It’s my pleasure to welcome Jennifer Allis Provost to Novel Magic on Sorchia’s Universe. Her new book, GallowGlass, has everything we love here: Scotsmen, magic, suspense, romance, and did I say Scotsmen?
Karina didn’t set out to free the Seelie Queen’s gallowglass. Now she’ll do anything to keep him.
After Karina and her brother, Chris’s, lives fall apart in separate yet equally spectacular ways, they leave New York behind and head to the UK. Karina buries herself in research for her doctoral thesis, all the while studiously not thinking about the man who broke her heart, while Chris—who’d been a best-selling author before his ex-fiancée sued him for plagiarism—drinks his way across the British Isles.
In Scotland, they visit the grave of Robert Kirk, a seventeenth- century minister who was kidnapped by fairies. No one is more shocked than Karina when a handsome man with a Scottish brogue appears, claiming to be the Robert Kirk of legend. What’s more, he says he spent the last few hundred years as the Gallowglass, the Seelie Queen’s personal assassin. When they’re attacked by demons, Karina understands how dearly the queen wants him back.
As Karina and Robert grow closer, Chris’s attempts to drown his sorrows lead him to a pub, and a woman called Sorcha. Chris is instantly smitten with her, so much so he spends days with Sorcha and lies to his sister about his whereabouts. When Chris comes home covered in fey kisses, Karina realizes that the Seelie Queen isn’t just after Robert.
Can Karina outsmart the Seelie Queen, or is Robert doomed to forever be the Gallowglass?
Here’s a little excerpt from GallowGlass:
Robert grabbed my arm. “’Tis one o’ the fuath,” he growled.
“The who-ah?” I asked.
“Foo ah,” Robert repeated, stretching out the syllables. “They are water demons that act as Nicnevin’s assassins. Like as no’, she has sent this one to collect me.”
“I thought you were her assassin.”
He ignored my comment, and said, “We must leave, lass. Fetch your brother.”
“Leave the tour?” I asked. “Can’t we just walk around to the other side of the ruin?”
“No. We must leave this place altogether.”
“We’re on an island,” I reminded him. “We have to wait for the ferry.”
“We canna,” he hissed. “’Tis no safe.”
“Um, okay.” I scanned the tour group; it was comprised of a rather harried looking guide, a gaggle of senior citizens armed with cameras and fanny packs, and my brother, the only individual under sixty. None of them looked to be likely candidates for a fairy assassin. “Where exactly is this fuath?”
“At the rear o’ that gathering.” Robert jerked his chin toward a white haired woman leaning on a cane who looked so frail, I worried the breeze would topple her.
“Are you sure?” I pressed.
“’Tis one o’ them, o’ that ye can be certain,” he insisted, his grip on my arm tightening. “The beast is wearing a glamour.”
I stared at Robert, the man I’d known for less than twenty four hours, who had claimed that I’d liberated him from centuries imprisoned within the Seelie Court. The man I had believed, until he started avoiding my questions. “You haven’t answered me. I thought you were her assassin?”
“I was but the deadliest of many,” he replied, then he spied Chris. “Come, we’ll collect Christopher and commandeer a vessel.”
“What? No!” I shook my arm free, and glared at him. “That little old lady can’t hurt anyone, and we are not stealing a boat!”
“The boat? Ye are concerned about a wee boat when a killer’s naught but twenty paces from ye?”
“This is insane,” I muttered. “Just insane.” I turned my back to him, rubbing my temples. Chris had been right; Robert was nothing but a gigolo, one who was now playing his part a bit too intensely, and I was his willing mark. I’d crossed half the world to get away from one man that had used me, only to run smack into another.
The tour group had noticed Robert’s and my argument, and a few of the old ladies were whispering about us. I smiled and waved, trying to impress upon them that everything was fine. The ladies lost interest in us, except the one Robert had labeled as an assassin. She was standing stock still, leaning on her cane and peering at me.
“Why isn’t she moving on?” I wondered. I glanced over my shoulder; Robert had stalked off toward the trees again, muttering to himself. “Robert, could you come here, please?” I called. “I think someone needs help.”
All I could think of was that something of a medical nature was happening with the woman, maybe a stroke or a heart attack, and Robert—or whatever his name was—was a big guy, and could carry her if necessary. As soon as I called his name he returned to my side.
“Who is needin’ help, then?” Robert demanded. He looked past me, the blood draining from his face.
“Gallowglass,” a voice hissed. I tore my gaze from Robert and back to the old woman, who wasn’t looking so feeble any longer. Her eyes glowed red, and her mouth was packed with long, needlelike teeth, way too many teeth to be in such a small opening. I stood, mesmerized, as she kept opening her mouth, wider and wider until her jaw unhinged, her teeth growing longer and sharper with each passing second.
“Behind me,” Robert shouted as the woman sprang at us. She crossed the twenty or more paces in a single leap, landing like a cat on Robert’s chest. Then she screamed, a horrible, shrill noise that physically hurt my ears, and reared back to bite Robert’s neck.
I shrieked, certain this monster was about to take Robert’s head off, when he pitched himself forward, throwing his full weight on top of the much smaller creature and knocking them both to the ground. While the monster was still dazed, Robert leapt to his feet. He extended his arm to the side, and the claymore he’d carried the day before materialized out of thin air. Robert grasped the sword with both hands, and with a single swing he decapitated the creature.
I was shaking like a leaf, staring from the body to Robert. There was blood everywhere, black stinking blood marring the lush grass, some of the foul liquid having sprayed onto Robert’s chest. I hated gore, even the fake gore in horror movies and in cheesy Halloween displays. I swayed, certain that I was going to faint, when Robert caught me.
“’Tis all right,” he murmured, his arm about my waist. “It canna hurt ye now.” I pressed myself against Robert’s side, hiding under his arm and trying not to touch the bloody parts of his shirt. All of my doubts about Robert had ceased just as surely as that creature’s life had ceased. I would never doubt him again.
“What the holy hell was that?” Chris demanded.
I looked up and saw my brother jogging towards us. Behind him, the tour group was screaming and pointing at the man with the gigantic, bloody sword, and at the body at his feet. “Robert had to,” I whispered.
“Had to?” Chris repeated. “He had to kill a little old lady?
“Not a lady,” I said, shaking my head.
“Old man, whatever—”
“Chris!” I pointed at the creature’s head. “Look at the mouth.” He did, squatting down to get a better view. I stayed where I was; I already knew more than I wanted to know about that thing.
“Crap,” Chris murmured. Being that Chris considered such language beneath a man of his stature, I inferred that he understood the gravity of our situation. He reached toward its teeth, and I looked away. Did he have to touch it? He couldn’t tell just by looking at it that it was wrong? As I tried not to lose my breakfast I noticed an official-looking man striding toward us.
“About stealing that boat,” I began, then I turned to my brother. “Chris, we are going to steal a boat.”
Chris nodded. “Good plan.”
Robert grabbed my elbow, and we raced toward the dock.
Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs and elves. Zombies too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and had read every book in the local library by age twelve. (It was a small library). An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. When she’s not writing about things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) she’s working on her MFA in Creative Nonfiction.
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Web and blog: https://authorjenniferallisprovost.com//