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Butterfly's Children paperback by Annie March, Published by Panacea Books, Devon, U.K.


Butterfly's Children is set on a planet, some way into the future, that has moved beyond the Anthropocene into the Ecozoic Era. The inhabitants are both clearing up the toxic mess their ancestors have left in their wake and are trying to find a way to honour the prophetic question: "How do we love all the children of all species for all time?"

     Within this context, a young woman, Meriel, goes on a voyage – inner and outer, multi-facetted and metaphysical – where she leaves the safety of her foster parents and community and faces her uncertain future. Sailing forth into the Deep and Dancing Ocean she meets her guardian angel and other folk who help her to weave her story. Yet Meriel is restless and as mercurial as the seas she sails upon; in a bid to find out why the planet was ravaged to such a degree by her ancestors, she recklessly sets sail without telling a soul and is shipwrecked upon an island that is not marked on any map.

     Knowing that rescue is unlikely – for who can find an island that does not exist? –Meriel gradually accepts her fate, looking death in the face, and finds there unimaginable beauty. However, having a shapeshifting guardian angel has distinct benefits for who else could navigate the Atlas of Forbidden, Hidden and Mysterious places to find her?

Twenty-five years in the making, this book flows with magic and sparkle, painting an unforgettable picture of what could be Earth's parallel universe: one where good decision-making has restored the planer to its former, magnificent, awe-inspiring natural beauty, where the people have no need of money, where all is shared equally, and where young girls are encouraged to fulfil their destiny. Following in the footsteps of Tolkien, Le Guin and Rowling, it is a story that will stay with the reader for many moons.

book extract from the prelude

Marigold Dreaming

There was once a child called Marigold. She lived alone in a desert wide as tomorrow. In the days, when the sun burnt tiger-fierce, she stayed in her tent, doing jigsaw puzzles. In the evenings she read. She was often lonely and missing inside. One day, when she was nine years old, the missing grew so strong she knew it was time to go – somewhere, anywhere, away from here – and look for whatever it was. So towards the end of an afternoon, when the sand-ripples had grown small shadows, she cleared away the puzzles and the books, filled a haversack with dates and oranges, put on her strongest sandals and a green cloak with a wide hood, and set off. She followed the sun, west.

“Perhaps I will come to the morning,” she thought, and though small fears nagged, her feet danced. “No, I don’t know where I’m going. Yes, I might get lost or hurt or even die. I’m going anyway. And that wasn’t my home, it’s just where I lived for a while.”

Night fell. No longer was she enclosed by the silken yellow curves of her tent, her not-home; instead she walked at large within a vast darkness, beneath shoals of flung, bright stars. She shivered a little, drew more tightly into her cloak. The moon rose, waning silvery-huge at her back and lighting a path for her feet. She walked along it, sucking an orange.There was a shape ahead, not moving, pale in the moonlight. Marigold faltered, walked on then stood stock-still. It was a camel, a small white camel. It came right up to her, nuzzling. Laughing with delight, she put her arms around its neck. She could feel embroidery on the saddle-cloth, and the pommel glimmered with bells.“I’ve been waiting for you,” the camel said.
“How did you know I was coming?”

“You’ve been thinking about it long enough.”Marigold considered, stirring the sand with her toe. “Do you know what I’m thinking, then?”
“When it’s strong enough.”
“Are you a magic camel?”
“If you like.”

“Who sent you?”
“You could say that you did.”
“Where are we going?”

“We see between us.

And don’t keep thinking of me as ‘it’.

My name is Lucy.”
“Lucy.” Marigold felt the name,

stroked the long, pale nose.

Then she threw back her head and

laughed for glee, courage, moonlight

and being nine. “How do I get on your back?”

“Like this.” Lucy knelt and Marigold

clambered up. There was just room for her

in front of the hump. She picked up the reins.

“Are these to steer you with?”

Lucy almost stamped her foot.

“No! They’re to hold onto, so you don’t fall off.

We’ll be going very fast. We steer together.

I shall probably look supercilious if you ask

questions like that.”

Marigold patted her shoulder. “I’m sorry.

I’m out of touch.”
“You’ll learn. Ready? Shut your eyes and let

yourself go very still.”

Marigold settled her haversack on her lap,

rested her hands on the pommel and leaned

back against the firm hump and Lucy’s warmth.

The night wind was chill, lifting the edges of

her cloak, stirring the bells. All about stretched

desert and sky, endless, timeless and careless of all

her yesterdays and tomorrows – except, over there

she blinked and opened her eyes.

“Well?” said Lucy.

“That way: first it was a star, then a...a palace, with flowers all over it. You saw.”

“We saw between us. Are you ready? Legs firm against my sides but don’t grip.”

There was no sense of jolting or rebound as Lucy rose upon the wind. The earth spun beneath them. Marigold’s hood flew back, her hair streamed out behind. Fear clutched, was swallowed up by jubilation and the singing of the stars. She laughed, yawned hugely, sagged upon Lucy’s neck and was all at once asleep.

Map of Thalassa from Butterfly's Children by Annie March, published by Panacea Books, Devon, U.K.
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