As Aydan Fulbert settles into her new life in a new world, she realizes a few things. She’s healing from losing Brig. She’s coming to terms with her new home. And she’s lonely.
Rein Torvald’s return from his long absence helps alleviate her loneliness, but a darkness comes with him. Unsettling news about her father and the Sovereign has the potential to make her a fugitive all over again - from his world and hers.
Will Aydan allow her heart to be taken places she’s never been brave enough to go? Or will the threat of danger - of the Sovereign’s rage, and her father’s vengeful grudge, send her running?
Both Shrilugh and The Darkening take place in two different worlds: a fictional version of ours, and another world accessed through a mystical Door atop an old abandoned silo. Originally, both books began as one and were called The Silo Door because I went into writing that first draft with the mindset of the story centering around the Door. Soon, however, the story grew, the plot thickened, and the Door itself became secondary. Which meant (a) there was going to be more than one book, and (b) I needed to find another name for the first book, and the series as a whole.
The name of the other world is Archethenia. (That’s never mentioned in the the first book for two reasons: the main character, Aydan, never thought to ask, and the secondary character, Rein, never thought to tell.)
Archethenia isn’t terribly different from our own world: its occupants look human (though they’re not). They eat similar foods, have families, live in houses. But it’s a more rustic world – no electricity, no machines. It’s a more formal world – women wear dresses, servants and slaves abound, and there is a social caste.
It’s also a more sophisticated world – though there is little technology like our own, there is a fineness to what they do have. Their carriages are sleek and move with more grace than our automobiles. Their architecture is handcrafted and made with intention, with symbolism carefully integrated in unexpected places. As we get into the pages of The Darkening we’ll find that they are not quite so limited in technology as we thought – it just looks different than our own.
One of the differences between our world and theirs is found in nature – specifically, the trees. Not all their trees, but one species in particular, called Shrilugh. When dusk settles in, the Shrilugh trees begin to glow, lighting the world around them with a warm, inviting light.
Part of my inspiration for these trees came from a simple, childhood-driven love for Christmas tree. Growing up, I was always fascinated by our family Christmas tree. My mom loved Christmas, and our tree would be laden with lights, sparkly gold garland, lights, more ornaments than you can count, and more lights. The woman had a knack for stringing the lights and placing the ornaments in a way that took our tree from looking like the fake that it was to a Glowing Glorious Thing That Deserved Your Awe.
I remember looking at that tree, and then looking out my bedroom window at night, wishing the trees that lined the river in the distance would glow too. I was especially fond of a very tall cottonwood, whose branches stretched up higher than the rest, and oftentimes found myself praying with all my child-like might that God would light up that tree, just for me.
When we moved back to Kansas from Hawaii, one of the first things I noticed was how darn short the trees are here. They have to be. The winds that come howling across these plains make it tough for a tree of any height to survive.
Cottonwoods are the exception. They’re sturdy buggers who aren’t afraid of the wind; in fact, I’d have sworn the one I favored as a kid longed for it. While the other trees around it seemed to hunker down and wait out the gales, that tree seemed to dance in it.
The Kansas landscape seemed so brown and desolate compared to Hawaii. Short trees, little water. It could have been a pretty depressing shift, but three things saved it for me: the stars at night, the lazy sunsets, and the cottonwood trees.
One cottonwood in particular. Along Highway 196, between Whitewater and Newton, on the north side of the road, stands a giant. He’s right at the crest of a hill, standing watch over the travelers as they pass by. I like to think that he and the cottonwood of my youth are related somehow – cousins? Brothers?
So that’s how Shrilugh trees came to be – a combination of my love for my mom’s Christmas trees, and my love for a couple friendly cottonwoods. And since these glowing trees (and the mythology behind them) are ultimately central to the plot of the series, it seemed natural to give the first book (and the series itself) their name.
***Author Myndi Shafer currently makes her home in Kansas with her husband and four children. Her bestselling book, SHRILUGH, was released in August of 2012. THE DARKENING is the second book of the Shrilugh Saga, and is available for purchase at Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and others***