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Rebecca L. Fearnley

The Hive Child: Book two in the Silent Skies Trilogy

The Hive Child: Book two in the Silent Skies Trilogy

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With nowhere to call home, will Solma and Warren find safety in a strange new village, or stumble upon even greater danger?

Cast out of their village, Solma and Warren have spent the winter traveling with the Earth Whisperers, searching for the queen bees they rescued last summer. But something is changing. Villages that once accepted the Earth Whisperers are driving them away, and they can find no sign of the bees. As things begin to look desperate, Solma and her friends discover something remarkable.

A village, thriving and full of flowers, which should be impossible. But why are the village folk so secretive? Why doesn't the Steward want them exploring the woods nearby? Solma swears to uncover whatever secret this village is hiding. But someone else lurks in these woods? Someone that could make Solma's worst nightmares come true.

And if Solma doesn't uncover this mystery soon, everyone she loves will be in terrible danger.

The Hive Child is the action-packed second volume in the dystopian fantasy series, Silent Skies. If you like magical mysteries, power struggled and plenty of twists and turns, then you'll love Rebecca L. Fearnley's The Hive Child.

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Read the First Chapter!


Solma curses as her brother’s hand slips out of hers and he smacks into the dirt with a cry.

“Up, Warren!” she shouts. “Come on!”

Warren’s stricken face lifts, covered with mud, and he scrambles to his feet. She grabs his hand and they run again. The grass is tough and clinging underfoot, but they’re used to this terrain now. They shove aside the coarse undergrowth and charge for the foothills. Up ahead, the scattered trees begin to thicken into a forest. Beyond, the Earthroot mountains rise like a set of vicious teeth in the distance.

Behind them, spiteful cries drift on the still, morning air and the clanging of makeshift weaponry makes Solma wince.

“Cowards!” one of the voices cries, louder and harsher than the others. “Tricksters!”

Solma clenches her jaw and resists the urge to turn and shout curses back at them. It’s not the Whisperers’ fault the land has been so poorly managed that growing anything is nearly impossible. But the villagers don’t see it like that. They never do.

She risks a glance behind her and swears. Practically the whole village is after them. Even some of the Yuen—the youngsters—have scurried after their parents, waving trowels and sticks as if it’s all a great game. But from the adults’ faces, Solma knows this is no game. If the villagers catch up to them, they’ll be beaten bloody. She grips Warren’s hand tighter and lengthens her stride.

Up ahead, six of the seven Earth Whisperers in their group have reached the top of the nearest hillock. Mamba and Cobra, the two lead Whisperers, pause and turn. Solma sees Cobra’s gaze drift past her and Warren to what chases them and her eyes widen. Solma clenches her jaw and powers on. No way is she looking back again.

“Faster, Sol!” comes Olive’s voice from somewhere behind her. “C’mon!”

She darts by, carrying the orange-eyed Whisperer child—Taipan—on her hip. Taipan whimpers and clings to Olive’s neck.

The prosthetic blade that is Solma’s left foot slips in the mud. She swears, fighting for balance. Her dark hair flies into her face and she shoves it aside. She scans the horizon, fixing on the rolling shape of low-lying hills that mark the border to the mountains, and the thick, wild forest-land that covers them. They need to get to those trees.

A sharp cry rises from behind and Solma smells smoke. Fronds of it curl in the cold air and turn the clear sky a strange color. Solma grips Warren’s hand tighter. His breath wheezes and he keeps rubbing tears from his eyes. Olive’s reached the top of the hillock now and handed Taipan to Cobra. She barely acknowledges Cobra’s thanks before she turns and tears back down the hill, looking as fierce and wild as only Olive can. Her red braid bounces on her back, catching the sunlight like flame.

From the tree-line, Aunt Bell and Dr. Roseann appear. Roseann is armed with one of their two pistols and Bell lowers her eye to the sight of a rifle, aiming unsteadily. Solma’s heart lurches. She’d hoped they wouldn’t have to use those in this village. She’d hoped leaving them behind at their camp would be a sign of faith while they went in to ask for supplies and offer the Whisperers’ mysterious magic to help nurture the land. Foolish. She should’ve known. This isn’t the first village they’ve been chased out of because the Whisperers couldn’t coax growth from the soil. Solma bets it won’t be the last either.

She pushes on, her blade-foot squelching in the sucking mud. Warren cries out.

“No, Sol! I can’t—”

But whatever he’s saying drowns in the roar of voices from behind them.

“Thieves!” yells a gruff voice. Then, “Get ‘em!”

A shot shatters the morning air and Solma ducks. She shoves Warren in front of her, shielding his body with hers. But now she can’t pull him along and their pace slows. The footfalls of pursuing villagers thunder against the ground, growing louder with each passing second. Up ahead, Solma glances at Olive just in time to see her make a rude gesture at their pursuers.

On top of the hillock, Bell drops to one knee and aims the rifle, which makes Solma’s stomach tighten. Back in Sand’s End, Bell was Fei-caste—field worker—not Gatra, like Solma was. She’s never fired a rifle in her life. She’s just as likely to hit Solma and Warren as she is to strike one of their attackers.

Beside her, Cobra and Mamba are kneeling on the hilltop, thrusting their fingers into the sodden earth in search of something—anything—that might act as a defense.

Solma’s seen those two Whisperers raise a whole, impenetrable wall of brambles from the ground before. She knows their power. She just hopes there’s something down there that can save them. But the concentration on their faces tells her they’re having to search deep to waken dormant seeds.

Olive is suddenly at her side, skidding in the mud. “Dammit, Sol!” she yells. But, despite the snarl on her face, her eyes are wide with fear. She grabs Warren round the waist, ignoring his surprised cries of protest, and throws him over her shoulder.

Olive grabs Solma’s hand and that familiar spark jumps between their skin, waking up the last shred of energy Solma has left. Together, they barrel up the hillside to where Bell, Roseann and the Whisperers wait.

At the top, Olive lets Warren slide to the ground. She turns to the Whisperers, all of whom now kneel with their hands in the earth. “Now!” she shouts.

The seven Whisperers close their eyes. Solma can’t see it, but she knows each of them is sending waves of growth magic into the earth, searching for anything that they can bring to life. Krait, one of the young Whisperer boys, chews his lower lip desperately. Taipan has sweat beading on her forehead. The ground rumbles. Warren collapses in the coarse grass, gasping for breath. Solma drops to his side and rubs his back, his shoulders, instinctively searching for wounds. Miraculously, there are none.

“Got it!” Mamba exclaims, and Solma glances up in time to see a line of saplings burst from the earth in front of them. Beyond, the ragged mob of twenty or thirty outraged villagers skid to a halt, their makeshift weapons falling from their hands and their faces slackening with shock. They watch, frozen, as the saplings rise to sturdy trees, creating a tangled wall between them and their quarry. The village Steward, who Solma was surprised to discover was only a few years older than she is, stumbles back and the torch he carries drops into the mud and goes out. Solma curses him under her breath and finds herself thinking of Maxen. Not for the first time in the last five months, she wonders how he is, what he’s doing, whether or not he’s become his father.


Solma jumps as Olive’s fingertips brush her shoulder.

“You ok?”

Olive’s fierce green eyes soften as they meet Solma’s. Solma tries to smile and squeezes Olive’s fingers before she brushes them off. “Yeah,” she says. “Sorry. Just—”

Olive nods. “Just how many more villages we gonna be evicted from?” she wonders aloud. “I know this ain’t gonna be the last.”

Solma nods agreement, but can’t bring herself to relax. It’s undoubtedly the terrible management of the villagers causing the poor growth, but they don’t see it that way, do they? Easier to blame the Whisperers than admit that they’re taking shortcuts, not letting their fields lie fallow, or going back to using the old chemicals from before. The ones that so decimated the Earth in the first place. Solma’s seen, in some villages, Fei-caste workers out with cans of old-world herbicides, drowning their crop in poison. She feels Olive’s hand squeeze her shoulder.

“It’s ok,” Olive says. “We’re safe.”

She wraps her arm round Solma’s shoulder and kisses her gently on the cheek. Solma stiffens and wonders why she does. Olive’s touch isn’t unpleasant. The opposite, in fact. Solma finds herself yearning whenever she and Olive are apart, electrified whenever Olive returns. So why is it so hard to accept her affection?

Olive, for her part, only frowns for a moment before she withdraws and goes to Taipan. After helping to raise a powerful wall of oaks, the little Whisperer girl is woozy with exhaustion. The three Whisperer boys are tired, too, but Taipan seems to lose more energy when she does this. Her sensitivity is deeper. She leans into Olive when the older girl wraps an arm around her, and blinks blearily. Aunt Bell scurries off to help Roseann persuade the group’s two tan ponies from within the forest where they’ve been hiding. The three older Whisperers gather round the youngsters, Mamba and Cobra exchanging glances, their relief evident.

Solma focuses on Warren, but worry pangs through her for the little Whisperer girl who’s become one of her brother’s closest friends. The youngster will likely feel unwell for a few days after this. They need to find safety. And soon.

Mamba turns back towards where the villagers still stand staring, now barely visible beyond the great oak wall.

“Go home!” he calls. A wind picks up and carries his voice beyond the trees and out to the muddy plains. “We mean you no harm. Now let us go in peace!”

Solma squeezes her eyes closed, sweat pouring into her eyelashes. Behind her eyelids, Maxen’s face bursts into view as she’d last seen it; twisted with rage, puckered with bee-sting scars. Any love he might have felt for her now calcified into a burning hate. When the young Steward beyond the trees finally replies, Solma can almost imagine it’s Maxen.

“Fine!” he yells, petulant. “But don’t come back!”

And with that unceremonious farewell, the villagers retrieve their fallen weapons and trudge home through the mud.

Solma opens her eyes and finds her brother staring at her, his meadow-green eyes still wide with shock. “That was close,” he says, wiping his hand across his face and frowning at the mud left on his palms. “And there weren’t no bees there, either.”

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Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
Mystery, creatures and vivid characters

I went into The Hive Child with sky-high expectations as I enjoyed the first in the series, The Last Beekeeper, so much and, oh my word, I am happy to say it did not disappoint.
The plot picks up not too long after TLB ended. Sol, Warren and the whisperers are homeless and wandering Alphor, trying to find a new place to call home, but when they find it they find a whole host of new troubles too.
The Hive Child has echoes of all the aspects of TLB that I loved in that there is a strong mystery, a struggle to nurture the newfound creatures, insights into the natural world, vivid characters and themes of protection/control and humans vs nature. But The Hive Child is a somewhat darker book too, which is totally appropriate given the trauma the characters faced at the end of book 1. Neither Sol nor Warren have come away unscathed. The guilt and self-doubt Sol feels was sensitively and realistically explored and I really appreciated that this wasn’t glossed over.
This book also DELIVERS in terms of plot twists. One reveal in particular blew my mind and broke my heart in the best possible way.
Although there was a satisfying conclusion to the book, certain very important threads have been left hanging for the final novel of the trilogy and I absolutely cannot wait to read it!