New Project: Speak Easy – A Novel by E.S. Barrison

*Not the final cover. Mock up purposes only*
  • Status: Draft 2
  • Estimated Word Count: 50,000

This story is rated age 16+ for language and sexual situations.


Nanette never had any intentions of moving away from Stilette, but after her father dies she hops on a caravan to join her sister Elodie in the Capitol Rosada.

But Rosada isn’t like her home. People don’t smile the same. Magic isn’t practiced as freely. And stories, like the ones her father told her growing up, are prohibited.

When she discovers the hidden network of storytellers right beneath the Guard’s eyes, Nanette is determined to find a way to help.

Even if it risks her life.

This story takes place in the same world as my debut novel, The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice. The stories are independent of one and other. 

The first chapter is available to the public on Patreon. Check out the first part below.

Father died soon before my nineteenth birthday on a day when the misty hands of Death’s Grip flooded the stilted legs beneath my home. The legends go that if someone dies on day when Death’s Grip is at its strongest, then they won’t suffer. Father went in his sleep, a smile on his face, embracing his new death as an old friend. I knew at that moment, after we put his body to rest in the Old Cypress Tree, that I could no longer stay in Stilette, the home I’d known my whole life. I never thought I would leave, but there was nothing for me there. 

I decided to pack up my things once Death’s Grip ended, which is nothing more but a thick fog that cakes the swamp for days upon days, and hopped on a caravan passing through towards Rosada.

I loved Stilette. Growing up, I played in the swamp, telling stories to my dolls made of moss and grass, while throwing mud balls at the neighborhood children. My mother worked on building the infamous stilts that kept the city afloat, while my father taught local children how to read, write, and weave tales from their imagination. 

Stories go that Rosada is different though. Whenever travelers came through from the nation in the north, they bore no tales upon their lips, often keeping their heads down as a local theatre troop produced a play telling the tales of the local swamp monsters. As I grew older, I learned more about Rosada though: it sits beneath the unyielding reign of the Order of the Effluvium. They believe that the mist, like Death’s Grip, controls all life. Some say that the Order believes our mist is so thick here because we keep on telling stories and keep practicing waves of magic.

I never understood why my sister left for a nation bound by such hatred.

But there I was, hopping on a caravan to travel there. I didn’t have any other choice. My mother had died years ago in an unfortunate construction accident. My father had been my confidante, my best friend; without him, I was alone in Stilette. Times had changed. There were no more construction jobs and all my childhood friends had moved on for the same reason as my sister: there was no future in Stilette. The city was stagnant, a place people came to exist, not to grow.

My father planted in me a desire to grow. He wanted more for both Elodie and me than a life surrounded by swamp gas. Every day, growing up, he told us: “Elodie, Nanette, there’s a bird on our windowsill. See it?” Sometimes, there wouldn’t be a bird, but we would agree, nonetheless. “I want you to fly away like that beautiful bird someday and see the world and bless it with your kindness and beauty.” 

He had always been the romantic type. Elodie, being the oldest one, flew away the moment she turned eighteen. Me, two years her junior, stayed with my father. Not that I wanted to leave. He started declining after my mother’s unprecedented death, whispering that he saw her in Death’s Grip, watching and waiting, whispering stories like no other.

So even after I turned eighteen, I stayed. 

In his dying days, he confused me with my mother at times, while at others he begged I take flight like Elodie. 

After he died, I wrote to Elodie saying I would join her in Rosada. She had been trying to get me to come live with her for ages. As punctual as ever, she had already acquired the proper papers, and within three weeks I received all the necessary documentation. She had initially left Rosada to become an advocate of law, but she never finished her degree, getting whisked away by the glamours of the big city. But, she still had a mind for it, and while she acted to get me set up in haste, I procrastinated leaving. I took my sweet time getting my father’s affairs in order, and rather than hoping on one of those expensive steam locomotives as Elodie insisted, I joined a caravan traveling on horseback and wagons through the swamp towards Rosada. 

Read the rest here.

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