Review: The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem

The Waterfall Traveler
S.J. Lem
Publication date: April 19, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it’s impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive who saves her life—she’ll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressive city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she’ll not only have to confront Samuel’s unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.

In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unforeseen love, Ri risks it all to save those she cares for. But if she prevails, she’ll find the one thing she yearns for most—a cure for Samuel.

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EXCERPT:

Silver looked up and fixed a hard stare on my friend. “I know you. You’re on the Stained Wall,” he said, slurring his words like a drunkard.

“What will you do? Behead me?” Bryce asked. “You hardly look in condition to lift your weapon.”

“What are you doing?” I whispered harshly in Bryce’s ear. “Goading him hardly seems like a good idea.”

Silver smirked, lumbering to standing on unsteady legs. He patted around his waist until his hand found the hilt of his sword. Unbelievable! After Bryce and I had rescued him, he planned to repay us with execution. Good thing he could hardly stand.

Bryce widened his stance and slipped my dagger out from under my belt. Then, tilting his head toward my ear, he whispered, “Stand back.”

“No! Are you mad?” Then regarding Silver, I added, “You can’t be serious. We just helped you.”

Silver mumbled incoherently. His eyebrows knotted together as he repeated the same gibberish. He tried a few more times, but not a single intelligible word escaped his mouth. The hand that had rested on his sword moved to his forehead. He groaned as if suffering from an intense headache. Then his eyes rolled back into his skull and he fainted, landing face down in the snow.

Bryce gawked at him. “Uh …”

I knelt next to Silver and felt his neck for a pulse. A faint throb beat against my fingertips.

Bryce questioned me with arched eyebrows.

“Well, we can’t leave him here in the snow.” I struggled, trying to roll Silver onto his back.

With a sigh, Bryce joined me. Together, we flopped Silver over.

“More guards will come soon.” Bryce scanned the far corners of the courtyard. “I’m sure they heard the screaming earlier. It’s best to leave him here for his own to deal with.”

“But what if the Culling comes back?” I placed Silver’s head on my lap to protect it from the cold snow. “Surely you believe me now that it was here?”

“I do, Ri. Unbelievable as it is, I do.” He gripped my shoulder. “But this man is a captain. If he wakes, he will kill me for my crime and you for being associated with me. Understand?”

“I know, but he helped me. I’m still finding it hard to believe that he would harm us.”

Bryce shook me slightly. “Didn’t you see him readying to pull his weapon?”

“Well, yes.”

Clearly, Silver wanted to carry out the punishment that the Stained Wall demanded. But the thought of abandoning him in the freezing night triggered a sick feeling in my gut. I pulled his collar up around his neck, hoping it’d lend some warmth.

A rip in the fabric caught my eye. Silver’s pale skin peeked through, smudged in crimson.

“He’s hurt!” I pulled at the coat, exposing Silver’s bare stomach. A five-inch gash stretched across his waist. The deep cut in his flesh breathed with him, oozing blood with each exhalation.

Bryce placed his hands over the wound while I unraveled the tattered strip of blanket from my ankle and looped it around Silver’s waist. A dab of red swelled over the cloth, dyeing the dirty rag.

“He’s going to bleed to death.” I applied pressure to the wound. “We can’t leave him. Who knows how long it will take for more guards arrive.”

Bryce stared at my hands, which were coated in Silver’s blood. The muscle in his jaw flexed repeatedly.

“Did you hear me?” I said. “If we leave, this man’s death is on us.”

He nodded reluctantly and looked beneath the makeshift bandage. “The laceration doesn’t go through the muscle. I think I can help him, but I need supplies.” He took a deep breath. “We won’t be able to haul him as far as Parkin’s. And we can’t bring him to his own people. If they got a look at me …”

He looked toward the east side of the courtyard. “The Rose Quarter’s nearby. We’ll bring him to Carter’s house.”

“Carter? That man can’t be trusted. Shouldn’t he have predicted all of this?” I waved my hand, gesturing at the bloodstained courtyard.

Bryce shook his head. “I can’t explain it, but he’d never put us in a dangerous situation on purpose. That much I know.”

My stomach tensed, but I had no alternate ideas. “All right, let’s get this over with.”

 

 

 

Author Bio:

S.J. Lem is a digital art director gone writer in hopes of expanding her creative aspirations. Whether it’s introducing dimensional characters, crafting imaginative worlds, or transporting readers into high-stakes adventures, she strives to deliver an immersive experience.

She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. When not writing, she enjoys pottery, gardening, and volunteering. Connecting with readers and fellow writers is one of her greatest joys.

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One thought on “Review: The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem

  1. Giselle [Xpresso Reads] Reply

    Thanks for being on the tour! 🙂

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