About the Book
Author: Nancy Holzner
Released: May 16, 2017
Series: Deadown #6 (final book)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author contact links: WordPress, Facebook, Twitter
Purchase links: Amazon, B&N
My watering eyes squinted against the October wind as I peered over the railing at the dark water far below. It felt strange to stand on the upper deck of the Tobin Bridge, usually crammed with cars at all hours. The span was eerily empty now. Three nights ago, when the first motorist screeched to a halt, abandoned his car, and hurled himself over the railing, the Charlestown cops said, “Crazy way to end it all, but these things happen.” When the exact same thing happened the next night, they said, “Copycat.” After the third event, a pileup of six abandoned cars and eight jumpers, they closed the bridge and called me.
I’m Boston’s only professional demon exterminator. So I was the only one who could get rid of the Siren infestation making the Mystic River live up to its name.
It was a bad night to go Siren hunting. The wind screamed, its chill making my ears ache. I strained for any whisper of voice or lilt of melody, but no music rose from the water. Somewhere, three demons reclined on a floating island of sweet-smelling flowers, weaving complex vocal harmonies into melodies so lovely any human hearing their song was compelled to follow the sound.
Lucky for me, I’m not human. This was not a good time to practice my swan dive.
On the other hand, if I couldn’t hear the Sirens, I couldn’t locate them. And if I couldn’t locate them,
I couldn’t kill them.
“Can you hear anything?” I shouted over my shoulder, still scanning the water.
“Not in this wind,” my aunt, Mab, replied. Even with her mouth at my ear, I could barely hear her words.
“It was calm on the nights people jumped. Maybe we should come back when it’s quieter.”
“Doing so would cost more lives, child.” Mab leaned far over the railing. “The authorities won’t keep the bridge shut indefinitely, and tomorrow you’ll leave town for three days.”
True. For several months I’d been accompanying my boyfriend, Kane, on his werewolf retreats, which lasted for the three nights of each full moon. My aunt was right. We had to exterminate these demons tonight.
Still leaning over the rail, Mab cupped a hand around her ear. “The Sirens are down there, and even now they’re singing. Once they have begun a song, they cannot stop until it brings them prey.”
“Even in daylight?”
“Their bodies cannot materialize then, but yes, their song continues. It’s fainter, and it loses its compulsive power. A human who hears the song during daylight hours will not jump but may develop a strong desire to return at night. That’s when the victim leaps, and the Sirens feast.”
Tonight, the police—all zombies and therefore immune to the Sirens’ songs—were keeping humans off the bridge. But after they reopened the span, as soon as the sun disappeared below the horizon, there would be a mass suicide leap that would make lemmings look like a bunch of amateurs.
Mab watched me, her eyes narrowed against the wind, waiting to see what I’d do. Lately, my aunt had been standing back and letting me take the lead. I didn’t like it. Mab was my mentor, with centuries more experience in demon fighting than I’d ever have. I’d follow her anywhere. For her to follow me just wasn’t right.
“I’m going to take off the glove.” I raised my right hand, encased in a hot pink rubber washing-up glove.
Mab nodded. “I believe it’s the proper course of action, child.”
Proper, maybe. But I didn’t like this course of action any more than I liked Mab’s hanging back to follow my lead. The neon pink glove wasn’t some bizarre fashion statement; it was my most vital piece of armor. While I wore the glove, Ceridwen—goddess, mother of my race, and unwelcome occupant of my brain and body—left me alone.
Last May, during a crisis that threatened the lives of people I love, I’d allowed Ceridwen to possess my body. She’d helped me then, and I was grateful to her for it. The trouble was, once she’d moved in she refused to leave. After centuries as pure spirit, she liked having a body again. Too bad this body was already occupied.
Still, there were undeniably times in my line of work when having the powers and heightened senses of a goddess was a benefit. Like when I was trying to trace a thin thread of song through a howling gale.
Sirens can be tough to kill, and Ceridwen could be pretty handy in a fight.
But I fought my own battles.
Remember that. I directed the thought toward the tiny spark deep in my brain where Ceridwen stayed when she withdrew. One by one, I tugged at the fingertips of the pink glove. I took a deep, slow breath, then I yanked the thing off. I stuffed the glove into a back pocket of my jeans before the wind whipped it away.
The moment the chilly night air hit my exposed hand, the spark in my head exploded into fireworks. My skin tingled with power. My vision doubled, the keener eyesight taking in the view from about fifteen feet above my five-foot-six-inch frame. My right hand and arm sparkled with ruby-and-diamond glitter— fragments of the magical bloodstone that was bonded with my skin.
Beneath the glitter, my demon mark, received from a Hellion more than ten years ago, twitched and burned. The bloodstone fragments blocked its power as the demon essence pushed to assert itself.
I ignored the demon mark and focused on listening.
Ceridwen had good ears, that was for sure. Well, they were my ears, but she heightened their perception. The undifferentiated roar of the wind split into multiple streams. It was like being able to follow each string in a complicated piece of harp music. I—we—could hear the river water flowing by, lapping against the bridge’s supports; a guy arguing with a zombie cop about the closure; late crickets chirping on the shore; a baby crying somewhere in Charlestown.
And women’s voices, singing.
I caught my breath. When it comes to music, I like classic rock and the Welsh folk songs my father sang when my sister and I were kids. But this . . . the word that came to mind was ethereal. I wasn’t even sure what that meant. It must be Ceridwen’s word—for an ancient Welsh goddess, she spoke better English than I did. The sound made me think of intricate crystal towers, sparkling in golden light. Of fields blossoming with a million flowers. Of white beaches stretching for miles beside a calm, diamond-glinting turquoise sea. A series of voices, each like a silver thread, wove themselves into an elaborate pattern so lovely my heart swelled with yearning. Intense longing filled me, and the only thing I wanted was to be closer to that sound. To be part of it, to live inside it. To become one with its pure beauty.
As I clutched the railing, my glittering right arm glowed.
Do not be seduced. Ceridwen’s voice inside my head was sharp against the silvery melody. The music is sorcery, a spell. I can withstand it, but your human side is vulnerable. Give me control.
Uh-uh. Sorry, goddess, absolutely not. Giving Ceridwen full control would be like tossing my sixyear-old nephew the keys to my Jag. A wild ride for sure, but certain to end in a crash. I preferred my body in its uncrashed state.
They call it Deadtown: Boston’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders–but Victory Vaughn, the city’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…
When Vicky allowed an ancient goddess Ceridewen to possess her, she had no regrets–it was the only way to protect the people she loved. But now she’s got two supernatural beings posessing her body to use her for their own means, leaving her with little free will of her own and more demonic trouble than she cares to deal with.
Despite the forces pulling her apart, Vicky needs all her wits about her. The demons of Hell are growing bold and she can barely keep up with the attacks plaguing the city: sirens in the Mystic River, goblins snarling traffic on Storrow Drive, imps tearing the gold from the State House dome. As the signs of war multiply and Hell threatens to overrun its boundaries, Vicky finds herself torn between her duty to save the world and her desire to save something of herself…