Friday, February 17, 2017

Showcase - The Road to Enchantment by Kaya McLaren

Today I'm showcasing Kaya McLaren's The Road To Enchantment. It was the beautiful cover that first caught my eye but by the time I read the premise and some reviews I knew this is a must for my pile. I can't wait to have the time to dig into this fascinating book and I'm sure after reading all about it you'll feel the same.
I interviewed Kaya when she released her book The Firelight Girls you can see the interview HERE.


ISBN-13: 9781250058225
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 1-31-17
Length: 352pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound

As a young girl, Willow watched her mother leave their home in Washington State in a literal blaze of glory: she set the mattress of her cheating husband on fire in her driveway, roasting marshmallow peeps and hot dogs before the fire department arrived.
And with that, she and Willow set off to New Mexico, to a new life, to a world of arroyos and canyons bordering an Apache reservation. Willow was devastated. Her eccentric mother believed in this new life and set about starting a winery and goat ranch. But for Willow, it meant initially being bullied and feeling like an outsider. Today, as a grown woman, Willow much prefers Los Angeles and her job as a studio musician. But things tend to happen in threes: her mother dies, her boyfriend dumps her, and Willow discovers she is pregnant.
The DeVine Winery and Goat Ranch is all she has left, even if it is in financial straits and unmanageable back taxes. There is something, though, about the call of “home.” She's surprised to find that her Apache best friend Darrel along with the rest of the community seems to think she belongs far more than she ever thought she did. Can Willow redefine what home means for her, and can she make a go of the legacy her mother left behind?

Read an excerpt courtesy St. Martin's Press:

Maybe it was the fact my feet hadn’t touched real dirt in so long that I suddenly became aware of them when they did. Sure, they had been in sand not that long ago, but sand lets all things pass through it—water, crabs, and people. Clay doesn’t. Clay holds what lands on it. This thought terrified me. I never did like this place and I sure didn’t want to get stuck here.

Glittery glass shards from broken bottles littered the side of the remote dirt road. I stood outside the gate and looked over into my mom’s world, into my past. Some things were exactly the same. For example, the old 1953 pink Cadillac still poked out of an arroyo in the bull’s pasture like a fossilized dinosaur unearthed by the elements. And by “pasture” I did simply mean a large fenced-in area full of sage and not much else.

Señor Clackers, my mom’s Toro Bravo Spanish fighting bull, had been her answer to a security system, a way to keep the drunks and thieves out, and he had just noticed me, so I knew I had only seconds to make my move. He was roughly fifteen hundred pounds of pure muscle that rippled under his shiny black fur when he moved, but at the moment he stood still, his head held high, sniffing the air, his regal horns reaching clear up to the sky. My mom had installed a system of gates so that the bull blocked a narrow section of the driveway when she wanted protection, but kept the bull out of the driveway when she wanted to welcome a visitor or go in or out herself. I quickly crawled over one metal gate and pushed another gate shut, blocking the bull from the driveway and allowing me to walk through safely. Curious, he trotted over to me, his massive testicles swinging back and forth as he did, the characteristic for which Mom had named him. Bull testicles were something I hadn’t seen in my twenty-one years of city life and now struck me as somewhat obscene even though rationally I knew that was ridiculous. I took a step back, lacking complete confidence in my mom’s aging fencing. Señor Clackers’s long horns hooked forward as he snorted through the fence.

Mom’s two dogs, Mr. Lickers and Slobber Dog, noticed us and began to bark and run toward me jubilantly, as if they had mistaken me for my mom, and I wondered what similarity they saw that caused them confusion—our frame? Our posture? Our walk? As they neared, they balked, as if they realized I was not my mom after all. The dogs and I had met twice before, but still, I spoke to them calmly, wondering how protective of my mom’s estate they would be.

“Estate” was actually a word far too fancy for what lay before me.

I bent down to see which dog was male and which one wasn’t, so I could remember which was Mr. Lickers and which was Slobber Dog. They were siblings and looked remarkably alike, built much like blue heelers, with four colors of fur all mixed in together, white paws, white stars on their chests, and white stripes down their noses. I let them smell my hand and then pet each one before I continued my slow walk up the driveway.

I didn’t know how I was going to find homes for all of my mom’s animals. In addition to the bull and the dogs, there were the horses, the donkey, the llama, and the guinea fowl. The livestock would be a pain to sell, but the dogs … No one around here needed two more dogs. I looked down at their sad faces and wondered whether the Vigils farther up the road would take them back.

I scanned the nearly three hundred acres, wondering where exactly Mom had fallen off her horse and why. Maybe a rattlesnake had spooked it. Maybe coyotes or a cougar. Maybe it had been stung by a wasp or a bee. I would never know.

As I continued to walk toward the house I had once shared with my mom, the guinea fowl ran to get out of the way, eventually flying up to low branches on a nearby juniper. Their black feathers with little white polka dots littered the gravel. I picked one up and admired its elegance. Was I really going to catch all of these birds? No. Maybe I could advertise that I would give them away to anyone who would come out and catch them.

Since I had been here last, Mom had built a structure into the side of a hill on the other side of the barn. She had told me about it, but I had never seen it. The front was stucco with wooden timbers that poked out above the windows, and a hand-painted sign above the door that read, “The De Vine Winery.” Behind it, the five acres of grapes Mom and I had planted had filled out, now striping the nearby hillsides with bold green lines where only small green circles had dotted the landscape not that long ago.

A white vinyl couch sat facing the large arroyo where coyotes used to hide, and next to the couch, sun shone through the green glass of an empty wine bottle.

And to my left was the house and garage, something between artistic and ramshackle that a friend of my mother’s old friend had built out of straw bales, stucco, and salvaged materials. It looked boxy, even with solar panels sitting on the flat roof. The walls were fat with deep windowsills that I had loved to sit in, soaking up sunshine while I did my homework on cold winter days. Over the door was a stained-glass window he had salvaged from a church that had burned down, a window depicting the Nativity. It had been damaged so he’d had to cut off Joseph and the wise men, leaving Mary and her baby alone with the livestock and the Angel of the Lord. He had built a large frame around it before he had set it into the wall. Turquoise paint peeled from the wooden door and window frames. Near the door grew oregano, black-eyed Susans, and hollyhocks, an odd combination of survivors.

In every direction it seemed there was a doorway I was afraid to walk through, not wanting to see the archaeology of my mother’s last day—the rag she’d used to disinfect the bags of the goats she had milked that morning, the rake she had used to pick stalls, the pans and buckets that were undoubtedly still in the drying rack, the clothes she hadn’t laundered, her hair in the shower drain.

At once, a momentary wave of fever and weakness washed over me as my stomach turned. I dropped down on all fours and abruptly threw up. I had been doing this for the last two days and chalked it up to grief.

I sat back on my knees, looked up at the front door of the home where my mother’s absence felt so wrong, where it was finally real in a way it hadn’t been until that very moment. Then overcome by weakness, I laid down on the gravel, rolled over, and looked up at the sky above. It was clear and blue with only one cloud in it—a large bear that floated in the southeast over the Vigil place. A bear. My old best friend, Darrel. The sky seemed to be telling me he was coming, and so I shut my eyes and waited.

Copyright © 2017 by Kaya McLaren
Praise for The Road to Enchantment:
"This touching novel of homecoming will draw apt comparisons to early Barbara Kingsolver."Booklist

“I loved every single thing about this book… A captivating and enchanting story full of mystical awareness—a novel not to be missed.” —Patti Callahan Henry on The Road to Enchantment

McLaren brings a compelling and captivating coming-of-age story to the forefront with The Road to Enchantment. The writing is beautiful as it tells the story of an outsider who always felt like she was different. The pacing keeps the story from feeling rushed and works to drive home the intrigue. McLaren writes a deep and fantastic read. RT Book Reviews 4 Stars

Other Books by Kaya

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MEET Kaya:
KAYA MCLAREN writes and teaches art in Wenatchee, Washington. In the past, she was an archaeologist in the Southwest, and later lived and taught on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. New Mexico still holds a piece of her heart. Her books include How I Came to Sparkle Again, The Firelight Girls and On the Divinity of Second Chances.

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