Saturday, March 30, 2019

Blog Tour: Henrietta the Dragon Slayer Series

Henrietta the Dragon Slayer
Henrietta the Dragon Slayer Book 1
by Beth Barany
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure
She’s a legend at 17, but only Henrietta knows the price she paid for her
fame … and it was much too high.
From the Winner of the California Fiction Writer’s Book Contest comes this
thrilling adventure of a young warrior on one final quest … against
an opponent she swore never to face again.
Henrietta, the legendary Dragon Slayer of Bleuve, can’t face the thought of
another kill. She’s lost family, friends and home on her rocky road
to fame. But when the young warrior is summoned by a King to retrieve
the Dragon Stone from the last dragon in existence, she can’t re
fuse–her mentor lies dying, and the healing stone is all that can
save him. This quest will be her most harrowing of all, for it means
facing mysterious assassins, the dreaded choppy sea, and all with a
misfit band–a young witch, a jester and a surly knight. And at
journey’s end, someone must die … the dragon, or Henrietta.
Perfect for fans of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Collins’ The Hunger Games,
McKinley’s Hero & the Crown, and Paolini’s Eragon. Get your copy
of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer today!
Henrietta and the Dragon Stone
Henrietta the Dragon Slayer Book 2
What if all those you loved were threatened by a force you couldn’t see or fight?
Henrietta the legendary ass kicking dragon slayer wants to return to her
village for a heroes’ welcome. But an unknown sorcerer rides after
her and her Dragon Stone, and aims to destroy everyone she cares
about. Can she claim her newfound powers sparked by the Dragon Stone
and keep her loved ones safe, especially her more-than-friend, and
her stalwart bodyguard, before the sorcerer destroys her and
everything in his path?
A medieval-set world with magic and magical creatures.
A 86,000-word novel.
Beth Barany empowers young women to be the heroes of their own lives.
Henrietta and the Battle of the Horse Mesa
Henrietta the Dragon Slayer Book 3
Finally, the sweeping conclusion to the Henrietta The Dragon Slayer trilogy!
Parted by destiny, the four friends struggle to rejoin forces and face for a
final time, the ruthless sorcerer intent on destroying them all.
In the biggest challenge of her life, Henrietta the legendary Dragon
Slayer of Bleuve must lead her people into a battle that may end life
as they know it. For they face no ordinary army, but the dark forces
of a powerful sorcerer bent on overtaking all five kingdoms. And
unless she can rescue her dauntless knight Franc, she must do it
without his support.
Franc will follow Henrietta anywhere. But on a mission to find allies among
the Horse People, he is kidnapped and taken by minions of the evil
sorcerer Eyvindir. Will he find the strength and courage to survive,
and fight again at Henrietta’s side?
Paulette, the young fire witch, must stand trial for a murder committed out of
desperation. In despair at her imprisonment by forces acting against
her dearest friend, Jaxter, she escapes and flees to the frigid,
forbidden land of Varangia to find a witch powerful enough to help
her finally master fire. But what must she give up to gain the power
to aid her friends?
Jaxter, now a king, must come to terms with the heavy responsibilities of
ruling the Oro Islands, newly emerged from over 75 years of evil
rule. This means doing right, even when it means going against
ancient customs and protocols. Worse, the marauding Varangians press
at his borders. He must find a way to defend his home, or none of
them will survive.
Will Henrietta and her friends be able to stop the ruthless sorcerer from
obliterating her, claiming the Dragon Stone, and ruling over the Five
Kingdoms?
Review:
I’ve spotlighted this series before, and now that I’ve read the whole thing, I can’t wait to share my thoughts! I really enjoyed Henrietta’s character, and I also loved the story-line in this one!
Both humorous and exciting, I loved the direction Beth Barany (the author) took for this series! While I’m not a fan of ‘dragon-slayers’ most of the time, lately their’s been an interesting take on the trope, and I’m loving all these new stories! While this is is before some of the others I just read, it fits the theme, and I can easily recommend it with others like this.
Focusing more on quests, and her dealings with humans, we don’t see ‘dragon slaying’ so much, and yet with that title we get to know a bit about the culture and characters involved. That’s another thing, the characters in this series are each well written, interesting, and individual in their natures. I was so happy to find so many I liked soon after meeting them! I normally only have a few that I really like or connect with, but this series is written in a way that makes it easy to enjoy reading each of the character’s stories without skimming anything (which I know is tempting in some series).
Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young
adult adventure fantasy and paranormal romance.
Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical
tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls
to be the heroes of their own lives.
For fun, Beth walks, gardens, and watched movies and travels with her
husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a
piano, their cats, and over 1,000 books.
When not writing or playing, Beth runs an online school, BARANY SCHOOL OF
FICTION. helping novelists to write, market, and publish their books
to the delight of their readers.
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Blog Tour: Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok

TOUR SCHEDULE:
http://www.jeanbooknerd.com/2019/02/spectacle-by-jodie-lynn-zdrok.html


Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: 
Tor Teen (February 12, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765399687
ISBN-13: 978-0765399687



Praise for SPECTACLE

“Clever and full of murder, Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Spectacle had my eyes glued to the pages as the body count rose, and mystery stacked upon mystery as our heroine closed in on a killer who seemed miles ahead of the Parisian authorities. Fans of serial killers and criminal investigations will find much to love, and fascinating passages about morgue tours will appeal to the morbid rubbernecker in us all.” ―Kendare Blake, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series

“With a fierce heroine, grisly 19th-century murders, and a mystery that left me on the edge of my seat, Spectacle is an immersive, Parisian, YA From Hell that I absolutely devoured!” ―Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten and #MurderTrending

“Zdrok explores the universal fascination with death, set among the darker corners of 1887 Paris, and the very idea of the morgue viewings (to which parents brought their children) is chilling…Grisly, plot driven―and very creepy. Fans of historical thrillers that invoke the enduring spirit of Jack the Ripper will have fun.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Hints of the murderer’s identity are subtly and intriguingly folded into the story, and unresolved plot threads pave the way for future cases, during which Nathalie can discover more about her powers. The blend of history, mystery, and fantasy makes this debut novel a good pick for fans of Libba Bray’s Diviners series or William Ritter’s Jackaby books.” ―Booklist

“The book seamlessly brings several threads together: the mystery of the murder and the horrors of the killings themselves; the beauty, bustle, and darkness of nineteenth-century Paris (the killer’s pursuit of Nathalie through the catacombs is thrillingly described); the bizarre but historically based practices of morgue viewing and blood transfusions for magic; and the destructive nature of family secrets and their generational effects. …the tension amps up to a gasp-worthy climax.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Zdrok has concocted an ambitious Victorian-era story. …Intricately plotted, the story’s pace burns slow before racing ahead to set up and topple assumptions about the true identity of the Dark Artist.” ―School Library Journal

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

You can purchaseSpectacle at the following Retailers:
       
Review: It seems I enjoy this kind or story, and am so happy I found this one! I found this a few months ago, and couldn’t wait to read it. I wasn’t disappointed. Reminding me of Stalking Jack the Ripper, I loved this story. It was beautifully different, and yet still held that historical teen female crime solver.
Nathalie Baudin is such an interesting character, and I love meeting the other characters she encounters. She has some interesting friends, and her forays as a crime solver are sure are interesting and exciting!
Photo Content from Jodie Lynn Zdrok

Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History (Providence College, Brown University) and an MBA (Clark University). In addition to being an author, she’s a marketing professional, a freelancer, and an unapologetic Boston sports fan. She enjoys traveling, being a foodie, doing sprint triathlons, and enabling cats. She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

       
WEEK ONE
MARCH 25th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
MARCH 25th MONDAY Sophie Reads YA REVIEW
MARCH 26th TUESDAY Bibliobibuli YA INTERVIEW
MARCH 26th TUESDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW
MARCH 27th WEDNESDAY Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW
MARCH 27th WEDNESDAY Wonder Struck REVIEW
MARCH 28th THURSDAY My Bookish Escapades EXCERPT
MARCH 29th FRIDAY Wishful Endings GUEST POST
MARCH 29th FRIDAY Adventures Thru Wonderland REVIEW
WEEK TWO
APRIL 1st MONDAY Nay’s Pink Bookshelf REVIEW
APRIL 1st MONDAY A Bookish Dream REVIEW
APRIL 2nd TUESDAY A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW
APRIL 2nd TUESDAY BookHounds YA REVIEW & INTERVIEW
APRIL 3rd WEDNESDAY Random Bookish Banter REVIEW & INTERVIEW
APRIL 3rd WEDNESDAY Bookish in Texas REVIEW
APRIL 4th THURSDAY A Court of Coffee and Books REVIEW
APRIL 4th THURSDAY TTC Books and More EXCERPT
APRIL 5th FRIDAY Movies, Shows, & Books REVIEW
 
*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Blog Tour: Immerse by Tobie Easton

Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42275471-immerse

Pre-order Link

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD

Tour Schedule:

http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/tour-schedule-immerse-by-tobie-easton/

Immerse (Mer Chronicles #3) by Tobie Easton

Publication Date:  March 19, 2019

Publisher:  Month9Books

Immerse is the spellbinding and breathless final installment of the Mer Chronicles series where descendants of the Little Mermaid must face deadly magic, shifting alliances, and the dangers of forbidden love.

Lia can’t wait for her parents’ coronation. Now living in the sparkling palace beneath the waves, she sneaks off to Malibu whenever possible to see Clay. Tucked away in an abandoned seaside mansion, Lia and Clay devise a plan to ensure they can stay together forever.

But when an old enemy resurfaces and Lia is restricted to the palace for the safety of all Merkind, she and Clay are ripped apart once more.

She fears not only for Clay, but for her best friend Caspian, who seems to be swimming down a dangerous path. He has invited the conniving Melusine to the coronation ball, convinced she’s capable of change. And no matter how hard Lia fights it, showing up on Caspian’s arm is just the start of Melusine’s insidious return to her life.

With threats Below growing more ominous by the day and a powerful ancient ritual looming, soon the two girls can’t escape each other. As their fates grow increasingly intertwined, Melusine might be the only one who can help Lia find the answers she desperately needs to save everyone she loves and to achieve her happily ever after. But can Lia trust her?

 Jan’s Review

In this last book in the Mer Trilogy, we see the end to this little mermaid retelling. With multiple POVs we see some interesting characters in this series. Among whom is Melusine, the villain in this story. It’s interesting to see her side of the story, as well as seeing Lia’s perspective.

I really enjoyed the style used in this retelling, and easily found myself drawn to the character and story. I’m always happy to read a retelling or story inspired by the classics, and this one is well done as both a retelling, and a story that can easily stand on it’s own as original to readers who haven’t read/watch any version of The Little Mermaid story.

Award-winning author Tobie Easton was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she’s grown from a little girl who dreamed about magic to a twenty-something who writes about it. Her debut novel, Emerge, is a Gold Medal Winner (Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy) of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and is Book 1 in the acclaimed Mer Chronicles series. The trilogy follows the descendants of the Little Mermaid and offers fans a peek into a world where Mermaids aren’t just real, but live secretly among us on land.

She and her very kissable husband enjoy traveling the globe and fostering packs of rescue puppies. Tobie loves chocolate chip cookies and Oxford commas. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tobie splits her time between Los Angeles and Boston.

Learn more about Tobie and her upcoming books on www.TobieEaston.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway

 One (1) winner will receive a Starbucks Gift Card

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c08c9e8e746/?

Blog Tour: My Name Is Rose

My Name Is Rose
Alexa Kingaard
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: March 15th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Rose is unsettled, curious, and bored. Life in a hippie commune is her parent’s dream come true, not hers. She doesn’t share their passion for living off the land, nor does she enjoy the isolation that is thrust upon her. When she convinces them to send her to public school in the nearby town, a new world opens up to her.

As she pursues her education, Rose chooses a different path, leaving her parents heartbroken at her insistence they are hiding something from her. She’s convinced her father isn’t the man her mother married.

Although she finds love far away from her roots and upbringing, her wounds only deepen as she keeps her family at arm’s length. What she loses during those years can only be retrieved with her understanding that “a Rose by any other name is still a Rose.”

Goodreads / Amazon

Review: I have never read anything like this, but this book was so…real! This story deals with those questions about growing up that many fictional stories tend to avoid, in part because they can’t easily be answered or solved, and partly because they hurt and are hard to talk about. I love the tone and message this story carries, and was surprised how much I enjoyed reading this!

Author Bio:

Alexa Kingaard was born in San Diego, CA and has lived most of her life in the area. She currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of an adult son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders. A realtor for fifteen years, she remains involved with her profession and praises her brokers and clients for giving her the nod to be creative.

She gives all the credit for completing her debut novel, KEEP FOREVER, to her inspiration and late ex-husband, Jeff, who battled the residual effects of the Vietnam War for decades after his return.

Her second novel, MY NAME IS ROSE, will be released through Acorn Publishing March 15, 2019.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Submerged is #FREE March 27 – 31

Submerged by Pauline Creeden

Mermaids can be cruel creatures.

I couldn’t stop them from hurting her, but I couldn’t let them destroy her, no matter what they did to me. The moment I heard the bottom feeder had been chosen for the reckoning, my heart sank. Had I been discovered for what I truly was? Years of pretending I was just like everyone else could all have been for naught. But then I heard it was Verona, and my blood ran cold.

Why was I surprised?

I shouldn’t have been. I’d stood by and watched her ridiculed since we were younglings. I was never as brave or as unselfish as she was. But today, I would be.

Free on Amazon March 27 – 31

Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Pre-order Surfacing Releases June 23

Pauline Creeden is USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of inventive and inspirational stories, entwining real-world problems with fantasy characters. She spends most of her day caring for the many animals around the horse farm and mentoring kids in horsemanship. Still, she finds time to play Pokemon and binge on Kdramas.

Her debut novel, Sanctuary, won 1st Place Christian YA Title 2013 Dante Rosetti Award and 2014 Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best YA Horror Novel. Chronicles of Steele Raven won the 2015 Grace Award and IndieBrag Medallion. Unshaken hit #22 on the USA Today Bestseller list as a part of the Murder and Mayhem Limited edition Boxed set in November 2017. Caught in the Current hit #89 on the USA Today Bestseller list as part of the Sirens & Scales Boxed set in January 2018. Last Escape hit #149 on the USA Today Bestseller list as part of the Empires of Shadow and Ash boxed set in June 2018. Of Water and Blood hit #107 on the USA Today Bestseller list as a part of the Shades of Fae boxed set in July 2018.

 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Blog Tour: BATTLEFIELD LOVE


Title: BATTLEFIELD LOVE (Operation Cupid #1)

Author: Skyler Andra & Mila Young

Pub. Date: November 26, 2018

Publisher: Skylar Andra & Mila Young

Formats: eBook

Pages: 266

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

READ FOR FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED!

When a sassy and disillusioned phone operator gets a hold of the power of Cupid, watch out!

A mysterious caller…

Locke Casey is nothing special. Sure, her job as a phone operator job is a little unusual, but it pays the bills, and as a broke, twenty something college student, she doesn’t have much room to be picky. She is used to odd calls from strange men thanks to her job, but when one begins quizzing her about love, she finds her life turned upside down.

An unbelievable turn of events…

Turns out the creepy caller might actually be Cupid. For some unknown reason, the god of love passed on his powers to Locke, which makes no sense considering she’s never been in love and considers the whole concept overrated. Talk about an unlikely candidate!

A mission to save the gods…

Having Cupid’s powers alone might be more than she can handle, but with her godly benefactor doing a disappearing act, all the gods are in a flurry, and it’s up to Locke to save Olympus. All in a day’s work, right?

Battlefield Love is the first in a series, a slow burn reverse harem romance with sexy, godly avatars and steamy scenes.

REVIEW

I’ve enjoyed some of Mila’s other RHs, but haven’t read any of Andra’s yet. I’ll admit, I’m glad I started with this one! They make one epic team, and I was surprised at how quickly I was drawn to these characters! Well done, and I can’t wait to read more by these ladies!

Grab books 2 & 3 now! READ FOR FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED!

Quicksilver Love:

 

A Reverse Harem Mythological Romance (Operation Cupid Book 2)- Amazon

Awakened Love:

A reverse harem romance (Operation Cupid Book 3)-

Amazon

Grab books 2 & 3 now! READ FOR FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED!

Quicksilver Love: A Reverse Harem Mythological Romance (Operation Cupid Book 2)- Amazon

Awakened Love: A reverse harem romance (Operation Cupid Book 3)- Amazon

 

About Skylar:

Never say never. That’s Skyler’s attitude, and she fills her heroines and heroes with that same philosophy. Skyler is an Aussie who loves traveling and her goal is to one day visit every country in the world. When she’s not writing, she’s snuggling with a good book and her furbabies. At heart she’s a gaming nerd, Pilates and martial arts enthusiast.

Facebook | Amazon Author Page | BookBub | Goodreads

About Mila:

Bestselling Author, Mila Young tackles everything with the zeal and bravado of the fairytale heroes she grew up reading about. She slays monsters, real and imaginary, like there’s no tomorrow.

By day she rocks a keyboard as a marketing extraordinaire. At night she battles with her might pen-sword, creating fairytale retellings, and sexy ever after tales. In her spare time, she loves pretending she’s a mighty warrior, walks on the beach with her dogs, cuddling up with her cats, and devouring every fantasy tale she can get her pinkies on.

Sign up for Mila’s Newsletter!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Facebook Group | Amazon Author Page | BookBub | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

1 lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon GC, International.

3 lucky winners will win BATTLEFIELD LOVE Swag Packs, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2909/?

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

3/25/2019- Books a Plenty Book Reviews– Review

3/25/2019- Lone Tree Reviews– Excerpt

 

3/26/2019- Daily Waffle– Spotlight

3/26/2019- BookHounds– Excerpt

 

3/27/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

3/27/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Spotlight

 

3/28/2019- Book Briefs– Review

3/28/2019- Romantic Reviews– Excerpt

 

3/29/2019- Reese’s Reviews– Review

3/29/2019- Ramblings of a Book Nerd– Review

 

Week Two:

4/1/2019- Julia Swoons– Review

4/1/2019- A Gingerly Review– Excerpt

 

4/2/2019- Kelly P’s Blog– Excerpt

4/2/2019- Jaime’s World– Excerpt

 

4/3/2019- Two Chicks on Books– Excerpt

4/3/2019- The Reading Corner for All– Review

 

4/4/2019- Owl Always Be Reading– Excerpt

4/4/2019- Love in a time of Feminism– Excerpt

 

4/5/2019- AURELIA LEO– Review

4/5/2019- Hauntedbybooks– Review

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Release Blitz: The Rage of Saints

I am so excited that THE RAGE OF SAINTS by S.A. Klopfenstein is available now and that I
get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by
Author S.A. Klopfenstein, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a finished
copy of THE SHADOW WATCH & THE RAGE OF SAINTS, US Only courtesy of S.A. and
Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the
Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
About the Book:
 
Title: THE RAGE OF SAINTS (The Shadow Watch series
Book #2)
Author: S.A. Klopfenstein
Pub. Date: March 26, 2019
Publisher: Guardian Grey
Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 507
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon
The thrilling second installment in the Shadow
Watch series! 
The Shadow Watch has
been undone. Their captain lies in the dungeons of the White Citadel, and the
Gallows Girl has disappeared. Most of the surviving Watchers have joined the
chancellor’s new magical army, the Sky Guard, led by Darien Redvar, but the Gallows
Boy is shaken from the return of the monsters of the Old World, and he must
soon choose, once and for all, where his loyalties lie.
Tori and Mischa trek
to the Great White North with an Alyut shaman, who believes Tori is the one who
will bring Restoration to his people. A resistance is growing in the North, but
Tori may not be the god the people are looking for, and the price of revolution
may cost Tori her heart as well as her life.
Meanwhile, another
threat grows in strength. Old World monsters are rising up across the New
World, and no one knows how they’ve returned. As nations ready themselves for a
magical war, their return threatens to change everything.
New alliances are set
in place, new friendships are forged, new loves kindled. But no one is safe,
for there can be no war without betrayal.
Don’t miss this the latest installment in the
epic fantasy series readers are comparing to Mistborn and Throne of Glass!
 
About Book 1:
 
Title: THE SHADOW WATCH (The
Shadow Watch #1)
Author: S.A. Klopfenstein
Pub. Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Guardian Grey
Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 420
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N
For centuries, the
Oshan Empire has ruled the New World with terror and blood. The Watchers have
been eradicated, and their sorcery is but a whispered myth. But the heart of
magic beats on, and as it surges back to life, three young people will
determine the fate of the world…
Tori Burodai, a
strong-willed slave girl. Her magic could ignite a revolution, but only if she
resists the ruler who wants to use her powers to restore the empire to its
former glory.
Darien Redvar, the
idealistic soldier she loves. His rage leads him down a dark path to power that
could turn him against the one person he cares for.
Kale Andovier, a
lordling rebel with a torturous past. His quest for a weapon of dark sorcery
will thrust him into a twisted game of power that could change the world
forever.
Will the return of
magic transform the New World, or bring it to ruin?
 
Excerpt from THE RAGE OF SAINTS (Prologue)
 
Cyrus Maro—the sixteenth Chancellor of Osha—should have been pleased.
Exuberant, even. The leaders of the Shadow Watch lay in the dungeons beneath
the White Citadel, their magic-rich blood filling him with power each day. Many
of the Watchers had chosen to serve him rather than suffer this horrid fate,
which made Cyrus Maro even more powerful. Monsters ravaged the New World for
the first time in centuries, and the people of Osha looked to their chancellor
as though he were their god.
And he was their god. When the
chancellor revealed his magic to the people of Osha, the day he paraded the
Watchers through the streets of Maro’El, their mouths had gaped with awe;
they’d knelt in reverence as he’d ridden past. Magic had returned to the world
at his hand.
 
Nothing had gone according to plan, but everything had turned out better
than he ever could have dreamed.
 
The monsters that had come through the portal between the worlds had been
unanticipated, but they had turned into a precious opportunity. Rulaqs and
Nosferati had returned from the realm of nightmares and myths to ravage the
world. The people of Osha were afraid, and fear made them loyal. Their
chancellor wielded power unknown in all the New World, and his new magical
army, the Sky Guard, would keep the empire safe from hellish beasts.
 
While other nations plunged into chaos, Osha would remain strong, and the
people of the North would be grateful, worshipful.
 
Cyrus Maro was more powerful than his father, and his father before him. He
was far more powerful than Loras, his precious, perfect brother, had ever been.
 
But it was not enough.
 
It was as though Loras had returned from the dead to taunt him with this
fact, as he had taunted Cyrus with his magical prowess when they were children.
Of course, like their parents, Loras had not practiced his magic… much. It was
this self-denial that held the empire together, their father had liked to say.
Cyrus had showed no prowess to deny himself of, but he had always thought it a
ludicrous notion. Self-denial had made his father—and all his forefathers, and
especially Loras—weak, far weaker than Cyrus had ever been.
 
Cyrus had fashioned his own
power. No longer would an Oshan chancellor be mocked by foreign dignitaries as
a vestige of another time. No longer would the nobles rule the empire like
puppeteers.
 
Now, more than ever, the chancellor was revered and feared. But for one
thing:
 
The Gallows Girl.
 
Cyrus Maro had hoped that in the turmoil of Old World monsters ravaging the
New World, the Gallows Girl might be forgotten. It had been weeks since she’d
been lost in the catacombs beneath the Crooked Teeth. And many months since any
common person had seen her. Yet here he was, on the balcony where he first
drank the Gallows Girl’s blood, and it was time to inflict pain on her account
once more.
 
There came a knock on the balcony doors. A Morph announced the arrival of
his visitor, and Cyrus motioned for them to enter.
 
“The noble traitor, Ren, of House Andovier,” the attendant announced.
 
“That’s Captain Andovier,” murmured Ren weakly but defiantly as he entered.
 
The Watcher was escorted to the balcony by a traitor to his own cause.
Dajha Bhati was one of the first Watchers to join the chancellor’s Sky Guard,
and he was all too eager to demonstrate his new loyalties. He led Ren with a shove
that sent him to his knees.
 
“Careful,” said the chancellor. “Your captain might break.”
 
Despite his quick tongue, the captain of the Watchers looked like he’d been
inflicted with a plague—his skin hung loose and was tinted a greyish hue, as
though he were beginning to rot. Even his eyes had lost their lustre. Brilliant
blue now appeared dull and faded.
 
“Yeh’re my captain now, milord,” said Dajha, bowing his head. “Reckon the
best thing for Ren might be breaking.”
 
The chancellor chuckled, pleased with the young Parjhan’s unabashed
loyalty. Nevertheless, he motioned for Dajha to help Ren up. Ren moaned.
 
“Had enough of my dungeons?” said the chancellor. “Dajha’s doing quite
well.”
 
Dajha stood behind his former captain with arms crossed, his expression hard.
The chancellor loved the anger that flared up at the mention of Ren’s own
soldier’s betrayal. Suddenly, the Watcher captain didn’t look so pitiful. There’s fire in him, yet. Good.
 
“Am I ready to betray my own kind?” said Ren bitterly. “Like my… brother?”
He spat the words, and the chancellor grinned. “Like you?”
 
Cyrus Maro’s lips curled. “Betray? Your Gallows Girl sets monsters upon the
entire world, and you accuse me of
betrayal? You sought to return the glory of the Watchers to the New World, and
I have done that. I am sorry to have stolen your glory, but it is time you
accepted the world as it is and moved forward. The Sky Guard awaits you, my
friend. It will welcome you with open arms, as it did Dajha.”
 
At this, Dajha nodded coolly.
 
A table had been set out on the balcony, and the chancellor gestured to
Ren. “Sit. Eat. You must be tired of the stale rations of the dungeons.
Replenish yourself. I insist.”
 
Ren sat and replenished, tearing into a leg of roasted venison. The juices
splattered from his lips, staining the white tunic he’d been given for this
meeting.
 
As he ate, the color returned to Ren’s cheeks, only a little, but nothing
was missed by Cyrus Maro. 
 
“See, I’m not all blood and horror,” the chancellor
said.
 
Ren did not answer, but he did not stop eating.
 
“You know, you might have been a part of all this,” said the chancellor.
“The return of our kind.”
Ren choked back a sip of wine. “Our kind? You’re no Watcher.”
 
The chancellor tensed, though he tried not to let it show. Instead, he
smiled, reached out with his sense, and summoned a second goblet. It floated
through the air to his hand, and he drank a glorious red liquid. It was not
wine.
 
As its coppery taste left his tongue, he could already feel his power
increasing like a stoked fire.
 
“Yes,” said Cyrus Maro. “Our kind. Or are you na├»ve enough to think that
magic is restricted to your Old World orders? It was that sort of thinking that
led to the fall of the Watchers, my friend. I thought you more sophisticated.”
 
“I know what happened in the Old World. My family was there,” said Ren.
 
“Yes, they were. As you were
there when I discovered what can be done with Watcher blood. So was Scelero.
And yet both of you have the audacity to paint yourselves righteous.”
 
Ren’s expression grew hard, and the chancellor was pleased. He knew Ren
regretted serving him those many years ago—those events had led to the death of
the royal family, all but Cyrus. Much as Ren might hate to believe it, he had
helped make the chancellor what he was.
 
“We are more alike than you think, Ren. We both created a problem.”
 
“Astoria may be the one who let those beasts through your portal, but you
made it possible. Don’t you paint
yourself righteous.”
 
The chancellor laughed. “Still bantering, even after weeks of bloodletting.
Your strength is returning. Good.”
 
“Why are you treating me well?” said Ren bitterly.
 
“I’m reminding you of the finer things. The things you have longed for ever
since you fled the city. You may have spent the last few years out in that
gods-forsaken tower in the woods, but you are still a true noble of Osha. I’m
trying to seduce you, of course.”
 
For a moment, Ren looked taken aback. The chancellor enjoyed surprising
people with the naked truth. Ren recovered and took a loaf of bread. It steamed
as he broke it open. “And why else are you treating me well?” Ren said.
 
The chancellor was pleased. Nothing got past Ren Andovier. “There’s
something I need you to do for me. And for that, you will need to be strong.”
 
The chancellor procured a parchment from his robes. It was such a little
thing, found in the pockets of a mere servant boy. But if Tori had taught him
anything, it was that servants could pose a considerable threat, even to him.
Especially to him.
 
Ren unrolled the parchment. Inscribed on the crumpled paper were no letters
or words. Servants were rarely literate. No, there was only one symbol. Small,
in the bottom corner of the page, so small it might have easily gone
unnoticed—mistaken for a scribble by one of the scribes.
 
The symbol was that of a gallows, the overhanging beam cleft in two.
 
Though it was not his writing, Ren’s face betrayed horror at the sight of
it. “What do you want me to do?”
 
“Commander Redvar! You may enter.”
 
The servant boy, who had been brought up from the dungeons, did not tremble
when the commander of the chancellor’s Sky Guard forced him into the
chancellor’s presence. The boy was expressionless, and this infuriated the
chancellor, though again, he tried not to let it show.
 
“Here is your insurrectionist, milord,” Darien said, shoving the servant
boy to his knees.
 
Sparing the Gallows Boy had turned out to be one of Cyrus Maro’s greatest
decisions. When the chancellor appointed Darien Redvar as commander of his
magical army, the people of Osha had been in awe. The chancellor had proven
cunning even in his own apparent grace. The Gallows Boy—who once had defied him
before all of Osha, who had triggered the Gallows Girl’s very demonstration of
forbidden magic last year—had turned into his most feared servant.
 
Darien’s expression was cold as he stood over the defiant little rebel.
 
This will be interesting. The chancellor smiled at
the boy, offering his hand, and the boy looked dumbly at it. “I am helping you
stand,” Cyrus Maro said.
 
Like Ren, the boy was dressed in a fine-spun tunic, better than anything
the boy had likely worn before. He took the chancellor’s hand and stood.
 
“What’s your name?” the chancellor said.
 
“Me name’s Liam,” the boy said, his lowborn accent thick.
 
“A Morgathian,” said the chancellor, noting the boy’s speckled skin. “But
it would seem, one not so blessed by your god.” Red hair was seen as a blessing
from Nafta. Hollsted had been thus blessed, and yet Nafta had not spared the
Rebel King at the hands of the Gallows Boy.
 
Cyrus Maro mussed the boy’s plain, tawny hair. He gestured to Ren. “Show
Liam what we’ve found.”
 
Ren’s expression was visibly pained as he regarded the boy, but still, he
obeyed and handed over the treacherous parchment. Liam clenched his fist around
it, crumpling the poorly drawn gallows into a ball.
 
“You do not deny it is yours?” said the chancellor, amused.
 
Liam’s knees weakened a little, but he stood tall for one no older than
thirteen summers. He shook his head without hesitation. “I don’t deny it. Don’t
regret it, neither.”
 
The chancellor chuckled darkly. “You realize that the Gallows Girl is a
traitor, a dark sorceress who brought back the terrors of the Old World?”
 
“She’s a saint,” Liam said obstinately. “And she’s coming to save us.”
 
“Save you? A horde of Rulaqs march toward the city as we speak. At her
behest.” The chancellor grew cold, gripping the boy by the collar of his tunic.
Despite his bravery, little Liam was shaking, and this pleased the chancellor.
I saved you. My armies keep the beasts
at bay.”
 
“No,” said Liam. “Y-you en’t no savior. Y-you’re a tyrant.”
 
His grip tightened on the boy. A part of him admired his brashness. It was
such a spark that had prompted him to spare the Gallows Boy not so long ago.
But this boy would receive no such grace.
 
“Yes, well, we become what we must, my boy. And you are about to become
exactly what you must. 
That symbol is a sign of treason. Do you know what
happens to traitors, boy?”
 
The boy swallowed, but nodded. “Y-you’re going to k-kill me.”
 
The chancellor released his grip on the boy. “Actually, Ren, here, is going
to kill you. He’s a traitor too. And it’s time you both understood what that
entails.”
 
Ren backed away from the boy. “I won’t,” he said.
 
“Ah, now that is just charming,” said the chancellor. “After all that’s
happened, Ren, you still believe you have a choice.”
 
Medea appeared behind Ren, stepping from a sudden rise of mist—the path of
the godstones. Before Ren could react, her pale, tendril-like fingers extended
from billowy silks and latched onto his skull.
 
“You don’t want to serve me again?” said the chancellor. “Ren, I am afraid,
you have no choice.” The chancellor took hold of Liam by both arms and held him
still. “This is the fate of those who hope in the Gallows Girl.”
 
At Medea’s command, Ren began channeling his Conjuri power in a way he had
never done before. First, the boy’s tunic was wrenched from his chest, exposing
his torso. And then, the incision began, starting at the center of his scrawny
chest. The cut ran slow and deep, compelled not by a blade, but by pure,
unadulterated magic. It was the cleanest cut the chancellor had ever seen. The
skin split open so smoothly, it was as though the image were being painted on a
canvas rather than carved from flesh. 
It was beautiful.
 
Throughout the process, the servant boy screamed in agony, crimson life
gushing from the growing wound.
 
By the time Ren had finished, the boy was dead, his life poured onto the
balcony floor.
 
The chancellor turned the boy over so he could examine the finished
product. The image carved from the little rebel’s chest had come out perfect.
An exact likeness. A piece of art. Etched into the dead boy’s chest was a
broken gallows.

 

 
The symbol of the Gallows Saint.
 
 
About S.A.:
S.A. Klopfenstein grew
up on a steady dose of Tolkien and Star Wars. As a child, he wrote his first
story about a sleepwalking killer who was executed by lethal injection.
He lives in the
American West with his wife and their dog, Iorek Byrnison. He can be found
exploring the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, or daring the halls of the middle
school where he teaches Language Arts.



 
 
 
Giveaway Details:
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