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Juno Lucina
Mandy Hager
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Her mother is a psychic artist, driven near to breaking point by a husband bent on conformity and control. The ugly childhood scenes have burrowed into Tess’s mind and festered there. Buried, too, are Tess’s own fledgling artistic and psychic abilities – unwanted ‘proof’ of the same inherent evil that has destroyed her family and stalked her dreams into adulthood. Tess flees into the safety of a teenage marriage, not realizing that the price of safety is her sense of self.

When her husband, Alan, is tragically killed, the anger and dissatisfaction boil over and threaten to consume her. Sent upon a reluctant journey into the world of full moon rituals, witchcraft and unexpected violence, Tess is finally forced to confront the ‘wolf’ of her nightmares. She must learn anew to trust – her mother, her psychic instincts, and also Jeff, an unheralded admirer from her past.

Wind-cowed pine trees sprinkled the rugged landscape, the nightmare silhouettes of kid’s cartoons. She followed the track up the hill, head jerking towards each faint sound. Her eyes scanned gloomy mounds, fear of the dark never quite exorcised from childhood. The climb steepened. Halfway up, her foot slipped. She threw herself forward to avoid damaging the camera gear, the tripod jabbing into the back of her head as she thudded down into the lupin. The acrid smell of crushed plant-life mingled with the burning sting of knees and elbows. Tears of self-pity ripened in her eyes.

As she brushed off the dirt, voices--disconnected and haunting--wafted down the hill. Thud-thud, thud-thud--her pulse pounding in her ears. The rhythm of a chant seeping into her, matching its beat with her own.

She reached the crest of the hill. Perched above the crashing swell of the sea, the Cook Strait an infinity of water. And above, the moon. Huge and fierce. Spotlight for the stage below.

There they stood on a grassy plateau. Six or seven...no, eight figures circling the feeble flicker of a candle. The tops of their heads shimmering in the unearthly starkness of the moonlight.

Tess dropped to the ground, grazes smarting, and crabbed gingerly towards a stand of manuka--to burrow amongst the scratchy branches. Shouldn’t be here.

The women stomped around the candle, their voices loud and powerful. "She shines for all. She flows through all."

She eased the camera from the duffel bag and attached the lens. The 600mm. Perfect for capturing their faces, even at night. She’d used the lens before, many times. But never like this. Never to--spy.

She checked over her shoulder, insecure beneath the floodlit sky. The camera, steadied on a branch, punched through the foliage like a sniper. With each click of the shutter, her unease compounded. Shouldn’t be here.

They weren’t the misfits she’d expected. Quite ordinary, really. Bank queue faces; school market-day faces. Not young. Not too unlike herself, if she ignored the smattering of ethnic skirts. But there was something in their faces that she knew her own lacked. A strength. A certainty.

They paused, evenly spaced around the unwavering candle. How was that? Had the wind dropped? She could see the round stones at their feet, markers for the sacred circle. Water stirred far below, whispering secrets.

The tall woman moved to the center of the group, turned towards the rocky entrance of the harbor, and brandished something high above her head. "Hail, Guardians of the East, Powers of Air! We invoke you and call you. Come! By the sweet air that is Her breath, by the raging winds of your Soul, send forth your light, your flow. Be here now!"

As she spoke, she drew a shape in the air--a star that flashed silver from the instrument in her hand. "Hail, Guardians of the North, Powers of Earth, Most Powerful of All…" The words calling, imploring the powers to rise and seek them out.

Tess hunched closer to the ground, the air so charged that any moment the trees must explode in revealing, shameful flames. The words of the chant bored into her consciousness. Tiny hairs rose in spiked protection.

"...by the earth that is her body, Send forth your strength, Be here now!"

Arm outstretched, the woman pointed the silver object toward each of the group in turn. Her arm swung in Tess’s direction. Did she pause? Had the silver object seen, and acknowledged, her presence? One by one, the women joined hands, linking the circle together.

"The circle is cast. We are between the worlds. Beyond the bounds of time where night and day, birth and death, Joy and Sorrow, meet as one."

As one, they lifted their faces to the moon and called: "We who look on her shining face are filled with love."

Mandy Hager lives in Wellington, New Zealand, with her husband and two teenage children.

She trained as a primary school teacher and later specialised in teaching adults and children with learning disabilities. She also has an Advanced Diploma in Applied Arts (Writing) from Whitireia Community Polytechnic. In 2001 she worked as a tutor and mentor for the Writing Programme at the polytechnic, and now works as a mentor on a part-time basis. She is involved in the NZ Book Council’s Writer In Schools scheme, and has run workshops for the Nestle Write Around New Zealand competition.

Mandy’s first book, “Toms Story” (pub. Mallinson Rendel Ltd) is a picture book dealing with the topic of grief, and won an Honour Award in the 1996 New Zealand Aim Children’s Book Awards. It has also been produced for radio.

Since then she has published three novels for the 11+ age group. The fast-paced, high action thriller/adventure, “Run For The Trees” 1999 (Steele Roberts Ltd) was adapted for audiotape in 2000, and short-listed for CanRead 2000. “Double Danger” and “Stumpy’s Secret” 2000 (Learning Media) are currently released through schools in USA, Singapore, Canada and Australia.

Mandy has also had short stories and poems published in New Zealand. Juno Lucina is her first novel for adults.

“Great Book! Like Ben and Ange, a new generation is answering the cries of a sick planet and doing what they can to protect it from the vested interests of short-term profiteering. Time to shout ‘Stop’ from the highest rimu tree to the depths of the ocean. Every voice counts.” Dr David Bellamy, internationally acclaimed botanist.

“Ben is a delightful main character who thankfully doesn’t have the answer to everything, Superman-like – but struggles with each obstacle and makes a tremendous effort to problem-solve. Usually he succeeds. When he doesn’t, he berates himself, because at heart he still thinks he’s a dummy. The reader can see through this, though, so the message is cleverly delivered – we can be our own worst enemy. Have faith.” Paula Boock, award-winning NZ author.

“I would recommend this book to anyone of my age living anywhere, because I am sure that everyone can relate to at least one part of this book.” Presto, Evening Post, May 1999.

“Run for the Trees is a fast-paced, exciting read. The plot is ‘real’ and it shows how young people can also join the fight to save our environment. Above all, Ben is a ‘real’ character – by the end of the book you decide he’s someone you’d really like to have as a friend.” Tearaway Magazine – June 1999.

“…A stunning and exciting novel for young adults…as far as I’m concerned the highest accolade I can give it is to tell you that I read it in one sitting.” V. Scott -Evening Post, May 1999

Fiction Books :: General Books

ISBN: 1590889126
ISBN(13-digit): 9781590889121
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 262
Paper Weight (lb): 11.2

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