Title ~ A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies #2)
Author ~ KJ Charles
Publisher ~ Samhain Publishing
Genre ~ M/M Historical Paranormal Romance
Published ~ January 28th 2014
Rating ~ 5 Stars
Magic in the blood. Danger in the streets.
A Charm of Magpies, Book 2
Lord Crane has never had a lover quite as elusive as Stephen Day. True, Stephen’s job as justiciar requires secrecy, but the magician’s disappearing act bothers Crane more than it should. When a blackmailer threatens to expose their illicit relationship, Crane knows a smart man would hop the first ship bound for China. But something unexpectedly stops him. His heart.
Stephen has problems of his own. As he investigates a plague of giant rats sweeping London, his sudden increase in power, boosted by his blood-and-sex bond with Crane, is rousing suspicion that he’s turned warlock. With all eyes watching him, the threat of exposure grows. Stephen could lose his friends, his job and his liberty over his relationship with Crane. He’s not sure if he can take that risk much longer. And Crane isn’t sure if he can ask him to.
The rats are closing in, and something has to give…
Warning: Contains m/m sex (on desks), blackmail, dark pasts, a domineering earl, a magician on the edge, vampire ghosts (possibly), and the giant rats of Sumatra
A never published, old newspaper draught found recently in the secret drawer of an old Victorian writing bureau:
GIANT RATS ATTACKING THE CITY? MYSTERIOUS MAGPIES FLOCKING AT THE SCENE? RUMOURS OF MAGIC... SUSPICIONS UNCONFIRMED AS OF YET BUT CONSTABULARY ON ALERT!
This is Max 'Macky' McMackster reporting on recent animal attacks that as of late, have been ravaging London. Rumours that these attacks have been made by rats the size of dogs is rife and rat bites have been confirmed by the coroner. But reports that the bodies have been savagely ripped apart seems to rule out that this could indeed have been the common sewer rat, Rattus norvegicus. The more logical reason being that this is more likely to have been perpetrated by a mad dog roaming the city, although this is yet again unconfirmed as of this time. However, there are witnesses (I refuse to name for fear of their safety) who are staunch in their claim that this attack was indeed a swarm of rats, swelling and growing to giant proportions in front of their very eyes, before viciously rampaging! The constabulary are claiming this hysteria to be a case of fever. But this reporter is starting to wonder if there isn't some truth to the matter, as further investigations and other secret witness sightings and reports have been filtering through, and if what they're saying is true then this could indeed be the scoop of the century!
Something mysterious is afoot dear readers. A trusted source of information has told this Chronicle reporter that alongside the savage attacks there have also been odd sightings of flocks of Magpies or should we say charms, or indeed murders of magpies! Are these more fortuitous naming's? This alone is strange in itself, as generally we tend only to see these birds singly, or at the very least, in pairs, bringing to mind the child's nursery rhyme "One For Sorrow." My witness wasn't overly certain but spoke of seeing no less than seven, possibly many more, of the menacing black and white birds which in the rhyme would equate to "Seven for a secret never to be told" and there are definitely secrets being kept here!
What this reporter has managed to dig out is that oddly whenever the magpies are sighted, so are two very particular men. One who is well known to the city and this paper; Lucien Vaudrey or The Earl Crane as he is known within the nobility. A man with a reputation and murky past, a trader, and it has been intimated, a smuggler with dubious ties to Shanghai. Now one of England's richest eligible bachelors it is a well known fact that he declines to grace society with his presence, instead devoting his time to his debatable business practices and the company of the second man who I shall be introducing in a moments time. As yet there is no sign of him picking out a duchess from the many society beauties vying for his attentions because there are rumblings and (unconfirmed) rumours that Lord Crane's romantic leanings tend towards a direction not looked kindly upon, which I shall leave you to make your own conclusions about as it would be libellous to make such a statement without proof, and most dangerous to his lordship. This leads me to the second man who we have been told has been seen to be very 'up close and personal' with Lord Crane and has indeed been much harder to investigate but after some intense digging I have found that this man is named Stephan Day, a most curious, perplexing character. It has been noted that there is a chemistry between these two gentlemen that goes beyond just friendship. It starts to get even more puzzling as my source has uncovered that Stephan Day has possible ties to some form of the occult, if that is the right description, as the word "Warlock" has been bandied about but something tells me that this is not actually the case with this secretive man, although there is definitely something of the arcane around him.
A few months ago this pair were involved in another scandal based mystery surrounding the death of Crane's father, a most despicable man who it seems had been central to the ruination of Stephan Days own father. At the time there were also reluctant witnesses who spoke of paranormal, magical practices which brings me to the conclusion that mystical forces could in fact be at play here, making the sightings of the magpies and the giant rats a more tenable conclusion. There have been too many coincidences for all these threads to not be connected. I have also uncovered plots to blackmail both Crane, Day and a close acquaintance of Lord Crane's, who once again I cannot reveal by name or sex. Plus, recent suspicious deaths, that on first glance would appear to be completely separate from the vicious rat attacks, now, upon closer inspection show coincidental ties to the above gentlemen and their cronies. Finally there is an even weirder connection to the Chinese community in Limehouse, where stirrings of something of a supernatural nature is causing panic amongst them...whisperings about some eerie Chinese legend known as "The Hungry Ghost" which I have yet to research.
For legal reasons the Chronicle will not be able to confirm any of the above, but where there's smoke there's usually fire and let me just say that I almost got burnt, as I got close to certain truths that I know may sound unbelievable but are becoming more credible as my investigation progresses. At one point I was approached by a most enigmatic yet fearsome man named Merrick who threatened to remove my limbs from my torso if I didn't let this matter drop. I fear that if I submit this article for publication that is exactly what will happen and if the danger does not come from him, it will come from someone involved with other worldly forces, who I feel are watching my every move! So at this moment in time I am keeping this article on hold until the day when I can finally release it to you, the public, because there are diabolical conspiracies at large and I will fight to bring them to the notice of...
Hush! Forgive me one second, I must just set my pen down for I hear a strange scratching noise coming from the vicinity of my front door, something is scrabbling at the base and it sounds like claws.. no, it cannot be... oh dear god...they're squeezing under the door now.... they're huge! .... help me...someone... please help me.........
OMG! It looks like there was much more to THAT story than meets the eye! This would make an awesome book if only someone would look into it further and write about it. I know I would absolutely love it and if I had to rate it it would definitely be 5 rip roaring, adventurous, refreshingly different, magical stars! And throw in some hot,sexy M/M shenanigans. What more could a girl (or guy) want!
Series reading Order
Book 1 ~ The Magpie Lord ~ AMAZON
Book 1.5 ~ Interlude with Tattoos ~ FREE from ~ SMASHWORDS
Book 2 ~ A Case of Possession
A Word from KJ Charles
Macky asked me about the inspiration for my heroes Lord Crane and Stephen Day in the Charm of Magpies series…
I’ve never really started a book by knowing a character. I think of… things, tiny concepts, phrases that snag my attention. And then they accrete in my head, growing into an idea of a scene, and then I wonder what sort of people would get involved in that and how they might interact, and the characters arise organically.
So this is, roughly speaking, how The Magpie Lord happened…
I thought about magpies a lot, because I grew up counting magpies (it’s a British thing), and the park behind my house is full of the creatures, and every time I saw them and counted them it made me wonder: what if they knew something I didn’t?
I thought about a sinister old house, decaying and isolated, and the dark alleys and stinking streets of Victorian London.
I thought about bitter family hatred and madness, and ancient evils in the woods, and a man driven to self-murder by powers beyond his control.
(At this point all of my thoughts were terribly Gothic and doom-laden. I couldn’t quite see what there was to laugh about.)
And then – I remember this very clearly – I began to formulate what became The Magpie Lord’s first scene, where a noble lord is attempting to kill himself under magical influence. I had no particular intention of the lord’s servant playing any more than a practical role here, stopping the suicide attempt, but he walked in, saw his master and yelled out, ‘You stupid sod!’ before physically assaulting him and dunking his head in a sinkful of dirty dishwater – and there was Merrick, Crane’s manservant and best friend, fully formed.
At which point everything fell into shape. Because once I knew Merrick, I realised what kind of man would have him as his servant, and that meant I knew who Crane was – a smuggler, a rogue, not amoral but definitely lawless, with all the trappings of nobility and wealth but bound by none of their conventions. A man of great worldly and personal power, trapped in a situation that rendered him helpless. And against him, Stephen came into focus: poor and small, trammelled by laws and fears and class, relatively sexually inexperienced, but with astonishing magical powers and an unbreakable sense of justice. Crane’s opposite in most ways, but possessed of the same dogged, often-tested, frequently irritated loyalty that lies at the heart of Merrick and Crane’s twenty-year friendship, and the same sense of humour, come to that. Crane’s match.
So there you have it: the whole Charm of Magpies series came about from a single outburst of swearing. I have a feeling that says a lot about me.
The Magpie Lord and its sequel A Case of Possession are published by Samhain. There is also a free in-between short, Interlude with Tattoos, available from Smashwords.
About KJ Charles
KJ Charles is a commissioning editor by profession and a writer by inclination. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.
KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there.
KJ Charles will be gifting one lucky winner an eBook of A Case of Possession, all you need to do is; leave a comment and enter the Rafflecopter below.