Monday, May 13, 2019

Sneak Peek: The Scorpion's Lullaby by Juliet Vane with Giveaway

The Scorpion's Lullaby
Luminous Lands Book 1
by Juliet Vane
YA Fantasy

Be ruthless. Be rich. Live like gods.

Joella’s band of thieves lives deep in the jungle. Riding on giant scorpion dragons, they search the beautiful landscape for villages and caravans to rob.

But dangerous mists thread through the jungle’s undergrowth. One touch transforms its victims into mindless, murderous shells of their former selves.

When the mists interrupt a routine raid, Joella becomes separated from her people. She’s alone except for a stolen book of legends and Marc, a religious disciple dedicated to pacifism and preserving the ways of the old goddess.

Searching for their tribes, Joella and Marc brave mist-infected beasts, deceitful clans, and the sweltering days and freezing nights of their beloved jungle.

An uneasy alliance grows between them as they read from the book and uncover in its pages the truth of why the jungle has been fraught with evil. They must trust each other to right the wrongs of the past and save themselves, or risk the very landscape they hold so dear.

The Scorpion’s Lullaby is a fast-paced, lyrical fantasy filled with creatures and characters who will take your breath away.

Get your copy of The Scorpion’s Lullaby today to discover the legends propelling the unforgettable tale in this luminous, unique world.


  1. Chapter One

My scorpion dragon, Amaya, sways beneath me, her rigid legs squelching across
the muddy jungle floor. She waves a pincer in the air, and the leather bindings
whip back and forth like the vines that choke the chantal trees.
She senses a hunt, and it excites her.
A dozen of my tribespeople follow behind on their own scorpions as
I lead them to the village I’ve been watching for the past sevennight. I
could get used to leading them—it feels natural to ride up front. We swish
through the ferns and the broad-leaved lilies, breaking vines that block
our path, scattering families of tiny monkeys that have come down from
the treetops at midday to scavenge amongst the fungi on the jungle floor.
They leap out of our path, screeching in indignation.
Lucien, our leader, whistles softly from behind me, and I pull Amaya’s
reins to slow her. She hisses in irritation, and I pat her back. Lucien’s
gold hoop earrings flash in a rare stream of sunlight that reaches
through the canopy. He catches up to us and his scorpion nudges
against Amaya. She hisses again, and I allow her a little slack in the
reins so she can turn her pincer and knock it into his scorpion’s leg
segment. Just a warning, not hard enough to hurt. We all need
personal space.
“Joella,” Lucien whispers, “you’re certain this run will be worth it?
Claud reported that this is the poorest village he’s seen in ten suns.”
Claud wears a jaguar fang around his neck for luck. Maybe he should
find another charm—one for perception. He doesn’t have any sense
for detail. The villagers are poor, but not that poor. I snort, and thread
my words with derision. “Claud wouldn’t know riches if they floated
down the River Beline like pommes. I’m certain. The elder had a
jeweled machete. It was dirty, crusted with mud, but I know what I saw.
They probably don’t even know its worth.”
“Then I’ll go after the machete,” he says, voice low. “You, Claud,
Therese, and the twins will go straight to the far side of the village,
and each of you take a hut. Search for anything valuable. If we
find enough, we’ll have a good trade downriver and we’ll live like
gods and goddesses. Be smart. Be quick. Be ruthless.”
I smile back at him, both of us bobbing and swaying on our scorpions’
backs. “Ruthless is what I’m good at.”
Lucien frowns. Doesn’t he believe me?
I’m going to make him proud today, and he’ll finally ask me to be his.
A gentle bubbling feeling warms my gut and moves to my heart.
I hold up a hand, motioning the others behind us to pay attention.
“We’re here. It’s just through these trees.”
Lucien signs for everyone to don their masks. I hold mine up, examining
the nighthawk feathers that span the bridge of my nose. The black
stripes are starting to lose their luster. I should forage for new ones.
The brilliant blue lining the eyes, though—that’s my favorite part
of my mask. It took me several sevennights to collect enough fallen
morpho butterfly wings, and several nights more to painstakingly
piece them together on the mask. With a smile, I put it on, and turn
to take in my tribe around me.
The jungle is quiet; the only sounds are water dripping onto leaves.
A single call from a confused araine bird.
It’s the breath held before a knife is thrown.
“On y va!” Lucien shouts. His dark hair ripples when his scorpion
puts on a burst of speed.
The rest of the Scorpion Raiders echo, “On y va!”
We break through the foliage, crashing with the strength of a hundred
falling trees. Therese pulls up beside me and we share a look of joy.
We were made for this.
The villagers scatter—some into the huts arranged in a circle around
their main village fire. Others flee into the jungle beyond. Those
who are left tremble at the feet of our scorpions. We’ve surprised
them before they have time to fight, if that’s even something they’ll
do. Lucien’s scorpion makes a straight line for the village elder,
identifiable by her bald head, her neck draped with necklaces
of braided vines and leather, and the giant machete gripped in her
fist. I don’t hesitate to watch Lucien jump down and pry it from her,
but follow my orders and race toward a hut at the back of the village.
I pull Amaya to a halt just outside the door. From her back, I’m
nearly as tall as the hut. She won’t fit inside. I release the bindings
of one of her pincers so she can defend herself if she needs to, but
these villagers are just sitting at the feet of their now-machete-less elder.
They’re probably pacifists from Beline’s order of Paix-Rivière. Fools.
Our good luck.
Two crying children clutch each other beside the doorway, frozen in fear,
but I ignore them. I wouldn’t dare hurt a child. Even on a day like today,
my blood pumping with the joy of a raid, I can remember what it was
like to be small and scared.
I step into the hut and immediately start coughing. The sandalwood
incense mixes with a sweet medicinal smell. I found the healer’s hut.
Already I can imagine my lungs contracting with some evil illness.
Several of the beds are occupied, the patients moaning in fear or fever,
I can’t tell which. I pull a cloth from my pocket and press it against
my nose and mouth.
A tall figure steps forward in the center aisle formed by the beds. He
wears the white robes of a healer, but he’s maybe five years older than
I am, no more than twenty-two or twenty-three.
“We have nothing of value here,” he says. His voice is as deep as the
river Beline. “Please be on your way.”
There’s too much desperation in that voice, and I smile behind my
cloth. “I don’t believe you.”
A patient thrashes on the bed nearest me, her dark hair wet with sweat.
“What do they have?” I ask sharply.
“It’s not contagious.”
“Is it the mists? They should be killed. Don’t wait for them to go mad
and murder everyone in the village.”
The healer’s eyes flash with outrage. “We would never kill a person.”
“If your religion forbids it, they should at least be bound until the sores
kill them for you.”
“It’s not the mists. It’s a mosquito fever.”
I inch away from the patient’s bed, not entirely reassured. A person
suffering from the mists could go mad slowly, or quickly. Usually
quickly. “Where are the medicines?”
When he doesn’t answer, I pull one of my knives from a sheath
along my arm. I aim it at his chest, but he stares bravely back.
Usually the threat of death, or even pain, is enough. But not for this
healer. I don’t like acting on my threats. I’ve never had to kill anyone
yet, and I don’t want to start today. So I slide my aim over to the
patient nearest us, and allow a calculating smile to play upon my face.
“It’s here,” he says quickly. “Just, don’t hurt them. Please.”
I follow his gesture to a cabinet nestled against the wall, facing a
window. Marching over, I fling it open. I stoop to peer inside. Jars
and vials are stacked along the shelves within, and I open one after
another, sniffing. “Blasted sandalwood,” I mutter. I can barely smell
anything over it. There’s got to be something valuable here. My
mother was a healer, and although my village never had much, she
kept a few precious medicines and herbs. I reach into the cabinet
and sweep a handful of vials from the shelf and into the sack draped
over my shoulder. When I reach for a jar placed far at the rear of the
cabinet, the healer flinches beside me.
“Aha.” I wrestle the lid off and glance inside. Faint purple powder,
shot through with white. “Mashed roots from the ben’etre fern?” I ask.
He doesn’t answer.
“This is something.” My mother would have protected this with
her life. It will heal all manner of illnesses that don’t respond to
other medicines. It’s also worth more than my saddle. Maybe more
than the jeweled machete. I jam the lid back on and move to
stuff the jar into my sack.
The healer puts out his hand, but pulls back before he touches the
scars lining my arms beneath the knife sheaths. I smirk behind my
mask. I earned these from training scorpions; they’re nothing to fear,
but they do make me look tough.
“Not that one,” he says, his voice barely above a whisper.
“You don’t give orders today, Healer.”
Lucien’s voice echoes over the shouting and sounds of fighting outside.
“On y va, Scorpion Raiders!”
I stand, shoving the jar into my sack.
The healer crouches on the floor and touches the edge of my tunic.
“Please. It’s the only thing that can save these people. Some of them
have children to care for.”
Those children, crying outside the door. I thought it was me they
feared, but no, it’s something worse than a tribe of raiders. It’s
the dark edges of death. They fear reaching out in the frigid nights
and finding ghosts clutched in their empty hands, finding they’re alone.
“On y va!” Lucien shouts again. Time to go.
I hesitate. This is not ruthless, but those children need their parents,
as I used to need mine. I thrust the jar down to the healer, feel him lift
it from my grasp.
“Thank you, thank you,” he says, and tears leak from the corners of his
eyes. “Beline be with you. She’ll bless you, she will.”
“Beline has forgotten me.”
I glance out the window to see how many of my people are ready. Amidst
the action and the movement, one figure is still: Claud. His high
ponytail is motionless, and his jaguar fang necklace is a dull white
that stands out against his neck. And visible through his silver
araine-feathered mask, his eyes are on me, staring. Claud, who has
never liked how much attention Lucien pays me. He’d love it if
Lucien never chose a Madame, and instead chose Claud to be his
second. Did he see me give the jar back to the healer?
“On y va!” Lucien shouts. The third call. I whirl around and rush from
the hut. The children, their faces streaked with tears, watch in silence
as I leap from the ground to one of Amaya’s knees, and from there
clamber into my saddle.
As we race away from the village, I can’t escape the feeling of Claud’s
gaze on my back.

The Scorpion's Daughter
Luminous Lands Prequel 

Ruthlessness comes with a price.
The Scorpion Raiders are a ruthless clan, traveling through the jungle and raiding villages and caravans. As the only child of their leader, Claire has lived a safe, comfortable life tucked away from their violence. Her one desire is to join her father, but he refuses to allow it.
Her safe life has one major perk—her best friend, Gavin. But just when their friendship builds into something deeper, Claire finally gets the chance she’s been waiting for—a chance to join the Scorpion Raiders and win her father’s affection.
Will she choose love with Gavin, or will she choose the quality her father treasures above all others—ruthlessness?

**Only .99 cents!!**

Juliet grew up in northern California, where she spent her free time staring at spooky lakes and making up stories about the old buildings surrounding them. Years later, she still lives in California and she still makes up spooky stories...about lakes and the old buildings surrounding them. Like April in April's Ghosts, she's terrified of spiders and she's obsessed with Hamilton. Like Lissa in June's Blood, she plays the piano...but not very well.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

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