Hi, friends! I’m so happy to team up with Shayna Grissom to feature her book A Soul Reclaimed, which publishes TODAY! Below you’ll find the synopsis for the book, an excerpt from the book, along with an author bio and links to purchase the book.
Thanks so much to the author for reaching out to me and allowing me to spotlight her book.
If you’re keen on blog tours, keep your eyes peeled next month when the tour kicks off on May 6th! In the meantime you can check out all the stops here.
That’s just a sneak peek at the gorgeous cover. Let’s admire it in its full glory, shall we?
Title: A Soul Reclaimed
Author: Shayna Grissom
Publisher: Sands Press
Release date: April 15, 2019 (today!)
Length: 192 pages
Synopsis: (provided by the author) “Hell is divided into seven layers. The king of Hell was lost ages ago, so it has been the steward’s task to sort the souls into their designated regions and maintain control of the world.
Nora is the steward’s stepdaughter, before the steward married her mother, Nora was an outcast. In many ways, she still is. After a heated argument, Nora does something inexplicable, and she soon finds herself out of the castle and in a forest with soul-eating giants. It’s then, that Nora meets Aegis, an immortal, who suspects Nora is more than an ordinary girl.”
Here’s an excerpt for your reading pleasure:
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten,” Peter said.
I knew he hadn’t. My birthday wasn’t a widely celebrated event, but Peter had a small cake waiting for me on my desk every year. My mother would never celebrate the day I ruined her life, but at least my tutor loved me.
“You know how I feel about my birthday,” I told him.
“I do, which is why I insist on making a day of it. Besides, you know how much Sarah loves the castle market.”
The second part of my birthday tradition was visiting the open market. He was right. Sarah loved all things luxurious and extravagant. It was something that reminded her of the fourth region, the place she once called home. Every year, Peter and Sarah would take me to the castle market, and we would see the most exotic wares.
It wasn’t that I disliked the market. I enjoyed it. Peter could be a wild card at times, my mother and stepfather didn’t approve of him. Within the confines of our classroom, no one could find the rumor to whisper in the steward’s ear. Out here, in the public eye, Peter’s presence could draw unwanted attention.
“Just don’t stir up any trouble.” I said.
Peter cocked his head and gave a mischievous grin. “Trouble? Me?”
He knew what I meant.
“Nora, Myrtle was dismissed ten years ago. I don’t think your parents want to hurt you. They didn’t realize how much it would upset you.”
He was lying. Whenever he started a sentence with my name, whatever followed was a lie. Myrtle was the first maid I had at the castle, before Peter and Sarah. A chubby midlife woman who didn’t lecture me for wetting the sheets or crying without reason. Myrtle was dismissed to punish me, and Peter knew it.
Peter sat on the edge of his desk to look at me. “I can’t promise everything will be fine, that everything will stay the same. But I can promise that you will always find your way.”
I wanted to believe him, but I am nothing but my mother’s old baggage, a remnant of a mistake Bella made as a teenager. The “something” she left at her parent’s house when she met the steward. The item she packed up and took with her from the fifth region of Hell when she moved into the castle. I should have considered myself lucky with my rags-to-riches story, but I’m an ungrateful child.
My mother found her happily-ever-after. Away from my grandparents with their rules and judgments, far from the fifth region, where zealots burned the heretics. The ruler of Hell had whisked Mother away from all her troubles—all but one.
Sarah rushed into the classroom. Her dark hair was wrapped ornately around her head, and she was wearing a blue velvet dress today. It looked nice on her; it matched her icy blue eyes and the coolness of her skin.
“It’s time for supper,” she said.
The three of us ate together at the small wooden table in my bedroom while Peter read poetry and funny short stories from the castle library. The rain tapped against the glass of my window that overlooked the garden. It only added to Peter’s poetry reading.
Sarah never showed any interest in this ritual. I didn’t typically laugh, but if I liked something, I would make a comment. Sarah’s cold demeanor was mostly ignored. It wasn’t that she was uncaring, Sarah simply did not express herself outwardly. Peter never asked me to change, so I didn’t expect it of Sarah.
“Are we planning on going to the market tomorrow?” Sarah asked.
“Seems so,” Peter said. “Are you going to get permission from the steward?”
Sarah nodded. “There have been reports of some strange activity at the border.”
I knew what they were talking about. The borders of the seven regions that divided Hell were coming undone. No one knew why. The steward had doubled patrols, but it wasn’t helping. More than ever, the souls of the seventh region were escaping and attacking the rest of the population.
Peter shook his head. “Outlanders roaming around the first region unchecked.”
“Choose your words carefully,” Sarah said.
Peter pushed his plate away and wiped his face with his napkin. His long, wrinkled fingers clawed around the napkin, balling it up before throwing it onto his plate.
“Until tomorrow, then,” Peter said. “Goodnight, Nora.” He winked.
When I stepped outside the room the next morning, I only saw a tracker. His soft leather uniform was covered with a chainmail vest. The vest not only served to protect the hunter, but it also allowed his hawk to perch on his shoulder without damaging his leather. The patch on his chest indicated he was a hawk hunter, but his bird was likely roosting in the barracks.
His gray eyes shifted nervously in my presence. “Where is Peter?” I asked.
“Where did he go?”
“He’s just gone.”
I didn’t like the way the man answered me, but it wasn’t his fault. He was likely instructed to answer this way. “Should I go ask my stepfather?” I asked.
I received no reply.
That night, I insisted on having dinner with Mother and Vinicio. My wish was greeted with opposition from my mother, whose eyes watered right away, knowing why I was intruding on her romantic dinner. If Vinicio understood why I attended, he didn’t show it.
He motioned to a chair at the long dining table. “Please, join us, Nora.”
The food was extravagantly displayed in heaps. The massive fireplace gave the entire stone room a soft glow. The table had a red and black embroidered runner, and fruits were stacked in glossy wooden bowls. A giant roasted boar was in the center of the long wooden table. Mother was wearing a red ball gown, her full skirt overflowing in her seat. She was wearing a little red hat with a veil pinned to her curly blonde hair. She had cut her hair since I’d last seen her; it was now bouncing freely just below her chin.
“You’ve grown into quite the young lady,” Vinicio said. He picked up several vegetables with his fork before placing them in his mouth.
“Funny how that happens.”
“Nora, please don’t,” Bella pleaded.
“I wouldn’t be here, upsetting your dinner, if you hadn’t dismissed my tutor,” I told her.
“I’m sorry we didn’t talk to you about it first,” Vinicio said. “But you’re a young lady now, and you need a more mature teacher. You’ve outgrown him, my dear.”
“And Sarah?” I asked.
“She left on her own.” He said.
“Peter says that only dictators fear opposition.”
“He would teach you such nonsense, wouldn’t he? I should have dealt with him years ago. Who knows what other stupidity he’s filled your head with . . .”
The steward’s hand rested within range, and I imagined stabbing him with a salad fork and watching him scream and flounder around in pain. The thin skin would perforate, giving way to the blood and bone underneath. The images were so vivid that I blinked hard to make them go away, but they wouldn’t quit. My head was indeed filled, filled with visions of the only man who gave a shit about me—Peter.
Vinicio jerked his hand away and let out a stifled cry of pain. He held pressure on it, and my mother looked over with concern.
“What’s wrong, my love?” she asked.
“I got another cramp in my hand,” Vinicio told her, but his green eyes remained on me.
Liar, my other voice mocked.
“It’s all those late nights writing.” Bella pouted.
I shouldn’t have thought something so morbid, but I couldn’t stop myself from thinking it. For a moment, it seemed like Vinicio was reacting to what I’d imagined, but that couldn’t be. The truth was all too blatant. I am powerless and subjected to the whims of my mother and stepfather. They had given me Peter, Sarah, and Myrtle, and they had taken them away without a second thought.
“We’ll get you a new tutor soon,” Mother promised.
The steward excused himself. “Ladies, it’s been a privilege, but I’m afraid I have some soul placement to do. Please stay and enjoy dessert.” He kissed my mother and left.
Chocolate cake with cherries was served, and I glared at her.
“Please don’t look at me like that.”
“Was it because I was happy?” I asked.
“Sweetheart, I want you to be happy. Why can’t you understand? I’m doing the best I can for you.”
“This is your best?”
All I wanted was Peter; why was that so hard? I could forgive the dismissal of Myrtle all those years ago, but not Peter. They couldn’t take Peter away from me.
A servant walked in with two small drinks. “Special compliments of the steward—honeyed wine.”
I couldn’t stand being in the same room as my mother and her pathetic counter-guilt trip. I drank the sweet, fermented drink as fast as I could before I got up from the table. Mother was crying as she always did. I hated seeing her cry, but I couldn’t back down this time. I didn’t want to punish her; I just wanted Peter back.
I didn’t remember returning to my bedroom. The wine went to my head, and I felt nauseous. I rippled beneath the surface of consciousness. I heard the crunching of steps and faint whispers. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fight sleep. Even the chill of night air and the feeling of soft, damp grass could not rouse me.
You can purchase this book via Kobo (e-book) and will later be available at other retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Chapters Indigo.
About the Author:
Shayna Grissom was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She currently resides in Seattle with her husband, two children, and her beloved pets. Shayna draws inspiration for her writings from binge-watching too many shows with far too much wine. She is a lover of the macabre, the strange, natural sciences, and films that feature vivid colors and imagery. Her favorite film director is Guillermo Del Toro, and her favorite books growing up were Anne Rice novels. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.