Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Happy Release Day To Me!

Would it be in awful taste to say THE NECROMANCER'S APPRENTICE lives again? Probably.

Anyway! You can get it for free at Evernight, Smashwords (thanks for letting me know about that, Tez Miller!), and All Romance Ebooks.

And to whet your appetite, here's a peek at the first chapter. Enjoy!

Read on for an excerpt...

Evanthe shivered as the icy wind ripped through the graveyard, tossing dead leaves and grave dirt against her while whipping her hair into her eyes. The half-moon was hidden by storm clouds, casting the graveyard in near perfect darkness, so Evanthe was forced to grope her way blindly from one crumbling, mossy headstone to the next. Her flashlight battery had died almost as soon as she flicked it on, leaving her feeling lost and faintly ridiculous.
            As she picked her way slowly through the maze of graves, she chanted Morrow’s instructions over and over, partly to keep them fixed in her anxious mind, partly to shake off the intense sense of isolation crowding in on her. “Past the dead oak and up the hill, over to the marble angel. Past the dead oak and up the hill, over to the marble angel...” she whispered, and the wind caught her voice, smothering the words, but to her ears, it sounded like she was screaming fit to wake the dead.
            She slipped on a patch of mud, stumbled forwards, and caught herself on the corner of a square headstone, scraping her palm. “Shit. Why the hell am I doing this?” She straightened up, wiping her hand on her jeans and adjusting the backpack on her shoulders before setting off again. Not like she could go back. Morrow would never let her forget it if she gave up, and pleasing Morrow was far more important to Evanthe than a scraped hand here or there. Stupid, yeah, and weak. But Evanthe had nobody else, nobody in the world except him. Who knew where she’d be without him? Rotting somewhere, probably, like she’d been left to rot in one crappy foster home after another as a child, until he’d appeared. Like a white knight...
            Well, no, she corrected herself, smiling at her own dumb romanticism. White knights generally didn’t paint their nails black or listen to death metal, or drink absinthe and keep raven skulls littered around their bedroom. Morrow was the black knight, for sure. He was also the sole reason she was stumbling through the graveyard at midnight, with a storm threatening overhead, and a backpack full of witchcraft on her shoulders.
            Past the dead oak and up the hill, over to the marble angel. His raspy smoker’s voice echoed in her head. “You’ll do fine, Evanthe. I trust you.”
            And there was the dead oak at the foot of the hill, naked branches jutting up to the sky as if in prayer. Evanthe stopped a few feet away, struck strangely breathless by the sight. There was a sinister beauty to the tree that reminded her of Morrow himself. Behind the tree, the dark mound of the hill rose, like a guardian between one side of the graveyard and the next. On the other side of the hill, she knew, the tombs were older, uncared for and swamped in weeds and dead flowers. Graves that nobody visited, nobody tended. Perfect.
            She walked past the oak, brushing her fingers over the dry bark as she went, and clambered up the hill. At the top, she paused to catch her breath, brushing locks of pale hair from her eyes as the wind picked up again. The graveyard rolled out below her, an endless stretch of stone and grass, and she shivered, nerves jangling. It wasn’t really illegal, was it? A lot of Morrow’s activities skirted the edge of the law, but Evanthe was sure he’d never do anything actually illegal. The Celatus Guild was pretty strict about members staying within the law. Secrecy and caution were paramount, always.
            Well, it wasn’t like she’d be desecrating the grave or anything. Just taking some dirt. Who could that harm? She took a deep breath to calm herself and set off down the hill, still replaying Morrow’s directions in her head. Over to the marble angel, and directly behind that is the grave you want. It has to be that one, Evanthe. The marble angel was easy enough to find. The white stone glowed in the darkness, a beacon for her to follow. She ran her hands over the graceful curve of the wings, marveling at the artistry. It was a world removed from her own clumsy attempts at throwing pots, although Morrow always assured her she had talent.
            She grimaced. Assured her like he was a school teacher and she was a beloved but slow pupil. Would it always be that way? Her striving to prove she was all grown up and him smiling indulgently, refusing to acknowledge it? She bit her lip. Stupid thoughts.
            She moved past the angel to the grave behind, a simple, age-worn headstone, moss-encrusted and weather-ruined. Even if her flashlight hadn’t crapped out, she wouldn’t have been able to read the engraving on the stone—time and the elements had seen to that. But this had to be the one. Hell, if it wasn’t, who’d ever know?
            She slipped her backpack off, kneeling by the grave. She pulled a small metal dish from the bag, along with a pack of sage incense cones, a lighter, and an empty jar. The wind made it near impossible to light the cone, not to mention keep it alight, but eventually, she managed, placing the dish in a little hollow at the foot of the grave to shelter the cone. Sage was a purifier—the incense kept dark spirits from interfering and pacified the spirit of whoever’s grave she was...well, not desecrating, exactly. Borrowing from...that sounded nicer.

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