Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Co. virtual book tour for A.K. Faulkner’s LGBTQ+ Urban Fantasy novel Lord of Ravens! Today, I am excited to help kickoff the tour by sharing with you an excerpt straight from the book!
You can find our interview below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, links to purchase a copy of Lord of Ravens for yourself, and a chance to win a copy in our giveaway! Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule here or at the bottom of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts!
Lord of Ravens by A.K. Faulkner
Series: Inheritance #3
Genre: LGBTQ+ Urban Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Ravensword Press (Self Published)
The hunt is on. But is Laurence the hunter—or the prey?
Laurence Riley’s heritage is catching up with him, and he didn’t even know he had one. Being descended from Herne the Hunter may have advantages, but the downside outweighs them all. He’s denied his need to seek prey for too long, and now the urge is out of control.
He isn’t the only hunter on the loose. Something ancient is coming to take Quentin home, a nightmarish creature who feasts on the flesh of children. Outmatched and overwhelmed, Laurence must embrace Herne’s power to stand a chance against this evil.
Everyone Laurence loves faces destruction unless he can learn magic. But first, he’s going to need a teacher.
X-Men • The Magicians • Lucifer
Universal Link: https://discoverinheritance.com/books/lord-of-ravens
Quentin checked over the delivery manifest as workmen unwrapped the new furniture for the living room. Three sofas, a coffee table, a couple of side tables for lamps to sit on, and a chest of drawers. He wasn’t sure what they might use a chest of drawers for, but it seemed to be the sort of thing people should have in a living room, so he’d gone ahead and ordered one.
Pepper and Grace were sleeping off their run in the corner of the room, but Quentin eyed them now and then to ensure nobody was about to step on a tail. Soraya came and went, too, eager to poke her nose in, but not so eager that she was willing to stick around when there were far more interesting things going on in the world of her mobile phone.
Quentin peered at each item of furniture as it was unwrapped, checking it over to ensure it was what he’d ordered and that there was no damage, and only once he was satisfied did he sign for receipt of the goods.
The study furniture wouldn’t arrive for a few more days, and new lighting would be here next week. Everything was almost on schedule, albeit with a day’s delay here and there, but so far nothing had overlapped and caused a problem.
He showed the delivery fellows out of the door. The only workmen in the building now were the ones stripping wallpaper and carpet from the stairs, and Quentin nodded politely to them as he and the dogs hurried up to the first floor. Or what everyone but him called the second floor. It was all awfully confusing.
Quentin eased open the door to the gym and found Mia and Clifton sparring while Kimberly and Lisa jogged on treadmills. He guided the dogs to a corner, then closed the doors.
“All done?” Mia gasped as she threw Clifton to the mat.
“Mm. Indeed.” Quentin winced, but Clifton rolled easily to his feet and straightened his clothes. “And the delivery chaps have gone.”
“Still strangers on the stairs, yeah?” Lisa’s arm was still in a sling, and she held it to her chest while she jogged at a light pace. Firing her father’s shotgun had broken her collarbone, and she was still on the mend.
“Indeed. I shall let you know when they are gone.”
She flashed him a small smile. “Thanks.”
“You are most welcome. Once you are finished in here, would you be so kind as to join me in the living room? I would like to discuss education options with you. You also, Kimberly,” he added to the other young girl.
“Sure.” Lisa nodded.
“Okay,” Kimberly mumbled.
“Very good. My apologies for the interruption.” He beckoned to the dogs and let them out of the room, then stepped out after them.
A second before he closed the door, he heard the screams.
“Stay,” he barked at the dogs. He turned on his heel and threw himself back into the gym and into utter chaos.
The screams came from all three teenagers as they ran away from the creature that occupied the centre of the room. Mia stood before it, her hands raised.
Quentin shut the door lest the dogs try to follow him, and approached to put himself between the children and this… thing. His brain wanted to categorize it as a woman, but it refused to for several reasons.
The creature’s skin was blue-tinged. Not wholly blue, as though made from plasticine, but more as if a blue light shone on her from somewhere else. Her white hair was tied back in a scruffy bun, wisps of it broken loose and hanging like rat tails around her wizened face. If she were human, she had to be at least eighty years old, but Quentin had trouble considering her as a human being due to the elongated, iron-black talons her fingers mutated into. Blood and gore dripped from the talons, and small flies buzzed around her hands.
She wore a mixture of rotting lace and what very much seemed to be equally rotten swathes of flesh. Her shriveled body was, at times, indistinguishable from the filth she was hidden within.
Hell, no wonder the children were screaming.
He could still see the wards in place around the edges of the room and across the windows. If this thing had broken in, it was not through the use of magic. Nor could he see magic on its person, although that was a more difficult proposition at the best of times.
Quentin cleared his throat and eyed the creature. There was always the slim possibility that it actually meant no harm. “Who are you?”
She hissed at him, tearing her gaze from the teenagers to do so. “I am the Scourge,” she snarled. Her voice was like nails on a chalkboard, and had an east English accent. “The eater of children. The Black Virgin. The Face of Winter. I am Annis, Warrior, and I have come for a child.”
He wasn’t sure whether “warrior” was part of her long-winded set of titles, or her means of addressing him. Regardless, the rest of her words sounded distinctly hostile, so he raised his head and turned side-on toward her so as to reduce his profile. “You may not take any of them,” he stated.
“You cannot prevent this, Warrior. I only come during the day as a courtesy to you. I will take a child, and one week from now I will eat it.” She raised talons to point beyond Quentin, to where the teens had huddled by the wall, and Lisa wailed in terror. “I will take a child every day. First I will take those closest to you, and if we should run out of them, then I shall take those who are strangers to you.”
A wave of nausea swayed him on his feet. He had to swallow and focus, but this creature was threatening to eat children.
He drew a breath, but the air smelled foul now that she had wafted her arm in his direction, and it hardly helped settle him. He gagged slightly and held his breath briefly.
This couldn’t be coincidence. Why would this bizarre creature come to his house to take children, and then tell him she meant to eat them in a week’s time?
Everything in his stomach turned to lead all at once.
“Father sent you,” he whispered.
She reached down among her collection of rotting clothes with spindly fingers and plucked free a fragment of cloth. It was cut neatly along two edges, but the third was torn, and most of it was covered in brown stains. “Your blood brings me here,” she said with glee. She raised the cloth to her nose and inhaled deeply. “Bright like the sun, but with darkness in your heart. The child will be unharmed until I eat it. Choose which one I will take.” She tucked the cloth away and eyed him with a gleaming, darkened eye.
Quentin’s heart pounded, but he held himself rigidly still. “I will not make such a choice. Leave and I won’t harm you.”
She cackled before he could go further. “You cannot harm me, Warrior. And if you will not choose, then the choice is mine.”
Annis lunged forward with unbelievable speed. It was as much as Quentin could do to take a step aside before she made contact with him, but it wasn’t him she was aimed at.
He lashed out with every ounce of his telekinetic ability to grip her and stop her going any further, but his hold slipped around her before falling free completely. It was like squeezing jelly through his fingers. She oozed out of his grasp with barely a pause in her stride.
Lisa and Kimberly screamed and ran, and Clifton bolted the other way from the girls, arms over his head.
Quentin grit his teeth and sent a gulf of flame at Annis’ back, but it licked around her and continued on to hit the wall as though she weren’t even present.
Mia spared him a glance, then shot after Annis, her hand outstretched. Quentin heard a crack and smelled ozone, but Annis was closing on Lisa and Kimberly and Mia’s jolt of electricity didn’t even slow her.
It was as though Annis wasn’t even really here.
He ran for the girls to intersperse himself between them and the hag, and swept a barrier between them that should have prevented anything passing through, but Annis squirmed past it, and he felt her form like liquid in the numb hold of his telekinesis.
Kimberly wrenched open the door and held it for Lisa, and slammed it after they both ran through.
Annis passed through the door.
“Shit,” Mia growled. “What the fuck is she?”
“I don’t know.” Quentin tore the door from its hinges as he chased after Annis. “I can’t hold her!”
“I can’t shock her. I touched her, I swear I did, but she felt like Jell-O!”
He had no idea what that was, but he understood what she meant.
If they couldn’t touch Annis, they couldn’t bloody stop her.
And if they couldn’t stop her, she was going to take one of the children.
He roared with fury and barreled straight into Annis’ back. The stench made him retch, and for a moment he felt as though there were some contact between them, but then he passed through her body and fell to the ground. He barely had time to twist into a breakfall to protect himself before he hit the carpet. The dogs scattered, and Grace let out a nervous whimper.
“This one is weak,” Annis cackled. “It will be culled first.”
Quentin rolled to his feet and launched forward. He couldn’t hold Annis, and she wouldn’t burn. But if Neil were right, if time and movement and temperature were all connected, then perhaps he could simply stop her.
He reached for Annis and drained the warmth from around her. It came painfully slowly at first, but as he grew accustomed to redirecting the energy into himself, he was able to pull faster. Ice spread along the carpet and spidered up the walls. Puffs of breath hung in front of his own face, and those of the children and dogs.
But not Annis’.
He grit his teeth and tried to focus on the stillness that this particular gift required. The very air itself seemed to freeze.
Annis slowed. Her talons stretched toward Lisa, and her features twisted in a snarl of triumph.
Kim grabbed Lisa’s good arm and pulled.
Annis’ talons sank into her sling and tore it free.
Lisa screamed as her arm fell and tugged on her shoulder.
And then Annis’ talons scraped across flesh, and both she and Lisa disappeared.
Mia darted into the ice-lined space Annis had occupied a second ago and her arms closed on absolutely nothing. She screamed in frustration.
The panic that had been bubbling up inside Quentin began to break loose.
He fumbled for his phone. He was sure he meant to call Laurence, but didn’t remember doing so.
He’d failed to protect Lisa, and now she was gone.
And Annis was going to eat her.
About the Author
AK Faulkner is the author of the Inheritance series of contemporary fantasy novels, which begins with Jack of Thorns.
AK lives just outside of London, England, with a charismatic Corgi. Together they fight crime and try not to light too many fires on the way.
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