afternoon. What a way to spend his first full day in a new place.
Rooksbourne was a village so insignificant it didn’t feature on any but the most detailed maps and which as far as he had been able to find out had never been the location of one important thing in the history of the world ever. The one place in the world about which even Google could find next to nothing to say. It was almost as if it didn’t really exist and he was imagining it in a nightmare.
It was a nightmare had started barely two months ago when his parents had announced that it would be good to move to the country. Just like that. He’d forgotten about it until the following day when he’d caught them poring over property leaflets and maps. In that way he’d noticed they always had of pretending nothing is happening when it obviously is they slipped the literature into a drawer and started talking about the traffic as soon as they noticed him.
He’d tried arguing that as he was nearly grown up they should have asked him. He’d even tried announcing he’d never help with anything in the house ever
again and could see Mum was trying to stop herself laughing. Dad had said the only thing Tom had ever helped with had been bringing his own laundry downstairs. Sometimes.
They had sat him down to give him one of those boring parental talks - something about cities choking people and how healthy the country was which made sense for all of ten seconds which was how long it took for him to realise he hadn’t actually told any of his mates. He had been so convinced that his resistance would pay off and the move would be abandoned he’d never bothered to mention it at school. With the end of term looming he had to break it to his friends all at once and nobody had any time to organise a goodbye party.
Upon arriving yesterday afternoon he’d immediately realise how isolated he was going to be as his phone was unable to pick up any Wi-Fi. Instead, he received that annoying circling symbol and a strange burst of static every few seconds. He wasn’t sure what was causing the noise which he’d never known a phone to emit before but it meant he couldn’t contact anyone especially since his laptop had recently met with an accident. Perhaps Rooksbourne was so far away from anywhere else that nobody knew about it and there actually was no signal here ever.
“Nice isn’t it?” his mother had said as they had unloaded the car, “Peaceful. Don’t you think, Tom?”
“Isn’t that just a way of saying boring?”
“No,” she replied stuffing some cardboard boxes into a bin that was already overflowing, “It’s a way of saying how nice it is here. Living here will make us all far more healthy and happy. You can feel it in the air.”
“Some of us were perfectly happy living in London.”
His mother pulled a face, “London is just too big, too polluted. Six months from now you’ll go back for Christmas and realise what a horrible place it is to live.”
“Yeah, but this place? We could have moved to, I dunno, Venice or Rome or New York! All the places in the world and you chose here. Six months from now, I’ll have died of boredom.”
“Don’t be like that. Think of it as an adventure. Explore. Discover somewhere new. And if that doesn’t sound exciting enough for you, just think of the extra pocket money you’ll get now your father’s being paid more.”
“He was one of several surgeons at St. George’s. Here’s he’s the only one in his specialism the district so you see it’s not all doom and gloom is it?”
“Does that mean I get a new laptop?”
“We’re still not sure how the old one got broken.”
“That wasn’t my fault. Look, I’m going to need a new one here aren’t I? How else will I connect to the world? My phone won’t work.”
“It’s probably just atmospherics.”
“Mum; do you even know what that means?”
She smiled and shook her head.
“We’ll see about the laptop. It will depend on how co-operative you are. If you’re going to mope about looking unhappy all the time...”
Tom pulled out his best ear to ear grin.
“See. I can be happy! Loving the place already!”
“Good. Now go and explore. It’s a lovely day. Smell that air.”
“It smells rank!”
“That’s the smell of the country.”
“Mum that is the smell of cow dung!”
“Natural smells, its nature, Tom. Being here is like being in the heart of the world.”
He looked over at her and wondered if she’d gone mad. She smiled back at him as if everything was wonderful.
“Why don’t you go and explore? There’s bound to be lots of places to discover.”
“Mum, I’m thirteen, not six!”
“Well thirteen year olds still like to explore don’t they?”
Tom shrugged and set off.
“And be back by six”
So Tom had explored as much as it is possible to explore somewhere that doesn’t really have anything. The optimistically named Main Street for example turned out to be the only street that wasn’t packed with cottages and houses. A sorry looking row of shops sat next to a pub that had been painted white. There was a small supermarket opposite but it looked as if it was closed. In fact the entire village looked as if it was closed. Every few minutes a car would rattle through. Tom imagined drivers wanting to get past as quickly as possible.
All of a sudden he’d heard the chatter of voices and laughter coming from a bus stop further along the road. Perhaps there were some young people here after all though he was quite pleased to even see a bus stop; at least it meant there was a way out!
As he approached though, he began to have second thoughts. The group of six looked older than he was and he quickly turned around intending to make his way back.
“Hey,” came a shout from behind, “Hang on.”
Reluctantly he turned around to see a tall, lean, tanned boy with spiky hair walking towards him.
“What’s your name then?” he asked as the other teenagers sauntered towards them.
“Tom. Tom Allenby...”
“Tom Tom, not seen you about before.”
“Funny. We moved here yesterday from London. Into Cross Farm Lane.”
The boy smirked, “Into the spook house?”
Close up the other boy was twice Tom’s height and looked down at him with a mocking expression.
“You haven’t heard about that house? The people that used to live there, the Olyphant’s, they all died.”
This was news to Tom.
“You’re joking mate?”
“No joke. Slaughtered in their beds by persons unknown.”
A girl roughly the same height as the boy but pale with long dark black hair approached.
“It’s not true of course. Jake’s just winding you up. He does that a lot.”
Tom wasn’t sure what to make of them and laughed nervously.
“Something weird did happen though. They vanished overnight. Just upped and went didn’t they Jake?”
Jake nodded, “Just like that. So perhaps you want us to protect you?”
Jake laughed, “From us!” and the others who had also now joined them followed suit except the pale girl who remained stony faced.
“Protection racket; like gangsters do?” said Tom, keeping his eyes peeled for an escape route.
The girl laughed, “He’s going to be trouble, this one, I can tell.”
“If you like, “replied Jake, ignoring her which she did not seem to appreciate, “It’s just how it works here. Join us and you can share in it.”
“This isn’t London, Tom Tom. This place is too small for you to hide. There’s only us and the pathetic kids that give us money. Which of those sounds like the better deal to you?”
Tom had met people like Jake before and he didn’t like bullies.
“Maybe I’ll join the pathetic kids then, mate.”
“Don’t be stupid.”
“I didn’t want to come here anyway.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Small time isn’t it? You think you’re cool but there are ten year olds from where I live that would beat you up.”
“Oh, yeah? Get him!”
Tom knew that while older kids could out- run him they were never as wily, never saw the opportunities of the chase or the places where he could squeeze through. Back home, he’d outfoxed local gangs several times and this lot were going to be easy.
Now he was in dense woodland he could use the cover to his advantage. He headed for a dense thicket of shrubs to try and make himself as invisible as he could, crouching low as he got his breath back. From his vantage point he could just make out Jake and another boy searching in vain but after a while they moved away. The voices became feint before Tom was left on his own. He sat back in the long grass and for the first time started to become fully aware of other less familiar sounds.
He could hear the buzzing of insects, flapping of wings and scurrying of small animals. There were noises whose origin he had no idea of. He could smell something sweet mingling with the omnipresent smell of dung. A dragonfly landed nearby, its gossamer outline seeming like an alien this close up. The sound of birds singing repetitively suddenly demanded his attention, their notes flying across the woods like a symphony.
He pulled out his phone but there was still “no signal”. It was probably too much to expect here. His limited research into Rooksbourne had at least shown there were woods surrounding much of the village so he assumed that was where he was. All he had to do was walk back the way he had come and he would find the road
again. On the other hand he had got here so speedily he had failed to notice any landmarks that would guide him back. Looking up at the canopy of trees that blocked the strongest of the sunlight he felt he was further away from anyone than he had ever been. By now, the humidity had built to a stifling level and Tom could feel his hair matted to his forehead.
There was a sudden noise overhead that made him jump. A repetitive call echoed across the branches as a bird with flashes of blue plumage on its body and long tail circled above and began swooping down towards him. As it whooshed past something fell from its mouth, spinning round and plummeting to the ground directly at Tom’s feet.
The bird circled once more before flying away again as quickly as it had arrived leaving Tom staring at the object in the grass. He had a feeling he should just walk away, but then again it wouldn’t hurt to take a look - after all he knew some birds were notorious for hoarding valuable things; perhaps he’d get some money for a piece of jewellery.
What he picked up was unlikely jewellery though. In his palm sat a perfectly polished small piece of black rock roughly the size of a marble. Its shiny surface was speckled with white patterns and attached to a light gold chain presumably so its owner could wear it round their neck. Maybe he or she would pay for its return- there were bound to be some rich people around here judging from the large houses he’d spotted.
As he held the chain and swung the stone a little, he started to feel a pull on his arm. It was as if someone was adding more and more weight making the stone heavier by the second. He held onto the chain with both hands but felt the stone was pulling his hands down towards the ground, as if under a magnetic force. He fell heavily to his knees, felt the pull in his shoulders and let go.
The stone fell a few inches onto the grass where it lay innocently. The rebound sent Tom stumbling backwards from where he stared at the stone. How could it possibly have altered its weight so dramatically and so quickly? Surely he was imagining it? Mum was always going on about sunstroke so perhaps this was the effect it had on people. A stone doesn’t change its weight just like that does it?
Even so he was intrigued enough to try again. Breaking a twig from a nearby tree, he slid it along the grass and hooked the chain before lifting it slowly. To his surprise, the stone somehow seemed to weigh nothing again.
Lifting it off the twig he placed the chain over his head and round his neck. It felt smooth to touch but there was a tingling sensation if he kept his fingers in the one place for more than a few seconds. Then, it began to feel heavy again.
Frantically trying to lift it back he was pulled sprawling back onto the grass with a bump before he could remove it. Like a magnet it seemed drawn to the ground and Tom couldn’t lift his head up. He started to feel nauseous, his body unable to resist the force of whatever had pulled him down. He relaxed, ready to muster all his efforts to stand up again or hoping that the stone would change its weight.
As he lay in an ungainly heap, his head pressed against the grass, he became aware of something. It felt like something beyond the warmth of the afternoon or the discomfort of his position, something more important. It was a thumping noise, steady and rhythmic. Of course it was his own heartbeat, he realised. What else could it be?
As suddenly as before, the rock became light again and he was able to sit up, breathless after the ordeal. He lifted his hands to pull off the chain, determined to leave it here when he noticed a movement from the corner of his eye.
A short distance from where he was sat the ground a spray of ferns was moving. Something was lurking inside and Tom stood slowly, not wanting to alarm whatever it was. He had no idea if there could be anything dangerous in these woods but he’d better be on the safe side. He could see reddish fur crouching under the cover of the green plants and as he stared he realised what he was looking at was a fox. He relaxed a little; he’d seen urban foxes before, rustling through bins on the edge of London one night when Dad was driving them home. He knew they were largely harmless unless you provoked them. It was probably more wary of him than he was of it.
He backed off but this seemed to encourage the fox to emerge fully into the dappled sunlight. It was a very large red fox, in fact it seemed rather too large for a fox and Tom did not like the way it was glaring at him. There was something about its eyes that made him imagine it was sizing him up for a snack. He was not going to be intimidated by a fox, however big it was and remembered he’d seen something that said you should stare out wild animals and they’ll back off. However as he stared back he realised that the animal’s features seemed spikier than any fox he’d seen a picture of and it looked ready to attack.
He heard a rustle nearby and saw a second fox emerge, equal in size and far less tentative. It snarled baring long white teeth. There was no doubt that the foxes saw him as an enemy and he was starting to doubt that they were anything like ordinary foxes.
He looked around and saw a route by which he could leave quickly and as he did he became aware of a third fox. This one was perched on a mound and it, too, was growling. Tom was beginning to feel worried now; one fox was all very well, but this was a pack, probably a family whose lair he had inadvertently stepped into.
Tom had no idea how fast could foxes run but he was about to find out. As he sped off, the trio leapt from their vantage points and began the pursuit. Tom hoped they’d give up once the chase had moved away from their home, but they did not seem ready to do so. He leapt over a fallen branch but his left foot slipped on moss and he tumbled to the ground. He was unhurt but this fall had allowed the foxes to gain on him. He could hear them snarling now and sensed that they were in no mood to give up.
What he needed was high ground; from what he could recall foxes were not able to climb. He looked around and spotted a very large old tree stripped of foliage and as quickly as he could, scaled the lower branches. From this vantage point, he dared a look down to see the three red shapes running towards the tree. As he
scrambled further up the tinder dry branches his pursuers careened to a halt around the base of the imposing tree, circling and looking upwards.
Tom became concerned that the foxes might still make an effort to climb so decided to ascend further but as he placed his foot on a very thick, gnarled branch, it buckled sending wood splinters into the air and causing him to lose his footing altogether. Flailing awkwardly he tumbled into the thick centre of the tree which gave way easily swallowing him up layer by layer. He closed his eyes and tried to protect his head as he fell amidst a pile of dusty debris. A rough landing alerted him to the fact that he was now effectively on the ground albeit inside the hollow tree.
The rotting wood and the foul smells of decay made him retch. Momentarily he glimpsed scuttling insects and multi legged crawlers but didn’t like to dwell on that. He heard a ripping noise and when he felt the wood behind him buckle slightly he knew only too well what was happening.
Petrified he ducked and crouched as splinters were hewn from the spine of this once mighty tree. The foxes howled as they tore wildly at the exterior sending chunks of bark flying into the clearing and causing narrow strips of light to blaze in on Tom like lasers. It wouldn’t be too long before they hacked away the whole trunk and he was left defenceless. Foxes shouldn’t be this dangerous or this strong, surely? Every attack was making holes and weakening the structure. Shaking, Tom tried to marshal his thoughts.
If only I could get the tree to hit them or something.
He imagined being able to control the branches, which seemed a stupid thing to think of yet it was something that just popped into his head.
Then he felt a sudden jolt as the whole trunk of the tree began to shift in the ground as Tom realised his not especially safe bolt- hole was starting to come alive. As the bulky tree twisted around, creaking with the effort, the lowest branch caught one of the foxes off guard and catapulted the animal into the air. It flew several yards before collapsing in a heap. The tree was flailing around now whipping its branches in an attempt to hit the foxes who were leaping sideways to avoid the assault. Inside the trunk Tom tried to cover himself from the wood fragments raining down. As he did, he noticed that the stone at the end of the chain was glowing faintly; a pale green glimmer that he felt drawn to. He cupped the glowing stone in his hand and it felt warm and reassuring seeming to separate him from what was going on.
Did this mean that the stone was helping him somehow? There was only one way to answer that question.
Outside the other two foxes renewed their attack jumping at the bark and making more dents as they ripped pieces away but the old tree cranked around catching a second fox across the face hurling it into a thicket of brambles.
The third fox was the most tenacious and instead of retreating once it had torn another strip it kept its head in the gap straining at the bark with its claws. Tom
looked across and yelled with shock at the sight of the fox’s face inside the tree. Its red eye glow was now more intense in the semi darkness.
“What do you want?” shouted Tom but the fox remained determined to burrow its way into the centre and he knew the tree wouldn’t last much longer so he tried something else. After all, if it had worked once…
I want the roots to attack the fox, he thought and the fox’s face suddenly disappeared as it was wrenched from the hole by a dirt covered tendril that had emerged from the soil and wrapped itself around the animal’s body. As the other two foxes mounted a new attack it was as if a rug had been pulled from underneath them. Tom peered through one of the many holes in the bark and saw thick roots emerging from the ground like snakes, coiling around the foxes and sending them once again flying through the air. The first attacker ended up twisted out of shape and tossed into bush. The second was gnawing angrily at the writhing root until there was an audible snap and it became still. The third fox held back, howled into the air and dashed away but there was to be no escape. Its legs were pulled from underneath it as the animal was dragged backwards and soon it, too, lay still. As soon as all three foxes were dead, the roots disappeared into the ground and the area became still save for pieces of wood and fern floating slowly downwards and settling.
Breathlessly watching, Tom could not move. He felt tired and uncertain of what had just happened. He realised he was shaking and felt a strong urge to get out of the inside of the tree especially as he could feel things crawling over his legs. As if it had once again obeyed him and with an almighty crack the entire tree fell apart, each side crashing to the ground in a hail of splinters leaving him exposed, curled up sitting in a pile of rotten wood.
Tom was still trembling as he clambered out of the remains of the tree as quickly as he could. He was glad of the sunlight and even the smell of cow dung as he frantically brushed debris and insects away, desperate not to have anything creeping about on him.
He felt dizzy and stumbled unsteadily from the mound of shattered wood. Exhaustion soon caused him to slump down on the warm ground, holding the stone up to his face.
“What are you?” he whispered.
He felt his eyelids closing despite the brightness of the day as a wave of tiredness swept over him, rather like it did if he stayed up too late. Perhaps if he slept it would all turn out to be a strange dream? He hoped he actually was asleep and he would wake up back home in London with everything as it should be. If he just closed his eyes for just a bit, he’d be fine. He felt the side of his face touch the grass and his hearing became muffled as he drifted quickly into a half sleep.
As he lay there visions swam into his head as if he could see the layers beneath him, the soil and rock right down to the Earth’s core itself. Just natural sciences he thought, some lesson half remembered. He’d never experienced such a sensation but his body felt calm and relaxed as if this was exactly where he should be. After a few moments he heard a new sound, at first as delicate as the wafting of a summer breeze causing the easy sway of tall trees yet at the same time he was aware
that it was something intensely powerful. At first he thought it was his own heart yet his ear was hearing something more. It grew louder, becoming a distinct thump-thump, like his heart but coming from somewhere else.
The noise was pounding now, louder than before, as if it was from a machine. He started to panic when he realised his own pulse was not in unison with the other sound, wherever it was coming from. This sound was something else.
What could he hear? That phrase his mum had used earlier- the heart of the world. Was this was he was hearing now- the heart of the world itself? It grew louder and he started to drift into a deep slumber feeling as if he could sleep forever.
Elemental is available NOW on Amazon so go over and check out the ebook version or print!
Have a good week,