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Fantasy Fiction Author

Trek of a Bird-Woman

". . . a breathtaking ride across a 
strange planet . . . "
A Novel for Young Adults
Trek of a Bird-Woman Cover Version 2.jpg
Trek of a Bird-Woman

Growing up in a remote valley on a sparsely populated planet, Shevra doesn't remember ever encountering anyone other than her parents and sister. And she longs to explore more of what she is certain lies beyond. But when tragedy thrusts her out into that world, she discovers that it's a hostile place—one filled with warring tribes, roaming slavers, and dangerous, exotic animals. On her long journey to the city of Tantexlo in hopes of finding her missing sister, she learns that she is not the person she has always believed she was. And Shevra discovers her true identity as one of the legendary bird-women. Her story is one of adventure, challenge, discovery, and, ultimately, profound understanding. Shevra's is a remarkable trek, and this is a novel for young adults that is both captivating and rich with insight.


She strode away from their home and fields as fast as she could, not caring what her parents would say when she finally returned, not caring that they would fall behind in their planting in this short period before the spring rains. She stormed over a low rise and then over the next, a higher one. Finally, she sat down on a flat-topped rock and seethed, ignoring the fluting notes of a bird in a nearby shrub, ignoring Rhana’s faraway shouts. Apparently her sister had learned that swinging the daiga was tough work, not the kind of thing a young woman should be expected to do.      


Suddenly the hairs rose on the back of her neck as she recognized something different in Rhana’s cries—not whininess, not anger, but terror.      


Shevra rose, but she could not make her legs move very fast. She felt as if she were dragging them through mud, as if heavy weights hung from her ankles. She could no longer hear Rhana or the fluting bird or anything but the pounding in her ears. She had been struggling back toward the house, but now she was down on her hands and knees, moving slowly, slowly, creeping to the top of the hill. She poked her head up to peer over, wary as a lanzera. The front of their home and the small outbuildings were swarming with men: slavers. Of course, Shevra had never seen slavers—she could not really remember seeing anyone but her family—but she had heard her father describe them often enough—men who stole people to make them into slaves.      


As best as she could tell from this distance, about six or eight men—as in her dream –seemed to be fighting with her parents. Shevra could not tell exactly what was happening, but she could see struggling. She felt so stunned that for another moment she could not move. She could not move.      


Then her hand touched the hilt of the knife in its sheath at her waist. Something in her seemed to waken. She leaped up to run toward the house, but at that very moment she saw gushes of red coloring the scene.      


Her knees gave way, and she dropped back to the ground. She saw her parents fall to the earth as the men swarmed over them.      Creeping backward until her head was below the rise, she lay there, trembling, feeling very small.      


The smell of dry dirt filled her nostrils. She heard her breathing, harsh and regular.      


She lay there motionless a long time.      


Even after the high-pitched screams and the men’s hoarse cries had subsided, she lay on the dirt, not wanting to rise. She sensed that, if she rose, she would be moving into a different life—one that she did not want to enter—so she just lay still.    


After a while, she had a new thought. She told herself she hadn’t seen what she believed she’d seen. She must have fallen asleep here, sitting in the sun, and dreamed it. Yes, this had just been another weird dream! She needed to go back and help Rhana with the planting and make sure her parents were all right.      


At last, Shevra stood up slowly, on legs that shook. She looked all around. The morning was peaceful. Birds were trilling and cawing again. No strange men were to be seen; no one was in sight, not even Rhana. She must be working beyond a hill, trying to swing the big daiga. Shevra gave an amused snort at the idea of her slender younger sister wielding the heavy instrument.      


She shook herself and started back home at a trot. “Rhana!” she called. “I’m coming! Don’t wear yourself out.”      


There was no reply.      


She ran faster, straight toward the house rather than the fields. She began calling louder and louder, recklessly, no longer thinking about men who might hear her. If she just called loud enough, someone would answer. But when she neared the house, she saw the blood, furiously red against the ground.    


And the bodies.

My Books

"Gail Binkly's imagination is wonderfully at work in her new novel Trek of a Bird-Woman. In her sure hands, readers explore a fascinating alternative world that is both primeval and mystical. Shevra, her heroine, sets out on an arduous quest to rescue her abducted sister by crossing the much-feared Great Expanse. But Shevra herself is no victim as she confronts not only perilous natural threats, but also societal beliefs and cultural practices designed to enslave women. It’s an epic adventure that delivers right up to the book’s final page."


author of So Delicate These Arches


Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has won numerous awards for reporting and commentary. This is her first venture into fiction. She lives with her husband and their cats in the southwestern corner of Colorado, where she enjoys gardening and hiking.

Author photograph by Wendy Mimiaga

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