Publisher: Caliburn Press (2012)
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The great northern forest of Elanraigh is sentient, but only one young noble lady, Thera, can hear its singing and its warning of approaching destruction.

With dreams of black sails, an old enemy returns to harry the shores of Allenholme and if Thera’s ducal father cannot form an alliance with the Ttmarini who share the love of Elanraigh, the attack will not end in the central forest. The last thing Thera wants is to leave her home in danger, but her parents are determined to send her to Elankeep where she can be safe, away from the fighting.

Because her aunt is the present Salvai to Elanraigh, Thera will have the opportunity to grow further into her gifts and develop as a woman. Against her desires, she agrees to go, but only after the Ttmarini arrive to confirm the alliance against the sapient Memteth. By this chance, Thera encounters the one who could share her spiritual destiny, should she choose.

S. A. Hunter plunges the reader into a world and narrative that both encourages them to look through more than human eyes, yet keeps the realities of human limitations in mind while facing overwhelming influences. Animals, trees, and incorporeal elementals become Thera’s allies, while she earns the respect and loyalty of the soldier-guards at Elankeep. Many of these soldiers are women, initially presented as almost common-place, an option for women with the will to fight. As Thera grows in awareness, so does the reader, to the very familiar imbalance of power between male and female.

Patience, humility and honesty form the core of Thera’s character even as the events and dangers facing her temper her strength. As the complications of adulthood and intrigue peel back Thera’s innocence, she will need that strength to face the challenges set-up for the sequel.

Although strictly presented as an enemy, S. A. Hunter introduces questions and potential inconsistencies about the Memteth raiders that allow for more than black and white, villains and hero-defenders. There are motivations that are not yet understood and secrets that still must be explored. Vividly depicting nature balanced between sea, mountains and forest, S. A. Hunter gives a story that will draw the reader in and leave them ready for more – for the next step of Thera’s growth into the Salvai of Elanraigh.