Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Book Spotlight and Giveaway: House of Cards by Juli D. Revezzo
by Juli D. Revezzo
Can you gamble with Fate?
As a young nobleman, Sinjon escapes the Reign of Terror in 18th century France to find himself dragged into an even worse fate–a hellish underworld wherein he is put on trial by a demon tribunal for crimes he never committed. Can he answer their riddles and thwart his fate, one worse than the guillotine?
There is an extract of the book below the jump and don't forget to comment to enter the draw to win a copy.
House of Cards
© Juli D. Revezzo
Embraced by the carriage’s comfort, Sinjon remained unaffected by the horses’ wild flight through the darkened French back roads. The storm clouds above hid the moon from sight. But Sinjon wasn’t focusing on anything other than the tarot cards he shuffled in his hand. The exercise did nothing to drive away the memory of his escape.
A flipped card, a second: Death stared up at him. His blue eyes peered at it through the darkness, disgusted with its appearance. He’d had enough of Death; the year was awash in blood: the Terror had decimated his circle of friends and family. The king and queen deposed, imprisoned, beheaded; their friends and supporters incarcerated, many families devastated. His parents were most likely dead. Why had his family hurried him off to safety? For Porter, his mother’s firstborn, Sinjon could well understand.
Glancing out the window as they passed a lonely, barren tree he wondered, But why me? It made no sense, given their history. Disdaining his mother for his conception, as the son of another man, most of the time Father ignored him or treated him as second best. His father’s family wouldn’t lend him a helping hand. His paternal grandmother’s home in Dover now might be the only refuge.
If we can make it. He hoped the cover of night, the serpentine route they traveled toward the border of Calais, from where he hoped to sail safely to England, would serve them well. He couldn’t count on his bastard blood sparing him the bloody fate of the rest of Paris’ elite.
The driver cursed as the horses bucked, jolting their anxious passenger in his seat. Cards went flying, the topmost landing face up on its neighbors. What was it? But he put the tools out of his mind as he jumped down out of the carriage, venting his anxiety and rage against the reckless carriage driver. “Stupid oaf! Have a little more care! I won’t be taken by the mob because of your negligence!”
“It was no’ my fault, Sinjon—sir. It was her!” The driver pointed toward the trees.
“She latched her wicked teeth into the mares’ necks!”
The mares whinnied in fear, yet Sinjon saw nothing to warrant it, just the empty lane. To its left, a tree, to the right, a churchyard, its gates shut tight. “Nevertheless, we can delay no—”
A scream pierced the night. Sinjon turned to spot an eagle as it landed in the dead branches of the nearby tree. Below its perch, the body of a woman hung from a rope around her left ankle, heavy and lifeless, her throat cut, blood dripping down to stain her white hair, the ground beneath her.
Surely, he was seeing things: the poor soul hadn’t been there a moment ago.
Ignoring the driver’s warning, he turned back to demand he lend a hand as Sinjon intended to cut her down. The more he looked, the less he was sure she was human.
There was something odd about her: the nails weren’t right seeming almost like razors, her skin more like wrinkled leather, her throat a little too long. Her eyes were altogether strange, gouged, yet whole; staring and lifeless, yet somehow they seemed to watch him.
What had happened to the right side of her torso, he couldn’t tell, but it was torn to shreds, strips of bloodied flesh hanging, ribs showing through the injury. Yet, when he tilted his head for a different view, the skin and sinew seemed almost woven together.
Something protruded from her back, but whether two humps, knives, or—it couldn’t be—stubby wings, he couldn’t decide. Or didn’t want to know the nature of what he saw.
As he turned back to his driver, a wall of ethereal flame erupted between them.
Sinjon fell back, staring in astonishment. The ice-blue flames crackled and spat, the wind gusting from the blaze was cold as a winter’s breeze. Beyond, noises of battle erupted.
Sinjon reached for his pistol. A screaming woman flew from the conflagration and locked her hands around his throat. Shock paralyzed him as she dragged him to the flames.
The fire engulfed them utterly. The hag hissed, baring wicked fangs. Twisting her grip, her nails cut his flesh like blades. He shivered in the chill of the unreal blaze, struggling for freedom. She laughed and tossed him about until nausea threatened to overtake him.
Sudden darkness blinded him. Chains snaked around his chest, his limbs. He slammed against a stone wall alive with spiders; the monsters sunk their teeth deep into his flesh, shocking him with unmatched pain.
“Where are you?” he screamed. “Come and face me, damn you! I’m not afraid of you!”
The inhuman hag stepped from the shadows. “Aren’t you afraid, Sinjon? I wouldn’t expect such feigned bravado, were you unaffected by tonight’s events.”
He pulled against his chains. “What do you want of me?”
She turned, not so much pacing the room as gliding around it. “I wish you to live up to our bargain.”
He went still at her words. “I’ve struck no bargain with you.”
She turned whitened eyes, as dull as a blind woman’s, on him. “You will satisfy your end, nonetheless.”
This is madness! “You can hold me to no bargain, when I have made none.”
She stepped forward, so close he couldn’t escape her fetid breath, and soulless eyes.
“Then you misunderstand the enduring nature of obligation.”
“Yes, you are obligated, Sinjon. And you will do as I say.”
“Never. I’ll have the gendarmes on you first!”
“Will you? And how will you call them?” She slid back into the shadows. Spiders skittered along his skin, their razor sharp teeth painfully tearing his once-fine silk sleeves to ribbons, shredding the skin beneath. Sinjon screamed, cursed, struggling against the restraints until his body rebelled against the effort and he lost consciousness with the strain.
Suddenly, he was awake once more. The hag stood over him, waiting. “Change your mind, did you?” she said.
Sinjon gagged on the reeking stench of putrid meat flooding his nostrils, and gave a contemptuous sniff. “I owe you nothing, but let me go, and I will come up with something that might suffice.”
End of Excerpt
Like to read more? The ebook is available at amazon | B&N | and smashwords
The author has one copy to give away, to enter, please add a comment and your email address. The drawing will take place on 31 October, just in time for Halloween.