Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 67 (April 2011)
- Welcome to the April 2011 issue of my newsletter, "News from the Crypt," and please visit Carter's Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled "Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe." For my recommendations of "must read" classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/
And please visit the website of the Infinite World of Fantasy Authors: http://www.iwofa.net/
Fictionwise.com sells quite a few of my e-books as well as my short stories from various anthologies, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Sword and Sorceress" series. And search the Kindle store on Amazon.com for Kindle editions of numerous novels and stories by me.
I have a new erotic vampire romance novella arriving soon. On May 15, Amber Quill will publish "Blood Hostage," in which a vampire hunter captures a female vampire in hopes of using her as leverage to rescue his cousin, who's being held at the mercy of a murderous vampire.
Below you'll find a pair of scenes near the end of ROGUE MAGESS, a teaser of Aetria's climactic confrontation with the ancient dragon who threatens the stability of her world.
I'm interviewing Raven Kelly, mistress of several excellent vampire-related websites.
Interview with Raven Kelly:
(1) Tell us a little about yourself. Is your day job publishing-related, or are books strictly an avocation for you?
My name is Raven Kelly, I'm from Canada, and live in the beautiful province of British Columbia. I read and review paranormal and vampire books as a hobby, and I absolutely love it. My husband and I have our own Internet company together. He truly is my soul mate, my best friend and the other half of me. I'm also the mother to four loving fur babies named Blacks, Bouncer, Priscilla Pussycat Presley and Tili.
(2) How did you become interested in vampires? What are your favorite vampire books and/or authors?
I have always been interested in Vampires and Witches from a young age. I started reading Twilight (yes I know what you are thinking), and that ignited my interest in vampires again.
WOW, that is hard question to answer. I don't want to be biased, but some authors that instantly come to mind are Lyndsay Sands, Katie MacAlister, Christine Freehan, and Tabitha Shay are a few authors that I really enjoy.
(3) Why did you decided to establish a book review site?
I read a few books in the vampire genre, and soon after decided that I wanted to give other Vampire fans like myself a heads up on good Vampire books to read.
(4) Your bio mentions that you're a movie buff. What are your favorite movies?
I love watching movies. There are so many movies that are my favorite that I can't name them, but some that come to mind are.
- Twilight Series
- Star Wars
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- Underworld Series
(5) Please tell us about your various websites, blog, etc., and how authors and readers can get involved.
I'm the webmistress for three websites. Vampiress.ca, VampireBooks.ca, and RavenKelly.com. I review vampire and paranormal romance books. I also post author interviews on VampireBooks.ca, and would love to have any authors who would love be interviewed be part of my website. I hope everyone enjoyed learning a little about me, I enjoyed sharing myself with you all. Thank you Margaret for giving me the opportunity to share myself with all of your wonderful readers.
You can check out my websites here by visiting these URL's below.
Some Books I've Been Reading:
RIVER MARKED, by Patricia Briggs. In the latest Mercy Thompson novel, coyote shapeshifter Mercy marries her alpha werewolf lover Adam, and they go on a honeymoon in a luxurious RV in an otherwise empty campground. To her dismay, Adam admits the loan of the trailer came as a gift from a fae, always a dubious thing to accept. In the woods Mercy sees an apparition of a Native American she thinks may be the ghost of the father she never knew. In the nearby river she catches sight of seven otterkin, much fiercer than their cute exterior appearance might suggest. They turn out to be allied with a prehistoric river monster that marks Mercy with a bite. She begins to have devastatingly realistic visions of the monster's killings. With the help of Coyote and a group of other Native animal spirits, she resolves to destroy the monster. The use of Native rituals, the ambiguous encounters with the spirit world, Mercy's moral dilemma when the river creature tries to blackmail her by threatening innocents, her discovery of the truth about her father, and the passionate, protective relationship between Mercy and Adam all combine to make RIVER MARKED a captivating story.
DARK MIRROR, by M. J. Putney. Under the byline "Mary Jo Putney," this author writes some of my favorite historical romances. In DARK MIRROR, first of a series, she embarks on YA historical fantasy. This novel takes place in an alternate England where magic exists openly, applied to the practical needs of everyday life. In the Regency era when we meet the protagonist, Tory, a daughter of a noble family, aristocrats disdain magic. They hire magicians to perform some tasks for them, but any child of the upper class who displays magical talent is suppressed or ostracized. Even if such an embarrassing offspring can be "cured," he or she can't expect to make an advantageous marriage. Forced to reveal her secret talent for levitation, Tory gets banished to Lackland Abbey, a school that "cures" its students by teaching them to suppress their magic. There Tory suffers the loss of familiar affection and comforts, as well as getting stuck with the typical snobbish roommate of boarding school fiction. She expects to endure years of restraint and deprivation, until the night when she stumbles upon a secret meeting of students who embrace rather than reject their gifts. After she has studied with them for a while, Tory discovers the mirror of the title. Responding to her desperate need to escape from a party of raiders searching for the magic-users, the mirror sends her through time into England during the blitz. Although the truth of magic has been forgotten by the 1940s, she manages to convince the family that takes her in that she is really a magician from the early 1800s, not a madwoman. I enjoyed Putney's treatment of the "fish out of water" motif in the culture clash between Tory's aristocratic Regency assumptions and life in the 1940s, including her surprise that traditional enemy France is now an ally and Germany, original homeland of the English royal family, is the enemy. When Tory and her friends from Lackland get caught up in the evacuation of Dunkirk, intense emotion and rich historical detail make the incident enthralling. I'll definitely keep watch for the sequel.
VAMPIRE STORIES, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by Robert Eighteen-Bisang. Distinguished collector and bibliographer Robert Eighteen-Bisang has assembled a collection of all stories by Doyle that may in any way fit into the vampire archetype. Notes following each selection explain why it's included. Reader reviews on Amazon complain about the lack of true vampire content in many of these tales, aside from the best-known of them, the Sherlock Holmes "Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," and the classic prototype of the psychic vampire, "The Parasite." Most of the others do have a legitimate place in this collection, though. "John Barrington Cowles" and "The Winning Shot" feature two more psychic predators. "The Captain of the Pole-Star" has its title character haunted by a spectral life-drainer in the stark landscape of the arctic. The Egyptian sorcerer in "The Ring of Thoth" may fairly be classified as undead. "The American's Tale" includes a bloodsucking plant. But the other two original Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" and "The Adventure of the Three Gables," are vampiric in only a tenuous, metaphorical way. I embrace a fairly broad definition of vampirism (as you'll notice if you glance at the list of categories at the beginning of my vampire fiction bibliography update released each January). Since my original 1989 bibliography excluded such works as JANE EYRE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and TRILBY, all with more clearly vampiric content, I certainly wouldn't admit those two Holmes stories to the fold; they strike me as "padding." The remaining piece in the collection is a Holmes pastiche by Bill Crider, "The Case of the Vanished Vampire." For vampire specialists, this volume's best feature is its "Sherlock Holmes Vampire Bibliography," an exhaustive list of fiction in which the Great Detective meets vampires (Dracula and others).
THE REPLACEMENT, by Brenna Yovanoff. This YA book has to be the darkest changeling novel I've ever read. The town of Gentry (for aficionados of fairy folklore, the name is a giveaway) enjoys prosperity of a sort no matter how bad the economy gets, but at a price. Everybody knows, although nobody talks about, the dark secret that sometimes babies and toddlers get stolen, replaced by duplicates who soon die. Teenage narrator Mackie is an anomaly, a replacement who survived. His allergic reactions to iron and consecrated spaces pose a special problem, since his father is the local church's pastor. Although his family knows his origin, they love him and do their best to accommodate his disabilities. While struggling with typical adolescent problems of school, bullies, musical aspirations, and girls, he also strives to live a normal life despite his nature. When the fae creatures who live beneath the slag heap at the edge of town make contact with him, they insist he will sicken and die if he continues trying to live like a human boy. Both allured and repelled by these inhuman beings, Mackie feels impelled to take action by the abduction of the little sister of a girl he's attracted to. Can he save her, and at what price? Yovanoff draws upon the folkloric association of fairies with the dead and the traditional legends' frequent ambiguity as to whether people who have "died" are really deceased, trapped in the faery realm, or in some sense both. This theme lends THE REPLACEMENT an eerie, Gothic tone.
Excerpt from ROGUE MAGESS:
Aetria looked up the hill as she climbed toward the crest and saw General Borlock standing there, surveying the terrain. Sonja was shaking her head from side to side, perhaps arguing with herself about the order of battle necessary to defeat the enemy.
Aetria strode up beside the General, who turned her head to look at the ex-Commander of the Sorcerer Corps and spoke gruffly, "You can tell your sister I no longer doubt that dragons exist, Council Leader." Sonja pointed at the opposite hill, on which a very large, gray Styreka lay watching the troops aligned across the valley floor below it.
"Styrekii-zish!" Aetria said in a voice filled with both wonder and dread.
"It has a name? Of course it would, and you would know it. Is this the dragon Adept Coleni said you talked with before?"
"No, ma'am, but she is the leader of the Styreka and, I thought, a friend. Yes, we have talked."
"I take it that you didn't plan on yon dragon attacking my troops, killing a battalion of infantry with an ease that sends horror through me every time I think of it."
Aetria had heard the story of Styrekii-zish's sudden appearance at an old Hermanian fort that bordered the main road leading from Hermania into Delmathia. General Borlock had recently re-manned it using Delmathian troops. With explosive magic, the Venerable had destroyed the stone walls protecting the garrison before they had a chance to man their battle positions, then rushed in among them with fang, claw, and fire. The brave hearts who still tried to mount a defense saw their efforts wasted. Those few catapult bullets and crossbow bolts that did not mysteriously miss dropped to ground without penetrating the body of the dragon. After a cursory search of the blackened ruins for human life, and finding none, Styrekii-zish had taken to the air above the fort. She overflew the Hermanian town that the fort had once protected, panicking the inhabitants, who fled back into the countryside. The dragon had then flown east toward Delmathia.
"After we had talked, I would have bet you anything that she was not thinking on any such violence. She is the complete opposite of the dragon whom you saw kill me, Grisylck. I still can't believe it is her."
"Well, if the report I received is true, we now know they can fly. She has not moved from that knoll since my scouts first spotted her. It has been a week--a week since she moved last! That beast has allowed me to bring up all my reserves and has not made one attempt against me in the field. She is definitely waiting for something. I just hope it is not for her reinforcements."
"No, ma'am, she is waiting for me," Aetria said with a sure sadness in her voice, lowering her eyes to look at the bare ground they stood on.
"Care to explain why you think this, Commander?"
"I am the greatest threat to her kind. If I am eliminated, then her people will be able to force the people of the Domains into slavery to finish the work they started with us."
The General lifted Aetria's chin, forcing her to gaze into Sonja's eyes. "You are not going to replay your part in the Battle of the Two Hills, Magess Aetria. Neither you nor that headstrong sister of yours is going up there alone to face that horror."
Aetria gave Sonja a hug, then stepped back to regain eye contact. "I promise you we will not go alone. We can't do this without the help of all the sorcerers gathering at this spot. Even then, it might not be enough."
"Magess Chalinee is two days away. Wait for her."
"The source signals have said as much. I will wait, if Styrekii-zish allows it."
"Then let us retire to my headquarters and make plans."
* * * *
General Borlock had her war staff and field commanders gathered around a table where Coleni had spelled an illusion of the dragon sitting on her hill. Sonja was getting an opinion from her infantry general about the best route to take up the hill when a rider galloped up to the command tent, dismounted, and rushed past the door guards.
"General Borlock, ma'am--the dragon is sitting at the base of the hill."
Sonja gestured for the Scout Lieutenant to point out on the illusion where the Venerable was now. He touched a spot, and Coleni shifted the dragon there.
The scout handed Sonja a scroll prepared by the commanding officer of the scout company keeping watch on the dragon. "It has not moved since it landed, General."
Sonja read quickly through the message and handed it to Captain Valetti. "Thank you, Lieutenant. Return to Captain Ransolni and tell him to continue his surveillance. Do not approach the dragon or attempt any offensive action against it. Am I clear, Lieutenant?"
"Yes, ma'am." He repeated her exact words back to Sonja, and she nodded at their correctness. The scout saluted her and left immediately after she acknowledged his salute.
General Borlock put her fists on her hips and looked around the table. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, that certainly changes things a bit. Adept Coleni, what do you make of the enemy's latest move?"
"All the guests have arrived for her party. She is inviting us to come to her," Coleni said, staring at the Venerable's image, realizing that she had made it look more like Grisylck than how Aetria had described Styrekii-zish to her. Of course, her own up close encounter with the Crone would be the stronger image in her mind and most likely to come out in the casting of the spell.
"I agree. If she wanted to, she could take off and fly back up the hill. Our assault plan would remain the same. If she remains on the valley floor, she could wait until we charge against her, then concentrate her spells against our massed troops. I doubt if she will wait for us to man the hill above her before she either flies away or attacks. How do you plan to use your sorcerers in either case, Council Leader Grelnes?"
*Not in any way you know of, General,* Aetria thought.
"The ones who can use offensive spells, and are willing to do so, will be under the command of Magess Chalinee. You are very aware of her skills since she fought you for so many years."
Sonja nodded and gave the Hermanian Coven leader a slight bow of respect. Chalinee returned the same.
"The ones that can heal and provide support, and are willing to do so, will be under the command of Magess Loreana."
Looking crossly at Aetria, General Borlock asked, "You keep saying, 'and are willing to do so.' If they are not, why are they here?"
"Magess Chalinee brought all the Hermanian sorcerers who were willing to help and have no qualms about using Power to kill. The Delmathian sorcerers gathered here did so at my request to determine who will sit on the Council of Magi. We are approximately a thousand strong."
Sonja asked, "And Delmathia's ex-Council members--our best and most powerful magic-users? The ones that abandoned and rejected you?"
"The ones who fought in the war are here. Most of the others have not stepped forward to serve their King. I am hoping that they will join us if they see we are losing the fight. If not, they will be responsible for our demise and have to live with the shame."
"And who commands these willing and unwilling sorcerers?"
"I will," Aetria said firmly.
"Then prepare to move your sorcerers out to meet the dragon. We leave in an hour."
-end of excerpt-
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"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter