I first met Damon L. Wakes over on Goodreads. I was looking for books to review, back when I first started blogging and had delusions of grandeur that I’d be able to review books somewhat regularly. He approached me about reviewing his collection of flash fiction stories, OCR is Not the Only Font, but also recommended to me an indie book by a completely different author, Goldilocks by Anna Rose. I ended up reading both and liking both quite a bit. I think OCR is Not the Only Font is the first book I ever reviewed on this blog.
I connected with Tanya a couple of years ago when I hosted my first Halloween Blog Hop. It was my first year blogging, and I really didn’t know how much interest there would be. So you might imagine my delight when people actually signed up for it, and one of those people was Tanya. She wrote several stories that year, and while I didn’t read all of them at the time, the one I did read has stuck with me as it was one of my favorites.
Now she’s got a new fantasy book coming out, The Box of Souls, and so to celebrate, here’s one of the stories she wrote for that blog hop almost two years ago. Tanya says it’s based on an Ecuadorian urban myth her mother used to believe in when she was a child. I love a good urban myth, and this one’s properly creepy.
Zelkova paddled across the lake, taking care to disturb the water as little as possible. She slipped the oar in the water, pulled it towards her, and gently lifted it before repeating the process all over again. She could almost believe she was alone, and that she was paddling out in the open air. Crystals sparkled in the cavern ceiling, and Zelkova could almost believe that they were stars.
Ruby turned and scowled at her. “Do we have to go so slow?” She pushed a lock of red hair away from her freckled face. “At this rate, we’ll never get there.”
“We’re going fast enough, especially since it’s just me paddling. I could pitch you overboard—see how fast we go then.” She smiled.
Isobel walked around the mound of earth as crickets chirped in the evening air. On the hill, the branches of a great yew stretched across the twilit sky. The old woman had told her to come here—either at twilight or dawn. Isobel hadn’t wanted to wait, and so here she was, wandering through darkening field as the dampened grass chilled her feet.
She looked around, but the hill and surrounding field remained empty, other than the one yew tree. She turned towards it as she remembered what the old woman had told her. Kneel, she had said. Kneel and then bleed.
“Xantho-what?” Widow Mayfair said from the plush red armchair in her stately parlor.
Ceras sighed. “Ceras. Xanthoceras. Everyone just calls me Ceras, though.”
The widow sniffed. “I should hope so. What were your parents thinking, giving you such a name? And for such a scrawny lad.” She clicked her tongue and shook her head. “A person needs to grow into a name like that. If you ever do, I’ll eat my handkerchief.” She put such a handkerchief up to her nose, peering at Ceras over frills of lace with rheumy and disdainful eyes.
With introducing Hazel earlier in the H post, I thought it would be fun to continue with her as well for W. This one is more an exploration of her background and character than a story. But I enjoyed getting to know her a little bit better.
Witch Hazel and Willow
“Witches wither and warlocks weather,” Willow chanted in a melodious voice as she walked along a winding forest trail. “That’s the difference between us.”
Hazel frowned and wrinkled her nose. “That’s not much of a difference. What is it that they weather, exactly?”
“Life, my dear girl. They are like boats in a storm—you’d best cling to one should you ever hope to find safe harbor.”