Wolfskin is on its final edits and will be published May 1st, 2015! It’s set in the same world as Masque but is a standalone novel with separate characters. I will hopefully be doing a blog tour a month or two after publication, but in the mean-time, here’s a short excerpt for you to get a feel for the book.
When I stepped from the thread to the path leading to Akiva’s front gate, there was a woman between me and it.
She was so beautiful. I’m not sure why I expected her to be otherwise. Her hair was black and glossy, and hung loose to her waist in a sleek, rippling sheet that mingled with royal purple satins and silks that were as sleek as her hair. Her eyes, framed by impossibly long, dusky eyelashes, were of an equally impossible shade of violet. I saw them and my herbs scattered themselves on the path, dropping heedlessly from my nerveless fingers. Those twin violets gleamed with the same darkness I had seen in Bastian’s eyes the first time I met him.
Horned hedgepigs! I thought, swallowing. It could only be Cassandra.
She looked me up and down with those brilliant, purple eyes while I regretted fervently that I hadn’t been a moment quicker, and then said: “You’re not pretty.”
Her voice was bell-like in consideration; and, like every other part of her, breathtakingly beautiful.
“I know,” I said. Even if I had been as beautiful as Gwendolen, I couldn’t have hoped to compare with Cassandra. I eyed her unblinkingly, wondering why it mattered to her.
“You’re not pretty,” she repeated; a statement, not a question. “I didn’t expect that. He must be desperate.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” I said, scowling. I was coldly frightened, and that made me angry. Black, tarry magic was stirring around her, creating nasty pockets of corruption in the air that made me feel ill: it was vastly more powerful than anything I had ever seen.
She looked at me contemptuously through the haze. “Beauty is all that matters to him, stupid child. You can only lose.”
“Bastian isn’t here,” said Akiva’s voice suddenly and startlingly. I tore my eyes away from Cassandra’s and saw her, knobbly and infinitely welcome, leaning on a stick behind the enchantress. For a horrible moment it had felt like I was drowning in the brilliant lavender of Cassandra’s eyes.
Akiva hobbled past her and put a hand on my shoulder. I felt a sense of her power, welling up deep inside her, warm and comforting. I think I was still looking up at her with wide eyes when she said quietly: “Go into the house, Rose.”
As I closed the gate with cold fingers, I heard Akiva reiterate: “The wolf isn’t here.”
“I can smell him all over her!” hissed Cassandra.
There was a silence suggesting that Akiva was shrugging; then her old, firm voice said: “I sent him away: he knows what I think about him. Today was goodbye.”
Their voices faded with distance, but as I loitered on the garden path I saw the warm glow of an astonishing and formidable power rising to meet and match Cassandra’s. I recognized it as Akiva’s, hale and hearty, and stronger than I could ever have imagined. After that I hurried to get into the safety of the cottage, feeling the hairs prickle on the back of my neck, because I knew that it was no longer safe for me to be out in the open. Once inside, I plumped myself down in Akiva’s chair, absently staring into the fire and contemplating the extraordinary power I had just witnessed. For the first time in the excitement of my new magical prowess, I felt thoroughly humbled and weak. My own power, puny in comparison to that shown so effortlessly by both Cassandra and Akiva, was pitiful past thinking about. I was suddenly very thankful for Akiva’s protection. In the coldness of the moment, I knew there was no chance that I could ever hope to fight against Cassandra and win.