Please help us welcome author Hayden Thorne back to TNA today to celebrate the release of her New Adult Historical Fantasy, Children of Hyacinth. We have an exclusive excerpt to share with you as well as the chance to win one of two available e-copies of the book, so be sure to check out entry details below.
Author’s Note: This book is the fourth in a non-series of books whose stories take place in a 19th century AU Europe. In all of these novels, magic is prevalent and even practiced by everyone, including non-wizards/sorcerers/occultists, though ordinary folks can only use basic, innocuous spells compared to practicing sorcerers.
It’s also a universe in which same-sex romance and even marriage are accepted and considered ordinary. While country names remain the same, specific locales are made up in order to add to the AU-ness of the stories.
About the Book
Iulian Dalca is a twenty-one-year-old musical prodigy with big dreams. He’s also blessed with a hint of light magic in his blood, a gift that’s apparently unique to prodigies and whose purpose appears to be the developing of an extremely strong connection between artist and audience during a performance. Unknown to most, the gift of light magic also allows him a powerful and inexplicable psychic link to someone who remains invisible, a person he’s never met in the real world. It’s a connection that strengthens over time, a symbiotic bond whose purpose remains a closely guarded secret among the goddesses believed to have created it.
Cosmin Vasile is an eighteen-year-old young man living in obscurity and poverty in a rural village in the Wallachian countryside. Gifted in song, he spends his time adding to his parents’ meager income by weaving and gathering wool for sale, singing rustic songs he knows by heart as he works. He’s also plagued by mysteriously restless sleep lasting a week and occurring once a year since he turned eleven, though he remembers nothing of the dreams or nightmares that may have caused the disturbance.
Then out of the blue on two separate occasions, a once-in-a-lifetime chance at fulfilling their dearest dreams suddenly comes along, and youthful hope takes flight…
Only to tumble headlong down a nightmarish pit of old magic twisted for a darker purpose, where lines separating reality and decades-long madness blur. Haunting portraits of long gone students, a cursed mirror hiding a terrifying world of corruption and death, a monstrous satyr lurking in the shadows of the mirror’s world – time and hope for escape disappear as Iulian and Cosmin suddenly discover the awful price of being marked as the Muses’ rare, favored children.
The passageway never diverged and forced Iulian to sweat over which direction to take. It did, however, turn several corners like a maze, with no doors appearing throughout its length to indicate rooms. Iulian eventually reached the end, the long and twisting hallway abruptly terminating in that wall where the broken mirror still hung.
Iulian crept closer and peered out, seeing nothing but another room—the so-called storage room, of course—bathed entirely in deep shadows. The longer he stared, the more his eyes adjusted to the absence of light, and he could barely make out the storage room’s walls and even the solitary window to his left. With it being night, no light filtered through the glass, though Iulian still wondered if the mirror’s magic kept anyone trapped within the ability to see the outside world as they should.
He moved toward the largest shard of glass still clinging to the frame and peered through it. Unlike the empty space occupying the place of the shattered mirror, the remaining pieces worked as they should from within the mirror’s world. Iulian saw nothing else but himself in the glass, his image dimmed by the darkness of the passageway behind him.
He tested the empty, dark space and found it solid, no matter where he moved his hands.
“It feels like the mirror’s still there, but invisible,” he murmured, frowning.
And it did. The solidity of the empty space felt like cold glass, and when he touched one of the jagged shards, it didn’t feel any different from any mirror in the outside world. He found one that was loose and decided to pull it out, gingerly handling it and ensuring his hand stayed whole. Once it was free, Iulian fumbled for his handkerchief and pulled it out, wrapping it around the widest part of the glass so he could hold it safely.
He tiptoed back down the passageway in hopes of exploring the other end of it, instinct somehow nudging him in that direction.
A couple of corners later, the dreaded snuffling broke through the heavy silence of the area. Iulian spun around, wide-eyed, and searched the shadows behind him. The ominous clacking of hooves on wooden floors seemed to come from everywhere, and Iulian raised the glass shard before him without a second’s hesitation, though he knew nothing about stabbing an opponent should things come down to that.
“Boy. Smell him. Want,” came the throaty rumble, the sound again drifting out from every inch of the crumbling, rotting wall around Iulian. “Want!”
The clacking hooves turned into a terrifying thunder as the satyr broke into a run, and Iulian whirled around and bolted down the passageway, improvised weapon in hand. As noise and danger spiraled terrifyingly around him, Iulian fought to keep himself upright as the uneven floor threatened a stumble here and there. Ragged breaths burst out of him, his chest threatening to explode, as the noise grew louder and louder till it seemed as though the mirror’s world reverberated with it.
And perhaps it was a horrifying effect of magic and shadows, but even the air around Iulian smelled like frustrated hunger. The taint of lust seemed to soak every molecule, every atom till it felt as though the air had gotten heavy and thick from it.
Iulian turned one more corner and skidded to a halt with a cry. The satyr stood not too far ahead, panting and snuffling as always, this time its breaths sounding more like desperate groans as it regarded Iulian. Nostrils flared as it lifted its large head and sniffed the air with the urgency of unsatisfied need, and its massive phallus once again thickened and rose. Even in the near darkness, Iulian could see the tip beading with moisture. He shuddered in utter disgust and raised his hand and brandished the jagged shard.
“Stay away! I’ll cut you to pieces if you touch me! Stand back!” he cried, wishing his voice didn’t sound so high and wobbly.
The satyr growled and then groaned, head swaying left and right as it took one step back. A string of saliva dripped to the floor, its surreally slow fall capturing some of the light from a nearby candle and breaking the shadows with a small sparkle. Iulian fought back the nausea as he took a couple of steps forward.
“Take. Want boy.”
“Stay the hell away from me!”
A few more steps forward, with Iulian swinging his hand before him in a threatening gesture and the creature falling back in response, and the door to his room was within reach. Without taking his eyes off the satyr, Iulian fumbled with his free hand for the doorknob, found it, and promptly pushed it open.
The satyr, obviously fighting mightily with its basest urges, could only threaten a full collapse of the decrepit passageway by roaring this time. It threw its head back and curled its fingers as though they were talons. When Iulian threw himself inside his room and slammed the door shut behind him, he heard the satyr run forward, its frustrated howls tearing the silence beyond. He turned the lock so quickly and so violently that he was momentarily afraid he’d just broken it. The door shook against the creature’s furious pounding, and Iulian was forced to run to the nearest chair, drag it to the door, and shove it under the doorknob.
He eventually spotted the broken shard on the floor, where he’d dropped it in his panicked escape. Just as he dove for it in case the monster outside managed to shatter his door, the noise suddenly stopped. No warning, no fading, nothing. It was almost as though the satyr had been swallowed up by the shadows and had disappeared. As Iulian sat on the floor, holding his crude weapon again in a badly shaking hand, he strained to listen past his thundering heart and loud breaths, and he thought he heard clacking hooves rapidly going silent.