Author: Alicia J. Novo
Publication Date: May 8th 2021
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find It: Amazon
Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret—a power of violence and darkness.
When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix’s possession.
Now he’s hunting her down.
Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her.
Chapter 1: Whispers
The books lied to Beatrix that morning. Their whispers failed to reveal the end. Instead of warning her, when she stepped into her home library, they greeted her with commonplace chatter.
Through the paneled windows, the morning light fused the spines lining the walls into a multicolored tapestry.
“I need something for Grandpa,” Beatrix told the books. Her voice soared, stretching the way it always did in this room. In response, the whispers broke into an animated debate, their voices hushed but brimming with excitement.
Their conversation surrounded her in an embrace more solid than any she’d received from her father. Not that she cared about his signs of affection anymore. But she had, years back.
Grandpa had been the only person to hug her. Less often since she’d grown up, and he’d been forced into a nursing home. Her body tensed up at the thought, the temperature in her blood rising. If she’d been eighteen—not even two full years older—she might have been able to prevent Grandpa’s move. As it was, the decision had fallen to her father. The unfairness of it made her ball her hands. She had tried everything short of legal action. But she’d been prevented from taking responsibility for her grandfather. Even if she knew better than anyone how to care for him, when his meds were due, and how to calm him when he got agitated. Beatrix slid her hands in the pockets of her jeans—the feeling that she’d failed Grandpa, a weight that made everything else twice as hard. He had always been there when she’d needed him. The worst night of her life, he’d come to help. But once their roles reversed, and it became her job to look out for him, she hadn’t managed to keep him home.
And last week Grandpa had been lost, his old light all but gone.
“Make it special,” Beatrix told the room. “A fun story. We all need a laugh.”
The library was small and sparse. Aside from an armchair weathered from hours of sitting and a red-gold rug infused with paper must, there was nothing else except for books. No paneling or drywall peeked through. From the baseboard to the twelve-foot ceiling, walls of spines. Thick, thin, gilded, and plain, they gleamed in the sun, cutting off this room from the rest of the house and opening Beatrix’s life to a million worlds. Because Beatrix had learned that books made inadequate boundaries. In her library, she sat in the middle of infinity.
Her eyes fixed on the center shelf, she tapped her foot on the wooden floor. “Come on. Show me, guys.”
With a swish and a rustle, followed by the rubbing of leather on wood, the books began to shift. She smiled, a bit of the old joy seeping in, as if she were still a kid and her mother had just shown her this trick. La guitarra encantada de Sevilla had been the first tale chosen, and even to this day, Beatrix remembered the story of the musician whose tunes traveled through Spain to the girl meant to save him. It was so long ago that Mom’s presence felt discolored and insubstantial. But in the library, the nine years since her death shortened, her mother’s voice growing more vivid and the memories brighter.
Around Beatrix, the light changed, the sun coalescing into a shaft of orange that highlighted a title halfway down the north shelf. With the reverence of an acolyte, she grabbed the book, its warmth transferring to her fingers, up her palm and arm. The power inside her tingled with recognition, and her skin crackled, turning yellowed and porous like paper.
Her vision blurred, the result of a shift in the invisible cloak that shielded her magic from everyone’s eyes. It lasted a moment. When she opened the volume, both her magic and her skin were once again settled, the spell obscuring her power now back in place.
The author will be raffling off these awesome gifts during the book tour!
- A physical copy and a box of branded goodies (bookmarks, keychain, enamel pin, character art, candle, tote) (US only)
- Ebook with digital goodies (character art, background, map) (INT)
About the Author
Alicia has a weak spot for happy endings and transformative journeys. She spent her teenage years
in Argentina and Europe, speaks several languages and loves to travel.
An eclectic reader, she grew up on a diet ranging from Lucy M. Montgomery and Jane Austen to Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Raymond Chandler, Hermann Hesse, Jorge Luis Borges, and many classics. She’s never been cured of reading a bit of everything and is as likely to geek out about Mr. Darcy as Dr. Who.
She is a history and astronomy aficionado, who walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, completed her Masters in the Netherlands and worked for Google in Ireland. She decided to become a writer at six but took a full, winding road here. Along the way, she learned if there’s one thing that cuts across cultures, one unifying thread that pulls everyone together, it’s a good story.
A big-city girl, she now lives in the Midwest, where she occasionally picks apples and pretends witches exist.
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