A Witch’s Lament by Cathy Walker
Salem’s history of rampant darkness and death isn’t over yet, a fact Skye discovers upon purchasing a house in the infamous seaport. Salem’s bloody history unfolds with Skye’s discovery of ancestral diaries, a skeleton in a secret room in her new home, the murders of local girls, and her attraction to Jerome Phips.
The skeleton leads Skye to police officer, Jerome, whose mother disappeared 30 years earlier during a ritual in the house. Determined to uncover the truth of his mother’s disappearance, Jerome’s suspicion falls to Skye’s mom, whose presence at the ritual is revealed.
Past and present collide as an ancient evil returns to fulfill its own long-awaited task, while Skye struggles to fulfill a birth-task to protect an ancient knife. The same knife Jerome believes played a role in his mother’s disappearance.
Targeted Age Group:: 18 and up
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The Salem witch trials have always fascinated me, so when it came time to start a new book, I decided to use the trials and Salem's history as a basis for the book. The story is rooted in actual history, in fact has excerpts from the witch trials, but takes a more paranormal, fantastical slant to circumstances. I did visit Salem to get a feel for the energy of the place and be able to see the places that I wrote about in the book. I tried to have a good grounding and stay accurate in witchcraft, places, and historical events.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I am an absolute pantser when it comes to my writing. I make it up as I go. Not always ideal as I do get stuck sometime, not knowing what comes next, but I have tried plotting and it never works for me. My characters just appear when I need them. For me, there is nothing more to it than that.
When a crack of thunder caused the kitchen lights to flicker, Skye did a quick mental inventory of still packed boxes, trying to remember which one held her candles. The deluge of rain slapping outside sent her sprinting upstairs to retrieve some candles before the increasingly flickering lights finally gave out for good. Thunder and lightning now cracked and flashed at regular intervals while the rain beat fiercely on the roof and against the side of the house.
In her bedroom, Skye found the box she was looking for and dug frantically for candles and matches just as the lights gave a final flicker and went out altogether. Tree shadows danced in the storm outside her window. The sound of a window slamming against the wall downstairs, let Skye know that the wind had blown one open. Probably the library window, because it hung on side hinges that opened inward and she'd noticed earlier that the latch was loose.
With shaking hands, she set a candle on her nightstand, struck a match, and lit the wick. The candle flame illuminated her room enough to ease her jumpiness. Another banging crash sounded from downstairs and she steeled herself to make the trek down the dark stairway with only a candle for light. Leaving a couple of candles burning in the bedroom, she took another and stepped into the hallway. Eerie shadows greeted her as they wavered and jumped in response to the candle flame. Carefully, she made her way down the stairs to the library door.
She reached for the door handle, but sudden fear stilled her hand. Hesitating briefly, Skye became aware of the absence of all sound. Warning whispers brushed her mind, but she shook them off and forced herself to open the door. A survey of the room showed nothing out of the ordinary except for the shutter swinging on its hinges. Shelves packed haphazardly with books lined three walls of the room, while a huge desk and chair sat at the far end of the room in front of a full wall of windows and a patio door that led outside. Skye breathed in relief until a gust of wind blew into the room and slammed the shutter against the wall, making her jump and spill hot wax on her hand.
"Damn." She placed the candle on the nearby desk and picked the wax from her skin. Shaking her stinging hand, she crossed the room, yanked the shutter closed and latched it securely. An inspection of the wall showed a couple of dents and ripped wallpaper, but it didn't matter as Skye had already decided to peel the existing paper and re-paper with something that would brighten the dark room. She'd have to make a point of going through the multitude of books piled everywhere as well, just to bring a semblance of order to the messy space.
While Skye imagined what the room could look like with some manual labor and redecorating, an insistent urge drew her toward one of the bookshelves. Hardly aware of moving, she walked across the dingy orange carpet that she meant to rip up and stood in front of one of the shelves. Directed by an unexplained force, she lifted her hand and pushed at one the knurls of wood that decorated the edging around the bookcase. Nothing happened. She tried again and felt something move, so she pushed harder.
Wood on wood let out a wrenching screech and the entire bookcase swung out into the room and let loose a horrid musty smell. Tangled with the disturbed cobwebs and dust came the culmination of Skye's worst nightmares as grasping, bony fingers fell forward and raked through her hair. Panic flared as she shoved her attacker away only to realize she was shoving at a skeleton. Fresh terror wound itself through her stomach as she realized what she'd uncovered.
With a single wrenching scream, she freed her hair from the bony fingers and threw the skeleton back into the hole from where it had fallen. A sharp crack of thunder jolted her frayed nerves, while lightning streaked through the sky. The flash of light lit the room briefly. Enough to accentuate the macabre grin of the now still skeleton. Jesus. Skye shivered and prayed that her cell phone was working. Racing to the kitchen where she'd left it, she dialed the police with shaking fingers. No way was she spending the night in this house with a skeleton.
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