The Man in the Cinder Clouds, Rick Daley's delightful Christmas Tale, is a story within a story within a story. I love how Rick weaves these three plots together, each dependent on the other, nested like Christmas Dolls.
In the first, we follow Jason to the North Pole where his father's scientific team is drilling for ice cores (go science! Points for arctic coolness here). Instead they find a magical book that tells the second tale, of one Kris Kringle before he was the chief bringer of gifts. Kris' search to find his true family and proof of human virtue leads us to the third tale, the story of Aaron and Alice, two orphaned children struggling to survive in a long-ago time when life wasn't easy for anyone, especially children dependent on nasty uncles trying to rob them of their inheritance. The three stories twist and turn together, bringing modern and ancient adventures together with a splash of magic and the wonder of Christmas in this completely fresh take on the story of Santa Claus.
There is some peril of main characters in the book, so I wouldn't recommend The Man in the Cinder Clouds for the very young, but it makes a great Christmas read for readers age 7+.
Full disclosure: I was a critique partner for Rick during the early stages of this story. As many of you know, critique partners get an glimpse of wonderful stories before they are published and have the special privilege of helping to make them a bit better. We also get to be the first fans. From my first read of The Man in the Cinder Clouds, I knew this was a story that needed to see print. I'm so glad that Rick decided to self-publish and share his Christmas Story with children and adults alike!
The Man in the Cinder Clouds is available in print and e-book from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. You can also find it on Facebook and Goodreads.
And Rick is giving away TWO print copies of The Man in the Cinder Clouds, one domestically in the US and one internationally, because "the ebook is available internationally, and Santa makes stops around the globe, so I think it's just right to follow suit."
Just leave a comment below today or tomorrow - winner will be announced on Wednesday, when we will have an interview with Rick, and more about his path to publication. Stop back then!