Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Justice Buried by Hilary Thompson | Book Spotlight + Giveaway: win a signed copy & Amazon GC!

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Justice Buried by Hilary Thompson Blog Tour!


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Justice Buried by Hilary Thompson 
Series: Starbright #1 
Paperback (and ebook), 304 pages
Release date: January 15th 2014
Genre: YA - Fantasy/Mythology


The people need Justice, but she's not listening. One hundred years before, the Great Sickness reduced the world to three cities. Now the community of Asphodel is trapped underground, waiting for the prophesied maiden of Justice to return and save them from their Fates.

Sixteen-year-old Astrea is supposed to be this savior - too bad for them she isn't a believer. Trea fights against her false destiny: she rebels against her family and friends, then refuses her arranged marriage to the charming but deceitful Lexan. Learning her life is in danger, Trea is forced to trust Lexan - until she discovers a power she never knew she had, and one he already knew he did.

As betrayal closes every door, Trea decides she must submit to her stars and accept her fate. Then a handsome stranger offers her an unexpected escape and the chance to create her own destiny.



Chapter One

In the beginning of the end, three sisters decided the fate of the world. From the ruins of the Sickness, they each created a city: Lakessa chose Asphodel to linger underground, Clota decided Tartarus would burn in the desert, and Aisa built Elysium to rest at the edges of the land. There the people wait for the return of the star-bright maiden of Justice.


from The Book of Ministry, Chapter One: Origins,

Head Minister Charles, year 2068

I keep my head bowed close to my knees as the others shuffle past my pew. Father pauses before me, and I stare at his woven slippers, willing them away. His fingers graze my curls and I sense his customary smile, but my heart does not trust it.

He expects too much of me.

Once all of their whispers and steps have faded, I raise my face to the ceiling and glare at the gleaming bits of diamond set deep into the rock. Here are the archaic diagrams we worship: every surface holds the rules and charts of the zodiac. These counterfeit stars dictate everything about my life.

I want to claw the diamonds from the low rock ceiling, scratch them from my cheek, and hurl them to the deepest parts of our underground river.

I want to create my own destiny.

But this is Asphodel, and that will never happen.

My cheeks flush in unspent anger and I hurry past the altar, then squeeze into the hidden passage. The ceiling drops me to my hands and knees, my ribcage constricting as the space diminishes. The stone changes from dusty to damp as the tunnel ends. I rise carefully, feeling for low-hanging stalactites, and count seven controlled steps in the blackness, towards the water’s edge.

I light the waiting candle and lay my meditation pillow at the pool’s edge. The water spreads far beyond what I can see, connecting to other pools and rivers ribboning beneath the rooms of our lonely cave city.

Grandmother’s sweet, strong face hovers behind my eyelids as I bend forward to submerge my fingers in the icy water. I speak the rhyme she taught me:

Fire light, burning bright,
Cast in fury, tossed by spite.
Power of flame, in dark of night,
Combined with air, is evil’s delight.
But cooled with water, heat is spent
And thoughts and actions are heaven-sent.

Four times I chant the prayer: then four again, and again, and again. Finally, my Aries fire feels calmed, and I can safely return to the city. To my life of waiting.

As I slip back into the Ministration Room, the altar candles flare and illuminate a pair of glinting eyes, staring expectantly at me. Every bit of air pushes from my lungs.

Lexan. He shouldn’t be here. He can’t know about this: I’ve hidden it for so long.

“Hello, Astrea,” he says, stepping too close to me. A small grin twists at one corner of his lips, hinting at some game he is playing.

“I’ll not tell anyone, of course,” he says as his fingers catch my sleeve, then slide towards my wrist. I yank away and glare, but he only turns and slips out the door.

My calm evaporates like air sucked into a fire. He will make an infuriating partner.

There’s no sign of Lexan as I enter the shadowy Common Area, and I hurry across the uneven rock floor. I need to make it home before the daylights are doused. Just before I reach the passage leading to the Living Quarters, a voice rings out.

“Astrea!”

I know that voice, and it’s the only one I dread more than Lexan’s.

“Good night, First Leader Keirna,” I say, turning and bowing my head.

“I’ve been worried about you.”

My head jerks up, but I keep my face impassive. Surely she’s lying.

“I saw your father and mother leave the Ministration Room. But not you. Have you been praying all this time?”

“Yes, First Leader.”

“What do you pray for, child?” She steps towards me, ducking into my vision, a finger reaching for my chin. I allow her to pull my face up, but I blink away from her intense stare.

“Choices, First Leader.” I shut my mouth quickly. I hadn’t meant to say that.

The Aries diamonds implanted in her cheek glint, mirroring mine exactly. Finally she releases her grip. “Hurry home. You wouldn’t want to be out in the dark, alone.”

*   *   *

The next day I’m drained from a night of uneasy dreams filled with Keirna’s black eyes and Lexan’s dark blue ones. School is more difficult because of it. My classmates and teachers notice, but they leave me with silent sideways looks. They’ve all borne my moods, and they wouldn’t be interested in an argument.

If Isa were here, she would risk a fight – even welcome it to draw me from my sulk – but she’s strangely absent. I spend lunch with my head on the table, tucked away in a dim corner of the Common Area.

Trudging into the students’ Training Room, I catch Lexan’s glance from across the room and glare at him. He lifts a corner of his mouth then turns away to flirt with a pair of girls.

In one short year we will be partnered, and everything about him irritates me.

He represents my future – the one where I have ultimate power but no choice. He is everything I am not. He is unnaturally fine-looking: tall, slim, strong, and golden. Even at sixteen, he shows more intelligence than some of our current leaders. Yet he never offends, thanks to a disconcerting Libran charm and a relaxed, crooked smile. Everyone loves Lexan.

But I don’t trust him. Nobody is that perfect.

“Astrea!” Teacher Brenn calls to me from across the lofty space. “We need a volunteer!”

My eyebrows draw together as my stomach twists. He knows I hate for anyone to see my weaknesses. Of all students, of all days, why does he call on me?

To refuse him is to refuse Asphodel. Still, if it were anyone other than Brenn, I’d be arguing. He beckons and I obey because I trust him more than my own family.

He hands me the rope: thick, twisted upon itself, suspended from the rock ceiling that looks miles away.

“Remind us how to climb.” His eyes flash, daring me. I wish he felt ashamed of picking on me, but his grin assures me he doesn’t.

My arms struggle to pull my weight to the second knot, then the third, but at some point, my body finds a rhythm, and I find myself twenty feet above my classmates. Adrenaline begins to filter through my veins.

“Higher!” Brenn calls up to me.

“Why? Everyone knows how to do this!”

“Higher!”

I actually want to keep climbing, but I don’t want to be ordered to. All I can think of is Choosing Day. I fight these small battles to persuade myself that my life is still my own.

My classmates are whispering and I catch a word – can’t. The taunt powers my movement like nothing Brenn could say and I start climbing again. I quickly reach the halfway marker. My hands feel rough from the fibers and my thighs are scratched from clenching the rope. Sweat trickles along my hairline.

“That’s good, Astrea, thank you,” Brenn calls as I rest on a thick knot. I hold thumb and finger up to my eye, squishing his head.

I gaze at the striated rock walls that surround me in familiar shades of brown and faded orange and finally grin. I have never climbed this high before. I really am strong enough. Reproach sweeps my chest as I realize that’s what Brenn wanted all along – to help me find a little more confidence.
As my eyes arc across the great rock room, I unexpectedly see a tiny bit of light where it shouldn’t be. Blinking quickly doesn’t remove it from my vision.

“Astrea! Come on back down!”

I ignore Brenn, moving over another knot, and another, until I am eighty feet, then ninety, and then my hand brushes the cool metal spike that anchors the rope to the ceiling. I scan the walls of the cave, trying to pinpoint the glimmer. I feel a tug on the rope and glance down to see Brenn moving 
quickly up after me.

He must be worried I’m afraid to climb down. I frown at his head. I don’t need rescuing. The height is exhilarating – a small moment of freedom. I wrap my ankles around the rope and continue to search the walls.

Nothing. Disappointment trickles in. Perhaps it was just my eyes. I don’t really believe that, but the light is gone.

“Tre,” Brenn says from a few feet below me, “you really need to come down now. Seriously.”
He knows I’m not afraid – then why did he come up here? I search his familiar eyes, only a shade browner than his dark skin. I realize suddenly that he is afraid, and I nearly fall off the rope. Brenn is never afraid.

“Hey, I’m okay. It’s okay. What’s wrong with you?” I whisper, even though nobody could possibly hear us.

“Nothing, I’m fine. Just come down. If one of the leaders finds out you climbed this high, I’ll be punished. Please, Trea.” His tone is light and unstressed, but his eyes are laced with concern. Also, he said please – definitely not normal.

I inch downward, conceding. Although he’s my parents’ friend, Brenn has always been there when I needed him, often more father than my own. Together we move down the rope until my training shoes touch the smooth cool floor again.

My classmates are still whispering, but none of them say the word can’t. I fold my arms and smile at them, but the expression dies before Lexan’s face. He looks livid, as though I’ve done something very wrong. I raise an eyebrow at him and he turns his back to me.

Where is Isa? I really need to talk to her about last night, and just now. And how strange everyone is acting.

*   *   *

I help prepare dinner, slicing tomatoes as Mother seasons the beans from the Growing Rooms. 
Father slices our homemade bread and a little of the hard cheese made by the producers.

“So can I just skip the Choosing Day ceremony?” I ask as we sit to eat. I know their answer, but I feel like arguing.

“You know the ceremony is part of Asphodel’s tradition,” Mother says.

“It’s pointless. Everyone knows who I have to choose.”

“Why would you want to miss such an historic occasion,” Father says in a tone I hate. He adores Lexan. He’ll probably mention the wonderful honor I’ve brought to the city.

“The day of your birth earned you those beautiful diamonds and the honor of being the next First Leader.” He smiles expectantly at me. I lift the corners of my mouth in polite return, but my eyes are cold. “And then Lexan’s birth affirmed what we all hoped – the prophecy of the star-bright maiden and her—”

“Father, you know I am not the maiden!” My heart burns with the number of times I have said this, thought this, known this.

“Astrea, you must accept your part in this prophecy. All of the signs have appeared as predicted!”

“I must accept nothing! I’m not a reincarnation!” I’m beginning to tremble with a helpless, hopeless rage. My parents refuse to help me solve the only riddle that could change everything. I heard them. I heard them, and it changed nothing.

Mother places her hand over mine and I snatch it away. She sighs and says, “You are still a child. You cannot begin to understand the importance of this prophecy to Asphodel. To Tartarus and Elysium, if they still exist.”

“A child? So we go from Choosing Day to calling me a child? Just remember, a year from now I’ll be preparing to share my bed with Lexan!”

It was the wrong thing to say, as images quickly fill my mind: a lifetime with Lexan. His shoulder pressed to mine as we kneel during Ministration. His hands clutching my waist as we dance at gatherings. Giving him my thoughts and dreams.

My skin and heart rebel, crawling and shrinking from the thought.

Panic pulses at the back of my throat, and I push away from the table, all arguments drowned in a burst of nausea.

Later, Mother finds me in my room, curled on the small bed. She pulls my desk chair next to the bed. “I can see you’re nervous. Tell me your fears.”

“I’m not afraid.” I roll away from her, picking fuzz from my wool blanket. “I just don’t like Lexan.”

“Well, I didn’t like your father when he chose me,” she says simply. I glance sideways at her. She’s never told me this before.

“Why not? Why didn’t you choose someone else then?”

“Well, Jasson is a good match for me. Our parents looked at the full planetary alignments, and we were perfect together.”

“But you didn’t like him.”

“I liked another boy. I thought we were in love. It wouldn’t have worked, though – he was a Taurus, not even a viable match. My father asked me to accept Jasson’s choosing, and now we have such a complete love together. If you give it a chance, I promise it will all work out for your happiness, Trea.”

I study her face. Is there a small tremble of sadness there, despite her words?

“Mother, I know the zodiac shows us our true nature, so we can choose well. But I don’t get any choices. I have no idea who I am. Just who I’m supposed to be.”

“Astrea, you must keep your faith.” Her voice has a hard, warning edge to it. “The heavens chose you and Lexan to be together and to fulfill the prophecy. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re made for until life unfolds.” Her hand smooths my hair, as if to calm the fiery orange-red curls.

Whatever I thought I saw in her eyes is gone. They are blank and blind to me, like the deep water that rests in her soul.

I sigh. Maybe one day I’ll have faith like Mother. But all I can think is that someone, somewhere, made a mistake in my plan, and now they won’t admit it.

“So, what ever happened to that boy you liked?” I try to pull her back to me.

“Well,” she says softly, “let’s just say it wasn’t the right sort of love. Your father and I grew to depend on and love each other during our courtship. When we were partnered, it felt right. You’ll see. Just trust in your stars.” She pats my arm firmly to reinforce her words and stands to leave the room.

I pull the blanket over my head: courtship. One endless evening a week with Lexan, beginning after Choosing Day. Happy birthday to me.


It is only later in the quiet dark of my room that I realize she never really answered my questions, any of them.



About The Author: Hillary Thompson

Find Hillary @
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Hilary Thompson is an independently-published author who released her debut Young Adult novel, Justice Buried, in January, 2014. Justice Buried is the first in a dystopian fantasy series incorporating mythology and astrology, with the second full-length title due later in 2014.
She also teaches high school English, which gives her some insight into her target audience, and helps her maintain a thick skin.


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4 comments :

  1. love that cover, best of luck with everything.

    ReplyDelete
  2. this looks and sounds awesome :) Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love that there is a goddess of Justice. The excerpt is interesting and I want to know what happen to the world. Love the sound of the book.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my post, I really appreciate it. :) Feel free to leave a comment below, I love reading them and I always try to visit everyone back. *MUAH*

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