Chafing at the rules of the amber guild, Peter, an apprentice during the waning years of the Thirty Years’ War, finds and keeps a forbidden piece of amber, despite the risk of severe penalties should his secret be discovered.
Little does he know that this amber has hidden powers, transporting him into a future far beyond anything he could imagine. In dreamlike encounters, Peter witnesses the ravages of the final months of World War II in and around his home. He becomes embroiled in the troubles faced by Lioba, a girl he meets who seeks to escape from the oncoming Russian army.
Peter struggles with the consequences of his actions, endangering his family, his amber master’s reputation, and his own future. How much is Peter prepared to sacrifice to right his wrongs?
Excerpt from Chapter 5 ALL HALLOWS EVE
Peter smiled as he speared an apple and held it over the embers, turning it slowly until the skin began to burst. He pulled it back and blew on it energetically. After a few moments, he risked a small bite. His mouth was flooded with the sweet hot juice of the apple.
I saw your uncle. He is talking to some town elders over there,” Anne said, pointing with a small knife toward a group of men sitting at a distance from the bonfire. Why isnt your father here, and how is Effie? I thought your father would bring her to the bonfire.” She used the knife to peel the sooty skin of a chestnut, revealing the white flesh inside. Ah, this is always the best,” she said, nibbling on it daintily like a cat.
Peter watched her slender hands flicking back and forth. He finished his apple and tossed the core into the fire where it vanished with a hiss.
Father left her with Clare.” He hesitated, reluctant to say anything. But this was Anne, after all. She knew everything, and he trusted her. Something happened to her. She is doing all that rocking again.”
Poor Effie,” Anne said, her eyes wide and anxious. Did someone hurt her?”
I do not know.” Peter shifted and pretended to be absorbed by the flames. He could not bring himself to tell Anne that Effie had been raped. It was too difficult to talk about.
I will visit her soon. I will take Inga. It might cheer her up.” Inga was Annes little sister. Inga and Effie liked to sit together on the floor for hours with balls of yarn, rolling and unrolling them.
Oops.” A large boot kicked over the basket filled with chestnuts next to Peter. Really, you should know better than to put the basket right where people are walking. I hear stupidity runs in the family.”
Peter looked up to find Lars looming over him and hastily got to his feet. Clenching his fists, he glowered at his tormentor.
Your sister is a bit soft in the head.” Lars grinned, twirling his index finger against his forehead suggestively. What about you? Want me to test it?” He made a sweeping movement as if trying to knock on Peters head.
Do not dare say anything about my sister,” Peter shouted as he charged.
Lars was taller by a head, but Peter went straight for his stomach, bending down and barreling into him with his head. It was like charging into a flour sack.
Oomph,” Lars grunted and fell backward.
Peter landed on top of him. Do not”—he slapped him in the face—“speak”—another slap—“about my sister”—slap—“ever again.”
Stop this immediately,” Master Nowak growled. He pulled Peter up. And you, young man, get up,” he said to Lars. I saw everything. Be gone.”
With a grimace at Peter and mouthing the word later,” Lars sauntered off.
You have no business getting into a fight with this young hoodlum.” Master Nowak glared at Peter. Why do you let him goad you into reacting?”
Sorry, Master Nowak.” Peter glanced down, distracted by an acrid smell. It came from his shoe. He must have stepped in the fire and singed the sole. Angrily, he stamped his foot on the ground as if he could undo the damage. Maybe the cobbler could mend it. The shoes had already been resoled more times than he cared to count. I think I will head back to the house, Master Nowak.”
Peter walked quickly as he made his way down the hill. He was still angry. Lars had deserved every slap. Then, he felt ashamed. Not so long ago, he had run around with Lars and his friends Gregor and Urban, and had joined in when they made fun of Effie.
A few months before he joined the army, Lorenz had come upon Peter and his friends sitting on a stone wall and aiming rotten apples at Effie as she walked past.
Do not ever let me catch you treating your sister like that,” Lorenz hissed as he dragged Peter home. She cannot fight for herself.”
Now, with the memory of Lorenzs voice ringing in his ears, unsettled and restless, Peter continued on the road into town.
He turned around. Uncle Frantz was trying to catch up with him.
I guess your father decided against joining us.”
He said he was tired.” Peter shrugged.
He should get out more.” Uncle Frantz sighed. But listen, I wanted to talk to you. Could you walk back with me before you return to Master Nowaks house?”
Thank you, Malve von Hassell and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has self-published two children’s picture books, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (2012/2020) and Turtle Crossing (2021), and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay, Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures (Two Harbors Press, 2012). The Falconer’s Apprentice (namelos, 2015) was her first historical fiction novel for young adults. She has published Alina: A Song for the Telling (BHC Press, 2020), set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades, and The Amber Crane (Odyssey Books, 2021), set in Germany in 1645 and 1945. She has completed a biographical work about a woman coming of age in Nazi Germany and is working on a historical fiction trilogy featuring Adela of Normandy
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Malve-von-Hassell/
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bzeXqE