Archive for the ‘Young Adult Fiction’ Category

Title: Star-Crossed Dragons
Author: Chris Cannon
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: February 1st, 2021
Hosted by: LadyAmber’s PR

Blurb:

Ice-princess, Sara Sinclair, is the most un-Blue Blue Dragon of her Clan. And now her parents
signed a marriage contract to an absolute asshat. Sara has no interest in being
one half of a snobby Blue power couple. In fact, all she can dream about is
biting her obnoxious fiancé’s head off and burying him in the garden. Since
that can’t happen, her future seems like a lost cause, until she meets Ian, a
fire-breathing Red Dragon—who is everything her fiancé is not.

Now Sara’s jumped from the frying pan into the fire because dating outside of your Clan is
against Directorate law. Ian could be thrown in jail or executed without a
trial. But now that she knows what love feels like, she can’t imagine being
with anyone else.

Talk about a rock and a hard place…  

 

 

Chris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and several furry beasts.
She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies. You can find her online at www.chriscannonauthor.com.

 

Author Links:

 

 

 

 

Title: Truth or Dare
Author: L.L. Hunter
Genre: YA Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Mystery
Cover Designer: Emily Wittig Publication
Date: January 31
st, 2021
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

Welcome to Summervale…

One of the USA’s top vacation spots. Situated in Upstate New York. It’s a sunny
coastal town. Population…

Oh, who cares.

The tourism ads paint Summervale NY as the perfect, picturesque town. It’s the
ideal location to have spring break in, or retire at.

But I know the truth.

 

17 year old Darcie Bell Ryder thought life would be different on the other side of
the tracks. In this town, you are judged on by what side of the river you live
on.

She was born a ‘have not’, but due to her father’s new social status and job, she
moves into the rich neighbourhood called The Circle, and becomes a ‘have’.

In the Circle, she is introduced to the other kids at the town’s annual back to
school bonfire on the beach.

Here she meets the handsome, and totally out her league, Dane O’Connell.

Even though they are from the opposite sides of the river, they share a connection
they both can’t deny.

But when the body of a teenage girl turns up dead on the shore, the mystery to her
death will either bring the teens closer together…

or tear them further apart.

 

In the first instalment of a new YA contemporary mystery series from L.L. Hunter,
there are secrets a plenty in Summervale, but only some will surface. The rest
will be taken to the grave.

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. 

She has been writing since her teens – everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog – http://llhunter.blogspot.com.au.
Author Links:

 

 

 

 

Title: Blackmail Boyfriend
Author: Chris Cannon
Genre: YA RomCom, Sweet Romance
Narrators: Cal Wembly & Sophie Amoss
Hosted by: LadyAmber’s PR

Blurb:

Sometimes, blackmail is the only weapon a girl has….

 

Haley Patterson has had a crush on golden boy Bryce Colton for ages. But when she hears a rumor
that he hooked up with her, she gives him a choice: be her boyfriend for a
month to show other guys that she’s dateable – despite her overprotective and
very intimidating brothers – or deal with the angry, cage-fighting boyfriend of
the girl with whom he actually did hook up.

Bryce didn’t know the other Haley even had a boyfriend. He was just trying to get his ex off his
back. And now, not only is he being blackmailed, he’s being blackmailed by an
honor student. His new “girlfriend” has two three-legged dogs, her father mows grass
at the country club, and she’s…well, difficult. And different.

Can something so fake turn into something real?

NOW AVAILABLE ON AUDIO!

Chris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and several furry beasts.
She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies. You can find her online at www.chriscannonauthor.com.

 

Author Links:

 

 

 

Title: Queen of Midnight
Author: L.L. Hunter 
Genre: YA Fantasy
Cover Designer: Stephanie Sew of Sevenstar Book Covers
Publication Date: November 30th, 2020
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb:
At the Midnight Ball, your fate is in your hands…
Since learning the truth of her lineage, and battling not only her own demons, but actual demons, Grace must face one more challenge.
To find out who her birth father is, Grace must unite all the worlds.
But history will be rewritten before she can rally an alliance.
How can she show them she is fit to be queen, when she doesn’t believe she can be queen herself?
In the final epic instalment of the Midnight Ball series,
Grace Chancellor must journey not only within herself, but to the ends of the earth in order to restore peace throughout the kingdoms.
The fate of the worlds rests on the shoulders of one young queen.
Can she become the queen prophecy foretold?
Or remain only a girl with magic in her blood?
L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. 

She has been writing since her teens – everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog – http://llhunter.blogspot.com.au.
Author Links:

 

 

 

 

Title: With Shield and Ink and Bone
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: Upper YA Historical Fantasy
Editor: Stacy Sanford/ The Girl with the Red Pen
Cover Designer: Melissa Stevens at The Illustrated Author
Publication Date: Nov. 13th, 2020
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb: 
A hard-earned shield.

 

Days before she is to take her place as a shield maiden, like her mother before her, two deaths alter the course of Liv’s future. One belonged to a witch who called her by name, the other a chieftain from the north. Vengeance for the chieftain’s death comes in a wild fury that burns her village and slaughters her family. Left for dead, Liv pleads to Skuld – norn and weaver of the future – to spare her. A deal is struck that will endow her with the dark magic needed to claim her vengeance. But this power comes at an unfathomable price…

 

Ink made from the ashes of loved ones.

 

After his home is attacked, Calder races to warn neighboring villages of the threat. Little does he know he’s traveling into the path of fate that will lead him straight to Liv. Despite being broken, angry, and overwhelmed by power she cannot contain, it’s her willingness to defend others that draws Calder to her.

 

Armor forged from the bones of those she held dear.

 

Together, Liv and Calder discover they are two sides of the same sharpened blade. Rising from the heartache and fury in their pasts, they see a future together worth fighting for. With their strengths and hearts combined, can they become a force powerful enough to defeat the fleet of darkness coming for them? Or will the thread of fate that binds them unravel?

 

Praise for With Shield and Ink and Bone:

 

“An exhilarating Viking-inspired fantasy, With Shield and Ink and Bone by Casey L. Bond keeps your nerves teetering on the blade of an ax!” – Lani Forbes, award-winning author of the Age of the Seventh Sun series

 

“With Shield and Ink and Bone is a fast-paced, vivid, and mesmerizing tale that will keep you hooked from beginning to end. If you love Vikings or strong heroines you’ll find lots to enjoy here! Casey L. Bond has woven together unexpected twists, high stakes, romance, and bargains with gods to create this original story for readers.” -Victoria McCombs, author of The Storyteller’s Daughter

 

Casey L. Bond has managed to take a classic genre and make it new and fresh. A page turner that kept me staying up late just to know what was going to happen next. Excellent writing, excellent story. Well done!” – Quinn Loftis, USA Today bestselling author of the Grey Wolves series and The Viking’s Chosen

writing, excellent story. Well done!” – Quinn Loftis, USA Today bestselling author of The Grey Wolves series and The Viking’s Chosen

NOW LIVE & AVAILABLE ON KU!

 

Casey Bond lives in West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. She likes goats and yoga, but hasn’t tried goat yoga because the family goat is so big he might break her back. Seriously, he’s the size of a pony. Her favorite books are the ones that contain magical worlds and flawed characters she would want to hang out with. Most days of the week, she writes young adult fantasy books, letting her imaginary friends spill onto the blank page.

Casey is the award-winning author of When Wishes Bleed, the Frenzy series, and fairy tale retellings such as Riches to Rags, Savage Beauty, Unlocked and Brutal Curse. Learn more about her work at http://www.authorcaseybond.com.

Author Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Pinterest | Amazon | Bookbub | Bond-Tourage | Newsletter

NOW LIVE & AVAILABLE ON KU!

 

 

 

Title: With Shield and Ink and Bone
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: Upper YA Historical Fantasy
Editor: Stacy Sanford/ The Girl with the Red Pen
Cover Designer: Melissa Stevens at The Illustrated Author
Publication Date: Nov. 13th, 2020
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb: 

A hard-earned shield.

Days before she is to take her place as a shield maiden, like her mother before her, two deaths alter the course of Liv’s future. One belonged to a witch who called her by name, the other a chieftain from the north. Vengeance for the chieftain’s death comes in a wild fury that burns her village and slaughters her family. Left for dead, Liv pleads to Skuld – norn and weaver of the future – to spare her. A deal is struck that will endow her with the dark magic needed to claim her vengeance. But this power comes at an unfathomable price…

Ink made from the ashes of loved ones.

After his home is attacked, Calder races to warn neighboring villages of the threat. Little does he know he’s traveling into the path of fate that will lead him straight to Liv. Despite being broken, angry, and overwhelmed by power she cannot contain, it’s her willingness to defend others that draws Calder to her.

Armor forged from the bones of those she held dear.

Together, Liv and Calder discover they are two sides of the same sharpened blade. Rising from the heartache and fury in their pasts, they see a future together worth fighting for. With their strengths and hearts combined, can they become a force powerful enough to defeat the fleet of darkness coming for them? Or will the thread of fate that binds them unravel?

 

Praise for With Shield and Ink and Bone:

 

“An exhilarating Viking-inspired fantasy, With Shield and Ink and Bone by Casey L. Bond keeps your nerves teetering on the blade of an ax!” – Lani Forbes, award-winning author of the Age of the Seventh Sun series 

“With Shield and Ink and Bone is a fast-paced, vivid, and mesmerizing tale that will keep you hooked from beginning to end. If you love Vikings or strong heroines you’ll find lots to enjoy here! Casey L. Bond has woven together unexpected twists, high stakes, romance, and bargains with gods to create this original story for readers.” -Victoria McCombs, author of The Storyteller’s Daughter 

Casey L. Bond has managed to take a classic genre and make it new and fresh. A page turner that kept me staying up late just to know what was going to happen next. Excellent writing, excellent story. Well done!” – Quinn Loftis, USA Today bestselling author of the Grey Wolves series and The Viking’s Chosen

writing, excellent story. Well done!” – Quinn Loftis, USA Today bestselling author of The Grey Wolves series and The Viking’s Chosen

 

Casey Bond lives in West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. She likes goats and yoga, but hasn’t tried goat yoga because the family goat is so big he might break her back. Seriously, he’s the size of a pony. Her favorite books are the ones that contain magical worlds and flawed characters she would want to hang out with. Most days of the week, she writes young adult fantasy books, letting her imaginary friends spill onto the blank page.

Casey is the award-winning author of When Wishes Bleed, the Frenzy series, and fairy tale retellings such as Riches to Rags, Savage Beauty, Unlocked and Brutal Curse. Learn more about her work at http://www.authorcaseybond.com.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Pinterest | Amazon | Bookbub | Bond-Tourage | Newsletter

 

 

 

Title: The Ghost Files – 7 Year Anniversary Edition
Author: Apryl Baker
Genre: YA Horror/Paranormal
Cover Designer: DerangedDoctor Design
Publisher: LimitlessPublishing, LLC
Publication Date: Oct. 29th, 2020
Hosted by: LadyAmber’s PR

Blurb:

Cherry blossom lipstick: check

Smokey eyes: check

Skinny jeans: check

Dead kid in the mirror: check

For sixteen year old Mattie Hathaway, this is her normal everyday routine. She’s been able to see
ghosts since her mother tried to murder her when she was five years old. No way
does she want anyone to know she can talk to spooks. Being a foster kid is hard
enough without being labeled a freak too.

 Normally, she just ignores the ghosts and they go away. That is until she see’s the ghost of her
foster sister… Sally.

Everyone thinks Sally’s just another runaway, but Mattie knows the truth—she’s dead. Murdered.
Mattie feels like she has to help Sally, but she can’t do it alone. Against her
better judgment, she teams up with a young policeman, Officer Dan, and together
they set out to discover the real truth behind Sally’s disappearance.

Only to find out she’s dealing with a much bigger problem, a serial killer, and she may be the next
victim…

Will Mattie be able to find out the truth before the killer finds her?

NOW LIVE!

So who am I?

Well, I’m the crazy girl with an imagination that never shuts up. I LOVE scary movies. My friends laugh at me when I scare myself watching them and tell me to stop watching them, but who doesn’t love to get scared? I grew up in a small town nestled in the southern mountains of West Virginia where I spent days roaming around in the woods, climbing trees, and causing general mayhem. Nights I would stay up reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under the covers until my parents yelled at me to go to sleep.

Now, I live in a small town in West Virginia where I entertain my niece and nephew and watch the cats get teased by the birds and laugh myself silly when they swoop down and then dive back up just out of reach. The cats start yelling something fierce…lol.

I love books, I love writing books, and I love entertaining people with my silly stories.

 

Author Links:

Facebook | Twitter | Wattpad | Website | Instagram

Newsletter | Goodreads | Amazon | Bookbub | Blog | Reader Group

 

 

 

 Title: The Shape of Darkness

Author: D. Fischer
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
Cover & Trailer Designer: Divinus Kingdom
Publishing
Publisher: Divinus Kingdom Publishing
Publication
Date: January 16
th, 2021
Hosted by: LadyAmber’s PR

 

Blurb:

“Is there anyone you trust, Nefari?” Dao asks. “Yes. I trust death.”

 

For ten years, Nefari Ashcroft, princess of the Shadow Kingdom, has hidden. For ten years,
she’s endured the memory of everyone she’s lost. Half the shadow people are
dead, the other half are enslaved, and her once prosperous kingdom is nothing
but an elaborate mass grave.

 

Now, dark magic has allowed the Queen of Salix to wreak havoc on the realm; wraiths hunt from the
sky, the harvestmen march across the land, and the bone criers pick apart the
flesh of the corpses left behind.

 

Nefari was prophesied to rise and be the sword of the realm. With her bright magic, she
was born to conquer the darkness. And for ten years, she’s trained to do just
that. . .

 

It should be easy, since everyone thought she died the day her kingdom was destroyed. But staying
hidden – remaining ‘nobody’ – is simpler than accepting her past, enduring her
fate, and claiming her crown.

 

This book follows The Woe of Shadows (Heavy Lies the Crown: Prequel).

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

Bestselling and award-winning author D. Fischer is a mother of two very busy boys, a wife to a
wonderful husband, and an owner of two sock-loving German Shorthair Pointers.
They also have a cat named Geralt, but since Geralt adopted them and not the
other way around, the cat is more of a tenant who occasionally purr-purrs for
his rent, if he’s not too busy murdering nerf darts.

Together, these misfits live in Orange City, Iowa.

When D. Fischer isn’t chasing after her children, she spends her time typing like a mad woman
while consuming vast amounts of caffeine. Sometimes, if her husband can manage
to remind her of the real world outside her office window, they hike!

Known for the darker side of imagination, she enjoys freeing her creativity through worlds
that don’t exist, no matter how much we wish they did.

Author Links:

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Facebook GroupBookbubTwitter

 NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

 

 

 

Title: A Stolen Empire Boxset
Author: Sherry D. Ficklin
Genre: YA Historical Romance
Cover Designer: Strong Image Editing
Publication Date: Oct. 12th, 2020
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb: 

 

The Stolen Empire series is a decedent journey through the eras of Russia’s most scandalous
queens, Catherine the Great and Empress Elizabeth. Beginning with the humble
origins of young Sophie—the girl destined to become Catherine—and culminating
with her coronation, this series offers a fanciful glimpse inside the life of
the dynamic, strong young woman who won the hand of a king, the heart of a
nation, and, ultimately, sacrificed her own innocence on the throne of an
empire. The trials and tribulations of court left their scars on young Sophie,
but she faced down every obstacle with the courage and grace of a queen.

But before Catherine was great, there was Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, whose claim to the
sovereignty of Russia was thwarted at every turn. Passed over time and again,
she battled a corrupt council, distant and unhinged relatives, and even her own
desires to seize the throne that should have been hers.  Surviving personal tragedies, unimaginable
losses, and political sabotage, Elizabeth clawed her way to the top, becoming
the first woman to lead the Romanov Empire—but also the one who laid the
groundwork for its eventual destruction.

Don’t miss this scandalous series about the tenacious women who rose up to rule in infamy, and,
in doing so, changed the fate of Russia forever.

 

99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Sherry is the author
of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including the best selling
Stolen Empire series. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with
a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the
other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness
monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

 

Author Links:

FacebookWebsiteTwitterAmazon

Goodreads BookbubInstagram

 99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME!

 

 

Title: With Shield and Ink and Bone
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: Upper YA Historical Fantasy
Editor: Stacy Sanford/ The Girl with the Red Pen
Publication Date: Nov. 13th, 2020
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb: 

 

A hard-earned shield.

Days before she is to take her place as a shield maiden, like her mother before her, two deaths
alter the course of Liv’s future. One belonged to a witch who called her by
name, the other a chieftain from the north. Vengeance for the chieftain’s death
comes in a wild fury that burns her village and slaughters her family. Left for
dead, Liv pleads to Skuld – norn and weaver of the future – to spare her. A
deal is struck that will endow her with the dark magic needed to claim her
vengeance. But this power comes at an unfathomable price…

 

Ink made from the ashes of loved ones.

 

After his home is attacked, Calder races to warn neighboring villages of the threat. Little
does he know he’s traveling into the path of fate that will lead him straight
to Liv. Despite being broken, angry, and overwhelmed by power she cannot
contain, it’s her willingness to defend others that draws Calder to her.

 

Armor forged from the bones of those she held dear.

 

Together, Liv and Calder discover they are two sides of the same sharpened blade. Rising from
the heartache and fury in their pasts, they see a future together worth
fighting for. With their strengths and hearts combined, can they become a force
powerful enough to defeat the fleet of darkness coming for them? Or will the
thread of fate that binds them unravel?

 

Praise for With Shield and Ink and Bone:

 

“An exhilarating Viking-inspired fantasy, With Shield and Ink and Bone by Casey L.
Bond keeps your nerves teetering on the blade of an ax!” – Lani Forbes,
award-winning author of the Age of the Seventh Sun series

 

“With Shield and Ink and Bone is a fast-paced, vivid, and mesmerizing tale that will keep
you hooked from beginning to end. If you love Vikings or strong heroines you’ll
find lots to enjoy here! Casey L. Bond has woven together unexpected twists,
high stakes, romance, and bargains with gods to create this original story for
readers.” -Victoria McCombs, author of The Storyteller’s Daughter

 

Casey L. Bond has managed to take a classic genre and make it new and fresh. A page
turner that kept me staying up late just to know what was going to happen next.
Excellent writing, excellent story. Well done!” – Quinn Loftis, USA Today
bestselling author of the Grey Wolves series and The Viking’s Chosen
writing,
excellent story. Well done!” – Quinn Loftis, USA Today bestselling author of
The Grey Wolves series and The Viking’s Chosen

 

Casey Bond lives in West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters.
She likes goats and yoga, but hasn’t tried goat yoga because the family goat is
so big he might break her back. Seriously, he’s the size of a pony. Her
favorite books are the ones that contain magical worlds and flawed characters
she would want to hang out with. Most days of the week, she writes young adult
fantasy books, letting her imaginary friends spill onto the blank page.

 

Casey is the award-winning author of When Wishes Bleed, the Frenzy series, and fairy
tale retellings such as Riches to Rags, Savage Beauty, Unlocked and Brutal
Curse. Learn more about her work at http://www.authorcaseybond.com.


Author Links

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads
Pinterest
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“Words hold power,” she finally said, taking up a long, wooden staff and walking toward me,
closing the distance between us. I realized it was her wand, not a staff. The
tip looked woven, like strands in a basket, but even as they bowed from the
staff itself, they rejoined to make a fine tip. They said witches could use
their wands to spin the fates of lesser men.

I wasn’t lesser. My eyes narrowed at her closeness.

“Few realize that,” she continued, undeterred. “They waste what little power they have by wagging
their tongues too much.” She smiled as she approached, stopping only when the
bottom of her crimson skirts brushed the tops of my boots. “But not you. You
observe first and speak only when it’s necessary. Even when your mother doesn’t
warn you beforehand.”

I swallowed thickly as she lifted a hand and let her thumb ghost down the lumps and bumps
of my braid, pausing over the iron serpent coiled around it. She took in my
shield. “I need you to come with me now, Liv.” She turned her back to me and
began walking away from the shore.

“How do you know my name?” I asked, refusing to follow her retreating form as she walked
toward the wood.

She turned with a knowing smile on her lips. “Because someone very important has a message for
you.”

She continued her trek, using her wand to help her up the slope, weaving herself into the
oaks and pines as if she was a scarlet thread in the forest’s vast tapestry.

My feet followed her.

The coppery scent of blood filled the air and we entered the spot where the animals had
been slain. They hung from thick branches in the trees above us, their blood
leaking into pots and jugs, buckets and bowls. “We must sit amongst them,” she
said, laying down her wand. She gathered her fine gown and sat on the forest
floor. “On Winternights especially, there is more power in the dead than in the
living.”

Hodor had stood there earlier. He split his rope to hang each of the animals we brought to
later smoke and preserve. 

I recognized each of them. The scrawny lamb that was born too late in the year and wouldn’t
survive the cold, the goat with the lame hoof, the runty piglet who was born
months ago, but wouldn’t grow despite the amount of food she ate.

Now they were dead, hanging limply from branches, and the witch wanted me to sit with her
beneath them, surrounded by captured puddles of their blood.

Silently, she stared at me and waited for me to comply with her request. I slowly walked
forward, the wind stirring the strands of hair escaping my braids as I stepped
beneath the animals. The moment my backside touched the forest floor, a strange
energy washed through the air.

The dead animals hanging above us began to writhe. The lamb let out a pitiful bleat and
the pig weakly grunted. The cocks flapped their wings and flew in circles. Blood
droplets landed on us. I ducked and shielded my head with my arms, looking to
the witch as goosebumps erupted over my skin.

She sat calmly, completely unaffected. Her cool, brown eyes were fixed on me.

The animals went still again as a gust of wind tore their spirits away once more. My heart
fluttered as I watched them rock back and forth, the ropes that held their
weight creaking on the rough limbs until they finally went still.

Splat.

Splat. Splat.

More droplets of blood splashed into the containers beneath them, wrung out by spirit and
wind.

A slow smile spread over the völva’s berry-stained lips. “There is power in blood and bone,”
the witch offered.

Power in words.

Power in blood and bone.

Power in the slain.

For me, Winternights had always been a raucous mixture of celebration and
spine-tingling fear. The dead walked the earth and joined us as we bade
farewell to summer and greeted the frigid winter, bade farewell to the earth’s
life and let death claim it again, as it had claimed our kinsmen. We were
nearer to them on this night, for they dwelt in the coldness of death now after
their walks in the sun, among the living.

“Why did you ask for me?”

“I told you.Someone has a message for you.”

She untied a small pouch from the belt at her waist and withdrew a wad of leaves, placing
them in her mouth and chewing them. She rolled her neck. Her silken hair fell
over her shoulders as she rocked forward and back, forward and back. Her
movements, once smooth, became jerky and erratic. Her breathing became labored.
She wrung her hands. Her legs fidgeted.

A burning smell filled the air. Not one of oak chips or firewood, but one that smelled of
sizzling flesh.

I scooted away from her.

Her hand clamped onto my ankle. “No!” she snapped. “Do not retreat. She is near.”

I looked over my shoulders, all around the shadowy wood. If someone was close, I couldn’t
sense her. No branches snapped. No leaves rustled.

She removed another small bundle of herbs from her pouch and offered it to me. “Chew.”

I shook my head when she insistently pushed it toward me. I didn’t take it from her. “It is the
gateway to the weavers… to the norns.”

Blood whooshed through my head, through my ears. “The norns?” I asked breathlessly. The
weavers called for me? By name?

“Skuld wishes to speak with you. This is the only way.”

The witch dipped her fingernails into a pot of lamb’s blood and flicked it toward my
face. Small droplets sprayed my skin.

She shoved the wad of blood-soaked leaves into my hand. My clammy palm wrapped around them,
then unfurled. It wasn’t wise to eat certain plants. Some would cause visions,
but some… some killed. And völva often sacrificed humans to the norns and to
the gods. 

They would drug them, and when they did not know their head from their feet, the witches would
tear the heart from their chest and hold it, still beating, in their hands,
calling out to the gods to show what they’d done for them.

“I won’t eat it.”

 “But, Skuld—” The witch’s voice cut off. Her breath hitched, then a squeak escaped her throat. My mother stood behind her,
the tip of her knife biting into the woman’s skin, her knee in the witch’s
back.

The runes began to writhe on her forehead, cheeks, and throat as she called upon her magic, but
my mother didn’t care. She held her blade tightly and refused to relent.

What is she doing? The witch will kill us both! Or Skuld may decide to clip the threads of
our lives for refusing her… I leapt to my feet.

“I believe she declined your request,” Mother gritted.

The völva’s dark eyes locked on mine. “You are making a mistake. You’ve seen the first sign
of what is to come.”