Deep in the heart of a mist-shrouded island, an impossible secret is about to be discovered.
Twig is used to feeling unwanted. Sent to live on a pony ranch for "troubled" girls on a misty, haunted island, Twig is about to discover the impossible — someone who needs her.
Jolted awake from a bad dream, Twig follows the desperate whinny of a terrified horse out to the stables. There in the straw is a bleating little scrap of moonbeam. A silver-white filly with cloven hooves and a tiny, spiraling horn.
A baby unicorn.
Now Twig knows what secret is hiding in the island's mist: the last free unicorn herd. And a mysterious boy named Ben who insists that this impossible creature is now Twig's to care for. That she needs Twig's love and protection. Because there's something out there in the deep, dense shadows that's hunting for them...
Wonder Light takes place on a mist-shrouded island in the Pacific Northwest—not unlike the islands Russell explores with her own family. In this post, Russell discusses why she was so inspired by this unique setting and why it was the perfect setting for the characters and creatures in her book.
Wonder Light takes place on Lonehorn Island, a fictional island in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been abandoned for generations, but now the Murleys, long-time foster parents, have carved a home out of the shadowy cedars and filled it with unwanted girls. Twig, a skinny, lonely girl, joins them.
Like Twig, Lonehorn Island wants to be left alone. With rocky shores shrouded in mist and crashing waves that threaten Twig not to come any nearer, the island hides powerful secrets—secrets that, if discovered, will change the island and everyone on it forever.
This mysterious island was inspired by the Whidbey Island area in Washington State. There, jagged rocks and cliffs rise from the beaches. Red-barked Manzanita trees and juniper cling to the top of the rocks along the edge of the island, but the foliage quickly transitions to thick evergreen woods, primarily cedar, Douglas fir, hemlock, spruce, yew and alder.
My family likes to camp at Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island, and from there we can see some of the many small islands off the Coast of Washington. Those islands, often encircled by mist, inspire so many questions. Does anyone live there? Who owns them? What sorts of things could be hidden on a small, private island, draped with mist?
Mysterious creatures? Maybe even unicorns?
Who better to discover such secrets than a girl who wants nothing to do with anything fantastical? A girl who wants only to stay safe in her shell with her own secrets for company.
There on Whidbey Island, I wrote the opening of Wonder Light. In the whip of the island wind, characters began to whisper to me. Twig Tupper and Lonehorn Island—just as much a character as a setting. And of course, the island’s greatest secret—unicorns. Wild and pale as the island’s mist.