Actually Ever After

redhead woman with leaves and branches

Abandoned by her mother into the foster system, CLIO O’NEILL (13, shy orphan) just wants her family back. But when she learns her mom is still alive and gave her up to save her from a centuries-old curse that kills every first-born O’Neill, Clio bitterly wishes the curse never existed and is transported to Ireland in the year 1508 with her best friend, MARY (13, small but fearless).

Clio is in the body of her many-times-great-grandmother, Princess Clíodhna of the Faerie Realm, and Mary is now a four-inch-tall pixie. Feeling betrayed by her mother for giving her up, Clio vows to prevent the curse that divided them. According to Clíodhna’s diary, the curse began when Clio’s grandmother failed to earn her dead mother, the Summer Queen’s crown and was powerless to save Chief Henry O’Neill’s baby from a plot to end the O’Neill’s reign. To prove her worthiness to ascend the Summer Throne, Clio must secure a peace agreement with the local chief. The girls meet HAZEL (teen-looking, Irish tree faerie), Clíodhna’s protector. On the journey to Ballyshannon Castle, Hazel teaches Clio magic.

At Ballyshannon they meet Delilah, who is using magic to charm Henry O’Neill into marriage, and it is their future baby Clio must save. Delilah’s father and psychopathic stepsisters stand in the way of both Delilah’s and Clio’s plans, but by cooperating both girls get what they want. Clio obtains the peace agreement, but the Summer Council and Queen Regent disapprove of her methods and demand she pass a trial for the crown: cross the dangerous Faerie Realm to the abandoned palace of the Winter Queen, Maeve, and return with proof.

On the journey, Clio’s magic and her friendship with Mary grow stronger as they encounter fae both friendly and vicious. Clio learns the Regent wants her dead to keep the throne for herself. After several brushes with death and encouragement from Mary, Clio breaks into the Winter Palace and finds the crown, hidden there by Maeve when she murdered the Summer Queen. Clio realizes the Regent is Maeve in disguise and has been plotting to rule both the Faerie Realm and Ireland.

The girls reunite with Hazel and learn a year has passed on Earth. Delilah and Henry married and had a son. Clio gathers an army and arrives at Henry’s castle just as Maeve appears with her dark fae soldiers. Maeve puts a spell on Henry while Hazel sneaks Delilah out of the castle, but Maeve discovers Clio and Mary before they can rescue the baby and locks them in the dungeon. Maeve disguises herself as Delilah and along with the enslaved Henry, occupies the castle.

The girls escape, liberate Clio’s army, and lay siege to the castle, but fail. Clio and her friends slip in at night to rescue Henry and the baby, but Clio must face Maeve. In their final battle, Clio uses the magic of the Summer crown to shatter the connection between the Realm and Earth, trapping Maeve forever, but Mary is caught in between. To save Mary’s life, Clio must let her go, and she realizes her mother faced the same heartbreaking choice.

Clio returns to a future with no curse and her family whole, but Mary is trapped in the Realm.

Click here to read The Pitch and The First 500 Words of Actually Ever After.