Nov 02

Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: The Varcolac’s Diary Review

Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: The Varcolac’s Diary


The first thing that impressed me about Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: The Varcolac’s Diary was the cover. There was something about that illustration of the intrepid band of Monster Hunters that made me think of classic young adult novels.


Our story opens with Charlie having a vision, something that he doesn’t understand or want, which sets the tone for the adventure we’re about to undertake. Charlie is a likable character who is the ‘natural leader’ of the group, although I feel like the authors could have done a little more to show us his natural leadership. There are people disappearing, and nobody seems to know what to do about it.


After the book gets off to a mysterious and wonderful start, things slowdown in the middle section. By this time, all of characters have come together and are preparing for their quest to save Hunter’s Key. One of the shortcomings of the book is that the while the action slows, so does the character and plot development.


In terms of the characters, I wanted to get to know them more. Charlie seems close with his father, but what about the mom? I don’t think we got to meet her. Darcy is the mayor’s daughter, and for some reason assumes that she’ll be elected mayor as well. Darcy was one of the more fun characters, but I wanted her to work to evolve. There’s a moment with a bully where you think he’s going to cause them an issue, but that seems to just drop.


And the training just didn’t seem like it was all that much, especially considering what they were going up against.


But the characters do draw you in. So much so that you care about what happens to them. And the adventure is fun and exciting. In the last part of the book, we’re treated to battle scenes and emotional toils that make it all worthwhile.


It’s a decent start to a promising series, and when I finished it made me want to read the next book, which is what you want in a series debut.

All in all, I’d give this 4 stars.



by D.C. McGannon, C. Michael McGannon

Publication Date: April 2012 (Original), April 2015 (Revised)

Age Group: Young Adult, Teens, Middle Grade

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mythology, Bullying


Book Summary:


Monsters are real. They have always been here, even when we choose not to see them.


Now, for the residents of Hunter’s Grove, the choice is no longer theirs. As a power-hungry varcolac—a Greater—tries to break through the magic holding him back and lead his army of monsters to vengeance against human-kind, there are five who unknowingly possess the power to finish what centuries of humans before them have been unable to do. Charlie Sullivan and his band of new friends will be tested as they attempt to strengthen the magic that can lock the monsters and their evil prince away for good—even if the cost is their lives.


This is the story of five unlikely friends who uncover the sinister past buried under their sleepy hometown of Hunter’s Grove. This is a story about looking past differences, overcoming fears, and rediscovering what is truly important in this life. This is the story of Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters of Hunter’s Grove.


All New, And Even More Exciting, Revised Edition for 2015! ​​



Goodreads Link:









What Reviewers Are Saying:


“D.C. and Michael pack a wealth of wonder and fantasy into this young adult adventure. Incorporating some of the most fascinating legends…I found myself being drawn to the depth of the characters and enjoyed watching their bonds grow as they explored the gifts hidden deep within them as well as the evil that hunts for them.

I recommend this story for anyone who loves folklore and monstrous fun! From vampires to dragons, from witches to eerie ferrymen, this tale has it all.”

- Solomon J. Inkwell, Author of Vickie Van Helsing  


“A must read for all young adult fiction fans!” - Amazon Reviewer


“I picked this book up for my oldest daughter. I thought she might enjoy it and asked her to let me know what she thought. She loved it! I ended up reading it with her and I have to say that I enjoyed the story as much, maybe more, than she did.” - Amazon Reviewer


“The characters are real enough that I found myself cheering them on and hoping they succeed in their mission. I look forward to reading the next installment.” - Amazon Reviewer


“Great book with a great cast of characters. Keeps your attention and makes you want to come back for more. I really appreciated the underlying theme of bullying and how it was addressed, but I especially loved the unique challenges and monsters the Monster Hunters faced. Can’t wait for more!” - Goodreads Reviewer



A Message From the Authors:


We began this journey together, as father and son, with the goal of writing a story that spoke to friendship, overcoming obstacles (and the ultimate evils in our world), and of the power of working together to face the biggest challenges in our lives. Yes, it’s full of monsters, peril, and steeped in exciting mythology and folklore, but it centers around the powerful bonds formed between an unlikely group of friends as they face a unique set of challenges. We wanted to write a story that we would be proud to read aloud to our then newborn son/baby brother (who now, years later, has read them through twice more). It has turned into the adventure of a lifetime as we are meeting people from all over the world who are falling in love with Charlie Sullivan, Darcy Witherington, Nash Stormstepper, and the twins Lisa & Liev Vadinknov – along with a wild, often humorous, and mysterious cast of humans and monsters alike.


Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters: Witch Moon in the next adventure in the series, which takes us across the ocean to the Old Country, then on to Book 3: Council of the Hunters, where the group’s character and loyalty face the ultimate tests when they meet a surprising and spooky new cast of characters. The Dragon Gate (Book 4) will be released soon, and there will be a total of 6 books in the series!


We’ll leave you with more kind words from another Amazon reviewer:


“In my opinion, this series deserves to be a huge hit … I can guarantee you’ll be hooked!”



About the Authors:


D.C. McGannon


D.C. McGannon is finicky about his coffee. And loves tea. And lemonade. Sometimes together. He has had a lifelong love of things that lurk in the dark, and is quite comfortable under the light of a full moon. A writer, director, painter, and doodler, McGannon is co-author of the Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters (Wyvern’s Peak Publishing) series of novels for young adults, and KAOS Obsidere: The Nightmare Has Begun (Dark Waters Press). He plays a mean air guitar, and lives and dreams with Holly, Michael, Nathaniel, and their sweet puppy, Jewel, somewhere in the Midwest.



C. Michael McGannon


C. Michael McGannon appreciates weird fiction, perhaps a bit more than one should at any given time. It has made him particular, fostering strange phobias, and even stranger dreams. He is fond of dragons, Japanese mythology, and the fine art of delivering timely and inappropriate puns. McGannon is an artist of diverse talents, and is co-author of the Charlie Sullivan and the Monster Hunters (Wyvern’s Peak Publishing) series of novels for young adults, and KAOS Obsidere: The Nightmare Has Begun (Dark Waters Press).Sushi is his delicacy of choice, if he has any say in the matter.



Sep 25

15th Anniversary Weekend: Author Showcase Barnes & Noble in Saratoga

15th Anniversary Weekend: Author Showcase

Barnes & Noble in Saratoga

Friday, September 25th - Sunday, September 27th

Barnes & Noble in Saratoga, in partnership with the Adirondack Center for Writing, is pleased to host 32
authors in a local author showcase that takes place Friday, Septemberzc” – Sunday, September 27th at the
Barnes & Noble in Wilton Square, 3029 State Route 50. Thirty two writers who live and/or write books on the
greater Adirondack region will be featured throughout the store – each available to speak on the locale, the
writing process and sign copies of their individual works. The final schedule for the afternoon is as follows:

Friday, September 25th

6-8PM Mark Cheverton, Invasion of the Overworld, a children’s Minecraft series.

April Blanchard Peterson, The Woodman’s Boy, a young adult title.

Liv Snyder, There Once Was a Frog; and There Once Was a Bullfrog, children’s books with
educational themes.

Pitter David Gaskin, Adirondack Luau, a regional children’s chapter book.
Eagile Masker, The Window in the Attic, a children’s adventure story.

Saturday, September 26th

12-2PM            Paul Castellani, Sputnik Summer, an Adirondack mystery and coming of age story.

Jamie Shefield, Here Be Monsters; Between the Carriers; Caretakers; and The Weaving, all
considered mysteries.

Michael Virtanen, The Rivers Tale; and Within a Dark Forest, both considered mystery and
adventure titles.







Vincent Morrone, Just Breathe, romance and Vision of Shadows & Vision of Serpents, young
adult paranormal romance series.

Gordie Little, Ghosts of Clinton County, a local supernatural collection.

Anne McCarthy Strauss, The Passion Thief, a women’s contemporary fiction title.
Peggy Frezon, Dieting with My Dog; Heart to Heart Hand in Paw; and Faithfully Yours,
women’s inspiration/pet titles.

Darrell Laurant, The Kudzu Kid, a work of’fiction.

Stuart Bartow, Teaching Trout to Talk: Zen of Small Stream Fly Fishing, a non-fiction novel.
Marilyn McCabe, Perpetual Motion, a book of poetry.

Roger Mitchell, Clear Pond: the Reconstruction of a Life, Delicate Bait; and Lemon Peeled the
Moment Before, a humanitarians title and works of poetry.

Barbara Louise Ungar, Immortal Medusa, a book of poetry.



Sunday, September 27th

12-2PM           Jed Donavan, College Flunky: Rehab and Recover; and Army Flunkies, memoirs and self-help

Chuck D’Jmperio, A Taste of Upstate New York; and Unknown Museums of New York State, a
local food selection and regional history.

Walt McLaughlin, The Allure qf Deep Woods: Backpacking the Northville-Placid Trail, an

outdoor regional title.                  .

Jeanne Elizabeth Whyte, Watercolors, a memoir.

Jeanne Selander Miller, Healing Path Home; A Million Miles from Home; and Privileged,
women’s studies and personal growth.

Rick Steiner, Retirement: Different by Design, a personal growth selection.








Kim and Pam Ladd, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, a travel and drink guide.
Mary Sanders Shartle, The Truth and Legend of Lily Martindale, fiction.
Bibi Wein, The Way Home: A Wilderness Odyssey, a memoir.

Eric Schlimmer, Blue Line to Blue Line: The Official Guide to Trans Adk. Route, a local
camping and hiking guide.

Cheryl Elton, Pathway of Peace: Living in a Growing.Relationship with Christ, a religious
inspiration title.

Patricia O’Gorman, Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenttng; Resilient Woman; and The Girly
Thought 10 Day Detox Plan, self-improvement titles.

James Preller, The Fall, Scary Tales, a teen thriller and children’s series.

Bruce Venter, The Battle of Hubbardton: The Rear Guard Action that Saved America, an
American history selection.

Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave, a coming of age memoir.



Sep 19

The New Human Series is Almost Here!

For the last couple of years, I’ve had an on again, off again kind of WIP. Well, I finally got it done and now I’m ready to launch it!

Since it’s a part 1 of a 3 book series, I decided to bite the bullet and get all 3 covers made all at once!

I contacted the very talented Ash Arceneaux and we churned out what I consider to be some really cool images that really help tell the story of the New Human Series.

Book 1, which comes out in October is called Perfect. Here’s the blurb.

Gage Hughes was left on the doorstep of his adoptive family when he was just 4 years old, with instructions to keep his superhuman abilities a secret. At 17 years old, he’s able to bench press a tractor, move objects with his mind and leap over 60 foot trees. He’s hidden in plain sight as a nerd who can’t cross a room without tripping. (Although it’s not as much of an act as you would think.) He’s also completely in love with Allie Newfield, who has no idea who or what Gage is. She only knows that he’s her personal goof.

Gage is trying to get the nerve up to ask her to the school dance when Lucas Black rides into town. With his Nordic God/Rock Star looks, his cool car and his bad boy attitude, Lucas seems to have taken an interest in Allie.

Soon, Gage discovers someone is stalking Allie, someone who is as powerful as himself, if not more so. He thinks it might be Lucas, but Lucas isn’t there to hurt Allie or her family. He came to Perfection for one reason only.

To kill Gage.

And here are the covers! Tell me what you think!

Perfect: Book One of the New Human Series



Perfection: Book Two of the New Human Series


Perfected: Book Three of the New Human Series



Jun 18

Untouchable by S.A. Starcevic


S.A. Starcevic’s debut novella, UNTOUCHABLE, releases today and we are happy to be part of the Release Day Blitz with Bliss Book Promotions!


Title: Untouchable

Author: S. A. Starcevic

Series: Untouchable #1

Release Date: June 18, 2015

Genres: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Forever More Publishing

Number of Pages: 54

Ethan Elliot is no stranger to secret identities. As an LGBT teen, he’s dealt with secrets all his life. Nevertheless, when his powers kick in and he’s whisked away to join a team of superheroes, he dons a mask of a different kind—one that sees him battling supervillains and testing his limits.

However, there’s more going on behind the scenes than capes and costumes. At the headquarters of the Protectorate, he makes unlikely friends with Gravity Girl and Element Boy. Except Element Boy might turn out to be more than just a friend, and Gravity Girl is battling demons of her own.

Ethan will discover what it means to be a hero, and must learn that even superheroes aren’t untouchable.

Book Links

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Bookstrand / Smashwords / All Romance Ebooks / Goodreads

Author Biography

S. A. Starcevic wanted to be a superhero when he was little, but nowadays he settles for the next best thing: writing about them. UNTOUCHABLE, his superhero YA novella with an LGBT love story, is signed with Forever More Publishing. When he’s not slaving over books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, he blogs about writing, publishing and world domination.

Social Networking Links




Amazon Author:

Apr 26

Vision of Serpents Book II in the Vision Series

Something sinister has slithered into Spirit.

Seventeen-year-old Bristol Blackburn is still adjusting to life in her new home. In the last six months, she lost both her parents, revealed her psychic abilities to a small, select group, and found the boy of her dreams. Literally.

Payne McKnight has no problem telling Bristol he loves her, but something is stopping her from saying it back. Maybe it’s the generations-old feud between their families heating up again. Or maybe it’s the vision she has of Payne’s grandfather killing the new girl in town.

Worse than that, it could be the ominous black snake Bristol keeps seeing in her dreams. Since it arrived, many have died and the Shadow Creatures have returned to kill her.

You’d think the bright spot for Bristol would be the vision where she’s finally able to say those three little words: I love you.

If only she was saying them to Payne…

Vision of Serpents is available for preorder on Amazon right now!

Read the except below!


Journal of Bristol Blackburn
Just woke up after another vision. All I can say is wow.

I know I’ve gotten hung up on the idea of being able to say I love you to Payne. I should be able to say it. Lord knows he loves me.

But what I don’t understand is how. How could he love a girl who might have a ghost tag along as a third wheel on any of our dates? Or one he can’t surprise with a romantic picnic date under our favorite willow tree, because I’d seen it already in a vision?

And yet, clearly he does love me.

It’s been just under four months since his Great-Uncle Jasper tried to kill me. Four months since Payne, possessed by his uncle, who I knew as Jay, nearly killed himself protecting me. Four months since he told me he loved me, right before being set ablaze and getting impaled through the chest.

Four months, and I haven’t been able to say it back. I can’t even refer to the two of us as boyfriend and girlfriend. I correct other people who call me his girlfriend. Like I’m afraid I’ll break out in hives by being the girlfriend of the most gorgeous boy on the face of the Earth.

There’s just something holding me back.

I’ve told Zach and Simon that I love them. And though I may not have said it to him, I can admit that I love my Uncle Mark. I can even admit I love Grandpa, although I guess that depends on the day.

But when it comes to Payne? I just can’t say it. I know he’d like me to, and he’s been so patient. He hasn’t pressured me at all, but I know he wants to hear me say it back.

So I have this vision. I’m in that perfect spot, by our willow tree, and I’m finally able to get those words out.

I say, “I love you.”

You’d think that would make me happy. The pressure’s off, right?

It might, if I were saying it to Payne.

The new guy in my dream is tall and muscular, with dark blond hair and such pretty gray eyes. He has a goofy, lopsided grin on his beautiful face, and I can tell that he has a great laugh. He looks like a nice guy. What’s worse is that when I say I love you, he looks like he loves me back.

I said: WOW.

Feb 27

Vision of Serpents – Available for pre order!

Vision of Serpents


Vision of Serpents, the exciting sequel to Vision of Shadows is now available for preorder. Silence in the Library is having a Kickstarter to launch it’s new slate of books, The Siren’s Realm by Megan O’Russell, Suspect by Rori Shay, The War of the Seasons Book 4, by Janine K. Spendlove, and of course Vision of Serpents.

Silence in the Library is back with our spring slate of books. We’re thrilled to bring you four sequels that will take you from a small town under a big curse to a world of magic; from a fantasy world filled with creatures from faerie tales to a future post-apocalyptic world where faction battles faction.

These four Young Adult novels are from a variety of genres: urban fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, paranormal romance, and epic fantasy. With so many excellent choices, you’re sure to find something you’ll love. So, come join us once again on another exciting adventure!


Through the Kickstarter, you can get not only these books, but the other novels in the series. You can get ebook format, paperback or even an autographed copy! Plus there are tons of extras once we hit out stretch goals!

Check out the blurb to Vision of Serpents.


    Something sinister has slithered into Spirit.
Seventeen-year-old Bristol Blackburn is still adjusting to life in her new home. In the last six months, she lost both her parents, revealed her psychic abilities to a small, select group, and found the boy of her dreams. Literally.
Payne McKnight has no problem telling Bristol he loves her, but something is stopping her from saying it back. Maybe it’s the generations-old feud between their families heating up again. Or maybe it’s the vision she has of Payne’s grandfather killing the new girl in town.
Worse than that, it could be the ominous black snake Bristol keeps seeing in her dreams. Since it arrived, many have died and the Shadow Creatures have returned to kill her.
You’d think the bright spot for Bristol would be the vision where she’s finally able to say those three little words: I love you.
If only she was saying them to Payne . . .


Go sign up now!




Nov 15

Into the Blind by Helen Rena Book Trailer!!!

Today, I’ve got a book trailer for what looks like a great book. Check it out below!


Fifteen-year-old Ever is blind. Only able to see what her boyfriend, Fox, looks at, which is most often herself. But sometimes it’s also the muscled men who kidnapped Ever and Fox, and sometimes it’s an unused mall in New York City where the two teens are locked up until they’ll come into the paranormal gifts for which they were stolen. Having spent years in this mall, Ever is ready to do anything to escape.
Not so with Fox. Yes, he longs to escape too, but there’s one thing that he values above his freedom. It’s Ever’s love. Still, when the two get a chance to escape, they take it, only to discover that this chance is so dark and twisted that it just might destroy Ever’s love for Fox.

Buy Link:

Social Media:




Oct 07

SUSPECTED Cover Reveal

SUSPECTED Cover Reveal

  • SUSPECTED goes up for sale in Feb 2015.
  • ELECTED is $0.99 for a limited time to celebrate.  It’s located at all major book retailers
  • A prequel short story to ELECTED called THE PENDANT will be for sale in December 2014.


There’s a contest associated with the cover reveal. See the bottom of the post to enter!


Winner receives:

  1. A signed paperback copy of ELECTED
  2. An ebook ARC of SUSPECTED
  3. Aloy’s key necklace from ELECTED


Rori Shay is a strategic management consultant living in the Seattle area with her family, black lab, and cat.  In the writing world, Rori is primarily known for her science fiction trilogy, The Elected Series.  She received a BS from the University of Maryland and an MBA from George Washington University.  She enjoys running, reading, snow-shoeing, and pumpkin-picking!  Rori is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).




Back-cover blurb and cover of the first book, ELECTED: (there is a sale on ELECTED to celebrate SUSPECTED’s cover reveal.  ELECTED goes down to 99 cents for a limited time!)


It’s the year 2185, and in two weeks, Aloy will turn eighteen and take her father’s place as president of the country. But to do so, she must masquerade as a boy to avoid violating the Eco-Accords, four treaties designed to bring the world back from the effects of climate change. Aloy hopes to govern like her father, but she is inheriting a different country where long-concealed political enemies are stepping out of the shadows. 

As she struggles to lead, Aloy maintains her cover by marrying a woman, meanwhile battling feelings for the boy who knows her secret – the boy who is somehow connected to her country’s recent upheaval. When assassination attempts add to the turmoil, Aloy doesn’t know whom to trust. She understood leadership required sacrifice. She just didn’t realize the sacrifice might be her life.

ELECTED is a coming of age story, mixing the themes of gender, politics, environmentalism, and above all – love.


Back cover blurb for Book 2:  SUSPECTED (Suspected goes up for sale in February 2015)


East Country upheld the laws. Mid destroyed them.

In the year 2185 Earth is rebuilding after climate change created a global eco-crisis. Countries maintain complete isolation so there is no warfare over scarce resources. One Elected family is chosen to lead each country for 100 years to ensure stability. Women aren’t allowed to take office and must reproduce at all costs. Technology use of any kind is banned to preserve what’s left of the environment.

And yet, I’m my country’s Elected. I’ve just sanctioned technology use to ready us for war. I’m about to cross the border to spy on our neighbor.  And…I’m a girl.




Buy links for ELECTED (special sale price of 99 cents for book 2’s cover reveal):

1. Amazon:

2. Barnes & Noble:

3. Silence in the Library Publishing:


Link to put SUSPECTED on your goodreads “want to read” list:


There will also be a prequel short story to ELECTED coming out through Silence in the Library Publishing in December 2014!  Watch Silence in the Library’s website for that news!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oct 01

Cover Reveal for Cloven (The Trinity of Souls #2) by Georgeann Swiger

Today I am very excited to reveal to you all the magnificent cover of Cloven by Georgeann Swiger!

Cloven (The Trinity of Souls #2) by Georgeann Swiger



What would you do if the only things standing between you and the angel you love were another angel and the fiery pits of Hell?

When Anya and Micah declare their love for each other, the battle for the souls of the star-crossed angels stretches across the heavens. With Heaven forbidding their love, Micah vows to protect Anya by sentencing himself to Hell.

But Anya won’t let him go without a fight. She goes into Hell after him, only to discover an angel from Micah’s past is willing to do anything to keep Micah in Hell.

With love and lies blinding Micah, Anya fights to get him to face his demons and return to Heaven, even if it means hearts will be broken.

The battle for the angels begins where it left off. Between Heaven and Hell is forbidden love.

About The Book

Category & Genre: NA Fantasy
Publisher: CreateSpace (Self-Published)
Format: E-Book
Release Date: 21st October 2014

Goodreads. Amazon Pre-Order Link.

About Adorned (The Trinity of Souls #1)


Adorned is free for a limited time.
Be sure to get your copy today!

Amazon. Barnes & Noble.

About the Author

Georgeann Pic Georgeann Swiger earned her degree in journalism from West Virginia University, and then spent five years as an anchor/reporter at WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WV. After having children, she left television news to be a stay at home mom. During that time, she discovered creative writing was more fun than writing about real life tragedy. Imagining interesting character and having them come to life on the page is now her passion. When she’s not writing, she works as a substitute teacher. She lives in Reedsville, West Virginia with her husband, two kids, a beagle dog and a temperamental cat who tries to rule the house.

Website. Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest.

Sep 29

JC Nelson – Armageddon Rules Cover Reveal

JC Nelson – Armageddon Rules Cover Reveal



Marissa Locks, newly appointed partner of the Grimm Agency, has a reputation for making a mess of magical matters—although causing Armageddon is a new low, even for her…

Marissa is due for a little happily ever after. After all, she did kill the evil Fairy Godmother, end a war, and snag a sweet promotion within the Fairy Godfather’s magical-problem-solving Agency. But between maintaining a relationship with someone whose amorous advances can cause third-degree burns, dealing with a killer-poodle infestation, and helping her best friend, Princess Ari, learn to wield spells more powerful than curing a hangover, she’s not getting as much peace and quiet as she hoped.

When an enemy from her past appears to exact a terrible revenge, Marissa’s life goes from hectic to hell on earth. With Grimm inexplicably gone and Ari trapped by a sleeping spell, Marissa decides to fight fire with hellfire—and accidentally begins a countdown to the apocalypse.
With the end of days extremely nigh, Marissa will have to master royal politics, demonic law, and biblical plagues in a hurry—because even the end of the world can’t keep the Agency from opening for business…


Cover image:




A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle.


Media Links for JC Nelson:


Face book:



Armageddon Rules on GoodReads:


Buy Armageddon Rules Now:



Barnes & Noble:


Other books in the Grimm Agency Series:

Grimm Agency #1 – Free Agent


Grimm Agency #1.5 – Soul Ink



Sample Chapter:


In my defense, I didn’t mean to start the Apocalypse.  It wasn’t just my personal aversion to oblivion, I had a clear financial motive:  the end of the world is bad for business.

Speaking of business, that Monday began the same way almost every Monday had for the last three weeks: with a plague. Last week it was frogs.

I rolled into the office at about nine forty-five, and, as usual, the Agency was pure chaos.  Rosa–our receptionist–was opening a fresh container of Taser darts and we’d only been open for forty-five minutes.

“Miss Locks, you gotta help.”  A man in an orange jumpsuit with “Corrections Department” stamped in block letters down the side grabbed my shoulder as I walked past, spinning me around. “I gotta get me a wish.”

Strike one:  Escaping from a garbage pickup crew.  Strike two:  Putting grubby fingers on my brand new top.  Strike three:  Calling me “Miss” instead of “Ms.” Locks.  Far as I was concerned, Miss Locks left the building the day I turned eighteen and hadn’t been seen around here since.

“I’ll make a few calls.”  To the police, if possible.  To the morgue, if necessary.

He nodded gratefully and sat down on a bench.

I slipped through the “Staff Only” door, made it to the kitchen and almost poured a cup of coffee before the screaming started. One should never face disaster without caffeine.  So I got my coffee and headed back out to the lobby, strolling through the door to see exactly what we’d been struck with.

Rats ran everywhere. They scrabbled on the walls, gnawed on the furniture and covered the floor like a shag carpet from 1973.  In the middle of the lobby stood a teenage girl, six foot tall, rail thin with platinum blonde hair.  Her clothes hung in tatters from bony white arms, and red blotches surrounded each of her many, many piercings.  Her extravagant collection of tattoos spoke of poor impulse control and even worse decision making skills.  She looked up at me with baleful eyes.  “Please.  I need help.”

I glanced around the room.  The couple nearest the door held a cage with a amphibian I could only loosely call a frog. In the corner waited a group of kobolds. Roughly five feet tall, and with humanoid features except for their scaled skin and forked tongues, these Germanic lizard-men came every Monday to demand and be refused Grimm’s help in forming a professional soccer team. That left the homeless guy by the door, a man we called Payday George. He still hadn’t figured out this wasn’t a payday loan joint, probably because most days I felt sorry for him and just give him a twenty.  I opened the staff door and waved to the girl.  “Come on.”

Rosa glowered at me, mumbling curses in Spanish.  She hated when I picked clients, and if she had her way, we’d take them one at a time, from number one to number six-hundred in exactly that order.  Even if fifty-three was a starving fungal giant and sixty-two was a samurai with a serious shitake addiction.  To her credit, Rosa kept her mouth shut.  One does not argue with the boss.

We headed down the hall to a conference room, me, the girl, and enough rats to supply a hot dog factory running three shifts, seven days a week.  I took a seat on one side of the table, she took a seat on the other and the rats took seats everywhere.  Flicking one off my knee, I began the interview.  “So what exactly do you want me to do for you?”

Tears smudged the sludge of makeup she wore, and she waved her arms around.  “Duh.  Isn’t it obvious?”

Absolutely.  Obvious that she needed help.  Figuring out which kind first, that was the hard part.  I walked over and ran my fingers through her tangled, crispy hair, took a good look at all sixteen rings in her ear and the tasteful depiction on her shoulder of what was either Bob Dylan in “The Man in the Long Black Coat”, or a velociraptor playing acoustic guitar.  “We can help.  First, let’s take out those piercings.  I’ll get you some alcohol and a prescription for some antibiotics.  Your hair is crunchy from whatever you used to bleach it, and the tattoos are going to take years to remove.”

A rat jumped into my coffee and poked its head out.  The girl stared as I fished it out by the tail, set it on the table, and handed it a sugar cube.

“What about the rats?”

I took another sip of coffee, which tasted Parisian, with a hint of rat.  “What about them?”

“The only thing I need is for you to get rid of the rats.”  She shivered.

I pushed a box of tissues across to her.  “What’s your name?”

She scratched out a tissue and wiped her eyes.  The tissue caught in her makeup and left shreds clinging to her cheeks.  “Elizabeth.  I like Beth.”

I brushed the rats out of the way and sat down on the table, my mind already made up.  “Well, Beth, I have good news and bad news.  Good news is I can help with the hair, the piercings, and I’ve got a lady in my wardrobe department who can teach you how to use less than a pound of cosmetics a day.  The bad news, I’m not going to do a thing about the rats.”

She stared at me as her brain tried to process what I said. I leaned across and patted her hand.  “You look hungry.”  Truth was, she looked like one of those commercials for starving kids. I used to watch TV, and every once in a while I’d see commercials where you could mail order a kid for fifty dollars a month.  Always wanted to try, but given my track record with pets, I’d signed an agreement with animal control that anything more than a goldfish required daily home visitation.  Anyway, Beth reminded me of those kids.

“I can’t eat.  Every time I try to eat the rats take it from me.”

I should’ve asked about her credit. I should’ve asked Rosa if her application was complete, but one look at her said I’d found my charity case for the week.  “I’m going to order a pizza or two.  I’ll have one of my employees bring a barrel of garbage up from the dumpster to distract your companions.  I need you to sit tight for a bit, okay?”

She nodded and put her head down on the table.  Walking out the door, on the way to my office, I made a mental note to have the table cleaned, or burned, or both.


My office, incidentally, was almost the biggest in the Agency. That was only right, since for most things, most days, I was in charge.  I was a partner, the junior partner, but definitely not a silent one.  On my desk sat a vase with yellow flowers.  Daffodils, my favorite.  The card attached read “La fille du majordome est mon amant.  Love, Liam.”  His attempts to learn French from the foreign film festival went about as well as my Spanish by mail lessons, because the butler’s daughter was not his lover.  My dad was an accountant, and Liam and I didn’t even have a butler.

I pulled a towel off the full length mirror in the corner and made a call.  “Grimm, how’s it going?”

Grimm snapped into view in the mirror, looking more like an English butler than a sentient manifestation of magic.  Grimm was the Fairy Godfather, founder of the Agency, once my boss, and sometimes my friend.  He could grant wishes if he wanted to, but most people didn’t need wishes.  They needed solutions to their problems.

Just so we’re clear, I had no magic.  I wasn’t a princess, witch, half-blood or anything like that.  The only magic I could work was performed with bullets, bacon or boobs.  Anything that couldn’t be handled with the big three, I called in Grimm.  I didn’t call often.

He smiled, making the wrinkles in his face crease together.  “Marissa, my dear, it is only Monday.  Do you require my assistance already?”  His voice always reminded me of some nature documentary narrator.

I shook my head.  “Nah. Nothing we can’t handle yet.  Got a new Piper though. She can’t be more than seventeen.”

Grimm slid his glasses forward to look at me over the thick, black edges. “What, may I ask, is she piping?”

I shrugged. “The usual for newbies.”  New Pipers, particularly girls, always started with brainless, easily to influence creatures like rats or teenage boys. “If we can get her trained, this year’s Poodling will go a lot easier.”

He raised one eyebrow and pursed his lips.  “And if you can’t, my dear?”

Grimm had never appreciated my term for our yearly pest control operations. Every year, like clockwork, infernal energy welled to the surface. Instead of manifesting as something reasonable, like a six headed hydra, or flaming squid, it tended to take the form of small, white, dog-shaped creatures with a taste for murder. “If I can’t, she can supply kingdom with organic, free range rats.  Can you tell me where Ari is?”

Arianna, my right hand woman, my best friend, my Girl Friday, or at least Girl Thursday.  At her name, Grimm’s lips turned down.  “I already checked.  She slept through her alarm, missed her bus to the Agency, and failed her civics test.  On top of Arianna’s Department of Licensing disaster, she’s planning to call in sick.”

Ari had spent the last two years in college. Grimm and I had running bets on what she planned on majoring in.  Grimm always said “Do what you are best at.”  From what I could tell, Ari was going to major in failing the driver’s license test.  “She failed this weekend?  Couldn’t you intervene?”

“Marissa, I did intervene.  She mistook the accelerator for the volume control and drove three blocks through the market at full speed.  Again.  It took every bit of magic I could pull off to make certain no one got more than a little run over.”

“I’ll go fetch her.” Ari usually rose with the sun, and by now, she could have walked into the Agency. And Grimm hadn’t said she was sick. Only that she planned on calling in sick.  The more I thought about it, the more I figured there had to be another reason.  “Did she fail one of your magic tests too?”

Grimm’s expression said it all.  He wouldn’t meet my eyes, his face turned down.  “Not exactly.  She failed my pretest. I asked her to summon a dog with eyes the size of cup saucers. What she summoned hasn’t tread the earth since the Jurassic age.”

Grimm had spent the last few years training Ari in magic.  He traded passing tests in college for new lessons on how not to kill herself with magic.  I remained unconvinced it was a fair trade.  Grimm said he was taking his time because he didn’t want her exposed to evil.  If that were true, he wouldn’t have made her take Calculus.

I picked up my purse and took my jacket.  “I’ll be back soon.  The Piper’s in 2A, I suggest nobody opens the door.  The Kobolds need to be turned down, Rosa will send away Payday George, and there’s a frog prince waiting in the lobby.”

Grimm sighed and faded out of view.  I wonder at times what he ever did without me.


Ari lived in a brownstone about twenty minutes from the Agency.  Technically she lived alone. I knocked, and she answered without bothering to check the peep hole.  Her yellow sundress with matching hat made her pale complexion look a lot better, and she kept her red hair pulled back so that it didn’t fall into her face.

I pulled my nine-millimeter from my purse and pointed it at her.  “What have I told you about answering the door without looking first?”

Ari ignored me and shuffled back inside.  “I can see through the door, M, and Yeller would take care of anyone who bothered me.”  At the sound of his name, a dog the size of a Shetland pony padded forward.  Only Ari would keep a hell hound as a pet.  He looked like Cujo crossed with an alligator and a zombie.  None of those crosses improved his disposition.

He stared at me, the gun in my hand, and began to growl, long and low.  I put the gun away, since I’d grown somewhat attached to my hands.  “Hey, Yeller.  I have a poodle for you in the trunk of my car.”  Yeller bared his teeth at me.

Ari left the door open and walked down the hall.  “Come on in, M. I’m making tea.”

I hated Ari’s apartment.  She lived there because it was the only thing she could afford.  She could afford it because it was haunted, and I don’t mean “things that go bump in the night” haunted.  I mean “things that devour your spirit.”

Inside, the apartment still looked as if the previous owner lived there (which he didn’t) and like he was still around (he was).  Ari brought out a tea kettle and poured three cups, then sat back on a couch, the cover of which looked like woven hair.  She clinked her spoon against the cup, like ringing a dinner bell.  “Larry, I’m having tea with Marissa.  Are you going to join us?”

The basement door blew open, and a ghastly form made of shadows flowed out.

I nodded to it.  “Larry.”

It looked at me with those dull red orbs that passed for eyes, a look that said it would rather be devouring my spirit than sipping tea.  “Marissa.”

That one word took five syllables.  I didn’t have the patience to talk with liches.  I was supposed to have evicted this one a few years ago.  Evictions were cheaper than exorcisms and worked about as often, but the day I went to court to close it, I made a nasty discovery.

I still remember standing there in my business suit with my property attorney at my side, while we waited for the lich to fail to make an appearance.  They never showed – being bound to the place of one’s death limited mobility options.  Right as the judge was getting ready to approve it, the courtroom door swung open.

In lurched a postman, his mail bag still hanging from his side.  He moved in awkward, jerky movements like a teenager at his first dance.  The postman staggered to the bench and handed a scrawled paper to the judge.  A few minutes later, when I should have been filing the new deed, I was sitting outside asking our lawyer how we got beat by a possessed postman.

I spent the better part of the next year fighting him.  Well, technically him.  Whether it was the grandma in her walker, or the hipster on his single speed bike, they all developed an unholy knowledge of property law when possessed by Larry the Lich.  I think the low point was getting hit with attorney’s fees by an eight year-old-boy.

At that point we actually did research and discovered that before death, Larry the Lich had been Larry Gulberson, Attorney at Law.  That was before he took up a more respectable profession, committing unspeakable acts of evil.

So we negotiated a new contract.  Technically, Grimm and Larry did, and Ari sublet the top three floors from an undead spirit of wrath.  He wasn’t a terrible landlord for someone bound to this plane only by the sheer weight of his hatred and malice.  Ari claimed he wasn’t that bad, once you got past the glowing eyes, spectral form and tendency to devour the meter man.  She always did find the positive things.

So Ari went with me when we needed to hunt uglies.  She helped me out when I needed to tame something nasty. Even if she was part princess and part sorceress, I trusted her

I stood at the coffee table.  “You’re late.  Work started hours ago.”

“I didn’t feel like coming in today.  Summer semester tests are next week and I need to study more.”  Ari made a terrible liar, her cheeks bright red, her hand over her mouth.

“I need your help with a new Piper.  She’s a mess.  Got so many piercings she looks like a tackle box, and more tattoos than the Detroit Lions cheerleading squad.  I could use a hand.”  I took my tea and sat down beside her.  As I did, I winced where the fabric of my pants rubbed fresh burns.

Ari looked at me and nodded.  “Liam singed you again?”

“Yeah.”  My boyfriend, Liam, burned with more than desire.

Ari stood up.  “I’ll get you some ice.  Where’d he get you this time?”

I gave her the look.

She stopped for a moment, then opened her mouth.  “Oh.  You want burn cream?”

“No.  Remind me to ask Grimm for help when we get back to the Agency.”

Ari nodded.  “How was the film festival?”

“Wonderful.  I watched this movie –all in French—you’ve got to see it”  I stopped, since Ari’s eyes glazed over like I’d wrapped her in a plastic bag again.  Liam stayed by my side through three days of foreign language films.  I think he spent more time watching me than the movies.

“You’re thinking about him.  You get that smile when you do.”  Ari blushed, happy for me that at least I’d found my happy, if not the ever after.

“We’ve got work to do. I’m sorry about the driving test.  I’m sorry about the magic test, and I’m sorry about the civics exam. I’ve got a lobby full of potential clients and I’m missing my right-hand woman.”

Ari stared at me for a moment.  “We don’t get the results of the civics test until tonight.”

“Well, in that case I have a feeling you’ll be doing the makeup exam.  Now go get dressed for business and we’ll try doing something you’re good at.”  She left me with the lich, and as she walked out the mood in the room changed.

I knew Grimm negotiated safety for folks who stayed out of the basement.  As the lights flickered and black smoke began to ooze out from the lich like tendrils, I kept my cool.  “Larry, you hear about her driver’s test?”

The tendrils paused for a moment and stopped snaking toward me.  Larry nodded.

“When it comes to driver’s tests that girl is cursed.”

The lich shook its head, managing to keep it attached.  Not bad for someone who’d been dead a few years.

“Sorry,” I said, “I don’t mean actually cursed.  She just has really bad luck.”

Again the lich shook his head.  Then he drifted over toward one of the towering book cases and began to point one-by-one at black bound tomes as if counting.  It stretched out a skeletal hand toward one and beckoned to me with the other.

If it were anyone other than Grimm who laid out the contract Ari signed before moving in, I’d have worried.  We rented a truck to move the paper version of the contract after Grimm drafted it.  I took out the book the lich pointed to and gave it a glance, trying to make sense of triangle based hieroglyphics.

“I don’t read anything but English.” I went to put the book back but it held out a hand, stopping me.  One claw touched the book and a vapor-like mist seeped out from what remained of the finger bones.  Through the mist, the letters crawled like maggots, re-arranging themselves into words I could read.  Also, I wasn’t hungry anymore.  Celestial Law, Volume Three Hundred, read the title.

I opened the book, and a wind began to whip through the room, blowing Ari’s mail into the air and flipping the pages until at last it died down.  Again the lich did the maggot words thing.  I read the chapter title.  “The Exchange Principle.”

I struggled through the first paragraph, then followed a bone finger to a single sentence.  “For everything given, something must be taken.  For every Blessing, a Curse.”

At the words ‘blessing’ and ‘curse’ I shivered for reasons of my own.  Blessings, Curses, no real difference.  I’ve had a Curse do great things for me and a Blessing do awful things.  I had one of each.  “This isn’t about me.  I was talking about Ari.”

It shook his head again and pointed up the stairs.  That got my mind got to work.  Ari, through no fault of her own, was a princess.  Born to a royal family, though the royal families these days had long since traded throne rooms for board rooms. My point being, as part of their contract with the universe, members of the royal families had what could only be described as ridiculous luck.

Reality itself bent over backwards to make things work out for them.  Vicious creatures like hell hounds loved them, evil creatures like Wraiths tolerated them, and hungry creatures like wolves would rather eat gym sock soup than a single bite of princess. But maybe, I thought, all this came at a cost.  If the only cost was not being able to drive, that was quite a bargain.

“Larry, are you trying to devour Marissa again?”  Ari stood on the stairs dressed in a standard black business suit with white shirt.  She looked almost professional, but still cute.

The lich shook his skull and held up his hands.

“He was explaining something to me.  On his best behavior, I promise.”  I exchanged a glance with the lich and returned the book to its place.  Then I took Ari and got the hell out of the haunted house she called home.


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