Y’all! Someone I know wrote a book and I’m featuring it for today’s post because it’s a fantasy novel, so it totally works for #WyrdandWonder. I haven’t yet read it, but read on to see if it interests you.
Greyborn Rising is a debut fantasy novel by Derry Sandy, a corporate lawyer based in Washington, DC. Sandy draws on his Trinidadian roots to craft this story that’s set in Trinidad and includes creatures from Caribbean folklore, such as the soucouyant, a shapshifter that sucks people’s blood.
Here are more details about the book:
Greyborn Rising by Derry Sandy
Pubbed: May 6, 2019 by CaribbeanReads
Formed by a group of enslaved men during Trinidad’s British colonial occupation, The Order has maintained the delicate balance between the world’s realms-the Absolute, the Grey, and the Ether-for centuries, preventing the Greyborn, the Grey’s supernatural occupants, from hunting in the Absolute and ensuring that the human occupants of the Absolute remain unaware of the Grey’s existence.
But not everyone believes these worlds should be separate.
Some long for the days when fear ruled the earth and they plot towards flooding the earth with an uprising of Greyborn. The Order finds itself embattled by enemies outside and traitors within who conspire to unite the Absolute and the Grey. With the very essence of human existence under attack, Rohan, the last surviving member of the Stone Chapter of The Order, must act.
Assisted by Katharine, a soucouyant who has lived on the outskirts of a Trinidad swamp for more than a century, Rohan takes up the Order’s mantle, combining Kat’s wits and his fighting prowess to defeat the forces working to bring dangerous creatures across into the Absolute. They are joined by an eclectic group of recruits who risk torture, dismemberment, zombification, and death as they face a growing variety of grave threats and gruesome creatures.
I know what is out there. They slither through the cane fields and the noise of their passage is like the sighing of tall grass. They hide in the shadows biding their time. They make their lairs in all the old, dark, forgotten places where humanity’s passage no longer disturbs and where humanity’s wickedness has left its stain. They prey upon the unwary, the naïve and those who recklessly disbelieve their existence. They are not human. Pity is not within their comprehension. Be not mistaken, if you fall within their clutches, they will not be merciful, and prayer shall not avail.
(fourth day of June 1801) – Excerpt from Kariega’s Diary
In 1805 William Claudius Maloney owned what was then Maloney sugar estate and is today Maloney Gardens, a government housing project in east Trinidad.
Maloney, who spent more time drunk than sober, was awoken earlier than usual one morning by the domestic slave that managed his household and informed that his attention was needed in the cow pen. He reluctantly dressed and descended to the pen where he found three of his best milkers lying in the cowshed apparently drained of blood. A fourth cow was pinned to the tin ceiling of the shed with a pickaxe and a pitchfork. The remaining cows were understandably in no mood to share non-bovine company and cowered together in a corner. Maloney squeezed his eyes shut as if to clear the apparition, but when he reopened his eyes the three cows were still dead, and their less fortunate sister was still crucifixed to the ceiling.
There were two important lessons that any white man who owned slaves in a country where there were more enslaved people than freedmen had to learn quickly. The first was to take every word that came out of a Negro’s mouth with a grain of salt. The Negro would kill you with his tongue. With a grin he would send a white man down the wrong forest path and into a mire of quicksand then play deaf to the man’s cries for help.
The second lesson was to find one slave who you could trust, one that could translate slave-speak and could break down their pagan beliefs into portions an anglicized mind could digest. This was a tall order. For this task an owner with an interest in survival ruled out female slaves entirely. This was not because it would appear improper, many white men kept Negro mistresses particularly in a colony so far from the monarchy’s disapproving gaze. The fact was, that female slaves were far more devious and cunning, and thus far more dangerous than the men. The men would come at you with a cutlass while you took a shit in the latrine. Death on the latrine was straight forward, even a little humorous. The women however, would put a drop of arsenic in your tea every morning for a year and then spit on you when you finally keeled over. There was nothing humorous about arsenic. Maloney preferred the cutlass while he took his morning shit to a slow painful death and so he kept the slave women at arm’s length.
Maloney’s trusted man was a tall, dark, and sober Ibo slave whose African name had been Kariega Kimani Achen. Kariega had been formerly owned by a French planter Mishael Le Clerc and bore the surname of his former master. Kariega had earned Maloney’s trust because he had saved Maloney from malarial death, a feat the Ibo had been unable to replicate for Maloney’s wife, son, and daughter.
In West Africa, Kariega had been a powerful witch doctor and had fallen afoul of his tribal king. The details of the fall from grace were sketchy but the general theme was that Kariega spared the life the king’s fourth and youngest wife. The king had commanded Kariega to execute the young wife because she had been with child five times and five times she had miscarried. Instead of carrying out the king’s directive, Kariega gave her supplies and sent her off to a distant village. He had then reported to the king that he had dispatched the reproductively unfortunate wife. It was therefore to the king’s surprise and anger when the same woman he had sentenced to death was spotted at an intra-village wrestling match months later, very much unexecuted and holding a child conceived with a new husband.
The king, even in his anger, feared to put a powerful witch doctor to death. Instead he had Kariega arrested and sold to the slave traders. The night the slave ship carrying Kariega sailed away from the Gold Coast port of Ponni at the mouth of the Ningo, a pride of twelve massive lions slipped past the village guard and entered the compound housing the king, his three wives and his eight children.
Each lion seized one sleeping individual and dragged them into the courtyard of packed dirt where the entire royal family was mauled to death in an orgy of roars and screams. The lions then scattered and vanished into the night untouched by the hail of stones, spears, and arrows launched by the tribesmen.
Maloney asked Kariega what he thought about the cows. Kariega answered, in a very matter of fact manner, that the dead cows were the work of soucouyant. Maloney squinted and held his arms out in a gesture that indicated that he needed clarification. Kariega explained that soucouyant were men and women who were bound to Bazil, a creature of the Vodun Loa. Men and women bound to Bazil become vampires.
The first soucouyant were of French planter stock created by Bazil in Haiti. This first generation subsequently sired their own gets and passed the taint amongst slaves and whites alike.
Maloney considered himself a proper Catholic, he believed in Mary and her Son. He had never put much stock in Kariega’s ramblings about the world being divided into three realms, the Grey where the creatures of legend lived, the Ether—the realm of Heaven and Hell, and the Absolute where humans made their home. But he humored the man and instructed him to make sure that no more of the cows were taken. Despite his skepticism about the spiritual isms and schisms of the Negros, he had seen enough weirdness on the island to know that not everything was black and white and heaven and hell.
Kariega in turn requested letters for himself and four others that would allow them to patrol the roads at night. This group became the first soucouyant hunters in Trinidad. Kariega dubbed them The Order.
About the Author:
Derry Sandy is a Trinidadian-born corporate lawyer and NSCA certified personal trainer living in Washington, D.C., who enjoys riding his bike and playing Gears of War.
Greyborn Rising is his first novel.