Something *very* exciting happened on Saturday! I got up and popped on over to check my email–like I do–and had a message from a friend of mine in England, asking if I was aware that UNHOLY GHOSTS was in the Times. Uh…no. What times? The Times, as in the London Times? The real Times of London, not, like, the Sempford Peverell Times or the Clovery-Buttington Times or something.
No. It was the real Times, in London, the real national newspaper TIMES. They had a pullout section for summer reading, and UNHOLY GHOSTS was one of the six books their reviewer chose as their Summer Fantasy Picks!
So as you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about that.
Second, we have a couple of reviews for UNHOLY MAGIC, which, yes, will be released tomorrow*. From Abigail at ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY:
Like any drug, the first taste gets your attention but its the second taste that gets you hooked. I though the first Downside Ghosts book, Unholy Ghosts, was an impressive debut, but UNHOLY MAGIC is even better. I am well and truly addicted to this dark, seductive urban fantasy series.
Unholy Magic is book two in the Downside Ghosts series & without a doubt my favorite new series of 2010…I tried real hard to read Unholy Magic slowly, because the wait for City of Ghosts may be too much for me. I think I’m already going into withdrawals. Stacia Kane does not disappoint & crafts one of the most original new series of [the year].
*I’ve heard quite a few reports that the book is already on shelves, and have heard from quite a few readers who have already bought & finished the book. So it’s worth checking at your local bookstore today, if you don’t want to wait. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t care when you buy it as long as you do!
Also, yes, I will be excerpting the first three chapters of CITY OF GHOSTS, which will be out July 27 in the US (I believe the UK/AU release date is August 5[?]) here on the site, and will probably post those chapters next week, along with various excerpts here on the blog throughout the next few weeks.
And of course, since we have a release coming, we have an excerpt today. This is from Chapter Fifteen, as Chess investigates her latest Debunking case at the home of Roger Pyle, a television actor, and his wife Kym (I’ve truncated this excerpt a bit; the sequence is longer in the actual book):
Two hours later Chess sat once again in the orange-and-ivory living room, before a cheerful fire, and checked her notes. After she’d had a few quick words with the Pyles she could leave, and not a moment too soon. She wasn’t itching yet, but it would take almost an hour to get home and she wanted to leave herself some room.
Two other guards had seen ghosts. All of the descriptions were similar, and matched what she’d witnessed herself. The smell—it still seemed to cling to her nose when she thought of it—the man in the loose shirt, another man, the woman she’d seen in the bathroom mirror.
A murderer and two victims. Only one man—she guessed it was the son—was still unaccounted for, unless he was the figure Roger had seen in the guest bedroom.
Then there was Oliver Fletcher. Interesting. Obviously a friend of Roger’s and an admirer of his talent. Just as obviously contemptuous of him and his family, no matter how many sex parties he attended at their house. She wondered if he’d flown in specifically for this one, or if he had some other reason to be there. He and Roger worked together on the tv show. Was he producing the film as well?
She’d ask Roger. Who was just walking into the room. Shit, she was going to have to come back with her Hand, put them all to sleep, and get into his office. Especially since another significant episode had occurred there.
This week was never going to end. Dead hookers at home, a cavernous house full of miserable people here, and not an answer in sight.
It could have been worse, yes. She knew that from experience. But the thought didn’t seem to help her the way it usually did.
“How are things going?” Roger asked. “Is everyone being helpful? They’re giving you everything you need?”
She nodded. “Everyone’s been great.”
He visibly relaxed. “Excellent. Excellent. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do.”
“Actually, I was wondering something. Most of the staff members who’ve witnessed the entities report a particular smell. But you didn’t mention it when you told me your experiences. Was there an odor that you recall?”
Roger’s forehead creased. “Not…no, I don’t think so. I know I felt a little odd, but I assumed that was just because I’d drunk too much coffee. You know, caffeine makes me jumpy sometimes, a little fuzzy. But I didn’t notice a scent or anything.”
“Was that every time, or just that first time? The night of the attack in your bedroom, for example. You hadn’t been drinking coffee then.”
“No, no I guess I hadn’t. I don’t… I’m sorry, Miss Putnam, it was just so terrifying, I don’t remember if I smelled anything or not. I was so focused on Kym and her injuries.”
She nodded, smiled to let him know she understood. “Of course.”
“Have you read the articles? About the murders, I mean.” Roger shuddered. “I just don’t understand how someone could do something like that. And to think it happened here, on this land. Awful. No wonder they’ve come back.”
“Well, it isn’t always a matter of—”
“Do you think if we discovered who killed them they would go away? I wondered about that. Like in old books, you know, where they can let go of the trauma because the truth is known. Does that happen?”
She couldn’t help but smile. He looked so hopeful. “I’m afraid not, Mr. Pyle. It’s been tried, but we’ve discovered it really makes no difference. Even if we discover the truth, the dead don’t feel that knowledge. It just doesn’t affect them or get through to them, so they can’t move on. The ones who are trapped by it, I mean.”
And that was conversation number three on that subject. Surely that wasn’t a coincidence? What was she trying to tell herself there, what was she missing?
She changed the subject. “I met Oliver Fletcher. In the security office.”
“Oliver? That’s great. He’s an interesting man, Oliver. Helped me…well, I guess he’s been the best friend I ever had, really. I owe my whole career to him.”
“Now, darling, don’t be so modest. You got where you are by hard work.” Kym Pyle knew how to make an entrance, Chess had to give her that. Today she wore a snug black sweater with a deep v-neck and a pair of red cigarette pants, and her blonde hair was swept up into a smooth knot on the back of her neck.
She ran crimson fingernails through Roger’s hair, giving him a smile much warmer than anything Chess would have expected to see. Perhaps she’d worked off all her tension at the party.
Or perhaps the Pyles had decided it would be less suspicious if Kym didn’t act quite so much like a dominatrix who’d had a bad day.
Kym turned to her, the smile fading. “Miss Putnam. I thought you’d left over an hour ago, didn’t anyone tell you?”
“The snow. Haven’t you seen? It’s an absolute storm out there. I thought one of the staff had let you know—”
Chess leapt from her seat, Kym’s voice fading to a drone in the background. Thick orange curtains covered the broad windows; Chess yanked them apart and gasped. It wasn’t just snow. It was a blizzard, huge fat flakes obscuring everything.
Oh fuck. Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck—
“I should go.” She snatched up her bag and yanked the zipper open. “I’m sorry, but I—”
“You can’t go,” Kym said. “It’s terrible out there. The roads—”
“But if I don’t try now who knows when I’ll be able to get out of here, right?” Keys, where were her keys? The security room, on the hook. She’d relinquished them when they parked her car.
“But I don’t think you’ll be able to get out of here now.” Kym settled into a chair. “Arden says it’s been snowing for over an hour. I’m so sorry. I was napping, and I guess with the curtains closed…I can’t believe no one warned you. Roger, I’m going to have another talk with the security staff, they’re not being very attentive. What do we pay them for?”
“No, I’m, I’m sure it will be fine, I mean, I’ve driven in snow before, so—”
“They don’t salt the roads out here,” Roger said. “The plows will be along eventually, but not until after it stops.”
“I’m sorry.” Chess slung her bag over her shoulder, blinking back tears. Oh shit oh fuck how had she let this happen? “I really need to at least try, I can’t impose—”
“It’s no imposition, don’t be silly. You must stay here, Miss Putnam. Have dinner with us, stay the night. We have plenty of room. It’s so miserable out there, you can’t drive in that.”
“I’m just going to have a look,” she managed, before escaping from the room and throwing herself down the long bright walkway.
It was impossible. Snow fell fast and thick, clinging to her eyelashes, coating her clothing. At least three or four inches of it already covered the ground; she couldn’t make out the wall at the edge of the property. Everything was white. No landmarks, nothing.
Nothing to look at. Nothing in her pillbox. Her hands shook as she raised them to her face, jammed her fist against her mouth.
How long did she have? Two hours, three maybe, before it started, and another couple of hours before it got really bad? There were a few hard candies in her bag, the sugar would help for a little while, but…a whole night?
Her eyes stung and she swiped at them, trying to will her heart to slow down. It was okay. It would be okay. The snow would stop in a few hours. It could stop any minute, right? And it was early evening. People would be commuting, the plows would come through, she could get out.
Surely the Pyles had a small plow or something, living out here. Maybe one of the security guys—maybe Merritt—would help her get out. If she could just hold on for a little while, an hour, two… She’d be okay. She’d planned on staying until six or so anyway, right?
Right. So she would be fine. All she had to do was wait it out, just hang out for a little longer, and she could go home and get her pills.
Just a little longer.