S.J. Varengo


A Dark Clock

Cerah Passel, a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl, wants to dance and flirt with the young suitors vying for her hand. Instead she must leave behind everything she knows to save her world from the greatest evil that it has ever seen.

Cerah, (pronounced Sara) is the middle child of a family of ten siblings, raised in poverty. In spite of their poor upbringing, the Passel’s have learned to carve out a living for themselves, and Cerah found happiness in the nights she spent dancing till the wee hours with young men who come from several neighborhoods, just for the opportunity to spend a few moments with her.

All that changed on her fifteenth birthday, when her father sent her to be the keeper of her family’s pod of agorrah, a large bovine animal with an odor so foul that they must be kept far from populated areas. A Dark Clock opens with her mourning her fate, as she settles in for another lonely night on the distant mountain side, from which she watches sadly the lights of her city being lit.

The journey Cerah must take brings her from her city to the island home of the wizard race, (thought almost universally to be mythological), and then to the frozen Antarctic region of Quadar, where Surok has been magically bound for a thousand years in an icy lair.

A Dark Clock Front Cover

Author's Thoughts

For those who read Welcome Home, this novel will be... a little bit different. It is in the fantasy genre, taking place on a world of my own creation, the verdant planet Quadar, with its warm star Vellus, and its two moons, Antera and Giselle.

I have always loved fantasy books, certainly since reading The Lord of the Rings in high school, but really even before that. I'd say my true introduction to fantasy was The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (it's still on my Kindle, folks - if you've never read it, you really should) followed soon after by A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, (which, again, you must read. Both are available on Amazon for peanuts. Well, not peanuts literally. They want money, but you know what I mean!)

The journey Cerah takes in A Dark Clock is epic to be sure, but only slightly less is the journey I took in writing it. It really began with a single sentence in my mind: "Cerah was the chosen one." I recently discovered my very first draft, which consisted of only a few pages, dating to sometime in 2009, on a thumb drive. When I began writing the novel in earnest in 2015, I started with little more than that original phrase.

Discerning readers will find nods to Tolkien, Terry Brooks, C.S. Lewis and Anne McCaffrey, and while I cannot deny my indebtedness to these giants of the genre, I feel that I've created something that is genuinely my own.