Today we are celebrating the release of Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews. It’s the first book in the Aurelia Ryder urban fantasy series, a spinoff from their widely popular Kate Daniels series. Here’s a fun excerpt for you to enjoy.
The moon was full and silver. It peeked at me through tattered clouds as I rode my horse down the old I-20, staying in the center of the highway. Magic had been chewing on the edges of paved roads for decades, and the asphalt near the shoulder often crumbled under the weight of a horse.
Nothing to see here, moon. Just a lone woman in a tattered cloak riding her horse into her home city after being gone for far too long.
Around me dense pines towered on both sides of the once busy highway. Glowing eyes watched Tulip and me from the darkness between the roots and branches, yellow for racoon, white for deer, green for foxes, electric red arranged into a triangle for hell alone knew what. The forest critters gave me the stink eye but kept to themselves.
The trees stopped abruptly, replaced by fields wrapped in razor wire. A sign loomed ahead.
WELCOME TO ATLANTA
We’re Glad Georgia Is on Your Mind
A bit optimistic of them.
Below someone had scribbled in white ink.
“Praise the Lord and get the fireballs ready.”
That was more like it.
A dark shape swooped above my head. The moonlight slipped over it, dancing on its feathers, and then it soared into the endless indigo of the sky. Like most eagles, Turgan didn’t like to fly at night, but something must’ve unsettled my raptor. He’d taken off the moment we left the ley line and refused to land on his perch on my shoulder.
Another sign jutted into the night.
ALL VISITING SHAPESHIFTERS
Present to the Pack in 24 hours
Take I-85, head northeast, follow your nose.
Twenty-four hours? When I left eight years ago, foreign shapeshifters had three days to introduce themselves to the Pack. Times had changed.
A high, eerie howl floated up to the clouds on the night breeze. Not a shapeshifter. Just some garden-variety monstrosity venting to the moon. Too far to worry about. Tulip flicked her ears and kept going.
Shapeshifters were a paranoid, suspicious breed. Lyc-V, the symbiotic virus that gave them the ability to change into animals, came bearing many gifts. Some, like enhanced strength, speed, and senses, were beneficial. Others, not so much.
Those who changed shape lived lives of discipline and self-control. The other way lay loupism, a catastrophic plunge into hormone-addled hell that turned shapeshifters into sadistic spree killers. Loupism had no cure, except for a blade to the neck or a bullet to the brain.
Shapeshifters required the kind of structure that regular society could no longer deliver. They set themselves apart in packs, and the rest of the population, acutely aware that each shapeshifter was a spree killer in waiting, was happy to let them govern themselves.
Of all the shapeshifter packs active in the continental US, Atlanta’s Free People of the Code were the largest and by far the strongest. Most packs rarely reached over a hundred members. Atlanta’s Pack counted nearly three thousand shapeshifters and seven different clans, defined by their animal forms and unified under the rule of a Beast Lord. It was so large, that it was known simply as the Pack. Only the Ice Fury Pack in Alaska was larger.
A long time ago, I was one of the rare humans who were considered members of the Pack. I had lived in the Keep, the massive shapeshifter fortress northeast of the city. All my friends had grown fur and claws. Back then, the Pack had had a different Beast Lord, and he’d treated me like his younger sister.
The fields ended, and ruins began. I adjusted the weight of the spear in the sheath on my back, nudged Tulip, and she picked up speed. I had a morning appointment to keep on short notice.
The highway narrowed. We took an exit to the left onto Basilisk Road and followed it as it looped northeast, climbing through the exposed corpses of once tall apartment high-rises.
Magic hated technology. It came in waves, flooding the world, snuffing out electric lights and gasoline engines, chewing on skyscrapers, and spawning monsters. Then, as unpredictably as it appeared, the wave would wane, and technology once again came out on top. Spells fizzled, and guns once again spat bullets.
The taller the building, the harder magic gnawed on it. Most skyscrapers and office towers had fallen long ago. A lot of the overpasses had crumbled to dust or collapsed. The old skyline was but a distant memory.
In its wake, new buildings sprung up, built by craftsmen mostly by hand to minimize magic erosion. Here and there, the new structures hugged the road, solid homes and offices with thick walls, strong doors, and narrow windows guarded by steel bars. The soft yellow glow of electric lights fought with the gloom. The magic was down now. If it had been up, some of the grates on the windows would shine with silver and the blue radiance of fey lanterns would replace the electric bulbs.
The city looked the same as when I left it. It felt the same too, dangerous, indifferent, watchful, yet somehow still achingly familiar. Home, despite all the years I’d been gone. I’d been almost eighteen when I left. I was twenty-six now. It felt like a lifetime ago.
I never meant to be gone this long, and this wasn’t how I wanted to come back to Atlanta. My biological family was dead, but my found family was alive and well, and they’d wanted me back for a long time. In my mind, I would’ve called ahead, and they would meet me at the ley line, mob me, hug me, and we would all go home. That was the original plan.
But if I went home now, I’d be signing their death warrants. I had to stay off the radar, and I couldn’t afford to be recognized.
Not that I would be recognized. When most people came home after a long absence, their family said things like “You lost weight” and “Is that a new hair cut?” If I went home, my family would ask, “Who the hell are you?” Nothing about me was the same. Not my body, not my face, not my voice, or my scent.
A hint of movement on the left jerked me right out of my memories and into the present.
I was several blocks deep into a deserted street. On the left, a ruined heap of a building crouched, still steeped in night shadows. On the right, a wall rose, new construction, solid, thick, and topped with razor wire. Ahead, the street ended, as if sheared with a giant’s knife. A chasm gaped, dropping a full fifty feet down below, about a third of a mile across.
The chasm was new, but not surprising. Magic waves didn’t just birth monsters; they produced new rivers, raised hills, and split the ground. Atlanta had dealt with the chasm, as was evidenced by a single-lane wooden bridge spanning it.
The bridge wasn’t the issue. The three shapeshifters that moved out of the shadows to block it were.
There was absolutely no reason for a Pack patrol to be here at this hour. Their territory was all the way on the other side of the city. The timing wasn’t right either, just before dawn, when they should’ve been returning to the Keep, to perform their morning meditation and curl up for a nap like well-behaved monsters. Yet here they were, dressed in matching Pack sweats and blocking my way.
Atlanta was a bitch of a city.
About the Book:
From Ilona Andrews, an all-new novel set in the Kate Daniels World and featuring Julie Lennart-Olsen, Kate and Curran’s ward.
Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.
Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.
If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.
One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.
Release Date: January 12, 2021
Publisher: NYLA Publishing
Series: Aurelia Ryder #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): paperback (375 pages), e-book
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-heir-ilona-andrews/1137346630?ean=9781641971652
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/blood-heir/id1523723106
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-heir-ilona-andrews/1137346630?ean=2940162813217f