A magical journal. A world savaged by its own suns. An evil prince. A princess in hiding. And a teenage girl who learns to be the hero of her own story.
Sixteen-year-old Olive Joshi has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and can’t stop worrying about hurting the people she loves. She finds refuge in writing about Coseema, a magical princess on a distant planet. Coseema is fearless, confident, and perfect – everything Olive thinks she’ll never be. When she falls through a portal into her own unfinished story, Olive finds herself in a world in peril: double suns scorch the land, the brutal Prince Burnash seeks supreme power, and Coseema is nowhere to be found. Together with her friends – a bold poet, a cursed musician, a renegade soldier, and an adventurous girl from the desert – Olive will have to face her deepest fears to find the hero in herself.
Olive kept her eyes shut the entire time she was in the air.
She sat behind Zeph, her arms wrapped around his waist and her face pressed into his back, but she was too terrified even to blush. She heard Bel, somewhere to her left, giggling and shrieking like a child on a roller coaster. She heard the flapping of leathery wings and the whistling of air as it whipped up her hair and pulled at her sleeves and pant legs. But she saw nothing. She feared that if she opened her eyes for even an instant, she would fall to the desert floor, or throw up, or both.
The Raiders’ pteroks may have been tame, but they looked as nightmarish as ever. They were more like dragons than bats: mouths brimming with fangs, a row of spikes along whiplike tails, talons as long as Olive’s hand. Only their jet-black fur offered a reassuring softness; everything else was barbs and thorns and razor edges, and their eyes, so big and endearing in the chicks, looked sunken and menacing in the faces of the adults.
Flying horses, thought Olive to herself. Why couldn’t I have invented flying horses?
She had almost been too frightened to climb onto the back of her ride. Zeph described Midnight, Gloamie’s mother, as the gentlest pterok in the colony. Olive, who had thought the creature looked as though it were considering which part of her body to bite first, had not found that description particularly encouraging. Zeph had assured her that they would fly slowly, that he would guide the pteroks with his music, and that all Olive would have to do was hold on.
“Has anyone ever fallen?” Olive had asked.
Zeph had chuckled lightly and had not actually replied.
“Olive!” Bel screamed from somewhere to the right, where she and her aunt were riding a second pterok. “Isn’t this the best?”
Olive made a muffled noise, her face still scrunched up against Zeph’s back. The ride was not smooth like the fluttercamel’s had been; it was bumpy and twitchy, and the pterok tilted its body to the side far too often.
After what must have been fifteen or twenty minutes, Zeph played a series of falling notes on his stringed instrument, and the pterok began to descend. Olive opened her eyes only when its feet touched down with a final jolt. Her arms felt stiff as she unclasped them from around Zeph’s
waist. She slid off the pterok’s wing like a rag doll, and for a minute she sat crumpled on the sand, waiting to catch the breath she’d left far behind her.
Bel extended a hand to help her up. The girl wore a broad smile, her cheeks flushed and her braids loose. Olive raised a hand to her own hair and made a halfhearted effort to smooth it down, then stood on trembling legs, her stomach flopping about like a stranded fish. She tried to mask her discomfort with a smile of her own.
“Quite a rush, huh?” asked Reen.
“That was amazing!” Bel gave her pterok a pat on its hideous snout. “Wasn’t it, Olive?”
Olive grunted something that sounded vaguely affirmative.
Thank you, Bridgette Dutta Portman and Lola’s Blog Tours
About the author
Bridgette Dutta Portman is an author, playwright, and teaching artist. Dozens of her plays have been produced across the United States and overseas. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University, as well as a PhD in political science from the University of California, Irvine. She is past president of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco and is currently a member of Same Boat Theater Collective, the Pear Playwrights’ Guild, and the Dramatists’ Guild. She recently joined the board of the Pear Theatre in Mountain View, CA. The Twin Stars is her debut novel, and the first of a planned trilogy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Deepanshu and their two young children
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