ROAN: The Tales of Conor Archer, volume 1

Roan Cover           Long ago, the Tinkers exiled themselves, sailing from the western shores of Ireland, their women weeping in despair over the men folk who had consorted on the sand with the shape-shifting Roan, non-human beings from Celtic myth. The sea-wives had returned in the shape of seals bearing pups that transformed to human children as soon as they touched the sand. 'Dark ones', the Tinkers called these offspring. Traveling to the New World, they found the spot where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers flowed together–a thin place, where myths from many cultures converged and legends came to life. There, for a century and a half, the 'dark ones' stayed hidden and the town kept their secrets.

At least that was how Conor Archer heard it in the days after he arrived at Tinker’s Grove, Wisconsin. Three days earlier, the night his mother died, the seventeen year old was playing in a pickup band at a downtown Chicago Irish bar. A strange biker approached him after a set, looked at Conor’s webbed hands, pronounced him kin, and then took a chunk out of the boy’s palm with weird pointed teeth. Racked with pain he found himself at Buckingham Fountain, bleeding and delirious. A woman was there, washing her hair in the sparkling water. Dazzled by her beauty, he allowed her to wrap his bleeding hand in a piece of her dress. Incredibly, she aged to an old crone before his eyes, and then told him he had less than twenty-four hours to live. Conor made it back home to hold his mother as she passed, her last words a whisper for him to go to Tinker’s Grove.

He did as she said; his fever left only when Malachy, the Abbot from the monastery that loomed over the town, took him down to the river side where an old Indian Mound stood. With the twins, Jace and Beth Michaels by his side, they watched in wonder as something came out of the Mound, vaguely human, and healed the boy. A prophecy was spoken, barely remembered, but what Conor recollected clearly was looking out at the river and seeing a shadow there of Piasa, the Native American river demon out of legend, gazing at him with hungry eyes. Most of all he remembered Emily, his aunt, aged but loving, who took him in and gave him a home.

No peace for him though--he was changing. He ran in the night like a wolf and flew through the trees like an owl. And he saw things, strange people, out of the corner of his eye, who haunted the forest.

Caithness McNabb, owner of most the land in these parts, has a plan for power and wealth for her and her three misbegotten sons. She’s sold land to a genetics company and hired Dr. Nicholas Drake, well respected biogeneticist, to come and see the ‘dark ones’ and learn their secret. Cate is motivated by Piasa, who whispers fame and glory to her in the night as she walks the banks of the Wisconsin River. The monster has told her who lives in the Mound, Madoc is his name, a Welsh prince from centuries ago exiled by his countrymen because of his strange affinity with the Roan. He’s Piasa’s mortal enemy, and an alliance with Cate will give Piasa the chance it needs to finally drive the Roan from the valley so that it can spread its own brand of chaos and evil through town and countryside.

Into this web, Conor, Jace and Beth are drawn along with the Abbot and Aunt Emily. When children go missing and those who dwell with Madoc in the Mound show themselves, the townspeople begin to panic thinking that their secret sins have come back to demand vengeance. The young are taken and Drake begins to experiment on them, seeking the source of their shape-shifting power.

All that Conor and his friends can do is awaken the power of the land and allow long dead myths to come to life. Conor himself must accept his destiny but no matter who tries to help him, Conor runs from who and what he is. Beth carries his child and those who hate Conor need the baby to rise to power. The world is falling around him.

Science and technology clash with myth and legend–two dying worlds trying to survive. As Conor discovers himself and what is expected of him, war is brewing in that tiny corner of the world. Set in the present, but spanning centuries, a battle for humanity and the future of the world begins anew.