Thought it might be a nice idea to put up a sample of another forthcoming release from Youngblood Books. This time it has nothing at all to do with the British Prime Minister. Instead, it’s something gentler and (hopefully) much less silly, a modern fairytale by James Eddy called ‘The Journey to the Nightmare Kingdom’:
There was once a very unhappy young man who wished his life was more like his dreams. One night he went walking and, almost by accident, found himself standing at the foot of a tree. It was a tree unlike any other he’d seen before and it was so tall he couldn’t see any of the branches at the very top.
Looking down brought a bigger surprise. In the trunk of the tree was a perfectly formed little door that was exactly the right size for him to walk through. With hardly a pause, the boy decided what to do next. He reached for the wooden door handle, turned it and stepped into the tree.
The next thing he saw was a spiral staircase going up and up and up. The boy wanted to see where it went, so he started to climb. He went up the stairs slowly but it still wasn’t long before he reached the top. That was where he saw another door and, feeling brave, he turned the handle and opened it.
The boy shielded his eyes then. The light that shone in through the door was too bright to do anything else. But when his eyesight adjusted, he was amazed by what he saw. It was a Kingdom made of fluffy white clouds and sunlight. Bubbles were floating through the air and the houses were made from gingerbread and sweets. Each house had pink and blue candyfloss billowing from their chimneys and they all looked good enough to eat.
In the distance the boy even saw a castle made of blue, red and white icing sugar, sitting on a large white cloud. What he saw was the place where boys and girls go when they close their eyes at the end of the day. It was a place known as the Reverie Realm.
The Reverie Realm was ruled by King Stuart. He was a good King with many wonderful magical qualities. However, there were times when he made some rather silly decisions. That was why it was lucky that his wife, Queen Olivia, was there to help him. She was a very wise Queen, with magic that was even more powerful than the King’s.
Of course, the boy knew nothing about any of this and he wouldn’t have cared if he did. All he really wanted was to see some more of the magical land he’d found himself in.
And so, he set off to get a better look at the Kingdom. He saw many strange and wonderful things on his travels. He saw hot cakes growing on trees, two white doves building a bridge, and a fox, a chicken, two goats and a red cow sitting down to tea and arguing about the weather. The boy couldn’t stop himself smiling and thinking that it was a very upside down sort of place indeed.
Before long though, he reached the castle. He wondered what other delights were inside and so he walked straight in. King Stuart was very kind but something seemed to be wrong. He seemed to be very sad about something and eventually the boy plucked up the courage to ask him what was wrong. With a single look and a deep breath, the King told the boy that his Queen had been kidnapped by the Prince of Shadows, who lived far away, in the Nightmare Kingdom. The Prince needed her powers to take over the Reverie Realm and spread shadows all the way across the sky.
What the King wanted was to find someone brave enough to go to the Nightmare Kingdom and bring the Queen back. He would’ve done it himself but he couldn’t leave the Reverie Realm because without him or the Queen there to protect it, the Realm would be plunged into complete and never-ending darkness.
The boy listened closely and as soon as the last words left the King’s lips he knew he wanted to help. He dropped onto one knee and offered to be the one to return the Queen to her home.
He couldn’t travel alone, of course. So, he was joined by an old man named Archie Finnegan and his granddaughter, Sally. Mr Finnegan was an inventor and his greatest invention was the fabulous flying longboat that would carry him and the boy to the Nightmare Kingdom.
Archie Finnegan knew two very important things about the journey he was going to take. He knew he was the only man who could fly his ship and he also knew that the Nightmare Kingdom wasn’t where he would want his Granddaughter to be. That’s why brave Sally Finnegan had to dress herself as a boy and stow away on the longboat. She knew she couldn’t reveal her true identity to her Grandad. If she had, he would have returned her to their home right away. Sally wanted real adventure, and so, that is exactly what she got.
Most people in the Reverie Realm were not like Sally Finnegan. They preferred the safety of home. Many even told the boy not to go and told him the stories they knew about the Nightmare Kingdom. They told him that the rain which fell on the land he came from was actually the tears of all the lost souls of the Nightmare Kingdom; that it was so dark there that no-one could even see their hand in front of their face; but most simply warned him to never look at the face of the Prince of Shadows because it would lead to endless sadness.
However, the boy didn’t worry about their stories, or even that it looked like there wouldn’t be any more adventurers joining him. And it was then that he met a mischief making monkey. Some would have said this was a bad thing even though he wasn’t really a bad monkey. He had once been a young man who had been so foolish that the Queen had decided to give him the shape that most suited him. That was why he wanted to join the quest. He still hoped the Queen would take pity on him and make him human again.
So, the boy and his crew stepped onto Finnegan’s Flying Longboat for the first time and the King told them about the first part of their journey…
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.