Archive for category Book
A little while ago, we at Witch Awareness Month, announced that Morrigan Books YA novel, Hedge Witch by Simon Kewin is to be released Halloween this year and now we announce that Morrigan Books will also release a new novella from Carole Lanham, author of The Whisper Jar.
Cleopatra’s Needle will be released as an e-book soon, followed by a paperback version and a special edition hardback (containing extra artwork). All commenters to this post and/or the Witch Awareness Month Facebook page entry will be submitted to a draw and the winner will receive a personalized, signed copy of the hardback when it is released.
To whet your appetite, we have chosen a short passage from the book, to give you a taste of what is to come…
15 April 1896
We’re taking turns doing it. Every afternoon, we sit in the wash house and try our hand at calling him with our minds. Practice is vital, according to Bethan. Well, it goes without saying, she got her turn first. Sure enough, five minutes later, he appeared at the door, broom in hand, smiling sheepishly. Most of the time, he acts grumpy about that time we tied him to the chair but when Bethan called him, he behaved as though all was forgiven. ‘Do you want another kiss?’ Bethan asked. ‘Yes please,’ he said then shook his head, as if to clear it, and scurried away. We laughed to see him so rattled.
When it was my turn, I pictured him kissing me like he did that day in the kitchen. I remembered the feel of his lips on mine and how hard he was breathing when he opened his mouth. It took longer for me to summon him and when he finally came, he looked hesitant. I closed my eyes and thought of what I’d most like him to do. Boy leaned forward and ran his tongue slowly along the seam of my lips. ‘M-mm,’ he said. Then he ran away.
Bethan pronounced it a failure because I wasn’t able to hold him there, but I don’t care. He didn’t put his tongue on her. Gwendraith made him touch her breast yesterday before he ran off but that only made her giggle. It wasn’t good like when he kissed me.
(More information and release date soon.)
And now, we at Witch Awareness Month, have a real treat for you all, as we publish, exclusively, the first chapter of the novel, Hedge Witch, by Simon Kewin, which will be released 31st October, 2013.
Enjoy and keep a look out for more information at the Morrigan Books site.
1 – Cait
Cait nearly missed her stop that day on the tram. If she had, everything would have turned out very, very different.
As it was she pushed her way through the crowded carriage and just made it to the doors before they slid shut. Outside, she stood for a moment and breathed. Her eyes had closed more than once on the journey into Manchester, the result of a long day at school and the rocking of the tram as it rattled into the city. It was good to be in the open air. A breeze blew down Mosley Street, warm on her face.
The street was busy: office workers sweating in their suits and ties, shoppers burdened with purchases, rowdy children clouting each other with their backpacks. Beyond them all rose the grey, curving walls of the Central Library, like a round fortress built in the heart of the city.
She sighed. She’d promised herself she wouldn’t get off here. She thought about Devi, Rachel, Val and Jen, the friends she’d promised to meet one stop up the line at the Arndale. She watched the tram thundering off that way now, ploughing through the traffic towards Piccadilly Square. They’d be there already, cruising through the crowds, laughing and shouting, never bothering to move out of anyone’s way. As a group they were invincible. She imagined them veering from shop window to shop window, shouting their disgust at this, their burning desire for that. And no-one, no grown-up, no security guard, would dare confront them.
She loved them all, but in her mind she saw herself at the back of the group, saying nothing, not involved. It was like that some days. She would look at them from a distance, marvelling at how they all talked at once but still seemed to hear what each other said. Other times, without really knowing how, she was a part of that. But not today. She couldn’t face them today.
She looked back down the tracks the way the tram had come. The rails gleamed in the sun, past the oblong bulk of the cenotaph and away out of the city, south towards the suburbs.
Her mother would be getting home about now. Cait imagined her switching on the television, pulling steaming food from the microwave. She should be there, too. Another promise. But she couldn’t face going home just now either. She’d left a message, done the right thing. She’d go back later.
She sighed again. The tram had vanished and she hadn’t moved. She couldn’t just stand there, people would stare. Come on Cait. Back to the real world.
She thought about last Saturday, her disastrous attempt to secure a weekend job at Bling Thing. He’d said that, the manager, as he explained to her why she was so unsuitable for the job.
‘Look, love. You have to live in the real world now. You have to smile, be happy to serve the customers. Be enthusiastic about the products. Be excited by them.’
His words amused her and then annoyed her. He wanted her to be something she wasn’t. She felt trapped, had to fight down the urge to flee. It was all so mundane. Where was the beauty in it? Where was the magic? She’d imagined the man would be old but he was only in his twenties or something. He was smartly dressed, polite, but his staring eyes, the way he gushed about retailing, made her shudder and say little.
His office was a square, shabby room at the back of the store, its walls just breeze-blocks painted lime-green. A kettle and a jar of instant coffee sat on a tray on the floor. Boxes of stock were strewn all around, in contrast to the manicured layout of the shop. When he took his jacket off, she saw the sweat-rings creeping out around his armpits, circles widening towards the white stains of other days’ sweat-rings. And all this was something she was expected to aspire to. To be like him. She thought of herself still there in five, ten years’ time. Interviewing some other girl for a job. Would she be saying the same things by then?
A poster on the wall, the blu-tac holding it up visible as dark smudges in each corner, said Smile – it costs nothing. It wasn’t true. Right then, a smile would have cost her more than she could ever give. And what she actually said to himwas, ‘Hmm.’
And so she hadn’t got the job. She was a failure, it was clear. She knew she was no good at school. She tried, she really did, but she always ended up antagonizing her teachers for some reason. She’d always assumed she could get a job at least, make something of herself. It turned out she couldn’t. Couldn’t even make it as a Saturday girl in Bling Thing. She was a failure, going nowhere. Already it seemed her life was over.
She threw her rucksack over one shoulder and set off, a small pile of text books cradled in one arm. How she hated her black school uniform. She’d tried to subvert it with heels that were slightly too long, a skirt that was slightly too short, the tiny ruby in her pierced nose. None of it really helped. She hated how she looked. She scowled as she walked, warning everyone not to bother her.
Slumped against the grey stone wall of the library, out of the way of hurrying feet and the light of the sun, a man sat on a piece of tatty cardboard. A threadbare blanket was wrapped around his shoulders. On the ground before him lay a hat containing a paltry four or five coins, all coppers. He held a sign in his hands that said simply, Please. The rest of the message, whatever he was begging for, had been torn away. He was asleep, his head nodding forwards, long, matted hair covering his face. The crowd ignored him, probably didn’t even see him.
She wondered who he was, where he’d come from, what his story was. A fantasy came to her that he was one of the few who’d escaped the fire: the blaze in the factory that had killed her father. He had limped out, choking, his clothes smoking, his skin burned. He was disfigured now, unable to work, unable to do anything but sit and beg. The formless pleading of that single word on his sign.
She wanted to go up to him, sit with him, talk to him. She felt suddenly closer to him than all the people around her. They had so much in common, this shared bond of not belonging to the crowd. She stopped walking. A woman dressed in a smart blue business-suit, her gold necklace expensive, white earphones in her ears, tutted loudly at Cait for being in the way.
A flap of the cardboard on which the beggar sat caught the breeze and she saw the words This Way Up in red letters. Underneath, smaller, the name of some company.
The man looked sharply up and directly at her. Or rather, through her to something beyond, as if he couldn’t get his eyes to focus properly. He was young. He couldn’t possibly have worked with her father. Of course. His skin was unscarred, his features thin and pale. Anger flashed through her, an anger that was part adrenalin. The stupid ideas she had. What was she thinking?
‘The hunt! The hunt is coming! Monsters! Run and hide, run and hide!’ the man shouted. No-one paid him any attention. ‘They’ll chase you down, corner you. You’ll see! Sleep safe in your beds, that’s when they come. The dead of night, down these streets, knives flashing. Run and hide, run and hide …’ He tailed off, his head lolling forward again as if he was a toy whose battery had run down.
Cait stood for a moment, feeling ridiculous. He was just some loser, disgusting, probably mad.
Then he looked up again, this time directly at her, focusing on her. A look of surprise filled his face.
‘You?’ he said, not shouting now, but still speaking loudly. ‘Here?’
His mouth moved quickly without any words coming out. Concern, then fear, then amusement flashed across his features. He started shouting again, this time pointing directly at her.
‘They will hunt you! Once they find you, who you are and what you are, they will come! Day or night! You … here all along! All along!’
He started to laugh. A crazy, utterly uninhibited laugh. He flicked his head from side to side, expecting everyone to see the joke.
It was too much for Cait. She turned and ran for the library doors, her eyes down, shutting out the crowd, shutting out the beggar, his words knives in her mind.
“BEEHOOVES YE TO BEEHAVE”
A review of The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, written by Witch Awareness Month, contributor, Ruth Merriam
Sometimes, a childhood book is so precious to us that we can recall with joy the numbers of times we read it and pieces of it stick forever in our memories. Such was the case for me with The Witch Family, a book I first read some 45 years ago. Oh Malachi, bumblebee so magical that from that time foreward all bumblebees assumed that name, you are forever imprinted in my memories.
There were, once upon a time, two not-quite-six-years-old girls by the names of Amy and Clarissa. They lived next door to each other on Garden Lane in Washington, DC and they loved to draw pictures and tell stories.
Amy was particularly fond of stories about old grandmother Old Witch because Amy’s mother made up scary tales. So one day, while Amy and Clarissa were drawing, Amy decided that because Old Witch was so very, very wicked, she must be “banquished.”
“Go, go, go! To the glass hill go!”
And so it was that Old Witch, the wickedest great-great-great grandmother Witch and her cat, Old Tom, were sent to live on the great glass hill with only herbs to eat and the strictest of instructions to never cause any wickedness at all until Halloween (because you can’t have a proper Halloween without witches). To ensure that Old Witch behaved, Amy sent her emissary Malachi the bumblebee who, due to the powerful effects of a magical Rune, was able to spell . . . and to sting and sting and sting to get his point across.
Old Witch was most perturbed by this turn of events, and most resentful. How could she do without her hurly-burlies and backanallies? Besides, it was lonesome and bleak on the great glass hill.
But Amy was not a cruel girl, and she sends letters to Old Witch via a bright red cardinal bird. With a carefully composed abracadabra, Old Witch gets herself the beginning of a family when a little witch named Hannah and her black kitten, Little Tom, come swooping in to stay.
Hannah, being a proper little witch girl, must go to Witch School. After all, Amy and Clarissa must go to school so it’s only natural. It’s never easy being the new kid, though.
With Malachi there to protect her, things get sorted out pretty quickly!
And so the story goes between the lives of Amy and Clarissa, and the lives of the Witch Family, where the imaginations of two little girls become reality and the two worlds intersect.
Hannah is lonely on the glass hill and sometimes frightened of Old Witch. One day, while Old Witch is off causing trouble despite dire warnings from Malachi, Hannah finds a way into the glass hill and makes friends with a young mermaid who lives in crystal pools of water. She has a Mer-cow and a baby mermaid sister. Hannah realizes how lonely she is and wishes for a baby sister of her own. Amy and Clarissa feel this is an appropriate thing to wish for . . . so an abracadra or two later, a Weenie Witchie strapped to a tiny broom along with a scrawny black kitten come sailing into the house on the glass hill.
Now, you know that Old Witch just cannot help being wicked for that is her nature, and mischief ensues as the days go by. There are adventures – but not too awful because the banquisher (Amy) doesn’t really want to have a Halloween without witches sailing through the air! Oh, but there are visits back and forth between the worlds, and a few hurly-burlies, and a scare or two besides.
The story seamlessly blends the mundane world with the magical world and the ways of children with a cleverness of phrasing usually reserved for more mature readers. It’s a tale full of heart and mystery, nervous adventure and the comfort of one’s favorite swing, of being alive, and of learning to love. And, in the words of Malachi,
“WICKEDNESS BE AFOOT!”
[Written by Witch Awareness Month, team member, Carole Lanham]
Sophia’s family has skeletons, but they aren’t in their graves…
At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.
Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she’d settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.
One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor’s hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him.
Survival in his world, she learns, means not asking questions and staying out of the immortal council’s way. It’s a line she crossed long ago. If Sophia wants to survive the council and save the people she loves, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.
The Forever Girl is not your mother’s witch story. Steeped in a lore that is colorful and complex as a cup of wild flower tea, Rebecca Hamilton delivers an utterly unique take on the Wiccan life that will leave you thirsting for more. If you like your fiction coated with a nice thick layer of dusty, gothic goodness (and who doesn’t?!), fear not, you’ll find plenty of that between these pages. But Sophia is tender and fair and full of heart. She is a forever girl, and that is an altogether different thing.
Like a breath of fresh air in a spidery attic, The Forever Girl mixes up a heady brew of blood-suckers, shape-shifters, and all manner of vile beasties that are both comfortingly familiar and surprisingly strange. Always, there is a sense of purity blossoming amid the forces of darkness, giving this story a magic that’s all its own. When Sophia steps beyond the veil, a mysterious new world is revealed where all the rules are changed — A lick of blood heals bones and makes the air smell like watermelon candy. A moat of daffodils repels unwanted guests. A green-eyed squirrel carries the ability to read auras. It’s this unique blend of beauty and grim complexity that’s made the book such a hit with readers.
The Forever Girl is not about black and white witchcraft. Rather, it’s about the wide range of color that falls between evil and grace. Packed with elements of paranormal fantasy, horror, and romance, this story is the first in an exciting new series and one that no true lover of witch tales will want to miss.
You can find The Forever Girl at the following locations:
Buy this book:
For more about Rebecca Hamilton, please visit http://www.beccahamiltonbooks.com/
Carole Lanham is the author of The Whisper Jar and The Reading Lessons. Connect with her at carolelanham.com & horrorhomemaker.com