Book Blitz: Duty Bound by Christina Bauer (Excerpt & Giveaway)
Today I'm here to post as part of the book blitz for Duty Bound by Christina Bauer. Duty Bound is a prequel novella in the Angelbound Origins series, a YA Paranormal Romance series. The novella was published yesterday (the 27th Feb), so happy book birthday to Christina and Duty Bound, woo!
To celebrate the release I'll be posting an excerpt as well as a pretty awesome international giveaway that Christina has organised.
Carry on reading!
by Christina Bauer
(Angelbound Origins 0.5 - prequel novella)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: February 27th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Synopsis:An Angelbound Prequel Novella by Christina Bauer
As the High Prince of the demon-fighting thrax, Lincoln knows he must marry for political gain. Not that he minds. For all of his eighteen years, Lincoln’s been bound to his duty. Fighting demons is his life, and he’s never given romance a second thought. Instead, the High Prince lives for the days when he leaves his hidden realm to fight demons on Earth.
Then, everything changes.
Lincoln and his nobles become forced to visit Purgatory, the home of quasi-demons (who are mostly human with a bit of demonic DNA). Here Lincoln spies Myla Lewis, a lady warrior who enflames his heart, ignites his interest, and inspires his respect. Trouble is, Myla’s also a quasi. By thrax law, Lincoln must kill anything demonic—not date them. For the first time in his life, Lincoln wonders if he’ll follow his duty…or heed the demands of his heart.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Christina_Bauer_Duty_Bound?id=yoAyDwAAQBAJ
Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.
Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
Stalk Christina on Social Media – She Loves It!
Excerpt: - Chapter 1I am Lincoln Vidar Osric Aquilus, High Prince of the Thrax. My people are renowned as the greatest demon hunters across Heaven, Hell, Earth, Purgatory, and the Dark Lands. At eighteen years old, I’ve killed precisely one thousand four hundred and thirty-seven demons in hand-to-hand combat, more than any other thrax in history. All of which leads to a single inescapable conclusion.
I can make it through this breakfast with my mother.
At least, I think I can.
“You haven’t touched your eggs, my son.” Mother spears a strawberry off her plate. After many years of maternal encounters, I’ve learned to keep my mouth closed in situations like this one. Mother will bring up her true concerns when she’s good and ready.
In reply, I merely maintain her stare. We’ve an odd relationship, but a close one. We’re both natural schemers, so neither wants to pass up a test of intelligence and charm.
“Perhaps you dislike formal breakfasts,” says Mother as she gestures to my tunic.
“I’m fine with wearing royal garb to meals. Rest assured, all my Batman costumes are safely packed away.” As a child, I fought hard to dress as a human superhero. Unlike demon killing, that was one battle I ultimately lost.
“So you say.” A small smile rounds Mother’s mouth. “Those tunics hide quite a lot.”
“True. I’ve a Bohemian Rhapsody T-shirt on under this thing.”
“I have no idea what that is, but I’m pleased to see you turned out so well.”
This morning, I’m dressed in a velvet tunic, leather pants, and tall boots. Meanwhile, Mother looks regal and lethal in her black velvet gown. She has porcelain skin, delicate features, and an all-knowing glare that reduces hardened warriors to mush.
Needless to say, I’m pleased that her glare has softened. I must remember to work Batman into our conversations more often.
For a few minutes, Mother and I continue our breakfast in silence. It would be pleasant, except for the setting. Our new feasting hall is located in Purgatory.
This place combines the worst of a rundown human suburb with the best of a rotting Dumpster. The sky is constantly cloudy with two types of weather: rainy and about to rain. It’s part of the magic of this realm that the weather is always dreary. Plus, the sky never reveals the sun or moon, and even if it did, those celestial bodies follow different patterns than they do in other realms.
Closing my eyes, I let my thoughts return to the glittering caverns of my homeland. As a rule, thrax live underground on Earth in the realm of Antrum. For some reason, the oracle angel, Verus, has demanded the royal family—and our noble entourage—move to Purgatory for a short period of time. This wasn’t a popular idea, but the oracle’s word is law, so we arrived here three months ago. Until Verus sets us loose, our days will be spent in tents and wooden halls like this one.
I scan the empty benches around me and sigh. It’s hard being separated from the bulk of my people. Quiet breakfasts like this only make things worse. Usually our feasting hall is packed with thrax sharing breakfast at communal tables. However, today Mother insisted on having a family-only morning meal, which in this case translates into me, Mother, and a half-dozen terrified workers. Father should get here any minute now. I can only hope he arrives before Mother’s temper returns.
As if in reply to my thoughts, Mother spears another wilted strawberry with a vengeance. Looks like her temper will resurface before Father does. Bugger.
“You never answered my question,” says Mother. “You haven’t touched your food.” She spears a grape with such force the entire table wobbles.
“Careful there,” I say. “You’ll bring down the roof down.”
“One perk of being queen. I can bring down roofs and no one says a thing.”
At those words, the half-dozen servants in the room visibly shiver.
There’s no question about the general topic of Mother’s angst, either. It’s always the same issue: the House of Acca. That tribe is the largest and most troublesome of all thrax.
At this point, problems with Acca could fall into one of two categories.
One, Mother might be worried about my impending marriage contract with Acca’s most eligible noblewoman, Lady Adair. If Mother thinks there are problems on that front, she would be sorely mistaken. It’s a business arrangement, nothing more. I’d regret that, but I’m a prince. I always knew I’d never marry for love.
Two—and far more worrisome—would be if Mother discovered my ongoing scheme against Aldred, the dreaded Earl of Acca himself. I’ve many issues with the Earl, but my largest is how Aldred keeps leading his warriors into ill-planned demon attacks on the Earth’s surface. Thanks to the Earl of Acca, hundreds of good thrax meet bad ends every week. I meet with the families of the fallen, trying to provide comfort as their worlds fall apart. So many tears and ruined lives…and all so the Earl can prove his so-called prowess in battle.
Even worse, my parents have forbidden me from doing anything to stop Aldred’s bloodshed. Per some ancient treaty, if I interfere with Aldred’s rights to lead his troops, then the Earl has the unmitigated right to execute me on the spot.
And as every royal knows, execution threats and breakfast do not mix well.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Christina_Bauer_Duty_Bound?id=yoAyDwAAQBAJ
Book 1 - Angelbound - is currently FREE:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Christina_Bauer_Angelbound?id=zDLTDAAAQBAJ&hl=en
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
Book Blitz: The History of Hilary Hambrushina by Marnie Lamb
This week I've got another book blitz to share with you and this time it's for The History of Hilary Hambrushina by Marnie Lamb. The History of Hilary Hambrushina is a YA Contemporary novel that was released in May last year.
As part of the blitz, I'll be sharing an excerpt and guest post as well as an international giveaway that I'll share at the end.
Carry on reading!
The History of Hilary Hambrushina
by Marnie Lamb
Publication date: May 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Synopsis:Hilary has one goal for her first year in junior high: to become popular. But her plans are turned upside down when her best friend leaves for the summer and a quirky girl named Kallie moves in next door. Kallie paints constellations on her ceiling, sleeps in a hammock, and enacts fantastical plays in front of cute boys on the beach. Yet despite Kallie’s lack of interest in being -cool, – Hilary and Kallie find themselves becoming friends. That summer friendship, however, is put to the test when school begins, reigniting Hilary’s obsession with climbing the social ladder. As Hilary discovers the dark side to popularity, she must decide who she wants to be before she loses everything.
A Journey Prize nominee, Marnie Lamb earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in various Canadian literary journals. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, is forthcoming from Iguana Books. When she is not writing fiction or running her freelance editing business, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out colourful fashions at the One of a Kind Show.
Kallie’s room was the first on the left. Swinging open the door, she spread her arms out and said, “Ta-da!”
Although I was expecting something unusual, I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me. The walls and ceiling were black, and the ceiling had a pattern of white dots and lines that reminded me of the night sky. A huge hammock stretched like a crescent moon between two walls. Some sort of rope-and-wheel apparatus that looked like something we’d built in science class last year was attached to the wall and ceiling above the ends of the hammock. In front of the window was a telescope pointed outside. At least a hundred stuffed animals sat against the walls, and books and clothes lay scattered on the floor.
“What do you think?” asked Kallie proudly.
I didn’t know what to say. It was the strangest room I’d ever been in, but also the most interesting. I thought of my own room, with the shiny new Damian Sámos poster (the same one as Lynn’s) on one wall and the old wallpaper my dad still hadn’t taken down on the other. The wallpaper had faceless Victorian ladies holding flowered parasols, and I loved it — when I was six. Then there was the squeaky hinge on my closet door (another thing my dad hadn’t fixed). Even my new lavender chenille bedding, which I’d begged my mom to buy, looked so boring compared to Kallie’s room.
Finally I mumbled, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Really? Fantastic! I wanted to make it unique.”
“Is that the night sky?” I asked, looking at the ceiling.
“Yeah. Those are the constellations. Razi and I finished painting them last night.”
I stared at her. “You painted them? You mean it’s not wallpaper?”
“No, but if you thought it was, it must mean we did a good job.”
“You did an amazing job!” I exclaimed. I looked around the room in awe. How could Kallie have painted such a complicated pattern? I couldn’t imagine painting a wall so well, let alone a ceiling.
Kallie was beaming. “Thanks. We did it mostly at night because we could see the sky then. We had a big map to help us during the day, but you can’t really get the feel of the stars without looking at them, you know?”
Actually I didn’t. I’d never thought about that before.
“But the real reason I asked you to come over,” said Kallie, grinning, “was because I was wondering if you wanted to help me paint stuff on the walls.”
For the first time, I noticed that the walls had no patterns on them. “You want me to help paint your room?” I was surprised and kind of honoured. After all, she barely knew me. “O.K.”
“Great! Stay there!” She dashed out. I looked around. That’s when I realized something was missing. When Kallie came back, pushing a wooden cart with jars of paint in dozens of colours, I asked, “Uh … Kallie, where’s the bed?”
“The bed you sleep on?”
“Who says I sleep on a bed?” She moved some stuffed animals to the hammock.
“Where do you sleep then?”
“In the hammock, of course.”
I was stunned. “You sleep in a hammock? Why?”
“Well … isn’t it uncomfortable?” I said, starting to feel impatient. Why did she always have to answer my questions with another question?
Guest Post (Interview with Marnie Lamb)
This interview was conducted by Tanya Kuzmanovic. Check out Tanya’s blog, Pencils and Popcans.
1. The inception, writing, and publication of The History of Hilary Hambrushina has been about a twenty-year process for you. What sorts of updates did you have to make to the story in order to fit it into the context of the present day?
The most important update was the introduction of an online aspect to the bullying that one of the characters experiences. The ubiquity of the Internet and cell phones means that most bullying, especially by teenagers, now contains, or at least has the potential to contain, an online aspect. So not including such a component would have dated the story. Most of the other changes were small and involved updating references to technology, such as referring to a DVD player instead of a VCR. The early drafts also talked about two sisters, one a twelve-year-old and the other a seventeen-year-old, fighting over the use of the family landline phone. While I think it’s believable that a twelve-year-old might not have her own cell phone, today most seventeen-year-olds in Canada have their own phones. So I changed the source of conflict to something different. Otherwise, I didn’t feel the need to modernize the story. The themes dealt with are enduring and will speak to today’s readers the same way they did to readers twenty years ago.
2. Themes of bullying, friendship, and self-awareness (to name a few) appear throughout The History of Hilary Hambrushina. How do you feel you have specifically strived to set your story apart from other YA novels that portray similar themes and issues?
I strived to broaden the examination of the major issues. For example, the depiction of bullying features not only incidents from the lives of younger characters but also glimpses into the experiences of older characters (mothers and grandmothers). The role of schools in tackling bullying is also addressed. As well, I tried to give Hilary, the narrator, a distinct voice and cultivate a strong writing style that includes humour and the use of original similes. Finally, the novel examines other important themes, such as mother-daughter relationships and the development of young writers and artists. Hence, the story is not just about what happens at school but offers a wider perspective on the lives of tweens and teens.
3. What major changes and/or omissions did you make to The History of Hilary Hambrushina when looking at its earliest drafts compared with the currently published YA novel?
The first draft was actually a forty-eight page “short” story. That story’s ending was simplistic and Pollyannaish. Without giving too much away, I can say that the current ending is hopeful yet realistic. The first draft of the novel contained a chapter that dealt with the resolution of one of the relationships in a way that undermined the growth of a major character. My MA thesis supervisor at the University of Windsor, the late Alistair MacLeod, advised me to delete this chapter, which I did. The early drafts of the novel also included a chapter in which Hilary and Kallie visit a historic house in Toronto. While interesting, the chapter didn’t advance the plot, so it was jettisoned, too. Finally, in one post-thesis draft, I introduced an anorexia plot. Based on the feedback of a publisher, I realized that this plot made the book too complex and unwieldy, so I deleted that storyline.
4. Based on one of your earliest drafts of The History of Hilary Hambrushina, it was important to you that the story unfold from a tween’s perspective. What steps did you take to ensure that this tween voice was believable and accurate?
The main step was to share the early drafts with readers and solicit their feedback. My first readers were the students in my MA creative writing seminar and a couple of professors in the department. One of the students in the seminar also had a teenage sister, who agreed to read the draft. Everyone who read the story felt that the voice was believable. Several years later, I had the manuscript evaluated by a publishing professional. Voice was one of the categories addressed, and the evaluator, too, thought that the voice sounded authentic. Aside from this feedback, I read several Canadian YA novels to get a sense of how other authors have handled a teenage voice. Based on that research, I felt that I had created a voice that was both believable and original.
5. What advice do you have for writers in terms of dealing with favourable and/or unfavourable reviews of their published work?
I think the only downside of too many favourable reviews is that they might swell your head to Brobdingnagian proportions. However, I once read a quotation by another writer who stated that bad reviews usually have a more profound impact on a writer’s psyche than do good reviews. So I think that the risk of an inflated ego is Lilliputian. Bad reviews, contrarily, have an acute and a chronic downside. Ideally, you should avoid reading negative reviews of your work. Realistically, most of us will probably be too overcome by morbid curiosity to bypass those early one- and two-star critiques. And that’s fine up to a point. Indulging your curiosity about bad reviews is a part, albeit a painful one, of the writing journey. But dwelling on the negative is a sure path to self-doubt and anxiety. So after your curiosity is sated, redirect your energies to the positive. Share your heartache with compassionate, supportive people who are good listeners, will let you rant, and won’t shell out that useless advice, “Don’t worry.” Keep copies of positive reviews and reread them when you’re feeling down. Most importantly, take breaks from your book. Detaching yourself from your art can be very difficult. But you are not your book. For your own emotional health, you need to separate the two.
GIVEAWAY - ENDS MARCH 8TH 2018
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
Spoiler-Free Review: Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin by C.G.Hickling
I've had so many reviews to do in the past weeks and I'm finally catching up now, so this one is a bit late. I received a copy of Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin by C.G.Hickling from Burst Publishing for review. A big thank you to Burst Publishing!
*I received a free copy of the book in trade for an honest review.*
I'm really excited to get into this review and tell you all about Toby Gentle because as you can probably guess, I really enjoyed it.
Carry on reading!
Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin by C.G. Hickling
Genre(s) - Middle Grade, Fantasy
Date Started - 28/1/2018
Date Finished - 30/1/2018
Synopsis: Toby Gentle is about to discover when the North Wind blows, it will change his life forever. An unexpected visitor arriving on Christmas Eve, a shocking revelation, and a summons to Silverbells – a mysterious military academy – is just the start. With a new danger threatening the world, Toby must uncover a dark plot, stop an assassin, and find out who he really is - all while trying to make the Mushing team!
Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin is the first book in a new children's fantasy series by debut author C.G. Hickling. Young and older readers will enjoy discovering his new world of magical snow globes, talking reindeer, blue Ye’ti, psychotic warrior penguins and Figgypud’s chocolates - all set in the wintery backdrop of the North.
"When you hold a book, you hold a universe in your fingertips." - Toby Gentle and the Winter Assassin
This is the first book of a new series, featuring our main character, Toby. Toby hasn't had the best start in life and is living on Bluebell farm with the Gentles. They're not kind people at all, but luckily for him, he's not alone and has his siblings to keep him company. The Gentles don't allow the kids to celebrate Christmas, yet Toby can't help but get excited at the time of year as he hopes maybe that year will be different. There's a surprise one night and Toby is introduced to a whole new world, better than anything he could've imagined. However, it still does have it's problems.
From the start I felt a connection to Toby. I couldn't help but love and care for him, maybe that's partly because of how little love and care he gets. I felt like I was following him on his journey, cheering him on.
The idea of the story was another thing that I loved. I know not everyone celebrates it, but I do love that time of year with all the festive feelings. A book all about Christmas, what else was there for me to want?! I do wish I'd read it in the run up to Christmas, like I'd originally planned because it definitely would've put me in the most festive mood.
When Toby gets introduced to this magical world, the writing was so detailed that I felt all the feelings he felt. The excitement, the hope, but also the sadness he felt at leaving his siblings and the whole situation being just a bit too overwhelming.
With the introduction of the new world, Toby is also introduced to a new family. This is where Donny, Dash and Declan were introduced. I loved these three brothers, especially Dash who I had a soft spot for. They welcomed Toby in and the bond between them continued to grow throughout the story, especially between Toby and Dash. The character development between these two was done amazingly well and by the end, I'd almost forgotten they hadn't known each other forever.
When Silverbells Academy is introduced, the magical level doubles. It's like Hogwarts but all Christmassy! What's more to love?! I loved reading about the lessons and the new things Toby discovered as well as the new friendships he developed. The characters we met along the way were brilliantly done and they all had something different to them. I enjoyed getting to know them all.
There were some huge moments in this book and I found myself on the edge of my seat, urging Toby and Dash on. The pair teamed up and the partnership was brilliant.
There was so much excitement and if it wasn't for my need of sleep, I would've easily stayed up all night to finish this.
One thing that I would've loved to see more of was world building. I felt that we knew all about the characters and the lessons, but we didn't get as clear details about the school and the world. You get little snippets of information here and there, but I wanted to hear more about the history, world and the school. I'm hoping more of this might be in the rest of the series.
Overall, I absolutely adored this book. It took me on a magical Christmas adventure and gave me the escapism I desired. I can't wait for the rest of the series to be released, especially after the cliffhanger this book ended on. I can't wait to see what other adventures Toby and his friends will go on next.
I'd definitely recommend this book to young children, but I feel it's one that a person of any age will get at least a bit of enjoyment out of.
Rate - 4.5/5
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28117725-toby-gentle-and-the-winter-assassin?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Toby-Gentle-and-the-Winter-Assassin-C-G-Hickling/9780993511813
Book Blitz: Fire and Bone by Rachel A. Marks (Excerpt & Giveaway)
Today I'm here posting as part of the book blitz for Fire and Bone by Rachel A. Marks. Fire and Bone is the first book in a new YA Urban Fantasy series, Otherborn. As part of the blitz, I get to share with you an excerpt, part of the inspiration behind Fire and Bone as well as an international giveaway which I'll show at the end.
Carry on reading!
Fire and Bone
by Rachel A. Marks
Publication date: February 20th 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Synopsis:“Gossip Girl meets Percy Jackson in the glitz and grit of L.A….”
In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.
Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.
Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.
As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out who to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing’s for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.
Rachel is also having a free book promo of a novella (Winter Rose): https://www.amazon.com/Winter-Rose-Rachel-Marks-ebook/dp/B006C75V86/) and her other series is discounted for $1.99 ea. (The Dark Cycle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016QCNKAC/)
Rachel A. Marks is a cancer survivor, a writer and artist, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. Her four kids and amazing hubby put up with her nerdiness with tremendous grace, even when she makes them watch Buffy or Smallville re-runs for days on end. She was voted: Most Likely To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory.
I try to hide my shivering as I wait before the altar, in my position as the Bonding begins. Around me, shadows dance over the cairn walls from the restless flames licking up the ram’s body—the sacrifice on the pyre behind me—and the smell of sweat and burnt flesh smother the smoky air.
The King of Ravens paints an alarming image, standing almost naked across from me on the other side of the blood circle. He wears the corona radiata, the golden laurel-leafed crown, on his head of onyx hair. His short beard is neatly trimmed, combed with lavender oil for the ceremony.
His sharp silver eyes study me beneath a heavy brow.
I try not to think about the past. Or future. I try not to think about what those hard hands will feel like on my skin when he seals this Bond.
I study the stone floor rather than look in those metallic eyes. I feel them on me, though, the same way they have been for the fortnight I’ve been here preparing for the ceremony. He hasn’t touched me; he’s only brought me gifts and insisted I sit with him beside the great fire in the evening before he goes out for his hunt. Sometimes I smell him in the hallway outside my rooms.
But he never comes in, thank the goddess. The scent of blood is heavy on him in those moments.
I’m not sure what I would’ve done if he’d attempted anything.
After this is done, it won’t matter. My bed will be his. As will my life.
A druid walks back and forth behind me, tossing rosemary and lavender onto the pyre after each stanza of his spell. He calls to the wind from the east, he calls to the waters in the west, and he pulls the spirit of flame and earth into the cairn with us, asking the Penta to approve the Bond set to be made between the two most powerful Houses, as he pleads for a blessing from our mothers, Brighid and Morrígan, and thanks the Cast for their permission to seal the Bond between the two very different powers.
A female druid comes to my side with bowl and brush, beginning to paint my skin in blue woad, tracing patterns of knots and runes across my back, then baring my chest and continuing.
The king’s gaze follows the woman’s strokes, and when she’s finished, he raises his chin at me in approval but says nothing. What does he see when he looks at me? My wild copper hair? My simple features? The awkward birthmark just above my heart? I’m round of cheek and hips and not much of a beauty. But however I look to him, I will belong to him.
Determination is set in hard lines on his face, and I wonder if the torque on his neck is
working properly. I can see his dark energy lifting in silver and black curls over his shoulders now. It should be tight inside his skin, as mine is. The iron shackle should be holding it in place so that we don’t harm each other in the first merging, before we can get used to the feel of each other’s powers.
The female druid moves to the king next and begins painting the woad in circles over his torso. The druid chanting behind me recites the final section of his spell, walking the ram’s-blood
circle painted on the floor. He holds a rowan stick aloft, flicking rosewater over the king and then me as he passes by, mumbling, “A price paid, a covenant sealed, in earth and blood and ash, in spirit and flesh and fire.”
The price is my will, my soul, in payment for the life of the human prince that I took.
In the center of the circle, between the king and me, is an altar with two bowls set atop, one full of salt, one full of rye.
The iron union dagger rests between them.
I stare at it, imagining the blade cutting into my flesh. And I can’t help when my gaze moves to the king. I want to blink and make this moment a dream, perhaps find myself in the thicket with Lailoken, among the bluebells in the Caledonian wood.
I should run from this son of Morrígan, deny him, deny our mothers, and let the world burn.
But my heart twists at the thought. I was running from duty when fate took my heart from me, when the prince succumbed to my fire’s will. It was the childish notion of freedom that tore him from me.
Now it’s time to accept my punishment for allowing the humans to glimpse our world. Time to atone.
The druid’s voice fills the room again. “When moon gives birth to stars,” he says, in a
droning hum, flicking more rosewater over us with the rowan stick, “let this Bond be sealed in blood.”
My skin prickles with fear as the king takes the cue, reaching out to pick up the ceremonial dagger by the leather-wrapped hilt. I focus on not moving, not making a sound, as I watch him bring the blade to his chest, tip pricking his left breast. A drop of crimson pearls up at the spot.
With a slow hiss of breath, he cuts across.
Dark blood slides down his abdomen in a thick swath of red. “My blood with yours,” he
says. And he turns the knife, holding out the hilt for me.
My hands clench into fists at my side, and I force my shaking limbs to still.
I breathe in slowly again. Then I reach out, taking the ceremonial dagger from him, careful not to touch his fingers.
I pretend not to care about the cage I’m about to be locked in. About the pain in my soul from
loss, from the goddess Brighid abandoning me to this darkness, pain from the reality of
everything in front of me.
I press the tip of the blade to the center of my chest, the point breaking the skin. I look into the silver eyes of the king in front of me. And consider my fate.
One deep plunge to the heart and the pain will end.
Youtube video/song that helped inspire the book: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=tcWzVUlrzdc
GIVEAWAY - ENDS MARCH 1ST 2018
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
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