Category: horror

Slayer by Kiersten White Review

Title: Slayer

Author: Kiersten White

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Series: Slayer, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I won a signed copy of this book in a contest from Fierce Reads. Thank you so much!

               Shows like Buffy and Angel were things that I was obsessed with as a teenager because they contained all of my favorite things: monsters, magic, darkness, high stakes, and forbidden love. I haven’t seen either of them in years. But I ordered this book from my local library and before I could finish it, I had to take it back. Which was just as well, because a few days later, I received a copy of Slayer from Fierce Reads, and it was signed! I was so excited. It’s been sitting on my ever-growing book stack for a few months now, and once I was finished with The Everlasting Rose, I started Slayer. Taking place in the same universe as Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but after the events of the comics. Dark, hilarious, heartfelt and scary, I loved this take on the Buffyverse by one of my favorite authors! One of my favorite books of 2019!

               Nina Jamison-Smythe knows her place in the world. She and her twin sister, Artemis, are both in training to become Watchers, the organization of individuals that help guide Slayers.  She is the healer, the medic, the gentler of the two. She lives in her sister’s shadow, something she both takes refuge in and resents. But when Buffy literally breaks magic, The Watchers are rendered obsolete. Consumed by rage and hatred toward Buffy and Slayers in general, whom she blames for her father’s death, Nina is determined to make a difference in the world. But everything changes when she becomes a Slayer. And not just a Slayer, but the very last Slayer in existence. Forced to bear the burden of powers she never wanted; people begin to die around the castle. Enmeshed in the mystery, Nina must use her newfound powers to save the people she loves. But is she meant to save the world? Or to destroy it?

               Kiersten White is one of my favorite authors, and so when I found out that she was writing a novel set in the Buffyverse, I was so excited! And I was lucky enough to receive a free, signed copy! I loved this book; it felt like I was returning to a place that I had dearly missed, without even knowing! Right out of the gate, I loved it so much. It had all of the darkness, humor, and mystery of Buffy. It’s not a requirement to be a Buffy fan to read this book; it can be read without knowing anything about the comics or show. But I loved the little Easter eggs I kept finding. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the characters, but especially Nina; I really related to her. I loved her character development, her growth from a timid, resentful child to a fiercely powerful and kind young woman who uses her Slayer powers for the good of her loved ones. Artemis, Leo, Honora, and the girls’ mother were also distinctive characters who provoked a strong reaction with me. Dark, terrifying, and full of humor and heart, this book felt like coming home. I very much enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read Chosen! At times, Nina butting heads with everyone got on my nerves; it kind of took away from the book, but overall, this series starter was strong, and I can’t wait for the next book! Next on deck: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/05/slayer-by-kiersten-white-review.html

Desperation

               Desperation

This has been going on for weeks, and I don’t know if I can take any more.

               The cold stone floor bites through my clothes, and I grit my teeth, tears of exhaustion pouring down my face.

               I do not know when my captor will come back, though I am praying to the gods that I have a reprieve.

               The size of my cell is tiny, barely enough room for me to lie down. In the corner there is a dirty metal plate, a chamber pot, and a pail of dirty water that is beginning to smell.

               There are no windows, so I have no way of keeping track of the time. My days have all bled together, a blur of violence and nightmares. My memories of life before this existence as a prisoner are few and far between.

               I am broken from my thoughts by the deafening screech of a door swinging on rusty hinges. I scramble into a sitting position, putting my back against the wall. The cold, heavy manacles around my wrists and ankles have rubbed my skin raw, and I bite back a cry of agony.

               The sound of slow, sure footsteps echoes throughout the cavernous chamber, and I find myself wishing that I had the company of the rats and insects that live in this hovel.

               If only I could rip out his eyes… The thought brings me a burst of dark, unexpected pleasure.

               After all, there’s not much else to do but dream up ways to revenge, in my position.

               After what seems like a whole eternity, my captor finally shows himself, standing in front of my cell door.

In the weak torchlight, he looks sallow, washed out, his eyes like tiny black pebbles in his face. His red, bulbous nose is swollen, and when I look closer, his eyes are bloodshot. There are food and sweat stains on his fine silk coat, and it’s all I can do not to let my disgust show on my face.

“Have you given any consideration to my offer, my dear?” He asks me, his words slurring.

“What does it matter? My answer is the same, always. No.”

At this, his mask of a fine courtier slips, and his lips curl. He spits, and I barely manage to dodge it.

“I believe I’ve been quite generous, considering your… situation. But fine. If you wish to rot in your cell for the rest of your days, that is your human right.”

Despite myself, despite aching for every bit of control I have, I laugh. The sound edges on hysterical, and I can feel my power coiling like a snake in my chest, calling upon the rats and the bugs and everything hiding under the flagstones. I don’t have much left; I’ve had very little sustenance.

“But know this, my love. You’re not the only one who suffers from your choices.”

I know who he is referring to. My family, outside of the palace.

Heat builds in my chest, and I murmur a command under my breath, disguised as a prayer to the Father Earth and Mother Sky.

The creatures within this prison hear my call, and heed it. The rats and flies descend on him in a black cloud, enveloping him until there is naught but dust. His screams echo off of the walls, but they are as music to me.

In his place, there lays a shining metal key, and I just barely manage to reach through the bars and snatch it. My hands are shaking so badly I almost drop it.

But my power has won me my freedom. It is finished.

**

Desperation

               Desperation

This has been going on for weeks, and I don’t know if I can take any more.

               The cold stone floor bites through my clothes, and I grit my teeth, tears of exhaustion pouring down my face.

               I do not know when my captor will come back, though I am praying to the gods that I have a reprieve.

               The size of my cell is tiny, barely enough room for me to lie down. In the corner there is a dirty metal plate, a chamber pot, and a pail of dirty water that is beginning to smell.

               There are no windows, so I have no way of keeping track of the time. My days have all bled together, a blur of violence and nightmares. My memories of life before this existence as a prisoner are few and far between.

               I am broken from my thoughts by the deafening screech of a door swinging on rusty hinges. I scramble into a sitting position, putting my back against the wall. The cold, heavy manacles around my wrists and ankles have rubbed my skin raw, and I bite back a cry of agony.

               The sound of slow, sure footsteps echoes throughout the cavernous chamber, and I find myself wishing that I had the company of the rats and insects that live in this hovel.

               If only I could rip out his eyes… The thought brings me a burst of dark, unexpected pleasure.

               After all, there’s not much else to do but dream up ways to revenge, in my position.

               After what seems like a whole eternity, my captor finally shows himself, standing in front of my cell door.

In the weak torchlight, he looks sallow, washed out, his eyes like tiny black pebbles in his face. His red, bulbous nose is swollen, and when I look closer, his eyes are bloodshot. There are food and sweat stains on his fine silk coat, and it’s all I can do not to let my disgust show on my face.

“Have you given any consideration to my offer, my dear?” He asks me, his words slurring.

“What does it matter? My answer is the same, always. No.”

At this, his mask of a fine courtier slips, and his lips curl. He spits, and I barely manage to dodge it.

“I believe I’ve been quite generous, considering your… situation. But fine. If you wish to rot in your cell for the rest of your days, that is your human right.”

Despite myself, despite aching for every bit of control I have, I laugh. The sound edges on hysterical, and I can feel my power coiling like a snake in my chest, calling upon the rats and the bugs and everything hiding under the flagstones. I don’t have much left; I’ve had very little sustenance.

“But know this, my love. You’re not the only one who suffers from your choices.”

I know who he is referring to. My family, outside of the palace.

Heat builds in my chest, and I murmur a command under my breath, disguised as a prayer to the Father Earth and Mother Sky.

The creatures within this prison hear my call, and heed it. The rats and flies descend on him in a black cloud, enveloping him until there is naught but dust. His screams echo off of the walls, but they are as music to me.

In his place, there lays a shining metal key, and I just barely manage to reach through the bars and snatch it. My hands are shaking so badly I almost drop it.

But my power has won me my freedom. It is finished.

**

Rise and Fall of the Roman Vampire

Rise and Fall of the Roman Vampire

(WP) Dream a Little Dream of Me

(WP) Dream a Little Dream of Me

               The
Dream Police hadn’t been an official unit for very long when a rather unusual
case was brought to my desk.

Never mind that I was just a
rookie, the head of a brand-new department, designed to combat the rampant
crimes that took place inside of the subconscious. The stew of dark thoughts
that brewed in the human mind had the power to manifest in real life if not
eradicated from the brain properly.

It scared the hell out of me, and
it reminded me of a Lovecraftian tale; but being the greenest on the squad, I’d
been stuck with it. Of course, there was a senior detective above me, ‘overseeing’
what me and my guys did, but that was more for show than practice.

I was just about to head home to my
husband and children when I noticed a fat manila file sitting on my desk, with
a bright purple post-it note on it. Blocky red writing ordered me to ‘look into
this as soon as possible!’.

I took off my coat and put it over
the back of my desk chair; I needed to make coffee, but first, I needed to let
my family know that I wouldn’t be home for dinner.

I pulled my phone out of my coat
pocket and dialed home, cradling the device between my ear and shoulder.

When Jasper picked up, I could hear
the kids shrieking in the background; the sound brought a smile to my face.

I loved my job, but I loved my
family more.

“Hello?” Jasper’s voice was
breathy, as if he’d been running around, chasing the children.

“Hey, Jasper.” I said, already
dreading having to say the words. “I’m not going to be able to make it for
dinner tonight.”

There was a short pause, as if he
wanted to say something, but chose not to. If he was angry, I couldn’t really
blame him; recently, work had been taking up most of my waking time. I hated
it, but I didn’t want to let my boss down either. He’d chosen me for this.

“All right, honey,” He replied. “I
can just save a plate for you, put it in the fridge.”

“I’m so sorry! I know that this is
the third time in a week. I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

“With a date with me and the kids?
They miss you, Darius.”

“Of course. I’ll ask for time off
this weekend, and I won’t take no for an answer. You know how important you and
the kids are to me.”

I could hear Jasper’s smile in his
voice, and almost feel him softening.

“You better, or you’ll be in
trouble, mister! I love you. I’ll see you when you get home.”

“I love you too, Jasper. Kiss the
kids for me. I’ll try not to be all night.”

We said our goodbyes, and I got to
work.

**

I spent the night poring over the
case file, and as I gathered details and took notes, I became more and more
disturbed. A kernel of unease began to grow outward from my chest.

The dreams always had the same
theme: someone running through a dark marsh, slogging through mud and brackish
water, unable to find their way through the dark. And then something springing
from the water and dragging them under. There would be some struggling, and
bubbles floating to the surface, and then the person being chased bobbed on the
water, eyes staring up sightless at the sky.

It appeared that we had a serial
killer haunting everyone’s dreams.

**

A Yuletide Party, With a Side of Zombies

A Yuletide Party, with a Side of Zombies

Part One: The Feast

Everyone in the kingdom, no matter
their station, was invited to the Yuletide party at the castle.

Nobles and gentry hailed carriages,
looking like frosted, pale pumpkins in the snow, cutting a path up to the
castle. Peasants came either by horse, boat, or on foot, bundled up against the
bite of the winter chill, with what little they could offer the king and queen
for their generosity in tow.

Schools were closed, a resting day
declared, and farmers put down their scythes and axes, eager for a respite,
however brief, from their labors. Servants in fine livery, lined with fur,
stood at the doors, escorting people inside and to their seats at the table in
the grand hall, which was an event unto itself. Strands of holly berries hung
from the ceiling, as red as freshly spilled blood, and mistletoe hung from
doorjambs and strung from bannisters, inviting secretive trysts in the dark,
sweet-smelling alcoves throughout the castle.

The king and queen, Rueben and
Iris, were already seated at the long wooden table, their faces looking
strangely ghostly in the dim, golden candlelight.

Rueben was dressed in pine green,
so dark that it looked black in the hushed atmosphere. His face was strong and
proud, his olive skin full of shadows in the dark, but the most notable thing
about his face was a wicked scar that cut a jagged line from his eyebrow to his
mouth. Nonetheless, he was very handsome in spite of it; his dark hair was
spiked beneath the bejeweled crown that he wore on his brow, and his eyes, the
color of sun-warmed honey, gleamed with the glassiness of good health and more
than his fair share of mulled Yuletide wine.

Iris was seated at her husband’s
left, her long, chestnut hair pulled up in a bun, and she wore a net of fine,
gleaming pearls around the bun, and her bright green eyes were bright and
sparkling with good humor. She was smiling, greeting the members of her kingdom
with stately, polite nods, wearing a gown of bright yellow that brought to mind
sunflowers, one hand on her distended stomach.

They’d ruled the kingdom for more than five years now, and
everyone in the kingdom was happy to know that their queen was expecting an
heir at last.

After all, what better time to
welcome a child than the Christmas Solstice?

The castle’s chamberlain was busy
seating peasants at small, round wooden tables, taking what offerings they’d
brought and putting them on another table, adjacent to the right of the royal
couple, to be opened after the meal.

The long table groaned under the
weight of so much food: silver tureens of thick, fragrant soup, platters of
cheeses and crackers spread in appealing shapes, tiny buns that gleamed with
butter and were garnished with precious cloves, cardamom, and parsley, dozens
of loaves of bread in intricate braids, roasted vegetables of all colors
arranged in a pretty circle on a silver platter, rich roasted pig with candied
fruit in its mouth, a whole haunch of roast beef, cut into paper thin slices
and garnished with horseradish sauce and rosemary, venison in a plum sauce,
whole roasted fish adorned with citrus, its pink flesh gleaming in the low
light, and so many desserts that it was impossible to count them all: tiny
petit fours frosted with sugar and cinnamon, puddings of every flavor in giant
crystal bowls, a many-tiered cake that climbed toward the ceiling, covered with
pink and blue frosting, as if to welcome the new heir before it even came into
this world, steaming pies that showed their enticing insides: apples, pears,
sugared cranberries, quince and orange, topped with whipped cream, scented with
nutmeg, and candies of every kind, personally made by the Queen’s own
chocolatier.

The royal couple always celebrated
every Solstice by sharing the bounty of the harvests with the common folk; the
celebratory mood was further heightened by word of the baby, who was due in a
few short months.

Soon everyone was seated, and there
was a low buzz of chatter throughout the room; children were staring at the
feast with eyes as round as dinner plates, their hands on their growling
stomachs, and the adults had their heads close together; they’d all worn the
finest clothing they had, as was fitting for such a festive occasion.

The King stood up, smiling broadly
at his guests. “Welcome to my castle on this auspicious night, everyone, and my
wife and I thank you all for coming. We stand on the threshold of a new year,
and at last, the gods have smiled down upon our family, for we welcome a new
member of the royal family, after all of our faithful prayers!”

The King’s words were nearly
drowned out, as they were followed by stomping feet, applause, and loud
cheering and hoots of pleasure; he smiled genially, holding his hands up for
silence. Everyone quieted down, even the rowdy children.

“But for now, enough talk. My
household did not slave over all of this delicious food for a week for it to
get cold while I flapped my gums! Please, dig in!”

Everyone was served, from the
oldest villager to the tiniest child, and no one was denied anything; everyone
ate until they couldn’t any longer. It was part of the royal family’s holiday
oath: No one was denied warmth, food, a good time, and a place to stay. It had
been a tradition from the time that the kingdom was formed, and the entire
royal estate was full of richly furnished dwellings for everyone to stay in.

Yes, it was indeed a time of joy,
prosperity, and bounty beyond all measure. But, alas, it was not meant to last.
There would be a guest to this joyous celebration, one that would soon bring
the party to a grinding halt.

Part Two: The Visitor

The party was still in full swing,
even after the feast: Dancing followed, and though Iris was sitting on her
throne, hands cradled around her stomach, King Rueben was in the thick of it
all, surrounded by a small group of courtiers, farmers, merchants, and artisans.
He was in the middle of a lively quadrille with one of Iris’s ladies in
waiting, laughing merrily, lips parted in a bright, carefree grin. When the
music stopped, he called for another glass of wine, for himself and his dance
partner.

“More wine, please, Ezekiel!” He
called, beckoning his chamberlain forward with a bottle. The thick, rich wine
sloshed over the goblets, and the king took a hearty swig.

“Come, Diana, drink with me!” He
said, smiling at the young lady who had done him the honor of a dance while his
wife was indisposed, one of Iris’s handmaidens.

The girl smiled indulgently at the
King, first looking back to her Queen, who nodded, waving her forward with an
elegant hand. Ruben held out the glass, and she took it, their fingers brushing
briefly during the exchange. She took a few sips, handed the glass to a passing
servant, and extended her hands to the monarch, her face unreadable in the low
light. They met and began to spin across the floor, the crowd of dancing
couples parting for the most privileged and powerful man in the land.

Iris watched from her perch,
clapping her hands in time with the music, nursing a crystal goblet of mulled
cider. It felt like her joy was brimming over the boundaries of her body, but
how could she not be truly happy? She and her husband had finally been blessed
by the gods for a child, and the whole kingdom had come to help them celebrate.

The Rite of Yuletide, the celebration
that paid homage to their gods and the blessings they received in exchange for
such worship, bound everyone until the dawning of the new year, regardless of
station, class, and or trade, and Iris looked forward to it all through the
year. Even more so now that… That their family would at last, be expanded. With
her eyes on the vibrant, merry festivities, she did not notice when the doors
at the front of the room creaked open. Indeed, it took a while for anyone to
notice the person’s arrival.

The noble in question was a young
woman, dressed in a violet so dark that it seemed black in the candlelight, her
skirts trailing behind her like spilled wine. If anyone had been paying any
attention, they would’ve realized that something about this woman appeared
unusual.

Her skin wasn’t so much pale as it
was gray, and her mouth, ringed with something that looked like blood, hung
open; she was making a quiet, low moan in the back of her throat. The whites of
her eyes were yellowed, and she reached her hands out, long fingers grasping
nothing.

Everyone was so caught up in the
gaiety of the celebration that no one noticed when she grabbed a nobleman, so quickly
that she seemed to be a blur.

Next there was an awful, loud
crunching sound, and all the merriment was broken by a shrill, agonized shriek.

The sound of bones crunching
together was the only sound; the music stopped abruptly, and then the screaming
started, despite The King yelling for calm.

But when one person is eating
another, how can everyone remain calm?

**

halloween-profane: …   …   …   (\(\;;/)/)

halloween-profane:

…   …   …   (\(\;;/)/)

(WP) The Blind Date from Hell

(WP) The Blind Date From Hell

               The bar is crowded, packed wall-to-wall with people, laughing and talking over drinks, some in the middle of the dance floor, arms up in the air, lips and hips moving to the music. The smell of perfume, beer, and something fried hang in the air like a thick, heavy curtain, and the man flashing his ID to the bouncer runs a hand through his hair, cheeks and neck flushed, fingers twitching even as he shoves them in his pockets.

               Perhaps he should have had a drink after all, before he’d left his apartment. He’d spent the evening getting ready, changing his clothes three different times before he’d settled on an outfit: a suit, an Armani number that was gifted to him from his late father. Maybe he is overdressed for the small, private bar at the corner, but he wants to make a good, lasting first impression, and if he does say so himself, he cuts a clean figure in it; he flashes a grin at himself, checking his reflection in the mirror that faces opposite the bar.

               He doesn’t know exactly why he’s so anxious; it’s not as if this is his first blind date. He looks around, eyes narrowing, looking for his blind date. He spots a tall, dark-haired woman standing at the bar, a half-drank martini in front of her. She’s wearing a tight, emerald green sheath with flowers stitched into the bodice, and her legs go on for miles. He’s a goner; he’s always been such a sucker for a woman with long legs.

               Was he late? Had he wasted time, in checking his appearance so diligently? His stomach winds into tight knots, and mentally, he shakes himself.

               Get it together, Henry. You’re acting like an eighth-grader at a dance. She’s not going to bite.

               Walking up to the woman, he reaches over and taps her on the shoulder, lightly, so as not to startle her.

               “Excuse me? Are you Karen?” His voice is surprisingly steady, and his heart is beating a fierce tattoo inside of his chest.

“I’m so sorry if I’m late, I hope you weren’t waiting too long for me.”

“Oh, not at all,” Karen replies, and she turns around, her hair brushing his face just slightly; she smells of orange blossoms and rose, sharp and floral. “Are you Henry?”

“Yes, it’s great to meet you,” He says, and takes her hand in his, pecking it gently. When Henry looks back up at her, he could swear that her eyes flash crimson. But just as quickly as he sees it, it disappears, her eyes reverting back to amber.

This creature was bewitching, he has to admit, at least to himself. Maybe putting himself back out there wouldn’t be so bad after all…

**

“May I refresh your drink?” Henry asks, a little bit later when the bar begins to empty, people leaving in pairs or small groups. But that is fine with him; he is more than happy to have the place to himself. He and Karen have been talking quietly to one another; she insisted upon buying him another drink, this one a whiskey sour.

“Please, that would be fantastic, Henry,” She replies, smiling at him, tilting her head to the side slightly. She squeezes his arm, and he grins at the electricity that flares from the touch.

This is going so well, he thinks as he stands up with her glass, helping himself to the olive that she hadn’t eaten. Perhaps he’s been making a mistake, keeping to himself so much…

He buys her another martini, asking for it dirty this time. He should ask her if she wants anything to eat; maybe they could go to dinner at a real restaurant, after they’ve sobered up, of course.

As he waits, he leans on the bar, turning toward his date. Karen is on the phone now, a smile on her face, lips forming words that he couldn’t hear, even in the quiet. But she laughs, and the sound is high and bright, like the trill of harp strings. At least it doesn’t seem urgent.

Realizing he has to use the little boys’ room, he asks the bartender to take the drink to his date, and the woman happily obliges. He runs to the bathroom, trying to make sure that Karen isn’t waiting too long.

**

Henry finishes up in the restroom and starts heading back to their table, tucked in the corner, right next to a window. Karen is still on the phone, brushing her hair back from her face impatiently.

Curious but not quite sure why, he gets close enough to hear her talking, then stops. Her voice is deep, guttural, and so distinctly other that it brings him up short.

“Oh, don’t you worry, Boss. I’ve got this adorable human eating out of the palm of my hand. I’ll feed this vessel, and then, once we get back to his place, I’ll eat his heart and deliver his soul straight to you. But remember, we had a deal. You renege, I keep the poor sucker’s soul for myself. A human soul is a source of great power.”

There was a short pause, and Karen’s lips tighten, as if she does not like the response she receives.

“Just hold up your end of the bargain, and I’ll do my part. Don’t doubt me.”

Karen looks up, and sees Henry standing there. She beckons him closer, smiling seductively, but he can see this time that her eyes are red, the color of old, congealing blood. Her teeth are sharp and pointed, more like fangs than human teeth.

“Come, Henry. Haven’t we been having a good time?”

**

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa …

Title: The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

Author: Alyssa Palombo

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Romance/Horror

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Hey, guys! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while; with the holidays and my life getting crazy, I’m a little bit behind. But I’m back now! I hope everyone had a fun, safe holiday with friends, family, and food, and of course, books! I’m ready for 2019 and everything it has in store for all of us.

I heard of The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel through a Facebook ad; Sleepy Hollow was one of the very first American folktales I’d ever heard as a child, so anything involving that is instantly on my radar.  The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel is a gorgeously written romance combined with creepy, spinetingling horror, and overall, I really enjoyed it, though I wished that the book focused more on the magic aspect rather than the love triangle between Katrina, Ichabod Crane, and the local paragon, Brom Bones. Nonetheless, this was a beautifully written, expertly paced, and transfixing romance wrapped up in dark legend and magic. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of her work!

In the sleepy village of Sleepy Hollow, in the wake of The Revolutionary War and George Washington’s presidency, Katrina Van Tassel is exceedingly well-read, more interested in books and learning than in finding a husband. But that all changes when the new schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane comes to town. Bonded by a love of books and music, they quickly form a friendship that deepens into true love, and the pair begin a forbidden love affair. Meanwhile, Brom Bones, the local hero, is also vying for Katrina’s hand in marriage. But the legend of The Headless Horsemen still lurks inside the minds of the town’s residents, and when Ichabod disappears, Katrina is determined to find out what really happened to her beloved. But when she begins searching for answers, she discovers that some things are better left buried…

This book was really enjoyable; it was meticulously researched and finely written. I loved the gothic feel of the writing and the small, gossipy town of Sleepy Hollow, and all of the characters, especially headstrong, independent Katrina, and her best friend, rumored to be a witch, Charlotte. But honestly, I was expecting more. I was hoping that the focus would be more on the dark magic and the actual legend of the Headless Horseman, rather than the love triangle between Katrina, Ichabod, and Brom Bones, who really made me think of Gaston, a la the animated Beauty and the Beast, but I really liked it. The romance was really sweet and grew into something really beautiful, and I enjoyed the way that the local legends and magic were wrapped into the narrative. I really liked the ending. Despite this book not being exactly what I expected, I really enjoyed it, and I’m really looking forward to more of Palombo’s work. The bottom line: A gorgeous, romantic historical tale that draws inspirations from one of my very first American folktales, I really liked The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel, and I’m looking forward to more of her work! Next on deck: Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi!

https://literatureobsessed.blogspot.com/2019/01/title-spellbook-of-katrina-van-tassel.html

(IP) Love and Jealousy

(IP) Love and Jealousy

               There
had been rumors of the remnants of a spirit haunting the woods for years:
whispers on the wind, a rush of cold gusts blowing in faces, even on the balmiest
of summer days, animal bones of all sizes scattered in the bright, verdant foliage.

               People
from the village, and even from far away, tended to stay away from the forest, even
the elders. Whatever lurked inside was best left alone, everyone said. Of
course, that didn’t stop reckless children and curious youths from sneaking
into the wood and searching for the thing that haunted it.

               Never
mind that they’d been told of the risk, that they knew better. Nothing else
came close to the sweet, painful burn of anticipation and terror.

               **

               “We
shouldn’t be doing this,” A female voice whispered, impish with unseen glee. “What
if the ghost gets us?”

“Everyone knows that that is just a
fairy tale. A horror story told to scare the young,” Another voice replied,
chuckling quietly. “Besides, I’ll protect you.”

“My hero.”

The couple used the shadows for camouflage,
and as they drew into a heated embrace in a clearing, neither of them could
sense the invisible entity watching them, aflame with silent jealousy.

**

How
dare they? How dare they come into her domain and so foolishly taunt with their
bright, delicate humanity?

The spirit hovered above them, her
form flickering, swaying like a candle in a high wind, bright white teeth gritted,
garish scarlet lips peeled back in a snarl. It just wasn’t fair, and the anger
that was a constant companion, her only friend, flared to life inside of her.
If she couldn’t have what they did, she would do the only thing she could: to
take them from each other, and their world.

Perhaps that was not her right, but
so many centuries had passed she had stopped caring. She was dead, and nearly
gone, and what remained were mere pieces.

**

The couple broke apart, and the
woman shivered, burying her head into her paramour’s neck.

“What was that?” She asked,
clinging to him tighter. “It got cold.”

“It may just be the wind,” He said,
holding her flush against him, trying to warm her. “You don’t have to be afraid.
No one has ever seen the ghost, it’s all just nonsense.”

Before the couple realized what was
happening, they were ripped apart, thrown to the cold ground; they hit the
earth with two hard thuds, limbs akimbo and teeth rattling in skulls.

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” A bodiless
voice purred, hovering inches before the man’s face. Cold fingers trailed down
his cheeks, and icy, lush lips touched his. When he opened his lips under the
invisible pressure, cold breath entered his lungs, and when it disappeared,
there was nothing left but a pale, frozen corpse, and his lips were still
gaping wide, eyes staring up at the black night.

His lover’s screams shattered the
silence of the evening like glass, and the last thing she heard was maniacal
female laughter before she lost consciousness.

**