Poison (Wind Dancer #1)
by Lan Chan
Release Date: September 1st 2015
Summary from Goodreads:
Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders.
In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.
It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her.
Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.
However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it.
To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before–this time she’s learned the value of poison.
Recommended for fans of The Hunger Games, strong protagonists, circuses and nature!
About the Author
Lan Chan is a writer, gardener and professional procrastinator based in Melbourne, Australia. She is still waiting for her super powers to manifest but until then she writes young adult novels featuring strong female protagonists, minority characters and has a particular interest in dystopias and urban fantasy. Lan’s debut novel POISON, the first in her WIND DANCER series is due for release in September 2015.
I look down at my own body and cringe. Thanks to my mother, I’m slightly shorter than the girls my age, and not being on the right diet for the last six years has given me definition in some of the wrong places. I push the insecurities aside. Nothing I can do about them now. I’m the last one in the right wing and expect Crispin to call on me next, but then he says a name that sends a spike of anger through my rapidly beating heart.
The crowd roars as a girl in a black leotard and yellow skirt pirouettes across the stage. When she reaches my wing, she twists and does a series of back flips onto centre stage. Then she throws her arms up into the air.
“Skylark! Skylark! Skylark!” The crowd chants her stage name with the same fervour they used to chant mine. Skylar blows kisses to them. How did I forget about her? Watching her prance on stage for much longer than she should drives away my nerves and replaces them with revulsion. Would they cheer for her if they knew how she gets to be the star of every show? Does she still play the same tricks she used to on her fellow performers? The wide berth she gets when she finally decides to line up tells me she does.
Then suddenly, I’m blinded as the spotlight illuminates the wing. I throw up a hand to shield my eyes. All other lights in the arena turn off except for a small one aimed at Crispin. A drum beats and builds momentum into a steady roll.
“And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. She captured our hearts with her gravity-defying feats of flight. After six years’ absence, let’s welcome back to the Citadel, the one and only Aurora Gray!”
You can hear a pin drop. I exhale deeply and plaster a smile onto my face as waves of anxiety slam back into place. How am I going to top Skylar’s entrance without anything planned? I’ve waited too long and am just about to walk on stage when a steady wind whips through the stadium. The audience begins to murmur in excitement. A ring trapeze that’s big enough for me to stand in lowers from the ceiling. I don’t hesitate and step on, using my arms and bare feet for balance.
The ring carries me all the way to the ceiling and the spotlight follows. Hundreds of twinkling stars in the audience tell me I’m being recorded live. In the upper tiers of the stadium are two big jumbo screens that project my face to the crowd farthest away. It’s a full house tonight.
I’m unsure what to do, but I know not to let on to the audience. How am I going to get down from here? They can’t expect me to jump from this height without a net and nothing else to cling to? I’ll die for sure. And then the wind picks up so it’s more of a gale. My costume blows around to full effect. The other performers fall to their knees and hold on to each other so they won’t be blasted away.
Now I see what they want me to do. They want me to jump into the wind. I look to Crispin, who has retreated to the wing, and he makes two upwards motions with his arms. The universal performers’ code for play it up for the crowd. I nod and cling to the ring as though I’m afraid. It’s not all an act. I put one hand to my heart as the trapeze starts to swing from one side of the stage to the other. The earpiece crackles and Crispin’s voice rings over the powerful wind.
“Send them a little message,” he says. I know exactly what he wants me to say. I’ve said it hundreds of times before. Suddenly, everything else in the world falls away; all I can see is the drop before me, and all I can feel is the wind around me. My heart thuds, but this time with barely contained excitement. This is what I was born to do.
When the trapeze has gained enough momentum, I throw out both my arms as if pleading to the crowd. “Will you catch me if I fall?” I say. The earpiece must have a microphone, because my words are amplified throughout the stadium.
The crowd inhales as I jump.
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