Since we published The Amulet of Caorunn at the end of March a lot has been going on in the world of Juliette Harper.
Some readers found the Amulet cover confusing. Why does it look so different from the rest of the Jinx Hamilton series? The simple answer is that the plot took our characters to a very different place — the Middle Realm (also known as the In Between.)
In going there, and in making a promise to the Dark Druid, Jinx redirected not just her own course, but that of the entire Fae world. That means big doings in the future, and a lot of planning for us over the last two months.
Today, we’re excited to share with you the covers for the next four books in the series.
We’re currently working on Book 8, To Haunt a Witch, which will be ready to publish in the coming weeks. In case you missed it on the website, here’s the book’s description:
Still recovering from their adventure into the Middle Realm, Jinx, Tori, and the gang have settled down to enjoy some “normal” time in Briar Hollow. Then Cezar Ionescu walks in the front door asking for a favor. An abandoned house owned by the local Strigoi clan is attracting the attention of the Haunted Briar Hollow web series.
Cezar knows the old place is haunted, but he doesn't know the identity of the ghost or the reason for the presence. Can Jinx gently ask the spirit to move on before Mindy, Nick, and Kyle find something else inflammatory? Remember the spectral baseball game? No one wants more of that kind of trouble.
Tori seizes on the request to suggest a combination slumber party / camping trip with Lucas and Connor in tow. Festus and Rube are onboard, and Rodney is determined not to be left behind. For her part, Jinx is more than ready to get away from her daily mirror calls from Barnaby complaining about the diplomatic firestorm she touched off when she promised the Dark Druid the Agreement segregating the Middle Realm would be lifted.
But as usual, there's more to the abandoned house than anyone imagines. When the group brings home a “helpful” spirit, Jinx finds out more about Fae politics than she wanted to know, and discovers a completely hidden element of her already complicated family history.
And as an extra bonus, we’re giving you a sneak peek at Chapter 1 of To Haunt a Witch at the end of this post.
Finally, before we sign off, if you want to pass on the Jinksy love to any of your family or friends, the first book in the series, Witch at Heart (A Jinx Hamilton Mystery Book 1), will be FREE on Amazon this Thursday, June 8 through Saturday, June 10.
Enjoy your early look at To Haunt a Witch and, as always, thanks for reading!
To Haunt a Witch
Jinx Hamilton Book 8
Don’t ask me why I struck a match. Habit I guess. The first 30 years of my life, I didn’t know I could snap my fingers and ignite a flame. Dragging a tiny blob of dried chemicals over a strip of sandpaper felt more natural.
Mistake number one.
Lucas and I stood in a dim, cluttered room in an abandoned house. The tall trees surrounding the structure cut off the last rays of the setting sun. We needed more light. Other than that, I can’t tell you exactly what I was thinking the moment the wick flared.
Mistake number two.
From the doorway behind me, Tori cried, “Jinksy! Don’t do that!”
The warning came too late and surprised me so much; I stood there gaping at her until the burning match scorched my fingers. Swearing under my breath, I shook out the flame and resisted the urge to drop it. The whole place was a tinderbox waiting to ignite.
“Have you lost your mind?” I demanded.
“Me?” she said, outraged. “You just lit a hoodoo candle. What were you thinking?”
“That we needed some light in here.”
Tori rolled her eyes. “Would you please stop being so literal?” she said. “What were you thinking? What was your intention when you lit the candle?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I guess that I wanted to find this ghost so we can go home.”
Mistake number three.
Let me hit rewind here and explain a few things. The afternoon I lit that candle, Tori, Lucas, Connor, and I had just set up “camp” in the deserted living room of a derelict house owned by the local Strigoi clan, the Ionescus.
Four months earlier, we ventured into the In Between for a whole world-saving thing that garnered some interesting results. For starters, we came back with reformed sorceress, Brenna Sinclair in tow and then there was the diplomatic firestorm I touched off.
I promised the Dark Druid we’d terminate the Agreement segregating the Middle Realm from the Otherworld and the Human Realm.
No, I did not consider the diplomatic consequences — something my grandfather, Barnaby Shevington, reminds me of daily in our mirror calls. I put him and a lot of other high-ranking Fae in the position of finishing what I started, and they’re not happy with me.
Not happy at all.
As the first flowers began to bloom that April, I was doing my best to keep my head down and stay out of the line of fire. Unfortunately, with Barnaby preparing to leave for England in less than two weeks to attend a summit conference of the Ruling Elders, I would be in charge of affairs in Shevington.
Every day he called me from the Valley to brief me on some arcane administrative detail. Secretly, I suspected he made the calls just to have another excuse to grumble about my “impetuous action with little thought to the consequences for the delicate balance of the affairs of the realms.”
I’d heard that line so many times it might as well have been tattooed on my forehead.
Honestly, I was more than a little annoyed myself. No one seemed to remember that at the time I made that promise to the Dark Druid, the Mother Tree’s life was in danger and the state of North Carolina had been plunged into a modern Ice Age.
Hello, people? Priorities?
After what would go down in the record books as the Freak Freeze of ‘15, the residents of Briar Hollow struggled with the idea of “getting back to normal.” The customers who drank coffee with us at the Witch’s Brew tossed meteorological theories around thick and fast. The scenarios ranged from the End of Days to a coming apocalypse worthy of a Walking Dead script.
Tori and I nodded, made patient, non-committal sounds in the back or our throats and kept our mouths shut. We knew exactly what happened on Monday, December 26, 2015, in the State of North Carolina. Creavit wizard Irenaeus Chesterfield, in league with Cailleach Bheur, the Queen of Winter, set in motion a plan to kill the Mother Oak and sever the realms.
Obviously, we couldn’t discuss those events with our human patrons as they debated the merits of home generators and poured over survivalist websites on their tablets. We might not have known the true extent of the lingering fear the Freak Freeze generated, but we have the best free wifi in town thanks to the fairy mound on which our store sits.
Over the past year, our shop has become an informal meeting space for a couple of book clubs and enthusiast groups like our chess players. Anything that keeps them in their chairs and drinking coffee is good for us, which means we know the current “hot” book in town, the fact that Dub Martin uses his knights aggressively, and how many MREs Jo Nell Sanders has stored up ahead of the next disaster.
The day Jo Nell made that announcement, I waited until she’d walked away from the counter to ask Tori, under my breath, “What’s an MRE?”
“Meal ready to eat,” she said. “Dub paid $1400 for a three-month supply from some outfit online. He told me he picked the package with chili mac and cheese, brownies, and coffee.”
Well, I guess if you’re in the middle of Armageddon, worrying about cholesterol is not high on your list of concerns.
I’m ashamed to say that while our friends and neighbors tried to recover from the storm in the best way they knew how, we enjoyed a lull in the usual magical chaos that surrounds us.
None of us believed Chesterfield was gone for good, but we had managed to thwart his biggest scheme yet. Wherever he was, the wizard was no doubt plotting his next move. In the meantime, we got on with our lives.
My parents were completely settled into their new sporting goods business at the end of the block past Chase’s cobbler shop. These days Mom wears the Amulet of Caorunn, a gift from the Mother Rowan.
The artifact’s specific power is to restore that which has faded. It’s filled my mother with confidence and beguiling feistiness. Explaining the change in her persona is difficult, but I assure you, she’ll never cover the good sofa with plastic again.
She’s taken over instructing Dad in the possibilities of his newly awakened magic, most of which he’s channeling into enchanting fishing lures. Under the influence of my brother, Connor, the ultimate animal whisperer, our father is a new convert to the religion of “catch and release.”
Dad has filled his shop with some of the most beautiful fly fishing gear I’ve ever seen. The flies he ties and sells are already gaining a reputation for their ability to attract fish and slide effortlessly out of their mouths.
Tori’s mom, Gemma, is in her element in the apothecary she’s opened across the corner from George and Irma’s grocery store. I would imagine human businesses of that sort have to fool with all sorts of FDA regulations and permits, but magic cuts through that nonsense. Gemma packages her alchemical remedies as herbal lotions, potions, pills, and teas along with an array of blessings, crystals, charms, and yes . . . candles.
We’ll get back to the candles. I promise.
Brenna works with us part of the time, but more and more she wanders over to Gemma’s. Without breaking down the complicated ancestry, Brenna is Gemma and Tori’s living ancestor. We’re going with the generic “aunt” for human purposes, but she’s their many times great grandmother.
Considering we all believed Brenna was dead and thoroughly evil, the vibrant, vivacious woman who has come into our lives has been a pleasant surprise. I think it helps that she and DGI agent Greer MacVicar are contemporaries. Talking about places they’ve visited, people they’ve known and men they . . . kept company with . . . prevents either one of them from feeling out of time and place.
Until I saw Greer teeter on the edge of losing control during our time in the Middle Realm, I didn’t appreciate how she walks a fine line every moment of her existence. As the baobhan sith, a Scottish vampire, she needs blood to survive. She always made managing that requirement sound easy. Now, I’ve stared into her emerald eyes gone black with hunger. “Easy” does not apply.
Technically, the Strigoi are also vampires, but they don’t drink blood. In their native state, they would drain the life energy of their human victims. Thanks to the intervention of science, however, the Ionescus thrive on a steady diet of electricity. The generators they hauled down the mountain and installed at the local high school during the Freak Freeze saved the people of Briar Hollow.
Reclusive more by circumstance than choice, the Strigoi are suddenly local heroes, receiving invitations from their formerly suspicious neighbors, and showing up around town more often. Because of that, I wasn’t surprised when Cezar Ionescu, the clan’s leader, walked into the shop one sunny Monday morning.
I was surprised when he ordered a coconut cinnamon spice latte — and even more surprised that Tori knew how to stir up the disgusting concoction. I prefer coffee in my coffee.
“You’re not going to drink that thing, are you?” I asked.
Cezar is a handsome man with angular, tanned features and jet black hair just starting to go gray at the temples. He grinned at me over the rim of his cup.
“What did you expect me to drink?” he said. “Something with more . . . protein?”
Vampire humor. They always go for the open vein.
“Very funny,” I said. “You look more like a black coffee kind of guy.”
“Blame my Romanian heritage for that,” he said. “I confess I also have a weakness for sweet potato pie.”
“Now that,” I said, “is perfectly normal. But coconut and cinnamon? Cezar, that’s just flat wrong.”
The Strigoi leader chuckled and took another sip of his drink, wiping away the frothy moustache it left behind.
“I am afraid, my friend,” he said, “that my choice of libation is not the only wrong thing we must discuss. We have a problem.”
Just for the record? No good ever comes of a reformed vampire announcing there’s a problem at hand — especially when that hand is holding a coconut cinnamon latte.