I'm so happy to have Laura Bickle back on my blog to share her latest release--Dark Alchemy--with my readers. The apparently quiet old West town of Temperance sounds so creepy and fun...and probably is not as quiet as first appears. Find out more in her guest article and be sure to check out her contest at the end of this post.
Time Stands Still in the Weird West
By Laura Bickle
Ever been to one of those places where time stands still, and it gives you the willies?
The town of Temperance is like that for geologist Petra Dee. She’s come here to escape her own personal demons and to search for her father, missing for ten years. She’s hoping to find peace and closure, but she must confront the supernatural weirdness that’s infested Temperance for more than a hundred years.
Built at the edge of Yellowstone National Park and ranch land, Temperance has changed little over the past century. Founded by an alchemist back in the Gold Rush days, Temperance flourished as long as rocks were transformed into gold. But the alchemist, Lascaris, perished in a suspicious fire, and the town’s economy tanked.
While the town withered, Lascaris left behind many half-finished alchemical experiments. Time stood still for the Hanged Men, the local undead. A product of Lascaris’s botched attempts to unlock the secret of eternal life, the Hanged Men are bound to the land, to the Alchemical Tree of Life that stands on a ruthless cattle baron’s land. The Hanged Men must return to the tree every night to decompose and regenerate, stuck in an incomplete alchemical process.
Gabriel is the oldest of the Hanged Men. He’s always in the company of his raven familiars, his spies on the world, while he masquerades as a ranch hand. Time has been kinder to Gabriel than the others. Later generations of the Hanged Men retained less and less of their humanity and memory as the power of the tree waned. For over a century, they’ll do anything in their power to preserve the tree, even kill for it.
When Petra unearths a golden compass, dating back to Lascaris’s era, she is forced to suspend her skepticism of the town’s origins. The pretty artifact has the power to locate magic, and it’s fueled by blood. The compass leads her to the door of the Hanged Men and places her in the crosshairs of the local drug lord, himself an heir to Lascaris’sold magic. When twisted and calcinated bodies turn up that Petra can’t explain scientifically, she’ll have to rely on her wits to escape the town that time forgot, or die trying.
Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle’s novel Dark Alchemy.
Some secrets are better left buried…
Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present.
But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill.
Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.
About the Author:
Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.
Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are her latest young adult novels.
1 copy of Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle