When a fantastical being enters their lives, two siblings are granted sublime gifts and horrific curses.
Following the appearance of a bizarre phenomenon called “ball lighting” Andre and her brother Ben discover a winged, human-like girl cowering in their backyard shed. While wary, the millennials are thrilled by what appears to be a mythical being. They welcome her into their home where she tells them her name is “Shae” and warns them of a dangerous monster that has followed her from “Elsewhere.”
Shae is a delicate being with wings and a beautiful voice. She has the ability to draw creatures to her, particularly birds, butterflies, and bats. She’s also desperate to return to a world she can now scarcely recall. Exquisite and beguiling, Shae evokes a protectiveness on their part—especially when she grants them gifts of extraordinary new talent. Andre and Ben want to help her however they can.
But the siblings soon find out that these gifts carry ghastly side effects. Andre is enchanted by prophetic dreams but they wither her grip on reality. Ben creates sublime music but his health deteriorates.
To their horror, they discover that Shae must complete a terrible task before she can return home. Everyone they know and love is in danger. Andre and Ben must now figure out how to thwart a being they’ve grown to care for.
What they don’t realize is that Shae is changing—she’s beginning to develop a conscience, and an affinity for her human hosts. And as her time runs out, she must make a terrible choice before all their lives spiral into a grisly climax of cruel irony and heartbreaking sacrifice.
From the publisher:
"This one had me inspecting my barn and sheds for winged creatures! No worries, I didn't find any. But Natalie's storytelling is convincing."
There are things we are exposed to at an early age that leave an impression and form our sensibilities, passions and obsessions. The Fragile Keepers was born out of a desire to explore one of my lifelong obsessions: The world of Faerie. Among other fantastical media I encountered growing up in the 80’s, watching the 1940 Fantasia film triggered a longing to understand these beings that are seen in every culture in one form or another. They are an uncanny global archetype, forever in our periphery.
Faeries kept cropping up and enchanting me intermittently as I grew up. When my mother gave me a copy of Brian Froud’s, “Good Faeries/Bad Faeries” for Christmas when I was eighteen, I wanted to crawl inside the pages and immerse myself in the imagery.
Another experience that deepened my obsession was when I was living in NYC in my early twenties and I bought a copy of John Crowley’s, “Little Big” off the street. (I’m still half-convinced that the guy who sold it to me for fifty cents was a character in the book.) The book consumed me and made me long to understand what our relationship to faeries means and what they symbolize.
Many notebooks and years later, I started writing The Fragile Keepers.
A disclaimer: A friend once told me I’m the authority on faeries to him. I know enough about them to know that no one is the authority. My story is one perspective. Faerie is a conundrum. I consider the very word Faerie to be a noun, verb and an adjective.
The most satisfying artistic works in any medium for me are when the lovely is juxtaposed with the grotesque, the magical with the horrifying, the light with the dark. And this is a distinctive quality I perceive in these elusive creatures. They are angelic and strange, cruel and benevolent. And most eerily: resonant and familiar.
Physically, Faeries veer from monstrous to ethereal. And the same could be said of their natures. No single story can encapsulate something so complex and multi-faceted. Since I’m particularly interested in the darker faerie tales, the ones with elements of the grotesque and the elegiac, that’s the kind of faerie tale I wrote. The Fragile Keepers, in keeping with that juxtaposition, weaves the character’s worst nightmares alongside their greatest dreams, in conflicting bitter-sweetness, winding to dark.
Another trope I shall never tire of and wanted to explore, was the emotional and psychological impact of regular people encountering something that defies all their preconceived notions of reality.
“The Fragile Keepers” is my debut novel and it will be published by Sunbury Press in 2020.
I spent many years working as a bookseller while reading voraciously in my off-hours and filling up notebooks with my own writing. For me, writing is often the pursuit of discovery, and during this time I was searching for my voice and the kind of stories I was meant to tell. A few years ago I started sharing my work and was lucky enough to find some talented, like-minded critique partners.
While I enjoy writing about otherworldly things, one of my primary interests is humans—creatures who I find wonderful and terrible and fascinating. I enjoy complex, flawed characters and sometimes tragic or open-ended stories. My love of faerie tales, mythology, and my fascination with the occult informs much of my writing. Some of my aesthetic and artistic influences are: Stephen King, Tolkein, Freda Warrington, Brian and Wendy Froud, The late Graham Joyce, Elizabeth Hand, Octavia Butler, Guillermo del Toro, Neil Gaiman, John Crowley, Keith Donahue, and Kazuo Ishiguro.