Saturday, 21 March 2015

Eternal Fires - Ally Shields

It has to happen. A well-loved series must reach a conclusion and, for lovers of Ally Shields' Guardian Witch series, that conclusion has just happened with the release of book 7 in the series - Eternal Fires.

This Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance series has seen its characters battle many foes. In Eternal Fires, murder is followed by crows behaving unnaturally. I always think there's something sinister about crows anyway. Partly, it's the way they look at you, as if they're studying you, their beady black eyes searching your brain, their beaks pecking through your soul and, as Ari says, "It isn’t a coincidence that a flock of crows is called a murder of crows."

Here's the blurb, to give you a taste of what to expect:

It started with the murder of a stranger. Then the crows appeared…

Ari and Andreas know the O-Seven will never leave them alone. Ari is carrying Andreas's mortal child, but the vampire elders are convinced the child will be the first vampire baby and are out to posses it. Or kill it. Either way, Ari and Andreas will do anything to keep their unborn child safe, even if it means Ari has to go into hiding and leave Andreas exposed to the O-Seven alone.

But then the O-Seven call on the Mahmo magic that can turn an elder into a winged killer, and each time Ari runs, they find her again. The only way to protect their child's future is to defeat the O-Seven, once and for all. And to do that, Ari will have to face the elders head-on in their castle stronghold deep in Germany’s Black Forest…

Ready for an excerpt? Here it is:

“A super crow,” Doc Onway muttered, sounding exasperated. “What’s next?”

Exactly. Ari disconnected. During her conversation with the doctor, the bird hadn’t moved from its position on the fence. It was at least as large as a condor, and the murky haze around it wasn’t put there by nature. The creature cocked its head and stared at her. Witch fire tingled in her fingertips, but she calmed the magic and tightened her grip on her handgun.

Unless forced by circumstances, she wouldn’t use magical fire out in the open like this, where she might burn the farmer’s fields. And where motorists might observe her. Magic still caused a big stir—and a lot of fear—among humans.

“It’s not coming after us.” Ryan turned to look at her. “What did you mean by ‘a normal bird wouldn’t?’”

“It isn’t a coincidence that a flock of crows is called a murder of crows,” she said darkly. “They have a bad reputation. Their minds can be bent to evil by someone with the ability to call and control them—a werewolf, a witch or wizard, even a vampire. There are stories of powerful magic users who can morph into the creature’s form. Just look at it, Ryan. You can’t see the dark aura, but how do you explain that size?”

“Are you telling me that bird might be someone else? Someone supernatural?” Ryan’s hand moved to hover over his own pistol.

“Let’s find out.” Ari took off running, vaulted the fence, and headed straight for the crow. The creature stretched its head high before spreading its wings to their full span and lifting into the air. It released a loud caw and streaked away at astonishing speed. Ari came to a halt in the middle of the field. By the time Ryan caught up, she’d already put her gun away.

“Guess it wasn’t in the mood for a fight.” She shaded her eyes and watched the black object disappear into the horizon.

“How can a bird move that fast?”

Ordinary birds couldn’t. Ari didn’t bother to answer him. She started toward the fence line where the creature had perched.

“Now what?”

“The residual magic might tell me what it is or who’s controlling it.”

Ryan didn’t comment, but she heard the cornstalks swish against his denim jeans as he followed her. He acted skeptical, which kind of surprised her after all the things he’d seen in the last three years. But Ryan had never been completely comfortable with the Otherworld. He’d rather believe the bird was genetically altered by some mad scientist than a magical manifestation.

She stopped at the wooden fence and ran her hands over the rails until she found a spot that tingled…and filled her with an unreasonable sense of dread. She lifted her hands and the oppressive feeling receded. Bad mojo.

“Hey, look.” Ryan pointed toward a black feather sticking out of the grass. He pulled a set of crime scene gloves from his pocket and handed them to Ari. “I suppose you need to handle it first.”

“You know me.” She snapped the gloves in place and picked up the glossy object. Scorching heat, devouring flames. “Yikes!” She dropped it from sheer reflex, the heat vanished, and her fingers had no sign of injury. An illusion. A strong one.

“What happened?” Ryan demanded, staring at the shiny quill as if it might come to life. “You act like it bit you.”

She eyed the feather, not eager to repeat the experience. “Try touching it.”

His brows shot up.
“Carefully,” she added. “See if you get the same vivid sensation of heat.”

“Why am I always the guinea pig?” But he pulled out a second pair of gloves, crouched, and extended a tentative finger. “Nope. I feel nothing.” He picked it up. “What’s that tell you?”

“It has a defensive shield that reacts to magic.”

“So you were right. It wasn’t a real crow.”

She gave a terse nod. “I couldn’t get past its shields to identify the magic user. Maybe the lab can do better.” She took off her gloves and stuffed them in a pocket. Ryan could carry the damned thing.

They headed back to the car. Ari kept a vigilant eye on the sky and trees around them, extending her senses to avoid a surprise attack. Although the nymph hadn’t died from the visible injuries of a crow’s attack, Ari believed they’d just seen the killer—or some form of the killer—and the cause of the nymph’s death was dark magic.

You can find Eternal Fires and the entire Guardian Witch series here: 


Here's the fabulous trailer:

You can connect with Ally here:

And don't worry, there will be more from Ally in Fall-Winter of this year, with the release of novel II in the Elvenrude series - Cross Keys: Revelation

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Haunting of Ham

My new novelFreya’s Choice – is set in the charming, picturesque and seemingly tranquil small town of Abbey St. Francis. Chocolate box thatched cottages sit alongside a meandering river. Birds of every hue sing and chirrup. The world moves at a slower place in communities like this, doesn’t it?

Well, don’t you believe it! In my small town – hardly much more than a village really – strange things happen within some of those cottages. Unnatural, spooky things. The river transforms into a raging torrent when it feels like it. A massive bird takes to the air, and a new resident has moved in. One that will change everything for this peaceful little backwater. 

In England there are many places like Abbey St Francis. And some of them are well haunted. Scarily well in some cases. Many of them hide deadly secrets. Oh yes, a lot can – and does – go on in the heart of rural England…

Dora Carrington, Ralph Partridge and Lytton Strachey
The village of Ham is tiny. Just 150 or so people live there. It nestles quietly in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside, a few miles south west of the busy town of Hungerford. The famous writer Lytton Strachey lived at Ham Spray House, along with fellow writer, and diarist, Frances Partridge, and painter Dora Carrington. It is the epitome of a tranquil English village.

But not in 1895. In January of that year, a couple living in a cottage in the village were terrified out of their wits by a succession of poltergeist events in their home. The wife turned to her neighbours for help while her husband asked for help from his employer, the local publican, a policeman and an ex-prize fighter - referred to in the newspaper report carried by the Yorkshire Evening Post on February 1st 1895 as “Jack”.

For some reason, the little investigation party took with them two cats (maybe because they are noted for their psychic abilities). Once inside the couple’s home, they heard a distant rumbling. This was quite enough for the ex-prize fighter who tried to make his escape. He couldn’t. The ghost blocked the door and ordered “Jack” to sit back down. But he couldn’t. None of them could sit because the chairs were rolling around and tumbling over each other, all by themselves. They all managed to get out of the house, and soon after, the couple moved. 

The cottage became a curiosity and attracted scores of visitors. One said he had seen the ghost who had “a face resembling a cartwheel, and a frightful tail, the extremity being bifurcated and in appearance like an inverted V, with eight pairs of fins and scales like a fish.” Other visitors reported chairs turning over, pictures falling from walls and even eight pairs of boots flying around the room.

Unearthly noises were also heard, sometimes those of a child in distress, sometimes those of a man in torment, sometimes they were cries for help.

In the village, stories circulated, sometimes embellished after a few glasses of the pub’s best ale. One villager told a visitor of a man who was a habitual user of bad language. He approached the haunted cottage and stood on the doorstep. Maybe he was goading the spirits within but whatever the reason, door the door opened and he fell into a cavity, up to his knees. The step that had opened up to create the crater, suddenly snapped shut, severing both his legs in the process. He did not survive, but there were many sightings of him at night, going home with the aid of two sticks…