I am so excited to be kicking off the tour for Jenna Black’s THE GIFTED DEAD presented by Kismet Book Touring. I am a huge fan of the author and this new book of hers sounds utterly intriguing – magic and politics, a secret society, incredibly high stakes, a fight for control, and the potential for it to escalate into a deadly battle. I cannot wait to see where it leads.
I am currently reading – and loving – this awesome book, which grabbed me right from the start. There’s something about a story that begins at a cemetery, in the pouring rain, with a character whose behavior is not entirely honorable. So far I’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to Sergei Romanov, Isabelle Montplaisir, Lynda Powell and Jonas Farraday, all of whom are very different and completely fascinating. And I can’t wait to learn how each of their stories intertwine.
But more than that, I can’t wait to share the excerpt for my stop today, which will introduce you to Sergei, a character who may not at first glance appear to be someone particularly likable but who may just be redeemable, and who has a pretty amazing Gift. Of course it’s just a tease, and ends at a place in the story that will leave you wanting to know what happens next.
And maybe, just maybe, one of the other stops on tour will circle back to Sergei’s story so that you can find out. Or maybe you’ll have to grab a copy of the book when it releases on the 23rd to find out.
Anyway… if you’d like to know just a bit more about the book before diving into the excerpt from the first chapter, the description follows immediately below. And if you’d like to get more peeks into THE GIFTED DEAD, be sure to follow the tour. Each stop will reveal more from this exciting new book from this amazing author. The schedule is at the bottom of the post, or you can simply click the banner above for more information on the book’s tour page at Kismet.
And if you want the chance to win an eCopy of the book, be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter.
About The Gifted Dead
Add to Goodreads
Release date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Aardwolf Press
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows.
Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power.
Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn’t be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife.
What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.
AMAZON | GOODREADS
About Jenna Black
Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she’s an “experience junkie.” She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University.
Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like eighty percent of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.
Concluding that this discovery was her life’s work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. She is now a full-time author of fantasy, young adult, and romance novels.
WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | TUMBLR | GOODREADS
[Excerpt 1—intro to Sergei Romanov]
The cemetery gates were locked at this time of night, so Sergei Romanov pulled his rental onto the patchy grass of the shoulder and put it in park.
His passenger looked out the window doubtfully. “You sure we ain’t gonna get stuck here?” he asked—the first words that had left his mouth since they’d gotten into the car together. The man was trying to remain cool and casual, as if he dealt with the Gifted on a regular basis here in this backwater little town, but his body language said he was scared, which was fine with Sergei. The less Sergei had to talk to him, the better.
“Da,” Sergei said as he turned off the wipers. Not because he couldn’t speak English—the Anima Mundi had Gifted him with the ability to speak and understand any language with the facility of a native when he wanted to—but because it further discouraged any unnecessary conversation. Sergei’s research had revealed Randy to be a drug dealer who liked beating up his wife—and his girlfriend. Just being in the same car with him made Sergei feel dirty, and he had no interest in anything the lowlife had to say.
Rain thumped relentlessly on the windshield and roof Maybe Randy-the-wife-beater was right and parking on the grass was a bad idea. It had been raining for hours already, and the soil was bound to be soft, almost swampy. But he had to park somewhere, and his aggressive time-line didn’t allow him the option of waiting for better weather.
Sergei stepped out into the downpour, his hair getting drenched in the few moments it took to raise his umbrella. The ground squished unpleasantly under his feet, and the humid air felt like a hot, wet blanket against his skin. It wouldn’t surprise him if it was snowing back home in Kiev. He’d hated the cold and snow all of his life, couldn’t wait to move somewhere warm, but now that he knew he might never see home again, he found he missed it.
Randy climbed out the other side with a resigned sigh, hunching his shoulders as if that might protect him from the rain. Sergei had paid him extra on account of the weather, so the sigh was his only expression of complaint.
The price tag was still glued to the handle of the shovel Sergei had thrown into the trunk. Shovels were inconvenient to transport when traveling by commercial airline, and so far Sergei had bought a new one at each of his stops. Randy peeled the label off and dropped it carelessly on the ground.
“Pick it up,” Sergei ordered. “We leave nothing behind.”
Not that he thought a soggy piece of paper on the side of the road would serve as evidence, especially when there would be no sign that a crime had even been committed. But there was too much at risk not to be careful.
Randy muttered something under his breath too softly for Sergei to hear, but he picked up the crumpled label and shoved it in the pocket of his jeans. Together, they hopped over the short stone wall that bordered the cemetery.
The systematic persecution of the Gifted had ended long ago, but the Bible Belt of the US South didn’t exactly receive their Gifted brethren with open arms. In such inhospitable regions, Gifted parishes were small and young, their cemeteries sized accordingly. Even on this dark and rainy night, it wasn’t hard to find the grave they sought, with its freshly tilled earth barely hidden beneath squares of sod.
Roberta Quinn’s grave was on the outermost edge of the cemetery, uncomfortably close to the low retaining wall and the prying eyes of passersby. Luckily, the time of night and the weather meant passersby would be few and far between. Sergei wondered if she’d been buried there on purpose to keep her away from the less controversial occupants of the cemetery. Quinn’s family had fought a long, hard battle before her admittance to the Anima Mundi was reluctantly approved by the local Parish Board. Those who had been outvoted would probably stand up and cheer Sergei’s actions. But of course they would never know.
“Dig here,” he instructed Randy.
Randy shrugged his oversize shoulders and got to work, carefully removing the carpet of sod before stabbing his shovel blade into the ground. The sod wasn’t faring well in the deluge. Sergei hoped they’d be able to put it back cleanly.
The scent of wet earth filled Sergei’s nose, and the pounding of the rain neatly covered the sound of the shovel digging into the grave. Rain soaked through the legs of his jeans, and his feet were swimming in his Nikes.
He hated this. Hated it with a passion. Bad enough that Pietro di Tommaso had turned him into a murderer, but he was now a destroyer of souls as well.
If it weren’t for Sergei’s interference, the Anima Mundi—the Soul of the World—would absorb Roberta’s soul just like the Earth absorbed her body. She would forever influence the Anima, becoming part of the great being that granted magic to the Gifted and shaped their lives and their society. She might even someday become someone’s spirit guide, helping her charge communicate with the Anima and know its wishes. The Order had deemed her worthy of that honor, had eased her family’s grief by assuring them her soul would live on in the afterlife. And in one night, Sergei would take all of that away from them.
Roberta Quinn’s family will never know, he reminded himself, but the words were a hollow comfort. The family might never know what he had done, but he would know, and he would have to live with it.
The guilt of it all had nearly crippled him in the beginning, but it was becoming easier to bear as little by little he resigned himself to his fate. His conscience had almost given up on him, putting up only a token protest. His heart was growing harder, building armor to protect him from what he had to do to keep his little sister, Anna, safe. If he failed Pietro di Tommaso, it was Anna who would suffer for it, and that he couldn’t allow, no matter the cost to his own soul.
Randy made steady progress, his broad shoulders and beefy arms perfectly suited to the task. When he wasn’t dealing drugs or beating up women, he was a construction worker. If Sergei did the digging himself, he would still be laboring when the sun came up, his unfortunately scrawny physique not suited to the task. Even di Tommaso had agreed that hiring someone else to do the digging was a regrettable necessity.
Sergei knew they were almost to their goal when the sickly sweet smell of decay wafted from the grave.
“Jesus Christ!” Randy cried, standing back and covering his mouth and nose with his arm.
“I warned you she was not embalmed,” Sergei said mildly. A soul that was bound for the Anima was buried unembalmed in the earth in a simple white shroud marked with the symbol of the Gifted—the Ouroboros, rendered as a dragon biting its tail. The embalming process would contaminate the body and prevent the soul from being properly absorbed into the Anima. “Keep digging.”
Randy grumbled some more, probably under the impression that Sergei didn’t understand the foul language being used to describe him and his ancestors, which would have been the case if Sergei hadn’t invoked his Gift for languages, fearing he might miss something important. Besides, he deserved every one of Randy’s insults and more.
The smell became stronger, almost overpowering. Randy had to pause and climb out of the grave a couple of times for a whiff of fresh air, but eventually, his shovel had uncovered most of the shroud. Sergei shone his flashlight into the hole to assure himself enough of the body had been revealed for his purposes.
“Climb out,” he told Randy.
The big man eagerly complied, his face a ghoulish green as he tried to escape the stench by breathing through his mouth. Mud caked his work boots and smeared his clothing, the red tinge of the clay-rich soil a stark contrast to the sickly pallor of his skin.
“How ya gonna get it to burn in this weather?” he asked through his shallow breaths.
Grimly, Sergei held out his hand and called upon his other Gift, the one that had first brought him to the attention of the di Tommasos, dooming him and Anna to their current circumstances.
A ball of blue fire gathered in Sergei’s palm, but it did not burn him.
“Holy shit!” Randy squealed, then backed up so fast he tripped over the handle of his shovel and landed on his seat in the mud. Sergei didn’t think Randy was a particularly religious man, but he made a clumsy attempt to cross himself anyway. As if his God had any more use for a drug-dealing wife-beater than Sergei did.
In the past, the Doctrine had strictly forbidden the Gifted from revealing their abilities to the unGifted public, but that injunction had changed over time, and now it only gently discouraged the revelation of the more frightening Gifts. Healing magic and innocuous survival magic didn’t scare people, didn’t bring out the witch hunters with their torches and pitchforks—or in these days, the congressmen with their modest proposals and grass roots campaigns. Magic like Sergei’s fireball was another story altogether—which was one reason Randy would meet an untimely end when he’d outlived his usefulness. The fact that Sergei felt only mildly regretful about his plan to murder a human being showed how low he had sunk. Pietro di Tommaso considered the unGifted lesser beings, going so far as to declare they had no souls. Sergei had never shared the sentiment; he knew that even though Randy was the scum of the earth, killing him would be wrong. Just as he knew he would do it anyway.
While Randy sprawled on the ground, Sergei stepped to the edge of the grave and tipped his hand, letting the fireball drop in. Instantly, the wet shroud caught, blue fire spreading then turning white with the intensity of its heat, forcing him to take a hasty step back. It would consume the body as thoroughly as any cremation, preventing the soul’s absorption into the Anima. And then Randy would fill the grave back in, and no one would ever know that Roberta Quinn’s soul was no more.
Sergei was too busy wallowing in his own misery to be as vigilant as he should. He didn’t notice the sound of the approaching police car, nor did he see the flash of the headlights as he squinted in the light from the consuming fire.
It wasn’t until he heard the shout that he realized there was a witness and that Roberta Quinn’s family might learn what he’d done after all.
The tour includes the following amazing giveaway…
- 10 eBook copies of THE GIFTED DEAD
- 1 Grand Prize Package including a $100 Gift Card from either Amazon, iTunes or Barnes & Noble
Giveaway is International. Prizes are sent by the author.
Enter in the Rafflecopter below…
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Tour Schedule
Monday, September 8th – Fiktshun
Tuesday, September 9th – Books and Things
Wednesday, September 10th – Xpresso Reads
Thursday, September 11th – Addicted 2 Heroines
Friday, September 12th – Gizmo’s Reviews
Monday, September 15th – The Book Swarm
Tuesday, September 16th – Jessabella Reads
Wednesday, September 17th – Romancing the Dark Side
Thursday, September 18th – Literary Escapism
Friday, September 19th – Bookish