She's running from her past. And running out of time.
Claire Wiche is an ordinary woman, running her Wicca shop in an ordinary California beach town. But Claire wasn't always ordinary, and she isn't quite human. She hides a secret, and a past she thought she had put behind her.
A past that is about to explode into her present.
When it does, and everyone she loves is in danger, Claire must face up to her past - and become what she left behind in order to save them.
NOTE: This is a short novel, at just over 40,000 words (125 pages), and has graphic scenes not suitable for the under 17 readers. As one reviewer stated: "This ain't no Harry Potter."
This is 150 page novella I ran across in the Paranormal 13 anthology. Claire Wiche runs a little Wicca shop with her friend Annie. Claire is on the face of it, just your normal everyday witch. Looks, as always, can be deceiving. From the very beginning you are given the sense that Claire is concealing something, starting with the fact that she seems to be getting sick and trying to hide it. I got the feeling by Claire's reactions to the young untrained Annie that Claire was much older than she appeared. Annie is a young witch, chock full of power and still unsure of how to use it. The relationship between them is much more than a employer/employee, though less than a mother/daughter type bond. Beloved auntie and young reckless niece describes it better. I enjoyed the way they related to each other.
Claire has trouble coming her way in the form of a young man named Eric. Eric’s sister was just tortured to death by a woman named Natasha. Eric was forced to watch, then was bespelled to blame Claire for his sister’s death. Eric is supposed to bring Claire to Natasha, for reasons unknown to us. A Jinn named Marcus shows up in Claire’s shop, saying that he is there to protect Claire. He’s right in time, because when Eric attacks it takes Marcus to subdue him. It takes all three of them - Claire, Annie and Marcus - to exorcise the demon possessing Eric. Freshly freed, Eric tells the group all of what he remembers of Katelyn’s death and Natasha. Claire recognizes Natasha, and tells them all that Natasha is her cousin.
Soon after, Natasha calls Claire. She knows that Eric has been dispossessed, and has another victim in hand to taunt Claire with. Claire hauls ass to where Natasha is to save the girl Natasha has taken. While they are fighting it is revealed that something is possessing Natasha as well, something that recognizes Claire and tells her:
“She (Natasha) certainly does hate, but she has no idea what you really are, hiding behind your pretty face and pretty life.”
The demon possessing Natasha tells Claire that she wants to go home, to return to hell, and that Claire is her “ticket in the door”, but first she needs as many souls as she can get her hands on. Natasha then disappears, leaving Claire another dead girl.
Claire returns home - cause what else could she do? She is not strong enough to face Natasha unless she breaks a vow she made years ago. Natasha is not stupid however, and her next move is to grab the person closest to Claire - Annie. Natasha leaves Annie’s earring (with Annie’s earlobe still attached) for her as a message. She demands that Claire meet her in her true form, and she would let Annie live. Here’s where Claire’s secret comes out. Claire is a demon herself, a fallen angel. She asks Eric to help her break the protective ward she placed on herself, as he is the only human there, and the only one that can do it. Her wards are in the form of tattoos, and Eric has to cut through them. He does, and Claire’s full powers rush back into her like a mighty wave.
Claire’s backstory comes out as they hurry to meet Natasha. She was once an angel, but joined with Lucifer in his revolt against heaven. She became one of the fallen, driven by hate and despair. She existed for centuries, possessing humans and using them up until their bodies gave out. One night she was hiding out, recovering from a fight with another demon. She heard screaming, a car crash in an icy river. The body of the the woman that she had possessed influenced the possessor, and she used the last of her strength to save the girl - the girl who was Claire Wiche. Claire died that night, and the demon that became Claire vowed to change her ways, to live as a human and do good with her powers and not evil. The demon took Claire’s body, and has lived as a human ever since.
They arrive where Annie is being held, and a knock down drag out fight ensues between Natasha and Claire. During the fight Natasha manages to open a gate to Hell. Natasha nearly manages to use a talisman to gather every soul within a mile, but Claire gets it away from her and throws it into the gate. Natasha stabs Claire, Claire grabs onto Natasha, and topples them both through the gate and into hell, sacrificing herself Buffy-style, to save her friends and you know, the world.
Annie is heartbroken. She reports Claire missing, closes the shop, and moves into Claire’s house. She tortures herself with the fact that Claire didn’t trust her enough to tell her what she really was. Annie and Eric had gotten together after his exorcism, and he stays with her through her grief. Two weeks later, Marcus reopens the shop, not being able to stand to see it sit empty. He convinces Annie to come back, if only to honor Claire’s memory. She accepts, but keeps this to herself….she is having dreams of Claire. She knows that Claire is still alive.
For a novella, the author sure did pack in an awful lot of action and drama . I was totally taken by surprise to find out that Claire was a demon - that was a unique twist!
The second book in this series is titled A Gathering of Angels. Currently, there are five books in this series. They are all fairly short, averaging between 120-150 pages apiece. So you can read the whole series in a weekend if you like…...just sayin’......
Till next time, keep it between the covers…