Spotlight on Witchshadow (Susan Dennard), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to spotlight Witchshadow by Susan Dennard.
Read on for more about Susan and her book, an excerpt, plus an giveaway!
Meet Susan Dennard!
SUSAN DENNARD is the author of the New York Times bestselling Witchlands series as well as the Something Strange and Deadly series. She has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, slaying darkspawn on her Xbox, or earning bruises at the dojo. Visit her online athttps://susandennard.com/.
Iseult has found her heartsister Safi at last, but their reunion is brief. For Iseult to stay alive, she must flee Cartorra while Safi remains. And though Iseult has plans to save her friend, they will require her to summon magic more dangerous than anything she has ever faced before. Meanwhile, the Bloodwitch Aeduan is beset by forces he cannot understand. And Vivia—rightful queen of Nubrevna—finds herself without a crown or home.
As villains from legend reawaken across the Witchlands, only the mythical Cahr Awen can stop the gathering war. Iseult could embrace this power and heal the land, but first she must choose on which side of the shadows her destiny will lie.
~ Excerpt ~
Excerpt from WITCHSHADOW
Iseult stared down at the dead man. He had looked peaceful in his final
moments, when resignation had swept in. If not for the blood and entrails,
he might’ve been asleep.
It was midnight; the moon was high and full. A Threadwitching night,
Iseult’s mother would’ve called it. When the Moon Mother’s glow washes
away all color, leaving only Threads. Leaving only our work.
Little good that had done Iseult. She had been no Threadwitch then,
when she’d wanted it most, when her mother had wanted it most. And she
certainly was no Threadwitch now. Even her Weaverwitchery was no use
here. The man was too dead to reanimate (not that Iseult had tried that
magic yet), and he lacked the Severed Threads of the Cleaved.
He was nothing more than a cold corpse who had something she wanted.
With a steeling breath, Iseult knelt beside him. Her gloves, stolen from
camp, were intended for a larger person, but it was better to be clumsy than
risk touching the chain before she was ready.
Touching it not only hurt, but it connected her in ways she didn’t understand
to Emperor Henrick. She’d discovered that entirely by accident
after a Hell-Bard
kill one week ago. And since, in theory, all Hell-Bards
were bound to Henrick, and Henrick was bound to Safi, then perhaps . . .
Please, Iseult prayed as she slipped her fingers around the gold chain.
The corpse’s skin was stiff behind it. With a small knife from a thigh
holster she’d found at camp, she set to sawing. She sawed and sawed and
sawed. She yanked, she twisted, she pulled. But to no avail. The noose was
like the wooden heretic’s collar: it could not be removed.
Iseult had known this might be a possibility, even if she’d fervently
hoped otherwise. And she could not let a squeamish stomach get in her way.
Qualms and regrets belonged to the old Iseult. The one who had hidden
within scarves and hoods. The one who’d let everyone else decide who she
was, who she should be.
That old Iseult had ruined countless lives. Whatever she’d touched had
unraveled. Whomever she’d loved had been cleft in two.
But no more. She was the Puppeteer now, and Puppeteers felt no regret.
Now Iseult unraveled what she wanted. Now she chose whom to cleave in two.
Sever, sever, twist and sever.
Yes, the weasel purred in her mind, and for once, Iseult did not push
After replacing the knife at her thigh, Iseult unsheathed her sword. His
sword. A few cautious swings to line up her aim . . . Then she swung with
all her might at his neck.
Shock waves boomed up Iseult’s arms, but she managed to sever the
spine and get the blade almost out the other side. His head flopped sideways
and hung upside down with eyes staring. Only a few strands of muscle
and sinew held it on.
“Sorry,” she mumbled, though she didn’t know why. She’d killed the
man, after all, and had not apologized then.
Two more practice swings, then she arced the blade through once more.
It slid easily this time. The head finished its gruesome fall beside the Hell-Bard’s
thighs, and he did not look like he was sleeping now.
Iseult stoutly avoided his dead stare while she hooked her thumb beneath
his noose. It slid upward, past the tattered edges of his neck, past the
pointed remnant of his spine. Then it was off completely. After scrubbing
away blood with her gloves, Iseult tucked the chain into her cloak’s pocket
and set off for camp.
She did not look back.
Soon enough, she was in the hut once more, before the table and before
the diary pages. The weasel glared at her from her spot beside Owl. She’d
wanted to join Iseult, but Iseult had made her stay behind to stand watch.
“I have a new plan,” Iseult told her as she sank onto the stool. Instantly
the weasel’s glare melted. She scampered toward the table, shimmied up a
wooden leg, and came to a stop beside the lantern. Her excitement was palpable.
She was bright and bubbly, as she often had been in her human life.
Or maybe that was Iseult’s own excitement. Her heart hammered. Her
hands, for some reason, trembled, and heat gathered on her back and in
her face. This was going to work. She was certain of it.
The golden noose glittered on the table, winking in the lantern’s uneven
glow. The hut had grown hot from the stove; Iseult peeled off her outer
cloak. Comfort, Eridysi’s notes said, is critical. One must be able to relax the
body, and relax the mind.
After draping the chain over her thigh and removing her gloves, Iseult
repeated the steps she’d tried before. Breathing in, breathing out. Staring
into the lantern’s flame, focusing on both the light and Safi’s face. Until
finally, she placed her hands over her thighs, over the chain. Breathe in,
out, in, out . . .
Cold crashed into her. Her lungs compressed. Her whole body sharpened,
even as her hand seared. She did not let go. Hell-Bard
ice could not
stop her. Safi, Safi, Safi. In. Out. In. Out. Safi, Safi, Safi—The
world fell away.
It was the Dreaming. Iseult knew that right away—only
in the Dreaming
was there so much gray, so much empty space with nothing inside. But
this was different from what Iseult had experienced before, when she’d
first communicated with Esme. Or when she’d met the Rook King in her
sleep. There was movement in this great expanse. Pulsing and writhing.
She saw it, she felt it, like a riptide bearing down, gentle at first. Then
rougher, harder, as each frozen breath passed.
The magic was working.
Safi, Safi, Safi. In. Out. In. Out.
Pressure increased around Iseult. Her ears popped. Her breath fogged.
She felt brittle and thin, like she was being stretched out, her very soul
pulled taut as a bowstring.
Safi, Safi, Safi. In. Out. In. Out.
That was when the voices began and the figures appeared. One moment,
nothing spanned before her; the next, a stampede of shadows rammed into
They poked, they grabbed, they dug into her flesh and yanked her
while they whispered in tongues she could not understand. She
tried to ignore them at first, even as faces began to form, made of Aether
and Threads, sparkling, bright, colorful. Yet also tainted by the shadow of
The deeper she pressed, the more each face looked human, and the
more she tried to scan them as they rushed against her. Because even in
all this madness, the logical, detached part of Iseult’s brain knew where
This had to be the Hell-Bard
Loom. She was inside the Hell-Bard
and somewhere amidst these thousands of souls, thousands of ghosts, her
A shadow slammed into Iseult, grinning and hungry. It bellowed wordlessly,
frozen fingers scraping into her skin. Then another shadow came from behind. From the left, from the right, until she was surrounded.
Trapped. She could not move and could not see.
Safi! she screamed, though no sound came out. Only fog that crystallized
The voices filled every piece of her, their hands ripped and shredded.
She felt trapped by their anger, and no amount of struggling would let her
This is what drowning feels like, she thought as she was dragged beneath
an ocean of forgotten souls who were bound for all eternity to a Hell-Bard
Loom. Yet before she could crumble away forever, a figure moved over her.
Fully formed, fully alive.
Relief washed through Iseult. This person would help her, just as the
Rook King had helped her before. She was not be lost to drowning. She
would not crumble yet. But then the person’s face coalesced: a pointed chin
and long jaw framed by black hair, graying at the temples. His yellow-hued
eyes were small, his lashes short, and on his forehead were deep trenches
that made him seem forever mildly surprised.
He looked mildly surprised now, turquoise frothing within his bright
there was pink pleasure in those Threads too.
“Ah,” he said, a smile sliding over his face. “I had been wondering when
you would finally step inside.” Corlant’s hand reached for her face, fingers
long and spindly. “It will be easier if we meet in the real world, though,
Iseult det Midenzi. I will be waiting.”
He shoved. Iseult screamed.
The Dreaming ended.
By: Susan Dennard
Release Date: June 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Two winners will each receive a copy of Witchshadow (Susan Dennard) ~ (US Only)
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