Leading up to the release of my new book 'Lab Rat' on the 4th May, I'm taking a look back at some of my older books. Last time we looked at The Face in the Window and Memories of Forgotten Love, two books I am wholeheartedly behind and proud of.
Draven's Gate is slightly different. I'm totally behind the story. I have complete faith in Draven and Keiron, but I HATE the cover. This was not my idea, none of my doing and I have always spoken up against it. Nevertheless, I'm stuck with it and therefore find myself in the unenviable position of having to apologize for he cover of my own book. There is is. Great book; crappy cover.
That being said, it's definitely worth getting past the cover and into he story. The working title was Fairies At The Bottom Of The Garden and that's pretty much what it's about.
Keiron is a dyed-in-the-wool kind of guy. Old at 23. An accountant who should be wearing carpet slippers and possibly smoking a pipe.
Then Draven appears naked on his doorstep and life will never be the same again. Having let Keiron see him three times, Draven, the fairy from the bottom of the garden is sent to him to be his slave for three months
“I’m…Draven,” he said, with an anxious little smile. “I’m yours.”
“Mine?” Keiron shivered when he spoke the word. It seemed to ring in his head, and he rubbed his temple absently. “What the hell are you talking about? What do you mean, mine?”
“I’m your slave,” Draven said matter-of-factly, although there was something in his eyes that seemed to flinch as he spoke.
Keiron took a deep breath, and released it slowly. “I don’t know who you are or what the hell you want from me, but I’m not into that stuff - whips and handcuffs and—” He trailed off. Draven looked stricken.
“You…you’re going to…whip me? Why? What have I done?”
Keiron’s mouth dropped open, at the real fear in Draven’s face and voice. “I…. Of course I’m not going to whip you. Isn’t that what I said?”
Draven frowned deeply, then smiled. “I could probably get a whip for you, if you wanted. As long as you’re not going to use it on me.” He frowned again. “I suppose I shouldn’t make that a condition. You have the right to whip me if you want to. Of course, I’d much prefer if you didn’t. I could make one out of plaited grass if you’d like. You don’t have the right kind of grass in your garden, but I bet I could find some close by. I wouldn’t run away, I promise.”
Keiron was stunned. Draven spoke so fast, he could barely follow what he was saying. “Wait. Stop. I…I’ve already told you - I don’t want a whip.”
“Oh. But you said…. Oh. What do you want?”
“Nothing. I don’t want anything. I want you to go away and leave me alone.”
Draven blinked at him. “I can’t,” he said, sadly. “I can’t leave you. I’m your slave now.”
Keiron raised his hands and took another step back. Draven advanced over the threshold and looked around curiously.
“Look, I’ve no idea what’s going on, who you are or what you want, but you are not my slave and you are not coming into my house.
Draven looked at him, his head tilted to the side. “But I am your slave, and I am inside your house.”
“I…. Well…. Leave, then.”
“Leave?” Draven looked astonished. “But I can’t leave.”
“Because,” Draven said slowly, as if explaining something obvious to a child, or an idiot, “I’m your slave.”
Draven isn't a very good slave and Keiron begins to suspect the fairy King might have had other reasons that Draven allowing Keiron to see him, for sending him into the human world. As the High Lord put it - He said he hoped you could get me to listen to authority because he’s damned if he can.
Draven has a hard time in the human world. He got himself into trouble the very first morning
He found Draven in the kitchen. Draven’s face and hands were covered with jam, and he was completely naked. He hummed to himself as he tried to smear jam on a piece of bread with his fingers. It was such a funny sight that Keiron paused in the doorway, watching.
Draven scanned the kitchen, not seeing Keiron. He thrust his fingers into his mouth, spreading jam over even more of his face, then stamped his foot angrily, and put his hands on his hips, getting even stickier.
“Where is the water?”
“Try the tap.”
Draven jumped and spun around. Keiron laughed out loud. There was jam all over Draven’s face, jam in his hair, jam on his hands and now it was smeared down his hips too, not to mention all over the kitchen table. Even the handle of the fridge seemed decidedly jammy.
“It’s not my fault,” Draven said indignantly. “I could smell strawberries, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this, and I couldn’t find where you keep the water.”
“It’s in the tap.”
“Where’s the tap? I thought it would be somewhere in the cooking room. I didn’t want to make a mess in your pretty room, and anyone in their right minds should keep water in a cooking room.”
“I do. I told you, it’s in the tap.”
Draven stamped his foot and glared. “But I don’t know where the tap is.”
But it's not all fun and games. Keiron's boyfriend, Bren, isn't too happy with the naked man who strolls down the stairs when he visits Keiron and there is something of a confrontation
“Stop being such a party pooper. I’m not hurting it.”
“Whatever. So. Go on. Show me what you can do.”
Draven raised his head and his metallic eyes glittered. Keiron was momentarily scared, and even Bren seemed to take a mental step back. All the things Keiron had heard about fairies being malicious, dangerous, spiteful, without morals— It all came flooding into his head and he was worried.
Draven pointed towards Bren, who cringed away. Suddenly, there was a tinkling sound, like someone had shaken a handful of tiny bells over Bren’s head, and a shower of rose petals fell onto him.
Bren looked upwards, as they continued to fall.
“Bloody hell,” he said. Then…. “Ouch. They’ve got thorns.” He scrambled to his feet, brushing off the petals, and rubbing at his face, which was bleeding from a dozen tiny puncture wounds.
“Roses have thorns,” Draven said in a soft, singsong voice that sounded light but, Keiron thought with a sinking heart, definitely contained a note of menace.
Of course, Bren gets his revenge, and it nearly kills Draven. Then the very world they live in threatens to do the same. First there's the sherbet ice
“Um…I…I, um…colours…and…wavy things. In my head…music…not there but there inside and…everything…. Have to keep my eyes closed, Keiron. Everything’s melting. Bubbles in my head. Bubbles…colours and bubbles.”
“Jesus Christ. Draven are you…?”
Draven giggled and slid to the floor, hugging his knees and moaning. “It hurts, Keiron. It hurts but it’s so…funny.” Laughing helplessly and groaning at the same time, Draven looked up at Keiron with huge eyes, swirling with colour.
“I don’t…I don’t think I like the…blue…bl…ue…blue drink anymore.”
No. I don’t think I like it very much right now either.”
Then there's the smog. When Keiron tried to show Draven the beauty of the sunrise from the top of a hill, it didn't go too well
Keiron threw himself to his knees next to the sofa and stroked Draven’s forehead. “I’m here. Are you feeling better now?”
Draven looked around. “It…it’s better here,” he said, with a sigh.
“What’s better here?”
“What? What poison? Are you delirious?”
“I…told you, Keiron. That…that place.” Draven shuddered. “The air was poisoned.”
“What? The hill? You mean…? You were being serious? When you said all the poison from the city rose to the hill? You really meant actual poison? It poisoned you?”
But when Draven is taken back to fairyland neither of them copes well and Keiron is called by a frantic queen to save her son who had drifted so far into melancholy he might never come back. Keiron must make a decision. What is most important to him - his beloved city, or his beloved Draven? It's a hard choice because, as you will see Keiron and the country don't mix well. Here, they are having a picnic by the river, which turns into something like a still from a live-action Snow White movie.
“Why do you want to control everything?”
“I don’t,” Keiron responded automatically and defensively.
“Yes, you do. You want to control everything, even other people, like Bren, and you take responsibility for the things they do.”
“I…I….” He floundered. Draven didn’t understand. How could he understand? He had no idea what it was like to live in his world. He had no idea how different it was to live in the city, among people. He had no concept of the games, the expectations the…hypocrisy, the unreasonableness. “Maybe I do, but it’s the way you have to be to survive back there in the city.”
“Is it? Then why do you live there?”
“Because…because it’s where my home is. Where I feel…comfortable.”
“Are you scared of this world, Keiron? They sky and the sun and the trees and the grass and the water?”
“No…no, not scared, just….”
“Are you scared of the animals—the spiders and the snakes and the birds and beasts?”
“I…maybe a little.”
“There are dangerous things in the city too; much more dangerous things. And everything there is dark and fake and poisoned. It’s all poisoned, Keiron, and it poisons you, too. It makes you stiff and scared and…different.”
“It’s my world, Draven,” Keiron said defensively. “It’s what I know, where I feel comfortable.”
“I know,” Draven said sadly. “Do you want to go back now?”
Keiron found he was stiff and sore. The squirrel claws had scratched his back, and he was pretty sure the mouse had peed in his pocket. He squirmed uncomfortably. “Yes, I do. Do you mind?”
Draven gazed at him with such a sad expression on his face that Keiron knew he did mind, but Draven nodded and carefully sent the animals back into the forest, before he stood up and brushed himself down. Carefully, he began to pack away the picnic things, making sure there were no small animals trapped inside, occasionally chasing off a bee or ant, and rescuing a vole from the salad box.
Keiron didn’t have it so easy. The rabbit wasn’t happy to be disturbed, and scratched him fiercely with its back claws before it hopped off into the undergrowth. The mouse bit his finger as he fished it out of his pocket. Sucking his finger he threw the rest of the things into the basket and flung the blanket over his shoulder.
“Don’t, Keiron, be careful. You might—” He took one look at Keiron’s face, then dropped his eyes and meekly took the blanket from him, carefully shaking it out before folding it and putting it on top of the basket.
“The bloody mouse bit me.”
“Here, let me take a look.” Draven took his finger and examined it. He drew Keiron down to the river and thrust his hand into the running water.
“That’s not going to do any good if the bloody thing infects my finger.”
“It wasn’t the mouse’s fault. You probably hurt it when you were getting it out of your pocket.”
“I did not…. Well, I didn’t try to hurt it. It shouldn’t have gone in there in the first place.”
With a sigh Draven nodded, as if he was too tired to argue. When he took Keiron’s finger out of the water, he kissed in gently, then walked away without another word, to pick up the basket. Keiron collected the cool box, automatically checking it for stray animals, and followed Draven to the car.
To find out what he decides you'll need to read the book