This is my post during the blog tour for The Abdication by Justin Newland. In The Abdication a young woman confronts her faith in a higher purpose, and what it means to abdicate that faith.
This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours and the tour runs from 11 till 31 October. You can see the tour schedule here.
By Justin Newland
Genre: Fantasy/ Secret History Thriller
Age category: New Adult/ Adult
Release Date: 28 August 2021
The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a rumpled, fading autumnal leaf.
Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!
The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.
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Emerging for their night foraging, a colony of fruit bats glided and spun through the twilight shadows. Tula’s antipathy for bats, their clumsy flight and shrill cries, induced almost as much terror as her fear of heights. She limped on, scanning the path for guards. Thank goodness, there were none. Still patrolling the riot, she assumed. The bridge was swaying back and forth, yet there was not a breath of wind. That was odd. There was no one she could see. Perhaps an animal had strayed onto it.
The hour was late, and dusk was descending like a shroud over the gorge. She peered across the bridge to glimpse the town of Unity, nestling behind the boulders and crags. Silhouettes of the roofs of the houses shimmered in the ebbing heat. The twin spires of the Cathedral punctured the sky.
So far in Topeth, she had met a blind man, an anxious mother, and an old man with two jennies, one of whom seemed to know her. Once Tula was across the bridge, they would all forget she had ever been in the town. Her destiny was in Unity. The angels were there. That was the legend. Even if no one else did, she believed it was true. She was determined to find them.
A narrow path snaking down the steep slope linked the town to the bridge. Fearing the guards’ return, she hurried along the winding, uneven path. It was fine for mountain goats, but with her bad ankle and her walking stick, she was nowhere near as fleet of foot as they.
The bridge had a quietening effect, like a warm homecoming after a long absence. Ever since she had heard about the abandoned town of Unity, she had wanted to visit the place for herself. Within touching distance, she felt a keen sense of belonging, even though she had never been near it – until now.
A solitary wicker lantern sat in a cradle, shedding a pale light over a crescent-shaped area covered in flagstones that had been carved out of the side of the mountain. In the middle of it were the bridge pillars and a small wooden shack.
The bridge itself was a slender rope structure slung across the open chasm. Narrow matting formed the bridge deck wide enough for one person to cross. At least there were hand ropes. At the Topeth end, it was attached to two thick, green-coloured pillars.
Fingers of mist rose out of the ravine, obscuring the Unity end of the bridge. The structure reminded her of a long, thin hammock tied between two pairs of massive tree trunks.
By the bridge entrance was a large sign:
‘THE DEVILS’ BRIDGE.
DO NOT CROSS.
IGNORE THIS WARNING AT YOUR PERIL.’
It was true. She had heard rumours about the bridge, about how predatory devils prowled the dip in the centre of the rope bridge. It was forbidden to cross it.
How ridiculous. These views were deluded. Ever since she was a little girl, arranging her coloured stones and drawing her pictures, she had known, in every fibre of her being, that life was a gift, rarer than starlight, more beautiful than the dawn. Being a special gift, it called for a response, a celebration, and one that she tried to enact through every part of her life. It was not so much what she did that mattered, but what she would not do. Then, the angels could act through her in whatever way they saw fit. She would never consciously hurt herself or another. The angels would be confident she would not abuse their divine powers, corrupt them or use them for personal gain or material profit.
From behind the guard’s hut came a rustling noise. Someone was about to jump her. Her heart raced and she froze.
***About the Author***
Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.
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