The Hound at the Gate Series: The Adventures of Finn MacCullen #3
Published by Spencer Hill Press on January 13th 2015
Genres: Middle Grade, Urban Fantasy
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Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.
Especially for one young apprentice.
At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.
As he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.
It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that Finn’s blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan.
“Finnegan MacCullen.” Gideon pointed at the ground by his feet. “Now.”
Fuming, Finn planted his feet and refused to move. Gideon lifted an eyebrow in warning.
You better get over there, Finn warned himself, recalling what had happened just three weeks ago when he had stubbornly refused to obey a direct order during a hunt. A hard cuff on the head, thirty push-ups, and a five-minute lecture delivered in such a deep brogue Finn could barely understand half the words—that had been his reward. Relenting before the other eyebrow went up, he dragged himself over. He winced when his master reached out and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck.
“Tara Butler is not only a fellow apprentice, but also a girl and a guest, is she not?” Gideon said in a tone that made Finn gulp.
“Then treat her as such.” The Knight gave him a rough shake with each word.
“Yes, sir,” Finn gasped. He rubbed the back of his neck when Gideon let go. At the unspoken command from his master, he walked over to where O’Shea and Tara stood, the girl now as red-faced as Finn.
Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to look her square in the eye. When you offer up an apology, lad, do so manfully. “Tara Butler, I’m sorry I was rude.”
“You should be. Ow!” She winced when her master pinched her arm. “Yeah, I’m sorry, too,” she replied, clearly not sorry at all.
Hoping to salvage what he could, Finn plowed along. “And I really don’t think you’re a girl.”
“No. Wait. What I meant to say is that I don’t think you’re a real girl.” Finn groaned silently when the words left his mouth.
“What the heck is that supposed to mean?”
Behind him, he could hear Gideon coughing, trying to smother a laugh. Standing behind her apprentice, O’Shea was holding her hand over her mouth.
Feeling like possibly the biggest fool in the entire history of all known and unknown universes, Finn prayed for a pack of Amandán to burst into camp and kill him. Right then.
No such luck.
“Are you trying to say you don’t think I’m a girly girl?”
Finn nodded in relief. “Exactly.” And now I’m going to shut up before I say anything more stupid. If that’s possible, he thought. Which I doubt.
“Oh. Well, okay then.”
“And, on that note, we are out of here,” O’Shea said. “Come on, Tara, before you and Finn start throwing punches.” The Knight nudged her apprentice toward the path, but then lingered a moment. “Gideon. It’s good to see you again.”
“The pleasure is mine, Kel.”
“And I’m glad you’re back.”
“As am I.”
Finn blew out a long breath as they walked away. Sheesh. And Gideon says I have a hair-trigger temper?
Shaking his head in disbelief, he started to say something when he noticed Gideon still watching O’Shea until she disappeared behind a stand of trees. His master continued to stare at the spot, as if remembering something. A faint smile curled one corner of his mouth.
Finn blinked. He likes her. The realization made him suddenly aware of something he knew-but-didn’t-know. Or didn’t want to know, for some reason.
That his master was more than just his master. That Gideon was a person. With likes and dislikes. With faults and strengths.
That Gideon was a man. And just like his master, one day Finn would be a man, too.
Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, teacher, and a compulsive dawn greeter. She lives in Colorado with her husband and owns more backpacks than purses. As she should.
Her Middle Grade books include FINN FINNEGAN (March 2013 from Spencer Hill Press). The next book in the Finnegan series, GIDEON’S SPEAR (Spencer Hill Press) will be released February 2014, followed by THE HOUND AT THE GATE (January 2015).
Her YA books include GRIFFIN RISING, GRIFFIN’S FIRE, and GRIFFIN’S STORM.
She has also co-authored a non-fiction book for teens entitled MONEY AND TEENS with her husband, author Wes Karchut.
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