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Halos & Horns

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Halos & Horns is written in a style that differs from most books you may have read. As episodic fiction, each chapter is a complete story but the chapters build upon one another, composing a larger story. There are also Interludes - brief tales that serve to flesh out minor characters, or fill in gaps or backstory as a prelude to an event about to occur. Think of each chapter as a TV episode and each book as a season of a TV series. Some readers find the episodic fiction format somewhat atypical and nonlinear, but later are pleasantly surprised when everything that at first appeared disjointed is pulled together, as the novel draws to a close.

 


Paved With Good Intentions
ISBN 9781935971108

Softcover
332 pages, 5.5x8.5

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Paved With Good Intentions

Exiled on Earth, naive angel Gabriel and amoral demon Lucifer ― in the human guise of “Gabe Horn” and “Lou Cypher” ― form an unlikely partnership as private investigators in Las Vegas. Their adventures take them across the seven heavenly realms, into the nine levels of Hell, through the dream realm of the Dreamscape, and even through time to Camelot. Along the way, the pair encounter a wickedly funny assortment of angels, demons, witches, warlocks, vampires, and other supernatural creatures.

Darrell has devised some of the most imaginative characters in contemporary fantasy, including an intriguing array of protagonists (Miss Twitch, a Salem witch; Emma, a British schoolgirl and witch-in-training, and Morgan Summers, a Dreamwalker) and antagonists (sadistic witch-hunter Nathaniel Thornhill, a golem, a Paiute Shaman, the corporate vampires of Nosferatu, Inc., trampires, gangsters, and nefarious demons). Some of the vampires include Sharon − she’s Jewish, crosses don’t bother her; Pandora − trouble follows her like a shadow; Claude − he’s too claustrophobic to use a coffin; and Artemus − a 10-year-old boy who’s been a vampire for nearly 457 years. But the real stars are the ultimate odd couple, Gabriel and Lucifer, whose comedic banter and improbable escapades will amuse and thrill readers and leave them asking for more.

The book's central theme is the nature of good and evil and whether one can overcome one's nature. Lucifer, like all demons, is hedonistic. Coming from Hell, a harsh environment filled with squalor and suffering, he makes the most out of any chance he gets for pleasure, such as gambling (on soul futures) and drinking (Merlin Ale). Gabriel, like all angels, is naïve, coming from an environment of perfection, where there is no struggle or suffering, and looks down on Lucifer's hedonism as vices. Lucifer is a semi-tragic figure, seeking happiness which is almost within reach before being snatched from his grasp. His quest is to become more human and to overcome his demonic nature. But as Lucifer is moving toward something, conversely Gabriel is moving away from something, encountering a crisis of faith. That's the larger story. The Halos & Horns saga continues in And A Child Shall Lead Them.

And A Child Shall Lead Them
ISBN 9781935971115
Softcover
362 pages, 5.5x8.5

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And A Child Shall Lead Them

Picking up where "Paved With Good Intentions" left off, the second installment in the "Halos & Horns" fantasy series finds the angel Gabe Horn and demon Lou Cypher facing the Dark Gods in their bid for domination of the multiverse; Lilith, the mother of all succubi; and Armageddon! Heaven and Hell must join forces to battle a common adversary, but will their combined forces be enough to prevail against the coming darkness? Ditzy vampire Pandora is dating a werewolf! Resident witch Samantha gives birth to Alaric, but is his father Lou or the warlock Mordred? All your favorite characters are back, along with some intriguing new arrivals. And meet the kids: Emma the Cockney witchling; Síofra, the Irish changeling; Asabi, the African emere; Kaya, the Japanese hypnalis; and Artemus, the boy vampire. But how long can even these supernatural children survive now that the ancient child-devouring succubus Lilith walks the Earth once more?

And A Child Shall Lead Them is the second book in the Halos & Horns saga. Readers may wish to begin with the first book, Paved With Good Intentions. The series continues in To Hell In A Handbasket.


To Hell In A Handbasket

ISBN 9781935971122
Softcover

282 pages, 5.5x8.5

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To Hell In A Handbasket

Picking up where "And A Child Shall Lead Them" left off, the third installment in the "Halos & Horns" fantasy series finds the angel Gabe Horn and demon Lou Cypher questioning their roles, as each embarks on a personal journey to discover his humanity.

The cast of characters must adjust to the changes brought about at the conclusion of the previous installment. With the Devil taking charge of Heaven, Gabriel rebels, searching for answers in the most unlikely of places. As Samantha ponders his proposal, Lucifer finds himself a reluctant ruler. Síofra, the Irish changeling, must adjust to life hiding from Alaric in Japan with the ingénue Kaya, unaware of the girl's deadly secret. A familiar figure rises from obscurity to seize the reins of power at Nosferatu, Inc., while Morgana le Fay seeks vengeance for the fate of her son, Mordred.

To Hell In A Handbasket is the third book in the Halos & Horns saga. Readers may wish to begin with the first book, Paved With Good Intentions. The series concludes in The Witches' Cauldron, to be published in early 2013.

   

To Hell In A Handbasket

ISBN 9781935971139
Softcover

282 pages, 5.5x8.5

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To Hell In A Handbasket

Picking up where "To Hell In A Handbasket" left off, the fourth and final installment in the Halos & Horns fantasy series finds the angel Gabriel and the demon Asmodeus fighting for their lives against Baphomet and his demonic horde; Lucifer brought for judgment before the Eternals for the murder of Cholestra; and Samantha joining forces with her sisters Drusilla and Calliope against the sorceress supreme Morgana le Fay and the Dark Fae. Will Emma regret her decision to stand by Damien? Will Damien find a way to halt his rapid aging? Will Detective Mordecai survive? And if not, will he take the unrevealed secret of his daughters to the grave? An Empusae attack on Nosferatu, Inc.'s Japanese headquarters not only threatens Chiyoko's territory, but will change Kaya's life forever. Meanwhile, one character must journey back in time to 17th century Salem in search of the secret to defeating Morgana. But what other secrets does the Salem coven hold? No one is safe. As the Halos & Horns saga draws to its conclusion, who will survive?

The Witches' Cauldron is the fourth book in the Halos & Horns saga. Readers may wish to begin with the first book, Paved With Good Intentions.

   
Below are some excerpts from the series to introduce you
to a few of the characters in the Halos & Horns saga.

An Excerpt: Meet Morgana le Fay

(Sorceress Supreme and lifelong foe of Merlin)

Morgana’s grimoire grew over the next decade. She studied her spells and incantations, becoming adept with sorcery, and biding her time. She saw Uther Pendragon die, yet hid her ebullience, content to play the grieving stepsister to the newly crowned 15-year-old king. Morgana realized Nimue had been right: as a Fae, time was on her side. She would have her revenge, in one form or another, sooner or later.

And so, she waited. Patient, like a predator stalking her prey, poised for the opportune moment to strike. When it arrived, Morgana was ready. On that night, Arthur had retired to his bedchamber with only a flagon of ale for companionship. Heavy weighed the crown on one so young and still mourning the loss of the only parent he had ever known. Yet, as sovereign, he could ill afford the luxury of showing weakness, so instead he sought succor through the dulling effect of alcohol, in the opulent but lonely chamber. This Morgana knew, as she knocked upon its door.

The sheets were soft and the bed enormous, befitting a monarch. Was it loneliness or alcohol that had seduced him? Morgana wondered. Perhaps the young king had wanted to add an older woman to his conquests, or maybe he had been attracted to her all along. It didn’t matter. Morgana closed her eyes, as Arthur planted the seed of his own destruction.


An Excerpt: Meet Kita, the kitsune

(a Japanese fox spirit who can assume human form)

The sun had set. The fox awoke and approached the pagoda. She stopped at the entrance. The fox stood on her hind legs and grew, morphing into a young Japanese woman. The kitsune opened the glass door and, as the pulchritudinous young woman entered the building, she left behind a fox’s reflection on the glass.

The director of the Japanese division of Nosferatu, Inc. had her back to the kitsune, as she perused a handful of typed papers. The vampire appeared to be an attractive Japanese woman in her late 20s. The kitsune knew better than to trust appearances. The taller, elegant woman turned and addressed the kitsune. “It is done, then?”

The kitsune, hands clasped in her lap, bowed and nodded. “Yes, Chiyoko. I have tracked down the baku that was responsible for the disturbance and constrained it. It is locked away in a hutch in my lair in the Dreamscape, where no mortal or kyuketsuki shall ever find it. I have fulfilled my part of our bargain, Chiyoko. Now it is time for you to keep your promise. I want safe passage to America for myself and my beloved. ”

“You have my word of honor, kitsune. No harm shall befall you or your breather.” A slight smile crossed Chiyoko’s lips. “Tell me, does your mortal know your true nature?”

The kitsune looked away.

Chiyoko laughed. “Always the deceiver. But that’s your affair. Truly, I wish you a fortuitous life in your new den, little fox.”

The kitsune bowed and departed. Chiyoko poured a snifter of freshly warmed blood from a heated decanter on her credenza. She sipped the life-renewing elixir and gazed out the window of the pagoda, affording her an expansive view of a portion of the Kyoto Prefecture. For a moment, she pitied the ancient creature, so powerful, yet made so vulnerable by such a foolish emotion as love. “I doubt the Western world will be to your liking, little fox, once your lover has learned the truth and spurned you.”

An Excerpt: Cody Fenris

(Cory Fenris, a young Gypsy cursed as a werewolf and his sister Lupe, who can turn into a wolf at will)

Lupe saw Lamia advance on them, and she growled before leaping onto the creature. The demoness swatted the wolf with a single blow and Lupe was sent flying across the alley.

Cody turned at the growl, in time to see his sister smacked in mid-air and now sprawled motionless on the ground. “No!” he cried, as his blood vessels constricted in anger. His heart raced and his body responded, triggering the transformation not due for at least another hour. He doubled over in pain, and Pandora watched, as her boyfriend’s body grew larger, bursting out of his clothes. Cody’s face contorted, as his body jerked in frenetic spasms. His jaw elongated and fangs ripped through his gums as the dreaded foul taste returned, permeating his mouth. His skin bristled as the wolf fur forced its way to the surface. Then, Cody felt the adrenaline rush. He was filled with a surge of raw, bestial energy. His mind clouded over. He pushed Pandora aside, not knowing who she was, and caring less. The werewolf was filled with rage. He did not recall its genesis, but some vestigial instinct told him the creature he faced was his enemy. He did not care why; the werewolf was satisfied to have any outlet for its fury. He lunged at Lamia, ripping into her with his razor-sharp claws. 

An Excerpt: The Devil Gives the
Demon Lucifer a Task

The Devil was seated on his ivory throne, grasping the human skulls of his armrests. He rose from the throne of bones and stood on his furred, faun-like feet. “Thank you, Asmodeus. You may go. I wish to speak to Lucifer alone.” The tri-headed demon bowed and retreated.

“Lucifer, your time amongst the mortals makes you an ideal candidate for this mission. I will provide you with a glamour to appear as the wizard Balthazar. I shall send you into the past, where you shall meet Caliban at the start of his reign and protect him until you can locate the real Balthazar and free him. If you succeed, I promise there will be a promotion in your future.”

“So all I have to do is pretend to be a wizard, befriend some barbarian king, protect this mortal from a Dark God and her followers, rescue a kidnapped sorcerer, and… did I leave anything out?”

“Did I mention the Serpent Cult?” the Devil asked, stroking his chin. “The Nagá worship a hypnalis as their high priestess. Along with the Shadow People, they serve the Dark Gods as well, in that era.”

“Right. Man-eating snake creature and two-dimensional dark souls denied entry to the afterlife. You know, Asmodeus really deserves a promotion a lot more than me.”

“You’re too modest, Lucifer.” The Devil grinned and tossed him his pitchfork. “Catch!”

Reflexively, Lucifer reached out and grasped the trident. As soon as he did, he vanished.


An Excerpt: Lucifer Rebuilds Hell

Lucifer rose from his ivory throne of bones to address the demon contractor before him. “Abraxas, when I hired you as general contractor to oversee the rebuilding of Hell, you promised the job would be nearly completed by now. Instead, you’ve hardly begun.”

The cock-headed demon slithered to the throne’s side on his serpentine legs. “Lord Lucifer, that was merely an initial estimate. At the time, I had no idea of the considerable damage to the infrastructure that had been done. It’s like a war zone out there.”

“Of course it’s like a war zone! It was a war zone. Have you forgotten the realm was invaded and attacked by the Netherspawn? These repairs are taking far too long, Abraxas.”

“You must understand, some of the affected areas have no power to supply our equipment. Many of the fire pits have dried up and are caked with earth.”

“I realize the fire pits are not functioning. Ukobach has promised to get the Infernal Furnace back to full capacity shortly. However, the repairs —”

“The repairs will take much longer without power. My goblin crews have had to resort to picks and axes. It takes far longer to do everything by hand. Of course, if you want the crews to work longer, that will mean overtime. The bill could be quite expensive.”

Lucifer rubbed his forehead. “It’s all about the payment with you contractors, isn’t it? Your goblins never show up on time and they’re completely incompetent. It’s as if they were born with an innate inability to do anything right the first three times.”

“Now, Lord Lucifer, that’s hardly fair.”

“And you, Abraxas, offer nothing but excuses and more promises and then disappear for weeks at a time.”

“I do have other projects I must complete.”

“What other projects can you possibly have in Hell?”

Abraxas pulled out a notepad. “There’s the new brothel being built on the second level; the torture chamber on the seventh level; the doghouse for Cerberus — you’ll recall your son requested that and you approved it back on —”

“All right, all right.” Lucifer threw up his hands. “You don’t fool me, Abraxas. You’re an unethical, negligent, arrogant, deceitful, and lazy contractor.”

Abraxas shrugged. “Count yourself fortunate general contractors are all like that, else you’d never find one in Hell. You realize they can’t get a damned thing built in Heaven — no contractors up there, you know.”

Lucifer sighed, as the chuckling demon left his throne room. He looked up when Asmodeus entered. “It’s bad enough I have to deal with the work of rebuilding Hell without having to contend with demonic contractors. It’s going to cost thousands more souls than originally estimated.”

Asmodeus shook his three heads. “You don’t want to run over budget. The last thing we need is a contentious budget debate. The dukes and lords are already riled.”

“What is it this time?”

“It’s your push toward democratization. Hell has always been run as a dictatorship, with ruling classes of dukes and lords, the military led by Evil Tail, and the secular church headed by President Valac. There’s a pecking order from the dukes and lords to the upper-level demons, the lower-level demons, the goblins, and finally the Damned. You’ve pushed through civil rights for the goblins and now you’ve allowed political parties to form.”

“I’m simply applying what I’ve learned topside. Political parties are a wonderful source of corruption, bribery, and lies. We should have had them down here years ago.”

“Perhaps, Master, but the concept has unsettled the upper classes. They feel they may lose prestige and power.”

“Nonsense. They can participate in the process, as well. All they have to do is register as either Demonrats or Reprehensibles and they’ll have an equal vote.”

“That’s precisely the point, Master. They don’t want to be equal; they like being superior.”

“Pshaw!” Lucifer exclaimed. “Once they realize they can rig the system the way humans do, they’ll welcome the idea with open arms. Politics was made for Hell.”

“Be wary, Master. The demons of the Underworld are unused to the new freedoms you are offering them. There is the potential for your newfound democracy to slide into anarchy.”

An Excerpt: Meet Samantha Twitch

(our resident witch)

A tiny bell tinkled, as Samantha Twitch opened the wooden door to the curio shop and stepped inside. The shop was cloistered off a side street in an area few visitors to Copenhagen ever saw. The old man behind the counter did not look up as she entered. Samantha could not tell if he was ignoring her or merely hard of hearing.

“Absalonis.” She spoke his name in a loud voice, announcing her presence.

The old man gazed up from an amulet he had been studying. “Oh, it’s you. You look different.”

“I was pregnant the last time I was here.”

He nodded. “And the babe?”

“Safe, in the care of a friend. Were you able to procure what I asked for?”

Absalonis walked the length of the counter and knelt. His gnarled fingers turned the dial on a floor safe and he withdrew an object wrapped in a velvet cloth. “This was quite difficult to track down. I had to barter several scarce artifacts for it.”

“The spell I gave you in exchange shall make you a wealthy man, Absalonis, so spare me the sob story.”

“It would, had I the last line of the spell.”

Samantha handed him an envelope. Absalonis grasped it, but she did not release it. She directed her gaze to the velvet prize. “May I?”

He passed the wrapped object to her and she relinquished the envelope. 

Samantha unfurled the cloth and stared at the black marble rectangle.

“Don’t know why they call it a Druid Box. It doesn’t open. But my procurer swore to me that it was what you wanted.”

Samantha smiled. “It is.” She rewrapped it and placed it in her purse. “Enjoy your newfound wealth, Absalonis.” She pivoted and headed toward the door.

“Wait!” Absalonis cried. 

Samantha turned. “What?”

“Tell me, just to satisfy my curiosity, what is it?”

Samantha gazed into the old man’s questioning eyes. “A map.” Then, she turned and left.

An Excerpt: Meet Siofra, the Changeling,
and Kaya, the Hypnalis

(Siofra, a young Irish changeling who skins cats when she's bored... Kaya, a naive 10-year-old Japanese girl with a deadly secret)

“The darkness. The forest can be dangerous at night.”

Síofra blinked, and when her eyelids opened, her irises had changed from black to bright red. “Dae nae worry; I can see in the dark.”

The vivacious child grinned. “Cool! Can all changelings do that?” Kaya asked, leading the way down the path.

Síofra blinked again, returning her crimson eyes to normal. “There are certain traits all changelings share. But each changeling takes on the attributes of its doppelganger.”

“What are attributes and doppel-thingies?”

“Hmm, maybe ya dae need tae study more and increase yar vocabulary.”

“I’m only ten! Besides, you’re not much older than me.”

Síofra grinned. “This body may have existed for only thirteen years, but I’m a fairy spirit who has lived through many incarnations. Ya can ken a changeling by its eyes — they always betray a wisdom far older than its apparent years. A changeling’s physical lifespan may be short but our spirits are eternal.”

A concerned look formed on Kaya’s face. “You mean you’ll die soon?”

Síofra shrugged. “I may get another four or five years from this form before it shrivels away.”

Kaya pouted. “That’s so unfair.”

The changeling paused, turning to face the child. “Life is unfair. Tis filled with cruelty and hardship, and always ends in death.”

“Aren’t you frightened?” the child asked.

“I’m too mean tae be frightened.”

Kaya studied the changeling. “I don’t think you’re mean. I think you’re scared.”

“Nonsense.”

The strange little girls walked along the forest path in silence. Then, Kaya piped up, “You never explained what things changelings can do.”

“It depends on whom we replace. The Fae take mortal babies and leave changelings in their stead tae hide the theft. If I had been swapped for a witch’s infant, then I would inherit the witch-child’s powers. Had I been exchanged for a babe with the werewolf gene, I’d turn intae one myself. But I was switched with a mortal child, sae alas, I have nae unusual powers. I’ve had far more interesting incarnations back in my native Ireland, but the Fae magic is stronger there than in the Nevada mountains where I took this child’s place.”

“What happened to the girl you replaced?”

“Ya ask a lot of questions. Some are best unanswered.”

Kaya’s youthful exuberance was undeterred by Síofra’s prevarication. “What are Fae?”

“Creatures of magic. They may be fairies, witches, elves, or trolls. All sorts of magical beings exist. The Fae are strongest in Ireland, Scotland, and England. The Irish are the best, of course.” Síofra winked. “Ireland is the most beautiful place on Earth. The Sidhe, the Irish Fae, live in the grassy hills and fairy mounds, where they sing, dance, and drink their time away. Tis a land of leprechauns and pookas and magic. I miss the merriment of the Unseelie Court.”

***      {Spoiler Omitted}       ***          

Síofra smirked. “Dinnae be fooled by appearances. A changeling may look human, or even think he’s human, but we are Fae.”

“What do you mean, a changeling might think he’s human?”

“If an infant changeling is raised by mortals and grows up surrounded by only mortals, he might come tae believe he is one… for a while, at least. But we cannae change our nature. We are what we are: Dark Fae, whose souls are filled with evil and cruelty.”

“That’s not true. You protected me from those girls. You’re my best friend. I know sometimes you shout and do nasty things like rip up my lessons, but you’re not evil, Síofra.”

The changeling turned on the ingenuous child, and her soulless black orbs locked onto Kaya’s eyes, penetrating them. “Dinnae delude yarself. I AM nasty. I am mean and cruel and everything ya fear at night, huddled beneath yar covers. I am a wicked creature, a spirit of evil clad in stolen human flesh, thriving on others’ torment and pain. I am yar worst nightmare come tae life and ya cannae trust me and more fool ya if ya dae.”

Kaya shook her head. Starved for friendship, she was willing to endure the changeling’s cruelty and abuse. “You want people to think you’re mean. You told me you’re too mean to be frightened. But you lied. You wouldn’t be hiding if you weren’t afraid. I saw how you looked at that boy, Alaric. You were terrified. I heard you beg Asabi to take you far away from him. Why do you fear him so?”

Síofra thought back to their captivity in Lilith’s lair and grew pale. Her voice trembled. “Ya saw what he did.”

 

 

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