#TeaserTuesday: Oak King Holly King by Stebastian Nothwell

Today's Teaser Tuesday brings us into the fae realm of Oak King Holly King, which will release on Kindle and Paperback on February 14th!

From the Blurb:

Shrike, the Butcher of Blackthorn, is a legendary warrior of the fae realms. When he wins a tournament in the Court of the Silver Wheel, its queen names him her Oak King - a figurehead destined to die in a ritual duel to invoke the change of seasons. Shrike is determined to survive. Even if it means he must put his heart as well as his life into a mere mortal’s hands.

Wren Lofthouse, a London clerk, has long ago resigned himself to a life of tedium and given up his fanciful dreams. When a medieval-looking brute arrives at his office to murmur of destiny, he’s inclined to think his old enemies are playing an elaborate prank. Still, he can’t help feeling intrigued by the bizarre-yet-handsome stranger and his fantastical ramblings, whose presence stirs up emotions Wren has tried to lock away in the withered husk of his heart.

As Shrike whisks Wren away to a world of Wild Hunts and arcane rites, Wren is freed from the repression of Victorian society. But both the fae and mortal realms prove treacherous to their growing bond. Wren and Shrike must fight side-by-side to see who will claim victory - Oak King or Holly King.


“We should withdraw,” said Shrike, surprising Wren.

“What for?” Wren asked.

“To make way for the second round of the dance.”

“You’ve brought a blade,” Nell interjected. “Shall you not join us? Or have you had your surfeit of dancing?”

“It’s a dance of swords,” Shrike explained in the face of Wren’s evident confusion.

“And Butcher cuts quite the handsome figure in it,” Nell added. “For those who admire such things.”

Perhaps it was the fae wine. Regardless, Wren heard himself declare, “I should like to see it.”

Shrike shot him an astonished glance.

Wren, his head full of Yorkshire Morris dancing and the memory of how Shrike had looked with a sword in his hand, met his gaze steadily. “If you’re willing.”

The rosy hue returned to Shrike’s high cheekbones alongside his shy smile. “I’m willing, an’ it so please you.”

Nell grinned. “You’re an excellent influence on him, Lofthouse.”

And with a cheery wave, she strolled off, nymphs in tow.

No sooner had she passed out of earshot than Wren developed second thoughts. “There’s no danger in it, is there?”

“None aim to wound,” Shrike replied.

That wasn’t quite what Wren had asked, but he supposed the answer would suffice.

Shrike drew out his sword. The blade glistened. Wren had watched him sharpen it on one Sunday afternoon, sitting on the rock by the stream, his hair falling to frame his face as he bent to ply the whetstone. Shrike looked no less handsome now, holding it forth with far greater strength of arm than Wren himself could boast.

Over Shrike’s broad shoulders Wren espied other fae unsheathing their blades. Several bore silver similar to Shrike’s. Some, however, had weapons of more peculiar make—a bronze gladius pitted and tarnished with barnacles clinging to its hilt; a flamberge whose waving edge seemed to flicker with its own inner candle flame; a longsword of polished wood with dried vines curling down its length; a scimitar whose smooth and gleaming milk-white edge looked uncomfortably as if it were carved of bone; and a blade of pale translucent blue that might have been either glass or ice. The only sword-dancer Wren recognized, apart from Shrike, was the spiderweb fae, who drew out a slender silver rapier from its cane-sheath.

All the while, as the dancers drew their weapons and assumed their positions, unarmed fae withdrew from the tree. Wren followed suit and perched at the rim of the crowd near enough to watch Shrike’s performance with eager and hungry gaze.

Shrike did not disappoint.

The music of the fiddle and flute rekindled. The sword-wielding fae gathered in groups of five. Each raised their blade in their left hand. At the first beat of the tambourine, two blades crossed, the others following one-by-one in time with the song’s rhythm. When all swords had crossed, the dancers spun like the spokes of a wheel, and each five-spoked wheel in turn began to whirl around the tree.

Then, as the fiddle unleashed a joyous shriek, the wheels burst. Swords uncrossed and lashed out anew to strike each other in time with the beating of the tambourine. The rhythm increased in rapidity and the sword-wielders redoubled their efforts to match it with thrusts and parries enough to dizzy any mortal fencing master. Over, beneath, and between these blows the wielders danced, Shrike amongst them.

Every glimpse of Shrike made Wren’s heart sing. His strapping frame bent and leapt in serpentine patterns to avoid the crashing blades, his dark locks trailing behind him in narrow escape, his own arming-sword in constant motion to deflect the others’ strikes.

Wren held his breath as he beheld Shrike flip backwards over the curving moon-white bone scimitar and the rippling flamberge. His form plunged beneath the sea of blades.

And did not emerge again.

Pre-order your copy of Oak King Holly King today!