In his debut novel, Valmore Daniels uses a fantasy setting to explore various themes such as courage, loyalty, betrayal, overcoming disabilities, and how to deal with growing up, while at the same time delivering a well-written, highly entertaining journey back to our the imaginary worlds of our childhood.
Written primarily for the young adult audience, An Old-Fashioned Folk Tale can be enjoyed by fantasy-lovers of all ages.
Fairies and mermaids, elves and giants, dwarves and dragons - all figments of our imagination, right?
They are real, and they are in trouble!
A darkness has settled across the Five Sundered Lands - an evil Sorceress has found one of the ancient artifacts, a Shard of Nelvin, and is using that power to enslave every mythical creature in the Lands.
It is up to Leif, a young human boy dying of cancer, to overcome his illness and become the hero who will find the remaining lost shards.
With a band of unlikely friends, Leif must overcome impossible obstacles, solve unsolvable puzzles, and travel through treacherous new worlds in his quest to defeat the Sorceress and reunite the Lands.
“ARE YOU ALL RIGHT, my boy?”
The voice was heavy with a brogue-like accent, one that Leif found somewhat familiar, yet at the same time completely unfamiliar. It seemed very like the heavy English accent of stage actors.
“Uhh…!” Leif responded groggily as he pushed his mind against the darkness that swarmed around his senses like bees around a hive.
“Don’t pass out now, laddie, or it might be that you don’t wake again! I’ve seen it happen. Stay awake, hear?”
Leif was surprised to find that he wanted to wake up, and not to die—at least, not like this. But his mind rang too loudly to dwell on it. Instead, he focused his will on remaining conscious.
“You’ve had yourself quite a spill,” the man said when Leif was sitting up on his own—though his vision still doubled and tripled…when it wasn’t fading in and out.
“From the look of it,” the other went on, “you were all the way up to the top of the tree when I Landtripped here. Quite the fall, indeed! Now, don’t move ‘less you think you’re able, my friend.”
Leif wasn’t about to move until he had his full vision back, or his balance. His head was foggy and thick with pain. He wondered idly who the man was; he hadn’t seen anyone around before he had fallen. Was I out long enough for someone to have strolled by? he asked himself.
— He had fallen! The realization cut through his mind like the edge of a knife. How was it that he survived a fall of more than thirty feet? By luck? If so, that would definitely be one of fate’s more nasty twists! Causing him to survive such a fall, only to let his disease slowly consume him…
He heard Samson’s concerned whimpering and felt a slick wetness on the side of his face as the Great Dane licked him. “Samson!” He gently, but firmly, pushed the dog away. When the dog wouldn’t stop licking, however, Leif tried to stand to get away from the onslaught—a mistake. Fireworks exploded in his head as he fell back.
“You all right?” the stranger asked again, more insistently this time. “Did you break your leg, my friend? Or something else? You going to be all right?”
Leif’s back was aching and his head was ringing to beat the church bells on Sunday but there seemed to be nothing as serious as broken bones.
“No. I—I’m all right,” he began to say to the stranger, whose tiny hands held him rock steady. “Just a little—”
He turned his head, forced his eyes to focus on the stranger. And saw the general outline of a man—a very small, very slender man.
After hastily rubbing his eyes as if to wipe away the image of what he had just seen, he looked again. I must still be dizzy, he decided. He stared at the fellow, all two and a half feet of him.
It was too much for Leif.
Shouting in surprise and fear, he tried desperately to back-pedal away across the ground, but abruptly stopped when he smacked the back of his head against the tree from which he had fallen. The miniature stranger gasped in surprise as well, and backed away just as hastily, his already too-large eyes growing even larger for a split-second; and then the little man, seeing that Leif was only startled, recovered with a bright, congenial smile.
“Not to worry about me, my boy. Wouldn’t do harm to a fly. Now you, on the other hand, were almost the death of me! Gave me quite the start, you did!” he said, smiling pleasantly, holding his hand over his heart as if that would keep it from bursting.
He extended his hand once more to help Leif up, but Leif made no move to accept it. He did not as much as move an eyelash as he stared at the tiny man.
The stranger looked like he belonged in some elaborate doll collection. He wore a plaited brown, sleeveless tunic; there was an unfamiliar emblem sewn into the chest. Cut high over bright green leg stockings, his tunic was old-fashioned, like a bard in a play. His thick-soled, ankle-length leather shoes tapered to points at the ends; a large buckle adorned the upper face of the shoe. The rest of his attire was just as outrageous and remarkable, but what shocked Leif the most was the small man’s face.
Tucked under a wide-brimmed green hat, which was replete with a long yellow feather, and amid a mass of golden curly hair that had green and brown highlights, the stranger’s gentle face was slender and long, as though his fair white skin had been stretched over his cheekbones like the canvas on a drum. His huge, wide eyes were the richest brown Leif had ever seen! A short, pointed nose seemed to wink when the man smiled, as he was doing now.
Leif had seen midgets before, in a carnival show, but this man did not resemble a midget at all. In fact, if Leif hadn’t known any better, he would have sworn that this being was a leprechaun! His eyes grew wide and frightened as he again tried to back away; the tree behind him wouldn’t budge.
He pointed a finger at the strange man. “You! You’re not a human!” he accused, his voice breaking suddenly in the face of his fear. “You’re a leprechaun come to do mischief! Aren’t you?”
Leif noted somewhere in the back of his mind that Samson didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the stranger. Leif’s brows wrinkled quickly in his confusion—Samson was always distrustful of strangers and barked at them. Always.
“Why, of course I’m not a hume man, friend; but I’m not a lepre-what-cha-ma-call-it man neither—whatever that is. What I am,” he continued, “is a wood sprite; one of the folk!”