Title: RAVEN’S MOON
Author: J.B. Dane
Genre: Urban Fantasy PI Mystery Comedy
Otherworld evil is loose in the real world. Bram Farrell, Private Investigator, must track it down and destroy it before it destroys him. Bram Farrell has starred in twenty bestselling novels by writer—and witch—Calista Amberson. Her fans love the tall, dark, and handsome PI who vanquishes supernatural bad guys using his magical powers. So, when Calista uses her magic to pull Bram from his fictional world into real-world, modern-day Detroit, she rocks both worlds. Every supernatural being on Earth felt his arrival in this dimension. They don’t trust Calie’s intentions and Bram doesn’t either. When the supernatural community hands him the job of discovering who killed the beings in the real world that match those he killed in each volume of The Raven Tales, he takes on the task. It’s a job he’s done in twenty books—he’s up to the familiar challenge. Bram’s investigation turns up a lot of suspicious characters grouchy bar-owning trolls, a thirsty vampire godfather, a couple of murderous x-cage fighters, a suspicious minister and the Devil himself. Things are getting dicey: Bram could use some help with this job—but whom can he trust?
Fans of Jim Butcher will fall hard for Bram and Raven’s Moon.
I needed to know the lay of the land, and finding the meadow fit into my schedule nicely. I set off in a waxing direction that would lead me back to the front terrace as I waned. I might well be waning by then. It looked to be quite a jog.
The grounds beyond the carpet of grass felt like primeval territory. The trees were a combination of hoary old giants and of new growth. Sunlight dappled the forest floor. Fall had settled in, giving the woods a coat of many colors and a rustling carpet to match. A slight breeze was blowing, making shadows sift.
I pushed past overgrown bushes, climbed over raised tree roots or under low-hanging branches. Despite the violence of the storm the evening before, there was little evidence that it had pushed through the multicolored canopy of leaves. I didn’t stumble across any lightning damage, although I’d seen a strike the night before. Oddly, there was no birdsong, no scurrying squirrels or other small rodents, no buzzing of insects to break the silence, just the occasional whisper of the leaves.
If those whispers were leaves. Sometimes they seemed to form words, but words from a language that wasn’t in my repertoire.
Acting brave—or stupid, depending on your view of things—I kept an eye out for a path or a break in the canopy that would signal a meadow. Then, between one blink and the next, a path appeared. It was rough, more of an animal track than a trace for humankind to tread. Still, it was a welcome change from plowing through heavy, prickly undergrowth. I took it, heading in the direction of the property fence.
The unidentified twittering increased behind me. Scanning the woods for its source, I missed the trap of an upraised root, stumbled in the bright glare of open meadowland, and slammed my face into a waiting fist.
Reeling back into the dappled shade beneath the trees, I caught my balance on an old-growth tree trunk. There were both spots and stars tumbling before my eyes.
Whoever lay in wait was enjoying letting me know they were there. I heard a grunt, a rustling of underbrush, and then silence descended once more. They’d moved to a new position, but not one that placed them between me and my goal. The meadow shimmered there just beyond the dappled shade, looking like a waiting portal into a different dimension. There was a chance that was exactly what it was.
The area was bigger than it should have been. I’d been through enough of the woods on the estate now to know the depth from terrace to fence, and this was nearly four times that length. Therefore, it was either enchanted, or this was the only meadow that used Time Lord technology. It certainly was bigger than it had any right to be.
In the center of the meadow, a huge buck raised its head at my entry, sized me up, and lowered an impressive rack of antlers threateningly in my direction.
Time to leave, I thought.
The buck thought differently. He pawed the ground. Snorted like the bull he was.
Why he bothered, when there were no does around to witness his territorial stand, was beyond me. Perhaps I was carrying a trace of Doe’s scent and he didn’t like sharing anything that could be added to his harem.
“Easy, boy,” I murmured. Whether I was giving myself a pep talk or attempting to reassure the buck is a toss-up.
In any case, the words were translated as fightin’ ones.
Bodies began raining from the branches overhead. Others erupted from the bushes on either side of me. One sprang from the ground before me, his clothing consisting of squares of turf lashed to his body with something that looked like raffia.
A short branch, not entirely shed of leaves, smacked my already injured jaw and then moved on to berate my neck.
“Hey!” I yelled. Like that was going to stop the attack. I ripped the weapon from the attacker’s mitt and tossed it aside. “I just want—”
That was when the unknown troop used the head of one of their number as a battering ram, hitting me squarely in the solar plexus.
For a second or two I thought I’d go down, but the terrain came to my rescue when my back hit one of the stripling trees. I might not be down, but I certainly was not winning. Another of the attackers had found a sturdier branch and was having a go at my ribs. Yet another sank teeth into my forearm, while a third gnawed on an ankle.
When the ambulatory battering ram sprang to his feet, I met him with my unencumbered foot, inadvertently sending him sailing six feet back into the forest. No magic involved on my part; he was both short and lightweight. Still, the crash he made descending earthward was heartening.
I turned to ridding myself of clingers. A fist pounded down on the arm-nosher had his teeth briefly sinking deeper into my skin, but then he too fell away, swooning like a faint-hearted damsel. I yanked the ankle biter off and held him up by . . . well, I suppose it was by the scruff of his neck.
“Knock it off!” I shouted at him.
What’s your favorite thing about the fall season:
For someone taking the leap into urban fantasy, it was the perfect season. Raven’s Moon is the first book in the Raven Tales series, and I wanted a big scene to occur in the meadow as the full moon rose on the final day of October. You can’t beat All Hallows to kick a magic wielding hero into gear. Helps that Fall has always been my favorite season. It’s got that drop in temperatures, the colorful leaves, and deals on candy at the store!
What inspired you to write this story:
I started reading urban fantasy as a “palate cleanser” thinking it would entertain me while remaining something I never considered writing. Then my muse pointed out that I’d had a guy sitting around in his office (located in the imagination wing of my mind) waiting for a story for nearly 30 years and this was right up his alley. Turns out, it was right up mine, too!
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US account to win.
Runs September 1 – 30
Drawing will be held on October 1.
J.B. Dane is the pseudonym of romance writer Beth Henderson, who originally intended the new name to write mystery comedy. Well, as Dane, she does, it’s just that fantasy got added to the mix. Not content with having just one urban fantasy snarky guy in her writing stable, she began writing short stories about Nick Claus, head of North Pole Security, who is also heir to Santa’s sled, and then wrote a tale about an exoplanet alien, Rip Patterson, who seems to have been programed for snark as well.
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