by Jacob Devlin
(Order of the Bell #2)
Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: May 9th 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Crescenzo and his friends may have survived their confounding journey to the enchanted realms of Florindale, but now they find themselves fighting for their sanity and lives while stuck on the other side of the very mirror they set out to destroy.
With their families trapped by a former ally with a crippling fear of the queen, Enzo, Rosana, and Zack must play a deadly game in Wonderland, where shadows are on the move, kings are at war, and one of them wants Rosana dead.
As darkness hovers over the world, the friends must lean on each other and stop the King of Hearts from following through on Avoria’s orders: Break them.
- A fantasy ebook bundle + a $5 Amazon gift card
- Pino curled up next to Carla, pulled her close, and hugged her. Wherever they were going, they were going together. That was almost all that mattered, except for one thought that would continue to gnaw at his mind; Crescenzo, he thought. My son, please be safe, wherever you are.
- “I’ve seen it all since my arrival,” Geppetto said. “Avoria brought the darkness with her. The land turned against itself. War wiped out the people Avoria left alive. This is important for you to know, my boy, because I imagine we’ll be here a long time. Wonderland is not known for hospitality or unity.”
- “The man bowed so low he came back up with wet specks of dirt on his nose. “Matthew Hadinger, at your service. You may call me Matt. I belong to the court of Wondertown and was on a pleasant mission before that abomination showed up. His Majesty, the King of Spades, requests the presence of a one Miss Rosana Trujillo in his royal court this night. Are you she?”
- A chill rippled through the air, and Madame Esme cast a wary gaze around the tent. “Now, Madame Esme has very limited time to speak to you. Please listen carefully.” She lowered her voice, reached across the table, and then seized Zack’s elbow. “I have predicted the death of one of your own.”
- While everybody else wore knee-high greaves and heavy boots, the archer woman wore boots that gleamed as though they were made of thin glass. Zack cringed. What if the glass broke beneath her?
Wait, Zack thought. Didn’t I hear a story once that made me feel this way? A woman who ran around with glass on her feet?
- “Sir,” Hook spoke, “do you know who we are? We hardly see reason to fear a group of grown men riding into town on a parade of ponies.”
The army snapped into a new formation, this time converging on the entire group. Hook began to sweat when the point of a spear scraped his stubble-spattered chin. “Okay,” he croaked. “You’ve made your point. Might I invoke parlay?”
- “Carvers are very special people. We feel the living souls of the world around us. We set them free, we tell their stories, and once in a while, we have the fortune of shaping the future. Would you like to know how your father came to be?”
- A misty shadow materialized in front of Crescenzo, and when the full body appeared, Crescenzo had to squint to be sure he perceived it correctly. It had the right shape and height, the right spiky hair, but everything else was wrong: a foggy black shape clad in leather that seemed to be evaporating without really disappearing. Crescenzo’s blood went ice cold.
- Slowly, Madame Esme forced herself to turn around and confront the woman. “Avoria,” she whispered.
“Is that how you address a queen?” Avoria droned. “Really, Esmeralda, I’d assumed better of you.”
- When they were alone, the stranger let go and stood in front of Alicia with arms folded across his thick chest. Alicia wondered if there was anybody inside the cloak. The figure spoke, its voice deep and powerful. “I have seen what comes to pass if you intervene with fate today, Alice. All these people turn to dust. The New World withers to smoke. Wonderland crumbles to ash.”
Rosana fell to the ground, landing much more softly than she’d expected, followed by Gretel. The top hat flittered back toward the ground like a feather. Its owner caught the hat with a gloved hand, a strange mix of brown leather and dark bits of metal like the rest of his outfit. “Whew!” the man huffed, shaking muddy droplets from his hat before securing it neatly to his head. “This world has gone mad!”
Rosana climbed to her feet and helped Gretel up, flicking water out of her hair. Catching her breath, Rosana wrung out her cloak, hugged the little girl, and then faced the stranger.
“You just saved our lives,” Rosana said.
“Please. I merely did what any sane man would do.” The stranger removed his hat again and scratched his head. “Maybe.”
“Who are you?”
The man bowed so low he came back up with wet specks of dirt on his nose. “Matthew Hadinger, at your service. You may call me Matt. I belong to the court of Wondertown and was on a pleasant mission before that abomination showed up. His Majesty, the King of Spades, requests the presence of a one Miss Rosana Trujillo in his royal court this night. Are you she?”
Zack wrinkled his brows. “Who are you? Why have I come to see you? I don’t even know you.”
“You wouldn’t know of Madame Esme. But she certainly knows of you. Lady Fortune keeps painting your name in the cosmos. It would appear there is an important role for you in the journeys of Pinocchio’s son.”
“Enzo,” Zack said quietly.
“Yes.” A chill rippled through the air, and Madame Esme cast a wary gaze around the tent. “Now, Madame Esme has very limited time to speak to you. Please listen carefully.” She lowered her voice, reached across the table, and then seized Zack’s elbow. “I have predicted the death of one of your own . . . the son of Pinocchio. Madame Esme cannot be sure of the circumstances, but it is to take place soon in the realm of wonder.”
Zack yanked his elbow out of Madame Esme’s grip. “What are you saying? Why would you tell me something like that, even if it were true? That’s . . . an evil thing to say.”
The woman edged forward, impossibly calm given the horrible news she delivered. “Madame Esme is never wrong, Son of Pan. Oh, how often she wishes she were! Avoria arrived seven days ago, and what a mess we have become! The lands of Roma are falling to ruins once more. The Grand Canyon crumbles to dust as we speak. Avoria seeks a territory in which to build her citadel, and nothing will ever be the same. But the son of Pinocchio is destined to lead us all to battle. Thus, we need you, Son of Pan. We need you all to dethrone Avoria and restore peace. But if The Carver dies, hope dies with him.”
“Oh yes, boy, a true Carver can work with anything! Wood, marble, stone, diamonds, even the earth itself. Ask Michelangelo. By fortune, he came about a grand slab of marble one fateful day. It is said that he saw a man inside of it. He felt the marble’s energy and became one with it. All he had to do was carve around that man and set him free.” Geppetto paused, letting his knife rest on his lap. “I’ll have you know that, today, that block of marble is known as Davide.”
Crescenzo’s jaw fell. “Seriously? The naked guy?”
“And the first to slay a giant, you might remember,” Geppetto added. “He lives on through Michelangelo’s work. Some even say they’ve seen him breathe. You see, Enzo, Carvers are very special people. We feel the living souls of the world around us. We set them free, we tell their stories, and once in a while, we have the fortune of shaping the future. Would you like to know how your father came to be?”
A cool gust of wind ruffled Crescenzo’s hair. This was a story he never thought he’d hear. He leaned closer. “Yes.”