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Bones of the Witch

Bones of the Witch

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High in the hills of Scotland, an ancient evil has returned. One young woman struggling to master her magic is the only hope to stop it.

On the cusp of womanhood, Georjie longs to unlock the full force of her fae-given powers. So when she’s invited to Scotland, she’s eager to explore the Highlands’ famed fairy realm hoping to find a mentor. But instead of unearthing a teacher, she discovers a mummified body within the walls of a seventeenth-century ruin.

Teaming up with a handsome amateur historian, she uses her earth-elemental gift to overturn the secrets hidden deep in the soil. But never far from the trail of clues lurks a shadowy creature on the hunt for prey. And Georjie fears it may have found its first target when a local girl vanishes, only to be discovered in an open grave with her life slipping away…

Can Georjie break the curse before ancient evil claims an innocent victim?

Bones of the Witch is the first book in the explosive Earth Magic Rises YA contemporary fantasy series, and a continuation of The Elemental Origins Series, specifically Born of Earth. If you like strong heroines, dark sorcery, and medieval Highland history, then you’ll love A.L. Knorr’s unforgettable adventure.

🍃 A new fae mythology

🍃 Sweet, slow-burn romance

🍃 Set in Scotland

🍃 Portal fantasy

🍃 Queen Elphame

🍃 A chilling mystery

🍃 Witches, ghosts & fae

 

Synopsis

High in the hills of Scotland, an ancient evil has returned. One young woman struggling to master her magic is the only hope to stop it.

On the cusp of womanhood, Georjie longs to unlock the full force of her fae-given powers. So when she’s invited to Scotland, she’s eager to explore the Highlands’ famed fairy realm hoping to find a mentor. But instead of unearthing a teacher, she discovers a mummified body within the walls of a seventeenth-century ruin.

Teaming up with a handsome amateur historian, she uses her earth-elemental gift to overturn the secrets hidden deep in the soil. But never far from the trail of clues lurks a shadowy creature on the hunt for prey. And Georjie fears it may have found its first target when a local girl vanishes, only to be discovered in an open grave with her life slipping away…

Can Georjie break the curse before ancient evil claims an innocent victim?

Bones of the Witch is a continuation of Born of Earth, and the first book in the explosive Earth Magic Rises YA contemporary fantasy series. If you like strong heroines, dark sorcery, and medieval Highland history, then you’ll love A.L. Knorr’s unforgettable adventure.

Intro to Chapter 1

The smell of hops, smoke, and fried food hit me as I stepped inside The Blackmouth Arms. The din of laughter and conversation filled the small pub, the low ceiling and uneven flagstone floors amplifying the chaos. A fellow with a knit cap perched so high on his head it might slide off at any moment plucked at a fiddle, tuning it, alongside a fellow musician doing the same with a guitar. Several pairs of eyes glanced up as the door swung shut behind me. Thankfully, they were all friendly.

“Prop the door open, would you love?” hollered a rotund woman with red cheeks as she ran a rag over the bar. “There’s a stone just outside.” 

I nodded and backed out, kicking the rock into place. It was a good call, the place was as stuffy and humid as a cellar.

Scanning the heads for Jasher’s dark hair, I spotted him deep in conversation at the far wall where the bar met the plaster. His back was to me, but I’d know that tall, broad-shouldered frame anywhere. I suppressed a surge of annoyance at him. Being frustrated wasn’t how I wanted to start this adventure, but he’d sent a friend to pick me up at the train station rather than coming himself. If he’d been busy with work or unavailable for some good reason, I would have been fine with it, but when his friend pulled up in front of a pub and told me with a grunt and a jerk of her thumb that Jasher was inside, I had to admit, that hurt. He couldn’t pick me up because he was out drinking?

I took a bracing breath and told myself he might have an unapparent but excellent reason and to restrain my ire so that I could give him a chance to explain. Shoving my luggage under a table where it wouldn’t be underfoot, I sidled through the crowd in the direction of his back, trying not to bump my head on the incredibly low rafters. 

Jasher looked to be in lively communion with a young fellow sporting an impressive foam moustache.

“Anything to drink, love?” the lady behind the bar called, raking wild curls away from her sweaty brow.

“Um.” My mind scrambled for an answer. I didn’t want to stay, but it was rude not to order something, especially since the beer making a pool on the bar at Jasher’s elbow still had a lot left. 

The lady was still waiting for my response.

I squeezed between the backs of two men bellied up at the bar. They projected enough heat to warm a small barn. No wonder this place was an oven. “Have you got apple cider?” 

“Och, a tourist!” she bellowed with enthusiasm. “Where you from then, lass?”

“Canada, but I just arrived from Poland.” 

A few others overheard and peered at me with curiosity.

“Had a cousin went ter yer cold climes.” The bar matron bustled to the other end and disappeared through a doorway that had to have given more than its fair share of goose-eggs in its lifetime. She reappeared with a glass and poured a fizzy brown liquid from a tap. “You picked a bad time o’ year to visit, lass. Nothing but dire weather and unwashed locals in these parts until spring.” 

“You can count me among the number of the great unwashed. I’ve been on a train all day.” I cocked my head as her words sank in. “And, I thought March was spring.” 

This statement was apparently naive enough to elicit laughter from the men on either side of me as well as the bartender.

“Come back in another six weeks if it’s spring you’re looking for.” She set a dripping pint glass in front of me. 

“Thanks. I’m not here for the weather, though. I’m visiting a friend.” I picked up the glass and brought it to my lips when I caught the tang of alcohol. Whoops. I’d just made a tourist’s mistake. I’d assumed apple cider here was the same as it was back home. 

I dug some money out of my pocket and slapped it on the bar. Tilting a finger toward my oblivious friend, I said, “I’ve found him. Thanks for the cider.”

She tipped me a wink and faced another patron who asked her for a Drambuie in a brogue so strong it sounded almost like a foreign language. The Scottish accent in the highlands was dramatically deeper than the lyrical lilt in Edinburgh.

Shuffling sideways through the crowd, I closed the distance between Jasher and me. In spite of my annoyance, some butterflies took flight in my stomach, brushing their soft wings against my insides. Jasher and I had had a rough start, but we’d become good friends. He’d been there when I’d inherited the earth magic, and that would always connect us. I was looking forward to being able to spend more time with him. At times, I still caught myself thinking about the kiss we’d shared in Ireland––the best one of my young life.

I set my glass of contraband on the bar just behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. The musicians in the corner were getting loud, so I raised my voice. “Sorry to interrupt.”

Jasher was just lifting his glass to his lips when he turned his head to see who had tapped him on the shoulder. 

“Hello, Jasher,” I said. Nice of you to meet me at the station, I mentally added. This was the burden of most Canadians, a detrimental level of politeness.

The myriad of expressions which played out on his features as recognition sank in was fascinating. His eyes widened, his lips parted, and his brows hiked up to his hairline. The expression of shock that stole over his face was so genuine that further words were startled right out of my throat.

Jasher’s friend stared back and forth between us, his drink forgotten in his hand.

“Georjayna!” Jasher yelled it like a victory cry and startled both myself and his drinking buddy. Setting down his drink with a clack, he yanked me into a sweaty, almost violent hug. He smelled of beer and soap and wood. His body felt as lean and corded with muscle as I remembered. He pulled back to look at me, his face bright with excitement. “What are you doing here?” 

Speechlessness afflicted me for the second time in fewer minutes. My mouth opened and closed as his question sank in. The sound of a highland jig struck up behind me and it was a surreal addition to Jasher’s bizarre reaction.

“How much have you had to drink, Jash?” I finally asked.

I looked at his friend to see if there was some agreed upon ruse between them, but his companion only blinked at me with shallow, bovine interest. 

My gaze swung back to Jasher. “I told you I’d be arriving today. I thought you were going to meet me at the station. Your friend dropped me off here. My bag is over there, by the door.” 

I thumbed over my shoulder, feeling strained from having to shout over the music. 

This was a not so subtle hint. He’d had his fun, it was late. I was travel-weary and needed a shower and a bed.

Jasher’s smile faltered and his eyes widened again. Surprise was quickly becoming the expression of the evening. 

“You did?” He spoke with genuine shock and I found myself scrambling to recall the contents of the letters we’d exchanged. Yes, I was in the right country, and the right time, and he’d been here the whole time. This had been his idea.

I decided it had to be a joke. I rolled my eyes and laughed, directing another look at his friend, looking for a sign. He wore a green t-shirt that said––Do good, die better. I noted that he was blond, mid-twenties, and layered with as much muscle as Jasher. I wondered if he was a carpenter too. 

“He’s such a joker,” I told his friend. 

“Aye.” Green t-shirt agreed, a twinkle flashing in his eye. “That’s the first thing I realized when we started working together.” He lifted his tumbler of ice cubes and the russet liquid sloshed. “That Jasher, he’s something of a balloon.” 

Why did I get the feeling Green t-shirt was being sarcastic?

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