Discord's Appleby Carrie Vaughn
When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope's Fort, Colorado, is not the only legacy she stands to inherit. Hidden behind the old basement door is a secret and magical storeroom, a place where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe until they are needed again. The magic of the
When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope's Fort, Colorado, is not the only legacy she stands to inherit. Hidden behind the old basement door is a secret and magical storeroom, a place where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe until they are needed again. The magic of the storeroom prevents access to any who are not intended to use the items. But just because it has never been done does not mean it cannot be done.
And there are certainly those who will give anything to find a way in.
Evie must guard the storeroom against ancient and malicious forces, protecting the past and the future even as the present unravels around them. Old heroes and notorious villains alike will rise to fight on her side or to undermine her most desperate gambits. At stake is the fate of the world, and the prevention of nothing less than the apocalypse. In the same month, along with this all-new hardcover, Tor will publish a new novel in Carrie Vaughn's popular, New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series featuring werewolf talk radio host, Kitty Norville. Kitty Goes to War will be the eighth book in this successful mass market series.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
“A gorgeous tapestry . . . filled with mystery, magic, and immortals.” L.A. Banks, New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth
“Brilliantly structured, beautifully written . . . Vaughn brings together mythology, fairy tales, and very human lives, immersing readers in the stories these complex characters tell themselves to make sense of their war-torn worlds.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] uniquely intense and edgy feel. Make sure you take a bite!” RT Book Reviews
“An apocalypse that belongs on the same shelf as American Gods and the best of Charles de Lint.” Daniel Abraham, author of A Betrayal in Winter
“An intriguing blend of fantasy, action, and adventure. A modern day fairy tale you won't want to end!” Gena Showalter, New York Times Bestselling author of The Darkest Whisper
“Myths, magic and mayhem abound in Carrie Vaughn's Discord's Apple. Once you take a bite, you won't be able to put it down.” Lori Handeland, New York Times Bestselling author of Apocalypse Happens
“Carrie Vaughn masterfully weaves together comic books, Greek gods, King Arthur, and a world on the brink of nuclear war. Discord's Apple is phenomenal!” Jackie Kessler, co-author of Shades of Gray
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Read an Excerpt
By Carrie Vaughn
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2010 Carrie Vaughn, LLC
All rights reserved.
Finally, after driving all night, Evie arrived.
Close to town, bells and candy canes made of faded tinsel decorated the telephone poles. The same decorations had hung on the poles every year for as long as Evie could remember; they had no sparkle left. Or maybe she was too tired to notice. In the last two days, she'd only had a nap outside Albuquerque.
Hopes Fort, Colorado, was one of those small towns that dotted the Great Plains, where Main Street turned into the state highway and the post office was attached to the feed store. Hopes Fort had been dying, one boarded-up building at a time, for the last fifty years. Still, somehow the town held on, like the aged relative whose chronic illness never seemed to worsen despite all predictions to the contrary. The holiday decorations, no matter how tattered, still went up every year.
Her phone beeped, and she hooked the hands-free over her ear.
Bruce scratched at her on the other end of the connection. "Evie?"
"Bruce, speak up. The connection's funky."
"Have you seen the news?" Panic edged his voice. She'd been out of L.A. for only two days — what dire crisis could possibly have struck?
"No, I've been driving all day."
"You haven't even listened to the radio?"
"No." Rather than try to find radio reception while driving through the wilds of Arizona and New Mexico, she'd depended on her digital player.
He made a noise like a deflating balloon. "The Kremlin's been bombed. Obliterated. A Cessna filled with drums of kerosene rammed it. They're thinking it's Mongolian rebels."
She took a moment to register that he was talking about current events and not a plot point in their comic book. "Then our May storyline is out the window."
The Eagle Eye Commandos couldn't raid the building complex if it wasn't there. She should have seen this one coming.
"Yeah. Unless we can put some kind of 'how things might have been' spin on it."
"We did that when India and Pakistan dropped nukes on each other. Why don't we do Westerns like everyone else?"
"Because we got a letter from the President thanking us for our patriotic creativity."
"I didn't even vote for him."
"Then maybe it's because we sold half a million copies last year."
"Oh yeah." She pressed her head back on the headrest, stretching her arms against the steering wheel. She had to drive all the way through town to get to the farmland on the other side, where the family's house was. The town looked desolate; she hadn't seen anyone even walking around. "At least the issue hasn't gone to press yet. So. The Kremlin's been bombed. The Eagle Eyes can still raid it. They just have to search the rubble. We'll look really up to date."
It sounded silly, but then all Eagle Eye Commandos storylines started out silly. Working them through to the end with some degree of earnestness transformed them somehow, from adolescent military fantasies to — well, sophisticated military fantasies. They could search the rubble for ... for hidden evidence on the whereabouts of captured American spies, which was what the original storyline had them looking for. They wouldn't have to change a thing. Except all those gorgeous panels Bruce had drawn of Red Square would have to go.
"I'm going to have to redraw the entire book, aren't I?"
"I'll e-mail you a new script in a day or two."
"Yeah. How's your dad?"
She let out a sigh. "I haven't seen him yet."
"Well, good luck."
She clicked off her phone and rubbed her eyes.
The Tastee-Freez where she'd spent so much time in high school was gone, the ice cream cone sign on its pole dismantled. Nothing had moved in to replace it. The hokey ice cream stand had been the only place to hang out, unless one of your friends had a car to drive into Pueblo, an hour away. More kids must have had cars these days. Or Hopes Fort had fewer kids.
Since high school, she'd only been back here for holidays, when the town was at its bleakest. No wonder it always depressed her. But maybe she wasn't being fair.
Halfway down Main Street, a cop had set up a roadblock: a single hazard barricade pulled into the middle of the pavement. The one officer manning the checkpoint climbed out of the car, which was parked on the curb, and held up his hand, directing her to slow down.
Smiling, she stopped and rolled down her window. "Well, Officer. You got me."
"Evie Walker? Hell, it's been years!"
He wore a starched blue uniform, but the blond crew cut and bulky shoulders were the same. Johnny Brewster had been a linebacker in high school. He'd gotten a little rounder in the middle since then.
"Who thought giving you a badge was a good idea?"
"Me and some of the guys had a little too much to drink and drew straws. I got the short one."
"Can I get you to pop your trunk while we talk?"
Checkpoint searches. In Hopes Fort.
Amused, she popped the trunk lever, then climbed out of the car. She put her hands in the pockets of her green canvas army surplus jacket and leaned against the door while Johnny opened the trunk door and made a survey of the contents: two filled gas cans, blankets, a roadside emergency kit, and odd bits of travel detritus. Her suitcase and a few gallon jugs of water were in the backseat.
"Thanks," he said. "A lot of folks aren't this understanding."
"I'm the last person to complain about security."
He looked away and muttered, "I guess so."
With better checkpoints, her mother might still be alive.
"You have a permit for the extra gas?"
She'd brought the gas because she hadn't wanted to face fuel rationing or closed gas stations on the drive across the desert. The slip of paper was in her glove box. "I didn't think security restrictions would be in effect out here."
"Rules are rules. We have to keep track of people coming in and out of town."
"So shouldn't you have roadblocks at either end of Main Street?"
He shrugged, unconcerned. "We only have enough people for one checkpoint."
"They have real checkpoints in L.A.," she said. And lots of them, at every major exit and interchange. It sometimes took all day to get from Pomona to Hollywood.
"I bet. They also have a reason for 'em. I don't know how you stand it." He slammed closed the trunk. "How's your dad?"
This was Hopes Fort: everybody must have known about him. "I haven't seen him yet. You probably know better than I do."
"He says he's fine."
That sounded like her father — always cheerful. "I should probably get out there."
Johnny pulled the barrier out of the way (L.A. had automated titanium barriers) while she got back in the car.
For three generations, the Walker family had lived in a brick ranch house on a few acres of prairie. Evie's grandfather had grown up on the farm the land used to be part of. The farm had long since been broken up and sold, except for the token parcel and the house to which her grandparents had retired. They'd died when Evie was in college. Evie's father had lived in town and worked as a mail carrier until five years ago, when he took his own place in rural retirement.
Evie still thought of it as her grandparents' house, a place she went to for holidays and backyard adventures. Her father hadn't changed it much when he moved in — he took over the furniture, the heirlooms, the pictures on the wall, the shelves full of books. At first, Evie had had trouble thinking of her father as anything more than a house sitter there. But over the last couple years, when she noticed that his hair was gray and that he had started wearing bifocals, he reminded her more and more of her grandparents. He had stopped being a visitor and metamorphosed into the house's proper resident.
She was his only child, and the house would come to her someday. By the time she retired, there'd be nothing left of Hopes Fort and no reason to be here. Except it had been the place where her grandfather and father had grown up. She supposed that meant something.
Later in the afternoon than she'd planned, she pulled into the long driveway behind her father's twenty-year-old rusting blue pickup. Out of habit, she locked her car, even though this was possibly the one place in the universe she could comfortably leave it unlocked. The house itself was well cared for, neat if unremarkable. It had a carport at the end of the driveway rather than a garage, screened windows, a small front porch, and an expansive front yard with a lawn of dried prairie grasses. She'd driven by a dozen places just like it to get here.
A dog, a huge bristling wolfhound-looking thing, sprang from the front porch, barking loud and deep like a growling bear.
Evie almost turned and ran. Her father didn't have a dog.
The front door opened and Frank Walker appeared, looking out over the driveway. "Mab! Come, Mab, it's all right."
The dog stopped barking and trotted back to him, throwing suspicious glances over its shoulder.
He scratched the dog's ears and took hold of the ruff of fur at its neck. "Come on up, Evie. Mab just gets a little excited."
Cautiously, Evie continued to the porch. She had to lift her arm to show the animal the back of her hand — the thing's head came up to her waist. The dog sniffed her hand, then started wagging its tail. Evie hoped it didn't try jumping on her — it would be a body-slam.
"Meet Queen Mab," her father said.
"When did you get a dog?"
"She was a stray. Showed up on the porch a while back. Since I caught a couple of prowlers last month, I thought having Mab around might be a good thing."
"Prowlers? Out here?"
"Oh, prowlers, salesmen — you'd be surprised how many visitors I get."
In fact, someone was standing in the doorway behind him.
He wore a black leather duster and carried a large paper-wrapped package in both arms. Edging around Evie's father, he looked suspiciously at Evie.
Frank said to him, "If you won't be needing anything else, you'll probably want to get going before nightfall."
"Right. Thanks for your help." He nodded at Evie as he passed. "Ma'am."
He had an unplaceable accent, almost New England, almost West Texas. Wire-rimmed spectacles rode low on a long nose. He might have dressed himself out of a studio costume shop rummage sale. Playing the part of the doomed hero in a historical horror film.
The stranger walked down the gravel driveway, the light breeze licking the hem of his duster. There wasn't another car. No buses ran this way. Where did he think he was going?
"Who was that?" Evie said.
"He came for something in the storeroom."
"You're selling Grandma and Grandpa's stuff?" As far as she knew, the basement storeroom hadn't been disturbed since her grandparents' time. The place was dusty and sacred, like a museum vault. She'd never even been in it. As a kid, she hadn't been allowed in there; then she'd moved away.
"Oh, no," he said. "He just showed up and asked if I had what he needed. I did, so I gave it to him."
"What was it?"
Evie looked at her father, really looked at him. She searched for any sign of illness, any hint that gave credence to his announcement of two days ago. His phone call had sent her roaring out of Los Angeles the next morning. She didn't know what to expect, if she would find him changed beyond recognition, withered and defeated, or if he would be — like this. Like normal, like she had always seen him: a little over average height, filled out through the middle but not overweight, straight gray hair cut short, his soft face creased with age, but not ancient. He wore slacks and a button-up shirt, and went stocking-footed.
"Come in out of the cold." He held the door open for her. A lonely wicker wreath decorated it, a solitary concession to the holiday.
He might have been paler. Were his hands shaking? Was his back stooped? She couldn't tell. She went inside.
"Dad. Are you okay?"
He shrugged. That told her. If he'd been fine, or even just okay, he'd have said so.
"Should ... should you be in the hospital or something?"
"No. I have to stay here and keep an eye on things."
"What is there to keep an eye on? No farm, no animals —" Except the dog, which was new. Her voice was beseeching. "Are you okay?"
"It's metastasized. I've decided not to undergo treatment."
He said it like he might have said it was going to snow. Simple fact, a little anticipation, but nothing to get excited about. Evie thought her rib cage might burst, the way her heart pounded. Her father stood before her; he hadn't changed. Everything had changed. It's prostate cancer. It's serious, he'd said when he called her. She wanted to grab his collar and shake him. But you didn't do that to your father.
So she stood there like a child and whined.
"You've given up," she said.
"I've accepted fate."
"But —" She gestured aimlessly, arguments failing in her throat. He wasn't going to argue. He was stone, not willing to be persuaded. "But you can't do that. You can't —"
"I can't what?" he said, and he had the gall to smile. "I can't die?"
She didn't believe him then. For a moment, she let herself believe that he'd been lying about the whole thing. This was a trick to get her to come early for her Christmas visit. He didn't look sick, he didn't act sick, except for a horrible calm that made his features still as ice.
Evie turned away, her eyes stinging, her face contorting with the effort not to cry.
"Shh, Evie, come here." While she didn't move toward him, she didn't resist when he pulled her into an embrace.
"You can't die without trying," she said, her voice breaking, muffled as she spoke into his shoulder.
"I'll hold on as long as I can."
He made supper for her — macaroni and cheese. He'd never been a creative cook. Comfort food, my ass, she thought. She didn't eat much. Her stomach clenched every time she looked at him.
They stayed up late talking. He asked her about her work, and she rambled on about the comics business, the stress of deadlines, and the frustrations of markets and distribution. When she talked, she wasn't thinking about him. She settled into the guest room with the wood-frame twin bed that she'd slept in when she visited her grandparents, the bed that had been her father's when he was young. She didn't sleep right away, but lay curled up, hugging the goose-down pillow, feeling small — ten years old again.
He hadn't asked her to come home. He'd called to tell her he was sick, and she'd just come. That was what you did. He didn't argue or try to tell her she didn't have to. Which, when she thought about it, was another sign that he really was sick. He hadn't yet said, I'm fine, don't worry about me. Nothing to worry about.
What neither of them hadn't explicitly said, what she hadn't understood until she was lying there in the dark, nested in the bed that made her feel like a child, in the room next to the room where her father lay dying by increments, was that she was here to help him die. She would stay until he was gone, whether it took weeks or months or — maybe? — years, and then she would be alone with the house and the dark.
She missed her mother at that moment. She missed her mother all the time, really, but the longing was the phantom ache of an amputated limb. It was part of her, and most of the time she didn't notice. But certain moments were like reaching for something with a hand that wasn't there. Evie wanted to run to her mother and cry, make her talk sense into Dad, make her stay with him and watch him die. But it was left to Evie to do by herself.
She wasn't ready to lose her father, too. She'd be crippled all over again.CHAPTER 2
If they're going to believe that I escaped your plan to sacrifice me, I'll have to look like a prisoner," Sinon said.
"I've thought of this." Odysseus had stood so proudly before the war chieftains, not at all cowed by their wealth or power. He made no secret that he thought most of them vain and petty. He had wanted to let Helen rot in Troy and blame Menelaus for letting Paris carry her off.
Now he looked grim, preoccupied with the details of his plan. His gaze turned inward, and his face was furrowed with worry. Sinon thought, This is what he will look like as an old man.
Sinon had come to Troy a boy, an untried warrior wearing his first growth of beard and carrying his first spear. Under Odysseus's command, he had grown to manhood, shed his first blood, seen his own blood shed, learned of honor. And of common sense. He would follow Odysseus to the end of time itself.
Excerpted from Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn. Copyright © 2010 Carrie Vaughn, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Carrie Vaughn is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kitty Norville books, including Kitty's Big Trouble, Kitty Goes to War, and Kitty and the Midnight Hour. She is also the author of the standalone novel After the Golden Age, and the young adult books Voice of Dragons and Steel. Vaughn had the nomadic childhood of the typical Air Force brat, with stops across the country from California to Florida. She earned her B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles, and a master's in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has worked as a Renaissance Festival counter wench, a theater usher, an editor, a buyer at an independent bookstore, and an administrative assistant. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Carrie Vaughn is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kitty Norville books, including Kitty’s Big Trouble, Kitty Goes to War, and Kitty and the Midnight Hour. She is also the author of the standalone novels After the Golden Age and Discord’s Apple, and the young adult books Voice of Dragons and Steel. Vaughn had the nomadic childhood of the typical Air Force brat, with stops across the country from California to Florida. She earned her B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles, and a master’s in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has worked as a Renaissance Festival counter wench, a theater usher, an editor, a buyer at an independent bookstore, and an administrative assistant. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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First, I must give a shout-out to Dana from Reading Amidst the Chaos for sending me this book; she knew how much I was looking forward to reading it and kindly offered me her copy. Thank you Dana!!! I am a huge fan of Ms. Vaughn's Kitty Norville series. I knew, however, that Discord's Apple was going to be nothing like her Kitty series, and that's important to know before diving in. Knowing that didn't stop me from being confused at the beginning though...I eventually did find my groove and enjoyed the book. I had no idea it involved Greek mythology or that it was dystopian; I'm not sure why but I wrongly thought it was going to be a ghost story. There are actually 4 stories taking place: Evie, the main protagonist, who has come home to care for her ailing father. She's a comic book writer; she writes a military-themed comic called Eagle Eye Commandos that has a female heroine, Tracker, who embodies what Evie wants to be. As her father is dying, the pull of the basement becomes stronger in Evie. When a woman comes to her and asks Evie if she has something in the basement for her, Evie knows the answer is no. She does not know it is the goddess Hera, who has been searching for the apple of discord, and Hera does not intend to let it go. Tracker's story runs through the book as well. There has been some sort of political upheaval in the world (Evie's mother was killed during this time) and Evie's comic is related to current events. Things like checkpoints and town militias are in full effect but as the reader we don't know exactly what happened. As political machinations happen in her world, Evie must change the comic to reflect what's going on in the world and, more subtly, changes in Evie's life. Alex/Sinon is an immortal mortal (he can't die but he is human, not magic). He's come to the storeroom to see if he can find something to kill himself with. He ends up staying to watch over Evie and protect her from Hera, who has come to claim Discord's Apple. His story of Troy and the events to follow was interesting. The fourth storyline is the story of the basement itself. Starting with present day, we get brief glimpses of her ancestors who watched over the storeroom until finally we are gifted with the identity of the original guardian. At first I was a bit confused by the different storylines and the mythology, but as I continued to read I became more and more curious to find out what happened next. Evie ends up with some impressive allies in her fight to keep the apple away from Hera. I enjoyed Evie's story, Alex/Sinon's story, and the basement's story. I kind of felt like Tracker's story was filler. Also, Evie's illustrator, Bruce, appeared a few times and he felt out of place - especially when he abrubtly exited the story; he also felt like superfluous filling. All in all I liked Discord's Apple. It was short and I didn't get answers to all the questions I was hoping to have answered, but the ending was satisfying and left me with a smile.
With her dad Frank dying, Evie Walker leaves Los Angeles for his home In Hopes Font, Colorado, to take care of her father. She moves in with him, but is stunned by the attitude of the visitors who ignore her and barely greet her dad. They insolently enter the basement and leave with hardly a farewell salutation toting out strange junk. A comic book writer, Evie reflects on how the strangers are stranger than her characters. In Troy, with the help of Odysseus, Sinon the "Liar" gets in the walled city. He persuades the doubting Trojans that Greeks gave up their siege and left behind a large wooden horse. His ruse enables the Greeks to win the war, but also angers Apollo with the dishonorable deception. He ignores Odysseus holding the Liar culpable. A furious Apollo kidnaps Sinon, forcing the Liar to become his cupbearer. In Colorado, with the death of her dad, Evie takes over shielding the basement from those who have no business there. Hera orders Evie to give her the golden apple that causes discord and actually began the Trojan War though some say that the affront by Helen's stepfather to Aphrodite is where it began. Evie fears what the Goddess will do with Discord's Apple; her prime ally in refusing Hera is a stranger Alex, who conceals his agenda from the mortal he is falling in love with. This is a wild super Rocky Mountains fantasy as Carrie Vaughn departs from her DJ werewolf novels to tell an intriguing epic adventure that includes a hodgepodge from Camelot, Greek mythology and even someone who claims to have known Jesus in his heyday. The cast is strong including the basement storage facility and the fascinating artifacts as Evie and readers learn that the victors write the mythos of history. Harriet Klausner
Carrie Vaughn expertly weaves the themes of current political events, mythology, family and romance in this engrossing tale. The only tragedy here is that the story had to end.
I am a voracious reader. In any given year, I will read, just about, every Urban Fantasy book that is released. Many of those books are what I call "Popcorn Books". Like popcorn, the books are simple, fun and quickly gone. Like popcorn, they don't stay with you for that long. Discord's Apple in definitely not a Popcorn Book. Complex characters and layered plots make this a full meal that you will think back on fondly.
A little disjointed-it seems like an early work by the author. I enjoyed it however.
Chaotic with a bad wrap up :(
I started reading the Kitty Norville series and hesitated to buy a book not set in that "universe". I finished this book in one weekend and it just blew me away! I didn't think the author could top Kitty, but she did!!
"May I be the first to say, blech. I don't do romance." Shiva says, morphing into an unknown form and creating a portal to the palace.
I'll warn you that this book may not have the type of ending that the average reader craves, but don't let that stop you from immersing yourself in this wonderful pre-apocalyptic tale by Carrie Vaughn. Comic book author Evie Walker goes back to her ailing father's home & learns about her family's hidden connection to the goddess, Hera, & the Trojan War. No one can quite spin a tapestry of words like Carrie Vaughn when it comes to story-telling. Within Evie's tale, we glimpse the story that Evie is writing for her next comic book series. We also see events from the perspective of the person instrumental in the successful "Trojan Horse campaign". I highly recommend this book. Just don't complain about the ending; it works!