Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BLACK MOON by Teri Harman: Excerpt and Giveaway

The sequel to her amazing debut novel, BLOOD MOON, Teri Harman shares an excerpt for book two, BLACK MOON. Sure to be a hit with fantasy readers, Teri is also offering a giveaway for the reveal: a signed copy!


About Black Moon
Simon Howard accidentally killed three people. Four months later, the nightmares won’t stop. Willa Fairfield, his girlfriend, his soul mate, wants nothing more than to help him move on. But guilt isn’t the only thing getting in Simon’s way.

When unexplained earthquakes hit the small town of Twelve Acres, and dozens of people go missing, the Light witches discover their most feared enemy, Archard, is still alive. Employing the twisted, dynamic magic of a legendary witch known as Bartholomew the Dark, Archard plans to exact his revenge and take control of the Powers of the Earth on the night of the black moon, a rare lunar event infamous for Dark magic.

As the Light Covenant fumbles to defend against Archard’s sadistic intentions, Simon’s magic grows inexplicably more powerful, even dangerous. Willa throws all her efforts into solving the mystery of Simon’s transformation, but when the events of the past storm into the present, the couple’s future changes forever.

On the rare occasion that two new moons occur in one calendar month, the second new moon is known to witches as a black moon. It is a time of Darkness, when the evil of magic thrives with the gift of extra power awarded by the obsidian sky.On this night, Dark witches rise.

January 500 A.D.
Waning Gibbous

      The bookmaker bent over his worktable, forehead pinched in concentration, eyes straining in the candlelight. In his calloused, ink-stained hand, he held a knife, small and sharp. One by one he lifted the dried goat hides onto the table. With practiced precision, he cut each exactly sixteen inches tall and thirty-two inches long. When folded over, each piece would make two pages. It was delicate work, but the thin, soft hides made the smoothest parchment. And only the best could be used for this book.
      He paused for a moment to wipe the sweat from his corrugated  brow and rub the exhaustion from his eyes. Through three days of nearly non-stop work, he’d barely dared to sleep or eat, even when the smell of  lime wafting off the hides stung his eyes or he grew dizzy from lack of food. If his customer arrived and the book was not finished (and perfect), there would be far worse things to suffer than hunger and watery eyes.
      Finally, he cut and stacked the last page.
      Carefully, the craftsman mixed his special red ink and sharpened his quill to a deadly point. He pulled the top piece of parchment from the stack and, with his ruler in place, began to line the page. Line after line after line. This task was usually done by an apprentice scribe, but the customer had insisted that no other hands touch it.
      Line after line after line after line after . . .
      When dawn breathed light into the sky, the craftsman slumped over the last page, half asleep. When the cock crowed, he jerked awake in a moment of panic. A quick look around the room set his heart at ease.
      He gathered the lined pages and his binding materials. His stomach twisted with hunger, but with a sigh the craftsman set back to work. He folded the first few pages and nestled them into gatherings, or sections of pages. Once the gatherings were prepared, he skillfully sewed them onto the cords of leather that would support the pages.
      Near mid-day he finally paused for a quick meal of stale bread and hard cheese. With the last bite still in his mouth, he returned to his workbench. When he finished the sewing, the craftsman prepared to form the book. From a high shelf he pulled two thin wooden planks. Carefully, he laced the ends of the leather supports though channels carved into the cover planks.
      The bookmaker worked hard to keep his mind on his task, forbidding himself to wonder what this book might be meant for, but it was nearly impossible—considering the man who would own it. He’d heard the rumors, the hushed speculations about the mysterious man known as Bartholomew. Some said he had burned an entire town to the ground with the townspeople trapped inside, unable to escape. Others said he never aged. And some even whispered the word witch in fearful tones.
      When the tall man with shadows in his face had walked into the shop, the craftsman’s bones had turn to ice and he knew instantly who stood before him. Bartholomew was everything and nothing like what he’d expected. But his voice—like foul whispers from hell spun into silk—had haunted the craftsman every moment since that day.
      Another rumor flew around in whispers: Bartholomew was gathering others like him, forming some sort of terrible coven. The bookmaker loved and cherished every book he made; he longed to protect his art, but feared this book would be put to unspeakable uses. He knew, deep inside, that this one book would forever taint his legacy.
      Yet refusal was not an option. He’d known that, looking at Bartholomew’s intense, otherworldly eyes.
      The old craftsman, his back aching, stretched a thick piece of high quality black leather over the cover planks and secured it with several small tacks. Next, he placed the metal corner pieces, meant to protect the soft leather, but also to serve as ornamentation. Bartholomew himself had provided these pieces, and the bookmaker tried hard to ignore how each one felt warm to the touch.
      He secured two large metal clasps to the back of the book, each with a thick leather strap attached which wrapped around the fore edge and slid into clasps on the cover to keep the book closed. The final detail, a round metal medallion for the center of the front cover, was also warm, almost hot. Several unsettling symbols were etched into the metal. On the outside of the circle, arrayed around the middle, were six odd triangles. In the center were two more symbols: a sun with curved rays spiraling outward, and  three ovals stacked on top of each other, progressively larger in size, with a single line running down through the center of them all.
      The craftsman let his hands drop.
      The impressive but sadistic book was complete. As the bookmaker  stood up from his chair and stretched, his body felt brittle and hard, like dried wax. Looking down at his work—some of his finest—he  felt like crying. A chill moved through him as he ran a stiff hand over the cover. Normally he would brand his mark on the back to claim his work, but not on this book. He pulled a cloth from a drawer and covered the tome.
      The sun had nearly set. The craftsman, exhausted but unable to sleep with the perverse book in his home, collapsed into the chair by the fire. He watched the flames, his eyes blurry and heart heavy.
      The door of the shop burst open.
      The old man jumped in his chair, but did not turn to see his visitor; he knew. Bartholomew had returned to collect his book.
      “Is it finished?” asked a voice like burning velvet.
      The craftsman couldn’t speak, but merely gestured to where the tome sat beneath its cloth, like the dead. The stranger’s footfalls were barely audible on the wooden floor, but the craftsman heard every little noise—the whisper of the cloth falling to the floor, the brush of Bartholomew’s gloves as he lifted the book, and his deep hum of pleasure as he stroked the cover.
      The craftsman cringed, his heart aching.
      Then the tall, shadowy figure stood next to his chair. He dared a glance at Bartholomew’s face. The eyes were like small moons, nearly silver and luminous like marsh lights. The skin was pale, nearly the same color as the parchment in the book, but flushed with a healthy vigor. Bartholomew’s long hair, dark blond, like wheat at harvest time, was pulled back from his face and his beard, neatly trimmed. If not for the air of evil that pulsed from him, Bartholomew might have been handsome.
      The craftsman looked back at the flames.
      “Fine work, bookmaker,” Bartholomew whispered in his velvet voice.
      The craftsman didn’t respond. All he could think about was sleep; beautiful, restful sleep.
      “You deserve to sleep, old man. Your work is finished.” Bartholomew removed one of his black gloves and placed his hand on the craftsman’s chest.
      The old man felt his heart thump once, then stop.
      His soul drifted off to sleep.

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1 comment :

  1. Oooo, this sounds good! And wow what a great cover!