Title: The Curse Merchant
Series: The Dark Choir #1
Author: J.P. Sloan
Genre: Urban Fantasy Noir
His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn't be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's captivating ex-lover. After two years' absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen's affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of
underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save
Carmen from eternal damnation... with the Presidium watching, waiting for him
to cross the line. Baltimore
I brought my finds to a table near the microfiche reader and opened up my spiral notebook. None of the books were meant to leave the building, and photocopying was forbidden, so I had to take my notes and glean all I could. At least I was alone.
Or thought I was.
I had finished the chapter on the life of Simon Magus, a Samaritan during the first generation of Christian evangelists who had locked horns with Saint Peter himself, when a shadow fell over my notebook.
a velvety Arabic voice spilled over my shoulder. Mister Lake
I looked up to find the Syrian smiling at me.
I set my notebook casually on top of the Jesuit text as he leaned on the microfiche reader.
"Good morning," I grumbled.
The Syrian leaned over and picked up my book with a pausing gesture that at the same time asked for permission and left no room for refusal.
"Simon of Gitta," he recited. "A widely misunderstood individual, in my opinion."
"Misunderstood in the days of the early Church usually meant brutal death by torture, so there's that."
"Colorful stories aside, any serious student of soul magics would do well to study the life of Simon." He set the book down and narrowed his eyes. "Are you?"
"Am I what?"
"A student of soul magics?"
"Oh, no. That's not my particular bag of tricks." I elbowed the Jesuit text further behind me. "I just saw a show on cable last night, and wanted to do some more reading. That ever happen to you?"
"I rarely watch television,
Abominable contraptions." Mister Lake
"Well, all right then."
He lingered beside me, staring down into my eyes. I shifted in my seat, trying not to look horribly guilty of something I had no intention of doing.
"How long have you been a member of the Occidental Lodge?" he asked, finally breaking the tension.
"Oh, roughly a half hour, now."
He shook his head in confusion.
I jammed my thumb over my shoulder.
"New policy. Some crap about a restricted section and Lodge members. I just ponied up to get to the good stuff."
He nodded with a warm grin.
"That makes sense. You did not strike me as the ceremonialist type."
"Know many ceremonialists, then?" I ventured.
His eyes lifted at the corners.
"You are aware,
that the practice of Netherwork is not kindly viewed by certain elements within
the American magical establishment?" Mister Lake
I watched his face for a quick moment, trying to figure out if he was threatening me, or if he was genuinely asking me a question.
"Anyone with a brain knows that," I whispered.
"The question then becomes, are you a risk-taker?"
"I'm really more of a sure thing kind of guy."
He smiled and tapped on top of my notebook, making my stomach flip.
"Forgive my intrusion. Enjoy your studies."
He stepped away, grabbing a book from the top of a nearby table and settling down in a chair almost directly behind me. I looked over my shoulder a couple times, trying not to look nervous. The Syrian was studiously not watching me, which only added to my anxiety.
About the Author:
I am a storyteller, eager to transport the reader to strange yet familiar worlds. My writing is dark, fantastical, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, and other times hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed. I write science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, and several shades in between.
I am a husband and a father, living in the “wine country” of central
. I’m surrounded by grapevines and
cows. During the day I commute to Maryland ,
and somehow manage to escape each afternoon with only minor scrapes and
bruises. I am also a homebrewer and a certified beer judge. My avocations
dovetail nicely! Baltimore
Review of The Curse Merchant by J. P. Sloan
I almost am at a loss for words to describe this so excellent novel. Suspension of disbelief was immediate and unconscious: accepting “our” consensus reality as one in which magic is rather widely practiced, accepted, and utilized as a personal, professional, and politicial tool, was simple. I never had to stop to think “Hey, is this real?” because it just was REAL. The evolution and revelation of character throughout this story is outstanding, not just in the case of the protagonist, but also of secondary characters, such as his ex-girlfriend and his best male friend. Every character is three-dimensional, with depths and heights of her or his own, and even those whose deeds aren’t pretty (and sometimes actually evil) are comprehensible.
I am so thankful this is the first of a series (The Dark Choir) because I really want to follow the progress of protagonist Dorian Lake, formerly practitioner of Hexes and Charms, now “Curse Merchant.”