Along with one of the best covers of the year (by Jenny @ Supernatural Snark, of course!), The Gifted Dead by Jenna Black is an intriguing modern fantasy complete with politics, villains and magic. And we here at The Book Swarm are lucky enough to have both an excerpt and a giveaway!The Gifted Dead by Jenna Black
Series: Gifted #1
on September 23, 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows.
Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power.
Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn't be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife.
What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.
Introduction to Anna Romanova
Nineteen-year-old Anna Romanova—she refused to think of herself as Anna di Tommaso, despite her marriage—watched from the far side of the room as her husband and her father-in-law raped and brutalized her.
No one watching the scene would realize her body was currently uninhabited. She screamed and writhed and begged for mercy as any flesh-and-blood woman would do, so Pietro and Alberto would never guess she did not feel what they were doing to her.
She glared at the camera they had set up on a tripod to record the proceedings. Her husband had not permitted her to see or speak with Sergei since the wedding, and so she had had no way to tell her brother about her new Gift. He would be as convinced by her body’s apparent suffering as her tormentors were. If only there were some way she could get word to him …
“It’s better this way,” said her spirit guide, Viktor, from where he stood beside her.
Before she had been granted her wedding Gift, Anna, like all the Gifted, had to be deep in a meditative trance to communicate with her spirit guide, but now whenever she left her body, he was there waiting for her. His presence was infinitely comforting, reminding her that no matter how thoroughly her husband tried to cut her off from her family and anyone who might love her, she was never truly alone.
Anna shook her head. “How can it be better when it will hurt Sergei so terribly?”
Viktor put an arm around her shoulders and gave them a squeeze. Strange how she was able to feel his touch when she couldn’t feel her husband’s. Strange, but wonderful, because Viktor’s touch was infinitely more pleasant.
“If Sergei knew you weren’t suffering, then he might betray that knowledge to the di Tommasos.”
That would definitely be bad. Pietro had a Gift for counteracting others’ magic, and if he knew she didn’t feel his or Alberto’s abuses …
Anna frowned as Alberto backhanded her body. She didn’t feel the pain now, but she would have to return to her body eventually, and she knew from experience how the bruises would ache. She had gone into the marriage knowing what to expect. Viktor had warned her when he’d presented the Quest that while she would earn a Gift for succeeding, there would also be a heavy cost. Knowing what she’d known of Alberto’s reputation, it hadn’t been hard to guess what that cost would be. Most people got on the Council of Elders because they were well respected within the Order and had strong connections. Alberto made it because everyone was too afraid of him to vote against him.
“Why did the Anima ask this of me?” she wondered, though she knew full well Viktor wouldn’t answer. She wasn’t even sure he knew what the Anima’s ultimate purpose was for wanting this marriage. Viktor had become part of the Anima when he had died and been consecrated, and the Anima knew anything Viktor had ever known. The reverse was not true, and Viktor knew no more about the plans of the Anima than did any living Gifted.
“I can assure you it’s for a good reason,” Viktor said, looking at her with sad blue eyes. Blue eyes were almost unheard of among the Gifted, and his uncommonly fine hair and delicate features would make most people assume he was a half-breed. But of course, half-breeds had no connection to the Anima during their lives and did not become part of it when they died, even if buried properly. “I just can’t tell you what that reason is.”
She sighed delicately, hoping the Anima’s plans included slow and painful deaths for both di Tommasos. Anna might be able to leave her body and avoid much of the pain they inflicted, but she was not the only person who suffered at their hands.
“And it was for a good reason that the Anima accepted a pair of monsters as Elders?” she asked. It was a lot harder to hold on to her faith these days. She understood how the di Tommasos could have been elected, with their family connections and their powers of intimidation. But being elected wasn’t enough, not for those of the Order reaching the rank of Lord or above. For those, there was a confirmation ceremony, wherein the Anima would grant a Gift to signal its acceptance of the election. By all accounts, both Pietro and Alberto had successfully demonstrated that they had been given the Elder’s Gift of immunity to fire, so the Anima clearly wanted them to be Elders.
Viktor turned her to face him, angling her face away from the bed where father and son still labored over her vacant body. His hands cupped her face, feeling as real as any physical touch. Those mysterious blue eyes of his drew her in, and she noticed once again how beautiful he was. She found the blue eyes and the fine features exotic and appealing. Such a shame that she had been born almost two centuries after his death—he had been her ideal of male perfection since she’d completed her vision quest at the age of thirteen. How nice it would be if he could have come into her life in body rather than just in spirit.
“Hold on to your faith, Anna Romanova,” he urged her. She loved him for using her maiden name. “The Anima has a plan for us all, and no one person—or spirit guide—can comprehend that plan in full.”
Anna smiled up at him and nodded. “I will,” she said, but they both knew her faith still wavered. The Anima Mundi was not the God of the Christians and the Jews and the Muslims. It gave its people the gift of magic, but it did not control all things. Without its people, the Anima would be powerless, and so trusting the Anima meant trusting people as well, both to interpret the Anima’s sometimes mysterious will, and to carry out that will.
And yet even as her faith wavered, Anna knew she would continue doing the Anima’s bidding. She had come too far to back away now. And as long as she had her faith, she would always have Viktor in her life.
Jenna generously offered up 10 eCopies of THE GIFTED DEAD as well as one grand prize package including a $100 gift card from either Amazon, iTunes or B&N. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally.
Monday, September 8th Fiktshun
Tuesday, September 9th Books and Things
Wednesday, September 10th Xpresso Reads
Thursday, September 11th Addicted 2 Heroines
Friday, September 12th Gizmos Reviews
Monday, September 15th The Book Swarm
Tuesday, September 16th Jessabella Reads
Wednesday, September 17th Romancing the Dark Side
Thursday, September 18th Literary Escapism
Friday, September 19th Bookish
Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like eighty percent of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.
Concluding that this discovery was her life’s work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. She is now a full-time author of fantasy, young adult, and romance novels.
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Adult Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Epic Fantasy