Out here, the sea undulated as a thing of liquid flesh that funneled dark sounds up from its depths. And it seemed to Esmer that aboard God’s Plague, she was standing in the throat of a most ancient music, subject to that which rumbled louder than any man-made intonation. She looked into Pia’s eyes, and she knew that they were tuned into the same voice of shadows.
When ESMERATA SPATARO plays her flute, she fills her lungs with a legacy of high seas crashing against fishing ships, of incense and white sage burning around a pulpit, of mothers stirring fava beans atop a hearth, of fathers weaving stories with their hands. For all her life, Esmer’s music has ruminated her present reality — until the sack of Lucata, when it becomes her past.
Spirited away in chains, Esmer and the second half to her musical duo, PIA, find themselves as captives in the hold of the Baryan pirate ship, God’s Plague. Behind them: their quiet village in flames, their friends dead, their families’ fates uncertain. Before them: the slave market of distant Arpoli. Subject to a captain known as “the Terror of the Corsilean,” the girls are forced to entertain the crew with their folksongs.
Esmer knows that the only way to preserve her will is to become a fixture in the hardened pirate crew. Playing the part of the captain’s private musician, she discovers a talent for manipulating the inner workings of God’s Plague with just a string of notes in the captain’s ear. Armed with her hypnotic melodies and some unexpected help from a grim surgeon, a fast-talking helmsman, and a lookout whose veins run with more saltwater than blood, Esmer becomes the catalyst for a mutiny that unsettles an ancient and submerged music.
HYMNS OF SALT AND TERROR is a YA fantasy novel inspired by Barbary pirates and Sicilian folklore. If Rachel Hartman’s SERAPHINA met Starz’s BLACK SAILS in a life-raft on the Mediterranean, this 75k standalone with series potential would be the lovechild of that union.
© 2018 Stellular Scribe
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