The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale
Publication date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
In The Lady Raven, Rebecca Henry tells the tale of Zezolla, a little princess abandoned by her father into the hands of her evil stepmother and wicked stepsisters. A familiar fairy tale you may think but all is not as it appears. The reader is soon drawn into a web of witchcraft, lies and deceit, and gradually realises that this is no typical fairy tale but a dark and macabre take on one. Zezolla is treated with the utmost cruelty, neglected and vilified, and left to live in the damp cellars of the castle. The only friends Zezolla has are her beloved raven and her pet wolf. Her only comfort lies in the loyalty of the creatures of the forest and her mother’s hazel tree. Will Zezolla have the power to escape her torment and ultimately save herself from the unscrupulous clutches of the king? The Lady Raven is a compelling tale and one that is not for the faint-hearted.
Baldric bent down, whispering into his wife’s ear. “I am going to drown you in the river, my love. I want you to hear my words and know that it is I who will kill you. Do not think that I do not know what you did.” Before Avelina could protest, her face was plunged into the icy water. She tried pulling her head up, but Baldric was too strong. She began to buck her legs around like a mule, desperate to make contact with Baldric, anything to weaken his grip. Baldric climbed on top of her and pinned her body beneath his. “Die, Avelina.” he growled. Hands were flying all around him as he drowned his wife, the only woman he ever loved. Princess Avelina was a fighter and she determined to stay alive, but it was to no avail.
Baldric kept her head under the water well after her body stopped moving. Avelina’s betrayal caused Baldric’s love to turn to hate, just as water turns to ice in the frozen kiss of winter.
“Die, you lying witch. Die! You do not deserve the life you have. You do not deserve me. You have taken everything I’ve loved away and now I will take everything from you.” Baldric’s hands trembled with rage as he dismounted his wife’s limp body. Baldric arose, looking around the grounds to ensure that no witnesses could testify to his crime. Still, he would not suffer the consequence of murdering his wife. To seal his innocence, he gathered heavy rocks from the bank and shoved them in Avelina’s robes.
“They will think it a suicide and my hands will never be traced to her death.” He bent down to see her face one last time before kicking her corpse into the lake.
“I loved you mind, body, and soul. I would have loved you until my dying breath, but I will never think of you again. From this day forth, you no longer consume my heart. May you rest in hell, my love.” He watched her body sink; he was triumphant, sentencing her to the punishment that fitted the crime: death.
Before her body disappeared into the ultramarine water, he spat on her. One final act of defiance.
Zezolla entered the forest, twig in one hand, shattered glass in the other. She moved effortlessly through the night as if she herself had wings which carried her. She came to a clearing, a streak of moonlight shining on the frozen ground. “This is the spot, my love.” The raven flew into the sky circling Zezolla as she dug into the ground. “Remember the order, my princess. Plant the twig and then the glass.”
“I call upon the spirit of my mother. I command you to leave the grave in which my mother’s body rests. Awaken now and bring forth the tree of life!” Zezolla held her hands up to the moon invoking its powers. “I am the daughter of the witch Avelina. I invoke the powers of the night. Come to me, my mother’s spirit. I welcome you!” A silver mist traveled above. The raven flew down to his princess. “She is coming, princess.” Zezolla watched as a tiny branch came forth from the dirt. Slowly it grew, taller and taller. More branches came. Zezolla thought she saw the figure of a woman in the tree. Shards of glass formed together creating glass leaves, dangerous to anyone who touched it – anyone but Zezolla. The princess stood up amazed by the beautiful sight before her. “It is complete, my love. My mother is here and her spirit resides inside the tree.” A remarkable hazel tree stood before her, 15 feet tall with a small opening at the base big enough for Zezolla to fit through. She examined the leaves running her long fingers over the glass. “It cannot cut me my love.” She held out her arm for the raven to perch. “But it will be dangerous to anyone else who tries to touch it.”
The two men made it to the barrier, gasping in horror. “What entrance is this!?” cried out Jack. “This was never here. There has never been an entrance to the forest.” Jack backed away, terrified that Zezolla awakened a spirit inside the forest. “It’s just a narrow passage. It must have been caused by the cold ice.” concluded Edward logically.
Jack shook his head. “No, Hexe did this. She has opened the forest. Who knows what evil lurks inside? These grounds are now cursed.”
“If that is true then I will not venture in.” Edward turned to leave but Jack stopped him. “This might be valuable to me Edward. If Hexe possesses some magical entity inside the forest then I want it.” Jack grabbed Edward by the collar and moved him through the opening. Edward clung to his knife, jumping at the sounds around them. “There is a light coming from beyond the trees. Could be lightening. Let’s go see what Hexe is up to.” Edward tried to turn back, but Jack had a strong hold on him. “Courage man! You’re no better than a scared boy.” snarled Jack.
Zezolla, unaware of the servants approaching, entered the hazel tree. Edward ducked down behind a bush as he saw Zezolla disappear.
“We must leave now! I told you this would be our death! She is a witch! Did you just see how she
entered that glass tree?!”
Jack was too fascinated to leave. He had never witnessed true magic before. “I want to take a closer look.”
“What? Are you mad! If you go near that tree that will be the end of you!”
Jack did not listen to Edward and walked over to the magical tree which was shimmering in the moonlight. “I just want to see it. Stay where you are if you are afraid,” Jack snorted.
“To hell with curiosity. I don’t want to end up without my head like Princess Guinevere. Go on then, you fool! Go see your magical tree.”
The tree seemed to call to Jack, beckoning him forward. “It’s so beautiful. Look at the sparkling leaves.” He reached out to touch one. The branch moved slicing his finger off his hand. Jack screamed in pain, clenching his finger to his chest. He tried to run away, but the tree caught him in her branches.
Edward stayed hidden, watching in horror as Jack cried out for help. “Edward, help me!”
“Stupid fool. I told him not to get closer.” muttered Edward
The tree tightened its grip around Jack, cutting him as it squeezed. “Please! I am sorry! Please let me go!” The tree would not accept Jack’s pleas and brought down another branch lined with razor sharp leaves. “No! No! Please, I will do anything! I will protect the princess from her stepmother. I swear to protect her as long as I live! Please, spare me!” The branch came down, slicing Jack’s throat with a row of deadly leaves.
“She needs no protection. I am with her now.” said the tree.
Author Questions and Answers
-Write a letter to your teen self
Dear Teenage Me,
They say your teen years are your golden years. The best time of your life. For you, it’s a struggle. You see life with the eyes of an adult not a sixteen-year-old. You want to fast forward, jump into the future. You know the best part of your life is yet to come, waiting around the corner of time. I’m writing you to say, you’re exactly right.
Keep believing, keep dreaming and reaching because you will have it all…
Your future self xx
-Handling negative reviews
This is such a great topic, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about it. Negative reviews are rejections against our soul. When an author writes, or a painter paints, or a musician plays her song…it is an extension of our inner self bleeding out onto our canvas. A piece of our soul gets transferred onto the page, preserving a bit of ourselves for all time. It’s too easy to inhale negative reviews like air, like oxygen. But they are not our oxygen they are just a passing whisper in the breeze. Nothing more. Negative reviews are opinions we hear louder than the positive ones. I choose to silence that noise and open my ears to the positives. I do, however listen to negative reviews as constructive criticism, hoping to always improve and better my writing. I’m an extremely sensitive person so this mind-set has taken me time to form and learn but once you do, you will be able to blink out the negative and focus on the positives. The reality is not everyone will like your work and that’s OK. Not everyone has to. Write for yourself and you cannot fail.
-Behind the scenes (this can be anything to do with the writing process–habits, research process, inspiration, etc)
My behind the scenes takes place in my head. I see something that interests me. Maybe a bride trying on her wedding dress in a clothing store window, or a woman working behind a jewelry counter or a lonely old man walking out of his cottage door. Then something inside me clicks and I’m imagining what their life is like. What their day will be like and all–of–a–sudden, they are characters in a book I am going to create. From there I take picture of images, places anything that coordinates with those future characters. I usually take three weeks to write a book, once I have the idea it pours out of me like water from a tap. It just comes and the deeper I get into my writing the more alive the characters become. I enjoy writing with my computer facing my garden so I can see my cats and dog outside sunbathing as I type. My kids and husband are so wonderful when I write. They give me the quiet and space I need as I compose my story, but they always come up to take a peek at the progress, adding their comments.
Rebecca Henry is a newly published author. Her debut novel is The Lady Raven, A Dark Cinderella Tale, which was published in 2017. The Lady Raven, is for those who have an affinity for fairy tales retold with a link to witches, magic and the macabre. Her second novel, Louisiana Latte, a chick lit comedy was released February 28th 2019. Louisiana Latte, is a feel good comedy that focuses on the bonds of sisters, and how audacious life can be when you have a diva for one! Both books are available on amazon as well as Barnes & Noble.
Rebecca Henry is a world traveler living abroad in England. Besides being an author of two published books, Rebecca is also a podcast talk host on the show The Latte Talk. The podcast was inspired by her latest novel, Louisiana Latte and her diva sister Deb. She is a serious vegan, gardener, crafter, wife and mom who practices yoga. She loves to laugh, her drug of choice and loves all things witchy with a hint of the macabre. Her favorite holiday is Halloween and her favorite movie of all time is Practical Magic.