Here they are! See below for the beautiful front-and-back cover illustrations of Spirit Rider: The Royal Problem, by James Finegan!

I love these illustrations because they’re so close to how I imagined the characters and scenes, and they really capture the brilliant sense of fun and mischief in James’ storytelling. This cover artist is not only freakin’ talented but clearly loved the book as much as I did.

As I read this manuscript, I was often reminded of two of my favorite fantasy authors, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, because the humor is not just in the characters and plot but woven throughout the world of Paralex itself, from its creatures and cultures right through to its history and mythology.

In the first book of the Spirit Rider series, we’re introduced to Sam Mundle, a kid with good intentions but a knack for making bad situations worse. He lives in a little hill-top town called Besfen, which prides itself on staying ignorant of the rest of the world. The residents are protected from outside knowledge and influences by a magical barrier, and so Sam has never been able to learn much about the rest of Paralex — at least, nothing more than what he can see when he peeks through the barrier. Until one day, a hooded stranger comes to town looking for him.

Here’s the back-cover blurb:

Meeting the Grim Reaper usually means the end of the road, but for thirteen-year-old Sam Mundle, it’s just the beginning.

The Grim Reaper has come to deliver some unsettling news: a powerful magician by the name of Acheron Beachis is threatening all of creation, and only one person has any chance of stopping him… Sam Mundle, the world’s latest and perhaps most ill-equipped Spirit Rider.

But first Sam must obtain the Cyan Sword, a powerful artefact masterfully hidden by his predecessor. It lies somewhere within the Royal Cemetery… and the only person who can grant him passage is the Queen herself.

However, the Queen of Paralex has problems of her own. There’s a traitor in the Palace, and she won’t trust anyone – especially not a clumsy boy from Besfen and his mischievous Reaper friend – until the spy’s identity has been uncovered.

Now Sam must not only learn how to survive in a world filled with telekinetic ducks, electric trees, and time-travelling werewolves, he must also solve the Palace mystery before Acheron executes his secret plan.

Even though I’m sad to have finished up all these months working in Paralex, I’m also super excited that this book is beginning its journey to find bigger audiences. Plus, James already has a whole series planned out, so this means new adventures with Sam Mundle and the Grim Reaper are not far away.

Spirit Rider: The Royal Problem is now off with the proofreader, getting the final polish and shine before it goes out into the world. Since James will be starting off seeking representation via the traditional publishing route, you might not get to read this for a while, but I’m betting on sooner rather than later. No doubt some editor will pick this up and, like me, fall in love at first telekinetic duck.

In the meantime, you can follow the Spirit Rider’s trail by checking in with James Finegan’s blog or following him on Twitter @James_Finegan.