A masterpiece of paranormal historical fiction, The Purple Morrow, Book One in the Rise of the Papilion (sic) trilogy by Canadian author Dyane Forde, left me breathless, my heart pounding. It passes the Neil Gaiman literary quality litmus test with flying colors. It made a powerful initial impression, remains in my thoughts like a lover throughout the subsequent days and permanently colored the lenses through which I view my world.
If you liked the movies Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Excalibur, you’ll love the Purple Morrow by Dyane Forde. It also has elements of the Celestine Prophecy and Greek mythology. This is the first book of hers that I’ve read and it won’t be the last. It took me two days to complete, but could easily have been three or four had I slowed down and let any distraction beyond the necessities of daily life come between me and this gripping tale.
“The bite of a parched throat along with the throbbing pain in her head drew Nyssa out of a deep swoon. She lay on the ground, her chest pressed into the dirt and her legs twisted under her. She opened her good eye. Pebbles dug into the side of her face, and slick, black mud pooled around her forehead. Her hair was thick with it. Both legs and one of her arms were asleep. She pushed herself up, but her limbs quickly gave way, and she dropped back into the dirt and grit like a stone. Exhausted and angry, she gave in to the tears waiting impatiently for release. They rolled over her forehead and dripped, one by one, into the mud.
The sun sat high in a cloudless sky. Merciless and malevolent, it beat down on her, provoking her thirst. Nyssa tilted her head, allowing her a glimpse of the stream to which she had been running before her collapse. Her feet throbbed. She hated to think of what state they must be in. When she had awoken in the clearing, alone and barely alive after the terror inflicted on her by the Rovers, fear and rage had enabled her body to push past its natural limits. At the time, she had clung to one thought and one thought only: get as far away as possible from that vile, cursed place.
She did not recognize the forest around her. Thick ferns and dense shrubbery were everywhere she looked, and the air was thick with the smell of rotting deciduous tree leaves mixed in with the scent of the looming pines. Before her, tall reeds and fat clumps of browning grass swished in the wind. The sound of the rushing water made her throat ache. She could not see them, but she heard the calls of the carrion birds that circled overhead, waiting. Patience, friends. She closed her good eye, the only part of her that did not hurt. Only a little while longer and you will have your feast.
The world was no longer safe for her; all her havens were gone, destroyed by the Rovers. In their quest for dominion over the Southernlands, they had erased her people’s existence from the face of the earth. She would never again stroll through the glittering Celebration Hall or laugh with Ada at the beach while the gulls screeched overhead. Never again would she feel her mother’s comforting arms around her or see her father’s eyes light up when she ran along the docks to meet him. Gone. Everyone and everything she knew, gone.
But not only had she become a Rover casualty, nature itself seemed to have turned against her. Even now, the smouldering sun sought to take her life. And the forest, filled with the trees and creatures she loved so much, had betrayed her. How long had it been since it had sabotaged her, leaving her at the mercy of those Rover dogs? Hours? Days? Her skin burned. Mercy? The beast-men had shown her none. They had broken and crushed her, ground her, body and soul, into the dust. A wry smile flickered across her lips. Wasn’t that what the legends had taught her? That the Spirit had formed men and women from the dust of the earth? It was only fitting then that soon, thirst and dehydration would squeeze the breath of life from her body and that she would return to the very dust from which she had come.
She had one true regret. Only one. After all her prodigious waiting, she would never again look into the eyes of the man she loved. Her sole consolation was that Jeru would never know the truth of what had happened to her. He would think she had perished with the rest of her people at the hand of the Rovers. This belief gave her the strength to die. Quickly, Nyssa pleaded.
She coughed and pain tore through her body. Darkness edged her vision. Death, show me mercy and come quickly.
The sun continued to burn overhead. Its heat was unbearable.”
With an astounding sense of exactly when to lead the reader’s eye to rest on each key detail, to unleash each scene of primal action, to set in motion each piece of business between characters, Dyane Forde spins an intricate web as only a master storyteller can, strengthening the story’s underpinnings as she progresses through the piece.
This book was clearly not blasted out carelessly, rather it was meticulously nurtured, tenderly incubated and properly birthed over time. The quality speaks for itself. The Purple Morrow would make an outstanding film for the big screen. I haven’t felt this blown away by a book in a very long time and will likely read it again while awaiting the subsequent volumes in the Rise of the Papilion Trilogy from this important author of our time.
See Dyane Forde’s Guest Post: Adventures in Indie Publishing.
BUY & FOLLOW LINKS
Book: The Purple Morrow
Blog: Dropped Pebbles
Belinda Y. Hughes is the author of Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2 and Living Proof. She recently submitted a paranormal scifi short story to HDWP Books for consideration in their New Myths Theme-Thology. Her current projects include LGBT erotica and poetry. Belinda enjoys beading, reading, writing, cooking and hiking in the woods with her old dog.