In this enthralling debut, one young girl learns that getting the best revenge takes more than a little luck.
Valentine Bell spends her days aboard the luxury cruise ship “The Heart of Io,” traveling back and forth
between earth and beautiful, mysterious Vala, a planet where the jungle holds a universe-altering secret.
The young orphan is unaware of her powers, only knows that she has been born with a scar, and seeks
greater adventures than what life has provided for her.
She finds it in the form of Orion Sides. Orion uses Valentine’s fascination to entangle her in his father’s
gang of thugs and thieves, who run the ship’s underworld.
But Orion knows something Valentine doesn’t— that her scar gives her a special ability to bestow luck
upon anyone who touches it. Aided by her de-facto dad, Tycho, and her best friend, Luke, Valentine
realizes that Orion’s been using her luck to pull off a heist, and when a set of priceless jewels goes
missing from the cabin of a powerful Ambassador, Valentine is sure she knows who’s taken them.
Out for revenge, Valentine embarks upon a dangerous journey that takes her into the Valan jungle,
spurred on by a strange connection to the precious jewels. As she learns about her own tangled history,
and forges a path to her future, Valentine discovers that she has a role to play in setting things right,
talents beyond her imagination, and a thirst for justice that takes her down perilous paths.
Rowan Maness’s stunning first novel invites readers into a dizzying world unlike any they’ve ever seen,
and introduces a character whose journey will enchant anyone who has ever questioned their place in
this world or any other.
I’m really excited to read Valentine Bell: The Golden Year by Rowan Maness as soon as my classes end for the summer and… guess what? It’s being released today! It’s an imaginative tale that intertwines fantasy, romance, and adventure. Check it out 🙂
Here’s an excerpt:
From the window seat in the bedroom of Elizabeth’s house, I looked up at the sweet blue moon. The sun’s going to go supernova someday, but the moon would never turn on us. The tides roll in and out reliably, bringing a little order to this shabby rock. My best friend, Luke, told me once that a long time ago, there was a great explosion and the moon shot right out of the earth’s core, flung violently into space. And as I stared, the moon seemed to be saying, Play that song again, Valentine. I chose the record for the picture on the cover. The others, leaning against a wall, dusty and soft with humidity, seemed so boring in comparison. It didn’t let me down—every song’s been beautiful, but this one is my favorite. I scraped the needle across the spinning surface, searching for the right ridge. Coaxed from the stone of the record, the singer’s voice cried out.
He saw no tears in her eyes / say you wouldn’t kid about it
The garden below looks wild and half-dead, and the moonlight makes it seem so sad. I wish I could stay and tend to it and make it grow right, but the garden isn’t mine. Nothing here is mine. I wouldn’t know what to do with an overgrown garden, just like I never know quite how to take the trash in the streets, the biting winds, the cliffs that rise out of the salty Pacific ocean like solid gold cathedrals. I was born on earth, but have always lived between places, aboard the biggest commercial space liner ever built—the Heart of Io. (Believe me, the name could have been worse. At least I don’t live on the Princess Selene of the Stars). She’s telling all of those lies / she swore she’d never told before Tycho, my guardian, wouldn’t normally let me stay on Earth while the Heart of Io was docked, but I convinced him this time because of tomorrow. In the morning, the ship would set sail again. I had one night to sleep in a room with an open window, to listen to the singer’s voice ringing out over the faraway hills, carried on the breeze to parts of the earth I’ve never seen, up over the moon.
He bit his tongue / and tried hard to capture his breath
To think that I might never see every corner of Earth, and every planet beyond, is so depressing. I’m a perpetual visitor. That’s nothing new. I’ve been visiting all my life. I was just a baby when Tycho took a job and loaded little orphan me onto the ship, setting off on an endless run of luxury cruise holidays, shuttling tourists back and forth between various port cities on Earth and the most beautiful planet in the known universe—Vala.
She said, I waited all my life / for just a little death
I don’t know what that means, but I like it. And then, the chorus. I’d listened to him sing it so many times that it sounded like a prayer now. Like a commandment. Say you wouldn’t kid about it. I crossed the room, uneven floors creaking beneath my feet, moving to turn off the little bronze lamp that cast the only light. Dancing shadows put to sleep, I went back to the window and pushed the heavy window open as wide as it could go. The house was near the ocean, separated from the city lights by a sharp curve in the bay. All the stars were out, shining reflected in pools of leftover rainwater in the gutters that lined the roof. I breathed deeply. The wind lifted and the window rattled on its hinges, swaying. I didn’t jump. I was getting used to the way the air was constantly moving now. A car drove down the road around the other side of the house, and its headlights raced around the corners of the bedroom. Gravel popped, the car creaked and stopped, and voices wrapped around, echoing against the garden wall, soft voices of neighbors laughing.
Sometimes he takes himself so seriously / She makes her movements mysteriously
I wondered if anybody thought I moved mysteriously. Maybe someone would be enchanted enough to sing a sad song about me someday. Maybe the impossibly gorgeous Orion Sides, crush of my life, unknowing holder of my hopeful heart. Really, how lame can a girl get?
So what if this is a man’s world? / I want to be a kid again about it
I wish I was mysterious. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and everything will be different.
About the Author
Rowan Maness was born and raised in the desert, on the edges of the vast Phoenix, Arizona ‘burbs.
She earned her first paycheck in high school, when she won a writing contest with an essay about the
importance of honesty – at the same time she was busy creating multiple fake personalities online.
One of those fake personalities met the man who would eventually become Rowan’s husband, and she
moved to Los Angeles to be with him and attend art school. In 2009, the day before she gave birth to
her daughter, Rowan graduated from CalArts despite not being able to paint, act, dance, animate or
schmooze. Valentine Bell: the Golden Year is her first published work.