Tour Review: Volcrian’s Hunt by T. L. Shrieffler

volcrian's hunt

Okay, this is a few hours late because my kid had to pick the one night I didn’t have my post scheduled early to not sleep.  GRRR!

Thanks for T. L. Shreffler for asking me to be a part of the tour.  I loved the first two books, so it was an easy decision to review the third book.  You can check out my reviews of book 1 and 2 HERE.  

My review of VOLCRIAN’S HUNT contains only minor spoilers from the other books and should be okay to read if you haven’t read the series.  I do wholeheartedly recommend this series for those that like fantasy that isn’t predictable.  There are dark moments in this book, but nothing as traumatic as what happened in book two.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour!

 

Volcrian’s Hunt by T. L. Shrieffler

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Runaway Pen

Pages: 395

Published: September 30th, 2913

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  WWW |  Facebook |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

A plague is spreading across the land. Crops are rotting. People are dying in the streets. Sora, with the help of her magical Cat’s Eye necklace, is the only one who can stop it. She must travel overseas to the Lost Isles, a place of legend and mystery. Only there can she destroy the bloodmage, Volcrian, putting an end to the curse. She is accompanied by Crash, a lethal assassin who once threatened—and saved—her life. But Sora is beginning to question her dark companion. He seems to be carrying a secret; a hidden past that could endanger them all. Meanwhile, they are hunted by an underground society known as the Shade. For centuries, the Shade has waited for the perfect opportunity to step into the light. Now they are perilously close to resurrecting a Dark God and unleashing a wave of unimaginable destruction. They only need to collect the three sacred weapons, and Sora has already found two….

VOLCRIAN’S HAND won’t disappoint fans of THE CAT’S EYE CHRONICLES.  Though it isn’t quite as shocking or traumatic as the first two books, the events that unfold in this book are both unpredictable and captivating.

Alas, the love-triangle present in book two ended and the romance that finally develops between Sora and her companion is both sweet and slow.  I’m so happy that these two characters finally connected, even though the third wheel will be truly missed.  Sigh.  The chemistry between them is so genuine and restrained.  It’s not like a typical YA book, where the main characters are gushing their never-ending love for each other by chapter two.  With these two, you feel the love.  It’s implied instead of forced down your throat like a bottle of maple syrup.  Uck.

Although I liked the scenes with Sora’s mother, I don’t quite like her, especially as the book progressed.  Maybe because she’s over-confident because Healers have the equivalent of diplomatic immunity and those type of people I like to see trip, fall on their face, and learn some humility.  Eh, maybe it’s just me.  Her drunk companion is possibly my favorite minor character of the book, especially after I learned of his background.  The other minor characters from book one and two are still here, but they don’t get much screen time.  I liked how they retained their depth and unique personalities despite this and I’m really hoping that they show up in the next book.

There were one or two scenes were the POV wasn’t consistent and I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters.  I think the main time this happened was when Sora met up with her shipwrecked companions.  Besides these few scenes, the chapters flowed seamlessly.  The world building is unique and the settings colorful.  I can’t help but wish that there was some sort of map attached to the book so I could ‘map’ out where places are in relationship to each other.

I do recommend that you read the first two books in the series before diving into this one.  There are enough hints scattered throughout the story of the events in previous books to ease confusion, although it will be hard to understand why Sora’s cat’s-eye is both a blessing and a curse for her.

B rating plus rating

(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

Previous books:  

Sora’s Quest is currently FREE on ebook.  Download it today:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace….

Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go—not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.

But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power—or will the power wield her? (Winner of the SKOW 2006 Best Fantasy Award)

Sora is having visions. Strange, terrifying visions brought on by her Cat’s Eye necklace, an ancient and magical device. Spurred to action, she leaves her mother’s cabin to find Crash, the mysterious assassin who once changed her life. She is certain that together, they can discover what the necklace is trying to tell her.

 

Crash is still on the run from the dark sorcerer, Volcrian, but now a plague is spreading across the land. Volcrian’s quest for vengeance has awakened something far more evil than himself; a force that could destroy the entire kingdom. Together, he and Sora must harness the power of the Cat’s Eye and kill the sorcerer before it’s too late.

 

about author T. L. Shreffler lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves diversity, fantasy, romance, iced tea, long walks, philosophy, and thrift store shopping. She recently graduated with a BA in Badass (Creative Writing) and her poetry has been published consecutively in Eclipse: A Literary Journal and The Northridge Review. She is author of The Cat’s Eye Chronicles (YA/Epic Fantasy) and The Wolves of Black River (PN Romance.)

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The Trickster’s Totem: Review and Dunkle the Imp

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This post was originally suppose to be published on 5/22/13.  My apologies to H.B. Bolton and CBB for the delay.  Please check out my review of the first book in the series, THE SERPENT’S RING, which I reviewed last year.  Thanks for the amazing guest post from one of my favorite characters from the series, Dunkle the Imp.

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Meeting Evan for the first time—from the POV of Dunkle the imp

by H.B. Bolton

Why did Evan return to this place? He should have known better than to visit a closed exhibit, but there he is, sneaking around the professor’s home and peeking under the back porch. The nerve of that impetuous boy; he acts as if he owns the place.

Is the door locked? I am certain it is locked. Better still if I check.

“Oh, my, my, my …” I whisper to myself, scurrying along the roof’s eaves. I climb down a column and rush through a secret door known only to me. Carefully, I inch my way toward the porch door. Until suddenly, I freeze. Evan is peeking through the window! What am I to do?

I race to the professor’s secret lab, entering through the backside of a mahogany cabinet. I wait and wait, but there is no sign of Evan Jones. Thank goodness he did not discover the hidden whereabouts of the Serpent’s Ring. I have kept it well hidden for almost 100 years, and the last thing I need now is for him to find it and cause me trouble.

Dust clouds swirl around the room, and I am trying not to cough. That could mean only one thing. But wait! No, it cannot be. Evan has managed to locate the secret entrance. I knew this day would eventually come. I have prepared for his arrival since before he was born, but this is not a good day for it. Not in the least.

He is studying the drawings on the chalkboard. Surely, that will keep him busy enough. At least until I can figure out a way to remove the Serpent’s Ring and find a new location to hide it. Oh, no, no, no! He has noticed the illustration of the Midgard Serpent. Why is that boy climbing on that desk and messing around with things that do not belong to him? This is outrageous!

Oh my goodness — the table is about to break. What will the professor say? Just then, Evan and many of the professor’s illustrious possessions tumble to the floor. And worse yet, Evan has found the Serpent’s Ring. The Relic has already begun to glow, and soon … well, Evan will never be the same.

“What are you doing in here?” shrills a female voice from the doorway, and I nearly jump out of my skin. “You are going to be in sooo much trouble when Mom and Dad find out. You aren’t supposed to be in here. Didn’t you read the sign that said ‘Restricted Area’?”

Claire? What is she doing here? Lovely — now I have to deal with both of them.

“Claire, the jewels on this ring are starting to glow. Way cool!” Evan places the Serpent’s Ring around his forearm.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Claire says, rushing to Evan, but as soon as she reaches him, the entire room fills with blinding light. Claire is cast against a bookshelf, and she is bombarded by tumbling objects. Thank goodness Evan has enough sense to help her.

There is nothing more I can do here. I suppose it is time for me to inform the other protectors. The first sign of the prophecy has come to light, and now the Relics are in terrible danger.

book description

Trickster's Totem Cover

The Trickster’s Totem (Book #2 The Relics of Mysticus)

Book Links:  Amazon | GoodReads | Barnes & Noble

Released April 15th, 2013.

 

Life has returned to normal for fourteen-year-old Evan and his older sister, Claire. That is until Dunkle, a clever but stinky little imp, pays an unexpected visit to their school. He has come to take the siblings back to Sagaas, the mythical realm of the gods. Once again, a Relic from the ancient Mysticus Orb has fallen into the wrong hands. Only Evan and Claire, with their unique mystical abilities, can help find it.

Through the power of the Trickster’s Totem, a coyote trickster has escaped. His laughter echoes throughout the realm, as he spreads mischief and mayhem. He burns an entire crop of popcorn, carves his grinning image into sacred artifacts, and things really get interesting when he shape-shifts into Evan’s friends.

Claire and Evan must capture the Trickster, retrieve the Totem, and be careful not to become sidetracked by robotic Steampunk animals, “sweet” pixie-like Pains, and a problematic mermaid … all while dodging Mothman-like aces. Most surprising, Evan discovers the true reason dragons exist in the Native American Spirit World.

 

 

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The Serpent’s Ring (Book #1 The Relics of Mysticus series)

Book Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Barnes & Noble 

Released July 29th, 2012.

 

Evan and Claire Jones are typical teenagers, forced to go with their parents to yet another boring museum … that is, until something extraordinary happens to make their day a little more than interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed exhibit, Evan and his older sister, Claire, discover the Serpent’s Ring, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, they have awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, land of ancient gods.

Before the siblings can comprehend what has happened, the Serpent’s Ring is wrenched from Evan’s hand by an enormous fish and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea. Evan and Claire, accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, must retrieve the Serpent’s Ring before Aegir uses its immense powers to flood all the lands on Earth.

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H.B. Bolton scores full marks for her sequel, THE TRICKSTER’S TOTEM, in the Relics of Mysticus series.  Claire and Evan are adjusting to life in the normal world (although they still have their powers acquired from their first adventure) when Dunkle the Imp interrupts their school day with grave news: another relic has been stolen.  Unlike many MG fantasies, this is not about good verses evil.  This concept of gray characters and cause and consequence doesn’t typically exist in books written for this age level, but the underlying morals are cleverly hidden beneath a fast-pace and entertaining quest.  It’s refreshing that adults/elders are respected and good role models.  Claire and Evan come from a good family and have no problem with authority – unlike Harry Potter or Percy Jackson.  It’s a clean read that is appropriate for all age levels.

The interactions between Claire and Evan make them come to life.  Evan has self-centered tendencies, where he focuses only on what he wants to achieve and not how his actions will influence the lives of others.  Claire is quick to point out her brother’s mistakes and make him seem more of a jerk than he actually is.  She wins brownie points from their comrades for being the more mature and better behaved of the two, although she isn’t perfect herself.

I felt that THE TRICKSTER’S TOTEM was far more polished than its predecessor, although I think that THE SERPENT’S RING is a must read for you to understand how the siblings are tied to the magical world.  I read the book in full the moment I received it.  The book ends with just enough closure to tie up the reason for their return trip and then a teaser for the next adventure for the siblings.  If you enjoy MG fantasy or prefer “clean fantasy”, then I recommend that you check out book one and two in the Relics of Mysticus series by H.B. Bolton.

rating A plus rating

(I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

 

about author

HBBolton

A magical part of H.B. Bolton’s childhood was being swept into worlds of enchanting characters, fantastical creatures and extraordinary powers—simply by picking up a book. As a mother and a teacher, she was compelled to create imaginary worlds of her own in order to share them, not just with her children, but with all children. H.B. Bolton lives in Florida with her supportive husband and two highly spirited children. Shh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young-adult fantasy story, she also writes spellbinding, heart pounding women’s fiction. These particular books are written under the name Barbara Brooke, but that’s another story, altogether.

Books by H.B. Bolton:
The Serpent’s Ring (Relics of Mysticus, Book One)
Breaking Down (a short story)
Hungry (a short story)
Coming May 1, 2013
The Trickster’s Totem (Relics of Mysticus, Book Two)

 

Author links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter  | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon Author’s Link 

 

You can check out the full tour schedule from CBB book promotions

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Tour Review: The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

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Darkeningdream Andy Gavin
The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

Genre: Horror, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal

Publisher:  Mascherato Publishing

Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads

Released December 22nd, 2011

The Darkening Dream is the chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.

Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.

With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal? No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

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The Darkening Dream is meant to be sipped like a fine wine.  Too much at one time and you’ll be overwhelmed by the vast amount of horror while simultaneously enlightened about historic information concerning multiple religions, Greek history, and the culture of America in the 1910s.  If you’d like just another vampire tale, move along.  The author narrates this story like a tour guide narrates a tour.  He takes you through every little, forgotten path so that by the last page you have a full appreciation of the events that occurred.

There are two things that may bother some readers (three if you dislike horror).  One is that religions play a huge impact in both the story and in the characters’ daily lives.  This is the first book I’ve read in a few years that has a Jewish main character, so I did appreciate the fine details in how being Jewish separates Sarah from the other characters.  The second thing is that the characters in this book do come off as sexist at times.  But considering this book is written before Women’s Suffrage, where females have less rights and freedoms than males, this is completely normal for the time period.

I do not read too much historical fiction. In fact, the only time I do it is when it is tied tightly to the horror genre.  I can tell that the author put a lot of energy into making this book historically and religiously accurate.  At times, this does make the scenes “wordy”.  Plus both Alex and Sarah are well versed in Greek history, among other things, so there are quite a few facts mentioned throughout the story.  As all of the information is relevant and the horror happens often, it never does feel like a “info dump”, which I appreciate.

One thing that did confuse me at times was trying to keep track of what language the characters were speaking.  Several of the characters are fluent in a couple languages, so they’d switch between Greek, Latin, English, and Hebrew depending on who was involved in the conversation.  I would of liked more foreign words to have been used in the dialogue (instead of it being written entirely in English) so that I wouldn’t have to pay such close attention to the dialogue tags to figure out what language was spoken and to allow my brain to not digest the dialogue as if it were English.

I was pleasantly shocked by the ending.  I should have guessed that the horror wouldn’t have given the characters a break even in its last pages.  Knowing the ending, I do want to go back and reread, since now I know the motivations behind all the characters.  This is one book that I’m sure upon rereading I’ll see all the hints leading up to the end and be like “OMG, how did I not see that coming!”  If you’re interested in a horror novel that will haunt you over the course of weeks, The Darkening Dream is a perfect fit for you.  But if you’re looking for a quick scare or a vampire novel with more romance than bite, you should pass.

(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

B ratingplus rating

Online Reviews

“Wonderfully twisted sense of humor” and “A vampire novel with actual bite” — Kirkus Reviews

“Inventive, unexpected, and more than a little bit creepy!” — R.J. Cavender, editor of the Bram Stoker nominated Horror Library anthology series

“This book will satisfy any fan of the vampire genre and then some!” — Must Read Faster

“In a similar vein to George R.R. Martin’s writing style, Gavin often dangles his characters in the maws of danger and doesn’t shy away from … their blood being spilled.” — Andrew Reiner, executive editor of Game Informer magazine

“Now this is a vampire novel! It flows so perfectly between character point of views, it’s a great blend of historical fiction, mythology and paranormal.” — Little Miss Drama Queen Reviews

“Action-packed and suspenseful, and there were twists all over the place.” — Les Livres

“Andy Gavin has taken a bevy of supernatural elements, compelling characters, and an intricate and superbly developed storyline, and expertly weaved them together to create an original and enthralling book.” — Word Spelunking

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Giveaway:  1 50.00 GC , 1 Signed Poster, 1 Signed Game,  and 4 Bookmarks

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about author

AGAndy Gavin is a serial creative, polymath, novelist, entrepreneur, computer programmer, author, foodie, and video game creator. He co-founded video game developer Naughty Dog and co-created Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. He started numerous companies, has been lead programmer on video games that have sold more than forty million copies, and has written two novels including The Darkening Dream, a dark historical fantasy that puts the bite back in vampires.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest  |  Wikipedia

 

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Tour Review: Provex City by Michael Pierce

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Another great book brought to you by CBB Book Promotions.  You can find a full tour list at the bottom of this post or by clicking HERE.

provex city cover final Provex City by Michael Pierce

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Publisher:  Self-published

Links:  Goodreads  |  Amazon (ebook + paperback) |  Barnes & Noble (paperback only)

Released March 5th, 2012

Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls?

Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: “When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls.” And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom.

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The first few chapters reminded me of a MG novel, but the second half of the story is definitely YA.  I really do appreciate that this book had a male lead that acted like a guy and a leading female co-star that wasn’t a whiny, damsel in distress.

What marks this book as five star quality is the characters.  After the first couple of chapters, I no longer felt like I was reading a book, rather peeking into the lives of Oliver and Desiree and the rest of the cast.  Not once did the teenagers act like anything but teenagers.  The only character that seemed to “guide” the story was Mr. Gordon, which was a much needed thing considering how much trouble this lot attracted.  Left to their own devices, the story could of easily rambled on another hundred pages, until Oliver and friends stumbled into the right direction.

Oliver is naive and insecure when we first meet him.  He’s jealous of how easily his older brother, Jeremy, blends into the crowd.  Desiree is a show-stopper and when Oliver first meets her, it’s clear that the two are meant to be together, however, there’s one problem.  Desiree has a boyfriend and she has no intention of breaking up with Eli.  Eli is mostly a background character and only shows up to remind the reader that yes, Desiree is still not available to date.  But not only does Desiree have a boyfriend, but she plays matchmaker and hooks Oliver up with her best friend, Anna.

The “magic” is very unique.  Like Mr. Gorden tells Oliver:  Anyone can do magic, but only certain people can believe they can make magic happen.  In a weird way, Mr. Gordon opens up Oliver up to the matrix.  I really like how there’s so much depth to both the plot and the characters.  I kind of guessed what happened with Jeremy at the end, but the rest came at a surprise.  When I actually figured out what Provex City was, I was stunned.  I can’t wait to see more about this place in the future.

I typically let my nephew read books of this genre that I get for review, but since he’s only 10, I don’t think his mother would approve of this book.  There’s underage drinking, implications of teenage sex, and minor violence.  This is a book meant to be read by teenagers and adults (Although I did read parts of it out loud to my toddler.  Then again, I read him pieces of every book I read but erotic.  That would be awkward.).

I didn’t realize how much I truly enjoyed the characters and plot of this novel until I picked up my next book.  In comparison to Provex City, the next book on my TBR list was crap.  For that reason alone, instead of it being a A-, I HAVE to bump this book up to an A+.  Not many books haunt me days after I finish the last page and leave me wondering “What’s next?”

(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.)

rating Aplus rating

 

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aboutauthor
Profile1 Michael Pierce lives in Southern California with his wife, daughter, and two ultra-protective Chiweenies. Provex City is his debut novel and the first book in the young adult fantasy Lorne Family Vault Series.

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Giveaway: Pharaoh, Mine by Kerry Adrienne

The excerpt for this book was what first attracted me to it.  I’m addicted to documentaries on ancient Egypt, so combining ancient Egypt with a little bit of time traveling, and I’m all on board with checking out this book.  You can win a copy of this short story by entering into the giveaway below.  Giveaway ends January 15th.  This tour was organized by FMB Promotions.

Title: Pharaoh, Mine

Series: All Mine #3 | 1Night Stand

Author: Kerry Adrienne

Genre: Time travel, Erotic Romance,

Publisher: Decadent Publishing

Purchase (Ebook only, 47 pages):  Decadent Publishing | ARe | Amazon | B&N |

Kathryn is a veterinarian with a cause—she risks her financial security to help local cat rescue groups. When a stray cat, black with one green eye and one blue, meows at her door one night, Kathryn’s view of rescues changes quickly.

In Ancient Egypt, the throne is passed to the firstborn son, and when the sun rises over his father’s fresh tomb, Seti will claim his crown. Seti doesn’t want to rule, but the only other option is death, and his half-brother is happy to oblige.

Though Seti and Kathryn each need fulfillment in their lives, for one night they find peace in each other’s arms. At dawn, Bast will return to ferry them back to their responsibilities.

The king’s sarcophagus lay on a large carved stone in the center of the torch lit chamber. Seti paced across the compacted dirt, the oily smoke from the flames trailing behind him in a whirlwind of memory. Musky incense swirled over mounds of beaded offerings to the gods. He fell onto his knees, trembling. The lone melody of a cane ney snaked down into the tomb, the musician somewhere outside, with most of the mourners.

“Father,” he whispered. No tears came. He fingered the painted hieroglyphs lining the edges of the wooden likeness of his father. The markings told stories of the king’s honored past. The wars. The blood. The lives cut short and the many children. Many brothers.

“And I am firstborn. Why?” He pressed his sandal toe against the earthen floor and balled his hands into fists. Shaking, he stormed over to the servants who knelt by the vizier at the tomb’s entrance. “Leave!”

The servants, half-bowing, scampered through the shortened doorway. Seti shook his head. They scurried like startled rats who had been lurking in shadows, waiting for the humans to leave the kitchen so they could rush out and steal crumbs.

“My king, you must calm down,” the vizier said. The old man moved his staff side to side, in deference.

“I am not yet king, Pensekhmet. Not until morning.” Seti rested his head on his father’s image, freshly kohled on the surface of the wooden coffin. The paint smelled of sharp pine and heavy clay, alive and fresh—but his bitter old father lay inside—wrapped in linen and empty of his soul. The tyrant had finally had passed into the afterworld. Even now, he walked with the gods.

“When the sun rises, you will be king. It is time to put away your childish notions and accept your destiny.”

Seti beat his fists against the wood in a slow rhythm. “I do not want to ruleEgypt.”

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Kerry holds a BA in English with a minor in Classical Studies from NC State University. She has extensive freelance editing experience, and teaches various fiction writing classes at a local college. She’s an Associate Editor with Entangled Publishing, and is Managing Editor of the Covet line, Entangled’s paranormal contemporary line. In addition to editing, Kerry writes science fiction, romantic fantasy, and paranormal romance. In her free time, she is a costumer, artist, cat collector, and guitarist.

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