BY: KRISTIN DURFEE
Levi always knew he was different. The fact that he could smash a light bulb without touching it was only one clue, but he’s about to find out how special he really is…
Sought after by those in a magical land, he meets Aura, Queen of Esotera. Her kingdom is in trouble and he’s the only one who can help. But the powerful sorcerer who cursed Esotera will not give up easily. A collision of magic and fates, sealed long ago, will catapult the two into a race to save Aura’s kingdom. Will they make it in time, or will they lose everything they love, and possibly both their lives?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Four Corners by Kristin Durfee, Aura is a young princess who discovers a dreadful secret on the day her father dies—her kingdom is cursed. And the only way she can break the curse is with the help of someone from the other world—our world, Earth, an alternate world to hers. So she journeys through the portal between the two worlds to enlist the help of an unlikely hero—Levi, a misfit who has magical powers he is unaware of. These two set off on a mission any sane person would deem impossible. And that’s when the trouble starts.
I found the characters charming. The fact that they aren’t super heroes, hunks, or beauty queens only made them that much more endearing. There’s a good strong plot, in which nothing seems to go as you expect. This is a book YA and new adult should love.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Four Corners by Kristin Durfee is a coming-of-age story about a young man, Levi, who is a misfit in his world (Earth) because he has magical powers he not only doesn’t know he has, he couldn’t control them even if he knew what they were. And it is also about a young woman who becomes the ruler of her world (Esotera) when her father dies, only to discover that it is cursed and our misfit Levi is the only one who can break the curse and save her world. So she comes to Earth to find him, but the evil wizard, who cursed her world to begin with, gets there first. It’s a story about growing up, accepting responsibility for your actions, and sacrificing for a cause. A lot of good moral lessons for young people.
Four Corners is intriguing. I liked the concept of the alternate worlds, or alternate realities, or whatever, and the mix of fantasy with reality. Her characters are charming and, added to all the twists and turns in the plot, make Four Corners a fun and heartwarming read.
Aura had awakened with the first morning rays, just like she always did. She looked out the window and gazed upon Esotera–the rolling hills, flowers, and three waterfalls that made this one of the most beautiful places in the entire kingdom of Esotera, her father’s kingdom.
She loved living here and getting to wake up to the warm sun upon her face and birds singing outside her window. She had little to want for in her life. Aura understood that she lived a privileged life, but she took her position very seriously and knew what her future held for her. At least, she thought she knew.
Her father was King Aldric, who’d inherited the throne from his father, who’d inherited it from his father, continuing back for hundreds of years. The powerful Lord Vertrous had decreed this place to her family, and it was to be handed down generation by generation–until there was a break in the chain.
Unbeknownst to her, Aura was that break.
This morning, though, she had better things with which to fill her thoughts. It was the “Day of Asking” and she’d promised her father her assistance in the daunting task. Each year, before spring harvest began, the people of Esotera came from all over to ask the king for blessings and assistance. While he held many appointments throughout the year, this was the one day that anyone could come and talk to him. Normally, the poor and the forest dwellers typically did not come to the main castle out of fear. In the old days, the Esoterans who lived close to the castle would ostracize those on the outskirts, thinking they were lesser people. To quell these feelings, King Aldric started hosting asking days so all the people of the kingdom could feel welcome and enjoy all that the castle and the grounds had to offer.
It had grown into a quasi-festival in years past and had quickly become an event that people looked forward to, immediately after the previous one had ended. However, it made for a long and exhausting day for the king as he listened to the most trite and trivial requests up to the most heartbreaking pleas. Before Aura was born, her mother had helped.
But following her death, shortly after Aura’s birth, the king had performed this task alone. This year, however, he’d decided that Aura was finally old enough to join him during the proceedings.
She was excited and nervous at the same time. Aura had always looked forward to having more responsibility in the kingdom, but with that knowledge also came a reality that she was not quite ready to face. One day this kingdom would be hers, and all these responsibilities would fall squarely on her shoulders. She tried not to think about it as she headed to the great room in the middle of the castle.
“Aura, it is time that you start taking greater responsibility for the running of Esotera,” King Aldric had told her several weeks prior.
“Anything I can do to help, Father,” she’d said while straightening a flower arrangement on their eating table.
“The Day of Asking is coming up. Would you sit in on it with me?”
“For the whole thing?” She’d been slightly crestfallen. The day was always a festival for her as well.
“Yes, Aura. One day you will be taking over and you must learn what needs to happen to make this kingdom run smoothly.”
“Of course, Father. Of course, I will help,” she said, looking up at him.
Now, though, looking out the windows and seeing tents being set up with animals scattered all over the open land in front of the castle, she wished she did not have to sit in a stuffy room all day, listening to the problems of others.
Aura made her way quickly back to her dressing room to change. She had dressed in preparation to walk through the festival, but now felt as though she should be clad more formally. Once she changed her outfit, she also had to change her shoes, jewelry, and hair. By the time she was ready again, a jolt ran through her as she realized how long she’d taken to get ready. She flew out of the room, hoping she hadn’t missed anything.
When she rushed into the great room, her father was already listening to a small woman quietly begging for something. Her father looked old and tired and Aura was suddenly struck by an image of him lying still in bed. He was strong and powerful, there was no doubt about that–even when sitting. But she could see the edges of him softening slightly as if, eventually, they would disappear and he would just melt away. She shook the thought from her head as she sat in a tall-backed chair next to him and began to listen.
After several hours, Aura’s back and neck were starting to ache. Her father, however, appeared as interested in each person as the last. She was not sure how he did it. Some people asked for simple things, like blessings for their crops or permissions to graze their animals on the outskirts of certain lands, and her father quickly granted them his approval. Others had much more complicated problems or matters to discuss, and her father engaged them with equal time and attention.
“My blessed king,” a man said, bowing so deeply Aura thought his lips might touch his knees.
“Please. Please stand,” King Aldric said. “Please state your question. What can I help you with today?”
“I am starved, king, terribly, terribly hungry.” The man did not look like he had missed a single meal in months, and Aura was sure her father would quickly send the vagabond away empty handed.
“Go to our kitchen, to the side door. Tell them I sent you and that you are to receive one loaf of bread, a slab of cheese, and bottle of wine.”
Aura was flabbergasted.
“Thank you, thank you so much, dear king. May you live many more blessed years,” the man said as he bowed continuously and backed out of the room. One of the king’s aides went to tell the kitchen staff his wishes and to make sure they were properly carried out.
As soon as the man left the room, Aura turned to her father incredulously. “Father, that person was clearly not hungry. He looked perfectly healthy!”
Was her father’s eye-sight failing? Could he not see the lies the man told?
“Aura, sometimes a man starves and it is not just from lack of food or a grumbling belly. Who are we to say that someone is hungry and someone else is not? We help when we can, where we can,” he said firmly.
She stared at him, wanting to ask more questions, to ask him to explain what he really meant, but she could see his mind had transported him out of the room. His eyes were seeing memories that Aura could not. He looked wistful and…she wondered what that other expression was…nostalgic? She was about to open her mouth when another person walked in, snapping her father back to the present.
It was incredibly late when they finally called the Day of Asking complete. King Aldric walked out onto his bedroom balcony and looked down on all his people. Faces turned toward him, people stopping in various stages of celebration to look up.
“Until next year, my dear Esoterans–” His voice carried and bounced back all around them. “Have a blessed and safe year!”
The crowd cheered and the king turned back into his chambers. Aura was sitting on a chair next to his bed, her muscles and bones aching from fatigue, wondering if she was even able to walk back to her bedroom. If this was what ruling a kingdom was about, she wasn’t sure that she was the right person for the job.
“Father, I–” she began.
But he cut her off as if he had not heard her. “My dear Aura, thank you for your help today, but I am very tired and wish to sleep now.”
“Of course, Father. Goodnight.”
She bent to kiss him as he slowly lowered himself onto the bed. He seemed to wither away as the covers swallowed him up and, for the second time that day, she began to realize how old he was.
As she reached for the door to leave, she turned back to get one last look of him, but he had already turned off the light and disappeared into the darkness.
© 2015 by Kristin Durfee