Song of Souls – A Pied Piper Retelling by Skye MacKinnon

Song Of Souls
A Pied Piper Retelling
Once Upon A Fairy Tale Night
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Skye MacKinnon

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Nobody can resist his call…. not even her…

The Piper’s music is alive, drawing souls from the world of the living to the domain of Death. Those called have two choices: come willingly or come by force—either way, when the Piper calls you, you will do as you are told.

Everything changes…even the unchangeable…

Autumn has been fighting all her life, and surviving the end of the world keeps her busy. She doesn’t have time for distractions. That is, until she meets a man nobody but her can see. When he speaks, her body does what the Piper commands, but she’s not going to accept that. Not at all.

A new song has begun…

He’s played his tune for a thousand years, but no living human has ever seen him. Until Autumn. His music is only supposed to control the dead, but now he’s stuck with a human who he cannot get rid of.

One of them will have to concede
to the music only they can hear…

I love twisted fairy tales and this one takes it to a whole new level. The Grimm Brothers have nothing on Skye MacKinnon.

Autumn is running for her life, traveling only at night to prevent capture. Her bicycle Pegasus is old and in need of repairs but it’s better than walking. The Cult of the Hundred want her dead and avoiding them has become harder as they build their ranks throughout the country. As she loses herself in her thoughts, she flies off Pegasus and lands in a ditch.

The Piper has been a tool for the Song via the flute he carries for at least a hundred years. While he does what the Song wants sometimes under protest, he can travel in the blink of an eye and also wish things into existence. When he was bored with the way he traveled he wished for a horse, the horse is now his companion. As he’s traveling through a storm the horse stops and he finds a woman in a ditch. She’s beautiful and in pain, he contemplates sending her on but finds he can’t. Instead he takes her home and wishes her injuries away.

When Autumn wakes she hears music and is drawn to it, the piper is playing, not for the Song but for himself. Their encounter goes well as he gets her fed and then it all goes wrong.

This is a favorite scene.

I don’t have any possessions with me, so I go straight to the front door. Luckily, my boots are waiting there for me, next to a row of his shoes and boots. This is going to make my journey so much more comfortable. I’d dreaded having to go barefoot until I got the chance to steal some new shoes.

“Don’t go outside!” he shouts from behind me, but I’ve already got my hand on the door handle.  

I blink. Gulp. Blink again.  

There should be green, rolling hills. Instead, jagged mountain tops touch the clouds, so sharp and pointy that it almost seems like they’re trying to cut the sky. Snow covers some of the highest peaks, but the rest are grey rock, cold and dead. The house is built on slate rock with not a single blade of grass in sight. A forest looms far in the distance; many hours’ walk away.  

This can’t be. I touch my forehead. Do I have a fever? Am I hallucinating? Maybe it’s a dream. One where I’m not aware that I’m dreaming. It would make sense. Tom looks and feels like taken right out of a beautiful dream.  

His footsteps come to a halt behind me, but he doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t explain what has happened.  

I rub my eyes. The mountains remain. The only place I know of with mountains this high is the very North of the country. Barely any people live there, which is why I’d played with the idea of going there if I didn’t find a place to call home before I got that far North.  

“Is this real?” I whisper.  

He clears his throat. “It’s real.”

He doesn’t offer an explanation. I’m too confused to find the words to ask for one.  

If this isn’t the dream, we’ve travelled hundreds of miles, maybe even a thousand. He said I’d had a head wound, but he never said I’d been unconscious for weeks. He would have mentioned that. My body would show the signs of not having eaten that long – or I probably would be dead by now. No. This cannot be.  

Magic.

The word pops into my head. But magic isn’t real. It happens in dreams and fairy tales, not in the real world.  

“How?”  

I barely manage to form the word.

“I can’t tell you.” His voice is full of regret.

I finally turn around. He looks lost, wringing his hands, but I’ve had it. I glare at him with all the fury I can muster.

“Tell. Me. Now. Where are we? How did we get here?”

“I can’t,” he repeats softly. He looks at the floor, once again evading my eyes. What a coward.  

I step forward and poke my finger into his chest. “If you don’t tell me, I’m going to make you.”

As soon as I touch him, he changes from downtrodden and reluctant to something new. He stares at my finger, his eyes wide with wonder. He reaches out as if to take my hand, but he stops himself just before our skin touches.  

“You,” he stammers. “You…”

“I’m going to hurt you if you don’t tell me what’s going on,” I snap. This guy is crazy, I see that now. He still looks at me as if he’s seeing me for the first time. There must be something wrong with him. Maybe that’s why he lives all alone in the mountains.  

“You’re touching me.”  

I realise I still am. I pull back, but he moves faster than I thought possible and grabs my hand, pulling it back to his chest. His skin is warm and soft, and while he’s holding me in a tight grip, he’s gentle at the same time.  

“You’re touching me,” he repeats. “You can see me. And you’re not scared of me.”

I wasn’t, until he went all crazy. Now, I’m not so sure. Not that I’m going to admit that to him.  

“Of course I can see you. And I’m sorry for touching you. It’s your fault. You’re refusing to reply.”

“You’re not afraid. Why are you not afraid?”

I frown. “Are people usually afraid of you?”

I’m having a hard time imagining that. He’s a little weird, but there’s nothing threatening about him. He’s the kind of man my mother would have loved to call her son-in-law. Friendly, helpful, and yes, very good-looking.  

“I always thought… the horns.”

Crazy. “Horns? What the heck are you talking about?”

He points at his smooth, flawless forehead.

“Horns. My horns.”

Alright, that’s enough. He’s a psycho. Probably thinks he’s the devil or something like that. Time to go. For real, this time.

I wriggle from his grip and luckily, he lets go of me without a fight. With one look at his definitely hornless face, I turn and walk down a narrow path leading from his house. I have no idea where it will take me, but if he rode here on a horse, it should lead to a road, eventually.

He doesn’t try to stop me. He stays quiet. I imagine him still staring at me in confusion. How did I not see how crazy he was in the beginning? Maybe the music helped him control his insanity for a while. I’ve heard of music being used to heal trauma of the mind.  

I don’t look back. It’s better that way for both of us.
Skye MacKinnon. Song of Souls (Kindle Locations 510-551).

He does follow her, the weather in the mountains can be harsh and the village a good three days away on foot. Things get very interesting once they return to his home.

Of course the business of the Song intrudes. The call leads the piper to discover what the Church of the Hundred is up to. The Song isn’t pleased, and everything takes shape in a very interesting way.

I really loved the way Skye twists this tale into something both intriguing and romantic.

5 Contented Purrs for Skye!

Skye MacKinnon

Skye MacKinnon is a USA Today & International Bestselling Author whose books are filled with strong heroines who don’t have to choose.

She embraces her Scottishness with fantastical Scottish settings and a dash of mythology, no matter if she’s writing about Celtic gods, cat shifters, or the streets of Edinburgh.

When she’s not typing away at her favourite cafe, Skye loves dried mango, as much exotic tea as she can squeeze into her cupboards, and being covered in pet hair by her two bunnies, Emma and Darwin.

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