I’m excited to reveal the cover for my next series. As many of you know, the Forbidden Trilogy will be complete as of June 26th, and I have a new book coming out October 2, 2012. This is it, with it’s new, fancy cover!
Some of you may remember this book from last fall, before I got sidetracked by the Rent-A-Kid stories. I’m so excited to get back to Agnes and Sebastian! So here’s a bit about the book and a sneak peek, though please know this is entirely unedited and rough!
A big thanks to Sam Keiser, artist extraordinaire, for his awesome work on this cover!
The Reluctant Familiar (Book 1, The Reluctant Familiar Series)
Shamed by her family.
A disgrace to witches everywhere.
Agnes must decide:
Is she a normal 13-year-old-girl, or the most powerful witch alive?
After a seemingly chance encounter with a flea-ridden alley cat finds her bonded to a god and in possession of powers she has no control over, life is anything but normal.
As if that’s not enough to upset a girl’s day, a powerful ring has been stolen, and Agnes and Sebastian are the only hope for getting it back and saving the world from the crazed plans of a powerful diety.
If they succeed, they will each get their heart’s desire.
But if they fail, death will be their only reward.
Look for it October 2, 2012 through Evolved Publishing.
Cover art by Sam Keiser.
A scratchy tongue licked my face. Pressure on my chest, heavy but not unpleasant. Fur. Memories trickled into my befuddled mind. With memories came pain. Shooting pain. Mind-numbing pain. The ground shook. No, wait. Was I shaking? That seemed more likely than the alternative, my rational mind argued.
Understanding eluded me. Like trying to put together a complex puzzle without the box as a guide. I couldn’t see what shape my mismatched thoughts and senses were making. I dreaded the experience of opening my eyes, but suspected it was necessary if I wanted to avoid spending my life in a dirty alley. I was still in the alley, wasn’t I?
My hands brushed the ground around me. Yes. It felt like it. The weight on my chest purred. Oh. My eyelids peeled themselves back reluctantly. Large silver eyes bore into mine with an expression that was out of place on an animal. A mixture of annoyance, resignation and gratitude. Odd.
But not as odd as…
You’re finally awake.
The voice that broadcasted itself into my mind was male. Slightly British sounding. Haughty. And…cat-like.
Cat-like? No. That can’t be. Unless I’m dreaming? Yes. That made more sense. I hit my head, I reasoned, and am now pulling bits of my real life and my fantasy life of Narnia into my unconsciousness.
You are not dreaming, unfortunately, said the voice with more than a little condescension.
Not that I’m not quite grateful for your fortuitous intervention, mind you. But really, did you have to be so dramatic about the whole thing? A little over-the-top if you ask me.
I groaned. The cat was, in fact, talking. Albeit in my head. And this wasn’t a dream. Too much pain for a dream, for one. And the level of clarity and mundane chronology also argued for reality. I sighed. Not a great day for me. I still didn’t understand what I’d done.
You really have no idea what you’ve done do you? The cat asked, clearly appalled.
“Duh! That’s what I’ve been saying…er… thinking!” I finally spoke out loud just to see if I could. It came out more like a croak.
“I don’t even have any magick. I’m not a proper Witch. I couldn’t have done anything!” I explained.
The cat laughed a sarcastic sort of laugh.
“Yes, ok. So glad I amuse you. Now can you kindly get off me? I can’t breathe.”
He hopped off my chest gracefully and paced as I slowly lifted myself to sitting position. World spun. Stomach flipped and flopped. Head pounded. Not fun.
What could have possibly given you the idea that you have no power my dear girl? That is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard!
I stammered. “Well, I just have never had any. Everyone else got a gift. Something they could do. I didn’t. And I saw hundreds of the finest cats in the Pacific Northwest, and nothing. Not one little tiny flicker of bonding. So everyone assumed…” my voice trailed off as I relived the last two years of brutal tests and experiments.
For my family to have an Ungifted child meant they would lose everything. Their standing in the Council. Their work for the Magistrate. Our money. House. All of it. It was the worst fate for a Witch family. Worse than if I had died at birth. I was not unaware of this. Ever.
Which is why I had tried so hard to please them. I didn’t want it. Any of it. I would have much preferred to be left alone. But I couldn’t give up if it meant my family would lose it all because of me. That didn’t seem right. Though trying to be someone I clearly wasn’t so we could live in a huge house seemed wrong on some level too. I just didn’t know what the right answer was. Maybe there wasn’t a right answer. Maybe the world was made up of grey. Like my new friend here.
Startled, I realized I was actually having a conversation with this cat. In my head. I began worrying about my sanity again.
The cat sighed. It was a funny sound coming from him.
This is precisely why I’ve no interest in being attached to a witch. He spit the word out like it was a vulgarity. They are so enamored with their own selves and their political machinations. It really is entirely too human for my taste.
It hit me then. What he said. What it implied. What it meant. I felt dizzy.
“Wait. Are you…um…no. Are you saying we bonded? That YOU are my Familiar? And…I have magick?”
You’re not very bright are you? Pity, that. I thought the least the Fates could do if they were to stick me with such an unfortunate circumstance would be to give me a clever Witch-girl with whom to amuse myself. This could get tedious very quickly.
He sat regally as he spoke. Tail swishing behind him. Silver eyes gleaming.
Yes, scrawny one. We have bonded. And yes, you are most definitely full of magick. Brimming with it. There’s that at least. Not unexpected though. Only very powerful magick could bond with the likes of me.
You know I’ve only recently come back to this world after much time away for… well…let’s just say for personal reasons. I remember you earth people being much smarter. It seems this polluted air has indeed killed off some genetic brain matter. For if the Witches around you can’t feel your power from acres away, then they are dim-witted indeed!
I was magick? And bonded? Oh gods be damned. That was…well…that wasn’t possible. Was it?
I screeched and nearly kicked the cat as I stood.
My head pounded in panic and pain.
“My parents are going to KILL me! I’ve bonded to an alley cat. They will never forgive me. Ever.”
He hissed and his hair stood on end.
An alley cat?? Of all the…my girl, I will forgive this transgression this once, what with your inherent inferiority and recent strain, but never again. I am neither alley bred, nor am I entirely a cat, per se. Certainly I am not a Being to be scorned or trivialized as your tone of voice implied. Why, in my glory days the Pharaoh himself raised offerings to…
His voice droned on as I picked up my dropped book and gave myself a once over. Did I look different? I couldn’t tell. But I did feel…funny somehow. Then I noticed the birds. They were lying on the pavement in a triangle. Still as stone. Dead.
Bile rose up in my throat.
I couldn’t bring myself to kill a spider. I didn’t even eat meat. I refused to condone the killing of animals for my food if there were other options available.
And I had just ended the life of three birds. Using magick. Do No Harm. My first act as a Witch and I broke our most sacred covenant. Could this day get any worse?
Well, as it turns out, that’s not a great question to ask yourself. Trust me.
Tears burned my eyes. I swiped at them impatiently and looked at the cat. My Familiar. My constant companion for the rest of my life. What had I done?