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PRACTICAL MAGIC meets GONE GIRL in Ava Morgyn's next dark, spellbinding novel about a woman who is more than a witch – she's a hunter. 


From Chapter 6: Regis

"So, where to? Do you have an address?”
   “No,” I tell him. “But I have a name. The Balsam Motor Inn.”
   His eyes narrow almost imperceptibly. “What do you want with that place?”
   A chill enters the cab of the truck, putting space between us. “I told you; I have family there.”
   “Myrtle?” he asks, incredulous. “Myrtle Corbin is your family?”
   “Is that a problem?” I can’t miss the layer of disappointment under his tone, as if it is a tainted place, a taboo subject.
   He shakes his head like he’s clearing cobwebs. “No. No, of course not. She just never said she had family is all.”
   But I lean closer to the door as we cross through the town, leaving its center nearly as soon as we enter it, and carry on to Aunt Myrtle’s place, the dark descending quickly now, as if the night is racing us to our destination. My companion is suddenly quiet, sullen on his side of the truck.
   When I see the familiar rustic green and red sign that reads MOTEL in block letters come into view—it’s neon bright against the pitch—I grin with relief and roll my window down. Above it, a tree-shaped sign is painted with Balsam Motor Inn. A crescent of cozy cabins with low, gable rooves, painted brackets, and tea-dark, live-edge siding are set against a thick backdrop of fir trees, a sweet, Christmasy smell dusting the air.  At one end, an A-frame rises to an impossible pitch under a dark metal roof like the point of a witch’s hat. Sleepy windows checker the front, their planter boxes crawling with ivy, and a farmhouse door shadowed with glass reveals a darkened interior. Two brightly painted signs hang over it, one reading Office, the other, Cafe. I feel like we’ve stumbled into a rundown elven village somewhere in the Bavarian Alps, the pops of green, red, and yellow reminiscent of carnivorous plants.
   Regis pulls up in front but leaves the motor running. “So this is it,” he says, a knowing cut to his jaw.
   I open the door to get out. “Thank you,” I tell him. “For everything.”
   “Glad I could help.” He nods. “Will I see you again?” he asks sharply as I close the door. 
   I lean against the open window. “You know where to find me.” 
   His eyes linger over me a quiet moment. “Stay out of trouble.” It is authoritative, a command, and also worried, a request. I wonder what trouble I could possibly find out here in the middle of nowhere. Then he pulls away, vanishing into the night.
   I make my way to the door of the A-frame but find it locked. Knocking loudly, I step back, hoping she is here. Anyone, really, at this point. My ride has gone. I have no phone, a broken foot, and this is my only hope.
   Inside, I see a series of small lights turn on in succession. When the door opens, a tall woman answers with silver-streaked hair dripping over one shoulder in a long plait. Her face is rounder than I remember, her eyes a touch more sunken but just as bright, with full cheeks beneath them and a curling smile. “Dinner was at five. We’re closed now. No vacancy, dear. See the sign?”
   She points, and I turn and realize that the sign does indeed read No Vacancy. Only, the lights on the No keep flickering on and off.
   “Blasted sign,” she grumbles. “Try the Gooseneck in town. They might have a room yet.” She starts to close the door.
   I whip out a hand to hold it open, and her eyes flick to mine, troubled. “Aunt Myrtle?” I ask. “Myrtle Corbin?”
   Her face falls, contorts, rearranges itself into a whisper of recognition. “Piers? Lily’s girl?”
   The sudden relief hits me with such force I can scarcely stand. I lean against the door frame. My shoulders tremble and the tears flow as I dash them away. “I have nowhere else to go,” I whisper.
   Without hesitation, she pulls the door wide. “I knew you’d show up someday,” she says, motioning me inside. “Come in, child. You’re home now.”

Coming March 18, 2025

from St. Martin's Griffin

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