Today I am very excited to be participating in the blog tour for Freda Warrington’s A Taste of Blood Wine! This first book in her Blood series was re-released earlier this month, and the other two books plus a brand new book in the series will be following. Since I’ve become a big fan of Freda Warrington’s writing because of her Aetherial Tales, I’m looking forward to reading these. I’m thrilled this particular series is being re-released since I’ve wanted to read A Taste of Blood Wine since reading a review on my local library’s blog.
As part of the blog tour today, there is a giveaway for a signed copy of A Taste of Blood Wine, plus I have an extract from Freda Warrington’s new short story set in the same world as the Blood series, “Little Goose.” The next part of the story will be posted tomorrow, and the details on how to find it are at the end of the story excerpt. I hope you enjoy reading the beginning of “Little Goose”!
From award-winning British fantasy author Freda Warrington, A Taste of Blood Wine (Titan Books, May 2013) is the first novel of a gothic vampire melodrama.
To celebrate the return of the critically acclaimed Blood Books in collectable paperback and e-book edition, Titan Books and Freda Warrington are serialising two rare and risqué stories set within the universe of the Blood Books across a series of websites and blogs.
We’re publishing the first part of a short story called “Little Goose.”
Little Goose: Part 1
By Freda Warrington
Spring was swelling the land, the night I met her. Sap was jumping like clear blood through the veins of leaves, flowers slithering yolk-yellow from fat white bulbs, lambs somersaulting in the moist red wombs of their mothers. In the city, tourists revealed plump limbs to the sun. So much fecundity, so much insolent life, and I picked my way through it like a journalist stalking a battlefield. I, vampire, outcast, voyeur. Like a skeleton I tiptoed, bone-white, bone-dry, infertile, looking upon this rich green egg of a season with a mixture of revulsion and tongue-lolling appetite.
The nights were frost-bound still and left the blossom burned brown at the edges and curling. All along the walkway to the museum, petals were falling like wistful confetti on a bridal bower. I love museums and galleries by night, when the visitors have gone, when birds have pecked every last crumb from beneath the green trees and gone to roost in the branches. (Above my head I imagined their tender nests full of eggs.) I love the stillness inside; the exhibits, frozen effigies in a great, taut silence through which a footfall snaps like gunshot. The tremble of a questing torchbeam, the terrified face of the security guard as his eyes meet mine…
I have learned not to set off alarms, nor to appear on security cameras. Such diversions have afforded me amusement in the past but the excitement palls. What I seek is that exquisite vast stillness, and all that treasure spread out for my eyes alone.
This night, though, the museum was not quite deserted. They had been setting up a new exhibition – jewellery design of some kind, the poster said, though I had only half-glanced at it – and accompanied by the fading sounds of people calling goodnight, locking up, leaving, one woman still remained.
The display cases looked tiny in the grand vaulted hall. It was a corridor for the gods, going on forever. And in this half-lit sepulchre a small figure remained, her dark head poised over the sloped glass of the cases; perusing, moving on in a slow, slow reverie; pausing again. Her knuckles were taut, her breath unsteady. Her scent and body heat came enticingly to me, and all her coiled emotion.
I was loath to interrupt, so for a while I only watched. There was something compulsive in this secret intercourse. Her, I mean, with the exhibits… and me with her.
Points of light winked in the cases, tiny enamel gleams. Drawing closer, I saw that the exhibition was on a theme, and one appropriate to the time of year. In each case, nested upon crushed velvet of darkest purple-blue, sat eggs of every scale; quail-eggs, duck-eggs, goose-eggs. But fashioned for emperors were these, of nacre and diamond, of ivory, jet and heavy silver, eggs hinged and lined with sapphires, eggs crowned with gold flame and circled with rubies.
I moved from one case to the next, shadowing the woman. Here were eggs of green jade and of crystal, so exquisite you would wish to touch your tongue to them, to feel the cool ice of them sliding and melting. Quartz, clear as glass, and the polished greens of turquoise and chrysocolla, clasped in webs of silver, set with amethyst and pearl. How deliciously the fruits of the sea and the earth blended, clinging like lovers.
I opened my lips, wanting to taste their coldness, wanting it as badly as the soft heat of a victim’s throat under my lips. I smiled. Their solid perfection made me want to laugh with simple joy
‘Fabergé,’ I whispered, because they called to mind the famed maker of jewelled eggs, the only one whose name I knew. I did not mean that I thought these were his; they were too modern, too different in style. But the woman heard me.
In the background was the throb of machinery; heating, plumbing, or some such in the museum’s underworld. Against this metallic heartbeat she turned to me, her face waxen, her eyes huge shadows.
‘Not Fabergé, of course not,’ she said, startled to see me, and angry. Her expression read, who is this ignoramus?
From the tail of my eye, with my marvellous vampire eyesight, I took in the gist of a poster that was curled around a pillar yards away. Rebirth. A journey in jewels by Bartholomew de Grise.
‘I meant,’ I said, lifting one eyebrow, ‘that de Grise is surely the only natural heir of Fabergé.’
Really, I sicken myself sometimes. But it worked; my words threw her on the back foot, yet pacified her.
‘You’re not the first to make that observation,’ she retorted. She had a strong look; big nose, intense Cleopatra eyes, masses of earth-coloured hair. She wore a white pashmina and ropes of garnets around her neck. Jeans underneath. Too much driving lifeforce for such a small frame. Her energy washed me in red waves, drew me in.
‘You must like his work,’ I said. ‘The exhibition is not even open yet.’
‘He is my father,’ she snapped back. ‘And no, the exhibition is not open.’
‘I’m over from a Dublin museum,’ I lied glibly. ‘Forgive the intrusion, Miss de Grise. But it was too much of a temptation to see all this before the crowds come. And a great honour to meet you.’
I told her my name; she extended a wary hand, bent like a ballerina’s, to clasp mine. Ah, how I love the slow dance of seduction! I added, for I was already in love with these wondrous objects, ‘Your father seems to have had a great change of style… from the use of classic materials, gold and silver, enamel and gems, to these…’ I indicated the semi-precious ones, those of sea-green and pearl, held in nests of jet, stabbed with great chunks of amethyst. ‘These, which have a more contemporary feel.’
Tiny muscles tensed in her cheeks. ‘My father’s style has developed over the years. But the ones you are pointing to, those are mine.’
‘Of course,’ I breathed, and caught the small print just in time. ‘Rebecca de Grise. Forgive me, I’ve had a long day.’
She arched the firm black bows of her eyebrows. ‘You’ve heard of me?’
I hadn’t, but I could dissemble for Ireland. ‘You mind, that your name is in much smaller type than your father’s?’
She smiled. Her eyes flashed rusty fire. ‘Naturally I don’t. He is the world-famous jeweller; I am, as yet, only his apprentice.’
Her modesty seemed genuine, not bitter. ‘He must be very proud of you.’
‘He is the finest of teachers.’
‘He had better look to his crown,’ I said softly. ‘The king is dead. Long live the queen.’
She gave the tiniest gasp of shock. ‘Sacrilege,’ she said. But she was pleased, and embarrassed by the fact. Relaxing, she took my arm, and took me on a tour of her father’s work, pointing out the skill, the attention to detail, his artistry, his mastery. See this one, all gold leaf, garnets and rubies, an egg within an egg; the inner one rising on a tiny mechanism when the outer one is opened, like a smooth little womb. Marvellous. Her father had made the outer shell, Rebecca said, and she the inner.
‘Are these Christian eggs or Pagan eggs?’ I said, halting her flow.
‘Rebirth. Do they symbolise the resurrection of Our Lord, or the rebirth of the land in spring? Or something else… more personal?’
She paused, staring aggressively at me with her head cocked on one side. Then a spiky whisper. ‘Whichever you want. They are just eggs.’
The first book in Freda Warrington’s Blood series, A Taste of Blood Wine, is out now from Titan Books, £7.99. To read the next instalment of “Little Goose” click here: http://titanbooks.com/blog/freda-warringtons-blood-wine-tour/
© Freda Warrington
Courtesy of Titan Books, I have one signed copy of A Taste of Blood Wine to give away! This giveaway is open to those with a mailing address in the US, UK, or Australia.
Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Blood Wine Giveaway.” One entry per person and one winner will be randomly selected. Those from the US, UK, or Australia are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Saturday, May 25. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).
Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.
(Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.)