Sebastian and the Hibernauts: Beyond the Gloaming
It is Easter, 1973 and twelve year old Sebastian Duffy has some serious self-esteem issues. He is beaten by his parents, bullied at school, steals from his friends and still mourning the death of his brother. To cap it all, strange things have begun happening around him and he is finding it hard to distinguish dreams from reality. After a nightmarish assault, he wakes in the Gloaming, a shadow world inhabited by ghosts. There to greet him is Porrig, a creature from Hibercadia, a magical realm crafted from Celtic dreams. Inhabited by Fir Bolg, Tuath and Milesians, it has been overthrown by brother gods from another dreamworld. One brother, Phobitor, is a tyrant and even the Tuath, who took to their underground sidhe millennia ago, are concerned. Sebastian discovers that he alone can save Hibercadia by finding an enchanted spear. Teaming up with the Hibernauts—a mercurial sorceress, an orphaned druidess, a taciturn warrior, a snuff-sniffing leprechaun and a lovelorn poet—he embarks on a fantastical quest, but can he succeed when he is yet to find his magical potential or even his courage, and half the realm is bent on his destruction?
I cannot say just how much I have enjoyed this book; you are a very accomplished writer with a wonderfully rich imagination. Your use of the English language is amazing and your ability to create the many different speaking styles in the book and to maintain them is remarkable. You have an incredibly inventive mind and readers will come to love the many wonderful creations in this novel, it is jam-packed with the most wonderful and inventive characters; new, exciting and beautifully realised. ~The Oxford Editors An imaginative epic...an intricate and fully realised fantasy world with a big cast of likeable characters that are charming, well drawn and endearing, with wonderfully apt names. The depth and breadth of your high-voltage imagination, and the richness of the world you create is very impressive. ~Sam Mills, author of Blackout, The Boys Who Saved the World, and The Quiddity of Will Self Author Brendan Murphy Brendan Murphy was raised in Sheffield, England, with dreams of becoming a writer, and has written every day since he was nine years old. After reading medicine in London and psychiatry in Manchester, he moved to Australia in 1999. He is an Associate Professor at Monash University and has written widely on youth mental health. His nonfiction work on the development of football in Victorian society, From Sheffield with Love, was published in 2007. He lives with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Sebastian and Violette, in a sprawling property built for the composer, Dorian Le Gallienne. They share their garden with a mob of kangaroos, a wombat, two possums, any number of creepy crawlies, and some very feisty kookaburras. In 2013, he was signed to Assent Publishing for a six-book deal. Beyond the Gloaming, the first Sebastian and the Hibernauts adventure, will be published by Assent imprint, Phantasm Books in 2014.
“That is a tumulus,” Ivo told Sebastian, as a large mound rose before them, “a Bronze Age burial chamber. It contains kistvaens, ancient coffins holding the remains of people from four thousand years ago. This whole area is steeped in antiquity; it is littered with cairns and tumuli, as well as Iron Age forts and settlements. You can really feel the aura.”
Sebastian tried hard, but all he could feel was the bitter wind nipping at his nose and ears. A noise ahead, like the slow clapping of hands, stole through the silence. Ivo slid Alice off his back and passed her to Addedilli as Porrig and Finnog drew their weapons. Further up the mound a faint light appeared, the otherwise impenetrable night revealing a shadowy figure.
“Lor, if it isn’t my old friend!” a man’s voice exclaimed. “Whatever kept you?”
“Broughton,” muttered Ivo, “he must have been tracking us. See what you can do while I occupy him. Good evening,” he shouted, stepping forward. “Fare thee well?”
“Better than you,” replied Spence tartly.
He certainly didn’t cut the figure of the dashing highwayman Sebastian had expected; his threadbare cape and tatty tricorne were more suggestive of a tramp.
“Why, we’re in the best of health and the finest of spirits,” said Ivo. “Prithee, join us.”
“Don’t bandy words with me. Do you take me for a fopdoodle?” returned Spence, snippily. “Have I not worn the Tyburn Necklace, sirrah?” he added, pausing for effect. “You should be careful who you befriend.” He wagged his cutlass. “There is a bounty on those dainty heads. Stay, scabby,” he warned, motioning to Porrig who had been trying to steal away, “and you, my well-fed want-wit,” he added, pointing at Finnog and advancing two steps. “We have a little business to discuss.”
Sebastian shuddered at the emerging sight. The phantom’s glowing head was set at a horribly unnatural angle, his tricorne wedged over an ear rather than on his crown.
“How come you to be out on such a howling night as
this?” resumed Ivo warmly.
“Why, ‘tis my stock in trade is this, riding the night in search of spoils,” replied Spence, a smirk dancing on his pockmarked face. “Tut-tut, holy fool, did you really believe that you alone knew the secret of the plague well?”
“So you followed us through the cave?” ventured Porrig.
“Overland is so much quicker,” Spence sneered. “Thunder and turf, you’ve disappointed me! Is this the best Morpheus has to offer? Forsooth, I expected some decent quarry. Is it too much to expect a little sport, a challenging cross-country caper? You are naught but careless greenhorns. I’ve had you in my sights since the chimney.”
“Where are the others, Spence?” asked Ivo, maintaining his friendly demeanor.
“Miles away, over there,” replied Spence, waving his cutlass lazily. “They have no idea I’ve been following you. I’m no fool. I may yet do better business.”
“Spence, there is still time for you, but not this, not this,” implored Ivo. “Heaven knows you have been judged unfairly. Join me and we will leave this place forever—”
“Oh, I’m leaving forever all right,” Spence interrupted. “I’ve been offered such plunder as man can only dream of. A prince’s ransom,” he added, eyeing Sebastian with cold curiosity before leering at Addedilli. “Titles, riches, land...women.”
“Would you now? Would you just! For shame, you saucy rogue,” exploded Addedilli, aghast at his effrontery. “By Tavra, I’ll not stand for this let me tell you. If you try your wicked ways with me it won’t be your neck I’ll wring and that’s the truth, you filthy cur. So you’d cry rope on the boy for a bag of gold would you? Bah! A high windy gallows to you!”
“Ivo,” murmured Porrig. “He’s a ghost so I can’t hurt him. Can you?”
“No, my arrows will lodge in him, but he will not be hurt,” whispered Ivo.
“Worry not, oysterwench, I see your grizzled trinkets,” mocked Spence. “You are not a tempting armful. Come,” he continued, changing tack, “let us not pull caps for we may yet be friends in Hibercadia. I’ll protect the whippersnapper for an honest price.”
“What exactly have they offered you?” Ivo asked in conciliatory tones,
“The life of a well-to-do rake in Hibercadia, no less,” replied Spence, proudly.
“Dear Spence, you are deceived,” began Ivo, “no ghost may enter Hibercadia. Believe me...I have yearned to for centuries. Alas, for such as we it is unattainable. This night brings much luck to those who gently sail her waves. See yonder child, another lost soul we found in the caves. For pity’s sake join us and together, hand-in-hand, we three can cross to our final resting place. How tired you must be, dear friend, how tired.”
“Desist clotpoll!” spat Spence, furiously. “Damn your impudence! Dear friend? Hand-in-hand? Pah! Charlatan! Mountebank! You dare to bamboozle me with faradiddles while Phobitor offers such booty? You must think I’m queer in the attic. I take it that w
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