A child slips through a portal into the land of the Fae and traverses the Otherworld with the help of a young elf, while her parents are left to deal with the changeling that was left in her place. Urban Fantasy / YA
Abigail D. Brown was a creative, inquisitive, and precocious girl of eight. That is to say, she was like most girls her age, if taller than some, and during the summer she spent most of her time exploring the woods behind her house. Her mother called it a ‘green space’ but to Abbie it was her place, and if you called a forest by any other name it lost some of its inherent magic.
It was a hot day in early summer, but it had started off with a rainstorm and the air was warm and humid, especially for Oregon. Abbie was sitting on a mossy stump, watching bees as they swarmed the petite white blooms of a blackberry bramble, and anticipating the bountiful harvest she’d enjoy in the coming months. Picking berries and eating them until her fingers and lips (and clothes, to her mother’s private horror) were stained purple was probably her favorite thing about summer.
She was alone. Abbie was often alone (if you don’t count her parents), but she didn’t mind. She had friends among the other kids in the neighborhood, but she tended toward flights of fancy, playing with her dog, and scribbling stories in a battered notebook in her large, childish handwriting. The other children seemed to prefer video games, and watching other people play video games on the internet. Abbie’s parents didn’t have the internet in their house, or a television, and she was homeschooled, which meant she got to learn about things that interested her. Her mother, Fiona Brown, worked, and Dan Brown, her father, taught her at home, but when the weather was fine he would bring them both outside to enjoy the fresh air. Of course, they lived in Oregon, so it was often dreary or cloudy, but bundling up in raincoats and splashing about in mud and puddles was almost as fun as running barefoot in the woods during the summer.
Abbie looked down at her dirty toes, and wiggled them. Mom would make her put her sandals back on, in case she stepped on something sharp, but Dad would wink and tell her to enjoy herself. After a moment of toe wiggling, she slipped her flip-flops back on and stood up. The bees buzzed around her, but she wasn’t scared, walking slowly past the tangle of thorny vines into a mass of tall clover that grew under the enormous fir trees. “Come on Sammy,” she called, and Sammy, her little Jack Russell terrier, bounded out of the bushes and nearly took her out at the knees. Abbie knelt down and ruffled his ears. “Who’s a good booooy,” she crooned, and Sammy wagged his tail and licked her face, to her delight. “You’re all dirty!” she cried, fending off his licks. “C’mon, I’m hungry.” Sammy barked, turning a quick circle in his excitement.
She pressed her hand to her stomach as it rumbled, and looked up through the trees at the blue sky. The sun was well overhead, which meant it was lunch time. Abbie picked up the pace, running down her trail, with Sammy at her heels, toward her hidden lunchbox. It was stashed in the cool, dark shadow of a fallen log, and she brushed dirt off of it as...