Spotlight: The Magic and Shadows

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Magic lurks in every shadow.

Slip into darkness with 11 action-packed YA fantasy and paranormal novels. This collection has something for every lover of the mystical and mysterious—from dragons, demons, witches and vampires, to shifters, mages, and magically evolved humans—even gods from Norse and Greek mythology. 

If you love romance and adventure with a supernatural twist, don’t miss this otherworldly collection from ELEVEN bestselling and debut young adult authors—only available for a LIMITED TIME.

A look at what’s inside…

More by T.M. Franklin

Haunted by terrifying nightmares and certain she’s being watched, college student Ava Michaels finds an unlikely ally in physics tutor Caleb Foster. But Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he's not entirely human, and he's not the only one.

Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bent on Ava’s capture, and possible extinction. As Ava fights to survive, she learns the world’s not what she thought.

It's a little bit more.

Excerpt from More

He was close.

Ava pressed back against the tree trunk, trying to hold her breath but only able to manage it for a moment or two before her lungs gave out, air sawing out and in again desperately against her will. Rough bark rubbed the skin of her palms where she gripped the tree, scraped her cheek as she turned her head to try and catch a glimpse of him.

Darkness mocked her.

Nothing to see. No one to help.

She eyed the entrance to her dorm frantically, the lit doorway calling out like a beacon on the other side of the concrete bridge.

If she could only get there . . .

If she could only get behind that door—lock it fast—she would be safe.

Safe.

The word echoed through her panicked brain, foreign and twisted.

Could she ever really be safe while he was out there?

“Do it,” she muttered, inhaling sharply as tension rippled through her. “Just go.”

With a shove at the tree, she ran for the bridge, heels clacking loudly on the path as her muscles screamed. She glanced over her shoulder, catching a flicker of movement through the trees.

No!

Ava willed her legs to move faster, arms pumping in desperation—reaching out and pulling at the air, as if she could yank herself forward.

Her breath caught. She could hear him. Footsteps chasing after her.

No—footsteps beside her—now ahead of her.

Where was he?

The better question seemed to be, where wasn’t he?

He surrounded her—harsh breaths and pounding feet—a low, mocking laugh as she leapt from the bridge back onto the path.

Only a few more feet to the door.

Almost there.

She reached out, aching to wrap her fingers around the gleaming brass doorknob.

Then with a blur of movement and a gust of a swirling air, he stood in front of her, blocking the way. Huge, hulking, and shadowed by the darkness, he laughed as she recoiled in fear, falling backward in her haste.

“Did you really think you could escape?” he hissed, reaching toward her.

Fingers ripped the icy ground as she rolled over, trying to crawl away, rocks digging into her knees and her palms, a bit of glass slicing neatly into the meat of her thumb. She winced, lifting it to her mouth to suck the blood, feet kicking back as he grabbed her ankle.

He laughed again, jerking her back with one strong pull and dragging her effortlessly across the ground. He bent down, wrapping a meaty fist around her neck, and she clawed it desperately, unable to breathe.

Lifting Ava off her feet, he glared at her, a flash of light catching his angry, mismatched eyes—one blue, one green.

For a moment, she was almost mesmerized.

Then his lips curled in derision and he squeezed, cutting off the scream curdling in her throat.

Horrid by L.C. Ireland

Delta’s family has been cursed. To save them, she makes a deal with the Horrid Witch. If she wishes to break the curse, she must kill an innocent woman. Delta will have to choose between saving her life ... and saving her soul.

Excerpt from Horrid

Tick, tick, tick...

The awful ticking seemed louder now. Or maybe it was just the clock on the wall doing its job. I stood in front of the clock and glared at it, hands on my hips.

“Stop ticking,” I commanded.

Of course, it kept ticking away, oblivious to my distress. Maybe I could take it down and smother it under a blanket. But it was too high for me to reach. Why was everything in this blasted manor so high off the ground? I knew I was short, but come on! I stalked across the room, grabbing a chair. At this rate, I would need to carry a stool with me at all times to reach anything!

Tick, tick, tick...

“Stop!” I howled. “I hate you, clock! I hate ticking, and I hate time, and I hate your stupid little numbers! Just leave me alone!”

Tick, tick, tick...

I was about to set the chair down to climb on top of it, but I was too upset to be reasonable. I swung the chair at the wall with all my strength.

There was a mighty crash as the chair collided with the fancy clock. Pieces of clockwork and glass rained down on me. The clock fell from the wall, shattering again as it hit the floor. For a moment, all was silent as I stared at the decimated clock. Its many pieces reflected the moonlight streaming in the window, practically glowing. Then…

Tick, tick, tick...

The ticking in my head resumed as if nothing had happened. A clock was only a clock, after all. Nothing could really stop the flow of time as it rushed forward, carrying me ever closer to my awful deadline.

“Please stop,” I whispered.

No one heard me.

Fading into the Shadows by Kelly Hashway

Ella Andrews and her best friend, Avery, travel to the world of Stellaris, where they wind up in a battle against the mythological creatures Draco, Serpens, and Scorpius. They’ll have to stop the rogue constellations before Stellaris drains the life out of them and turns them into shadows forever.

Excerpt from Fading Into the Shadows

I ran to my room, expecting to see Avery sitting on my windowsill the way he always did, but the room was empty. I turned wildly in all directions, wondering if I’d imagined it. Then I saw it by the doorway. A shadow. Not a person casting a shadow. 

It stood facing me, not moving. At least I thought it was facing me. It didn’t actually have a face. No eyes, nose, or mouth. I’d always thought it was creepy to feel someone’s eyes on me, but this was ten times worse. What I’d originally thought was the shadow of Avery’s shaggy hair now looked more like some sort of hat. If shadows wore hats. For a moment, I questioned if I was still dreaming. How could a shadow exist without someone to cast it? 

As scared as I was to turn away, I took a quick glance out the window behind me. The full moon made it unusually bright. I held my arm out at my side and slowly turned back toward the shadow, hoping to see that it was my own. That I was only imagining a male figure because I was hoping it was Avery. But the shadow’s arm wasn’t raised like mine. 

I froze, unable to look away. The hair on my arms stood on end. I didn’t know if I should try to talk to the figure or if I should run. But running didn’t seem like a good option since the thing was blocking my door. I grabbed the alarm clock off my nightstand, yanking the cord from the outlet. Not the greatest weapon, but it was the only thing within reach. I considered throwing it at the shadow, but the neon green clock had been a present from Avery. It was the last gift he’d given me, and with him missing, I wasn’t about to part with it. I raised it above my head, hoping the threat of throwing it would be enough to scare away the shadowy figure. 

It wasn’t. The shadow stood its ground. Not moving. Taunting me. Making me wonder what it was going to do to me. 

“What are you?” My voice was so shaky and high-pitched I barely recognized it. 

The shadow didn’t answer. But then I didn’t really expect it to, seeing as it didn’t have a mouth. 

Several things flashed through my mind. Avery. The missing kids. The figure in my room. I almost wished Officer Bobson was still parked outside so I could yell to him for help. I didn’t want to call my parents because I didn’t want the shadow to attack them. I wouldn’t have lost any sleep if Officer Bobson got hurt trying to protect me, but I never would’ve forgiven myself if anything happened to my parents. 

Then my mind went to the worst place. What if this was the thing that took Avery and the other kids? What if I was its next victim?

Art of Deception by JT Camp

Fallon has one more chance to prove she belongs in Hallowridge. Warren, Grainger, and Abraham are there to make sure she doesn’t. However, when plans go sideways, can Fallon step up to the plate, or will she continue to run?

Excerpt from Art of Deception

“Do we enjoy good girls?” Abraham quipped, pulling him from his musings.

“Not. At. All,” Warren replied.

“You’re both idiots.”

He stepped away from the guys. Between the three of them, they worked the best together. Adding Fallon to their group would tear them apart. She had no sense of morals. No sense of self. She didn’t even respect her family.

“You like her?” Abraham lifted his chin in the direction of the glass separating the rooms.

“No.” He shook his head, opening the file in his hand. “She’s trouble.”

“She seems like she enjoys life. Has fun.” Warren shrugged.

“Fun?” He gazed at the stocky lesser demon. Warren’s hazel-green eyes glowed with a hint of mischief. “Not at all.”

“He likes her.” He chuckled, catching Abraham’s eye.

“Yep. This should be fun.” The vampire joined his demon boyfriend in a quick laugh.

He shook his head. “She’s been in trouble the whole time she’s been here. Egging the Carmine house. Toilet papering the park trees for Samhain. She scribbled a horrible message under Mr. Hitchenson’s classroom window.”

“And?” Warren cocked a brow.

He blew out a breath and slammed the file closed. “Both of you are enforcers. You should be worried about her activity escalating.”

The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

The United States is now The Republic of the Americas, and the people are controlled by brainwave technology forcing them to believe that they are prosperous when in reality they are starving. A few rebels know the truth. But can they help to set the others free without losing their own lives in the process?

The Protected Prophecy by Sheri Downing

“We lived the illusion that we were safe. Maybe we beat this thing and could survive, rebuild.”

There was a bigger message behind the scourge that affected any living thing.  I’m part of an ancient prophecy that involves the oldest battle to ever exist.  Good versus evil.

Excerpt from The Protected Prophecy

We lie on our stomachs at the top of a hill, and I can’t believe what I see. Hundreds of people stand in front of a barn. It does appear to be a mix of healthy and infected, as the infected stand lopsided and their heads twitch. Ernesto decides we will remain low and crawl into the crowd. We leave our backpacks but not our weapons. He has the M16 on his right shoulder and the other gun on his left. He slides the metal pipe down his pant leg. I move the 9mm to the front of my pants after I check again to make sure I have the safety engaged.

Our adrenaline must be high because it doesn’t take us long to move in position with the others. Standing, I look around me and see tearstained faces of healthy men and women among the sick. One woman opens her mouth to speak, but the upper barn doors fly open revealing three individuals.

“Thank you all for gracing me with your presence,” the male in the middle announces as he lifts his hands in an exaggerated gesture of encompassing everyone.

Glancing at Ernesto, I mouth the word Fritjof, and he nods.

“For today’s enjoyment, I have with me—” He throws his hand in the direction of the woman to his right. Her fear is evident, and it’s heartbreaking. Shoving her, he demands, “Your name?”

The woman rattles off a few sentences in German, and I realize I understand everything she just said. When I glance at Ernesto, his lips purse and one of his eyebrows lifts. It is safe to assume that I can now understand foreign languages? No wonder everyone at Protetta spoke such good English. Another gift of being in the vicinity of the vase?

She pleads for her son’s life, offering her own. Dropping to her knees, she lowers her head and cries for him to release her son.

“No!” Fritjof yells. “Parents making these decisions without consulting their children. Is it easier for us to live without you? Than for you to live without us?” He slaps her upside her head. “You are pathetic.”

Moving to the boy, he cups his hand around the boy’s scalp. He wails in agony. His face distorts and his veins protrude. I can’t watch it. We must do something. Ernesto grips my arm and pulls me toward the barn just as Fritjof tosses the boy down into the crowd. “My gift to you! Enjoy, friends!” he screams as the frenzied react, mobbing the boy.

The horrific scene unfolds before me, paralyzing me, but Ernesto pulls me along, swinging his metal pipe and opening a path for us to enter the barn. Once inside I see stalls holding children. It’s apparent that the horrendous production we witnessed is not a one-time exhibition.

“Look! There is it!” Ernesto yells. I look in the direction he points and see the vase. He readies his shotgun, prepared to cover me, and I race toward it. Nothing enters my mind. I only act. I don’t hesitate. I grab the vase. I hold it, waiting on what, I don’t know, but nothing occurs. I’m okay. I can touch it. Spinning around, I see Ernesto. Fritjof is behind him.

“Put it back,” he calmly states. I don’t do anything, and he repeats it louder. “Put it back!” He lifts his hand above Ernesto’s shoulder. “You’ve witnessed what I’m capable of. So put it back!”

Ernesto shakes his head, and his eyes plead with me to not follow Fritjof’s instructions. Scanning the barn, I see all the children staring at me with hope. I don’t know what to do, what not to do.

Fritjof’s hand slams down on Ernesto’s shoulder, and he collapses to his knees. His mouth disfigures, but he speaks garbled words. Confusion crosses Fritjof’s face, and Ernesto tries again. “D-d-don’t. G-gian-ana.”

A hint of something reflects in his eyes, but he doesn’t release Ernesto. Moving the vase to my left hand, I pull the gun from my pants with my right. I point and fire. My eyes close. I’m afraid to open them.

The sounds of whispers and sighs fill the barn. I can’t look at what I’ve done. I shot someone. Maybe Ernesto.

Lamp of Light by Alex H. Singh

A Queen on the run for her life….

A Stepdaughter with no mercy….

The Murder of the King of Tibethia…

Only the light will prove her innocence...

Excerpt from Lamp of Light

“As she ran, the blood pounded in her ears, and her mind strayed far away, back to the beginning of the string of events that led to her current predicament. There was no way she could have envisioned such a turn of events. What had started as an effort at solidarity and peace, a joining of powerful families to save a dying Kingdom had steadily dissolved, revealing an evil of such tremendous proportions that she could never have possibly known.”

“She scanned the group again. She sighed inwardly, he had brought a lot of men to meet their deaths and he didn't even know it yet. It was all well and fine. What she required was a chance for a show of strength for the entire Kingdom to see, and he'd provided the perfect opportunity for her. The leaders of the family all stared at her with undisguised contempt. She longed to wipe the look off of their faces.”

“He'd never been too attracted to any woman before and it scared him. He'd always considered himself a master of the total control. Nothing could make him go above and beyond except he totally wanted to. Nothing could make him give up control at any point in time, no matter how important. He laughed sombrely wondering how easily his principles had faded when faced with the insanely perfect brightness she exuded. Her essence had given him reason to have a rethink of his principles.”

Warm Spirits by S. E. Walker

Following a lead in a family heirloom, Ariel arrives at 101 Borden Street looking for answers. When her ex-boyfriend shows up, she must rely on friends from both sides of the veil to overcome her past and discover the truth of her family history.

Excerpt from Warm Spirits

"So, Miss Ariel, what are you plans? You have your GED and your entire life ahead of you. Are you moving in with John and climbing the Taco-Taco ladder of big business success?"

Ariel blinked back new tears. A few more days and she'd be free. No more training school with teachers, counselors, and house parents telling her what to do and when and how to do it. No more answering to anyone but herself. Her future lay before her, and she didn't have a clue what to do with it.

Her shoulders tightened at the mention of John. John Robards was a man she would never see again if at all possible. Whipcord lean and only a few inches taller than her five-foot-four, he wasn’t a big man but threw one helluva punch. His mud brown eyes were rarely warm, instead they were muddy icicles as he barked out orders at work or his plans for their future on the rare occasion they were alone together. His hair was that nondescript shade between brown and blonde, already inching back from his forehead, just like his father’s and grandfather’s before him.

Nondescript and violent were the only way Ariel could sum John up. She refused to spend her life fearing any man. With two fingers, she traced the receding puffiness around her left eye, then the split lower lip he'd left her with just the day before. He hadn't taken the news she was leaving very well. He'd vowed to make her stay with him, open up to him, and love him one way or another.

When words hadn't swayed her, he'd reached out in frustration. His fist cuffing  her across the cheeks, first one way then the other cemented her wishy-washy decision into stone. Breaking up with him was the right thing to do. Hopefully she'd never see him again after her last work shift tomorrow night.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but John is definitely out of the picture." She hadn't told Rebecca about her last encounter with the twenty-four-year-old man who'd singled her out for his attentions during her first week of working at Taco-Taco. He'd pursued her though she'd given him no reason to think she was interested. Hopefully by disappearing he would give up and find a new hobby, like boxing in a ring with opponents his own size, instead of using his latest girlfriend as a punching bag.

Staring down at the table, the porch and the woman flashed through her mind's eye. "Maybe I'll try Goldsboro. See if the house is still standing on Borden Street. There might be a tie between this picture and my family. At least I won't be in Asheville."

"But your job? And John?"

"Fast food places are always looking for hard workers. Finding a job shouldn't be a problem. After all, haven’t you been telling me for two years that hard work will get me anywhere I want to go in life?"

Ariel didn't want to discuss the future. It was out there, but like Scarlett O’Hara, another Southern lady who knew about hard work and disappointment, she would face it tomorrow. At eighteen, she had limited experience and virtually no training for any career. "I'd better get back to school. I need to do some packing and work on my resume before lights out. You know how Mrs. Franklin is about curfew. I'd hate to get demerits for being late my last week."

While Rebecca paid the bill, Ariel's hand drifted to the bottom of her oversized quilted bag and touched the antique leather case. Goldsboro felt right. In the morning, she'd call the bus station about a bus heading east.

Alys of Asgard by Catherine Banks

Alys knows her presence is throwing the balance in Asgard off-kilter. She moves to Earth, but the transition is not smooth. Soon she realizes her adopted father lied to her, and with all she thought she knew stripped away, it's time to uncover the truth about who she really is.

Excerpt from Alys of Asgard

I pushed a button, but it made the screen change to a loud angry black and white vibrating movie. I yelled in surprise and covered my ears while closing my eyes.

The ground vibrated and then the noise stopped. I opened my eyes to find Stevens standing with the remote in his hand. He had changed into another set of weird clothes, but at least they were more normal looking than his other set. He had on a pair of blue pants and a shirt that matched the color of his eyes, turquoise. I was excited that I could remember the names of the items and colors, but I didn’t say anything out loud to him. Now that I saw him closer, he was very handsome. “You okay?” he asked me.

I nodded my head. “I tried to use it, but it got mad, I guess.”

Hushed by Shereen Vedam

For two long decades, TAMARA was caught up in a time spell. Awake, aware, not aging, but thoroughly silenced. Once released, she rejects any form of confinement, determined to maintain her freedom at all costs. Now a devious enemy is quietly working to ensure Tamara remains silenced forever.

Excerpt from Hushed

“Put your clothes back on!” her mother said.

Eighteen-year-old Princess Tamara’s ears still rang from the door slamming shut. Left alone with her daunting mother in this torch-lit chamber, a tremor of dread swept down her spine.

How could her first time in a man’s bed have ended up with castle guards carting off her would-be lover and leaving Tamara at her mother’s mercy? And where were they taking Thyel?

Buck up! She straightened her spine. This was no time to show weakness. She defiantly dropped the bed sheet. Retrieving her shift, she dragged it over her head. Then put on her discarded amber silk gown that Thyel had passionately flung off not fifty heartbeats ago. Her fingers fumbled with the ties at her back. It was hard to focus when she wanted to rip the gown to shreds. She controlled her temper before speaking.

“How did you find me?” Was that her voice, sounding so flippant? Well done, Tamara.

Mamosia, Queen of Ryca, slowly raised one elegant eyebrow. Tamara’s mother was not fond of flippancy. But then she was not fond of her at all, lately. “Do you realize what almost happened, child?”

“I’m not a child.”

“Your actions suggest otherwise.”

Summer of Change, Elizabeth’s Story by Sharon Coady

Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth believes in magic. A book about vampires intrigues her into researching the stories. When a stranger contacts her about her haunting dreams she’s thrown into a world where vampires and magic exist along with an all out war against humans.

Excerpt from Summer of Change

We have a wonderful life, and a lot of friends. I’ve just always had the feeling that I am missing something somewhere, like I don’t fit in sometimes. I often wonder if I should have been born when magic really did exist in our world. 

Bess says she feels like I do about the supernatural. She loves to talk we me about believing in fairies, vampires, werewolves, and witches. Of course, neither of us has ever felt like we could mention any of this to our friends. We figure they would think we were crazy, so we keep it between us. Sometimes our dad’s father would start to tell us stories about fairies, and Grandmother would tell us not to listen to him because they were just tales he made up.

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About the Authors

T.M. Franklin

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L.C. Ireland

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Kelly Hashway

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JT Camp

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C.A. Gray

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Sheri Downing

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Alex H. Singh

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S. E. Walker

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Catherine Banks

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Shereen Vedam

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Sharon Coady

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