Emajen is a world, similar to Earth. Doodland is a world where all the sketches that human beings doodle spring to life. Crevitos is a cruel and beautiful Creation, with multi-world domination and devastation in mind. Two youngsters from Earth, Destiny and Anthony, become embroiled in a complex expedition to save Emajen from Crevitos’ tyranny and his growing army of almost invincible Creations.
|Publisher:||Our Street Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.56(w) x 8.45(h) x 0.48(d)|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 17 Years|
About the Author
As a primary school teacher, Ashley Ledigo is passionate about sharing a love for writing with children of all ages. Emajen is Ashley's debut children's novel. Originally from Kent, Ashley currently lives in Suffolk with her husband and a small, but much-loved menagerie.
Read an Excerpt
Lightning slashed across the storm-swept sky. Crevitos towered, deliberately menacing, as his dark cloak whipped around him, bullied by the brutish wind. The violent electric storm seemed only to heighten Crevitos's cruel beauty; he stood, tall and imposing, casting tendrils of fear into the hearts and minds of every creature cowered there before him.
'Now!' he cried raising his fists in triumph. 'Now, bow to me. Scrape, you vermin, crawl. I am master and henceforth this place has a new name: "Doomland", because you are all DOOMED!' His speech concluded with a screaming cackle. Groups of creatures of varied shapes, sizes and colours, huddled together. They were alike only in their misery.
Crevitos lowered his gaze, his large piercing eyes seeming to fasten on each one of them. They felt his glare burn through their souls like acid. Seeing their abject misery, his mouth curled sadistically: a parody of a smile. Even in their wretchedness they wondered how such cruelty, such loathsome evil could emanate from such impressive beauty. Lowering his voice to a threatening snarl, he bent forward to impress his next point with fierce clarity.
'Don't think,' he hissed, 'even for a nanosecond, about disobeying my orders. Everything ... EVERYTHING, is punishable by death!' The last word was whispered so quietly that it might easily have been whipped away, unheard, by the howling wind. But it was so menacing that not one of the creatures shivering wretchedly below could possibly have missed its import.
* * *
'So whadya think?' Martin creased his forehead expectantly. 'Yeah, gruesome!' Tom handed the comic strip reverently back to his friend. 'You've always been good at this stuff.'
'Drawing cartoons is all I've ever wanted to do. Anyway, the paper seemed to like it.'
'Does that mean they've offered you the job?'
'Well more or less, I mean, because I'm only seventeen, I've really got to start at the bottom doing basic stuff, you know? I won't be drawing my own cartoons yet.'
Tom lounged back in his chair, lacing long tapered pianist's fingers behind his head. Their talents had drawn them together: the artist and the musician, neither one quite fitting the teenage mould. Tom had been there at Crevitos's creation. He had watched as Crevitos blossomed into the violent, sadistic, ruthless leader of 'Doodleland' – that place where every creation drawn by man took shape and came to life.
'I like the change of name,' he said, '"Doomland", it's creepy. So what happens to Crevitos now?'
Martin shrugged. He had other things on his mind. 'Oh, I think it's time I gave Crevitos a rest. He's kind of old hat anyway.'
* * *
Crevitos breathed in hugely. A wall of silence, like death, hung over the dark fortress he called home. Not a sound could escape those immense, forbidding stone walls. In his dark eyrie, hundreds of feet up in the sky, a single lamp shone, doing nothing to disperse the oppressive shadows. He liked it this way. From here he could survey Doomland and revel in the barren waste it had become. He felt a surge of power sweep through him. Energy pulsated around him with a visible iridescent glow that radiated pure evil. Finally he let out a roar of triumph. 'Free at last! No longer the slave to a mere boy's whim. World beware!'
Pat, pat. Curl. Bump. Wide green eyes stared unblinkingly for a moment in mock surprise. The tiny, green, fuzzy object pinged. A paw shot out as quickly as lightning. Destiny giggled. 'Oh, Torny, you're so funny!'
The kitten looked at her enquiringly, stuck his tongue out and promptly somersaulted over the rung of the chair. Destiny laughed again. Then she sighed, as she turned her thoughts toward her English homework. She wished it were maths. Maths was easy, in fact she could calculate stuff in her head that other kids needed calculators for. She rubbed her eyes and tried to read the page again.
Mum came in. She looked at Destiny's scowl of concentration and a frown creased her own forehead.
Destiny looked up and made a rueful face at her mum.
'Are you struggling with that, babe? Come on, I'll give you a hand.'
'If you could just read it for me, Mum, that would help. I can answer the questions, it's just, well, the letters seem to dance around and the harder I try, the more confused I get.'
Destiny's mum raised her eyebrows, but said nothing. She sat down to read the passage.
* * *
'Sounds like she could be dyslexic to me.'
Jenny Smith looked concerned. Dyslexia wasn't something she knew much about.
'I thought it was more a boy thing,' she told her friend.
'Well, tends to be, but not exclusively. How long has she been seeing dancing letters?'
'I'm ashamed to say, I don't really know.' Jenny shook her head. 'She only told me a few days ago. But I don't understand it, I mean she gets such good grades in maths and ... you've seen her drawings. She seems such a bright kid.'
'Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence,' Becky retorted, somewhat tersely. 'I seem to remember someone telling me once that Einstein was dyslexic!' At Jenny's expression, Becky immediately felt sorry for her brusqueness. 'It's okay,' she said, more gently, 'I know just the guy to help you.'
* * *
Destiny read through the page that Mr Porter had given her, reasonably fluently. She stumbled a bit, but felt that she had done okay. Some of the other tests were not so good. She kept writing her Bs and Ds the wrong way round and couldn't make up her mind between several versions of the same spelling. Some of the tests were plain weird. She had to stand on one leg with her eyes closed for ten seconds. She wobbled disastrously after three and collapsed after five. She felt a totally inappropriate urge to giggle and was astounded when Mr Porter let out a throaty chuckle.
'I have trouble with that one too. Now,' he asked, 'tell me about these dancing letters. Mum says they're getting to be a bit of a problem.'
Destiny laughed. It was a relief. She liked Mr Porter. 'Well,' she considered, 'it doesn't happen all the time. But sometimes it's like there are two of every letter overlapping and then they sort of move up and down. Then I get really confused.'
'Does this happen more when you're tired?'
Destiny looked surprised, 'I guess ... yeah, I think it does.'
Up to this point, Jenny had forced herself not to interrupt or interfere. Now she said miserably, 'I just don't understand, you've read whole books; how did you do that?'
Destiny was surprised by her mother's outburst. She shrugged her shoulders.
'I don't know,' she replied unhappily.
Mr Porter intervened quietly, 'Do you find that you guess a lot of the time, especially once you know what the subject is about?'
'That's exactly it,' said Destiny excitedly. 'It's like stories are easy because a lot of the time you kind of know what's going to happen.' Then her face fell. 'But now I'm in secondary school, Mum, some of the stuff we have to read is really hard.'
'But you're in top set for English, so you must be doing something right.'
'I think you'll find, that for someone as clever as Destiny, it's actually quite easy to bluff your way through primary English!' Mr Porter smiled at Destiny and she thought she detected just the merest hint of a wink.
She looked relieved. 'So I'm not stupid then?'
'Far from it, my dear, and there is a great deal that can be done to help this particular problem.'
'So in your opinion, she is dyslexic then?' Jenny interrupted again.
'If you must give it a label, yes.' Mr Porter scratched his head absentmindedly. 'However, we'll only use a label in so far as it can be used to your –' he looked at Destiny – 'advantage for exams and things.'
'Oh cool!' Destiny looked much happier.
'Now, recent theories are much more based on improving balance and hand to eye co-ordination, so I'm going to ask you to work on a series of exercises ...'
'All set? We've got to go!' Mum said firmly.
Destiny pouted behind her mum's back. This was not a trip she was looking forward to – two weeks on a ranch in America, riding into the sunset every wretched day. Mum had always been mad about riding. Destiny loved horses – she loved all animals – but the idea of bouncing uncomfortably around on one and most likely ending up in a pile of something smelly, really didn't appeal. And for two weeks!
'Destiny, come ON!'
With a sigh of resignation, Destiny gave Tornado and Quaver one more affectionate kiss on the head each.
'Don't worry,' she whispered, 'Josh will look after you really well.' Josh was the boy next door, who looked after the two cats whenever Destiny and her mum went away, not to mention the two fish and the tortoise. Destiny was passionate about her animals and Josh was the only person she really trusted to look after them. He was good with them and spent time with the cats in case they were lonely.
'I'm not going to tell you again!' Mum sounded seriously like she was losing her rag.
'I'm coming,' Destiny shouted hurriedly. She heaved her suitcase up with both hands and waddled out to the waiting taxi.
Although the thought of flying was exciting Destiny beyond measure, she wasn't about to let her mum off the hook too lightly. She still couldn't believe that her mum had booked up a whole two weeks riding holiday, without checking first that it was actually something Destiny wanted to do. America. Great. Sandy beaches, luxurious accommodation, sunning by a sumptuous pool. Maybe even Disneyland Florida! But nooo. Mum had to book up a holiday on some crummy ranch somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The rationale being (Mum was always careful to explain her rationale) that riding would help to improve Destiny's balance and would therefore fit in perfectly with her current dyslexia regime. Sure, there was a pool but, apart from that, if you didn't want to be with horses twenty-four seven, what else was there to do?
Destiny's mum broke into her train of thought.
'Come on miss smile-a-minute, we have to go to the departure lounge.'
Destiny couldn't keep up the pretence any more. Her natural enthusiasm spilled over and she grinned at her mum.
The first and longest part of the journey was from London to Las Vegas. What Destiny found peculiar, was that the flight took ten hours and forty-five minutes and yet, because of the time difference, they actually arrived in Las Vegas only two hours and forty-five minutes after they'd left London. It was odd to get your head around!
Everything on the plane fascinated Destiny, from the dinky little food trays to the individual TVs in the backs of the chairs. As the plane rose smoothly from the tarmac, she clutched her mum's hand and squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for her stomach to find a resting place a little farther south than her throat. The time passed surprisingly quickly. By the time she'd had a meal, read a bit and watched a film, the pilot was saying that they would soon be landing and giving them various snippets of information about the time, temperature and weather. Destiny sucked her boiled sweet hard, as the plane began its descent. She couldn't quite help a squeak of apprehension, as the plane bumped down onto the runway. She heard someone behind them remark what a smooth landing it was and wondered, in that case, what a bumpy one would be like. She decided she didn't want to know.
A waft of suffocating air hit them as they stepped from the air-conditioned interior of the aeroplane out into the scorching sunshine. Destiny couldn't believe how hot it was.
'It's set to get hotter,' chirruped her mum cheerily. 'I checked it on the internet before we left.'
'Mum, I'm a walking sweat-band as it is!' But Destiny couldn't help a skip as she walked. Maybe this holiday wasn't going to be so bad after all.
After a short stop, they had a couple of hours flight to Salt Lake City, followed by another short stop and the final one hour flight to Jackson Hole. By the time they had completed the journey and battled their way through customs, it was late, so Destiny's mum had booked them into a hotel for the night.
They both slept well and the huge range of choices on the breakfast menu made Destiny giggle. The journey from the hotel to the ranch did nothing to dampen Destiny's enthusiasm. For a start, someone had told the tour guide (and Mum swore it wasn't her) that Destiny would be twelve during their stay. He made everyone on the coach sing happy birthday to her, which was embarrassing (but rather nice) and presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
Most of the other passengers alighted at one of the two other places that the coach stopped at. Destiny looked on with awe. They were actually on the outskirts of a town. She could see tennis courts and the shimmer of water not too far away. Things really did look quite promising. It wasn't until the last people had disembarked from the coach and she and her mother were the only ones left on board, that the doubts began to creep back in. The tour guide chatted animatedly to Jenny as Destiny gazed more and more morosely out of the window. All signs of civilization soon fizzled out and there was no hint of tourist activity, or anything that seemed to suggest any kind of holiday resort.
At last the coach turned up a dirt track, which seemed to wind on interminably. Through the coach window, Destiny watched the spiky, purple-berried trees go by. They were beautiful in a sinister kind of way that matched her slightly darkening mood. As they drove round a bend in the trees, the track suddenly widened into a huge, curving paved drive. Destiny sucked her breath in sharply. The house in front of her – well, mansion it would appear – stood proud and majestic, almost flaunting its white vastness as it shimmered through the heat haze.
'Oh, WOW! This is it?'
The guide beamed and placed a rather battered looking leather hat on his head.
'Welcome –' he gestured widely – 'to Grey Ranch!'
The house was so impressive that Destiny felt a thrill of excitement running through her. 'I bet they've got a gigantic swimming pool and dancing and table tennis – oooh.' She squirmed with anticipation and followed her mum out of the coach.
She glanced around, trying to feel the atmosphere of the place, while her mum chatted nineteen-to-the-dozen with a cheery, grey-haired man who was balancing their luggage on a trolley.
'Hey, Mum —' Destiny was cut short by the most horrendous noise she had ever heard. It was a cross between a scream and a howl. Without thinking, Destiny flung aside her hand luggage and sprinted frantically in the direction of the noise.
Two men were standing just feet away from a dog. One of the men was desperately trying to grab hold of the dog by its collar.
Teeth gnashed, dripping saliva. The dog yowled again.
Destiny was about to launch herself at the man (what the hell was he doing?) when she realized what had happened.
The dog had caught its paw in a loose strand of wire attached to the fence. In its desperate efforts to escape the pain, it had pulled the wire taut until it was cutting the soft flesh with unremitting intensity. The dog thrashed and screamed. It lunged at the man, unaware that he was trying to help and yelped again as the wire bit once more into its now slippery, scarlet paw.
Destiny's mind flipped into overdrive.
'Stand on the wire!' she screamed.
The men spun round in astonishment. With a flash of understanding, the man who was standing watching rushed forward, planting a sturdy boot firmly on the wire.
'Wire cutters.' Destiny gasped. The other man sprang into action. Destiny approached the dog slowly.
'Hey, young lady, don't ...'
But Destiny was in a world of her own. She stared hard at the dog until she caught its eye. Then she licked her lips, sighed and turned her head away. The second man returned with the clippers and cut the wire, which immediately loosened its vicious hold on the dog's paw. He turned to comfort the dog, which was whimpering now, but it snarled and cowered, shaking.
'Hey, Harriet, hey, girl, it's okay,' he half soothed, half pleaded.
Destiny ignored him. She kept fixing her gaze on the dog, then sighing, licking her lips and looking away. When she was only a foot or so away, she squatted down, talking in a low, soft voice, careful now not to look the dog straight in the eye.
'Harriet,' she crooned over and over, 'is that your name? Good girl. Good baby'
The dog visibly began to relax. The shaking gradually subsided. Still Destiny didn't make any attempt to touch her. Around them, in the yard, there was not a noise to be heard. The whole ranch seemed to hold its breath.
Unaware of anything but Harriet, Destiny waited patiently, not moving, just crooning gently. At last Harriet gave a little whimper and licked her lips. Finally, she stretched out her neck to sniff at Destiny. She licked the girl's hand. Slowly, calmly, Destiny stroked Harriet's head, talking soothingly all the time. Within a few minutes Harriet had buried her nose under Destiny's arm and was allowing her to look at the damaged paw.
Excerpted from "Emajen"
Copyright © 2017 Ashley Ledigo.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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