The Girl from the North (Pathway of the Chosen #1)
written by Cat Bruno
published by Fourth Street
You can read my 4-star review here.
About the book – from Goodreads: When a dark stranger, beautiful and haunting, approaches the flame-haired girl on a solitary stretch of beach, she senses that her life at the Healer’s Academy is about to change. As his hands reach for her forehead, gliding across it with intimacy and purpose, suddenly, she remembers who he is, and who he has been. Yet, still, Bronwen wonders why she was chosen, and fears what the mysterious man’s presence in her life will mean. Before he turns to leave, she asks why he has come and why it has been her he sought.
His reply silences her.
“Rexaria,” he whispers, low and gruff, yet louder than the tumbling sea and the screaming gulls flying overhead.
Somehow, Bronwen understands.
In the first book in the Pathway of the Chosen series, we meet Bronwen, a healer-in-training, who arrived at the Academy as a child with no memory of who she was or where she had come from. Soon, we learn that there is much that she keeps hidden. Her fire-streaked hair marks her as a Northerner, far from her homeland, yet she recalls nothing of her time there.
Until she is visited by Conri, the High Lord of the Wolf Tribe. It is he who lets her remember.
But what will those memories bring? Follow Bronwen as she explores what it means to be god-touched.
Please enjoy this excerpt from book 2, Daughter of the Wolf.
“If I leave, your father will not live,” she called to him, letting her eyes fall upon his. Let him know my words for truth.
“If you stay, I fear that I will be unable to keep you safe. If any find out about the babe, you would become little more than food for the vultures.”
“You make little sense, Crispin. I am a healer! Few would even think to threaten one such as me.”
“Aye, you’re a healer. A beautiful, quick-witted one. But, you are a fool nonetheless. You trust too soon. And ones whom you should not. Have you thought that I might be lying to you, Caryss? That I didn’t see the boy because he did not want me to? That he does not want me to see him because he knows that if I do, he will soon be dead?”
When he stepped closer to her, she pressed her back into the window, all color fading from her face.
“You would not kill your own son,” she gasped.
Again his hands were on her, pinning her to the window. Behind her eyes, the room began to darken, tinged in red.
“Over ten moon years ago, I chose the throne over him. If I must do so again, I will.”
Shaking her head, Caryss gazed at him. She did not believe his words, yet questioned why he had spoken so.
“You sent for a healer,” she mumbled, trying to make sense of what no longer did.
“If my father dies now, I will have a fight ahead that I am not yet prepared for. Nearly all is a game in the King’s City. All! And all you have brought is a fallen mage, a woman who knows not how to fight, and two guards who were bought with coin not even your own. You have lost before the game has even begun, girl.”
“You know nothing of me, prince,” she hissed, anger burning hot as the babe stirred.
The prince was so near to her that she could feel his life pulse as it thumped against his tunic, his chest against her own. She could have pushed him from her, Caryss knew, feeling the strength of the babe growing, yet she did not.
“Tell me of the babe’s father, Caryss,” he whispered, the words suddenly soft and sweet against her ear.
Caryss paused, then turned her face until his lips were near her own. With a half-smile across her face, she told him, “I will tell you nothing more.”
Her words were so close as to be a kiss, yet neither moved.
Finally, the prince pulled his head back, slightly, and asked, “Who is he, Caryss? If the babe is god-touched, she will have both friend and foe. I might be able to help.”
Feeling as if her legs were near to collapsing beneath her, Caryss struggled to stand. The prince’s words, his last ones, only added to her unease.
I will not tell him of Conri, she vowed.
“How do I know which you are?” she breathed.
Laughing now, the prince’s eyes were light and glimmering, as if nothing had changed. “You are learning, girl,” he told her, stepping back.
“How fares my cousin?” he added, from across the room.
Hesitatingly, Caryss replied, “He is the same as when you last asked, I would guess.”
As if she had said too much, Crispin clapped his hands together, the sound clanging around the room until Caryss thought that Aldric and Sharron would wake.
No knock came.
With a suddenly throbbing life pulse, Caryss asked him, “What have you done to the ward?”
His smile bright, his teeth straight and white, Crispin teased, “The student continues to learn.”
“What have you done to the ward?” she screamed, now knowing that none could hear.
“It has been strengthened. You need not worry.”
“What is it that you want from me, prince?” she asked, her voice low, as if her screams had left her throat raw.
“Is the babe Willem’s?”
When she did not answer, he said, “Why would he send you here alone, like a bone to the dogs?”
Again, Caryss did not answer.
“Did he truly think you would be safe here? That his child would be safe? He has been exiled for over ten moon years, but Delwin hates him still, and would see him dead. I had thought him to know better. He has been gone too long, it seems, and has forgotten the ways of Rexterra.”
“You speak of him as if he did not sacrifice his own life for yours!” she scolded.
“Is that how he tells it?”
“You are here, and he is not. That is story enough.”
The prince’s laugh was harsh when it next came. “How well you play your role as healer. Tell me who you really are, Caryss,” he said to her, roughly.
About the author: The Girl from the North is Cat Bruno’s first full-length venture into fantasy writing, although she has been an avid and loyal reader of sci-fi/fantasy books for many years, especially traditional epic fantasy. For years, she waited (raising kids, living life) to have enough time to give voice to the characters she long dreamed of creating. Her focus has always been on imagining strong, if imperfect, female characters and bringing diversity to the fantasy genre. The Pathway of the Chosen as a series will most likely be a long one, just as long as the journeys of many of its characters.