Title: Blood Hex
Author: Erin Butler
Release Date: March 29, 2013
Two girls. Four centuries. One curse.
Isabella started it--all because a boy fell in love with her--but it ends with Sarah.
They meet in secret, Isabella and Thomas, during the witching hours while the rest of the villagers hide behind locked doors. And even though Isabella's scared, she wants Thomas more. He'll protect her from the night, from his father who'll decide her future, from the paranoia-fueled hunting parties taking away innocents.
Centuries later, seventeen-year old Sarah runs away to an aunt she never knew she had. Her dad? Dead. Her mother? A liar. She wants the memories of a father she never got, but instead, discovers her father's death wasn’t innocent. Everyone--the Wiccans, the townies, even her quasi-boyfriend--are hiding something. The secret the history-rich town will kill to keep entangles Sarah into a centuries old witch curse.
About the author:
Erin Butler lives in upstate New York where winter is her arch nemesis. She prefers to spend her time indoors reading and writing, but ventures out for chocolate, sunshine, and to perform her librarian duties at a local library. She lives with her very understanding husband, a stepson, and doggie BFF, Maxie. Erin’s dreams of becoming an author started in Kindergarten when she wrote her first story about witches, the eloquently titled, six-sentence page-turner, “The Three Witches”. Now, she likes to write longer works for teens in many different genres.
The lights around the park dimmed. I twisted toward the makeshift stage again. Forty feet away, a figure stood tall, elevated by the 2x4’s that lay out on the grass only a few hours ago. A hooded black robe disguised the guy, not that I would know who he was anyway. The dark night, the material folding over his head, made him look like a faceless grim reaper. It was dusk and getting darker, the pink deepening to a rose red.
The robed figure lifted his hand, smooth, indifferent, a marionette being played with. His hand made a wide, sweeping horizontal arc, pointing into the faces of everybody.
My stomach twisted and turned into knots. Drake bumped into my shoulder and held out a drink as he sat down. Then, the figure yanked his hands in the air and a big blaze of fire erupted from the space between the stage and the audience. I jumped, deftly managing to spill half my soda. I barely noticed.
Flames shot up, reaching toward the night. The smell of gasoline used for ignition hung in the air. A few people laughed behind me. Drake even joined in. “Gotcha,” he said, leaning over, whispering in my ear. With him so close, the cologne clinging to his long, black robe smothered the wood smoke that had filled my nostrils.
I peered at him. He turned away and pulled his hood up. He was the exact match of the person on stage.
I sat with a wizard. I talked with a wizard.
I made fun of people for things like this.
Still, I inched closer to him. The fire, the reddish sky, the grim reaper, the witches, everything. It got to me. An eerie feeling tangled itself within every thought, like something hidden watched from just beyond sight.
On the stage, the figure in the dark cloak threw back the hood. The fire glow cast the face in shadows, an ever-changing kaleidoscope of orange, red, and black. The speakers thumped, thumped, thumped as the black hooded figure tapped the front of the microphone. The hollow sound echoed throughout the open park and bounced off the surrounding buildings. No one talked. They barely even moved. Only the slight ripple of the crowd as everyone inclined their heads and inched forward, awe-struck.
The wind picked up, fueling the flames. The blazed erupted, flaring up, lighting the figure's face. I gasped.
The grim reaper wasn’t a guy. It was Rose.
Drake peeked over at me, his eyebrows knit together. “You okay?”
“That’s my aunt,” I whispered loud, still trying to comprehend it myself. “What is she doing up there?”
"She's the leader.”
"Huh?" Uneasiness squeezed my chest, like the time I went to see that stupid Ouija board movie with friends. They all laughed through the scary parts while I spent most of the movie with my heart trembling and one second away from closing my eyes. “Leader of what?”
“This.” Drake opened his arms wide and twisted his body, scanning the corners of the five-sided park. “She puts all this together.”
I took it all in. Giant banners announced “Adams Colonization”, eerie witch posters and mannequins with stringy green hair and large, red eyeballs stared back. The guards along the stage dressed in old brown suits and hats I guessed were supposed to be replicas of what the first settlers wore. The costumes reminded me of pilgrims. They stood at attention, faces impassible as they monitored the crowd. The picture sank into my brain, this parallel reality where past met present in a jumbled mesh.
Drake leaned into me again. “Sorry. I should have told you.”
No wonder why she said she was too busy to hang out with me. I snuck forward a little, caught up in the surprise appearance of Rose. The arm that had been touching Drake instantly chilled. He was so nice. And cute. But the reason why I came here was up on that stage.
Rose’s voice rang out, low and seductive. “On this day in 1610, our ancestors inhabited a foreign land. Today, we call that piece of land Adams, Virginia.” Scattered applause swelled through the park. “Our ancestors brought with them superstition…and fear from England. Men and women, children—all terrified of one thing.” Rose's hypnotic voice was mesmerizing and I leaned forward even more. “Witches.” The stare of an old, wise woman lingered over everybody and when her eyes met mine, a pool of black reflected the licking orange flames.
“They fled here, terrified of the supernatural. They hoped to start a new life. One without the constant paranoia. They failed. Our ancestors lived in complete, maddening, unrelenting fear their entire lives. Are we like them?” Audible no's and descending grunts rose from the crowd. “No. We're not.” Her voice pitched higher, and louder. “Today, we embrace our history. Today, we stare the supernatural in the face and laugh at it.” Loud cheers erupted from every corner of the park and Rose shouted over them, “Today, we celebrate!”
Rose motioned to the side of the reaching flames. Two men in the ugly brown trousers and jackets nodded. “During this opening ceremony, we will conquer fear as they did back in the old days.” The men pulled at ropes, hoisting a cross into the air. Mounted to the cross beam was the body of a woman, her mouth agape in horror.
I drew in a sharp breath. I felt Drake move next to me so I turned my gaze on him. A sly smile graced his face. He put his arm around me, pulling me closer. “Are you scared?” he whispered.
I couldn't speak. These people were freakin' crazy. My eyes darted through the crowd, looking for a policeman—somebody—who might stop this.
“Don't worry. We always do this on opening night,” Drake said, pulling me even closer, rubbing my shoulder with his hand.
I wanted to scream at him to do something, to help the poor woman. He only sat smiling, eyes bright with anticipation. I knocked his hand off me and pulled away, but before I could wiggle free of Drake's arms and run to the fire pit, the cotton clothes the woman wore caught fire from the reaching flames underneath. My breath clogged my throat. I didn't know whether to scream first, or cry.
The flames spread fast. The waistline already edged with black char before the fire incinerated it. Dark gray smoke furled over the helpless woman and puffed up toward the blood red sky.