by Susan Kaye Quinn
Faery Swap by Susan Kay Quinn is a middle grade book suitable for children ages ten and up. This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotion Services.
Warrior faery princes can be very stubborn. Especially when they possess your body.
Fourteen-year-old Finn just wants to keep his little sister out of Child Protective Services – an epic challenge with their parentally-missing-in-action dad moving them to England, near the famous Stonehenge rocks.
Warrior faery Prince Zaneyr just wants to escape his father’s reckless plan to repair the Rift – a catastrophe that ripped the faery realm from Earth 4,000 years ago and set it adrift in an alternate, timeless dimension.
When Zaneyr tricks Finn into swapping places, Finn becomes a bodiless soul stuck in the Otherworld, and Zaneyr uses Finn’s body to fight off his father’s seekers on Earth. Between them, they have two souls and only one body … and both worlds to save before the dimensional window between them slams shut.
Faery Swap is an action and druid-magic filled portal fantasy, told by both a runaway faery prince and the boy he’s tricked into taking his place. This Prince and the Pauper meets Warrior Faeries tale is suitable for all ages.
Note to teachers: A 2-minute book trailer and a 9-minute Virtual Author Visit video brings author and rocket scientist Susan Kaye Quinn (Ph.D. Engineering) into your classroom, sharing her background in science and engineering and talking about her book, Faery Swap. A downloadable Teacher’s Guide includes discussion questions, activities, and a Knowledge Seekers card-based game designed to be played in the classroom – all aligned to Common Core reading, writing, and college readiness standards for Grades 3-6. All resources can be found on the authors Virtual Author Visit page.
Finn swore time moved faster in England.
Back home in California, time ticked by one minute to the next. Here it lurched and jerked and thrashed around like a demented squirrel. But that didn’t make any sense—time had to be the same everywhere, right?
It just felt different now because everything was different in England.
The language was wacked. The schools were seriously uptight about uniforms. And everything in Amesbury was as ancient as the Stonehenge ruins that made it famous. Their “new” house was so medieval-old-school that it came with a thatched-roof and a housekeeper named Mrs. Habershim. Who makes a roof out of straw these days? It never rained in California, but even Finn could see that was a problem waiting to happen.
What? Finn’s sixth sense for time zinged a protest. No way three minutes just passed. Either I’m losing it or this watch is about as accurate as my new math teacher’s grading.
Finn shrugged on his backpack and glanced around his room. It was reasonably picked up. When Mrs. Habershim had first showed up, Dad was gone—of course, he was always gone—and the place was a wreck. Finn had been afraid the knobby, old Englishwoman would figure out Dad was parentally missing-in-action, so he told her his dad had placed an ad for help. Truth was, his dad would never notice if they had a housekeeper. Mrs. Habershim said she’d have the place “shining like a new pin soon” and scurried around picking up stuff. She had even brought him and his little sister, Erin, some groceries later in the day.
That was a week ago, and so far, she hadn’t reported them.
“Erin!” Finn’s voice bounced along the hallway outside his room. “Time for school!” He swung out of his room and poked his head into Erin’s. She was supposed to change after she finished her cornflakes.
Her room was empty.
He scooped up her maroon bookbag off the floor and checked the contents, keeping an eye on his watch, in case it decided to jump around and lose more minutes. He should probably start using his cell phone for time like everyone else, but Finn couldn’t bring himself to stop wearing it.
Be On Time to School. It was Rule Number One on Finn’s list of Ways to Stay Out of Child Protective Services. Too many tardies was the fastest way to bring the wrong kind of attention. He’d managed to keep Erin out of California’s foster system for three years—ever since their mom died. He wasn’t going to lose her to the British version. And keeping Rule Number One meant carefully timing their morning routine, including some slack time to deal with the jerks who lived in the Cold Harbour Road “flats.” In the normal world, a flat was what the junior high bullies gave his bike tire, not a place you lived.
All of Erin’s stuff was in her bag, so he called down the stairs, “Time to go, Erin!”
Finn zipped up his hoodie, hooked her book bag over his shoulder, and pounded down the stairs. His father’s bedroom door at the bottom was closed, but Finn didn’t have to open it to know he wasn’t there. He was probably doing his math professor thing with the other eggheads at The Royal Society in London. Even back in the U.S., his dad was always either gone or staring endlessly at math textbooks. There were days he forgot to eat, never mind getting Erin to school on time.
Finn checked the living room and his dad’s office, but they were vacant as well. Then he realized the house was a little too quiet. Empty, like he was the only breathing thing in it. A split-second fear that Erin had left the house without him jumped up and squeezed his chest tight.
“Erin, where are you?” He sprinted across the living room and caught the doorjamb of the kitchen with his hand as he pivoted in. Her short legs dangled from the high stool at the far end of the center island. She was ducked behind her cereal box, ignoring him and scribbling madly on a piece of paper. His momentary panic eased out like a deflating balloon.
“You know, ignoring me doesn’t actually make me disappear.” As he got closer, he saw she was drawing some kind of flowers. “Time to go to school, squirt.”
“I don’t want to,” she said, not looking up. “That’s a baby school.”
He couldn’t really blame her for not wanting to go. Didn’t the British realize a seven-year-old might be offended by going to Amesbury Infants School? Besides, they should be out for the summer, taking the bus to the beach. Instead, it was mid-June with weeks of school still left.
“Just because it’s called an Infants School, doesn’t mean you’re a baby. Besides, infant doesn’t really mean baby.” Finn waited until she turned to him. “It means one unable to speak. You are so not an infant.”
She narrowed her blue eyes. “You’re making that up.”
“I’m not. I swear.” He peeked at his watch.
“I looked it up on Dictionary.com,” he added. “It’s like Latin or something.”
Erin scrunched up her nose, judging him. Then she sighed and hopped down from the stool. “I made a picture for Miss Alderwood. She has a wall in class where she hangs them.”
“Great. I’m sure she’ll like it.” Finn handed her the bookbag, and Erin tucked her artwork inside. Thankfully, she already had on the burgundy-white-and-gray loaner uniform he had scored from her teacher. Finn’s uniform was still on order, but his black hoodie and gray cargo pants had passed inspection with the headmaster at his school for now.
Finn ran the morning checklist in his head, making sure Erin had everything she needed, down to her shiny, black shoes. Then he nudged her out of the kitchen and toward the front door. When he pulled it open, Mrs. Habershim stood there, poised to knock, in her flower-spattered dress and lace shawl.
Finn just blinked. Was she planning on coming every week?
“Oh!” Mrs. Habershim said. “Morning to you, Master Finn. You gave me a fright there. I’m keen to do a spring clean today, if your father doesn’t mind the extra work.”
“Um…” Finn still hadn’t paid her for the work she’d done last week.
“Hi, Mrs. Habershim!” Erin said brightly. “Did you bring us some more lemon tarts?”
“No, sorry, love.” She smiled down at Erin. “But I could get some from the pop-in shop.”
“Pop in what?” he asked. Why couldn’t the Brits just speak English?
“She means the grocery store, Finn!” Erin’s eyes chastised him, but he knew it wouldn’t last: she’d be pleading for the tarts in two seconds. And Finn was practically out of cash; he hadn’t yet found an ATM in the small town of Amesbury that would take his dad’s card.
He tried to head off the pleading with a diversion. “Remember, Dad placed a Tesco order? There’s a delivery coming this morning, squirt. Tons of food. Enough for a whole week.” Getting groceries delivered was key; the online companies couldn’t tell he was a fourteen-year-old using his dad’s credit card.
“Are they bringing lemon tarts?” Erin asked.
He should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. “No, but there’s stuff for those cucumber sandwiches you saw on TV.”
“On the telly,” Erin corrected him.
“Right. On the telly.” Finn managed to keep the groan inside.
“Cucumber sandwiches and lemon tarts go very well together.” Erin nodded solemnly, like this was some great wisdom she had acquired from the telly.
Finn’s stomach bunched up, and he snuck a look at his watch.
They didn’t have time for this.
“I could pop over and pick up some tarts,” Mrs. Habershim said, not helping at all. “Have them ready by the time you get back from school.” She dropped her voice a little. “Only I’m in a bit of a tight spot for money just now.”
She wasn’t the only one. Erin’s blue eyes looked up innocently at him.
Finn let out a sigh. “I’ll be right back.” He darted to his dad’s office and shuffled through the pack-rat collection of books and papers heaped on the desk. Each passing second banged inside his head. Finally, Finn found a pound note in a bottom drawer with an equation scribbled across the Queen’s face. He added it to the coins and notes in his pocket and quickly did the conversion math in his head: only $5.32. He hoped it would be enough for tarts.
He left Mrs. Habershim with the money in hand and hustled Erin out the door before they could come up with any more things he had to pay for.
The wet smell of rain hung in the air. Water stood in puddles on Earls Court Road, but the skies were clear. The streets of Amesbury were narrow, with small, red-brick flats crammed together. Finn’s school was a good mile from Erin’s—he’d tried to find a shortcut, but every property was sealed tight with shrubberies and walls.
Erin picked some bright yellow flowers from the cracks in the pavement and waved them at Finn. “I’m giving these to Miss Alderwood!”
“Yeah, she’ll like that.” They were weeds, but he hoped Miss Alderwood would be cool about it.
Erin and Finn cruised past the Greyhound pub and rounded the corner to Cold Harbour Road, domain of the resident bullies, Mugby and Nigel. Finn didn’t know their real names, but Mugby looked like he’d broken his nose in rugby, and there were a lot of Nigels in England. As far as Finn could tell, British bullies weren’t any more intelligent than American ones, but they were a lot handier with their fists. He wondered what the British term was for juvenile delinquent.
Then again, Stay Out of Trouble was Rule Number Two.
Finn put up his hood, but Mugby and Nigel slinked out of their flat before he could even hope they wouldn’t show. “Hey, squirt,” Finn said to Erin. “Check it out.” He pointed across the street to a bunch of purple-flowered weeds. “I bet Miss Alderwood would like some of those.”
Erin skipped across the street. Finn kept his face down. The older boys slumped along in their Stonehenge School uniforms: funeral black blazers with mini-Stonehenge patches and a gold-and-black striped tie that reminded him of prison bars. Finn was younger, short for his age, and the new kid in a small town: it was like the perfect storm of bully temptation.
When they reached him, Mugby said, “What kind of git thinks he doesn’t have to bother with a proper uniform?” Apparently Mugby had stricter standards than the headmaster.
“A spiffing git, I figure,” said Nigel. “Nice trainers, nancy boy.”
Finn knew an insult when he heard it, but Rule Number Two meant he had to ignore it. “I don’t want any trouble.” He darted a glance at his watch.
Miss Alderwood would blow her whistle soon. Erin was so busy weaving flowers in her hair, she probably wouldn’t even hear it. He almost wished Mugby and Nigel would just punch him and get it over with. At least then he could get Erin to school on time.
Nigel smiled wide. “Aw, the git doesn’t want trouble.” He leaned in close, smelling like toothpaste. “Maybe trouble wants you.”
Finn stepped back and tripped over Mugby’s unseen, outstretched leg. He went down hard on the rough pavement, but just clamped his mouth shut and tensed for more. He should stay down. Get it over faster. But Mugby and Nigel were already laughing and ambling down the street, apparently done with the daily harassment.
Finn brushed himself off and strode over to Erin, like nothing had happened. Half the flowers were a tangled mess in her hair, the other half scattered at her feet. He handed her the flowers on the ground, tucking one snugly behind her ear, then hurried her toward the school.
She studied the flowers in her hand as they walked. “Did those big boys hurt you, Finn?”
She must have seen it all. Which only made his stomach knot up. Rule Number Two, Stay Out of Trouble, wasn’t any good if it meant Erin had to watch him get beat up.
He took a deep breath. “It’s cool, squirt. We were just messing around.”
The iron gates of Erin’s school were open. Little kids milled around the hard top, waiting for the whistle. Finn was so intent on getting Erin inside, he didn’t notice the strange boy at the far edge of the gate until they arrived. He didn’t like the intense look of interest on boy’s face. He liked it even less when the boy started walking toward them.
“Go on inside,” he said to Erin. She ran off, and Finn turned to face the boy full-on. Rule Number Three was Don’t Talk To People You Don’t Know, but Finn wasn’t about to leave until Miss Alderwood closed the gates or Strange Boy decided to take a hike.
He was Finn’s size and age: on the unluckily short side of the gene pool. His gray jacket buttoned all the way up to a broad, white collar, and he had a long ponytail of flame-red hair. What guy wears his hair like that? Add in the fancy shorts, the tweed cap, and the black socks up to his knees, and Strange Boy looked like he had just escaped from the drama club.
“Dude,” Finn said, looking him up and down. “Who are you, Oliver Twist?”
The boy’s mouth fell open, then shut. “Aye.” He had some kind of accent Finn couldn’t place. Could be Irish. Maybe Scottish. “I be… Oliver.”
Oh great. The kid wasn’t right in the head. And between the costume and the cluelessness, he’d get crushed by the likes of Mugby and Nigel.
A wave of sympathy washed over Finn. “Man, you need a change of clothes. Like, fast.”
The boy’s eyes brightened. “Could you be helping a friend in need?”
“Er, okay,” he said to Oliver McFreaky. “What do you need?”
“That’s a fine jacket you have. Maybe I could borrow it, just till the morrow.”
“Dude, I’m not giving you my hoodie.” Finn glanced over his shoulder. Erin was safely inside the gate, and Miss Alderwood was rounding up the strays. He turned back. “Hanging around the Infants School probably isn’t the best choice, either. How about you clear out?”
The boy frowned, like he didn’t understand what Finn had said. “Perhaps you could help in a different way. It seems I’ve lost something dear and no way to find it.”
“I had a coin, but now there’s no sign of it. I’m sure as morning that it must be nearby.”
Finn didn’t have time for this. “Look, I don’t have any money. If that’s what you want—”
“Money?” Frustration cinched up the boy’s face. He did a strange wave with his hand near his ear, like he was drawing a small circle in the air.
Definitely not right in the head.
Finn slipped his hand into his pocket. His phone was there. He couldn’t exactly call 911 with it; maybe he could whack the guy on the head if he weirded out on him.
The boy peered over Finn’s shoulder. “Ah! Probably there all along, I just haven’t a notice of it.”
Finn looked behind him. A golden coin lay gleaming on the sidewalk. How could he have missed that? The face of it was sectioned off by a cross, stamped with four symbols, one in each quadrant. And it was ancient. Probably worth a lot. Maybe McFreaky wasn’t crazy after all, just worried about finding his coin.
Finn picked it up, gave the boy a tight smile, and reached out to give it over. McFreaky grinned like he had won the lottery. Finn put the coin in the boy's outstretched hand, but his hand… passed right through McFreaky’s.
Finn jerked from surprise. An electric buzz shot through his arm—it wasn’t painful, but it made him jerk even harder. The boy’s clothes faded away and were replaced by new ones: a tunic and gold armband that both looked as ancient as the coin.
Then Finn looked up to his face. The cap was gone. And the dude had wicked, pointed ears that reached past the top of his head.
“Wha…?” was all Finn got out before something wrenched his body like he’d plunged into a roller coaster dive and left his stomach behind. Only it wasn’t just his stomach—his entire body got left behind. The world smeared in a pinwheel of color.
Then it faded away.
The last thing Finn saw was an evil smirk on the strange boy’s face.
“I’ve seen and enjoyed this theme before, but never in a book for this age group and Ms. Quinn carries it out beautifully. The kids were fun and acted like kids, which makes them believable for all ages. The pace and action will keep readers flipping pages greedily. Also, telling the story from the two viewpoints greatly added to my overall enjoyment. Highly recommend for ages 9 and up.” ~ 5 Star Review, Alan T., Amazon
“I am a 10 year old boy. My mom recommended this awesome book to me because she knows Kai Strand, who knows Susan Quinn. I was hooked from the first paragraph! This is a wonderful ( and quite thrilling) story! Good for all ages and I wish I could rate it 100 stars! … I can definitely recommended this to almost anyone! Good job to Susan Quinn. The story is balanced neatly between Zaneyr and Finn, by Finn’s perspective in the first chapter, Zaneyr’s perspective in the the next, then Finn again, and so on. Great book and is a must read.” ~ 5 Star Review, Red Rose, Amazon
“I LOVED this book. This is one of those books that grabs you and doesnt let you go. Susan Kaye Quinn is an awesome writer! Faery Swap is funny, well paced, and filled with adventure. It’s a book no kid will want to miss. I especially loved the witty humor that kept me laughing page after page. The world building was vivid and phenomenal. I could just see this as a movie in my head. I liked how the author sneaks those educational moments in there without you even knowing it. A delightful book for old and young readers alike. Get it!” ~ 5 Star Review, Daddy’s Girls Book Reviews, Amazon
About the Author
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the young adult science fiction series Mindjack Trilogy (get book one, Open Minds, FREE) and Debt Collector (get book one, Delirium, FREE).
Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says “Author and Rocket Scientist” and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works.
You can subscribe to her newsletter (and get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she’s up to.
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