Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

they must cast aside their secrets - Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy

Malachi is the last of his kind--a magus who can communicate with the dead, and who relies on the help of spirits to keep his kingdom safe. When he's sent to investigate brutal murders in the isolated village of Stonehill Downs, he uncovers dangerous sorceries and unleashes a killer who strikes close to home.


Stonehill Downs follows Mal, a powerful mage who functions as Lord Vocent, the king’s personal forensic scientist and detective. Magic and murder are his calling. Never have the two entangled in quite as terrifying a manner as on Stonehill Downs, where Avani, a Goddess-gifted outsider, has discovered a host of gruesome corpses reeking of supernatural malfeasance. The investigation is haunted by ghosts of Mal’s past, and the two quickly learn that they must cast aside their secrets if they are to succeed in unearthing the pervading evil—before it’s unleashed from the boundaries of the Downs, straight into the heart of the kingdom.

Malachi is the last of his kind--a magus who can communicate with the dead, and who relies on the help of spirits to keep his kingdom safe. When he's sent to investigate brutal murders in the isolated village of Stonehill Downs, he uncovers dangerous sorceries and unleashes a killer who strikes close to home.

Avani is an outsider living on the Downs, one of the few survivors from the Sunken Islands. She has innate magics of her own, and when she discovers the mutilated bodies of the first victims, she enters into a reluctant alliance with Malachi that takes her far from home.

But Mal is distracted by the suspicious death of his mentor and haunted by secrets from his past. And Avani discovers troubling truths about the magus through her visions. She could free Malachi, but first they must work together to save the kingdom from the lethal horror that has arisen.

Snow White

"She's dead," said Corbin. He scuffed snow away from the corpse with his boot then crouched to take a closer look. "Not your wolves, I think."

"No," the Beast agreed. He leaned against the trunk of a fir, sheltered from the falling snow. His velvet coat was spotless as usual but there was a smudge of mud across his patrician nose, and another across the knee of his trousers. A clutch of thin pheasants hung from his belt. A single feather decorated his long black hair. "My wolves wouldn't leave good meat behind. Do you recognize her? From the village, perhaps?"

"I can't say for certain." Corbin didn't bother reminding his friend he hadn't been back to Littleton for several seasons. Time and the Beast waged war. "But I don't think so." He scuffed more snow from her face and hair. "Young. Pretty. She's half-buried."

He dug further, ignoring the Beast's yellow-eyed stare. "Don't see an obvious wound." 

"She got caught in the storm and lay down for a rest." 
Shrugging, the Beast left his shelter. He crunched over drifts and stood by Corbin. He wasn't tall but even in the falling snow he cast a long shadow over the corpse. "Not the best time for a nap, though we both know how foolish humans can be."

Corbin ignored the jab. "Help me turn her over."

The Beast sighed but complied. One of his long-fingered hands nudged Corbin's wrist as they shifted the corpse. Corbin's blood leapt in response. Gritting his teeth, he moved away from the demon's touch.

"She's frozen to the ground," the Beast murmured. "Which means she's been here some time."

"Since before this storm." Corbin managed to roll the woman onto her face. He tried not to flinch at the bits of skin left stuck to the ice. "Ah! There. Look!"

The Beast squatted. "What is that?"

"Tooth marks. Old blood. Something took a chunk out of her spine. Your wolves, after all."

"No." The demon youth rose slowly. "I told you, I know my wolves." He took a deep breath of forest air, scanning the canopy overhead, then the flocked undergrowth. "I think..."

All at once he seemed to grow taller, bulkier. The faint scent of sulfur tainted the air. 

"Corbin, up, on your feet! Quick, your sword! It'll come from - "

Below. It came up out of the earth in a rush, no bigger than a small child, sweet-faced and plump, but bristling with tooth and claw. Corbin had his sword in hand before the creature was free of the snow. Still it managed to knock him over. Talons tore at his thigh.


In spite of months of Corbin's best tutelage, the Beast was no swordsman. He didn't need to be.

"Corbin!" He snatched the monster from Corbin's thigh. It howled as it pulled free, spitting Corbin's blood from between crooked fangs. Swearing, the Beast grasped the creature at both ends, twisting. He tore the ugly thing in two and dropped the still-squirming pieces.

"God's balls." Corbin struggled onto his knees, still holding his sword. "What was that?"

The Beast dropped into the reddened snow. He fumbled along Corbin's torn thigh, patting awkwardly. Where his fingers stroked, the pain eased, and broken flesh healed. Still, Corbin winced at the pressure.

"Sorry, sorry." The Beast was white as the woman's pretty corpse. "It didn't occur to me. Usually they hibernate. Where else did it get you?"

"Stop." Corbin abandoned his sword. He grabbed the Beast's hands, stilling them. "I'm alright. I'll be alright. What usually hibernates? What is it?"

Together they looked at the creature's steaming remains. 
In the way of his kind, the Beast hadn't been gentle. 
"Dwarf," he said, succinct. He helped Corbin to his feet, wrapping one arm around his waist. There was blood in his hair, on his worried face, and on his usually spotless coat. 
"Home, now," he said, handing Corbin his sword. "I'm afraid they generally travel in packs of seven."

About the author:
In 1994 Sarah Remy earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Pomona College in California. Since then she’s been employed as a receptionist at a high-powered brokerage firm, managed a boutique bookstore, read television scripts for a small production company, and, more recently, worked playground duty at the local elementary school.

When she’s not taking the service industry by storm, she’s writing fantasy and science fiction. Sarah likes her fantasy worlds gritty, her characters diverse and fallible, and she doesn’t believe every protagonist deserves a happy ending.

Before joining the Harper Voyager family, she published with EDGE, Reuts, and Madison Place Press.

Sarah lives in Washington State with plenty of animals and people, both. In her limited spare time she rides horses, rehabs her old home, and supervises a chaotic household. She can talk to you endlessly about Sherlock Holmes, World of Warcraft, and backyard chicken husbandry, and she’s been a member of one of Robin Hobb’s longest-running online fan clubs since 2002.

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