The Thirteenth Gate
Dominion Mysteries, #2
by Kat Ross
Date of Publication: June 26th 2017
Cover Artist: Damonza
Winter 1888. At an asylum in the English countryside, a man suspected of being Jack the Ripper kills an orderly and flees into the rain-soaked night. His distraught keepers summon the Lady Vivienne Cumberland—who's interviewed their patient and isn't sure he's a man at all. An enigmatic woman who guards her own secrets closely, Lady Vivienne knows a creature from the underworld when she sees one. And he’s the most dangerous she's ever encountered.
As Jack rampages through London, Lady Vivienne begins to suspect what he's searching for. And if he finds it, the doors to purgatory will be thrown wide open…
Across the Atlantic, an archaeologist is brutally murdered after a Christmas Eve gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Certain peculiar aspects of the crime attract the interest of the Society for Psychical Research and its newest investigator, Harrison Fearing Pell. Is Dr. Sabelline's death related to his recent dig in Alexandria? Or is the motive something darker?
As Harry uncovers troubling connections to a serial murder case she’d believed was definitively solved, two mysteries converge amid the grit and glamor of Gilded Age New York. Harry and Lady Vivienne must join forces to stop an ancient evil. The key is something called the Thirteenth Gate. But where is it? And more importantly, who will find it first?
Buy Link: Amazon
The Greymoor Lunatic Asylum made a grim impression even in daylight. It crouched at the end of a long, treeless drive, barred windows gleaming beneath a peaked slate roof. After her first interview with Dr. William Clarence, Lady Vivienne Cumberland had taken a hard look at those bars. She’d strongly suggested to the asylum superintendent that he move Dr. Clarence to a room with no window at all.
That had been just over a month ago. Now, in the darkest hour of the night, with rain coursing down the brick façade and thunder rattling the turrets, Greymoor looked like something torn from the pages of a penny dreadful, hulking and shadowed despite the lamps burning in every window. At the wrought-iron front gate, a black brougham drew to a halt. Following a brief exchange with the occupants, two officers from the Essex constabulary waved it through, immediately ducking back into the shelter of a police wagon.
“I told them to watch him,” Lady Cumberland muttered, yanking her gloves on. “To keep him isolated from the staff and other patients. Clearly, they didn’t listen. The fools.”
Alec Lawrence gripped the cane resting across his knees. He had been present at the interview, had looked into Dr. Clarence’s eyes, a blue so pale they reminded him of a Siberian dog. The memory unsettled him still, and he wasn’t a man who was easily shaken.
“We don’t know what happened yet,” he pointed out. “Superintendent Barrett can hardly be faulted considering we withheld certain information. I rather doubt he would have believed us anyway.”
Vivienne scowled. “You may be right, but it was only a matter of time. I’ve known that since the day Clarence was brought here. The S.P.R. made a very bad mistake entrusting him to Greymoor.”
“We still don’t know for sure—”
“Yes, we do. The killings stopped, didn’t they?”
“That could be for any number of reasons,” he said stubbornly.
“Including that the creature who committed them is behind bars. Or was, at least.”
Alec Lawrence buttoned his woolen greatcoat. This was not a new debate. “Perhaps. But there’s not a scrap of hard evidence against him. Nothing but a single reference in a report by some American girl and Clarence’s own odd demeanor. Had there been more, he would have been locked up tight in Newgate Prison.”
Vivienne turned her obsidian gaze on him. With her high cheekbones and full lips, she might have been thirty, or a decade in either direction. Only Alec and a handful of others knew better.
“That American girl is Arthur Conan Doyle’s goddaughter and she seemed quite clever to me. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway,” she added quietly. “Walls don’t hold Dr. Clarence’s sort for long.”
“Look,” he said, softening. “For what it’s worth, I think we did the right thing taking him off the streets. I just....” He trailed off, unsure how he meant to finish the thought.
“You don’t trust my judgment anymore. Since Harper Dods.”
“That’s not even remotely true. I simply think we need to keep open minds on the matter. The signs aren’t there, Vivienne. I’m the first to admit Dr. Clarence is an odd duck, perhaps worse. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t human.”
Vivienne arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. “And yet here we are, summoned by Sidgwick in the middle of the night. I wonder if he’s regretting his decision?”
The note from Henry Sidgwick, president of the Society for Psychical Research, had arrived in the form of a small, bedraggled messenger boy pounding on Lady Vivienne’s front door in St. James an hour before. It was both vague and ominous, citing an “unfortunate incident” involving Dr. Clarence and urging all due haste to the asylum.
“I suppose we’ll find out in a minute,” Alec said, turning his collar up. He swiped a hand through chestnut hair and jammed a top hat on his head. “Off to the races.”
A gust of rain shook the carriage as it slowed at the front entrance. A six-story tower capped by a Roman clock and white spire anchored two wings extending on either side. Unlike most asylums, which had separate annexes for men and women, Greymoor’s residents were all male. The north wing housed those poor souls suffering from garden-variety disorders like dementia and melancholia. The other was reserved for the so-called “incurables,” a euphemism for the criminally insane. Violent, unpredictable men deemed unfit for prison.
Despite his doubts, Alec Lawrence would have happily had the lot of them over for tea rather than spend five minutes in the company of Dr. William Clarence. In his heart, he wondered if Vivienne’s instincts were correct. But he wanted her to be wrong because the alternative was far worse.
Buy Link: Amazon
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She's the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day, the Fourth Element fantasy series (The Midnight Sea, Blood of the Prophet, Queen of Chaos), and the new Dominion Mysteries. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios.
MY INTERVIEW WITH KAT ROSS
How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
Thanks so much for having me on the blog today! I try to blend all the elements I personally enjoy in fiction: suspense, humor, romance, a bit of darkness and unpredictability, and characters that make you feel something, whether that’s love, hate or some combination of the two. Although I do write epic fantasy set in fairly complex worlds, I try to keep the pacing fast and avoid information overload. I will put a book down without hesitation if there are too many made-up names for things and characters and backstory in the first few pages, though it’s amazing how many writers do that.
I write in a few different genres, including historical fantasy/mystery—like The Thirteenth Gate—so the narrative voice is different depending on the series and also the character POV. What you won’t find in my stories are MCs who are drama queens, or hopefully any scenes that are boring!
What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year?
I’m trying to write faster and be less judgmental about first drafts. It’s hard because I tend to be a perfectionist—even though I know it’s a bad habit to polish too much as you write, the forward momentum is lost. I’m also trying to loosen up a little about plotting. My outlines generally run into the thousands of words, but I’m still almost always surprised by new characters or twists that spontaneously appear in the act of actually writing the book. So I’m experimenting with a much simpler outline and only getting really granular with the 2-3 chapters I’m currently working on.
I do have to know the very end before I begin. But I love that E.L. Doctorow quote: “[Writing is] like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you?
I can’t even answer that as I veer so wildly between the words pouring out and feeling like I’m extracting each one with a painful dental tool. This is on a daily, even hourly basis. Even though I’ve written eight books and published six of them, sadly, it doesn’t seem to get easier. I just show up each day and do the best I can. And I know if I continue to do that, even if some days feel horrid and unproductive, I will get to the end eventually.
Do you have a character that you have been working on for a long time that still isn't quite ready, but fills you with excitement to work on the story?
Oh yes! I’m starting a new multi-book series, so I have a whole list of major and minor characters who I’m just getting to know (alongside other characters I’ve already written tens of thousands of words about). It’s no secret that villains are my favorites so I’m really looking forward to writing the chapters with the Oracle of Delphi, also known as The Pythia. She can work fire magic, and she’s not nice at all, lol. But of course, every villain is also the hero of his or her own story, so the Oracle isn’t just a one-dimensional mustache-twirler.
If you could spend one-week with 5 fictional characters, who would they be?
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, of course!
Bartimaeus the Djinn (The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud). Smart, sarcastic, highly entertaining.
David Wong (John Dies at the End, This Book is Full of Spiders). If any of you have read those books, no explanation is needed.
Haplo from The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. He’s badass and covered with powerful rune tattoos and I’ve always been more than half in love with him.
Where would you spend one full year, if you could go ANYWhere? What would you do with this time?
I absolutely love traveling so there’s very few places I wouldn’t want to go, but New Zealand is at the top of my list. Living in North America, it’s not the sort of place you’d drop in for a long weekend. But a whole year? Hell yes. Ever since the LoTR movies, I think we’ve all had a crush on Kiwiland.
Can you share you next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?
My new series is called The Fourth Talisman. It follows some of the characters from The Fourth Element trilogy, but begins a whole new story arc in a new world that’s locked to its star, so half is always in daylight and half in darkness.
The humans live on the sunlit side, and magical creatures called daevas on the moonlit side. The story follows Nazafareen, who’s part mortal, part daeva. When an assassin tries to kill her, she flees to Delphi, where she discovers that the Oracle is not at all what she seems… Like the Fourth Element books, the series will blend history and fantasy, in this case, the ancient Greeks and Persians.
I’ll also be writing more Dominion Mystery books, either later this year or early 2018. All my series overlap, so readers can move between them and learn more about their favorite characters at different times.