by K.D. Halbrook
Thirteen-year-old Silver Batal calls the desert home, but her heart belongs to the waters. Although she’s expected to become a jeweler like her father, Silver harbors a secret and forbidden wish to race water dragons. Destiny comes calling when her friendship with a mysterious old woman leads her to Hiyyan, a baby dragon that can swim and fly.
Risking everything, Silver, Hiyyan, and her resourceful cousin Brajon set off across the desert to join the legendary races in the royal city. But the road to Calidia is filled with danger, and the trio must band together as they encounter ferocious cave beasts, clever desert foxes, and cutthroat competition.
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Silver wished her water dragon could spread his wings and fly to the finish, but they inelegantly tumbled down the backside of the mountain and met the mirror surface of the sea once more. Hiyyan threw everything he had left into his effort, but the Shorsa caught up and was dashing ahead.
Silver peeked at the Hop-Slawn that had gone through the wall instead of over as it moved closer, too. It strained and snorted angrily as it raced. The rider screamed and slapped its flanks with a whip. Silver cringed.
His expression looked too much like how she felt in the first race.
And she would never do that to Hiyyan again.
Silver loosened her grip on Hiyyan’s mane. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, slowly, sinking into the rise and fall of her Aquinder’s movements. Warmth slowly built in her legs, then her belly. She reached for and saw the things Hiyyan was seeing: the end of the race closing in, the life beyond with Kirja and the sea and…her.
Her thoughts went to Jaspaton, the great, pale city carved into cliffs of deep desert. A steady thrum began in her chest; a slow, but deep heartbeat to match the drum music that would be played at festivals.
She envisioned meteors dancing across a dune-tipped sky. Her mother and father stood, looking out over the sands, hoping for a sign of Silver.
I am here, and I am safe. She imagined her words flowing toward her parents, soft as a breeze, gently stirring their black hair.
And still, the Jaspaton drums beat.
They were waiting for her, her parents and Brajon and Kirja and all of Jaspaton and all of the deep desert. Waiting for Silver to prove herself, to touch her destiny.
Nebekker was waiting for her, and the legend of Gulad Nakim was waiting for her. A scrappy group of Desert Fox fans held their breaths and Silver felt strangely close to them. Silver would pave the way for Aquinder to be safely revealed to the world again.
The drums-sound soared across the sands and over the sea. Silver opened her eyes and came back to Hiyyan. She realized their heartbeats matched. Their skin was the same temperature. They breathed at the same pace. They were one and the air fought against them but the sea urged them forward until they were a nose ahead of the pack, and then a neck, and then half a body’s length.
Silver smiled. Let go, Hiyyan. Relax. We’ll do this together.
About the Author
K.D. Halbrook is an author of Middle Grade and Young Adult novels (as Kristin Halbrook). Her debut Middle Grade book, SMOKE AND MIRRORS (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books) was called “captivating,” “enchanting,” and “artful” in trade reviews and, in a starred review, the BCCB said, “The novel’s wistful prose and a relatable search for the Light will be rewarding for readers who can see in the Smoke any number of metaphors for the things that haunt us.”
K.D.’s next Middle Grade is the first in an exciting series: SILVER BATAL AND THE WATER DRAGON RACES, releasing in June, 2019 from Macmillan/Henry Holt BFYR.
K.D. is a graduate of the University of Washington and lives with her family and floofy goldendoodle in Seattle. When not writing and sharing her love of books with readers, she enjoys cooking and baking, running and triathlon training, yoga, gardening, painting, hiking, and travel. She would love a dragon that swims AND flies.
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One winner will receive a print copy of Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races