Four days and counting, my goodness. It’s almost here! And yes, as promised, I have another excerpt for you. Just a couple of quick things first (or probably last, since I bet you’ll go straight to the excerpt and then come back. That’s probably what I would do anyway, just like reading the last page when I get about 1/3 of the way through the book).
First, don’t forget tomorrow’s #UFChat on Twitter, which I’ll be answering questions in. You can get a bit more information on it here, if you like. It starts at 6 pm EST (3 PST) and I really hope you all come and say hi! Well, really, I hope anyone comes to say hi. This is the sort of event that gives me nightmares imagining it will just be me sitting there and no one else showing up. Seriously.
Next, there’s a new interview with me at The Literary Project. It’s not really about the books, it’s more about writing and career and personal stuff, and a bit about the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. So worth checking out if any of that interests you.
A review or two! Murder by the Book bookseller John does a joint review of UM and CoG here:
I can’t say enough about how wonderful this whole series [is]. The plotting over the three book arc is top-notch. Once I finished City of Ghosts I felt like the three books together told a bigger story. That doesn’t happen often with books in a series.
And Book Chick City gives CoG a 10/10 review(!!) and says:
Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic stayed with me long after I read them and it was no different with City of Ghosts. There’s so many layers from the complex characters to the awesome world building of Downside. It’s full of witchy magic, action and romance, I literally couldn’t put this book down until I had read the very last word. I could go on and on about these books, they are just so brilliant! If you haven’t started this series, you MUST!
And last but not least, don’t forget the big-ass Name a Character Contest! I’m really excited by the number of entries I’ve gotten so far, and I hope to get plenty more, too! And I’m really hoping word spreads and more people give the books a try, too.
But anyway! On to the excerpt!! This is from Chapter Thirty.
And again, it is a bit spoilery. I tried to find one that wasn’t, and this one isn’t terribly so, but do be warned. Click at your own risk!
(As always, this is from the pre-copyedited version of the ms, and may differ slightly from the final published version.)
Chess and Lex are investigating a body and some magic items found in the tunnels under the city, when they realize someone else is down there with them. The lights snap off.
Every muscle in her body screamed to run. They had to get out of there, away from [the] destroyed body, away from the lungs and the fetish, out of the tunnels.
But Lex’s hand squeezed her arm tight, like he knew what she was thinking. She heard the sound of his gun cocked slow in his other hand as his lips pressed to her ear. “Ain’t just go off now, tulip. On the minute, aye? Let’s us have a thought first.”
Water splashed; how far away was it? Was that a foot? Something else? She pictured things dropped into the little stream, curse bags and gris-gris and fetishes, things the water would carry to them and drag against their feet. Her heart pounded so hard she thought it might literally leap into her mouth.
“Ain’t get that flash you got neither,” he continued. “No draggin them eyes our way. Gimme a hold-on, aye?”
She nodded, knew he could feel her move.
“Know my way right, I do. Door ain’t far, dig, back where we come. Stay on me, aye?”
She nodded again. Not enough air, there wasn’t enough air in the tunnel, not enough in the world. Fresh air, clean air, air that didn’t thrum with magic, lay thick and heavy in her lungs with it. Choking her. She clutched his arm, wiry and hard under her hand.
Gentle pressure forced her to step back, to turn slightly. Even her sense of direction started to fail her; had she turned all the way around, or just partway? Which way was she facing? The darkness around them was a solid thing, completely impenetrable.
They stepped forward. Chess tried to keep her feet on the curve at the bottom of the wall, out of the water. Lex tucked her hand around his waist so her chest pressed against his back. It made walking difficult but it wasn’t as though they were just taking a stroll anyway, and she had to admit it reassured her.
Which kind of pissed her off, but this wasn’t the time to start wondering when she’d suddenly gone soft. People, she was discovering, were like cockroaches; if you allowed one in, more were sure to follow.
Another giggle, low and smooth. Her head whipped around, eyes straining to see something, anything in the pitch black air. Was that closer? Where were they?
Lex didn’t stop. They took another step, another. Chess’s foot hit something heavy, something solid and unyielding and yet somehow…somehow dull, against her toes. [The] body. She swallowed hard, kept moving.
Something ran past them. She felt it stir the air against her skin and bit back a scream. Sweat trickled down her face, into her eyes; she wiped them against Lex’s shirt without moving her hand. Without stopping. They had to get out, get out, get—
A sharp tug on her hair. A scream; not hers, not her voice. Hot foul-smelling breath on her cheek; Lex yanked her to the side and the gun went off in a flash of white light. Hot blood spattered on her skin.
And they ran.
No more secrecy now. No more hiding. Still they didn’t use the light—all she saw were huge red spots before her eyes from the gun—but their feet splashed through the water, pounded the cement beneath them while voices screamed in rage and pain behind them. More than one voice, many voices, echoing around her, reaching into her and yanking out her soul.
Lex ran faster, pulling her along through the darkness. He was the only real thing in the world; this wasn’t real, none of it was real, it was a nightmare she had to wake up from.
They were being chased. The screams turned to howls, catcalls. And then, horribly, to barks.
Dogs. Vicious ones. Baying in the tunnels, their low deep barks scratching her, hurting her, and it wasn’t until her frantic mind realized they hurt that she realized why.
It wasn’t real dogs following them. Not living dogs. It was psychopomps.
A dozen maybe, or a hundred. She had no idea, no way to tell. Didn’t have the breath to tell Lex, and no point anyway; psychopomps couldn’t be shot, couldn’t be stabbed, couldn’t be killed. Couldn’t be stopped without magic, and even if she had time to get her supplies she somehow doubted these particular hounds would respond.
They hurtled around a corner with the barks getting closer, the unearthly howls of the psychopomps, sounds she’d never heard a psychopomp make before.
Her head turned to the left as they entered another tunnel and she almost fell. Their eyes. She could see their eyes, the dogs, their glowing purple eyes. Hundreds of them. Hundreds of eyes, oh shit oh fuck they were going to die, have their souls torn from their living bodies and devoured or savaged, those were not normal psychopomps holy fuck what were they she was going to die—
No! She ran harder. Pushed herself with everything she had, until she was even with Lex. She couldn’t look back, didn’t want to look back, couldn’t stand to see them ready to bite.
Lex jerked her to the side, yanked her arm up. She stumbled on the steps; her right hand hit gritty cement. The dogs were right behind them, so loud she couldn’t even hear herself scream.
See you Tuesday!