Happy Tuesday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for SONG OF THE FOREVER RAINS by E.J. Mellow! I’m so excited because today I have an excerpt of the book to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so excited to for you to find out more about it, PLUS enter for a chance to win a print copy!
Song of the Forever Rains by E.J. Mellow
Series: Mousai #1
Published on July 1, 2021 by Montlake
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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From the award-winning author of the Dreamland series comes a new dark romantic fantasy about a young woman finding hope in her powers of destruction.
The Thief Kingdom is a place hidden within the world of Aadlior. Many whisper of its existence, but few have found this place, where magic and pleasure abound. There, the mysterious Thief King reigns supreme with the help of the Mousai, a trio of revered and feared sorceresses.
Larkyra Bassette may be the youngest of the Mousai, but when she sings her voice has the power to slay monsters. When it’s discovered the Duke of Lachlan is siphoning a poisonous drug from the Thief Kingdom and using it to abuse his tenants, Larkyra is offered her first solo mission to stop the duke. Eager to prove herself, Larkyra accepts by posing as the duke’s potential bride. But her plans grow complicated when she finds herself drawn to Lord Darius Mekenna, Lachlan’s rightful heir. Soon she suspects Darius has his own motivations for ridding Lachlan of the corrupt duke. Larkyra and Darius must learn to trust each other if there is to be any hope of saving the people of Lachlan—and themselves.
Welcome to the world of Aadilor, where lords and ladies can be murderers and thieves, and the most alluring notes are often the deadliest. Dare to listen?
The little girls played in a puddle of blood. They didn’t realize it was blood, of course, nor did their nursery maid realize they had slipped from their rooms to find their way into the dungeons hidden under the palace. How would she? This part of the Thief Kingdom was chained and watched by so many doors and spells and beastly stone guardians that the Thief King himself would be tried to enter unannounced. But such obstacles, when it came to curious children, were as easy to escape as maneuvering through a spider’s web—one only needed to be small enough to fly straight through.
So the three girls found their way into the bowels of nightmares, none the wiser of the threats lurking in the walls, peeking through cracks with salivating, toothy grins. Or if they were aware, none felt threatened enough to turn and retreat.
“Here.” Niya ran a bloody finger across her younger sister’s pale face, setting loose a spiral design around the baby’s plump cheeks. “Now you can speak.”
Larkyra, recently turned three, giggled.
“Speeeeak,” encouraged Niya. “Can you say that? Speeeeaaak.”
“If she could have, she would have,” said Arabessa, pressing her rouge palms across her ivory nightgown. She smiled at the new pattern along the bottom of her skirts. At seven, Arabessa was the oldest of the trio, her skin white porcelain against her hair that spilled ink down her back.
“Oh, how pretty!” Niya held Larkyra’s pudgy little hand as they walked closer to Arabessa.
“Do me next.”
Finding another ruby pool that seeped from under a locked steel door, Arabessa slapped her hands into the still liquid. The shadow of her reflection rippled away as she coated each finger. “This color matches your hair,” Arabessa said as she drew red flowers into Niya’s gown.
“Let’s paint Lark with it so she can match me too.”
So enthralled in their game, none of the girls noticed a particular creature who stood watching, unchained in the shadows of the corridor. They were a soul with more deadly consequences at their fingertips than any of the beasts locked inside the cursed cells around them, yet the Thief King allowed them to roam free. Perhaps for moments such as these: to watch over those who could not yet watch out for themselves. Because though the creature might have been created in darkness, their lives had always bridged one of light.
The little one is rather round, said the brother wordlessly to his sister. It was an easily accomplished feat, given they were twins who shared one body, volleying back and forth for space in one mind.
It is a baby. All babies are, replied the sister.
We were not.
That is because we were never a baby.
Well, if we had the chance to be, I can guarantee we would not have been round.
The twins had many names in many different places. But in Aadilor, they were known simply as Achak—ancient ones, the oldest beings this side of the Fade. Here they took on a single human form that shifted from brother to sister faster than crashing waves. Achak was taller than a normal mortal, with skin as black as the deepest part of the sea and violet eyes that spun galaxies. Their body was beautiful, but like most pretty things in Aadilor, it often masked a fatal touch.
A delighted shriek brought Achak’s attention back to the sisters.
The girls stood in the center of a hall in the dungeon, where the path split four ways, leading to endless more complicated corridors. It was a dark, damp, place with barely a torch to light the passageways. Which was why a young, joyous laugh in such surroundings might have been more disconcerting than if it were filled with torturous screams.
“How clever, Ara.” Niya bounced on her feet. “Lark looks much better painted in spots. What do you think?” She spoke to her younger sister, who sat by their heels, playing with an ash white stick. “Do you like looking as fierce as a cheethuh?”
Bang. Bang. Bang. Larkyra hit the device on the stone floor, her white-blond locks twinkling in the torchlight as she cooed in pleasure at the sound.
“That’s pretty,” said Arabessa, finishing up the last circle beside Larkyra’s ear. “Keep going, Lark. You can make the song of our painting ceremony.”
As if in response to her sister’s request, Larkyra continued smacking the stick, the rhythm echoing down the snaking corridors. Only Achak seemed to realize the instrument Larkyra held was in fact a rib bone.
These girls are most peculiar, thought the brother to his sister.
They are Johanna’s daughters. Peculiar is only the beginning of what they are.
A wave of sadness entered Achak’s chest, thinking of the girls’ mother, their dearest friend.
But when you grew to be as old as they, such emotions held space and time less and less, and soon the melancholy was dashed away, a slip of a grain through a sand-fall glass.
I like them, thought the brother.
As do I, agreed the sister.
Should we stop their ruckus before they wake the rest of the dungeon and a guardian comes?
I fear it is too late for that.
A putrid stench rushed through the hall, adding a thicker layer to the prison’s already decaying aroma.
“That’s disgusting.” Arabessa waved her hand in front of her nose. “What dessert did you sneak after dinner, Niya?”
“That wasn’t me.” Niya jutted her chin back. “I think Larkyra messed her diaper.”
The two girls looked down at their smiling little sister, still smacking the rib on the floor, before glancing back at one another.
“The last canary to sing gets the broken wing!” they shouted in unison. “I said it first,” Niya was quick to announce. “You change her.”
“We said it at the same time.”
“If by ‘at the same time’ you mean I said it slightly quicker than—”
A roar vibrated down the cavern, knocking both sisters unsteady.
“What was that?” Niya turned in a circle, searching the multiple darkened halls.
“Whatever it was, it didn’t sound happy.” Arabessa crouched down to Larkyra, stilling her youngest sister’s hand. “Quiet, Lark. I think playtime is over.”
Larkyra turned wide blue eyes up to her sisters. Most children her age were already talking, but not since her scream at birth—which had changed all their lives—did she utter more than a sound on a rare occasion. The girls had grown used to their younger sister’s silence, knowing that though she might not yet talk, she understood a great deal.
Another growl followed by the slopping thud of a dozen heavy footfalls echoed toward them; a beast broke through the shadows of a passageway to their left.
As one, the sisters gasped.
Excerpted from Song of the Forever Rains by E.J. Mellow with permission from the publisher, Montlake. Copyright © 2021 by E.J. Mellow.
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