Shadows of the Redwood - By Gillian Summers


Much of the research for this book was done online. However, huge thanks to Dexter Henry for walking the big woods and shaking the redbark dust from his hiking boots, giving us a timely addition to our redwood knowledge, and, as ever, to Wendy Davis of the National Park Service, our tree-huggin’ muse. Special thanks to our agent Richard Curtis, and to our creative and patient editors Brian Farrey and Sandy Sullivan, our enthusiastic publicist Marissa Pederson, and to Amy Martin, the queen of back-cover blurbs. And much Ren Faire love to Kevin Brown for blessing us with his gorgeous covers. Keelie is ever so grateful.

Trees [are] like silent witnesses to history as it goes by.

—Loreena McKennitt, NPR interview

The spring air was brisk and smelled of green buds and rising sap. Keelie Heartwood buttoned her acorn-embroidered sweater as she closed the post office door and stepped out onto Edgewood’s breezy Main Street. She held five envelopes in her left hand, and one very special envelope in her right.

It was a normal-looking paper rectangle, except for the black embossed return address that read Talbot and Talbot. Her mom’s law firm, the one that had sent an attorney to personally escort her to her father at the High Mountain Renaissance Faire last year, after her mother died. That day, Keelie thought her world had ended, and it was true in a way. Gone was the spoiled California mall brat. And though she still missed her mom terribly, now she had a father she adored and a totally different lifestyle. So different that her Los Angeles friends would never recognize her.

For one thing, she was an elf. Well, a half-elf. She’d always been one, of course, but it took living with her elven dad and learning that her tree allergy was really a sensitivity to magic to change her forever.

Now, though, that old life had come roaring back. She hadn’t been able to resist opening the letter then and there, and she was still reeling from the news. Mom’s house, her house, the one she’d grown up in, had been sold. Talbot and Talbot was happy to announce how much money would now go to her trust fund, but Keelie’s brain had stopped at the word “sale.”

The house was empty, of course. The lawyers had arranged to send her belongings here, to the Dread Forest in Oregon, and the furniture and Mom’s things were in storage. Keelie’s gut clenched at the thought of her life with Mom in some darkened, airless warehouse space in plain brown boxes. She’d be able to open them again one day, but the house, the gardens, the neighborhood would soon be a memory beyond her reach.

She wished she could go back once more to say goodbye. As long as her house was there, a window was open to her past. She could hear it slamming shut.

The wind picked up, showering Keelie with sweet white blossoms from the pear trees that lined the street. She brushed flowers from her sweater and absently thanked the trees for their gift. They meant well.

May your leaves shine brightly, Daughter of the Forest, they answered in tree speak, the telepathic language of the trees. Since she was a tree shepherd, like her father, Keelie could hear them. No other elves could.

Ahead, a glowing neon sign flashed “Magic Forest Tattoo,” her friend Zabrina’s tattoo and piercing shop. Keelie hurried toward it, eager to tell her friend about the letter and maybe score a cup of coffee. Dad was not a coffee drinker, and this seriously cramped Keelie’s mornings.

She pulled open the door, jingling the bell that dangled from the knob on a silk cord, and then slowed, disappointed to see that Zabrina had customers—a group of college students in “I survived the Okanogan Rapids” T-shirts. The one sitting in the dentist’s chair Zabrina used for her work looked pale. Zabrina’s brilliant purple hair shadowed the area where she was working on his bicep.

A huge pumpkin-colored cat snored at her feet, ignoring the sounds around him. He twisted to look when the bell jingled, and Zabrina looked up.

“Hey, Keelie. How’s that belly button ring working?”

Keelie touched her stomach. “It’s okay. Perfectly normal.” She emphasized the word “normal.” Her first belly button ring had been wooden, and her increasing magic had made it come to life, sprouting leaves and threatening to turn into a tree branch sticking out of her belly. Scary. This one was silver and, so far, inert.

“Good to hear,” Zabrina said. Her little smile