Invasive Species by Jessica Goeken

SKU 978-0-3695-0914-7

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The Keystone Species Trilogy, 1

Changeling Eve, summoned to the Realm of the Fae by a mother she never knew, arrives to find the queen dead, her crown withheld by a petty council, and a manipulative court she is unable to navigate. Coinciding with her arrival is a series of natural disasters that threaten to tear the Realm itself apart and the reemergence of an ancient enemy defeated long ago.

Facing invasion and betrayal from within, Eve places her trust in a spy who has deceived her and a warrior who has already lost everything. Saving the Realm means accepting her heritage, trusting her own judgment, and turning enemies into allies. With her land under siege and her subjects scattered, Eve must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to save her people.

14+ due to violence and adult situations


Deep in my brain lies the ancestral knowledge of my race. I was born with it, though until tonight I’ve never had occasion to use it. The Fae didn’t want me. That’s what changelings are. The unwanted. The discarded. The deformed. But I always knew how to get back there.

No moonlight filters down through the trees as I trek through the still woods behind my house. Is it a coincidence that the owl came to me tonight, the night of the new moon? Moonlight reveals things for what they are. To protect the secrets of the Realm, the gate can only be opened when there is no moon in the sky. I shake my head. Not a coincidence. Neither the night, nor the timing. I turned sixteen today. There has to be a reason.

Over the years, I’ve put a lot of thought into how I would do it. The path I take tonight is a familiar one, down through the ravines I’ve played in since childhood, following the creek I’ve waded in over the hot summer months, ending at a lake that isn’t on our property, but belongs to a man who lives on the other side of it. A man who drinks heavily, sometimes beats his wife, and won’t stop himself from hitting a dog unlucky enough to cross the road in front of his rusted pickup truck. No one would miss him much. When I was only eleven, I chose him to be my sacrifice. If it ever came to that.

Mr. Ashby is already passed out when I arrive. A good thing, too, because that means his wife is upstairs, breathing easily for the first time this evening and studiously avoiding the living room. It also means, though, that I have to heave all two-hundred-fifty pounds of his dead weight off of the couch and haul him out the door. The unlocked door, because small country towns are where people feel safe, and don’t expect to be dragged out of their homes in the middle of the night.

His dogs watch me take him. Mangy, skinny mutts, they only lift their heads and wag their tails when I invade their territory. Animals don’t see me as a threat. And, if I have need of their master, who are they to argue? Secretly, I hope their life, like his wife’s, will get better without him in it.

Mr. Ashby begins to stir as I drag him across the dew-slicked grass. “What are you doing? Martha?” His eyelids flutter with the words, trying to reconcile falling asleep on the couch with the dark sky now stretching above him. He comes fully awake as I dump him into the shallow water at the lake’s edge, flailing and sputtering.

“What the … who are you? What are you doing? Where are you taking me?” Used to throwing his weight around, Mr. Ashby lunges for me, slipping in the mud when his bound hands come up short. As the water splashes into his face he freezes, taking in his situation. I can see the wheels turning sluggishly in his head. In his muddled state, he doesn’t realize he’s still in his own backyard, mere yards from his own back door.

“What do you want? I don’t have any money.”

I don’t answer him. It won’t change anything.

It should come as no surprise that the gateway to the Realm is found in the wild. In their core, Fae are connected to the natural places in this world. Ideally, there would be no man-made structures anywhere in my vicinity, but I did as much as I could with what I had. That’s why I chose the lake. With the water, the creatures in the water, the rushes and cattails growing on the bank, and the woods to one side, I have to hope it’s wild enough.

Mr. Ashby is still splashing, trying to gain traction and find his footing, when I wade down into the water beside him. In one smooth motion borne from pure instinct, I plant one knee between his shoulder blades, yank his head back by the hair, and slit his throat.

I thought I was ready, but I am woefully unprepared for the sounds Mr. Ashby makes as he dies. The gasping, gurgling, sloshing sounds of his body thrashing in the water, desperately trying to cling to his angry, miserable life. His life-blood leeches into the water, coating my hands, soaking into my pants, swirling away on the churning currents. The blood snaps me back into myself. Reminds me why I’m here.

“Dear Elfhame, Elphyne, Change Lands, Realm of the Fae. Your daughter, I beseech you, open unto me your gates. Grant me safety within your borders, and comfort in home’s embrace.”

Mr. Ashby and the lake vanish. Alone and dry, I am suddenly surrounded by swirling, silvery mist. A form lurks at the edge of it, hulking and menacing.

“Greetings, mortal. You wish to enter the Realm of the Fae?” The voice floats to me on the breeze, low and seductive.

“I do.”

“I turn around once, what is out will not get in. I turn around again, what is in will not get out.” The mist parts, and my questioner shows herself. Long dark hair, massive velvet paws, graceful, furled wings. One wrong answer, and the sphinx will devour me for being unworthy to cross into my own ancestral lands. She belongs to neither the human world nor the Realm, but acts as an intermediary between the two.

“I am no human to be beguiled by your riddles, Sphinx. Let me pass.”

With a deep bow, the sphinx evaporates, taking the mist, and my thundering heart, with her. It’s one thing to know how a situation is supposed to turn out. It’s quite another to experience it. With no knowledge of the ways of the Fae, a human would attempt to answer the riddle, believing the correct answer would save them. In truth, any answer at all would doom them.

When the world realigns, I’m no longer in the human world. For the first time since my birth, I breathe deeply of the rich, intoxicating air of the Realm. The gate opens in a small glade just outside of Emain Ablach, our capital city. The night here is not quite so dark, lit up by thousands of luminescent flowers bedecking the trunks of the trees and giving the air a silken quality.

The gatekeeper waits, his face an impassive mask of professionalism. If he is surprised to see me it doesn’t show.

“Welcome home, Your Majesty.”

“Where is the queen?”

“My deepest condolences, Your Majesty. Your mother is dead.”

Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 5 ratings)
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Percy Jackson -- except as a courageous princess. And way cooler!
Written by Cheryl Kramarczyk on 2nd Dec 2023

Wow! Goeken did it AGAIN! A new world -- in OUR world -- and a new race that will make you see the wonders of weather and the creatures in your garden a little differently. (I've been trying REALLY HARD recently to pay attention to new moons ... and yeah, I know new moons can't be SEEN.) Eve returns to the wonderous Realm, her heritage although not her upbringing, hints of a feminine version of Percy Jackson. HINTS because she isn't a confused 12-year-old boy but is a determined 16-year-old woman who has a strong inner strength (hello, teenage tantrums) and will outsmart and fight until she is respected as Queen. The courage is inspiring while she overcomes obstacles, enemies, and strange natural disasters -- all while knowing she is too young and inexperienced while also living in a foreign land! << Without sharing any spoilers, you should know that when you hit the final battle -- and it is a final BATTLE -- you will have a hard time waiting for Book 2 of this Trilogy! >>

Give it a minute. Keep reading.
Written by Ophelia on 5th Nov 2023

I volunteered to read this book as an ARC, with that being said, the blurb caught my attention. It sounded interesting. When I first started reading the first few pages I admit I started having seconds thoughts and wondered what the heck I got myself into (I almost didn’t make it through the beginning and was second guessing my choices, therefore docked a star, because they don’t let me only do partial stars). It wasn’t bad, but I had a lot of questions and wasn’t sure where this was going. I kept reading. In the end wasn’t disappointed. A carefully woven plot that snowballs until I could hardly put it down. The ending had a little twist. Now I’m anxiously awaiting the second book.

Fantastic Fae Adventure
Written by Jenny Stewart on 3rd Nov 2023

Invasive Species starts out fast, but hang in there because the storyline is gripping. You will find yourself turning page after page in search of answers as you follow Eve through her first days, weeks, and months in the Fae kingdom. I cannot wait for the next book to be released as this book ends on a major cliffhanger. This is the perfect book for anyone who loves young adult fantasy/adventure novels.

Fantastic Fae Adventure
Written by Jenny Stewart on 3rd Nov 2023

Invasive Species starts out fast, but hang in there because the storyline is gripping. You will find yourself turning page after page in search of answers as you follow Eve through her first days, weeks, and months in the Fae kingdom. I cannot wait for the next book to be released as this book ends on a major cliffhanger. This is the perfect book for anyone who loves young adult fantasy/adventure novels.

Compelling story
Written by Laura on 3rd Nov 2023

This is the first book in a long time that kept me up into the wee hours, reading til I literally couldn't keep my eyes open. If you enjoy stories of changelings and the fae realm, but want a fresh take on them, Invasive Species is a perfect choice for you. There's intrigue, murder, corruption, a changeling trying to find her place and figure out who to trust, and even some romance. Plus incredibly detailed descriptions of the realm and creatures therein. I was given an ARC of Invasive Species and this is my honest review.