Deadly Curiosities, #3
by Gail Z. Martin
Date of Publication: May 10th 2018
Publisher: SOL Publishing
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Tagline: Keeping Charleston—and the world—safe from supernatural threats one cursed object at a time!
Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day Charleston, an antiques and curios shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the history of objects by touching them and along with her business partners Teag, who is a Weaver witch and Sorren, a 600-year-old vampire, they get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe from supernatural threats.
When zombies rise in Charleston cemeteries, dead men fall from the sky, and the whole city succumbs to the “grouch flu,” Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren suspect a vengeful dark witch who is gunning for Teag and planning to unleash an ancient horror. Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren—and all their supernatural allies—will need magic, cunning, and the help of a Viking demi-goddess to survive the battle with a malicious witch and an ancient Norse warlock to keep Charleston—and the whole East Coast—from becoming the prey of the Master of the Hunt.
Tangled Web – Chapter Two Excerpt
“So you brought an audience this time, Teag? I didn’t know our lessons were so entertaining.” Mrs. Teller gave me a big smile and hugged me tight. I got a hug from Niella, her daughter, as well. Mrs. Teller led us into a room she had repurposed as her studio and motioned for Teag and me to have a seat. Niella came in a few minutes later with a tray that held a pitcher of sweet tea and four glasses, and she put it on a side table.
“So are you here to see what this boy’s been up to, or are you thinking to learn some weaving yourself, huh?” Mrs. Teller fixed me with a gaze that seemed to see right down to my bones. She was in her late sixties, with short hair sprinkled with gray, mahogany skin that showed no signs of aging, and piercing black eyes. Niella took after her, in her looks, her lilting accent, and her talents.
“I think I’ve got enough with my touch magic,” I replied. “I’m leaving the Weaving to you.”
Mrs. Teller and Niella are some of the best sweetgrass basket makers in Charleston. They have a regular spot down at the Charleston City Market, and their baskets fetch high prices—for good reason. Not only are they true artists with a difficult craft, but Mrs. Teller’s Weaver magic gives a “little something extra” to all of her creations. Oh, and she’s also a damn fine Hoodoo worker, a Root woman of high regard.
Mrs. Teller laughed, a rich, throaty sound. “Let me know if you change your mind.”
I glanced up at Niella and thought she looked more tired than usual. “Have things been busier than usual?” I left it up to interpretation whether “things” meant the market or the Hoodoo.
“Well now, that’s a tale in itself,” Mrs. Teller said. Out of habit, she picked up an unfinished sweetgrass braid, and her fingers flew while she talked. Teag took down a half-woven basket of his own from a shelf and returned to sit next to me. Where Mrs. Teller’s muscle memory was born from more than a half-century of practice, enabling her to bend and twist the sharp dried grass without slicing up her fingers, Teag moved with careful caution. He’d learned the hard way, and I’d seen him come into the shop with fingers covered in bandages more than once.
“Fill us in,” I begged. Sharing information was essential for those of us in the supernatural community in Charleston, and Mrs. Teller ran in some circles that Teag and I usually weren’t part of.
“Trouble’s brewing,” Mrs. Teller said, and Niella settled into a chair beside her, picking up her own half-done basket to work while we talked. “People can feel it coming, like a storm over the ocean.” The sweet, earthy smell of the seagrass filled the air.
“What kind of trouble?” I asked. Teag’s focus was on his basket, and I knew he juggled both the complexity of working the stubborn grass, as well as the magic he channeled through the weaving. He might be listening, but he had too much going on to talk.
“Don’t know yet, that’s the truth of it,” she replied. Her Lowcountry accent rounded her vowels and softened her consonants, and added a musical quality that I found mesmerizing. “But it’s big. I feel that in my bones, and my bones don’t lie.”
I tried to track how she wove the sweetgrass, but her fingers practically blurred with the speed of experience. Even without handling the baskets, I knew they projected a calm, protective resonance that probably attracted buyers as much as the beauty of her craftwork. The baskets of hers that I owned were some of my favorite decorations because they always made me feel better being around them.
“Just a feeling, or have you seen something?” I pressed.
“What I’ve seen is people making a beeline to my door, asking me for gris-gris bags and goofer dust,” she said. “Folks be saying that they can’t sleep, or that they hear noises but nothing’s there, or they catch a glimpse of shadows out of the corner of their eye.” She shook her head. “Uh, uh,” she tutted. “That’s not good. Not good at all. So I fix them up best I can, show them how to put down the dust or put a dime in their shoe or fix their mojo bag and send them on their way, and the next day, I got twice as many people waiting for me, because they all told their friends.”
While the boom was good for business, I knew that whatever had people unnerved sounded like the kind of problem that landed in my lap, sooner or later. Sorren is part of the Alliance, a secret organization of mortals and immortals that take care of supernatural threats. He founded Trifles and Folly with my ancestor nearly three-hundred-and-fifty years ago, and our store is one of dozens Sorren has all over the world. The stores serve as outposts to get dangerous magical or haunted items out of circulation and shut down things that go bump in the night.
“What kind of bad dreams?” I asked, although I couldn’t resist a glance in Teag’s direction, but he never looked up from his work. “Is there a common thread?”
Mrs. Teller shrugged. “There’re all nightmares, for sure. Most people won’t speak of their dreams because they think saying it out loud gives the dreams power. Maybe so, maybe not. But the ones who would say told me they were being chased, in the dark, but they couldn’t see what was behind them. Except for red eyes.”
Teag didn’t say anything, but he swallowed hard, and his fingers paused for a few seconds.
I swallowed hard, too. “Yikes,” I managed. “Any idea what might cause that?”
Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. Newest titles include Tangled Web, Vengeance, The Dark Road, and Assassin’s Honor. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Books include Witchbane and Badlands.
The Book Junkie Reads . . . Interview with Gail Z. Martin . . .
How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
I write character-driven, action/adventure urban fantasy. Everything has strong supernatural/paranormal elements. My goal is to give you memorable characters that you care about, who are fighting a tough battle against spooky/scary/supernatural bad guys and with a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I want to take you on a fun roller coaster ride, and have you say, “Wow, let’s do it again!”
All of my urban fantasy series also interconnect, so characters make cameo (and sometimes bigger than cameo) appearances in the other books. The series are also intentionally set in cities and locations that become an essential part of the plot, almost like another character. So the worldbuilding is important. I also put a lot of research, thought and care into the magic system in the book as well as the legends/lore/myth behind the supernatural threats. I want to make it easy for you to believe.
What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year?
I’m very excited about bringing out several new books as well as launching some new series. It’s been a busy year! I’m thrilled to have Tangled Web out, because the Deadly Curiosities series is a favorite of mine. I love Charleston and I love the characters, so it’s always fun for me to dive back into this series.
We also brought out Trifles and Folly, and Trifles and Folly 2, which are collections of short stories and novellas set in the Deadly Curiosities world that were previously published in anthologies or stand-alone, and are collected together for the first time. They work like ‘extra episodes’ and fall between and around the novels. You don’t have to read them, or read them first, but if you do you’ll get additional insight especially into some of the secondary characters.
My goals for the rest of the year are to stay on track with the writing schedule so I can finish everything I want to publish this year!
Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you?
I’ve written stories since I was a kid, so I’ve been practicing my whole life. I’m also a voracious reader, which I think makes you a better writer. And I write a LOT. Everything gets better with practice. So while I have always enjoyed writing, getting out there and doing it certainly makes for better results. I love writing, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!
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?
Always! I have about eight series in a mental holding pattern because it’s not time to write them yet, but I’m so excited about the characters and the stories!
If you could spend one-week with 5 fictional character, who would they be?
Sam and Dean Winchester, Harry Dresden, Sherlock Holmes, and Van Helsing. And we’d go monster hunting!
Where would you spend one full year, if you could go ANYWhere? What would you do with this time?
Europe. I would hit all the places I’ve only read about in books or seen on TV, all the museums and castles and cemeteries and haunted ruins and historical monuments and iconic locations. And in between sightseeing, I’d be writing. (And trying out new food!)
Can you share you next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?
There will be more Deadly Curiosities novels, with a fourth book next year and before too long, another collection.
If you like Tangled Web, and you’ve already read the Trifles and Folly collections, Deadly Curiosities and Vendetta (the other novels in the series), you might enjoy my new Night Vigil series, with the soon-to-debut Sons of Darkness. It’s an ex-priest and a former FBI agent hunting demons and supernatural bad guys in the Pittsburgh area.
If you prefer snarky monster hunters, Look for the Spells Salt and Steel series I co-write with my husband, Larry N. Martin—Mark Wojcik is a mechanic and monster hunter in the wilds of Pennsylvania. It’s a funny/scary take on urban fantasy.
If you would rather have sexy supernatural suspense, I write urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance as Morgan Brice. In my Witchbane series, Seth Tanner uncovers a cycle of ritual killings that feeds the power of a dark warlock, and he's hell bent on stopping Jackson Malone from becoming the next victim. He's used to risking his neck. He never intended to risk his heart. And in my Badlands series, psychic medium Simon Kincaide teams up with skeptical homicide cop Vic D’Amato to solve supernaturally-influenced crime in Myrtle Beach.
Plenty of new adventures for your to-be-read pile!