FRIDAY SF & FANTASY – Phoenix Falling
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About the Book
A Wildlands Novel
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror,
Dark Fantasy, PNR, Paranormal Fantasy
Laura Bickle, the critically acclaimed author of Nine of Stars and Witch Creek, returns with a fiery new chapter in her celebrated Wildlands series.
In the Yellowstone backcountry, a merciless source of evil carries a torch for the past…
Petra Dee and her immortal husband, Gabe, have been trying to gain a toehold in what passes for ordinary life in Temperance, Wyoming—
a wickedly enchanted land founded generations ago by the alchemist, Lascaris. Petra may be adept when it comes to the uncanny, but as a reasoned geologist, Petra still can’t fathom the wildfires suddenly engulfing Yellowstone National Park, or why Gabe claims to have seen the sky explode in flames. The answers could lie in the past.
It was a dreadful night in 1862 when Lascaris went harvesting for souls, only to be set upon by townsfolk determined to eliminate the root of all evil in a trial by fire. Petra can’t help fearing that Lascaris has crawled out of the ashes of history to wreak vengeance—and to complete his mission by claiming every vulnerable soul in Temperance.
With the help of Gabe and her coyote sidekick, Sig, Petra must now venture into Lascaris’s shadow before he turns her world into an inferno burning out of control.
“Bickle is well on her way to establishing her work as a cornerstone of her genre.”
Guest Post by the Author
The Alchemical Showdown
By Laura Bickle
A sleepy town in Wyoming is the center of the magical universe.
Petra Dee, a geologist and avowed skeptic, wasn’t buying it when she moved to the tiny town of Temperance. There’s a bar that used to be a church, one stoplight, and a gas station, all on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. Hardly the hotbed of supernatural activity, right?
But Temperance is so much more than it seemed. Temperance was founded over a century ago by an alchemist, Aldus Lascaris, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. He left behind many of his alchemical experiments that still wander the back country. Petra’s faced undead cowboys, a drug-dealing magician, a basilisk, the ghosts of wolf hunters, and carnivorous mermaid in her time in Temperance.
In that time, she’s been forced to believe in magic. She’s acquired a coyote sidekick who may or may not have a bit of the Coyote with a capital “C” behind his luminous eyes. She married the last of the immortal cowboys, the Hanged Men, who fly into the shadows in the shapes of ravens. And magic has even allowed her to cheat death…she’s discarded her dying body in favor of a shiny new doppelganger body, courtesy of a homunculus cooking in the local bartender’s basement.
Petra has seen and tasted otherworldly power. But she’s never seen anything like the fires torching the back country. Wildfires threaten to consume all she holds dear – the park, the nearby reservation, Temperance, and even the alchemical Tree of Life itself, her husband’s source of power.
But they are more than fires. Petra’s husband, Gabriel, has gotten his wings singed by a flaming bird in the sky. A phoenix has come to the back country. It’s been drawn by magical power to complete its own alchemical cycle…but who has it come for?
Has it come for the Alchemical Tree of Life, which rattles in fear at the fire’s approach? The Tree has lost almost all of its children, the Hanged Men. Only Gabriel remains, and the tree has grown grasping and jealous, threatening to take Petra as one of its undead children…whether she wants to go or not.
Has the phoenix come for Pigin, the god of rot and decay who has emerged from his forest well? Pigin has lived on this land for millennia, poisoned once upon a time by Lascaris’s alchemical experiments. He’s been locked in a battle of darkness and light with the phoenix. This time, if he wins, he’ll bring death and ruin upon Temperance.
Has the phoenix come for Lascaris? Lascaris has found a way back from the spirit world, a way to return to Temperance in the guise of Petra’s father. If Lascaris summons the phoenix and succeeds in joining with it, he will have immortal power beyond his imagining, and his wickedness will rule the land again.
It will be up to Petra and Gabriel to stop the phoenix, to keep it from burning the world they know to the ground…a showdown to avert an alchemical catastrophe of untold proportions.
About the Author
Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.
Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.
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