READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS: Shadowed By Despair (Laith, #3), by Candace Robinson
It's back into the land of Laith this Tuesday with Candace Robinson's highly-anticipated third book in the Laith Series, SHADOWED BY DESPAIR.
Perin expected eternal darkness after his death, yet the land of Laith has other plans for him...
Pre-order your copy here in time for Robinson's release day on Tuesday, May 19th!
"Snapped awake with a desperate hunger for flesh, he fights the urge to feed, knowing that once he gives in to temptation, there is no turning back.Tavarra’s deepest desire was always to be human. When she received her one true wish, the journey had already claimed those she cared about. Alone, she fights through each day, forgetting how to truly live.To strip away his new curse, Perin needs to retrieve an enchanted liquid and bring it back to the Stone of Desire. Despite his unpredictability, and him being the monster this time, Tavarra chooses to help. Tied by fate and loneliness, they must cross the sea into a deadly part of Laith and find the solution before Perin’s hunger overtakes him."
His eyelids attempted to pry open. Darkness…
Darkness… Darkness… Where was he? He was dead. He had to be dead. Except … he could feel something wrapped around his entire body, cloaking him, constricting him. With desperation, he wanted to scream— couldn’t scream. He wiggled his fingers. Dirt.
Who was he?
Think. Think. Think.
His name was Perin.
Ten-year-old Perin tried to fix his best friend’s, Rhona’s, flowered headpiece. Not his best friend
—his sister—his secret sister that only he, his father, and Rhona’s mother knew about. It was a secret he desperately wanted to tell. At other times, it was a secret he wanted to keep—a thing that needed to stay hidden because it could affect Rhona. And he was her protector—
he chose to be.
He stared down at the broken flowers that his father—Belen—had crushed beneath his boot as if they were nothing, as though no one’s feelings mattered but his own. Perin yanked out the white and yellow flowers and, as carefully as he could, inserted new ones.
Rhona had lied to him earlier about where she’d been—what she’d done. But he hadn’t known why she would lie about picking flowers. She’d always been honest with him.
The next morning, he decided that he would follow her and find out where she’d been going the past few days—if she decided to sneak away once again.
Perin lifted the flowered crown and gave it a once-over.
It wasn’t perfect, nothing he made was the least bit close to that word, but it looked better than the crushed disaster caused by his father. Biting his lip, he knew he had to hide the headpiece until he could find Rhona and give it to her.
He set aside a few books and stashed the crown neatly in a corner, before hiding it behind the tomes.
Placing his hands on his knees after taking a seat back on the stool, Perin let out a huff of air as he stared at his next daily task—a wooden bird. He crossed his legs in front of him and reached for the bird that was almost complete. It still wasn’t quite built right, and the wings kept sliding, breaking, or falling off. He wanted the wooden bird to be able to fly, like Rhona’s favorite story of a boy named Peter Pan who could cross worlds and do anything. Perin wanted more than anything to be that boy. But stories were just that … stories.
As Perin rotated his shoulder, the skin on his back stretched, and pain radiated all the way down. He let out a small gasp but held back the cry that threatened to come out. The ache was still there from where his father had cut him, and right then, it felt as if a small fire had reignited the agony. Father always gave one strike to his back for Rhona, followed by another for breaking his rules. Rules. Rules.
Rules. There were too many that Perin found much too easy to break.
Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes, beading against his long, thick lashes. Perin brought his tight fist down on his desk—he needed to stop this. No one saw him tear up because he didn’t do that anymore. Rhona used to see him cry when he couldn’t make things right, but today it would end. However, Belen had never seen him cry, not once. No matter how hurt he was from his father’s words or cuts.
Swiping the tears away, he stared back down at his gadget.
“Well, bird,” Perin said, “today is the day we’re going to get these wings right, and you’re going to fly away. You’re going to do the things that Rhona and I won’t ever be able
He quirked his head and pretended to listen to the words that would never escape the beak of a pretend bird.
“What is that you say, bird?” He frowned and swept the lock of hair from his brow. “I’m an idiot? I know I am.”
With his metal pincers, Perin twisted the blue wing, pushing the tip farther in. Holding the bird up, his lips twitched for a moment. He wound up the top in four rotations and tossed the gadget through the air. The wings flapped, and Perin’s eyes lit up, but only for a moment before the bird came crashing to the ground. The gadget wasn’t quite there yet, but it was getting better. Right as he scooped the bird up, the thick fabric—separating his area from the other rooms of the tent—lifted.
Perin’s head jerked up, and his heart got stuck in his throat as his gaze landed on the person who’d entered, now standing in front of him. Belen.
Before Perin could get a word out, least of all a breath, his father’s eyes locked onto the object in his hand. “What are you doing, boy?”
Perin wanted to hide the wooden bird behind his back, but he knew every single time he’d done that, Belen made sure his things were ruined beyond fixing. So he inhaled steadily and stood straight, still nowhere near as tall as Belen’s size. “Nothing, Father.”
“Nothing?” Belen’s tone was soft, yet the word fell harshly from his tongue, and his eyes flickered with intensity.
“Well, no, not nothing.” Perin avoided staring down at his hand because he wanted to appear on the same level as Belen. Not frightened, because he wasn’t that—he was more tired than anything. Perin was already growing taller.
Soon he hoped he would be able to hover over his father.
Without peering down, Belen took a step forward and swiped the bird from Perin’s grasp. It clattered to the ground with a soft clack-clack. And just as Belen had done with Rhona’s headpiece, his boot came up, then down, squashing Perin’s sweat and tears in one single motion, the sound echoing through the room.
Perin tried to call up anger to the surface to disguise all of his emotions, and it did come—but so did the tears he desperately wanted to keep away.
“What is that in your eyes, boy?” Belen curled his lips into a smirk. “You’re so weak—no matter how hard you try not to be.”
Perin wasn’t weak. The tears dried up, and Perin lunged for his father. Before his hands could shove Belen, his body was thrown in the opposite direction by an invisible force, his back smacking against the feathered mattress.
“Nothing you do will ever harm me.” His father smiled.
“But you can still try if you really want to. For that disobedient act, you will need to lift your shirt.”
Perin didn’t move.
“Now.” Belen gritted his teeth. “Or I’ll crush more things—like I did your miserable bird and Rhona’s flowers.”
Clenching his jaw, Perin obeyed and turned around, drawing up his shirt. He would take the marks every single time, because if not, Rhona would have to suffer much
Perin closed his eyes and thought about what he would wish for if given the chance. His sister yearned to dance and be happy. He knew he wanted those things for her, but he couldn’t think of anything that he wanted for himself anymore. Nothing at all. Because no matter what, he would never be able to fly like the fictional boy from the stories.
Perin stayed in his room for the rest of the afternoon until Belen came back later.
“I’m sending you away for a couple of weeks,” his father said. “You’re going to tell everyone you’re going on a journey to become a man, but really you’re going to go
search for the Stone of Desire.”
Perin’s brows lowered because he’d heard about the Stone of Desire. Thea, Rhona’s mother, used to tell them the story of an alabaster stone who had answered the savior’s—Luca’s—desire from a dying Earth. She’d even told him how to get there before, but he thought the Stone
didn’t answer to humans anymore.
“I don’t understand.”
Belen ran a hand down his low curly ponytail, no emotion showing on his face. “You’re going to see if the Stone will wake for you.”
“And if it doesn’t?” Perin knew it probably wouldn’t, but what if it did? Maybe he did have a single wish he could ask that had a possibility of coming true after all. But he couldn’t get his hopes up—not yet.
“Then I have one other option.” Belen paused, then shook his head. “But it will be a long while for that—Rhona isn’t ready yet.”
Ready for what?
“And do not mention any of this to Rhona,” Belen threatened.
Perin nodded, pretending to be the perfect son as Belen relayed to him exactly what to do. It was a mask of obedience, one that he would have to wear until he discovered what he really wished for, besides Rhona being happy.
He thought again of Luca’s story, the one Thea used to tell him and his sister about. Rhona loved the story and everything about it. But Perin hated the tale. If Luca was supposed to take everyone to a better world, then why did Rhona have to suffer? Why wasn’t humankind kinder, and why wasn’t his father better to his own children?