After her parents' deaths, she turns to illegal blood magic to hunt a killer. But is it worth her freedom—or her life?
Maddy never made peace with her parents' deaths. Instead of moving on, she summons her mother's spirit whenever possible. So when she finds the bloody corpse of her stepmother—her final parent—Maddy's world falls apart.
Devastated, she refuses to believe it was suicide. After all, blood magic users like her stepmother don't spill their blood without purpose. When her school principal is struck by a supernatural illness after he, too, suspects there's more to the story, Maddy vows to use her own illegal blood magic to investigate, no matter what the cost.
The truth is all she has left, but is it worth her freedom—or her life?
Blood Spells is a dark, standalone, young adult supernatural mystery full of dramatic twists and turns. Not for the faint of heart.
Alicia Ellis's Girl of Flesh and Metal was the first self-published book on the American Library Association's LITA Excellence in Children's and Young Adult Science Fiction Notable Lists. Her spooky supernatural mystery, Blood Spells, delivers on Ellis's legacy of outstanding young adult speculative fiction. Follow Maddy, a rogue blood magician, as she navigates suspenseful and supernatural twists and turns while investigating her stepmother's murder. – Zelda Knight
"A near perfect YA full of magic and mystery and friendship."– Reviewer
"5 stars for world-building, character development, suspense, fresh storyline and a satisfying conclusion."– Reviewer
"A well-done whodunit, set in a very unique world, with deep themes of grief, loss, friendship, and a girl struggling with her identity."– Reviewer
A glass sales counter faced the door. Inside, it displayed rows of knives and bowls made of bone, sometimes mixed with porcelain, some etched with words in different languages or shapes derived from Wiccan or Judeo-Christian symbols. The words and symbols could be used as intentions. Having them fixed on a knife or bowl saved a practitioner from needing to redraw them every time.
Someday, I'd love to own some of those fancier articles, but right now, I needed the bare minimum.
Susan, the redhead behind the counter, glanced up at me and smiled. "Maddy. What's up?" She wore a long-sleeved shirt in black. Several pendants adorned her neck on chains in various colored metals, each one representing a different religion: a crucifix, a star of David, a cross, a pentacle, a star and crescent, and one more I didn't recognize. The pendants tinkled softly as she set her phone aside.
"I need a new knife," I said.
It was illegal for me to practice, and just as illegal for any shop to sell me practitioner tools. Susan worked here part-time between her college classes. Like me, she found the law flexible, given the right circumstances.
I scanned the glass display for something suitable.
"You're staring," Susan said.
I glanced up from the display to find her facing Lauren.
"I'm sorry." Lauren pointed at Susan's forearms, which were covered in the dark cloth of her shirt. "Do you practice?"
"That's kind of personal." Although her words suggested offense, Susan's sly smile said she liked the question.
My guess was that Susan didn't practice at all—or at least not enough to have scars down her arms. But she wanted to look like she did. She liked the infamy. And that was fine by me. It was that same rebellious streak that made her sell me practitioner tools despite the laws against it.
Lauren pointed at the pendants hanging around Susan's neck. "Why do you wear those?"
"I'm not indecisive, if that's what you mean," Susan said, her hand lightly touching the chains. She propped her elbows on the glass counter and leaned forward so Lauren could get a closer look. "I believe in all faiths. They all hold truth. We wouldn't be able to do what we do unless God—or whoever—allowed it. Despite what non-magic people think, we are not ungodly. We just don't limit ourselves."
Lauren was nodding, but her attention had already shifted to the items displayed inside the counter beneath Susan's elbows.
"How much is that?" Wide-eyed, Lauren pointed at a large knife with a double-edged blade.
Susan unlocked the display case and withdrew the knife, along with the red velvet pillow it was displayed on. She set both on the counter. "This athamé is for display only. We don't have a license to sell blades six inches or longer."
"You need a special license for that?"
"To sell them and to buy them, yes. The licensing requirement is meant to reduce the opportunity to perform sacrificial spells. Shorter blade, less lethal—that's the thinking behind it anyway."
Lauren traced her fingertips along the handle, shiny black and shapely, curved to fit into the wielder's hand. Reverently, her fingertips brushed the surface before they pulled back.
"It's a stupid restriction," I said. "Bureaucratic nonsense—makes lawmakers and their constituents feel safer."
As Susan put the big knife back in the case, I pointed at a white pocketknife with the lowest price tag—eighty bucks. "How about that one?"
She placed the one I'd chosen on the countertop so I could examine it more closely. The bone blade flipped open and closed easily, and it was small enough to hide in a pocket. No adornment covered the handle, but that was what I expected for the low price. I frowned as I brushed my fingers across the blade. These things were nearly impossible to sharpen without the right tools, and I cringed at the thought of trying to cut myself with a blunt knife.
"It's too dull." I pointed at another one, similar in appearance but with a hundred-dollar price tag.
Susan extracted it and placed it on the counter.
I examined the new knife for a few minutes, then set it back on the counter and nodded.
"That'll be two hundred bucks," she said. Double the price. She'd pocket the extra in return for not checking my identification.
I slipped her the two bills Bryan had given me. She packed the knife into a custom box, which she slipped into an opaque black plastic bag and passed across the counter. My fingers tingled as they touched the bag. Already, I felt the anticipation of seeing my mother and Cora again.