Crowned (Beholder #4)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: November 28th 2017
Monster House Books
At last, Elea has found the love of her life. Unfortunately, the evil Tsar Viktor is about to unleash an army of twisted mages bent on killing everyone Elea cares about… including the man who’s stolen her heart. That’s challenge enough, but on the eve of battle, Elea realizes that her true enemies may be far more powerful than even Viktor: The deities Oni and Yuri could be out to destroy her as well. With major battles brewing on two fronts, Elea’s not sure that she’ll win, but with true love to inspire her, she’s certainly ready to fight.
It was never a good idea to spy on the gods, as a rule.
That said, I was never one to follow the rules.
All of which was why I now stood in a hilltop ringed with skulls, staring out over a deserted landscape. A shiver of foreboding rolled across my shoulders. This place gave new meaning to the word bleak. Ashen soil stretched off in every direction. Charcoal-colored clouds wheeled overhead. A freestanding archway made from chipped stone loomed nearby. The thing looked like a ruin, but it was actually a magickal gateway called the Skullock Passage. Soon, this archway would also serve as my supernatural keyhole for spying on the gods. Quite possibly, I’d be killed in the process.
Considering my situation, it was a risk worth taking.
I glanced up at the darkening sky.
Almost time to begin.
Any minute now, a slash of blood-red light would appear by the horizon, marking the arrival of the Martyr’s Comet, a heavenly body that showed itself once every two thousand years. Unfortunately, the Martyr’s Comet had all sorts of dark legends surrounding it, such as the prophecy that whoever was the strongest Necromancer alive when the comet appeared, then that same Necromancer had to die when the comet vanished.
This particular legend had changed my life from bad to worse.
First, the bad part. About two months ago, my one-time Mother Superior, Petra, informed me of the Martyr’s Comet prophecy, including the bit about the strongest Necromancer dying. That was certainly bad news; some poor mage was supposedly doomed.
Second, the worse part. Then Petra shared that I was the strongest Necromancer alive and she planned to end my life when the comet vanished. In other words, about three days from now. As I said, worse.
Of course, I’d no intention of dying any time soon. I just needed more information so I could foil Petra’s schemes—hence my spying expedition.
A flicker of light appeared at the horizon. My gaze locked on the spot. Was that the Martyr’s Comet?
I squinted into the darkening sky. The brightness clearly shone white, not red.
Only a shooting star, then.
A weight of disappointment settled on my shoulders. In some ways, I was looking forward to the comet’s arrival. With it, there came additional powers over gateways, especially for mages like me. Tapping into those extra abilities, I’d turn the Skullock Passage into my personal spy-hole.
Take that, Petra.
A small cloud of dust began spinning on the ground nearby. The particles whirled in curlicue shapes that were too perfect to be natural. Magick. My heart lightened. Perhaps my mate Rowan was arriving. I had expected him to magickally transport here any second.
Sadly enough, blue lights sparkled deep within the haze. A weight of dread settled into my bones. Someone was casting a transport spell, only it wasn’t Rowan. My mate was a Creation Caster, so his power came from life and his magick glowed red. This brightness shone blue, which meant the visiting mage was a Necromancer like me.
Most likely, Petra was sending yet another messenger my way, asking me to fulfill the Prophecy of the Martyr’s Comet and die willingly on the comet’s last day. Meeting these messengers was never pleasant, but it wasn’t particularly dangerous, either. Petra wouldn’t try to kill me until the Martyr’s Comet was just about to disappear.
Small comfort, really.
Within seconds, a wisp of a girl materialized beside me. She looked about sixteen years old with large brown eyes, pale skin, and raven-dark hair. The image of her skull had been magickally marked onto her face in dark tones. Her clothes were long black robes decorated with a few ties, which was the formal dress for a Sister, the lowest level of initiated Necromancer.
The girl spied me, gasped, and fell to her knees. A small puff of dried earth flew up where she landed. “Greetings, my Tsarina.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose. All Petra’s messengers fell on their knees when they first laid eyes on me. It was rather unsettling. I wasn’t this girl’s Tsarina, and even if I were, bowing and scraping weren’t my idea of fun.
Monster House Books is celebrating the launch of CROWNED by placing the Beholder series on sale!
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Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. It is now available as an audiobook on Audible and iTunes.
Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
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