HEARTKEEPER by B.T. Lyons
Book One in the Heartkeeper Saga
“People of the Field, of the Cave, of the Forest, and of the Mountain, and all the places and habitats in between, our race is able to gather here tonight because in time past we found that we were not the warden of the Earth, but the Earth was our warden, our sustainer, our parent...”
Mankind has survived the near-collapse of life as they knew it, now living in harmony with the world around them. Adain, a young Tenderfoot of this Future Earth, is about to take part in his Heart Chase – the search for a companion animal spirit that will act as his companion and conscience for the rest of his life. Success in the Heart Chase and surviving the subsequent Trials over the year ensures his place amongst the People as an adult, but failure means his certain death...
...and his whole future lies on the Heart of a mouse.
Heartkeeper is the first book in the “Heartkeeper Saga”, an epic adventure of friendship, challenges, and danger as humans struggle to regain their foothold in a new world that is no longer theirs to control. Can they survive in balance with the Earth, or will the Earth decide they no longer belong?
HEARTBOUND by B.T. Lyons
Book One in the Heartkeeper Saga
(Middle Grade- YA everyone)
It's a new year, a new batch of Tenderfeet, and a new Heart Chase... but it is not the joyous occasion it has been for generations.
Shan, a Tenderfoot from devastated Sunperch Village, wants nothing to do with Hearts, the Heart Chase, or the Trials. All he wants is for the surviving children of his home to be safe... and he's willing to do anything to protect them.
Cill, now the youngest Heartsworn ever chosen by the People, is thrust headlong into a side of his People's culture that is changing daily, where the answers to life's challenges are never easy and what is “right” is not as obvious as it once seemed.
New alliances will be forged, an entire way of living will be questioned, and the mystery of the Hearts and the Guardians deepens in Heartbound, Book Two of the Heartkeeper Saga.
One thing that makes this cover extremely exciting is that the artwork was created by the author herself! (To see more of her art, check out her art page on her website.)
The novella of Heartkeeper was featured in Clean Teen Publishing's break through anthology, Wonderstruck and has received numerous outstanding reviews. When B.T. Lyons accepted our invitation to submit a full length novel for this fantastical story, we were so pleased. All of us at CTP are super excited to have such a talented artist and writer on our team!
Excerpt from Heartkeeper by B.T. Lyons:
The Covenant was formed between the Land and the Humans to ensure that never again would our people exploit the plants, the animals, the soil, or the waters of Earth. By this agreement we are bound to protect as we are protected, to provide as we are provided for, and to respect, in order to be respected in return. Tonight we gather for one of the greatest binding aspects of the Covenant—the Heart Chase, where our young people are tested to see if they will uphold the Covenant in their adulthood. Guardians! Witness—we have gathered our young of thirteen years, the Tenderfeet of our People, to uphold their end of the bargain. Have the spirits gathered to uphold theirs?” All eyes turned to the dark woods where, slowly, small, faint lights began to gather with a warm, ethereal glow. They hovered, some weaving slightly between the leaves as if seeking a better viewing spot. Before long there were dozens, then hundreds, of individual heatless flames waiting at the edge of the forest.
Grandma Fael nodded, and bowed to the invisible Guardians. She turned back to the crowd, and spread her arms toward the now nervous Tenderfeet, who dug their toes in the thick summer grass and grasped their glass jars tight. “Gather around, children,” she said, speaking to them rather than the crowd. “Come, and I will tell you what will befall you tonight as you take your first step to adulthood.”
Adain and the other young people slowly stepped forward, and sat at Grandma Fael’s feet as was expected. There were around one hundred Tenderfeet, of all shapes, sizes, and colors, male and female, all thirteen years of age. But at this moment none felt as if they were on the verge of adulthood. They were scared, frightened children, relying on an adored adult to save their lives, which were very much in jeopardy for the next year.
“Tonight, children,” Grandma Fael said gently, looking over the assembled gathering, “is the last time I will be able to rightly call you ‘children’. Tonight you will go into the woods, and you will find, chase, and capture your Heart. It is the spirit of an animal who has given their life at some time for the good of humans; animals who lay down their life so we might eat, or make shelter, or make clothing or tools, or for our protection. There are animals there from all ages of time where humans and animals have lived together, from the great mammoth, to the first horses, to the cattle that lived in crowded feedlots and knew no freedom until their slaughter for our food set their spirits free. As part of the Covenant, you will go into the woods, and capture one of these Hearts, and care for it for a year. And during that year you will learn from it, as it will learn from you, and together you will grow in understanding of the relationship between the Land, the animals, and the Humans.
“But, as you are well aware, not all of you will survive this night. You go without light into the dark forest, where some of you will fail simply due to the hazards of the woods. And there are other
dangers. The gold Hearts that you see waiting for you are the spirits of the beasts that wish to rejoin with humans, to work with them, learn from them, and grow into greater beings. Out there are also Hearts that grow an angry red; these Hearts are animals who resent the actions that Man has taken against them, and they will try to harm you. Some will try to trick you into thinking that they are strong, powerful Hearts that even with their anger, will make a strong ally through life if you can only tame it. Do not fall for these tricks, for they never, ever come to good. Others will lead you to injury, or perhaps even death.
“And finally, there are the black Hearts. These are the spirits of those who were killed for no reason. They were abused, beaten, hunted for fun and sport, and suffered with no benefit in their passing. They want nothing else but to see you die. In the darkness of the forest, they will be very difficult for you to spot, but believe me, they can see you just fine. Most of them are probably sated from feeding on the Failed from this morning’s ceremony, but there may still be some about, because they know that you will be out in the woods seeking. You will be in grave danger out there.”
Adain swallowed heavily, his stomach dancing with excitement and fear. The Heart Chase was what every child looked forward to their entire life, and dreaded. Now that the moment was upon him, he didn’t know if he should be happy... or try to slink away and hide behind his mother.
Meet the author:
B.T. Lyons was born in 1973, growing up in Boylston, Massachusetts, and lived her early life working on the family goat farm and learning wilderness survival skills in the surrounding woodlands. She is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as everything from a zookeeper to bookstore manager, to a horror theme park actress, to a radio personality, to a builder of utility trucks. In a current fit of happy mid-life crisis, she is a history major at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD.
She shares her home with her husband and her thirteen-year-old daughter, as well as a rat terrier, a Pomeranian, a ball python, and a rotating guest list of foster animals from the local humane society. B.T. is a rabid video game addict, and also enjoys drawing and creating various Neolithic-style handcrafts as her other hobbies. Her role models include Jim Henson, Jackie Chan, Hiyao Miyazaki, and Bill Cosby, and she is inspired by authors such as Richard Adams, Tad Williams, and Ray Bradbury.