This tour filled up so fast, but as a huge fan of Maleficent I could not let the opportunity to join in pass! I am very excited to share with you about this new Middle Grade Maleficent tale called HEART OF THE MOORS written by Holly Black (author of The Cruel Prince)! Keep reading to find out more and even read an excerpt!
From New York Times bestselling author Holly Black comes a captivating original novel set between Disney’s Maleficent and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, in which newly-queened Aurora struggles to be the best leader to both the humans and Fair Folk under her reign; her beau, Prince Phillip, longs to get to know Aurora and her kingdom better; and Maleficent has trouble letting go of the past.
Aurora spun around.
“What are those?” Count Alain demanded, pointing.
Three wallerbogs stood on a fallen tree, blinking at the human riding party with wide, expressive eyes and snuffling with their trunk-like snouts. The mischievous faeries must have heard the commotion and crept over from the Moors.
They were the size of human toddlers, with frog-like bodies and enormous ears that stuck out from their heads.
“Wallerbogs,” Aurora said. “They don’t mean any—”
“They’re hideous!” said Lady Fiora.
Giggling, one of them chucked a fistful of mud at the girl. It struck her right in the side of her head, spattering across her face. Aurora sucked in a breath.
Prince Phillip covered his mouth. One of the other courtiers began to laugh. It was contagious, spreading to the rest. Only Lord Ortolan was grim-faced.
And Count Alain, whose eyes narrowed.
The wallerbogs pointed, laughing so hard that one of them fell over.
“You’ve given offense to my sister and I will have satisfaction,” Count Alain shouted, riding toward them.
With shouts of glee, the wallerbogs scattered, heading back toward the Moors, their frog-like bodies half hopping.
Count Alain kicked his heels into the sides of his mount, sending his horse galloping hard after them.
“Stop!” Aurora shouted. She ran to Nettle and swung herself onto her horse’s back. “Do not follow them into the Moors!”
“I will not stand an insult like that to my sister,” he shouted back.
“Don’t be a fool,” Prince Phillip called out.
She could tell the moment Count Alain crossed into the Moors. He passed one of the enormous stones that marked the boundary, and it seemed as though he dropped into smoke, briefly disappearing from view. When he rode out the other end of the fog, he had an arrow notched in his bow. He trained it on one of the retreating wallerbogs.
Then he let the arrow fly.
One of the large vine-covered trees moved. It towered twenty feet in the air, looming over Count Alain. It had enormous mossy horns of bark and a face like a skull made of wood. A tree sentry, a guardian of the Moors.
The sentry backhanded Count Alain off his horse, sending him flying into one of the shallow pools.
The humans behind Aurora screamed.
The tree man lifted Count Alain into the air. Count Alain’s legs kicked wildly.
“No!” Aurora shouted, sliding off her horse and running toward them. She was the queen of the Moors as much as she was the queen of Perceforest. Maleficent had put the crown on her head, and the faeries had to listen to her commands as surely as her human subjects did. “Let him go!”
Too late, she realized her mistake.
The sentry heard her, and its fingers opened immediately, letting Count Alain fall.
Now Aurora was screaming.
Wings beating at the air and mouth curved in a bright, malicious smile, Maleficent caught Count Alain and held him high above the hunting party.
She looked as terrifying as any legend and twice as beautiful.
Diaval, in raven form, circled above her head. He let out a caw.
“Is this yours?” Maleficent asked Aurora. “You seem to have misplaced it.”
“Put me down!” Count Alain shouted, ignoring how she’d saved him from a nasty fall.
“Please,” Lady Fiora said, taking Aurora’s arm, “my brother was only protecting me.”
“That creature attacked first,” Lord Ortolan protested.
“The wallerbog?” Prince Phillip asked incredulously.
Lord Ortolan went on. “You saw it. My queen, you must order your—your godmother to put him down.”
“Human,” Maleficent said to Count Alain, her fangs flashing as she spoke, “you shot an arrow in the Moors. There was a time I would have crushed your skull for such an offense. I would have put a curse on you so that if you ever shot another, it would come back and strike you through the heart.”
Aurora hated it when her godmother talked about curses. But Alain seemed to realize finally that he was in danger.
“Your pardon, my queen,” he said, gritting his teeth. “And your pardon, too, winged lady. Fiora is my only sister, and I am overly protective of her.”
“Put him down,” Aurora said. “Please.”
Maleficent swooped low, making the hunting party cry out in surprise. Then she dropped Count Alain, sending him tumbling a short distance into the ferns and vines of the wood. He looked wet, miserable, and furious.
Aurora had thought it would be a simple thing to make peace between the humans and the faeries. She thought it was only a matter of making them see that they were wrong about each other. But thinking of Simon’s family and seeing the look on Count Alain’s face, she was no longer sure that the peace her treaty promised was possible.
Nor was she certain anyone wanted it.
“Go back to the castle,” Aurora told the hunting party.
“Surely you don’t mean to remain in the woods alone,” said Lord Ortolan.
She looked up at the winged figure hovering above them. “No, not alone.”
Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titls include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Awar and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.