The Ruin of Snow Sneak Peek: Meet the Shapeshifters
Who else is so ready for The Ruin of Snow to be out already? (I'm hoping it's not just me...)
As you all probably know, The Ruin of Snow is my twist on a Snow White retelling, and any retelling has to have the elements of the original. This month I'm introducing you all to my stand-ins for the seven dwarves
Though not technically dwarves, Neyva's ragtag allies do provide her help, shelter, and protection during her journey. Once a band of wandering outcasts making their way with any odd job that would hire them, the seven were cursed by a witch to take the form of animals when in sunlight and are now trapped in the wilds, awaiting either the day they lose their human forms forever or the chance to break their curse and regain their freedom. Their relationship with Neyva may begin as just mutually helpful, but the more they go through the together the more the
dynamic between them changes, and I loved writing it. Juggling such a large cast of characters living together had definite challenges, and there were more than a few times I had to go back and rework my plans to make sure they all got the attention they deserved. But the seven of them are like my babies, and I wish I had more time with them.
So who are the "dwarves"?
Idris: Idris is the unofficial leader of the group, a former noble guard turned disgraced bandit. As sly and clever as the fox he takes the form of, he takes on strategy and planning with ease--but also takes on the safety of his makeshift family and the responsibility of protecting them from even more than they know.
Rayick: Runaway noble Rayick may be an intimidating sight, but beneath it he's really just a big teddy bear. He's everybody's well-meaning big brother, but misfortune seems to follow him wherever he goes.
Wesley: A street rat turned jewel thief, Wesley provided all stealth operations prior to the curse, and still entertains himself by nabbing whatever shiny things he can find. He puts up a sarcastic and guarded shell, but the others know what's hidden beneath.
Enaelle: Enaelle is the sweetheart, in some ways the obligatory "Team Mom" I love to write. After leaving behind her comfortable life in favor of adventure--and maybe something more--Enaelle ensures her new family don't give up hope, or their appreciation for what they have.
Tamsin: The baby of the group, Tamsin and Wesley found comradery in their childhoods on the streets, but unlike the others the boy can't seem to shake the scars he escaped with.
Aurynn: Rough around the edges and willing to do whatever it takes for her found family, Aurynn keeps her past carefully hidden and her heart guarded. But she can't deny that she and Neyva may be more similar than she wants to believe.
Kye: Softspoken and airy, Kye seems to belong alone with their beloved ink and wind--but one should never forget they're a finely-tuned weapon. After running from a violent past that still haunts them, they've made a new life in a new land, but the curse threatens to take all of that away. Neyva may be their only salvation, but trusting doesn't come easily.
I choked out the spell, spitting blood to the ground with every word, and ducked my head against the light that flared. Bright enough to chase away the night as it fell, roaring and crackling like fire, so loud it drowned out the yelps and growls and pounding footsteps. The taste of magic changed to the taste of ash.
“What the hell?”
I yanked my head to the sound of another voice, but I didn’t have time to blink past the magic storm to see who was there when a hand closed around my arm and hauled me to my feet. Then we were stumbling through the storm, blind, gasping for breath. I clung to the hand that found mine, tripping every step but still going. One foot in front of the other.
The storm faded, but it left behind a dark so pressing I couldn’t see any easier. I ran through it, like running through an abyss, branches snatching at my cloak and dress and hair, freezing blood dripping, and the heat of that hand the one signal I was alive. By the time my eyes adjusted I was lost, with no idea how far we’d come or in what direction. I could make out a towering form in front of me, and blinked until it became a man, long hair flying as we ran and blood spreading over one shoulder.
“Wolf!” Somebody to my other side shouted—another male voice, the same as before. I twisted to look but saw a dark cloak bolting out of the way. “Rayick, wolf!”
Rayick, if that was the man who had helped me, dropped my hand and whirled in the fluid, practiced motion of a fighter, drawing a knife from his belt. I staggered to a stop, leaning against a tree, gulping lung-fulls of icy air, and watched as a slip of shadow darted from the trees toward Rayick, snarling. Starlight caught on singed fur red with fresh blood, and eyes shot with bloodlust. It snapped, but that was all the time it had. Rayick drove the knife into its throat as it lunged, and then there was a simple whine as it stumbled to the ground.
Rayick withdrew, flicking blood from the blade, and the world stilled. My pounding heart was all I could hear as the two men looked to one another, and then to me, and my gaze bounced between them.
Rayick might have been thirty, though in the dark it was hard to pinpoint. He was no stranger to a fight; the ease with which he moved and his broad, muscled build, I could easily see him as a guard or knight, if not for his worn and dirty clothes. His square jaw was dotted with dark stubble, his hair falling past his shoulders, halfway tied out of his face. He watched me not as if he was watching a threat, but as if waiting for me to bolt from fear. Cautious but gentle.
His companion was young, shorter and slighter in build, pale, thin planes and rumpled dark hair beneath his askew cloak, but eyes wide and startled. He shifted half a step when I looked to him and spoke first, murmuring, “Witch.”
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