Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Line: Witchery in Savannah

Move over, Sookie Stackhouse—the witches of Savannah are the new talk of the South. Bold, flirty, and with a touch of darkness, debut author J.D. Horn spins a mesmerizing tale of a family of witches . . . and the problem that can arise from being so powerful. As Charlaine Harris’ series winds down—and as Deborah Harkness’ series heats up—Witching Savannah is new contemporary fantasy that will be sure to enchant new readers.

Mercy Taylor, the youngest member of Savannah’s preeminent witching family, was born without the gift of magic. She is accustomed to coming in a distant second to the minutes older, exquisite and gifted twin she adores. Hopelessly in love with her sister’s boyfriend, she goes to a Hoodoo root doctor for a love spell. A spell that will turn her heart to another man, the best friend who has loved her since childhood.

Aunt Ginny, the family’s matriarch, would not approve. But Mercy has more to worry about than a love triangle when Aunt Ginny is brutally murdered. Ginny was the Taylor family’s high commander in the defense of the bewitched line that separates humankind from the demons who once ruled our realm.

A demon invasion looms now that the line is compromised. Worse yet, some within the witching world stand to gain from a demon takeover. Mercy, entangled in the dark magic of her love spell, fighting for her sister’s trust, and hopelessly without magic, must tap the strength born from being an outcast to protect the line she doesn’t feel a part of...

In this riveting contemporary fantasy, Horn delivers the full betrayal, blood, and familial discord of the best of Southern gothic.


The Line (Witching Savannah, Book 1)

Savannah, the whole damned place is a graveyard. Serene and beautiful, but built on the bones of those who fell under her spell. Magic clings to her as sure as Spanish moss hangs from her ancient live oaks, but most of that magic is under the control of a sole family, the Taylor witches, and they plan on keeping it to themselves. After all, real magic belongs in the hands of real witches, the people who created and maintain The Line, a safety net of energy that protects us from the demons that once owned our reality and who are doing their best to fight their way back in.

Mercy Taylor has none of her family's power. The Taylors, although no one other than her aunt’s husband would ever say so openly, view Mercy’s lack of power as an unfortunate, if not entirely debilitating, birth defect. Well, maybe that is too strong. Maybe more like her ginger coloring, not the ideal, but nothing to be ashamed of.

Maisie, Mercy’s fraternal twin, on the other hand, came into the world nearly glowing with power. She never knew an awkward phase or felt like an outsider in the Taylor witches’ magical world. But Mercy adores Maisie and never begrudged her sister her grace, beauty or magic. Mercy never coveted anything that belongs to her sister, that is until Jackson came along. As hard as she tries to resist her feelings for her sister’s lover, something in Mercy’s heart tells her that Jackson should be hers.

When Mercy discovers the bludgeoned corpse of the family matriarch, she begins to unravel a skein of lies and misdirection that covers a conspiracy to bring down The Line. A conspiracy in which she is the central pawn.

Guest post:

The Craft Versus Lovecraft
Magic. Witch. Witchcraft.  These words are emotionally charged and laden with many different connotations. Some are positive, but the majority not so much.  The watercolor image of a wise earth mother contrasts with that of a lurid black Sabbath, the honorable religion of Wicca with that of debased devil worship. When I set out to write The Line, first book in the Witching Savannah series, I was confronted with the need for a magical system that could somehow sidestep the pitfalls of both popular culture stereotypes, and the intolerance that has too long colored mainstream religion’s perception of those who follow Pagan paths.
The question became how to make practitioners of Wicca (and other Pagan faiths) feel respected, but also to broaden the meaning of these three enchanted words so that people of all faiths (or no faith at all) could join in on the fun.
 Inspiration came to me when rereading H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch House.” Certainly Keziah Mason, the titular witch, falls very much within the literary camp of evil child-sacrificing hags, but what caught my imagination was that the source of her power fell outside the purview of any earthly religion. Lovecraft created a space for cosmic horror that lies beyond theological debate. There may be a “big G “ God, or there may not be, but in his cosmic horror there are incomprehensible and frightening entities out there whose access to power would certainly lead early man to view them as gods.
Lovecraft’s old gods and “Elder Things” spring from a place where science intersects the occult. I decided I wanted to play in this sandbox. I asked myself what it might look like if this magic, this cosmic power, wasn’t in and of itself evil, the only evil being the way Keziah chose to interact with and use it. This thought combined with a marathon viewing of “Ancient Aliens” to form the base of The Line’s magical system.
Even though Lovecraft’s archaic language and affected ambience (two things I personally enjoy in his work) don’t find their way into The Line, readers of the Witching Savannah series will notice many affectionate nods to Lovecraft, from the Old Ones the magic of the line protects us from, to a creature inspired by Brown Jenkin that makes an appearance in The Source, second book in the Witching Savannah series. In The Line, the heroine, Mercy Taylor, notes that her family came to Savannah shortly after the end of the Civil War. It is part of the (unwritten) family backstory that they came to Savannah from Lovecraft’s own beloved Providence.
Lovecraft’s concept of cosmic horror provided space to create witches whose power has nothing to do with their creed. The witches of The Line are followers of many faiths, including the Wiccan, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Aboriginal and Native American spirituality.  Some are even atheist. The Taylor family, the central family of the series, falls firmly in the category of the spiritual, but religiously unaffiliated.

 I hope readers will enjoy the narrative freedom this lack of connection to any one religion permits as Mercy’s story unfolds in The Line, The Source (coming in June 2014) and The Void (coming late fall 2014). 

J. D. Horn was raised in rural Tennessee, and has since carried a bit of its red clay in him while traveling the world, from Hollywood, to Paris, to Tokyo. He studied comparative literature as an undergrad, focusing on French and Russian in particular. He also holds an MBA in international business and worked as a financial analyst before becoming a novelist.