I will be booktalking this one as soon as we go back to school! Add a Comment
Title: The Morose Mononokean Genre: Supernatural, slice of life Publisher: Square-Enix (JP), Crunchyroll (US) Artist/Writer: Kiri Wazawa Serialized in: Gangan Online Original Release Date: July 5, 2015 Crunchyroll is picking up more and more manga these days and they have a very nicely varied catalog by this point. There’s action, romance, and stories that cross the low-key feeling of a slice of ... Read moreAdd a Comment
Title: Spirit Circle Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Publisher: Shonen Gahosha (JP), Viz Media (US) Story/Artist: Satoshi Mizukami Serialized in: Young King Comics (33 out of 33 chapters reviewed) Fuuta Okeya lives a normal life and has gotten to his second year of middle school without incident, although he can see some spirits including the one following his new classmate, ... Read moreAdd a Comment
May Contain Spoilers
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Daughter of the Sword. I was pleasantly surprised, and ended up enjoying it. While it was more a police procedural than urban fantasy, with historical flashbacks thrown in to breathe life into the backgrounds behind the swords, I had a hard time putting it down. The setting helped – a whole bunch. I’m not going to lie; I love reading about Japan, and Mariko’s job as a detective with the MTPD gave the story a colorful backdrop.
Mariko is the only female detective with the Metropolitan Tokyo Police Department and she’s got her sights set on being a narcotics officer. When her old, encouraging superior officer retires and is replaced with Ko, she knows she’s got her work cut out for her. Ko wants her making coffee or bringing him tea, and he has no patience for a woman in his department. Mariko is on a probationary period with Narcotics’, and Ko has threatened to dash her career at the first hint of impropriety from her, and even if she’s on her best behavior, he’s still going to send her packing at the end of her probation. He makes no secret that he doesn’t want her on the team, and Mariko bristles at his dismissal of her skills.
When she gets a tip that someone is planning to start pushing hard drugs on the streets, Ko dismisses her out of hand. The police and the yakuza have an unspoken agreement; the police look the other way on smaller offenses, and the yakuza make sure hard drugs stay off the streets. Ko sends her to investigate an attempted robbery to get her out of his hair. Mariko is angry at being assigned to a case that isn’t even a crime. The sword wasn’t stolen because the homeowner interrupted the robbery.
The owner of the sword is Professor Yasuo Yamada, and once he enters the picture, I couldn’t read fast enough. Yamada has studied the weapons created by Inazuma, a sword smith of extraordinary skill. Most scholars doubt he even existed, but Yamada has no doubts. He’s seen several of Inazuma’s blades, and Yamada believes that each has magical properties. Mariko scoffs at his claims, but as she gets to know Yamada, and as a demented killer continues to try to steal Yamada’s sword, she starts to wonder if the swords are somehow connected to the rumored cocaine shipment.
Mariko becomes a student of Yamada’s; in addition to being an expert about the history of the swords, he’s also an expert swordsman. Even though Mariko still doesn’t believe in magic swords, she does believe that someone is dead set on stealing Yamada’s sword. When a group of armed thugs break into Yamada’s house with the intent to kill him, Yamada, a frail seeming, nearly blind 89 year old, swiftly puts an end to their aspirations, looking all the world like a samurai warrior of old.
I really enjoyed the flashbacks. Each of the swords has a history, and each is explored through a series of flashbacks. The swords are cursed or blessed, depending on the will of the one wielding it and the intention behind their attacks. The characters in the weapons’ pasts get pretty much what they deserve, too. Their behavior dictates their successes and failures, and while some learn from their mistakes, others never do and suffer horribly for it.
I liked Mariko, too. She has to put up with a lot of crap from Ko, but she still finds a way to circumvent his orders and do what she thinks is right. She’s tough, not easily intimidated, and she goes up against yakuza members and drug dealers with equal ferocity. Her mom gives her pause, but otherwise, she’s got guts and nerves of steel.
If you’re looking for something a little different, Daughter of the Sword is worth a look. It’s a pleasant break from the shifters and alternate realities that I’ve been reading, and I could easily relate to the strong female lead.
Review copy provided by my local library
As the only female detective in Tokyo’s most elite police unit, Mariko Oshiro has to fight for every ounce of respect, especially from her new boss. But when he gives her the least promising case possible—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—it proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.
The owner of the sword, Professor Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield it.
Mariko’s investigation has put her on a collision course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.Add a Comment
May Contain Spoilers
This is a series I would have completely missed out on if I hadn’t received an email from the publicist about it. Since I’m going through a fantasy phase, I thought I’d give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a very fast read, I liked the protagonists immensely, and there’s enough court intrigue that it kept me guessing.
Celine and Amelie Fawe are trying to eke out a living in their little village, which has been impoverished by the noble in control of it. After Celine’s mother died, Celine did her best to run their apothecary shop, and while selling herbs brings in some cash, and she enjoys that aspect of the business, the big money is in fortunetelling. Her mother was a gifted seer, and with her gone, Celine pretends to be one. Clever and observant, she asks leading questions and gives vague enough answers that her customers are satisfied. When a young man asks her advice about who he should marry, she has no way of knowing that her response will cause so much grief for both herself and the young man.
When she’s ordered to advise a young woman to marry Sub-Prince Damek, and paid handsomely to do so, Celine experiences her first real vision. Much to her horror, it reveals a ghastly end for the noblewoman if she does marry the cruel Damek, the man responsible for so much of the misery afflicting her village. Unable to live with herself if she does as she’s ordered, she advises the young woman to reject the offer. Later that evening, the sisters’ shop is set on fire, and assassins attempt to kill them.
Unknown to Damek’s people or Celine and Amelie, Sub-Prince Anton has been spying on his cruel older brother. Anton’s soldiers save the girls and take them to Anton’s castle. Under his safekeeping, Anton has a proposition for them; if they can solve the mysterious deaths plaguing young women in his city, he’ll allow them to take over operation of the apothecary shop in town, which has been abandoned since the apothecary died the previous summer. Tempted by both the prosperity of Anton’s holdings, and by the shop itself, Celine agrees to help him. If word of his inability to protect his subjects reaches his father, he’s afraid that he will not be named heir, and that his awful brother Damek will instead.
Celine’s dishonesty from that seeing years ago is back to bite her in the butt. Anton was the lad she advised, and things did not turn out well for him. His young bride died, and he’s been a train wreak since. He looks weak willed and emotionally distraught, and I thought he needed to worry more about his personal image than catching the mysterious murderer. Everyone thought he was on the edge of a breakdown, and he wasn’t exactly my idea of the guy I’d want in charge of a kingdom. While he’s a wise leader and compassionate, he’s also sickly and more an object to pity than one to follow.
The Mist-Torn Witches worked for me because I liked Celine and Amelie so much. They are both smart and independent, and they empower each other. They also have different strengths and weaknesses, and both play a huge part in solving the mystery plaguing Anton’s court. As Celine has visions of death after death, she becomes frantic trying to save the girls from their horrible fates. This drives a wedge between Celine and Amelie, and then between Celine and almost everyone else in the story. She wonders what good her visions are if she can’t change the future to save one innocent life.
I polished this off in two sittings, and if I have any complaint, it’s with the ending. The story just kind of peters out, which made me immediately borrow the next book, Witches in Red, from the library (so I guess it served it’s purpose!). I like a little more closure than I got here, but I loved this book anyway. If you liked A Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier, I think you will enjoy The Mist-Torn Witches, too. While the story isn’t as heavy or as dark, there is a similar feeling to both.
Review copy provided by publisher
National bestselling author Barb Hendee presents a dark, fascinating new world and the story of two sisters who will discover they have far more power than they ever envisioned….
In a small village in the nation of Droevinka, orphaned sisters Céline and Amelie Fawe scrape out a living selling herbal medicines in their apothecary shop. Céline earns additional money by posing as a seer and pretending to read people’s futures.
But they exist in a land of great noble houses, all vying for power, and when the sisters refuse the orders of a warlord prince, they must flee and are forced to depend on the warlord prince’s brother, Anton, for a temporary haven.
A series of bizarre deaths of pretty young girls is plaguing the village surrounding Prince Anton’s castle. He offers Céline and Amelie permanent protection if they can use their “skills” to find the killer.
With little choice, the sisters enter a world unknown to them—of fine gowns and banquets and advances from powerful men. Their survival depends on catching a murderer who appears to walk through walls and vanish without a trace—and the danger grows with each passing night.Add a Comment
I’m thrilled to be part of The Girl Who Could Fly blog tour! In celebration of the upcoming release of The Boy Who Knew Everything, I have a copy of The Girl Who Could Fly up for grabs, and the publisher asked bloggers to answer this question:
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
With all of the health issues in my family right now, I would want the the ability to heal. First, I’d fix my hip, so I would be ready to hit the road and get my mom squared away, too. I’d stop by the barn and give some pain relief to all of the older horses, because they, unfortunately, develop arthritis and life-altering illnesses, too. Then off I’d go, healing anyone or anything in pain or suffering from an illness.
Which superpower would you choose?
About the books:
You just can’t keep a good girl down . . . unless you use the proper methods.
Piper McCloud can fly. Just like that. Easy as pie.
Sure, she hasn’t mastered reverse propulsion and her turns are kind of sloppy, but she’s real good at loop-the-loops.
Problem is, the good folk of Lowland County are afraid of Piper. And her ma’s at her wit’s end. So it seems only fitting that she leave her parents’ farm to attend a top-secret, maximum-security school for kids with exceptional abilities.
School is great at first with a bunch of new friends whose skills range from super-strength to super-genius. (Plus all the homemade apple pie she can eat!) But Piper is special, even among the special. And there are consequences.
Consequences too dire to talk about. Too crazy to consider. And too dangerous to ignore.
At turns exhilarating and terrifying, Victoria Forester’s debut novel has been praised by Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga, as “the oddest/sweetest mix of Little House on the Prairie and X-Men…Prepare to have your heart warmed.” The Girl Who Could Fly is an unforgettable story of defiance and courage about an irrepressible heroine who can, who will, who must . . . fly.
There is a prophecy.
It speaks of a girl who can fly and a boy who knows everything. The prophecy says that they have the power to bring about great change . . . .
The boy is Conrad Harrington III. The girl is Piper McCloud. They need their talents now, more than ever, if they are to save the world-and themselves.Add a Comment
Please give a warm welcome to A.S Fenichel! She’s here to chat about her new release Ascension.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.
[A.S.] Moody, tenacious and deeply empathetic.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?
[A.S.] Ascension is the book of my heart. Not that I don’t love all my books, I do. I really do. But there is something about Ascension and The Demon Hunter series that sparks giddy excitement every time I think about it.
Here’s the description. Tell me what you think.
The Demon Hunters, #1
When demons threaten London, Lady Belinda answers the call.
Lord Gabriel Thurston returns home from war to find his fiancée is not the sweet young girl he left behind. She’s grown into a mysterious woman who guards her dark secrets well. When he sees her sneaking away from a ball, he’s convinced it’s for a lover’s rendezvous. Following her to London’s slums, Gabriel watches in horror as his fiancée ruthlessly slays a man.
Lady Belinda Carlisle’s only concern was her dress for the next ball—until demons nearly killed her and changed everything. A lady by day, and a demon hunter by night, she knows where her duty lies. Ending her betrothal is the best way to protect Gabriel from death by a demon’s hand.
Gabriel soon realizes, like him, Belinda has been fighting for her country. He joins in the fight, determined to show her that their love can endure, stronger than ever.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[A.S.] Sometimes I get little snapshots of scenes in my head. That’s what happened with Ascension. I had a snapshot (a vision if you will) of a Regency debutant sneaking into a garden in the wee hours. She had six inches of mud at the bottom of her gown and her hair was hanging in a mess. From there the why and how and who just tumbled out.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[A.S.] I love creating strong female characters and Belinda is fabulous. Writing her kept me in the moment even when life got in the way.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?
[A.S.] When I set out to write Ascension I wrote the first four or five chapters and hit a wall. I couldn’t figure out how to go forward. It was so much story and I admit to being intimidated by the task. One day I was out for a long walk and it HIT me. There was more than one book. I didn’t have to get everything into this one volume. I had time. After that it went much more smoothly.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Can’t Go Wrong – Phillip Phillips
Nothing Is Easy – Jethro Tull
It depends on the day . ?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
[A.S.] My iPhone
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[A.S.] My iPhone, My date book opened to this week, A cup of coffee.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[A.S.] Oh man… I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. I might like to be a stupendous athlete for one day. Since it’s something I am soooo not. Maybe Mike Trout, Derek Jeter or Maria Sharapova.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[A.S.] I just finished Icing on the Cake by Karla Doyle. It was sweet and spicy. Ms. Doyle excels as witty banter and I love that.
I’m reading Beyond Pain by Kit Rocha. So far The Beyond series has been fresh, exciting and wonderfully touching.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[A.S.] I love to travel. My husband and I do as much as we can. We also love to cook and have friends over for dinner. We specialize in Italian cooking and even went to a cooking school in Tuscany for our honeymoon. I garden, not well, but I do it. We have a cat and a dog who take up a lot of my time. I’ve always had a cat in my life, but we recently adopted an older dog who needed and deserved a good home. I’ve never really thought of myself as a dog person, but I’m totally in love.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[A.S.] I absolutely love to chat with readers. Here are some ways to reach me via social media, but they can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Demon Hunters # 1
By: A.S. Fenichel
Releasing October 6th, 2014
Lyrical Press / Kensington
When demons threaten London, Lady Belinda answers the call.
Lord Gabriel Thurston returns home from war to find his fiancée is not the sweet young girl he left behind. She’s grown into a mysterious woman who guards her dark secrets well. When he sees her sneaking away from a ball, he’s convinced it’s for a lover’s rendezvous. Following her to London’s slums, Gabriel watches in horror as his fiancée ruthlessly slays a man.
Lady Belinda Carlisle’s only concern was her dress for the next ball—until demons nearly killed her and changed everything. A lady by day, and a demon hunter by night, she knows where her duty lies. Ending her betrothal is the best way to protect Gabriel from death by a demon’s hand.
Gabriel soon realizes, like him, Belinda has been fighting for her country. He joins in the fight, determined to show her that their love can endure, stronger than ever.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/ascention-demon-hunters-1-by-as-fenichel.html
A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.
A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.
Multi-published in erotic paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.
Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.
Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two (2) $10.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Cards)
The post Interview with A S Fenichel, Author of Ascension and Giveaway appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.Add a Comment
We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Check in every Friday this October as we tell Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones. Last we left off the narrator was headed to bed after a night of opium and philosophical conversation with Dr. Hammond, a friend and fellow boarded at the supposed haunted house where they are staying.
We parted, and each sought his respective chamber. I undressed quickly and got into bed, taking with me, according to my usual custom, a book, over which I generally read myself to sleep. I opened the volume as soon as I had laid my head upon the pillow, and instantly flung it to the other side of the room. It was Goudon’s ‘History of Monsters,’—a curious French work, which I had lately imported from Paris, but which, in the state of mind I had then reached, was anything but an agreeable companion. I resolved to go to sleep at once; so, turning down my gas until nothing but a little blue point of light glimmered on the top of the tube, I composed myself to rest.
The room was in total darkness. The atom of gas that still remained alight did not illuminate a distance of three inches round the burner. I desperately drew my arm across my eyes, as if to shut out even the darkness, and tried to think of nothing. It was in vain. The confounded themes touched on by Hammond in the garden kept obtruding themselves on my brain. I battled against them. I erected ramparts of would-be blankness of intellect to keep them out. They still crowded upon me. While I was lying still as a corpse, hoping that by a perfect physical inaction I should hasten mental repose, an awful incident occurred. A Something dropped, as it seemed, from the ceiling, plumb upon my chest, and the next instant I felt two bony hands encircling my throat, endeavoring to choke me.
I am no coward, and am possessed of considerable physical strength. The suddenness of the attack, instead of stunning me, strung every nerve to its highest tension. My body acted from instinct, before my brain had time to realize the terrors of my position. In an instant I wound two muscular arms around the creature, and squeezed it, with all the strength of despair, against my chest. In a few seconds the bony hands that had fastened on my throat loosened their hold, and I was free to breathe once more. Then commenced a struggle of awful intensity. Immersed in the most profound darkness, totally ignorant of the nature of the Thing by which I was so suddenly attacked, finding my grasp slipping every moment, by reason, it seemed to me, of the entire nakedness of my assailant, bitten with sharp teeth in the shoulder, neck, and chest, having every moment to protect my throat against a pair of sinewy, agile hands, which my utmost efforts could not confine,—these were a combination of circumstances to combat which required all the strength, skill, and courage that I possessed.
At last, after a silent, deadly, exhausting struggle, I got my assailant under by a series of incredible efforts of strength. Once pinned, with my knee on what I made out to be its chest, I knew that I was victor. I rested for a moment to breathe. I heard the creature beneath me panting in the darkness, and felt the violent throbbing of a heart. It was apparently as exhausted as I was; that was one comfort. At this moment I remembered that I usually placed under my pillow, before going to bed, a large yellow silk pocket-handkerchief. I felt for it instantly; it was there. In a few seconds more I had, after a fashion, pinioned the creature’s arms.
I now felt tolerably secure. There was nothing more to be done but to turn on the gas, and, having first seen what my midnight assailant was like, arouse the household. I will confess to being actuated by a certain pride in not giving the alarm before; I wished to make the capture alone and unaided.
Never losing my hold for an instant, I slipped from the bed to the floor, dragging my captive with me. I had but a few steps to make to reach the gas-burner; these I made with the greatest caution, holding the creature in a grip like a vice. At last I got within arm’s-length of the tiny speck of blue light which told me where the gas-burner lay. Quick as lightning I released my grasp with one hand and let on the full flood of light. Then I turned to look at my captive.
I cannot even attempt to give any definition of my sensations the instant after I turned on the gas. I suppose I must have shrieked with terror, for in less than a minute afterward my room was crowded with the inmates of the house. I shudder now as I think of that awful moment. I saw nothing! Yes; I had one arm firmly clasped round a breathing, panting, corporeal shape, my other hand gripped with all its strength a throat as warm, and apparently fleshly, as my own; and yet, with this living substance in my grasp, with its body pressed against my own, and all in the bright glare of a large jet of gas, I absolutely beheld nothing! Not even an outline,—a vapor!
I do not, even at this hour, realize the situation in which I found myself. I cannot recall the astounding incident thoroughly. Imagination in vain tries to compass the awful paradox.
It breathed. I felt its warm breath upon my cheek. It struggled fiercely. It had hands. They clutched me. Its skin was smooth, like my own. There it lay, pressed close up against me, solid as stone,—and yet utterly invisible!
I wonder that I did not faint or go mad on the instant. Some wonderful instinct must have sustained me; for, absolutely, in place of loosening my hold on the terrible Enigma, I seemed to gain an additional strength in my moment of horror, and tightened my grasp with such wonderful force that I felt the creature shivering with agony.
Just then Hammond entered my room at the head of the household. As soon as he beheld my face—which, I suppose, must have been an awful sight to look at—he hastened forward, crying, ‘Great heaven, Harry! what has happened?’
‘Hammond! Hammond!’ I cried, ‘come here. O, this is awful!
I have been attacked in bed by something or other, which I have hold of; but I can’t see it,—I can’t see it!’
Hammond, doubtless struck by the unfeigned horror expressed in my countenance, made one or two steps forward with an anxious yet puzzled expression. A very audible titter burst from the remainder of my visitors. This suppressed laughter made me furious. To laugh at a human being in my position! It was the worst species of cruelty. Now, I can understand why the appearance of a man struggling violently, as it would seem, with an airy nothing, and calling for assistance against a vision, should have appeared ludicrous. Then, so great was my rage against the mocking crowd that had I the power I would have stricken them dead where they stood.
‘Hammond! Hammond!’ I cried again, despairingly, ‘for God’s sake come to me. I can hold the—the thing but a short while longer. It is overpowering me. Help me! Help me!’
‘Harry,’ whispered Hammond, approaching me, ‘you have been smoking too much opium.’
‘I swear to you, Hammond, that this is no vision,’ I answered, in the same low tone. ‘Don’t you see how it shakes my whole frame with its struggles? If you don’t believe me, convince yourself. Feel it,— touch it.’
Hammond advanced and laid his hand in the spot I indicated. A wild cry of horror burst from him. He had felt it! In a moment he had discovered somewhere in my room a long piece of cord, and was the next instant winding it and knotting it about the body of the unseen being that I clasped in my arms.
‘Harry,’ he said, in a hoarse, agitated voice, for, though he preserved his presence of mind, he was deeply moved, ‘Harry, it’s all safe now. You may let go, old fellow, if you’re tired. The Thing can’t move.’
I was utterly exhausted, and I gladly loosed my hold.
We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Every Friday this October we’ve unveiled a part of Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones. Last we left off the narrator, Harry, tried to fight off a mysterious creature fighting him in his bed. His friend Hammond had just come to his rescue.
Hammond stood holding the ends of the cord that bound the Invisible, twisted round his hand, while before him, self-supporting as it were, he beheld a rope laced and interlaced, and stretching tightly around a vacant space. I never saw a man look so thoroughly stricken with awe. Nevertheless his face expressed all the courage and determination which I knew him to possess. His lips, although white, were set firmly, and one could perceive at a glance that, although stricken with fear, he was not daunted.
The confusion that ensued among the guests of the house who were witnesses of this extraordinary scene between Hammond and myself, — who beheld the pantomime of binding this struggling Something, — who beheld me almost sinking from physical exhaustion when my task of jailer was over, — the confusion and terror that took possession of the bystanders, when they saw all this, was beyond description. The weaker ones fled from the apartment. The few who remained clustered near the door and could not be induced to approach Hammond and his Charge. Still incredulity broke out through their terror. They had not the courage to satisfy themselves, and yet they doubted. It was in vain that I begged of some of the men to come near and convince themselves by touch of the existence in that room of a living being which was invisible. They were incredulous, but did not dare to undeceive themselves. How could a solid, living, breathing body be invisible, they asked. My reply was this. I gave a sign to Hammond, and both of us — conquering our fearful repugnance to touch the invisible creature — lifted it from the ground, manacled as it was, and took it to my bed. Its weight was about that of a boy of fourteen.
‘Now, my friends,’ I said, as Hammond and myself held the creature suspended over the bed, ‘I can give you self-evident proof that here is a solid, ponderable body, which, nevertheless, you cannot see. Be good enough to watch the surface of the bed attentively.’
I was astonished at my own courage in treating this strange event so calmly; but I had recovered from my first terror, and felt a sort of scientific pride in the affair, which dominated every other feeling.
The eyes of the bystanders were immediately fixed on my bed. At a given signal Hammond and I let the creature fall. There was the dull sound of a heavy body alighting on a soft mass. The timbers of the bed creaked. A deep impression marked itself distinctly on the pillow, and on the bed itself. The crowd who witnessed this gave a low cry, and rushed from the room. Hammond and I were left alone with our Mystery.
We remained silent for some time, listening to the low, irregular breathing of the creature on the bed, and watching the rustle of the bed-clothes as it impotently struggled to free itself from confinement. Then Hammond spoke.
‘Harry, this is awful.’
‘But not unaccountable.’
‘Not unaccountable! What do you mean? Such a thing has never occurred since the birth of the world. I know not what to think, Hammond. God grant that I am not mad, and that this is not an insane fantasy!’
‘Let us reason a little, Harry. Here is a solid body which we touch, but which we cannot see. The fact is so unusual that it strikes us with terror. Is there no parallel, though, for such a phenomenon? Take a piece of pure glass. It is tangible and transparent. A certain chemical coarseness is all that prevents its being so entirely transparent as to be totally invisible. It is not theoretically impossible, mind you, to make a glass which shall not reflect a single ray of light, — a glass so pure and homogeneous in its atoms that the rays from the sun will pass through it as they do through the air, refracted but not reflected. We do not see the air, and yet we feel it.’
‘That’s all very well, Hammond, but these are inanimate substances. Glass does not breathe, air does not breathe. This thing has a heart that palpitates, — a will that moves it, — lungs that play, and inspire and respire.’
‘You forget the phenomena of which we have so often heard of late,’ answered the Doctor, gravely. ‘At the meetings called “spirit circles,” invisible hands have been thrust into the hands of those persons round the table, — warm, fleshly hands that seemed to pulsate with mortal life.’
‘What? Do you think, then, that this thing is — ’
‘I don’t know what it is,’ was the solemn reply; ‘but please the gods I will, with your assistance, thoroughly investigate it.’
Name: Legal Drug Genre: Supernatural, Shonen-ai, Mystery Artist: CLAMP Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten (JP), Dark Horse (US) Serialized In: Monthly Asuka Original Release Date: September 30, 2014 Ah, CLAMP. The doujinshi circle turned all female manga-artist powerhouse and I have an on and off relationship over the years. There’s classic CLAMP that I grew up on ... Read moreDisplay Comments Add a Comment
I have a copy of Compulsion by Martina Boone to giveaway. Here’s a description:
Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in Compulsion, the first novel in a spellbinding new trilogy.
Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
To increase your chance of winning, answer the question below:
?If you could have any “everyday” magical gift, like finding lost things or knowing what people want, what gift would you want and why?
Here’s my answer: I would like the ability to make people happy. Now, that might sound kind of cheesy, but think about it for a second. If your very presence magically made people happier, your own sense of well-being would automatically increase. If you could make people feel joy at the sight of you, their treatment of you would improve, and your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers would always be harmonious. It would be really hard to make anyone angry with you if you always made them happy! Talk about reducing stress!
A finished copy of the book – US addresses only, please
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OUP author Diana Walsh Pasulka recently caught up with fellow scholar of religion Jeffrey J. Kripal, to discuss the study of the supernatural and the paranormal within the university.
Diana Walsh Pasulka: You’ve written about the origin of the term paranormal and its link to the British and American Spiritualist movements. You’ve noted that the paranormal is inextricably linked to the idea of the sacred. How do you see the paranormal as different from the idea of the supernatural, which has traditionally been used to describe events that exceed naturalist explanations, like miracles, for instance?
Jeffrey J. Kripal: As a category or coinage, the paranormal is an attempted secularization of the supernatural. I like to translate it as the “super natural.” This is what the original inventors of the term meant, anyway. They meant to suggest that (a) psychical phenomena were quite real but (b) beyond our present scientific modeling and theorizing. The phenomena in question were thus both “normal” but also “beyond” (para-). Someday, these theorists thought, we would be able to incorporate these phenomena into our understanding of the natural world. So, for example, poltergeist phenomena were read not as the work of “angry ghosts” floating around but as expressions of the “ghosts of anger,” that is, they understood these as exteriorized symbolic expressions of pent-up frustration, conflict or angst. This may have been an advance, but it is still deeply offensive to our rationalisms. How, say, an abused or conflicted adolescent can start the curtains on fire or explode a vase at a distance might still be natural, but this is clearly a nature behaving in some most extraordinary or special ways. This is a kind of supernature.
Diana Walsh Pasulka: In your most recent work you’ve called for a renewed examination of the supernatural and paranormal aspects of religion. You’ve also noted the irony that scholars of religion have tended to avoid these subjects even as they are presumably at the heart of most religious traditions. Can you say a bit more about how you would like to see this renewed emphasis develop? For example, is this an interdisciplinary project?
Jeffrey J. Kripal: I find it curious that the study of religion has “taken off the table” precisely those anomalous aspects of human experience that lie behind or within some of the most universally distributed religious ideas–say, strikingly real encounters with dead loved ones who carry some empirical information (say, about the means or mode of their death) that in turn give rise to the belief in a surviving “soul.” We are allowed to treat these beliefs as “discourses” or as power-plays, of course, but never as empirical phenomena in their own right. Then we are told that there is nothing essentially “religious” about religion, that it is all just context and construction, which, of course, is perfectly true, since we just took all of the stuff that is not just context and construction off the table. I find this situation circular, inadequate and, above all, depressing. It is not that it is wrong. It is simply that it is half-right. I think it is time to bring the other half back in and re-enchant reason.
Diana Walsh Pasulka: You’ve stated that popular culture has adopted the paranormal elements that have been well documented in the history of religion and folklore. Do you see popular culture, science fiction and superhero movies, for instance, replacing this aspect of religion? Or, perhaps, complimenting it? Or, does this development indicate something entirely different?
Jeffrey J. Kripal: I think the paranormal has migrated into popular culture and entertainment because it has been effectively exiled from both elite intellectual culture (which is more or less controlled now by scientific or Marxist materialism) and, oddly, the religious traditions themselves. But paranormal phenomena are clearly part of our human nature, part of human history. If we will not talk about them either in our public intellectual and scientific lives or in our public religious lives, where are they supposed to go? They will never go away, by the way, not at least as long as we are here, and for one simple reason: they are expressions of us.
Headline image credit: Urach waterfall. CC0 via Pixabay.
This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Cecy Robson’s latest release A Cursed Bloodline. Enjoy!
A Cursed Bloodline
Weird Girls # 4
By: Cecy Robson
Releasing November 18th, 2014
The Weird Girls return in another edge-of-your-seat novel from Cecy Robson! Just when Celia thinks the supernatural world can’t turn deadlier, a new rival emerges, proving just how dangerous a power-hungry were can be.
Since being cursed with unique abilities, Celia Wird and her three sisters have fought the most bloodthirsty preternaturals in the Lake Tahoe region. But Celia’s greatest threat is someone she would have never suspected: Anara, a werewolf Elder who has allowed his hatred for Celia to spiral out of control. In a play for dominance, Anara tortures Celia and gives her an ultimatum: sever her mate bond with pureblood were Aric—or Anara will kill everyone she loves.
From the instant they met, Celia and Aric have shared an attraction that cannot be tamed. So keeping Aric away is impossible, and Aric would sooner die than allow anyone to hurt the woman he loves. Misha, master vampire and Celia’s sworn protector, also finds his way into the chaos, seeking blood from those who have harmed her.
Now Celia and her sisters are caught in the middle of a war driven by lust, fueled by hatred, and destined to end in tragedy. For Anara is a force to be reckoned with, and he will not succumb without robbing Celia of those who hold her heart.
Praise for the Weird Girls series
“One of my favorite books series . . . so much action, so much violence and, oh, the lust radiating off of our heroes . . . I definitely recommend this series for lovers of all things paranormal and awesome.”—USA Today
“[With Robson’s] edgy, witty and modern style of storytelling, the reader will be drawn deep into this quirky paranormal world. . . . Strong pacing, constant action and distinctive, appealing characters—including a gutsy heroine—will no doubt keep you invested.”—RT Book Reviews
“A healthy dose of humor, a heaping dash of the supernatural, and a pinch of mystery all laced with a heavy dollop of action . . . Robson knows how to combine all the best ingredients to keep her readers hooked and begging for another hit.”—Fresh Fiction
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/a-cursed-bloodline-weird-girls-4-by.html
Cecy Robson is the New Adult author of Once Perfect, Once Loved, and Once Pure and the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, Cecy counts among her talents a jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song despite her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.
I turned to Misha. “I don’t want to see Aric. Please ask him to leave—nicely.”
Misha angled his head, surprised by my request. Given that he hated Aric, I didn’t need to ask twice. My sisters stumbled into the bathroom, where he had directed them on his way out. They screamed when they saw me.
Aric’s growls returned full force. “What’s happening?”
Shayna veered back toward the stairs. “You have to find Emme. Celia’s in really bad shape!”
Taran approached me slowly, like she’d never seen me before. “Son of a bitch, Celia. What did this to you?” She reached to touch my face, only to yank it back as if it stung.
Tears streamed down Shayna’s cheeks. I didn’t want to lie to them, but I had to keep them safe. “I swung by the house to get some things. A pack of wolves broke in and attacked me.”
Taran clasped her hand over her jaw. “Shit. Did you kill them?”
I lowered my head. “No. I was no match for them.”
Taran took in the mangled mess of my face. “How the hell did you get away?”
I was a horrible liar. “I didn’t, they left me there when they were done.”
Shayna’s slender frame hunched and her long, silky black ponytail seemed to droop. She wiped her blue eyes on the sleeve of her white tunic. “Why would they just leave you like that?”
“You mean instead of just killing me?” I hated scaring them, but I wanted them to stop talking. I shrugged. “I don’t know, I guess because they could.”
Sleet splattered against the window and skylights, but it did little to muffle Misha and Aric. Damn, they were both furious. And Misha carrying the scent of his arousal from his snack time with me only made matters worse.
“What did you do to her?” Aric demanded.
I could almost picture Misha’s wicked smile. “Tending to her wounds required me to taste her, and so I did.”
There was some scuffling and growling. The wolves were struggling to hold back Aric.
“Aric, listen to me,” Liam grunted. “Celia was still bleeding when we arrived.”
“I’m not leaving until I see her.” Aric’s deep timbre rang with anger, but Liam’s words appeared to have stopped him from killing Misha. I was surprised Misha didn’t rub his feasting more in Aric’s face. Maybe he didn’t want to upset me . . . or maybe he preferred that Aric jump to his own conclusions.
“Celia does not desire your presence, canine. Can you fault her? How many times have you reduced her to tears?”
A stillness grew over the worsening weather. “Those times are behind us,” Aric growled. “Whether you like it or not, my future lies with her.”
Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller and Loveswept Mug & Tote)
The post Spotlight and Giveaway: A Cursed Bloodline by Cecy Robson appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.Add a Comment
May Contain Spoilers
ZOMG! I loved this book! It’s got a more than capable protagonist, an ill-fated love interest, and, quite possibly, a world ending plague. Yeah! I can’t resist this stuff. There’s great action, three sexy guys, and an interesting murder mystery. The only thing it doesn’t have? An ending. So, yes, it got a knock for that.
Emberly is a phoenix. She’s working as a secretary at research lab, deciding that in this lifetime, she’ll take things easy. No derring-do or premature death for her this time around! She wants to life her normal 100 year lifespan, without the unpleasantness of an early, painful death. This time, her soul mate, Rory, is the thrill seeker, and they’ve agreed that one risk taker in the family is enough. If they both die prematurely, that’s it. No more rebirths, no more re-dos, and no more life. If both of them are killed, they cease to exist, so they’ve made a pact. Only one of them is allowed to be reckless per lifetime.
Heh. Only trouble follows Em like a swarm of mosquitoes on a hot, humid day. She can’t escape it. After having a dream that her former lover, Sam, is murdered in the shadiest part of town, she can’t help but go and save him. While she doesn’t have premonitions very often, and she’s learned the hard way to ignore them, she just can’t sit back and let Sam die. He’s the love of this lifetime, and even though there are still bad feelings between them, five years after their breakup, she is compelled to save him. This selfless act hurls her into so much danger that I think she should immediately form a new pact with herself – don’t rescue ex-boyfriends, because the only reward you get is trouble!
Sam and Em broke up because he caught her with Rory, and not understanding her nature, he accused her of cheating on him. Phoenixes are cursed. They journey from lifetime to lifetime with their soul mate, but they are destined to never, ever love them. Instead, they have a love of each lifetime, but those relationships are fated to end miserably. Sam is Em’s once in this lifetime, and she’s never going to get over him. I don’t want to give away all of characteristics of the phoenixes, because I enjoyed learning about them so much, but I will say that if Rory and Em part permanently during one of their lives, they simply fade away, so the other is essential to their very existence. Sigh. What a major bummer. Always finding that one perfect guy for yourself, but then always losing him because he can’t deal with what you are and what you need.
Sam is a cop, and he’s investigating a deadly virus that either kills victims outright, or turns them into murderous monsters. When Em’s boss is murdered, she’s drawn further into the case. Her boss, Dr Baltimore, was working on a cure for the virus, and Em was transcribing his notes. A boring job, but one that paid well. With a darker, more sinister Sam leading the investigation, Em can’t help but get tangled up in the search for the murderer, especially when the murderer thinks she might have the professor’s missing notebooks. Soon all kinds of nasty things are after her, but she’s determined to find out who – or what – is behind the virus and the murder of her boss before they murder her too. With the help of a private investigator, the lascivious fire fae, Jackson, she’s on the fast track to an extremely short lifespan.
I could not put Fireborn down. I even got a little resentful when I had to put down my Kindle to run errands. I thought the pacing was spot on, and the world-building seemed natural and I found it interesting. I enjoyed getting the story from Em’s POV – she’s got a great voice and made an entertaining narrator. The only reason Fireborn isn’t getting an A is because it doesn’t have an ending, and you all know how much I hate that! I am looking forward to the second book in the series, because this was a winner for me.
Review copy provided by publisher
Be sure to check out all of the stops on the tour.
Here is yesterday’s stop – ON STARSHIPS AND DRAGONWINGS
And here is tomorrow’s stop FANG-TASTIC BOOKS
From New York Times bestselling author Keri Arthur comes a brand-new series featuring heroine Emberly Pearson—a phoenix capable of taking on human form and cursed with the ability to foresee death….
Emberly has spent a good number of her many lives trying to save humans. So when her prophetic dreams reveal the death of Sam, a man she once loved, she does everything in her power to prevent it from happening. But in saving his life, she gets more than she bargained for.
Sam is working undercover for the Paranormal Investigations Team, and those who are trying to murder him are actually humans infected by a plaguelike virus, the Crimson Death—a by-product of a failed government experiment intended to identify the enzymes that make vampires immortal. Now all those infected must be eliminated.
But when Emberly’s boss is murdered and his irreplaceable research stolen, she needs to find the guilty party before she goes down in flames….Add a Comment
I am still recovering from July 4th weekend and a horse show Wednesday night (which I’ll tell you all about on Sunday), but don’t worry, I still have a goody for you today. I have an excerpt from Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life, which releases next week. I also have a copy up for grabs, US residents only, please, so be sure to enter the giveaway below!
The highly anticipated finale to the
#1 New York Times bestselling trilogy
“Harkness proves to be quite the alchemist as she combines elements of magic, history, romance, and science, transforming them into a compelling journey through time, space, and geography. By bridging the gaps between Harry Potter, Twilight, and Outlander fans, Harkness artfully appeals to a broad range of fantasy lovers…The conclusion of this paranormal adventure is guaranteed to fly off the shelves.”
“There is no shortage of action in this sprawling sequel, and nearly every chapter brings a wrinkle to the tale. The storytelling is lively and energetic, and Diana remains an appealing heroine even as her life becomes ever more extraordinary. A delightful wrap-up to the trilogy.”
“In the resolution of the All Souls trilogy…as in the previous two installments, there are healthy doses of action, colorful magic, angst-y romance and emotional epiphany, plus mansion-hopping across the globe, historical tidbits and name-dropping of famous artworks and manuscripts.”
Praise for SHADOW OF NIGHT
“The joy that Harkness, herself a historian, takes in visiting the past is evident on every page…A great spell, one that can enchant a reader and make a 600-page book fly through her fingertips, is cast.”
“Deborah Harkness takes us places we’ve never been before…Readers time-travel as precisely and precariously as Diana and Matthew do…Shadow ends as Discovery did, with promises of more to come. Lucky for us.”
THE BOOK OF LIFE is the highly-anticipated final installment of the bestselling All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness (Viking; On-sale: July 15, 2014; $28.95). The trilogy began with A Discovery of Witches which People magazine called, “A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter or Twilight”. The sequel Shadow of Night debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and the Miami Herald called it, “Enchanting, engrossing and as impossible to put down as its predecessor…a perfect blend of fantasy, history and romance.” In total, over one million copies have been sold in the States with publications following in 38 countries, leaving legions of fans eagerly awaiting THE BOOK OF LIFE, the satisfying conclusion to this superbly written series.
THE BOOK OF LIFE picks up right where Shadow of Night left off. After traveling through time, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to continue their hunt for the magical alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, otherwise known as the Book of Life. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception—ready to face old enemies. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for the Book of Life and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and forbidden passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deborah Harkness is the number one New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. A history professor at the University of Southern California, Harkness has received Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. Her publications include works on the history of science, magic, and alchemy. Her most recent scholarly book is The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution. She lives in Los Angeles.
Deborah Harkness will be touring to:
New York City * South Hadley, MA * Canaan, NH * Boston * Raleigh * Miami
Decatur, GA * Philadelphia * Los Angeles * San Diego * San Francisco * Portland
Seattle * Chicago *Milwaukee * Minneapolis/St. Paul * St. Louis * Cincinnati
Houston * Austin * Denver * Scottsdale, AZ
Click here for details!
THE BOOK OF LIFE
Deborah Harkness ? Viking ? $28.95 ? On-sale July 15, 2014 ? ISBN: 978-0-670-02559-6
THIS BOOK IS ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK
@debharkness • facebook.com/AuthorDeborahHarkness
From The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Deborah Harkness, 2014
Ghosts didn’t have much substance. All they were composed of was memories and heart. Atop one of Sept-Tours’ round towers, Emily Mather pressed a diaphanous hand against the spot in the center of her chest that even now was heavy with dread.
Does it ever get easier? Her voice, like the rest of her, was almost imperceptible. The watching? The waiting? The knowing?
Not that I’ve noticed, Philippe de Clermont replied shortly. He was perched nearby, studying his own transparent fingers. Of all the things Philippe disliked about being dead—the inability to touch his wife, Ysabeau; his lack of smell or taste; the fact that he had no muscles for a good sparring match—invisibility topped the list. It was a constant reminder of how inconsequential he had become.
Emily’s face fell, and Philippe silently cursed himself. Since she’d died, the witch had been his constant companion, cutting his loneliness in two. What was he thinking, barking at her as if she were a servant?
Perhaps it will be easier when they don’t need us anymore, Philippe said in a gentler tone. He might be the more experienced ghost, but it was Emily who understood the metaphysics of their situation. What the witch had told him went against everything Philippe believed about the afterworld. He thought the living saw the dead because they needed something from them: assistance, forgiveness, retribution. Emily insisted these were nothing more than human myths, and it was only when the living moved on and let go that the dead could appear to them.
This information made Ysabeau’s failure to notice him somewhat easier to bear, but not much.
“I can’t wait to see Em’s reaction. She’s going to be so surprised.” Diana’s warm alto floated up to the battlements.
Diana and Matthew, Emily and Philippe said in unison, peering down to the cobbled courtyard that surrounded the château.
There, Philippe said, pointing at the drive. Even dead, he had vampire sight that was sharper than any human’s. He was also still handsomer than any man had a right to be, with his broad shoulders and devilish grin. He turned the latter on Emily, who couldn’t help grinning back. They are a fine couple, are they not? Look how much my son has changed.
Vampires weren’t supposed to be altered by the passing of time, and therefore Emily expected to see the same black hair, so dark it glinted blue; the same mutable gray-green eyes, cool and remote as a winter sea; the same pale skin and wide mouth. There were a few subtle differences, though, as Philippe suggested. Matthew’s hair was shorter, and he had a beard that made him look even more dangerous, like a pirate. She gasped.
Is Matthew . . . bigger?
He is. I fattened him up when he and Diana were here in 1590. Books were making him soft. Matthew needed to fight more and read less. Philippe had always contended there was such a thing as too much education. Matthew was living proof of it.
Diana looks different, too. More like her mother, with that long, coppery hair, Em said, acknowledging the most obvious change in her niece.
Diana stumbled on a cobblestone, and Matthew’s hand shot out to steady her. Once, Emily had seen Matthew’s incessant hovering as a sign of vampire overprotectiveness. Now, with the perspicacity of a ghost, she realized that this tendency stemmed from his preternatural awareness of every change in Diana’s expression, every shift of mood, every sign of fatigue or hunger. Today, however, Matthew’s concern seemed even more focused and acute.
It’s not just Diana’s hair that has changed. Philippe’s face had a look of wonder. Diana is with child—Matthew’s child.
Emily examined her niece more carefully, using the enhanced grasp of truth that death afforded. Philippe was right—in part. You mean “with children.” Diana is having twins.
Twins, Philippe said in an awed voice. He looked away, distracted by the appearance of his wife. Look, here are Ysabeau and Sarah with Sophie and Margaret.
What will happen now, Philippe? Emily asked, her heart growing heavier with anticipation.
Endings. Beginnings, Philippe said with deliberate vagueness. Change.
Diana has never liked change, Emily said.
That is because Diana is afraid of what she must become, Philippe replied.
Marcus Whitmore had faced horrors aplenty since the night in 1781 when Matthew de Clermont made him a vampire. None had prepared him for today’s ordeal: telling Diana Bishop that her beloved aunt, Emily Mather, was dead.
Marcus had received the phone call from Ysabeau while he and Nathaniel Wilson were watching the television news in the family library. Sophie, Nathaniel’s wife, and their baby, Margaret, were dozing on a nearby sofa.
“The temple,” Ysabeau had said breathlessly, her tone frantic. “Come. At once.”
Marcus had obeyed his grandmother without question, only taking time to shout for his cousin, Gallowglass, and his Aunt Verin on his way out the door.
The summer half-light of evening had lightened further as he approached the clearing at the top of the mountain, brightened by the otherworldly power that Marcus glimpsed through the trees. His hair stood at attention at the magic in the air.
Then he scented the presence of a vampire, Gerbert of Aurillac. And someone else—a witch.
A light, purposeful step sounded down the stone corridor, drawing Marcus out of the past and back into the present. The heavy door opened, creaking as it always did.
“Hello, sweetheart.” Marcus turned from the view of the Auvergne countryside and drew a deep breath. Phoebe Taylor’s scent reminded him of the thicket of lilac bushes that had grown outside the red-painted door of his family’s farm. Delicate and resolute, the fragrance had symbolized the hope of spring after a long Massachusetts winter and conjured up his long- dead mother’s understanding smile. Now it only made Marcus think of the petite, iron-willed woman before him.
“Everything will be all right.” Phoebe reached up and straightened his collar, her olive eyes full of concern. Marcus had taken to wearing more formal clothes than concert T-shirts around the same time he’d started to sign his letters Marcus de Clermont instead of Marcus Whitmore—the name she’d first known him by, before he had told her about vampires, fifteen-hundred-year-old fathers, French castles full of forbidding relatives, and a witch named Diana Bishop. It was, in Marcus’s opinion, nothing short of miraculous that Phoebe had remained at his side.
“No. It won’t.” He caught one of her hands and planted a kiss on the palm. Phoebe didn’t know Matthew. “Stay here with Nathaniel and the rest of them. Please.”
“For the final time, Marcus Whitmore, I will be standing beside you when you greet your father and his wife. I don’t believe we need discuss it further.” Phoebe held out her hand. “Shall we?”
Marcus put his hand in Phoebe’s, but instead of following her out the door as she expected, he tugged her toward him. Phoebe came to rest against his chest, one hand clasped in his and the other pressed to his heart. She looked at him with surprise.
“Very well. But if you come down with me, Phoebe, there are conditions. First, you are with me or with Ysabeau at all times.”
Phoebe opened her mouth to protest, but Marcus’s serious look silenced her.
“Second, if I tell you to leave the room, you will do so. No delay. No questions. Go straight to Fernando. He’ll be in the chapel or the kitchen.” Marcus searched her face and saw a wary acceptance. “Third, do not, under any circumstances, get within arm’s reach of my father. Agreed?”
Phoebe nodded. Like any good diplomat, she was prepared to follow Marcus’s rules—for now. But if Matthew’s father was the monster some in the house seemed to think he was, Phoebe would do what she must.
Fernando Gonçalves poured beaten eggs into the hot skillet, blanketing the browned potatoes already in the pan. His tortilla española was one of the few dishes Sarah Bishop would eat, and today of all days the widow needed sustenance.
Gallowglass sat at the kitchen table, picking drops of wax out of a crack in the ancient boards. With his collar-length blond hair and muscular build, he looked like a morose bear. Tattoos snaked around his forearms and biceps in bright swirls of color. Their subject matter revealed whatever was on Gallowglass’s mind at the moment, for a tattoo lasted only a few months on a vampire. Right now he seemed to be thinking about his roots, for his arms were covered with Celtic knotwork, runes, and fabulous beasts drawn from Norse and Gaelic myths and legends.
“Stop worrying.” Fernando’s voice was as warm and cultured as sherry aged in oak barrels.
Gallowglass looked up for a moment, then returned his attention to the wax.
“No one will prevent Matthew from doing what he must, Gallowglass. Avenging Emily’s death is a matter of honor.” Fernando turned off the heat and joined Gallowglass at the table, bare feet moving silently across the flagstone floors. As he walked, he rolled down the sleeves of his white shirt. It was pristine, in spite of the hours he’d spent in the kitchen that day. He tucked the shirt into the waistband of his jeans and ran his fingers through his dark, wavy hair.
“Marcus is going to try to take the blame, you know,” Gallowglass said. “But Emily’s death wasn’t the boy’s fault.”
The scene on the mountain had been oddly peaceful, considering the circumstances. Gallowglass had arrived at the temple a few moments after Marcus. There had been nothing but silence and the sight of Emily Mather kneeling in- side a circle marked out with pale rocks. The witch Peter Knox had been with her, his hands on her head and a look of anticipation—even hunger—on his face. Gerbert of Aurillac, the de Clermonts’ nearest vampire neighbor, was looking on with interest.
“Emily!” Sarah’s anguished cry had torn through the silence with such force that even Gerbert stepped back.
Startled, Knox released Emily. She crumpled to the ground, unconscious. Sarah beat the other witch back with a single, powerful spell that sent Knox flying across the clearing.
“No, Marcus didn’t kill her,” Fernando said, drawing Gallowglass’s attention. “But his negligence—”
“Inexperience,” Gallowglass interjected.
“Negligence,” Fernando repeated, “did play a role in the tragedy. Marcus knows that and accepts responsibility for it.”
“Marcus didn’t ask to be in charge,” Gallowglass grumbled.
“No. I nominated him for the position, and Matthew agreed it was the right decision.” Fernando pressed Gallowglass’s shoulder briefly and returned to the stove.
“Is that why you came? Because you felt guilty about refusing to lead the brotherhood when Matthew asked for your help?” No one had been more surprised than Gallowglass when Fernando turned up at Sept-Tours. Fernando had avoided the place ever since Gallowglass’s father, Hugh de Clermont, died in the fourteenth century.
“I am here because Matthew was there for me after the French king executed Hugh. I was alone in all the world then, except for my grief.” Fernando’s tone was harsh. “And I refused to lead the Knights of Lazarus because I am not a de Clermont.”
“You were Father’s mate!” Gallowglass protested. “You are as much a de Clermont as Ysabeau or her children!”
Fernando carefully shut the oven door. “I am Hugh’s mate,” he said, his back still turned. “Your father will never be past tense to me.”
“Sorry, Fernando,” Gallowglass said, stricken. Though Hugh had been dead for nearly seven centuries, Fernando had never recovered from the loss. Gallowglass doubted he ever would.
“As for my being a de Clermont,” Fernando continued, still staring at the wall over the stove, “Philippe disagreed.”
Gallowglass resumed his nervous picking at the wax. Fernando poured two glasses of red wine and carried them to the table.
“Here,” he said, thrusting one at Gallowglass. “You’ll need your strength today, too.”
Marthe bustled into the kitchen. Ysabeau’s housekeeper ruled over this part of the château and was not pleased to see intruders in it. After giving Fernando and Gallowglass sour looks, she sniffed and wrested the oven door open.
“That is my best pan!” she said accusingly.
“I know. That’s why I’m using it,” Fernando replied, taking a sip of wine. “You do not belong in the kitchen, Dom Fernando. Go upstairs. Take Gallowglass with you.” Marthe took a packet of tea and a teapot from the shelf by the sink. Then she noticed the towel-wrapped pot sitting on a tray
next to cups, saucers, milk, and sugar. Her frown deepened. “What is wrong with my being here?” Fernando demanded.
“You are not a servant,” Marthe said. She picked the lid off the top of the pot and sniffed suspiciously at its contents.
“It’s Diana’s favorite. You told me what she liked, remember?” Fernando smiled sadly. “And everyone in this house serves the de Clermonts, Marthe. The only difference is that you, Alain, and Victoire are paid handsomely to do so. The rest of us are expected to be grateful for the privilege.”
“With good reason. Other manjasang dream of being part of this family. See that you remember that in future—and the lemon, Dom Fernando,” Marthe said, placing emphasis on his lordly title. She picked up the tea tray. “By the way, your eggs are burning.”
Fernando leaped up to rescue them.
“As for you,” Marthe said, fixing her black eyes on Gallowglass, “you did not tell us everything you should have about Matthew and his wife.”
Gallowglass looked down into his wine with a guilty expression.
“Madame your grandmother will deal with you later.” On that bonechilling note, Marthe stalked out of the room.
“What have you done now?” asked Fernando, putting his tortilla— which was not ruined, Alhamdulillah—on the stove. Long experience had taught him that whatever the mess, Gallowglass had made it with good intentions and complete disregard for possible disaster.
“Weeell,” Gallowglass said, drawing out the vowels as only a Scot could, “I might have left one or two things out of the tale.”
“Like what?” Fernando said, catching a whiff of catastrophe among the kitchen’s homely scents.
“Like the fact that Auntie is pregnant—and by none other than Matthew. And the fact that Granddad adopted her as a daughter. Lord, his blood vow was deafening.” Gallowglass looked reflective. “Do you think we’ll still be able to hear it?”
Fernando stood, openmouthed and silent.
“Don’t look at me that way. It didn’t seem right to share the news about the babe. Women can be funny about such things. And Philippe told Auntie Verin about the blood vow before he died in 1945, and she never said a word either!” Gallowglass said defensively.
A concussion tore the air, as if a silent bomb had been detonated. Something green and fiery streaked past the kitchen window.
“What the hell was that?” Fernando flung the door open and shielded his eyes against the bright sunlight.
“One pissed-off witch, I imagine.” Gallowglass’s tone was glum. “Sarah must have told Diana and Matthew the news about Emily.”
“Not the explosion. That!” Fernando pointed to Saint-Lucien’s bell tower, which was being circled by a winged, two-legged, fire-breathing creature. Gallowglass rose for a better look.
“That’s Corra. She goes where Auntie goes,” Gallowglass said matter-of- factly.
“But that’s a dragon.” Fernando turned wild eyes on his stepson.
“Bah! That’s no dragon. Can’t you see she’s only got two legs? Corra is a firedrake.” Gallowglass twisted his arm to show off a tattoo of a winged creature that strongly resembled the airborne beast. “Like this. I might have left out one or two details, but I did warn everybody that Auntie Diana wasn’t going to be the same witch she was before.”
“It’s true, honey. Em is dead.” The stress of telling Diana and Matthew was clearly too much for her. Sarah could have sworn that she saw a dragon. Fernando was right. She needed to cut back on the whiskey.
“I don’t believe you.” Diana’s voice was high and sharp with panic. She searched Ysabeau’s grand salon as though she suspected to find Emily hiding behind one of the ornate settees.
“Emily’s not here, Diana.” Matthew’s hushed voice was infused with regret and tenderness as he stepped before her. “She’s gone.”
“No.” Diana tried to push past him and continue her search, but Mat- thew drew her into his arms.
“I’m so sorry, Sarah,” Matthew said, holding Diana tight to his body. “Don’t say you’re sorry!” Diana cried, struggling to free herself from the vampire’s unbreakable hold. She pounded on Matthew’s shoulder with her fist. “Em isn’t dead! This is a nightmare. Wake me up, Matthew—please! I want to wake up and find we’re still in 1591.”
“This isn’t a nightmare,” Sarah said. The long weeks had convinced her that Em’s death was horribly real.
“Then I took a wrong turn—or tied a bad knot in the timewalking spell. This can’t be where we were supposed to end up!” Diana was shaking from head to toe with grief and shock. “Em promised she would never leave with- out saying good-bye.”
“Em didn’t have time to say good-bye—to anyone. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t love you.” Sarah reminded herself of this a hundred times a day.
“Diana should sit,” Marcus said, pulling a chair closer to Sarah. In many ways Matthew’s son looked like the same twenty-something surfer who had walked into the Bishop house last October. His leather cord, with its strange assortment of objects gathered over the centuries, was still tangled in the blond hair at the nape of his neck. The Converse sneakers he loved remained on his feet. The guarded, sad look in his eyes was new, however.
Sarah was grateful for the presence of Marcus and Ysabeau, but the person she really wanted at her side at this moment was Fernando. He’d been her rock during this ordeal.
“Thank you, Marcus,” Matthew said, settling Diana in the seat. Phoebe tried to press a glass of water into Diana’s hand. When Diana just stared at it blankly, Matthew took it and placed it on a nearby table.
All eyes alighted on Sarah.
Sarah was no good at this kind of thing. Diana was the historian in the family. She would know where to start and how to string the confusing events into a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and perhaps even a plausible explanation of why Emily had died.
“There’s no easy way to tell you this,” Diana’s aunt began.
“You don’t have to tell us anything,” Matthew said, his eyes filled with compassion and sympathy. “The explanations can wait.”
“No. You both need to know.” Sarah reached for the glass of whiskey that usually sat at her side, but there was nothing there. She looked to Marcus in mute appeal.
“Emily died up at the old temple,” Marcus said, taking up the role of storyteller.
“The temple dedicated to the goddess?” Diana whispered, her brow creasing with the effort to concentrate.
“Yes,” Sarah croaked, coughing to dislodge the lump in her throat. “Emily was spending more and more time up there.”
“Was she alone?” Matthew’s expression was no longer warm and understanding, and his tone was frosty.
Silence descended again, this one heavy and awkward.
“Emily wouldn’t let anyone go with her,” Sarah said, steeling herself to be honest. Diana was a witch, too, and would know if she strayed from the truth. “Marcus tried to convince her to take someone with her, but Emily refused.”
“Why did she want to be alone?” Diana said, picking up on Sarah’s own uneasiness. “What was going on, Sarah?”
“Since January, Em had been turning to the higher magics for guidance.” Sarah looked away from Diana’s shocked face. “She was having terrible premonitions of death and disaster and thought they might help her figure out why.”
“But Em always said higher magics were too dark for witches to handle safely,” Diana said, her voice rising again. “She said any witch who thought she was immune to their dangers would find out the hard way just how powerful they were.”
“She spoke from experience,” Sarah said. “They can be addictive. Emily didn’t want you to know she’d felt their lure, honey. She hadn’t touched a scrying stone or tried to summon a spirit for decades.”
“Summon spirits?” Matthew’s eyes narrowed into slits. With his dark beard, he looked truly terrifying.
“I think she was trying to reach Rebecca. If I’d realized how far she’d gone in her attempts, I would have tried harder to stop her.” Sarah’s eyes brimmed with tears. “Peter Knox must have sensed the power Emily was working with, and the higher magics have always fascinated him. Once he found her—”
“Knox?” Matthew spoke softly, but the hairs on the back of Sarah’s neck rose in warning.
“When we found Em, Knox and Gerbert were there, too,” Marcus ex- plained, looking miserable at the admission. “She’d suffered a heart attack. Emily must have been under enormous stress trying to resist whatever Knox was doing. She was barely conscious. I tried to revive her. So did Sarah. But there was nothing either of us could do.”
“Why were Gerbert and Knox here? And what in the world did Knox hope to gain from killing Em?” Diana cried.
“I don’t think Knox was trying to kill her, honey,” Sarah replied. “Knox was reading Emily’s thoughts, or trying his best to. Her last words were, ‘I know the secret of Ashmole 782, and you will never possess it.’”
“Ashmole 782?” Diana looked stunned. “Are you sure?”
“Positive.” Sarah wished her niece had never found that damned manuscript in the Bodleian Library. It was the cause of most of their present problems.
“Knox insisted that the de Clermonts had missing pages from Diana’s manuscript and knew its secrets,” Ysabeau chimed in. “Verin and I told Knox he was mistaken, but the only thing that distracted him from the subject was the baby. Margaret.”
“Nathaniel and Sophie followed us to the temple. Margaret was with them,” Marcus explained in answer to Matthew’s astonished stare. “Before Emily fell unconscious, Knox saw Margaret and demanded to know how two daemons had given birth to a baby witch. Knox invoked the covenant. He threatened to take Margaret to the Congregation pending investigation into what he called ‘serious breaches’ of law. While we were trying to revive Emily and get the baby to safety, Gerbert and Knox slipped away.”
Until recently Sarah had always seen the Congregation and the covenant as necessary evils. It was not easy for the three otherworldly species—daemons, vampires, and witches—to live among humans. All had been targets of human fear and violence at some point in history, and creatures had long ago agreed to a covenant to minimize the risk of their world’s coming to human attention. It limited fraternization between species as well as any participation in human religion or politics. The nine-member Congregation enforced the covenant and made sure that creatures abided by its terms. Now that Diana and Matthew were home, the Congregation could go to hell and take their covenant with them as far as Sarah was concerned.
Diana’s head swung around, and a look of disbelief passed over her face. “Gallowglass?” she breathed as the salon filled with the scent of the sea. “Welcome home, Auntie.” Gallowglass stepped forward, his golden beard gleaming where the sunlight struck it. Diana stared at him in astonishment before a sob broke free.
“There, there.” Gallowglass lifted her into a bear hug. “It’s been some time since the sight of me brought a woman to tears. Besides, it really should be me weeping at our reunion. As far as you’re concerned, it’s been only a few days since we spoke. By my reckoning it’s been centuries.”
Something numinous flickered around the edges of Diana’s body, like a candle slowly catching light. Sarah blinked. She really was going to have to lay off the booze.
Matthew and his nephew exchanged glances. Matthew’s expression grew even more concerned as Diana’s tears increased and the glow surrounding her intensified.
“Let Matthew take you upstairs.” Gallowglass reached into a pocket and pulled out a crumpled yellow bandanna. He offered this to Diana, carefully shielding her from view.
“Is she all right?” Sarah asked.
“Just a wee bit tired,” Gallowglass said as he and Matthew hustled Diana off toward Matthew’s remote tower rooms.
Once Diana and Matthew were gone, Sarah’s fragile composure cracked, and she began to weep. Reliving the events of Em’s death was a daily occur- rence, but having to do so with Diana was even more painful. Fernando appeared, his expression concerned.
“It’s all right, Sarah. Let it out,” Fernando murmured, drawing her close. “Where were you when I needed you?” Sarah demanded as her weeping turned to sobs.
“I’m here now,” Fernando said, rocking her gently. “And Diana and Matthew are safely home.”
“I can’t stop shaking.” Diana’s teeth were chattering, and her limbs were jerking as if pulled by invisible strings. Gallowglass pressed his lips together, standing back while Matthew wrapped a blanket tight around his wife.
“That’s the shock, mon coeur,” Matthew murmured, pressing a kiss to her cheek. It wasn’t just the death of Emily but the memories of the earlier, traumatic loss of her parents that were causing her distress. He rubbed her arms, the blanket moving against her flesh. “Can you get some wine, Gallowglass?”
“I shouldn’t. The babies . . .” Diana began. Her expression turned wild and her tears returned. “They’ll never know Em. Our children will grow up not knowing Em.”
“Here.” Gallowglass thrust a silver flask in Matthew’s direction. His uncle looked at him gratefully.
“Even better,” Matthew said, pulling the stopper free. “Just a sip, Diana. It won’t hurt the twins, and it will help calm you. I’ll have Marthe bring up some black tea with plenty of sugar.”
“I’m going to kill Peter Knox,” Diana said fiercely after she’d taken a sip of whiskey. The light around her grew brighter.
“Not today you’re not,” Matthew said firmly, handing the flask back to Gallowglass.
“Has Auntie’s glaem been this bright since you returned?” Gallowglass hadn’t seen Diana Bishop since 1591, but he didn’t recall it being this notice- able.
“Yes. She’s been wearing a disguising spell. The shock must have knocked it out of place,” Matthew said, lowering her onto the sofa. “Diana wanted Emily and Sarah to enjoy the fact that they were going to be grandmothers before they started asking questions about her increased power.”
Gallowglass bit back an oath.
“Better?” Matthew asked, drawing Diana’s fingers to his lips.
Diana nodded. Her teeth were still chattering, Gallowglass noted. It made him ache to think about the effort it must be taking for her to control herself.
“I am so sorry about Emily,” Matthew said, cupping her face between his hands.
“Is it our fault? Did we stay in the past too long, like Dad said?” Diana spoke so softly it was hard for even Gallowglass to hear.
“Of course not,” Gallowglass replied, his voice brusque. “Peter Knox did this. Nobody else is to blame.”
“Let’s not worry about who’s to blame,” Matthew said, but his eyes were angry.
Gallowglass gave him a nod of understanding. Matthew would have plenty to say about Knox and Gerbert—later. Right now he was concerned with his wife.
“Emily would want you to focus on taking care of yourself and Sarah. That’s enough for now.” Matthew brushed back the coppery strands that were stuck to Diana’s cheeks by the salt from her tears.
“I should go back downstairs,” Diana said, drawing Gallowglass’s bright yellow bandanna to her eyes. “Sarah needs me.”
“Let’s stay up here a bit longer. Wait for Marthe to bring the tea,” Mat- thew said, sitting down next to her. Diana slumped against him, her breath hiccupping in and out as she tried to hold back the tears.
“I’ll leave you two,” Gallowglass said gruffly. Matthew nodded in silent thanks.
“Thank you, Gallowglass,” Diana said, holding out the bandanna. “Keep it,” he said, turning for the stairs.
“We’re alone. You don’t have to be strong now,” Matthew murmured to Diana as Gallowglass descended the twisting staircase.
Gallowglass left Matthew and Diana twined together in an unbreakable knot, their faces twisted with pain and sorrow, each giving the other the comfort they could not find for themselves.
I should never have summoned you here. I should have found another way to get my answers. Emily turned to face her closest friend. You should be with Stephen.
I’d rather be here with my daughter than anywhere else, Rebecca Bishop said. Stephen understands. She turned back to the sight of Diana and Matthew, still locked in their sorrowful embrace.
Do not fear. Matthew will take care of her, Philippe said. He was still trying to figure out Rebecca Bishop—she was an unusually challenging creature, and as skilled at keeping secrets as any vampire.
They’ll take care of each other, Rebecca said, her hand over her heart, just as I knew they would.
US addresses only, please. Thanks to Penguin for making this giveaway possible.
The post Spotlight and Giveaway: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.Add a Comment
An Elite Ops Novel
By: Kay Thomas
Releasing July 29th, 2014
AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men working under the radar of most governments. If you have a problem no one else can handle, they can help.
A former SEAL and Black Ops specialist who left the CIA, Nick Donovan gave up a life on the edge to work in the private sector. But that didn’t stop his enemies from coming after him—or his family. In a case of mistaken identity, a drug cartel kidnaps his sister-in-law’s best friend … a woman from Nick’s past.
One minute Jennifer Grayson is housesitting and the next she’s abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Now, as they race for their lives, passion for each other reignites and old secrets resurface. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?
Kay Thomas didn’t grow up burning to be a writer. She wasn’t even much of a reader until fourth grade. That’s when her sister readThe Black Stallion aloud to her. For hours Kay was enthralled—shipwrecked and riding an untamed horse across desert sand. Then tragedy struck. Her sister lost her voice. But Kay couldn’t wait to hear what happened in the story—so she picked up that book, finished reading it herself, and went in search of more adventures at the local library.
Today Kay lives in Dallas with her husband, two children, and a shockingly spoiled Boston terrier. Her award-winning novels have been published internationally.
$75.00 Amazon Gift Card
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Please give a warm welcome to special guest Deborah Blake. Deborah’s book, Wickedly Dangerous, hits stores next week. I’ll have a review soon over at Romance at Random, but until then, find out a few items that you will never find in protagonist Baba’s magical Airstream. I asked where I could get one of my own, too, so I’d be styling at the horse shows. Unfortunately, I think I’m out of luck.
5 things you’d never find in Baba’s Airstream:
1. A bag of Cheetos
2. Cleaning supplies (since she can do it all with a snap of a finger)
3. A copy of TV Guide
4. A pair of Birkenstocks (she’s strictly boots or bare feet…but you might find them in her sister Baba Beka’s magical school bus)
5. A cat (Chudo-Yudo would never allow it, alas)
And sadly, Barbara’s Airstream only exists inside my head, and I don’t think you’d want to live there. It is a very confused and messy place!
Plopping his hat on over his dark blonde hair, Liam strode up to the door of the Airstream—or at least, where he could have sworn the door was a couple of minutes ago. Now there was just a blank wall. He pushed the hair out of his eyes again and walked around to the other side. Shiny silver metal, but no door. So he walked back around to where he started, and there was the entrance, right where it belonged.
“I need to get more sleep,” he muttered to himself. He would almost have said the Airstream was laughing at him, but that was impossible. “More sleep and more coffee.”
He knocked. Waited a minute, and knocked again, louder. Checked his watch. It was six AM; hard to believe that whoever the trailer belonged to was already out and about, but it was always possible. An avid fisherman, maybe, eager to get the first trout of the day. Cautiously, Liam put one hand on the door handle and almost jumped out of his boots when it emitted a loud, ferocious blast of noise.
He snatched his hand away, then laughed at himself as he saw a large, blunt snout pressed against the nearest window. For a second there, he’d almost thought the trailer itself was barking. Man, did he need more coffee.
At the sound of an engine, Liam turned and walked back toward his car. A motorcycle came into view; its rider masked by head-to-toe black leather, a black helmet, and mirrored sunglasses that matched the ones Liam himself wore. The bike itself was a beautiful royal blue classic BMW that made Liam want to drool. And get a better paying job. The melodic throb of its motor cut through the morning silence until it purred to a stop about a foot away from him. The rider swung a leg over the top of the cycle and dismounted gracefully.
“Nice bike,” Liam said in a conversational tone. “Is that a sixty-eight?”
“Sixty-nine,” the rider replied. Gloved hands reached up and removed the helmet, and a cloud of long black hair came pouring out, tumbling waves of ebony silk. The faint aroma of orange blossom drifted across the meadow, although none grew there.
A tenor voice, sounding slightly amused, said, “Is there a problem, officer?”
Liam started, aware that he’d been staring rudely. He told himself it was just the surprise of her gender, not the startling Amazonian beauty of the woman herself, all angles and curves and leather.
“Sheriff,” he corrected out of habit. “Sheriff Liam McClellan.” He held out one hand, then dropped it back to his side when the woman ignored it. “And you are?”
“Not looking for trouble,” she said, a slight accent of unidentifiable origin coloring her words. Her eyes were still hidden behind the dark glasses, so he couldn’t quite make out if she was joking or not. “My name is Barbara Yager. People call me Baba.” One corner of her mouth edged up so briefly, he almost missed it.
“Welcome to Clearwater County,” Liam said. “Would you like to tell me what you’re doing parked out here?” He waved one hand at the Airstream. “I assume this belongs to you?”
She nodded, expressionless. “It does. Or I belong to it. Hard to tell which, sometimes.”
Liam smiled gamely, wondering if his caffeine deficit was making her sound odder than she really was. “Sure. I feel that way about my mortgage sometimes. So, you were going to tell me what you’re doing here.”
“Was I? Somehow I doubt it.” Again, that tiny smile, barely more than a twitch of the lips. “I’m a botanist with a specialty in herbalism; I’m on sabbatical from UC Davis. You have some unusual botanical varieties growing in this area, so I’m here to collect samples for my research.”
Liam’s cop instincts told him that her answer sounded too pat, almost rehearsed. Something about her story was a lie, he was sure of it. But why bother to lie about something he could so easily check?
“Do you have some kind of ID?” he asked. “Your vehicle didn’t turn up in the database and my dispatcher couldn’t find any record of a permit for you to be here. This is county property, you know.” He put on his best “stern cop” expression. The woman with the cloud hair didn’t seem at all fazed.
Deborah Blake is the author of seven books on modern Witchcraft from Llewellyn Worldwide, including The Witch’s Broom (2014). An eighth book, The Everyday Witch, will be out in 2015. Deborah’s first fiction series, The Baba Yaga books, are coming out from Berkley in 2014; they include a prequel novella, Wickedly Magical, as well as Wickedly Dangerous and Wickedly Wonderful. She is represented by agent Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency.
When not writing, Deborah manages The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and makes gemstone jewelry. She also is a professional tarot reader and energy healer. Deborah lives in a 120 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.
Deborah Blake links:
About the book:
Author: Deborah Blake
Release date: September 2, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance (modern fairy tale)
Available as: Mass market paperback/eBook
Other books in the series: Wickedly Magical (Prequel novella 8/5/14) Wickedly Wonderful (Book 2, 12/2/14)
Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…
Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.
But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.
Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…
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... I had a life.
|Ignore my fat hand. Haha|
|Ronan Lynch - The Raven Boys|
|That's a wreath, folks|
All the training in Heaven couldn’t prepare me for the war on earth, nor for the love, loss, or loneliness humans feel. There are things worse than death, and every last one of them is hunting people like us. Even though we all feel human at times, we must remember, we are not them, we are their watchers.
In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.
The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Traditional Apocrypha, the Pearl of Great Price and the Kabbalah. The Watchers are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad.
Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s, The Watcher’s Series, is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions.
Paperback: 205 pages
Publisher: Brigham Distributing (July 14, 2014)
We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Check in every Friday this October as we tell Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones.
It is, I confess, with considerable diffidence that I approach the strange narrative which I am about to relate. The events which I purpose detailing are of so extraordinary a character that I am quite prepared to meet with an unusual amount of incredulity and scorn. I accept all such beforehand. I have, I trust, the literary courage to face unbelief. I have, after mature consideration, resolved to narrate, in as simple and straightforward a manner as I can compass, some facts that passed under my observation, in the month of July last, and which, in the annals of the mysteries of physical science, are wholly unparalleled.
I live at No. — Twenty-sixth Street, in New York. The house is in some respects a curious one. It has enjoyed for the last two years the reputation of being haunted. It is a large and stately residence, surrounded by what was once a garden, but which is now only a green enclosure used for bleaching clothes. The dry basin of what has been a fountain, and a few fruit-trees ragged and unpruned, indicate that this spot in past days was a pleasant, shady retreat, filled with fruits and flowers and the sweet murmur of waters.
The house is very spacious. A hall of noble size leads to a large spiral staircase winding through its centre, while the various apartments are of imposing dimensions. It was built some fifteen or twenty years since by Mr A——, the well-known New York merchant, who five years ago threw the commercial world into convulsions by a stupendous bank fraud. Mr A——, as everyone knows, escaped to Europe, and died not long after, of a broken heart. Almost immediately after the news of his decease reached this country and was verified, the report spread in Twenty-sixth Street that No. — was haunted. Legal measures had dispossessed the widow of its former owner, and it was inhabited merely by a care-taker and his wife, placed there by the house-agent into whose hands it had passed for purposes of renting or sale. These people declared that they were troubled with unnatural noises. Doors were opened without any visible agency. The remnants of furniture scattered through the various rooms were, during the night, piled one upon the other by unknown hands. Invisible feet passed up and down the stairs in broad daylight, accompanied by the rustle of unseen silk dresses, and the gliding of viewless hands along the massive balusters. The care-taker and his wife declared they would live there no longer. The house-agent laughed, dismissed them, and put others in their place. The noises and supernatural manifestations continued. The neighborhood caught up the story, and the house remained untenanted for three years. Several persons negotiated for it; but, somehow, always before the bargain was closed they heard the unpleasant rumors and declined to treat any further.
It was in this state of things that my landlady, who at that time kept a boarding-house in Bleecker Street, and who wished to move further up town, conceived the bold idea of renting No. — Twenty-sixth Street. Happening to have in her house rather a plucky and philosophical set of boarders, she laid her scheme before us, stating candidly everything she had heard respecting the ghostly qualities of the establishment to which she wished to remove us. With the exception of two timid persons,—a sea-captain and a returned Californian, who immediately gave notice that they would leave,—all of Mrs Moffat’s guests declared that they would accompany her in her chivalric incursion into the abode of spirits.
Our removal was effected in the month of May, and we were charmed with our new residence. The portion of Twenty-sixth Street where our house is situated, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, is one of the pleasantest localities in New York. The gardens back of the houses, running down nearly to the Hudson, form, in the summer time, a perfect avenue of verdure. The air is pure and invigorating, sweeping, as it does, straight across the river from the Weehawken heights, and even the ragged garden which surrounded the house, although displaying on washing days rather too much clothes-line, still gave us a piece of greensward to look at, and a cool retreat in the summer evenings, where we smoked our cigars in the dusk, and watched the fire-flies flashing their dark-lanterns in the long grass.
Of course we had no sooner established ourselves at No. — than we began to expect the ghosts. We absolutely awaited their advent with eagerness. Our dinner conversation was supernatural. One of the boarders, who had purchased Mrs Crowe’s ‘Night Side of Nature’ for his own private delectation, was regarded as a public enemy by the entire household for not having bought twenty copies. The man led a life of supreme wretchedness while he was reading this volume.
A system of espionage was established, of which he was the victim. If he incautiously laid the book down for an instant and left the room, it was immediately seized and read aloud in secret places to a select few. I found myself a person of immense importance, it having leaked out that I was tolerably well versed in the history of supernaturalism, and had once written a story the foundation of which was a ghost. If a table or a wainscot panel happened to warp when we were assembled in the large drawing-room, there was an instant silence, and everyone was prepared for an immediate clanking of chains and a spectral form.
After a month of psychological excitement, it was with the utmost dissatisfaction that we were forced to acknowledge that nothing in the remotest degree approaching the supernatural had manifested itself. Once the black butler asseverated that his candle had been blown out by some invisible agency while he was undressing himself for the night; but as I had more than once discovered this colored gentleman in a condition when one candle must have appeared to him like two, I thought it possible that, by going a step further in his potations, he might have reversed this phenomenon, and seen no candle at all where he ought to have beheld one.
Things were in this state when an incident took place so awful and inexplicable in its character that my reason fairly reels at the bare memory of the occurrence.
Check back next Friday, 10 October, as the events of the narrator’s night unfolds.
We’re getting ready for Halloween this month by reading the classic horror stories that set the stage for the creepy movies and books we love today. Check in every Friday this October as we tell Fitz-James O’Brien’s tale of an unusual entity in What Was It?, a story from the spine-tingling collection of works in Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson, edited by Darryl Jones. Last we left off the narrator had moved into a reported haunted boarding house. After a month of waiting for something eerie to happen, the boarders were beginning to believe there was nothing supernatural at all in the residence…
Things were in this state when an incident took place so awful and inexplicable in its character that my reason fairly reels at the bare memory of the occurrence. It was the tenth of July. After dinner was over I repaired, with my friend Dr Hammond, to the garden to smoke my evening pipe. Independent of certain mental sympathies which existed between the Doctor and myself, we were linked together by a vice. We both smoked opium. We knew each other’s secret, and respected it. We enjoyed together that wonderful expansion of thought, that marvellous intensifying of the perceptive faculties, that boundless feeling of existence when we seem to have points of contact with the whole universe,—in short, that unimaginable spiritual bliss, which I would not surrender for a throne, and which I hope you, reader, will never—never taste.
Those hours of opium happiness which the Doctor and I spent together in secret were regulated with a scientific accuracy. We did not blindly smoke the drug of paradise, and leave our dreams to chance. While smoking, we carefully steered our conversation through the brightest and calmest channels of thought. We talked of the East, and endeavored to recall the magical panorama of its glowing scenery. We criticised the most sensuous poets,—those who painted life ruddy with health, brimming with passion, happy in the possession of youth and strength and beauty. If we talked of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest,’ we lingered over Ariel, and avoided Caliban. Like the Guebers, we turned our faces to the east, and saw only the sunny side of the world.
This skilful coloring of our train of thought produced in our subsequent visions a corresponding tone. The splendors of Arabian fairy-land dyed our dreams. We paced that narrow strip of grass with the tread and port of kings. The song of the rana arborea, while he clung to the bark of the ragged plum-tree, sounded like the strains of divine musicians. Houses, walls, and streets melted like rain-clouds, and vistas of unimaginable glory stretched away before us. It was a rapturous companionship. We enjoyed the vast delight more perfectly because, even in our most ecstatic moments, we were conscious of each other’s presence. Our pleasures, while individual, were still twin, vibrating and moving in musical accord.
On the evening in question, the tenth of July, the Doctor and myself drifted into an unusually metaphysical mood. We lit our large meerschaums, filled with fine Turkish tobacco, in the core of which burned a little black nut of opium, that, like the nut in the fairy tale, held within its narrow limits wonders beyond the reach of kings; we paced to and fro, conversing. A strange perversity dominated the currents of our thought. They would not flow through the sun-lit channels into which we strove to divert them. For some unaccountable reason, they constantly diverged into dark and lonesome beds, where a continual gloom brooded. It was in vain that, after our old fashion, we flung ourselves on the shores of the East, and talked of its gay bazaars, of the splendors of the time of Haroun, of harems and golden palaces. Black afreets continually arose from the depths of our talk, and expanded, like the one the fisherman released from the copper vessel, until they blotted everything bright from our vision. Insensibly, we yielded to the occult force that swayed us, and indulged in gloomy speculation. We had talked some time upon the proneness of the human mind to mysticism, and the almost universal love of the terrible, when Hammond suddenly said to me,
‘What do you consider to be the greatest element of terror?’
The question puzzled me. That many things were terrible, I knew. Stumbling over a corpse in the dark; beholding, as I once did, a woman floating down a deep and rapid river, with wildly lifted arms, and awful, upturned face, uttering, as she drifted, shrieks that rent one’s heart, while we, the spectators, stood frozen at a window which overhung the river at a height of sixty feet, unable to make the slightest effort to save her, but dumbly watching her last supreme agony and her disappearance. A shattered wreck, with no life visible, encountered floating listlessly on the ocean, is a terrible object, for it suggests a huge terror, the proportions of which are veiled. But it now struck me, for the first time, that there must be one great and ruling embodiment of fear,—a King of Terrors, to which all others must succumb. What might it be? To what train of circumstances would it owe its existence?
‘I confess, Hammond,’ I replied to my friend, ‘I never considered the subject before. That there must be one Something more terrible than any other thing, I feel. I cannot attempt, however, even the most vague definition.’
‘I am somewhat like you, Harry,’ he answered. ‘I feel my capacity to experience a terror greater than anything yet conceived by the human mind;—something combining in fearful and unnatural amalgamation hitherto supposed incompatible elements. The calling of the voices in Brockden Brown’s novel of “Wieland” is awful; so is the picture of the Dweller of the Threshold, in Bulwer’s “Zanoni”; but,’ he added, shaking his head gloomily, ‘there is something more horrible still than these.’
‘Look here, Hammond,’ I rejoined, ‘let us drop this kind of talk, for heaven’s sake! We shall suffer for it, depend on it.’
‘I don’t know what’s the matter with me to-night,’ he replied, ‘but my brain is running upon all sorts of weird and awful thoughts. I feel as if I could write a story like Hoffman, to-night, if I were only master of a literary style.’
‘Well, if we are going to be Hoffmanesque* in our talk, I’m off to bed. Opium and nightmares should never be brought together. How sultry it is! Good-night, Hammond.’
‘Good-night, Harry. Pleasant dreams to you.’
‘To you, gloomy wretch, afreets, ghouls, and enchanters.’
Check back next Friday, 17 October to find out what happens next.