Opal a novella by Kristina Wojtaszek.
“A fairy tale within a fairy tale within a fairy tale — the narratives fit together like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, beautifully told.”— Zachary Petit, Editor, Writer’s Digest
White as snow, stained with blood, her talons black as ebony… In this retwisting of the classic Snow White tale, the daughter of an owl is forced into human shape by a wizard who’s come to guide her from her wintry tundra home down to the colorful world of men and Fae, and the father she’s never known. She struggles with her human shape and grieves for her dead mother — a mother whose past she must unravel if men and Fae are to live peacefully together.
Trapped in a Fae-made spell, Androw waits for the one who can free him. A boy raised to be king, he sought refuge from his abusive father in the Fae tales his mother spun. When it was too much to bear, he ran away, dragging his anger and guilt with him, pursuing shadowy trails deep within the Dark Woods of the Fae, seeking the truth in tales, and salvation in the eyes of a snowy hare. But many years have passed since the snowy hare turned to woman and the woman winged away on the winds of a winter storm leaving Androw prisoner behind walls of his own making — a prison that will hold him forever unless the daughter of an owl can save him.
- Release date: December 18, 2012 (ebook and paperback)
- Genre: Fantasy / Fairy Tale / Young Adult
- Length: Novella, approx. 110 pages
- Praise for Opal
- Excerpt from Opal
- ISBN-13 (print): 978-0615732664
- ISBN-10: 0615732666
- ASIN: B00AOB3YTE
- BN ID: 2940016068916
- Kobo: 1230000038703
- Goodreads Listing/Reviews
Kristina Wojtaszek grew up as a woodland sprite and mermaid, playing around the shores of Lake Michigan. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management as an excuse to spend her days lost in the woods with a book in hand. For more about Kristina Wojtaszek see her author page.
Praise for Opal
“A fairy tale within a fairy tale within a fairy tale — the narratives fit together like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, beautifully told.”
— Zachary Petit, Editor, Writer’s Digest
“Twists and turns and surprises that kept me up well into the night. Fantasy and fairy tale lovers will eat this up and be left wanting more!”
— Kate Wolford, Editor and Publisher, Enchanted Conversation
“Lyrical, beautiful, and haunting … OPAL is truly a hidden gem. Wojtaszek [is] a talented new author and one well worth watching.”
— YA Fantastic Book Review
“Such a treat to read!”
— Bibliophilic Book Blog
“Fans of fairy tale retellings and stories involving Faeries will fall in love with Opal.”
— Chapter by Chapter
Excerpt from Opal
Read the intertwined narrative passage from Opal below; the tale is told from by dual narrators, the young woman of Fire and the young man of Stone:
He was tall and as pale as the trees burned by cold and wind, blocking my view of the whitewashed sun above us in the winter sky. He led me away from the great snowy hillock that was my home, providing little warmth and few words. His face twisted strangely as he told me not to look back. I wasn’t used to a face like his, changing as a land of snow is blown about by wind and reformed. My mother’s face never changed. She covered me in thick down, fed me meals from her own stomach, and sheltered me with her wings. That was all I understood. I shivered without her, and my belly ached. I tried to flap my wings but the useless, heavy bones fell to my sides. I felt naked. The tree-like creature said he clothed me, but my feathers were gone and those strange, colored skins he draped over me offered little comfort. Nor was I used to my new legs. For a long time I hobbled and our journey was slow.
I never knew how I could understand him, just that I always had. He was there with my mother even before I was. She had told me so with a low, guttural purr of ease when he was near. Sometimes he would cling to her feathers as snow or whistle past us as a north wind. I had seen him in the strange walking-tree form before, but not often. And now my own body took that ungainly shape as well. I asked if he was my father, not that I cared for one. No, he told me, but he was taking me to him. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but I knew not how to return to the shape I’d been born in. Snow clung to our eyes and the odd, wiry feathers on our heads. I didn’t know what I looked like without looking at him. I didn’t know who I was, but he seemed to. So I followed him, bending my limbs the wrong way and folding the wingless stumps around my strange body for warmth.
My father was King, and took his authority to extremes. I admired him despite myself, his strong features etched in bronze skin, his dark gray eyes deep-set and as cold and fathomless as the sea. His mind was a strong and straight arrow, pursuing life with a poison-tipped will. As a boy, I marked time by his long absences and sudden returns. When at home, he would tear through the keep, wild-eyed and roaring like a caged animal, and I would tremble as a bird in a storm. Mother would send me away with my nurse, keeping herself between us. It killed her in the end; his endless wars, his orderly indifference, his tyranny even at home in his mad pursuit of power. Though I, too, helped to sever her life short. They say she ceased to speak after I left. For at last my father discovered me growing into a man and set me in his sights. I knew I could never be what he wanted; a younger image of his mirror’s reflection. Nor could I bear to marry a foreign princess who might have had a heart akin to his. So began my solitary explorations of the forest, dreaming of the day I would walk away into its leafy embrace and disappear.
Perhaps I was also searching for the truth behind my mother’s tales. Fairy tales, some straight out of the annals of classic folklore, some loosed from the tightly wound spindle of her memories, ten, twenty generations old, passed down through the women of her family. Stories of the Fae. Of course I believed them as a boy. I was a young prince who cared nothing for castles nor riches if at the end of the day I could not find my mother’s arms, and her tales. Over time, though, I grew into reason. My mother’s face, bruised with the seal of my father’s massive ring, swam through my dreams as if to prove her every fable wrong. She was the heroine of her own story, the gentle maiden bound to a cruel king, and there would be no happy ending.
I never had to speak with the tree-creature; he understood my thoughts and spoke in return with his own. He said he was not a walking tree, but a man. He said he changed me into my rightful form.
My rightful form? I pleaded with my eyes, how could that be?
He took my fragile thought, the perfect white egg from which I’d hatched, and crushed it with new words, “You were human before birth.” I thrust at him the memory of mother; her eyes like the centers of pasque flowers, her beetle-black beak, her white plumage soft as a fog-bathed moon, her talons dripping with blood for me. This he handled more carefully. “She was your mother, and always will be. But she was more. She was what she wanted to be. And when she left with you, she was a beautiful snowy owl, so that is what you became.”
But where did we leave from and why? Why wasn’t my father with her so that she wouldn’t have to hunt so endlessly until her death? Where was he? But for these questions, I only got an answer I couldn’t accept; he was a man, he could not come. Wasn’t this tree-creature a man as well? And he had been with my mother always.
As we fell in elevation the wind held back, allowing the sun to warm my thin skin. I wanted to stop. The world was getting stranger with every step and I missed the familiar cold, even though my new form was ill-suited to it. My companion waited for me patiently. He knew how little I understood. There was something in his eyes he wouldn’t yet explain. So I turned away, standing alone and broken at the foot of a mountain as the last of the snow blew into my eyes, melting into tears.