As a fan of epic fantasy, I’m thrilled to bring you an excerpt from the Laurie Forest’s first book in the Black Witch Chronicles, THE BLACK WITCH. The next book in the series is out in September, so please enjoy an excerpt from the first book to give you a taste of this vast and fantastic novel.
Follow along our excerpt tour for THE BLACK WITCH leading up to the release of the next book in the series, The Iron Flower!
Now on to the excerpt from The Black Witch:
“That’s nothing,” Paige says, eyes wide. “You should see what else she can do. She’s a Level Five Mage. One of the best of the whole Guard.”
“It sounds like you and Lukas Grey are well suited for each other,” I tell Fallon placatingly, wanting to be struck clear off her list of potential enemies.
Aunt Vyvian needs to abandon her absurd dream of matching me with Lukas Grey. All she’s going to do is place me directly into scary Fallon Bane’s line of fire.
Fallon seems pleased by my comment. She nods approvingly, sets her wand back into her belt and relaxes against her seat.
Echo shoots Fallon a look of mild disapproval, then glances down at my unmarked hands and frowns. “I don’t understand why you’re not fasted.”
“My uncle wants me to wait until I’m older,” I tell her, increasingly put off by Echo’s judgmental approach. And besides, Fallon looks to be about the same age as me, and she isn’t fasted, either.
“Oh, what fun you’ll have,” Paige enthuses with a dreamy look of longing. “All the parties and dances and your first kiss!”
“Have you met anyone you’re interested in?” Fallon probes, sizing me up to see if I’m competition for Lukas, no doubt.
“No.” I shake my head. “I haven’t really had a chance to, being from Halfix. It’s so isolated there. And this is only my first full day in Valgard.”
Fallon regards me with renewed interest. She narrows her eyes. “Have you ever been around any men…other than Gardnerian men?”
My brow knits tight and I feel myself growing defensive over my sheltered upbringing. “What do you mean?” I ask guardedly.
Fallon spits out a short laugh. “I mean, have you ever been around Keltic boys? Or Elves? Or… Lupine?
I eye her with astonishment. “There aren’t Lupines at the University, are there?” That strikes me as incredibly dangerous. Lupines are vicious wolf-shifters. Stronger than the strongest Gardnerian, and completely immune to our magic.
“I’m afraid there are,” Echo replies, a grave expression on her face.
“That’s rather shocking,” I say, shaking my head. “I’m really surprised.” But then I think back to Aunt Vyvian’s conversation with Uncle Edwin, and her outrage over the University’s misguided racial integration—even Icaral demons are allowed to attend.
Paige is worriedly chewing at her bottom lip, her eyes round as two saucers.
Fallon leans in toward me with obvious relish, her voice a scratchy whisper. “Lupines don’t ever marry, did you know that? They simply grab whomever they like and mate with them in the woods.”
“Like animals,” Echo chimes in, with great indignation.
“Really?” It’s all so scandalous. And troubling.
“I’ve heard,” continues Fallon, “that sometimes they grab young women, pull them into the woods and mate with them…as wolves!”
Paige gasps, one hand flying up to cover her mouth.
“Is that even possible?” I question, aghast.
Fallon laughs and settles back into her seat. “Stay away from the Lupine boys.”
“They don’t always mate in the woods,” Echo informs me darkly as she fingers her sphere pendant.
Paige shrinks down, clearly apprehensive to hear what Echo is about to say, as Fallon eyes me with gleeful anticipation, everyone waiting for me to ask the obvious question.
I blink at them. This is the most outrageous conversation I’ve ever had and, despite myself, I’m overcome by lurid fascination. “Where…um…where do they…” I motioned with my hands to finish.
Echo seems to approve of my reluctance to just come out with it. She leans closer. “My father used to be the Council’s ambassador to the Lupines, and he’s actually visited the Lupine Territory. I overheard him talking to my mother about them, and he said that when Lupines are about our age they get their whole pack together—that’s what they call their societies, like a pack of wolves—and they stand up in front of everyone, pick out someone to mate with and mate with them right there, in front of everyone. Even the children.”
My face is growing very hot. This is the most sordid thing I have ever heard in my entire life. “Won’t it be sort of…dangerous? To go to University with them?” I wonder.
“There’s only two of them.” Fallon flicks her hand dismissively. “Brother and sister. Twins.”
Well, that’s a relief. Only two Lupines. How dangerous could only two Lupines be?
“What about the Elves?” I ask. My brothers have told me they make up about a quarter of the scholars at the University. “What are they like?”
“Complete opposite,” Fallon says with a shake of her head. “Very prissy.” She snorts in derision. “It’s amazing they ever get around to ever having children. They’re extremely protective of their women, though. If a boy of another race so much as touches one of their women…”
“Like anyone would want to,” scoffs Echo.
“I think the girl Elves are pretty,” Paige confesses sheepishly. Fallon throws her a quick, withering glance. “They are!” Paige insists. “They have those dainty pointed ears. And white hair, and white clothes…kind of the opposite of us…”
“Very much the opposite of us,” Echo cuts in. She looks to me. “They’re idol worshippers.”
“Aren’t they our allies?” I put in, keeping my voice carefully neutral.
Fallon pins me with her eyes. “For now.”
Well, that’s interesting. “And the Kelts?” I wonder, looking to Echo. “What are their men like?”
Fallon snorts derisively as Echo regards me somberly, her fist closed tight around her Erthia sphere. “Their blood is polluted with all types of filth—Fae blood, Urisk…even Icaral.” Echo waits to see if I’m appropriately horrified before continuing.
Sage’s Icaral baby immediately leaps to mind, casting a pall over everything. I remember how troubled and terrified she was. A Kelt. The demon baby’s father is a Kelt. And she met him at University.
“Priest Vogel says the Kelts are cast out and no longer First People like us,” Echo continues stridently. “They’ve secretly aligned themselves with Evil Ones, like the desert heathens and the Urisk.”
“Look out for the Urisk women,” Fallon warns as a side note. “They may look all innocent, but they love going after our men.”
I’ve heard Warren Gaffney going on about this on more than one occasion. The fact is, Urisk women don’t have any men of their own to go after. The Gardnerian government killed all their males during the Realm War.
Urisk males are powerful geomancers, able to harness the full, destructive powers of stones and gems. Their existence would pose a serious threat to our country. The women, on the other hand, are completely devoid of magic and are allowed to live in Gardneria as guest workers.
It’s a horrible thought, though—the Urisk boy babies being killed. It’s a subject I’ve never been able to discuss with Uncle Edwin, as he becomes visibly upset if I try to broach the topic, once to the point of tearing up and clutching at his chest.
Male Urisk warlords viciously attacked our country when they had power, seeking to wipe us out, but still, it’s all so troubling.
Echo sighs. “At least Urisk half-breeds only have weak magic, at best.”
Paige nods to her in agreement, but Fallon is ignoring them both. Instead, she’s watching me with a silent intensity so unnerving that it raises the hairs on the back of my neck. My initial dislike of her deepens.
“Be careful with those mixed-breeds,” Fallon tells me, a sly smile spreading across her face. I bristle, realizing she’s once again alluding to Gareth and his silver-tipped hair. She slides her thumb along the length of her wand. “Mixed-breeds are everywhere,” she purrs. “You just can’t be too careful.”
Excerpted from The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, copyright 2017 by Laurie Forest. Reprinted with permission by HarperCollins Publishers.
Like what you read so far? Buy the book here, and don’t forget to pre-order book two in The Black Witch Chronicles, The Iron Flower, on sale next month!
- Print Edition: 608 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin Teen (September 1, 2018)
- Age Range: 14+ years
- Grade Level: 7 and up
“Potter-worthy.” —Justine magazine
“A whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!”–#1 New York Times bestselling author Tamora Pierce
“Powerful” —New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb
“Exquisite.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.
A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining.
So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa’s heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else.
When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
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About Laurie Forest
Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. THE BLACK WITCH (Out Now – Harlequin TEEN, Book One of The Black Witch Chronicles) is her first novel, and WANDFASTED (THE BLACK WITCH prequel, Out Now – Harlequin TEEN) is her first e-book novella. Coming in 2018 are THE IRON FLOWER (Sept. 2018 – Harlequin TEEN, Book Two of The Black Witch Chronicles) and LIGHT MAGE (Spring 2018 – Harlequin TEEN, e-book novella).
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Laurie Forest’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for THE BLACK WITCH:
Monday, August 13th: The Romance Dish
Tuesday, August 14th: From the TBR PIle
Wednesday, August 15th: Books a la Mode
Thursday, August 16th: A Holland Reads
Monday, August 20th: Rockin’ & Reviewing
Tuesday, August 21st: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Wednesday, August 22nd: Books & Bindings
Thursday, August 23rd: Girls in Books
Friday, August 24th: A Dream Within a Dream
Monday, August 27th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, August 28th: What is That Book About
TBD: 100 Pages a Day