Author Name: Cheryl Headford
Book Length 214 Pages
Book Name: Shade’s Champion
Release Date: 18th December 2015
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Cover Art by: Kellie Dennis: Book Covers by Design
Shade has been kept in the dark for eight long years. Now he’s facing a world that terrifies him. A world that seems to hold no place for him
When the authorities are unable to find a home for Shade, Penny, reluctantly accepts him into the secure school she manages, despite thinking it’s the wrong place for him. Penny fears for his safety among the other troubled children. In an attempt to forestall the disaster she predicts will happen she appoints one of them as his champion.
Dory, an engaging seventeen year old with mental health issues, is proud to be chosen as Shade’s champion and throws his heart and soul into the job. In doing so he is forced to face the thing he fears most – his own emotions.
An unexpected friendship begins to grow into something more, until a spiteful act tears them apart and leaves them broken.
When Dory falls ill, Shade is forced to face his demons and struggles to find the strength and courage he needs to fight for the right to love, and to be there for his champion when he needs him most.
“Please. Please,” he sobbed dryly, having no idea what he was begging for.
“Ssh, it’s alright. I’m so sorry. The last thing I ever meant to do was hurt you. I care about you, Dory, please don’t get upset. Please don’t be hurt because of me.”
“No… no, it’s not you. It’s not you. I… I’m scared. I… don’t want to do it wrong.”
“Do what wrong?”
“Anything. I’m not supposed to feel this way. I’ll get into trouble. They’ll… they’ll…. I don’t know what they’ll do, but I’ll ruin everything.”
“They can’t tell you what to feel, Dory. No one can tell you what to feel.”
Dorien pulled away so he could look into Shade’s eyes. He felt shaky but less panicstricken. “You don’t understand.” He sniffed. “I can’t control myself. If I let myself feel things I can’t stop it getting out of control. I hurt people, Shade. I’m so scared of hurting people.”
“You’d never hurt me, Dory.”
“But I might. If I get out of control.”
“I don’t believe you’d lose control, not like this. It’s wrong to make you shut down.
Besides, there are times when it’s good to lose control.”
“No. No, that can’t ever happen. Never.”
“Never say never, Dory.”
Before Dory could do anything, Shade bent his head and kissed him gently on the lips. Dorien gasped with shock, a breathless tingle shooting through his body. He stared at Shade, his mind blank of everything but a desperate desire to do it again, and again, and again. Although he was shaking with fear, there was something inside, some devil, or maybe the voice of reason, that gave him the courage and strength to lean in and press his lips against Shade’s. It felt good. It felt really good. He closed his eyes and sighed as Shade put his arms around him and teased his lips with little pecks. When Shade tugged at his bottom lip with his teeth he started to cry, but he didn’t pull away.
This is one wonderful read. As usual, I’d like to start with addressing issues I know some readers will have.
The author has chosen to write this with multiple points-of view. Generally, it’s Shade or Dorien’s POV. The POV changes are obvious and well delineated. The story is heavily dialogue centric. The author has chosen to tell the story by allowing the characters to tell it in their own words. I’m usually wary of this. I like a bit of descriptive detail, especially if more than two characters are talking at the same time. It works well in this case, in my opinion.
There is a strong element of past abuse, and strong language. If these are triggers I suggest you consider skipping this. I had a few instances where I needed to calm down and breathe.
Those of you in the medical, social work, child protective services, legal, corrections and psychiatric professions may be a little insulted. The author has a definite slant and opinion on these professions. She has that right.
One of the main characters suffers from a genetic mental illness. The other suffers from trauma. They are placed under care and although they are still minors , they are still treated as less than human, in my opinion. That was deliberate. The author is sending a clear message that, in some cases, people suffering from mental illness aren’t treated as they should.
Some might call these characters weak. I say to them that they should get over themselves. It takes courage to surmount obstacles like that. Let’s see how you handle being as abused as Shade was. I would be a complete and utter mess and that wouldn’t make me weak. If, as a reader, you dislike non-macho alpha male characters, don’t bother with this. The alpha males in this story are mean, nasty creatures.
I’ve reread this book several times since I was given a copy. I get something out of it every time I read it.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and menagerie of three cats, a dog and a dragon. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close.
Immersed, as always, in the world of fantasy, she maintains a burning desire to share the stories and these days it’s in the form of books which all contain her spark and unique view on life, the universe and everything.
WHERE TO FIND THE AUTHOR