Instead of writing one huge post of all the books I’m looking forward to in 2012, I decided to highlight some of these books in their own posts throughout the rest of this year. That way I can include as much information as I want about each one without it being an 8-mile long post and can just compile a list of links to these posts at the end of the year.

The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

This is the first book in Dreamblood, a new duology by N. K. Jemisin. The Killing Moon will be released in May 2012 with The Shadowed Sun following in June 2012. I LOVED the first two books in N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy and I enjoyed the third one so I cannot wait for these new books from her! The description makes it sound really interesting, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what N. K. Jemisin does with a new set of books.

About The Killing Moon:

The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

Other Books of 2012:

Instead of writing one huge post of all the books I’m looking forward to in 2012, I decided to highlight some of these books in their own posts throughout the rest of this year. That way I can include as much information as I want about each one without it being an 8-mile long post and can just compile a list of links to these posts at the end of the year.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Book I in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms is scheduled for release in February 2012. Chapter One can be read online.

There are many reasons I want to read Throne of the Crescent Moon. I’ve been hearing good things about Saladin Ahmed’s short fiction as well as some good advance buzz for this book, his debut novel. The chapter one excerpt looked promising, plus I just love the description of the characters in the book blurb… Although, honestly, the blurb had me somewhere around the first line when it called it “a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights.”

About Throne of the Crescent Moon:
From Saladin Ahmed, finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards, comes one of the year’s most anticipated fantasy debuts, THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince.  In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings:

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “The last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea.  Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, is eager to deliver God’s justice. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the Lion-Shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time–and struggle against their own misgivings–to save the life of a vicious despot.  In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

Other Books of 2012:

This week brought 1 ARC, 3 books I ordered ridiculously cheap from the Book Closeouts Black Friday sale, and 1 book won in a giveaway! As usual, I’m including some information on each book this week in case there are any here that sound interesting that you want to check out.

Wheel of the Infinite by Martha WellsWheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells

This is definitely the book I’m most excited about this week! It’s a signed, out of print hardcover that I was lucky enough to win when Martha Wells recently gave away a few copies on her blog. Since I loved The Cloud Roads, I’ve wanted to read some of the author’s previous books and this is one I’d thought I might have to miss since it is out of print. I did just notice that there is a Kindle edition for only $2.99, though.

Wheel of the Infinite is a stand alone fantasy novel, and an excerpt is available to read online.

Every year in the great temple in the city of Duvalpore, the image of the Wheel of the Infinite must be painstakingly remade to ensure another year of peace and harmony for the Celestial Empire. But a black storm is spreading across the Wheel. With chaos in the wind, Maskelle, a woman with a shadowy past—a murderer, exile, and traitor—has been summoned back to help put the world right. For if she cannot unearth the cause of the Wheel’s accelerating disintegration, all that is, ever was, and will be, will end.

The Abhorsen Chronicles by Garth NixThe Abhorsen Chronicles by Garth Nix

This is a massive omnibus containing the entire Abhorsen trilogy – Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. I have heard excellent things about Sabriel so when I saw this available for only $6.50 I couldn’t resist! This is also currently a bargain book on Amazon.

Garth Nix is currently working on a prequel set 300 years before, Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen. His website says it will probably be released in 2013.


Every step brings Sabriel closer to a battle that will pit her against the true forces of life and death—and bring her face-to-face with her own destiny.


With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil, which threatens the fate of the Old Kingdom.


The Abhorsen Sabriel and King Touchstone are missing, and Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the evil Destroyer—before it is too late.

Tooth and Claw by Jo WaltonTooth and Claw by Jo Walton

This is another stand alone fantasy book that I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I haven’t read anything by Jo Walton yet, but I enjoy her posts on and I’ve heard this book is really good.

A preview is available on the publisher’s website.

A tale of love, money, and family conflict–among dragons. A family deals with the death of their father. A son goes to court for his inheritance. Another son agonises over his father’s deathbed confession. One daughter becomes involved in the abolition movement, while another sacrifices herself for her husband.And everyone in the tale is a dragon, red in tooth and claw.Here is a world of politics and train stations, of churchmen and family retainers, of courtship and country houses….in which, on the death of an elder, family members gather to eat the body of the deceased. In which the great and the good avail themselves of the privilege of killing and eating the weaker children, which they do with ceremony and relish, growing stronger thereby.You have never read a novel like Tooth and Claw.

Libyrinth by Pearl NorthLibyrinth by Pearl North

I’ve actually been interested in this one ever since I saw the sequel, The Boy From Illysies, was nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction. So when I saw a signed hardcover copy available for $4.50 I snatched it up. Oh, and it is about a library that sounds awesome!

A preview is available on the publisher’s website. The hardcover is also currently available as a bargain book on Amazon.

In her debut novel, Pearl North takes readers centuries into the future, to a forgotten colony of Earth where technology masquerades as magic and wars are fought over books.

Haly is a Libyrarian, one of a group of people dedicated to preserving and protecting the knowledge passed down from the Ancients and stored in the endless maze of books known as the Libyrinth. But Haly has a secret: The books speak to her.

When the threat of the rival Eradicants drives her from her home, Haly learns that things are not all she thinks they are. Taken prisoner by the Eradicants, who believe the written word to be evil, she sees the world through their eyes and comes to understand that they are not the book-burning monsters that she has known her entire life.

The words of a young girl hiding in an attic—written hundreds of years before Haly’s birth—will spark the interest of her captors and begin the change necessary to end the conflict between the Eradicants and Libyrarians. With the help of her loyal companion Nod, a creature of the Libyrinth, Haly must mend the rift between the two groups before their war for knowledge destroys them all. Haly’s life—and the lives of everyone she knows—will never be the same.

A powerful adventure that unites the present and future, Libyrinth is a fresh, magical novel that will draw in young readers of all genres.

The Isis Collar by Cat Adams
The Isis Collar by Cat Adams (aka C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp)

This is the fourth book in the Blood Singer series, following Blood Song, Siren Song, and Demon Song. I haven’t read any of the books in the series or even heard of them before this showed up in the mail this week. There are some descriptions and excerpts from the first three books on the authors’ site if you are interested in learning more, though.

The Isis Collar will be available on March 13, 2012.

Celia Graves was once an ordinary human, but those days are long gone. Now she strives to maintain her sanity and her soul while juggling both vampire abilities and the powers of a Siren.

Warned of a magical “bomb” at a local elementary school, Celia forces an evacuation. Oddly, the explosion seems to have no effect, puzzling both Celia and the FBI. Two weeks later, a strangely persistent bruise on Celia’s leg turns out to be the first sign of a magical zombie plague.

Finding the source of the plague isn’t Celia’s only concern. Her alcoholic mother has broken out of prison on the Sirens’ island; her little sister’s ghost has possessed a young girl; and one of Celia’s boyfriends, a powerful mage, has disappeared.

Today I have an excerpt from Miserere: An Autumn Tale, an interview with the author Teresa Frohock, and a giveaway for one copy of Miserere for day 15 of the Night Shade Books Countdown! For further updates, you can follow on Twitter at

When I was contacted about participating in the Night Shade Countdown, I had just finished reading Miserere. I really enjoyed it and was full of curiosity about the series so I mentioned I’d be interested in interviewing Teresa Frohock for the countdown. Hope you enjoy the interview – it was a lot of fun to do and reading what Teresa had to say made me even more excited about reading her next books!

Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock Teresa Frohock

Fantasy Cafe: First of all, thank you for taking the time to do an interview! I really enjoyed reading Miserere: An Autumn Tale. I read this on your blog and thought to myself that you are a woman after my own heart:


I love fairytales; they are fantasy mingled with horror, pure and simple. All fairytales, true fairytales and not these watered down Disney versions, are dark. The Little Mermaid doesn’t go dancing off singing “Under the Sea,” she loses her chance to be human and is turned into sea foam.

Can you tell us some of the dark fairy tales that have inspired you and what aspects you found most fascinating?

Teresa Frohock: I want to thank you, Kristen, for having me here. I just love your blog.

Okay, questions.

My three favorite stories are The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, and Beauty and the Beast. In The Little Mermaid, I loved the sisters trading their hair for a knife that would kill the prince—okay, so I’m morbid like that. Anyway, his blood must fall upon the Mermaid’s feet and her legs so she can be returned to her true self—a mermaid. Yet she can’t do it. She can’t bring herself to take his life. That moment, when the Mermaid has to decide whether or not murder the prince or die herself, was very poignant for me. I think what struck me about that story, even as a child, was the sudden realization that not all stories had happy endings.

Likewise, it’s the last portion of Rapunzel that intrigues me. The wicked enchantress cuts off Rapunzel’s hair, renders her ugly, and banishes her to the desert where she has twins. The prince is blinded and sent to wander the world before he comes to the desert and finds Rapunzel.

I’ve always thought that was the true story in Rapunzel, the time between getting thrown out of the tower and finding one another again. What happened in all those years when they were forced to fend for themselves? Did that magical love-at-first-sight hold up or did they grow bitter and blame one another for their lost youth? Did they still love each other with the same passion even after they grew older and changed? Was their love the same? How could it be?

There are shades of Rapunzel in Miserere if you look closely enough.

With Beauty and the Beast, it was the imagery of magic mirrors, walls, enchanted roses and jewels. I think Beauty and the Beast is probably the most mature fairytale in that it shows how Beauty comes to love the Beast instead of identifying him as THE ONE from the beginning. The story is less about love at first sight and more about mature love that grows over time.

I think my favorite part of Beauty and the Beast was when Beauty accidentally finds the Beast bloodied from a kill. She has that sudden realization that all is not perfect in this enchanted realm. The Beast’s ugliness also manifests in violence. All his pretensions are stripped away and his true nature is revealed.

FC: “Beauty and the Beast” is my favorite fairy tale so I was excited to see in your blog that the book you are working on, The Garden, is a twist of that type of story (especially after reading that you also like your stories dark, but I could have guessed that after reading Miserere!). Can you tell us a little about the story and how it is both similar to and different from that tale?

TF: I will do with The Garden what I did with Miserere and Rapunzel—smoke and mirrors, lots of mirrors.

The Garden begins in the summer of 1348 on the Iberian Peninsula. Guillermo Ramírez, a blacksmith conscripted into the King’s army, takes refuge in the ruined garden of an abandoned monastery only to find himself among magical creatures. The ancient daimon Ashmedai has trapped other men in the garden and uses their souls to break the sigils of power that hold him to the Garden. Guillermo must solve the mystery of his past so he can restore the sigils that will lock Ashmedai from humanity forever.

The mysteries of the Garden can only be unraveled by a hideous creature, perversely named Belita. Guillermo believes that Belita knows how to destroy Ashmedai, but she will only divulge her secrets if Guillermo can recall a past incarnation. Buried in the memories of that incarnation is the pattern for a key that will restore the sigils of power and forever bind Ashmedai back to the lower realms.

The Garden is very much an adventure story and is darker than Miserere. Guillermo is the beauty of the story, but unlike the brave woman in the fairytale, he is tricked into the Garden, and once behind the walls, he cannot leave. Beauty was selfless, but Guillermo is very selfish, at first. Belita is my beast, and she is willing to do anything to defeat Ashmedai, even destroy the mortals she was sworn to protect.

There will be magical mirrors and a ring that binds three men together in an unusual way. There’s a love story too but I won’t say much about that right now.

FC: What was the biggest challenge about writing your first novel? Is writing your second book any easier?

TF: I think the hardest thing about writing Miserere was learning to keep the story focused on Lucian. I had so many great characters that were such fun to write, I almost got carried away a couple of times. The same thing happened with The Garden. I tend to fall for the more complex characters (Rachael in Miserere and Diago in The Garden), so I leave off my protagonist’s story to write the parts that interest me the most. It’s easy to get sidetracked with plotting too. I’ve got some excellent crit partners who keep me on track.

I think writing the second book is actually more difficult, because I’m so aware of the magic and imagery that I used in Miserere. We were discussing this on Twitter recently, and I think Doug Hulick said it best, “… you want the structure and character of the book to stand on its own even if it is part of the same series.” That’s easier said than done. Again, the clear eyes of my crit partners and my agent often help me with that.

FC: Miserere: An Autumn Tale is mainly Lucian’s story so I was interested to see that the next book, Dolorosa: A Winter’s Dream, is going to be Rachael’s story. Can you tell us a little about her story and what she’ll be dealing with in the novel? Will the third book be about a different character, perhaps Lindsay?

TF: Rachael will be dealing with the long term consequences of the Wyrm. One thing I can’t stand is when magic becomes a cure-all, and in Rachael’s case, the exorcism is only the first step. She is plagued by dreams and sometimes confuses reality with her past on Earth. Her father, who made only the barest appearances in Miserere, will play a larger role, even though he’s dead—well, kind of … I’ve got it worked out—trust me.

While all this is going on, Rachael will be dealing with her feelings about Lucian and the political ramifications of her responsibilities as Inquisitor. I want to introduce more of the political aspects of Woerld in this book.

Lindsay will be seen in Dolorosa, but her role will remain small, comparatively speaking. The third novel, Bellum Dei, will be about her as she comes into her abilities in Woerld. Bellum Dei is probably one of the few books where I will stick one hundred percent to my synopsis. I’ve got plans for that kid. *evil laughter resonates throughout the blogosphere*

And of course, Lucian will be back. Can’t very well have our little drama without him, now can we?

FC: One aspect of your novel that I really appreciated was that the main character, Lucian, was a mature adult who has gone through a lot instead of the younger, more inexperienced characters that are so common in fantasy. Why do you think there are so many fantasy books with younger characters as main protagonists?

TF: I really don’t know. I think part of it has to do with traditional fantasy that follows some form of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. In order to do that, the protagonist is usually young. I also think reader tastes and the market has a lot to do with it. A lot of people enjoy YA literature, especially in fantasy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I enjoy YA literature from time to time, but as I’ve gotten older, my perspective has changed. I don’t think about issues the same way now as I did when I was twenty or thirty or even forty.

Yet I still love fantasy. I want to read about exotic worlds and different civilizations and magic—always magic. I think fantasy geared toward and about adults is becoming more prevalent and explains the popularity of Abercrombie and Martin. I hope it is. Adult fantasy is where my personal taste rests. We can blame that on our aging geek population.

FC: Do you think it was more challenging to write about a main character with a past that had shaped him instead of one who was just starting out in life?

TF: They both present different challenges. Guillermo has been a difficult character to write because he doesn’t have the wealth of experience that Lucian has. Guillermo does some stupid things because he’s young and he’s more of an anti-hero than Lucian. It’s been almost painful to write some of the scenes where he acts so impetuously.

The difficulty with Lucian was weaving the past into the present without resorting to flashbacks. Flashbacks work very well for some authors, but I wasn’t comfortable with using the technique in Miserere, and in the end, I’m glad I didn’t. I liked the way Lucian’s memories were triggered by his current experiences. It was more fun for me to write a character with a past.

FC: I’m really curious about the Katharoi, those chosen to join the battle against the Fallen on the gate between hell and earth, Woerld. Does a Katharos exhibit any signs of being special while still on earth? Is it common for siblings to be chosen together like Lucian and Catarina or Peter and Lindsay? If so, is there a reason for this?

TF: I think they do exhibit signs of being special on earth; however, I think siblings being drawn through the Veil together is a rare occurrence. Lucian and Catarina were exceptional because they were twins.

Peter being taken with Lindsay was my fault. Unfortunately, I had this scene with Rachael and Peter that I loved. When Lucian’s foundling shifted from Peter to Lindsay—somewhere in one of the ten thousand drafts I did—I didn’t want to lose the Rachael/Peter scene, so I brought Peter through the Veil with Lindsay.

Sometimes, the Heavenly Court wants to have her cake and eat it too. I’ll explain in detail in one of the next novels. It’s definitely a question that Lindsay will ask. She is my reader’s eye into Woerld and we have much to learn before we are done.

FC: Since the more prominent Katharoi in Miserere: An Autumn Tale are Christian and use prayer to do their work, did you worry at all that people would view your book as too religious?

TF: Yes. I’m still fighting algorithm hell on Amazon, which continues to classify Miserere in the Christian fiction section due to the word “Christian” in the blurb. I did not write Miserere to be Christian fiction, although I did try to portray the religion sensitively.

I’ve been very appreciative of all the reviewers who have taken the time to review Miserere and address those misconceptions. It’s not Christian fiction at all and does express some views that would be seen as heretical to Christianity. The reviewers have saved the book by bringing it to the attention of genre fans, and I am very grateful for that help.

FC: All religions do work together to fight evil in your world, so will any other books focus more on any of the other religions and their role on Woerld? Do other warriors not belonging to the Citadel have special talents that are different from those the Christian Katharos have or channel their powers differently?

TF: Yes to both questions. In response to the first, I hoped that if the series really took off, I could pursue different characters at different bastions. A lot of this will have to do with sales, but I envisioned a lot of different ways that I could indulge in my research addiction by doing a short series with characters from the Mosque and another one from the Rabbinate and even branch out more.

This would allow me to explore the different ways each of the bastions work their magic. Since the Rabbinate and the Mosque will be involved in book three, I will get to touch on their practices there.

As to the second question: I haven’t worked out all the details yet, because I’m still reading about other religions and incorporating those beliefs into a fantasy world setting. Working different forms of magic into Woerld will take some manipulation on my part to make it all ring true. The whole concept is positively limitless—unless I write myself into a corner.

FC: Since members of all religions in Woerld are working together against a common cause, are there any enemies who are not fallen angels who have rebelled against God? Are any of them based in other religions?

TF: Absolutely. Politicians have used religion as the means for manipulating the populace into all kinds of wars. There is no reason that Woerld’s politicians (kings and queens) would be any less self-interested. That includes other religions. They might not be on the side of the Fallen, but they have as much interest in controlling Heaven’s Gates as the Fallen, and they can attack the bastions.

The scope of Woerld broadens every time I tackle another book. The readers want more, and I’m delighted to indulge them, but only for so long as it doesn’t get in the way of the story. I’m not George RR Martin. I simply do not juggle multiple plotlines and characters well, so I leave that to the masters of the profession.

I’m still learning. I enjoy writing about people swept up in major events. It’s like real life. Some characters will have happy endings, and some, like the little mermaid, are doomed from the beginning. You just never can tell until you hit those magic words: The End.

Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.

Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel.

Teresa can be found most often at her blog and website. Every now and then, she heads over to Tumblr and sends out Dark Thoughts, links to movies and reviews that catch her eye. You can also follow Teresa on Twitter and join her author page on Facebook.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale (July 1, 2011)

Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina’s soul, but Catarina doesn’t want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen’s hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven’s frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.

When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina’s wrath isn’t so easy to escape. In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen’s hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven’s Gates.

Read the first four chapters of Miserere FREE here

Miserere: An Autumn Tale Giveaway

Courtesy of Night Shade Books, I have one copy of Teresa Frohock’s novel Miserere: An Autumn Tale to give away!

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below. One entry per person and you must be from the US or Canada to enter (sorry to those outside those countries).  The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Thursday, December 29.  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 to).

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.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.

Today I have an excerpt for you from Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock for day 15 of the Night Shade Books Countdown. For further updates, you can follow on Twitter at

There is also an interview with Teresa Frohock and a giveaway of Miserere: An Autumn Tale today as part of the countdown, but I’m posting those separately since putting this all in one post would end up being pretty massive.

Hope you enjoy the excerpt! In particular, I loved Rachael’s part in this section. Lucian’s really the main character so I hadn’t read that much about Rachael before chapter 6, but her scene in this chapter was when I realized I was going to love Rachael every bit as much as Lucian – and I certainly did. As I mentioned in my review yesterday, Rachael and Lucian were a large part of what made this book for me.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock

This excerpt from Miserere comes from the chapter entitled Trinity (chapter six). It’s a rather long chapter, so I’ve cut Catarina’s scene from this portion. The excerpt you are about to read begins after Catarina and the demon Cerberus rape a young man named Armand. Catarina takes the love from Armand’s soul, and Cerberus encourages her to send her spirit into the Wasteland so she can sing Lucian home.

Catarina believes Lucian will have no choice but to obey the power of her song, and she intends to turn his heart to glass. In the darkness, Catarina sings to a man-child and dreams of her twin. Humming softly …

Chapter 6:
He awoke to a broken lullaby he recalled from his youth. Someone whispered his name. Lucian opened his eyes, wrapped in night so deep that he could not see his breath mist before him in the icy air. His sister’s spirit hovered at the edge of their little camp.

Lucian’s blood roared through his veins; fear gripped him by the throat at the sight of her. This magic was new, and she’d caught him unawares. Now that he didn’t have to guard his every thought against her, life outside of her house had made him careless. Lucian refrained from glancing in Lindsay’s direction. For now, the child was safely behind him, out of his sister’s sight.

“Lucian, we are never the same without you at my side.” Catarina’s voice passed through space and time as a nail to his heart, recalling their devotion to one another before her corruption. On a journey with his father, Lucian had written those words to her when they’d lived on Earth. They had been ten, and he knew she pined for him during those trips, so he always tried to write words to soothe her. She was no longer a child and neither was he.

Grinding his teeth against the pain and the cold, he struggled to his feet. “No more, Cate.” It was partial demand, partial plea.

“Oh, my darling,” she said. “We’ve had such a misunderstanding.” She shook her head sadly and her dark hair shadowed her face like a veil. He couldn’t see her eyes and thought himself safe from her wiles. “I know the thought of my retribution frightened you, but you misinterpreted my actions. My spies have uncovered threats against us. I sent my soldiers because I worried for your safety. The priest told me you were terrified so he helped you leave. What lies you’ve spread, Lucian. It grieves me that you believe I am such a monster.”

He felt her distress, and guilt gnawed his heart. Could his fear have clouded his judgment? He remembered her pleading tone as he’d walked out on her. Rather than demanding that he return, she had implored him.

“Now you are in great danger, wandering the Wasteland alone.” She gestured to his leg. “Crippled. What would happen if you fall and cannot rise? How can I live if something happens to you?”

With the special bond they shared, he heard her thoughts as clearly as if she’d spoken. We are never the same, her heart whispered to his,without you. “Come home, Lucian, where the fires are warm and there is no more pain. I forgive you. We’ll forget about this and love one another again.”

Each time she said his name her spell wrapped more securely around his heart. He saw his room behind her, enveloped in heat from the roaring fire; the warmth washed over his body and drove his pain away. Wouldn’t it be good to rest? To be warm and fed?

Come home, Lucian.

Relief flowed through him. It was all a mistake. He’d simply misinterpreted her intentions. This time would different; they would put aside their grievances. She would listen. Surely she would be reasonable. This time.

“Lucian?” Lindsay whispered as she touched his hand. “What’s going on?”

Catarina’s hold over him shattered when he looked away from his sister. The remnants of her enchantment spun away, insubstantial as dreams. The chill air of the Wasteland seeped back into his bones and his stomach growled with hunger. Only pain and humiliation awaited him in Hadra. She would never forgive him for running a second time.

He took Lindsay’s hand and drew the girl close. How could he have forgotten Lindsay? A week in Hadra would leave the girl insane. All the fires blazing in that haunted house couldn’t keep the shadows at bay. There was no reprieve from his sister’s malevolence. There never could be.

He wouldn’t betray another innocent to Catarina’s wrath, not for all the warmth on Woerld. God help me, please. Lucian saw his room again; this time, he noticed a young man supine on the bed. The youth had eyes like stones to match his loveless heart, shriveled and black.

Go home where she will grind glass into my heart for eternity. “No more,” he said a second time, his voice stronger.

Catarina ignored him and addressed Lindsay. “Tell me your name, my dear.”

“Tell her nothing.” Lucian tried to shield the girl from his sister, but Lindsay was captivated by Catarina and stepped around him.

“Lindsay Richardson.”

“Lindsay Richardson. What a lovely name. And aren’t you pretty and pale, like a girl made of glass?” Catarina’s apparition flickered then grew clear again.

Lucian took heart; a spell this strong had to be draining her physical body. He only had to wait her out and pray that Lindsay said nothing to give their location away.

“I’m so sorry, Lindsay. My brother is very confused, his mind is not right. Tell me, has he been telling you about demons and Hell? Angels?”

The weight of Lucian’s fear almost dragged him down. With his shaggy hair and beard, he probably looked and smelled like a madman wandering the wilderness, raving of angels and demons. The fragile progress he’d made to win the child’s trust was broken; he could see it in Lindsay’s guarded look. “She lies, Lindsay,” he said.

“He thinks I want to hurt him, but I just want him to be safe.” Catarina smiled. “He needs someone to look after him.”

“Are you?” The girl stepped away from him and he released her hand. “Crazy?”

“No, Lindsay.” Lucian shook his head. “No.”

“He’s just sick and confused,” Catarina said.

Lucian stood very still so as not to startle the child. “I swear I haven’t lied to you.”

“Haven’t you, Lucian?” Catarina gestured to the mare. “Have you told her that you murdered the man who rode that horse? Isn’t that a lie of omission?”

Lindsay took another step back and tripped. Lucian reached out to grab her arm and break her fall, but she twisted away from him. She sat down hard and looked up at him. “Is she telling the truth? Did you kill somebody?”

“I did.”

“Oh, God,” Lindsay whispered.

“Tell me where you are, Lindsay.” Catarina’s spirit drifted forward, and Lindsay pushed herself backward. Catarina halted. “Not everything he told you was a lie. You were drawn to him, and he is your Elder, damaged though he is. I know you’re trying to understand your attachment to Lucian. These first days are so hard for foundlings. If you help me bring my poor brother home, you may stay with us. I will dress you like a princess and give you everything you could possibly desire. Have you seen a tree, a house, something you can describe to me so my men can find you?”

Lucian wanted nothing more than to let the child see his heart and know he meant her no harm, but he couldn’t manipulate Lindsay’s decision. Either she would choose to follow her Elder or she would choose the easier path of the Fallen. Whichever road she desired, the decision had to be hers and hers alone. If he influenced her as he had Catarina, then he would always doubt Lindsay’s allegiance to the Citadel.

Lindsay sat on the ground, her gaze flickering from Lucian to Catarina. She was overwhelmed; Lucian saw it in her tears, and his heart was moved with pity. He said, “You owe me no loyalty. If you want to tell her where you are, go ahead. I just ask that you wait until dawn. That will give me time to be away. Will you do that for me, Lindsay?”

“Tell me now, Lindsay.” Catarina’s image shimmered with her eagerness and she leaned over the child.

Lindsay evaluated first Catarina, then Lucian, measuring each twin with her gaze. Her left eye narrowed at Catarina. Lindsay wiped her eyes and stood to take Lucian’s hand. “I’m staying with you. I don’t think you’re crazy.” She whispered, “I didn’t think Hell was amusing.”

Lucian wanted to weep for joy; his respite was short.

Catarina’s shriek filled the night. “You’ll tell me where you are, bitch-child!”

Lindsay screamed. “Stop it! Lucian! Make it stop!” She doubled over and pulled at her hair. The band that held her ponytail in place snapped free, and her pale locks tumbled around her face. She yanked handfuls of hair from her scalp. White strands floated to the ground in an ashen heap. Lucian dropped his cane and grabbed her so he could hold her with both hands. Wild with pain, she tried to twist away from him, but he kept his grip.

Lindsay didn’t know how to shield herself, and Catarina intended to seize the information from the girl’s mind. Lucian had been the victim of his twin’s attacks in the past, but Catarina always needed Cerberus to aid her in defeating Lucian’s defenses.

As he had in Hell, he concentrated on Lindsay’s mind until he felt his soul connect with hers. This time, she was aware of his presence in her mind. He startled her with the intimacy of his thoughts, but she didn’t resist him. Under normal circumstances, an Elder and foundling would use an opportunity like this to cement their attachment to one another.

Yet these weren’t normal circumstances, and he would not remain her Elder. He had no choice. Catarina would kill the child. Lucian shielded Lindsay from Catarina’s assault then turned on his sister.

He had no time to mourn his neglect of prayer. He scoured his memory for a Psalm of protection. Yet the only one he could recall was the Psalm Rachael used whenever she was threatened. “‘I cry aloud to—’”

Scalded by his words, Catarina fled from Lindsay’s mind. “God damn you—”

“—‘that he may hear me.’”

“—Lucian, don’t you dare pray against me!”

Free of his twin’s control, Lindsay sagged against him. Sobs racked her body.

Catarina’s image wavered. “Is this how you treat me after all I’ve done for you? You pray against your own flesh and blood for the sake of a stranger! Is this how you repay my benevolence? You offend me with your ingratitude.”

Oh, dear God, but isn’t that grand? He offended her. He wasn’t prepared for the rage that surged through his chest and flushed his face like a lightning flash.

Suddenly, his head rocked and he staggered beneath the pain shattering his mind. His heart hammered against his ribs as if it could escape its prison of blood and bone. Before he could recover himself, Catarina shot another blow to his mind that was the equivalent to a punch in the face. He barely shielded the child from the brunt of his twin’s attacks.

“Lucian!” Lindsay’s cry penetrated his agony.

“Lucian!” Catarina’s mocking voice echoed. “Silence! Or I’ll break you!”

The agony in his head blinded him, and he lost precious moments struggling out of the pain. When the encampment swam back into focus, he raised his head and locked his attention on his twin. “‘In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord—’”

Catarina flinched and screamed. “You will come home to me now!” Weeping wrath, she pointed one shaking finger at him. “Do not estrange yourself from me, brother. I am all that stands between you and suffering. Do not make that third pronouncement.”

“No more!” His voice thundered through the pre-dawn silence, and her features contorted as she shrieked herself back to her warm rooms.
In her absence, nothing stirred. Woerld was silent and the wood not so dark now that death had passed them over. Still, he couldn’t slow his pounding heart nor rid himself of the rancid taste of . . .


Fear soured Rachael’s mouth, almost bringing her to wakefulness before her dreams drowned her in slumber. On her blanket before the small campfire, she moaned in her sleep as Lucian’s terror bumped against her breast. She felt his heart pound; the same heart that had once beat in time with her own. His vulnerability disturbed her, for the Draconian prince she had known never felt so trivial an emotion as fear.

. . . no more, no more, no more . . .

We were done long ago, long before this dawn when he denied his sister three times. We are done, Lucian.

Through space and time, his answer drifted soft as ashes, I understand.

Then the fragile link severed and Lucian was gone from her. She wasn’t prepared for the vast emptiness he left in his wake. The darkness his presence held at bay came rushing down on her, engulfing her in a misery deepened by his absence. The Wyrm scratched against the back of her mind, rapping, tapping, seeking a way into her so it could use her for its own, but she cried aloud to God and drove the Wyrm back.

Tossing restlessly, she dreamed Lucian standing before her. She was drenched in blood and thrust her crimson hands forward, her life pooling at her feet. I can’t make it stop, she said as a fly whined past her face.

In the sky, a great dark cloud boiled on the horizon. Thunder reached the crescendo of a sonic boom. It was coming, hidden in the cloud, something huge, coming straight for Lucian. Her breath came in short bursts. She held up her hand, palm out to the blackness bearing down on them.

no no No No No. “No!” She sat up on the cool ground of their campsite, her arm outstretched like it had been in her dream. She felt Lucian’s presence return, nothing more than the faintest sense of his consciousness touching hers, but there with her.


Just her name and nothing more, because he had never called her Rae like the others. He always said her whole name as if he loved the feel of it in his mouth.


Just her name. Then he was gone from her again and so was her fear.

Someone took her wrist and she bit a scream to silence.


In the small encampment, shapes became clearer in the pre-dawn light that hedged the shadows clinging to her awareness. Focusing on the coals of the fire she and Caleb had allowed themselves, she tried to bring herself back to reality.

“I’m here for you, Rae.” Caleb’s voice dispersed the last of her dream.

He was beside her, close enough to kiss, and for one wild instant, Rachael expected him to brush his lips against hers. An image abruptly flashed through her brain, and she saw herself with Caleb. They were in her bed naked, straining against one another. He kneaded her breast with one greedy hand and pinched her nipple between his finger and thumb. She clawed his back and bit his shoulder; her hips rising to meet his thrusts as he pushed himself deeper into her. As suddenly as it had begun, the image was gone.

Rachael shuddered. Where had that picture come from? “All right.” Her voice was thick with unshed cries and the Wyrm snaked forward. She sent it scurrying. I cry aloud . . . oh, God . . . I cry. “It’s all right,” she said.

He nodded but didn’t let her go. She extracted herself from his grip; she didn’t want him touching her. He frowned like he read her mind and sensed her loathing. She shook off the idea. Caleb’s talents were moderate at best. He excelled in sensing the presence of others, but he didn’t have the ability to discern their thoughts. Only those with the greater talents could actually hear the thoughts of others.

“Lucian is on the move,” she said to break the uneasy silence. “He’s coming south with the foundling. Catarina wants him home to her. He’s denied her three times.”

Caleb blanched at Lucian’s name. “How do you know all that?”

“I drift.” Lucian’s word: drifting. That’s what he called the surreal experience of moving between dreams and realities during sleep. “There was a disturbance in the Wasteland last night.”

He gazed into the fields again. “The two of you always were too close.”

“He was shielding the foundling from Catarina.”

Caleb snorted a laugh and rose. He walked to the fire and kicked the dirt more violently than necessary to cover the smoldering coals. “We haven’t even reached him and he’s already started to deceive you.”

“There was no deception. He was protecting the foundling.”

“That’s what he wants you to think.”

Rachael got up and grabbed her saddle. “I’m a judge, Caleb.”

“You were a judge when he deceived you the first time.”

She choked on her rage and turned on him. His back was to her so he didn’t see her scowl. She said, “Which means I’m watching him closely now.”

“Are you really?” He threw the saddle blanket onto his mount and the mare danced away from him. He soothed the horse with a touch.

Her tone turned deadly. “I’m watching everyone, Caleb.” And that includes you, my good friend.

He froze then calmly pulled the saddle’s cinch into place. “I’m on your side, Rae. You know that.”

Do I?

“After all we’ve been through, you should know that.”

“But I’m deceived so easily.”

“That’s not what I meant.” He turned to face her. “Lucian is complicit with the Fallen, and he has Mastema’s gift for lies. That’s how he deceived John, Reynard, me, you. All of us, Rae, he deceived all of us. He’s dangerous and he’ll use your feelings for him against you. That’s how the Fallen win. They turn your greatest weakness against you.”

She didn’t like the fear she saw in his eyes, not at all. Yet it wasn’t Lucian that Caleb feared. There was something else, something deeper and the truth eluded her. It had something to do with Tanith. Tanith tried to warn her, but Rachael couldn’t recall the older woman’s exact words. They had stood close together in the courtyard, whispering so no one would hear, and Tanith said—

“Rae? Are you okay?”

Rachael started and realized Caleb was ready to go; she hadn’t begun to saddle Ignatius. “I’m fine.” She got to work and finished quickly. What was wrong with her? She couldn’t remember a conversation from three days ago, but her past with Lucian remained clear as day.

Caleb didn’t pursue their discussion as they took to the road, and she didn’t encourage any more talk. She’d had enough barren words to last her a lifetime.

The fields surrounding them were coming to life with farmers and their families working diligently to bring in the harvest. She envied them their normalcy and their easy companionship.

Ignatius trotted effortlessly on the good road, and the Wyrm receded with the strengthening sun. Yet she still couldn’t resurrect Tanith’s words. All her mind conjured was the image of Lucian comforting the foundling. He appeared ragged and broken with his tattered dignity drawn around him like a cerecloth.

Catarina was absent from his side and now Rachael understood why: Lucian ran from his sister as fast as his disabled body would allow. This morning’s dream had solidified her suspicions that something had broken between the twins.

The recollection of Lucian’s haunted eyes moved her heart to a pity she couldn’t afford. Yet there was something else, something Rachael could only feel, a desire he guarded jealously, and it had to do with her.

She thought she heard him say he was sorry.

Or maybe that, too, was white noise blowing in the background; words as sterile as the loneliness engulfing her life. The deed was done and though time had not healed her, she had reconciled herself to her emptiness.

His remorse shouldn’t matter to her one way or another.

But it did.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale
by Teresa Frohock
350pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 8/10
Amazon Rating: 4.6/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.5/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.21/5

Miserere: An Autumn Tale is a debut novel by Teresa Frohock and book one of the Katharoi. This dark fantasy novel will be followed by Dolorosa: A Winter’s Dream and Bellum Dei: Blood of the Lambs.

The Fallen would like nothing more than to gain a foothold into Woerld, the place between hell and earth, and use it to get closer to earth and by extension closer to heaven. Woerld is protected by the Katharoi, warrior-priests who use their special gifts to prevent the Fallen from reaching their goal.

Lucian Negru was once a respected Katharos of the Citadel. Yet Lucian’s twin sister Catarina entered into league with the Fallen and betrayed him, forcing him to make a choice between his own sister and the woman he loved, Rachael. For his crime of leaving Rachael in hell where she was possessed by a demon, Lucian was exiled from the Citadel and forbidden from using his ability to open the gates to hell ever again. Since then, he has been held prisoner by Catarina, who gives him everything he wants except for his freedom. He has learned the hard way that attempts to escape will have severe consequences, but when he hears Rachael is dying, he manages to escape anyway. As a crippled man, Lucian suspects he’ll be quickly captured and dragged back to Catarina, but he’s unexpectedly helped by a priest who not only reminds him he is still a Katharos but also gives him an opportunity to make amends for his past actions. As Catarina pursues Lucian using any means she can, Lucian is faced with many choices – and possibly a chance to redeem himself and even earn Rachael’s forgiveness.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale is an excellent debut novel and a great character-driven, dark fantasy book. It has strong world-building and well-developed main characters, both of which are handled in a way that sets it apart as different from a lot of fantasy. The strength of this book has certainly put Teresa Frohock on my radar as an author to watch.

A battle between heaven and hell is a very familiar basic plotline, but one of the things I really appreciated about this novel was that it was not the usual take on this sort of story. Other than one very short part, it is not set on earth, but a completely different place with its own set of rules. Woerld is a very complex place where all religions work together to keep the Fallen in hell where they belong. There are different factions for each religion, and gifted people from earth cross over to Woerld to learn from a chosen Katharos and join the cause. In this particular book, the focus is on the Citadel, which Lucian and Rachael both belong to (or, in Lucian’s case, used to belong to). This is the Christian faction, which accomplishes their goals through prayer and Psalms as well as their gifts, which are different for each Katharos.

The prominence of religion in this novel may make some wary, and if religion is a topic you like to avoid in your reading, this may not be for you. Personally, I thought Christianity was a basis for the story and not a conduit for an underlying message. The prayers seemed more like something the Katharos did to get a result like reciting a spell would be in a lot of magic systems. There was no strict adherence to rules – women could be priests, both Rachael and Lucian had fornicated with no guilt or removal of their gifts, and intermarriage between religions was not frowned upon. All religions worked together for a common cause so I felt more like this was the perspective chosen than a preachy book even if a lot of the general ideas did come from Christianity.

In addition to the setting, this book is different from many of the common heaven/hell stories in that there are no hot angelic beings involved and the Fallen are horrific, not beautiful or at all romantic.  There are no love stories between some sort of gorgeous fallen angel and a mortal, but instead there’s a quieter romantic thread involving a past between two human adults. This brings me to what I loved most about Miserere: the depiction of Lucian and Rachael as mature adults.

Lucian is 40 years old and full of remorse about what happened to Rachael. He’s crippled and a prisoner to his sister, and because of this he has lots of reasons to feel sorry for himself. In spite of that, the story doesn’t get bogged down in angst or self-pity and starts out with Lucian trying to do what he can to keep his sister from letting the Fallen prevail and amending his past.  Even knowing the basic details of what he did to Rachael, he’s a likable character who knows he’s made mistakes and doesn’t seem to think he’s worthy of forgiveness. The full details of what happened are not revealed until later in the book, but there’s enough there to get the sense that there is more to the story than what’s been told so far. Throughout the novel, he’s faced with a lot of choices – whether or not to rescue the girl Lindsay from hell even though it means breaking his promise not to open the gates and facing the consequences, whether or not he’ll let himself be swayed by Catarina, and how to treat with Rachael and the Citadel. I love seeing characters have to make choices since it really shows what they’re made of, and I loved seeing Lucian face them.

Rachael is also dealing with a lot since she’s still living with the consequences of Lucian’s betrayal, possession by the Wyrm that is slowly taking over. She’s internally strong and admirable, and she is not the typical young and beautiful heroine. In fact, she’s described as quite the opposite of beautiful due to the Wyrm’s effects on her. Yet Lucian still cares for her and seeing her does not change that, showing their relationship was not superficial. Rachael also impressed me because she was capable of being fair and looking at the facts. While she wasn’t ready to fall into Lucian’s arms on sight after what he did, she also wasn’t petty or vindictive. She looked for the truth of his actions instead of reasons to hate him.

The other characters weren’t as compelling as Lucian and Rachael, but I did like Lindsay, the girl who found herself on Woerld when she was chosen to become a Katharos. As the person who didn’t know how things worked on Woerld, she did make a convenient excuse for explanations, but she didn’t seem like she was there just for this purpose. This was partially because of her spunk, determination, and just how much I enjoying reading about her friendship with Lucian, but it was also because this was a book that didn’t just give everything all at once in a big infodump. There was a lot of mystery in the beginning with only vague references to what happened with Lucian, Catarina, and Rachael and the story of what went on before Miserere started.

As is often the case, the villain Catarina had the least depth, although I did get the impression from Lucian’s reflections that she had undertaken a gradual descent into evil. As children, the twins were very close and both were chosen to be Karathoi. Yet Catarina became plagued by jealousy when Lucian became close to Rachael and couldn’t bear her twin caring about anyone more than her. She had reasons for what she did based in very human emotions, but whenever we get her perspective in this book she just seems very vile. As she sacrifices to gain more power, she seems to be shedding a lot of her humanity, and I think her scenes depicting her as very evil may just be a result of meeting her long after she’d become corrupted by the Fallen. Personally, I loved that the main characters all had pasts and there were previous happenings before this book, but I also would have liked to have seen a little more of why Catarina was this way and seen a little more of her humanity. While her motivations that started her down that path were revealed to be very human, they still came across as spoiled and selfish and therefore not all that sympathetic. Some of her scenes did come across as a bit cliche or cheesy.

While there is a plot of overcoming evil, the plot is very much focused on the characters’ journeys and fleshing out the world. It is largely about redemption, forgiveness and mercy, reconciliation, and making amends with the past. There are some dark parts as well, including demon possession and a rape by Catarina and her demon familiar in exchange for power. It’s definitely not a light and happy book although that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom and nothing good ever happens to the main characters, either!

Overall, Miserere: An Autumn Tale is an impressive debut novel, especially if you’re a fan of character-driven, dark fantasy. The villain Catarina was a bit over-the-top evil, but she isn’t the worst I’ve read – there were at least some glimpses of a more gradual decline into evil and she has been in league with demons for a little while. Any flaws with Catarina are more than made up for by the well-developed main characters. Lucian and Rachael themselves are what truly hooked me and kept me reading eagerly, especially since it was a refreshing change of pace to read about mature adults who acted their age. It also has a world I’m looking forward to learning more about in future volumes, and I’m really looking forward to reading more by Teresa Frohock.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the author.

Read Chapters 1 – 4

Tomorrow I will have an excerpt from Miserere: An Autumn Tale, an interview with Teresa Frohock, and a giveaway for a copy of Miserere!