The House at Divoro: First Chapter

The House at Divoro: First Chapter

Hi readers.

By popular request, I’ll be posting the first chapter (or two) of each new book up here to peruse prior to its publication. The next one coming up is book seven of the Malykant Mysteries, entitled The House at Divoro, and therefore do find following Chapter One for your entertainment.

(Note: the book is out on the 12th of May, and it is up for pre-order in all the usual places; if you’d like to grab your copy please click here!).

 

 

 

 

The House at Divoro

The Malykant Mysteries, Book 7

by

Charlotte E. English

 

 

Starring

 

Konrad Savast

as

a gentleman of Ekamet

a confirmed bachelor

the Malykant

and

Diederik Nylund, a humble baker

Irinanda Falenia

as

an apothecary

a servant of The Shandrigal

a Reader of minds

and

Greta Pajari, an aristocrat

Tasha

as

an Assevan street orphan

a ward of the police

a fearsome lamaeni

and

Synnove, a divine avatar

Alexander Nuritov

as

a police inspector

a smoker of pipes

another bachelor (unconfirmed)

and

Vidar Pajari, brother of Greta

Eetapi and Ootapi

as

deadly ghost snakes

a pair of devoted siblings

master spies

and

bloodthirsty, troublesome wretches (no particular role)

as well as

sundry other persons, either of note or not

 

 

Chapter One

Three days after the end of the Solstice holiday (days which had, most blissfully, been spent tucked up in bed with a new book), Konrad stood in the hallway of Bakar House, adding the final accoutrements to his outdoor outfit in preparation for encountering the blistering cold of a mid-winter’s morning. He had not left the house in days, which was good because it meant that no one in Assevan had been murdered since Solstice. It was bad because he felt as fresh as an aged pair of socks, and approximately as lively. A brisk walk out into the Bones would serve him well; it was high time he paid a visit to his beloved (if neglected) hut-on-stilts.

Hat and gloves donned, collar buttoned up over his throat, serpent-headed stick duly retrieved, Konrad made for the front door. Hand outstretched, he grasped the doorknob and yanked open the door, taking a deep breath in preparation to receive a lungful of searingly cold, exquisitely fresh air.

Nanda stood on the other side of the door.

‘Nan!’ said Konrad, jumping so violently he almost dropped his stick. ‘How nice to—’

‘Ah, excellent!’ Nanda beamed delightedly. ‘How prompt! I’m so pleased.’

‘Prompt?’ Konrad echoed in bewilderment. Nanda was not only wrapped up against the cold; she was swaddled in enough layers to encounter a winter twice as bitter. She was not well, that he knew, and he was pleased to see that she was taking care of herself. But since she had most likely taken a cab to his door, was it strictly necessary to pad herself out to quite such an advanced degree?

What’s more, she was unusually well equipped for a social visit, for a pair of aged but neat travelling cases sat on either side of her booted feet, apparently just set down.

‘Has Alexander arrived yet? And Tasha?’ Nanda peeked past him into the house, her pale brow furrowing. ‘Have you left your luggage inside? Do have Gorev bring it out. The carriage will be here any moment.’

‘Tasha?’ Konrad looked behind himself, as if expecting to see Tasha and the Inspector standing behind him after all — or perhaps the luggage Nanda spoke of, obligingly materialising all by itself. Nothing. ‘I haven’t seen th—’ He began, but stopped, because here came the Inspector strolling up behind Nanda, his ward Tasha bustling along in his wake. Both were as warmly dressed as Nanda and as well prepared to travel, bearing bags and cases well swollen with supplies.

The obvious conclusion to all of these assorted hints filtered, at last, through to Konrad’s sluggish brain. ‘Are we going somewhere?’

Nanda merely looked at him, struck speechless, her face registering a mixture of exasperation and mild disgust with which Konrad was sadly familiar. ‘Are we… you mean to tell me you did not receive my communication?’

‘Was it sent by pigeon?’ Konrad enquired. ‘Your messenger is sadly incompetent, for I have received nothing.’

With a look of acute annoyance, Nanda withdrew a dainty pocket-watch from somewhere and consulted it. ‘Then you have seven minutes to pack. Do hurry up!’

‘Where are we going?’

‘It’s all in my note.’

‘Which I have not received.’

‘That can hardly be considered my fault, can it?’

‘Where,’ Konrad said with exaggerated patience, ‘are we going?’

‘A house party. In Divoro! Charming town, but quite fifty miles north at least, and it is perishingly cold so do wrap up well. And bring everything. Suitable evening attire as well, Konrad. There will be dinners.’

Konrad began to feel that he might not have left his bed after all. He had only dreamed that he had. ‘A house party,’ he repeated. ‘In Divoro.’ He looked at Nuritov and Tasha, both of whom he liked and respected but neither of whom could be described as typical guests at a house party. Nor could Nanda, in all fairness. ‘Just what kind of a party is this?’

‘No time for questions! I will explain in the carriage, if I must. Konrad, if you do not pack your things at once I will pack them for you.’

Konrad cast an appealing look at Inspector Nuritov, whose eyes conveyed do not ask me I have no idea, and an equally plaintive look at Tasha, who shrugged.

Konrad!’ bellowed Nanda. ‘Go!’

Konrad bowed to inevitability, and went.

 

‘It is hosted by Eino Holt,’ said Nanda happily, once all four were ensconced in the promised carriage and rattling their way out of the north gate of Ekamet. ‘An old friend of my mother’s. Charming man, you will love him. And Kati Vinter will be there — a thousand years old if she’s a day, but livelier than the four of us put together, I swear. Marko Bekk! And if we are lucky, Lilli Lahti! I have not seen her in years! I could not pass up the invitation. We are to be there for two, perhaps three days.’

None of this speech cast any light whatsoever upon Nanda’s reasons for hauling Konrad along to Eino Holt’s house party. Perhaps she simply wished for his company, which would be gratifying, but why had she insisted upon Alexander Nuritov’s presence besides? And Tasha’s? Was it merely her customary kindness of heart? They made an odd company of fellows for days of idleness at the house of an eccentric gentleman (he must be eccentric, Konrad knew; those who held house parties in isolated mansions always were, and the more eclectic the guests, the  madder the host).

Konrad could not ask such an insensitive question aloud, of course, and Nanda chose to ignore his pointed questioning looks with smiling serenity. At length he abandoned the endeavour, resolved to squeeze her for information at his earliest opportunity, and devoted himself to dozing through the journey.

Only once along the way did he venture to question her, and on a different topic. He tried to sound casual as he said: ‘Travelling long distances is so tiring, isn’t it?’

Nanda’s response was only a mildly suspicious stare.

‘And staying away from home, so very—’

‘Konrad.’

‘Yes?’

‘You are working your way around to casting aspersions upon my fitness to travel. Aren’t you?’

‘Well, I—’

‘Am I perchance displaying an Interesting Pallor?’

‘No more interesting than usua—’

‘Does a sheen of perspiration glisten upon my fevered brow?’

‘No no, you look perfectly—’

‘I tottered into the carriage, perhaps, too weak and frail to move far unassisted.’

Konrad sighed. ‘Point taken.’

Nanda directed her gaze out of the window. ‘When I appear infirm or in distress, then you may assist me, and with my gratitude. Until then, please do not fuss.’

Konrad made no response, uncertain what to say. He had only recently learned of Nanda’s illness, and still had no real idea as to what it consisted of. She did appear hale to him, but how long would that remain true?

He worried for her, but he could not express it without receiving a faceful of irritable discontent. Knowing Nanda as he did, he suspected that she resented his solicitude because she was worried for herself, too. But she would never admit it.

If all he could do was stay nearby in case she needed him, well… he could do that. If that meant suffering himself to be hauled over fifty miles or more of frozen, uneven roads to some distant town and spending days hobnobbing with strangers, so be it.

But when at last they turned in at the gate of a great house and rattled up the carriage-way, and he twisted his travel-stiff neck to look up at the place in which he would be spending the next few days of his life, he began, distantly, to reconsider.

For it was the strangest house he had ever seen, without contest. More of a castle than a house in size, it was situated atop the slope of a considerable hill, and the structure loomed over the road like some mythical beast temporarily paused. It was a mess of turrets and towers with spiralling domes and tall spires, built all out of reddish stone and painted in at least six other colours. It was the architectural dream of a madman, and Konrad felt a stirring of faint foreboding somewhere within.

But that was silly. Just because the house was strange, did not mean that anything unusual was likely to occur within. Nanda knew the owner, and at least a few of the party’s projected guests. He was merely being paranoid.

 

(Again, to pre-order the book click here. Or, if this is your first foray into the Malykant Mysteries and you’d like to start at the beginning, you can find the first book, The Rostikov Legacy, in all the usual stores. Click here instead!).

Latest Titles: Draykons, Malykants and More

Latest Titles: Draykons, Malykants and More

Hi world,

I thought it might be about time to announce my latest releases here… there have been a few, these past two or three months. Isn’t that awesome?

From November… Llandry (Draykon #4)

Llandry tackles another murderish case, and this time the victims are the draykoni. She keeps a journal about the whole thing, because why wouldn’t you? This is her diary.

 

From December… Faerie Fruit

A new, random, fun and smiley thing from me. What happens to the town of Berrie-on-the-Wyn when its barren orchards suddenly start fruiting again? Especially since these particular apples are very peculiar indeed…

 

From January… Two New Malykant Mysteries

Konrad and Nanda are finally back in these two new tales, The Corpse Thieves and The Spirit of Solstice! More to come.

 

In other news!

My books are now available in the Google Play store, check out my shiny catalogue here.

I’ve also put up a series reading order page on the site, in case anybody’s starting to get confused. I now have enough books out that this is becoming necessary, how cool is that?

Lately I’m giving away a free book or two to newsletter subscribers, so take a peek here if you want to get in on that.

Coming up next…

Draykon #5 (Evastany) is due out sometime next month, PLUS, as noted above, another Malykant Mystery or two is in the works. And other things…

On Good Female Characters (Or: Women Are People Too)

On Good Female Characters (Or: Women Are People Too)

A bit more about my lovely bundle. I chose a specific theme for it, and I had reasons, but I’ve never fully explained what those reasons were. So, here goes.

I’ve called it The Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle because it sounds cool, but I could have called it the Women Are People Too Fantasy Bundle with as much justice.

I know this sounds blindingly obvious. Of course women are people too, what is this? But it’s not. Sometimes, we are given appalling ladies to read about because they aren’t treated like people at all. They’re dress-up dolls.

But even short of this extreme example, women as characters can often be disappointing, and that’s precisely because they tend to be separated out into a separate box that’s called Women As Characters. It’s to do with the perceived difficulty of writing Good Female Characters, especially if you’re a man.

On a cultural level, for a long time now, we’ve had a tendency to think that People = Male by default. And sometimes you  might want to put a Female People in there too, and that’s marvellous, but she ends up being not so much a People as A FEMALE because female people are fundamentally different than (male)people on all sorts of levels. People talk about How Women Think, and What Women Want, and The Female Perspective, as if women collectively own ONE way of thinking, ONE perspective, that’s so totally separate from the default that it’s incredibly hard to understand. If you own breasts, you get a passport into this secret, alien world, and if you don’t, you have to engage in wild mental gyrations of all kinds in order to try to Get Into The Female Mindset. Even if you do own breasts and you’ve therefore got your passport, it’s easy to get caught up in this prevailing attitude, to waste time trying to write A Believable Female Character instead of just writing a character.

This is nuts. I’m sorry, but it is. It’s just as nuts as trying to Understand How Men Think. There are some things that affect women more than men and some things that affect men more than women, but all of these things are still shared issues. The only things about women that men will genuinely have a hard time getting their head around are things that relate directly to female anatomy, and that’s true vice versa as well.

Not many things about being people relate directly to one’s particular set of genitals.

So, then. To me, what makes for a great female character is that she hasn’t been treated as A Female Character (Great or Otherwise). She doesn’t have a giant label reading WOMAN stuck to her forehead, with a halo around her breasts and a delicate pink rose growing between her thighs, wafting Soft Perfume. She’s a person, who happens to be female.

That’s my take on characters in general. Write people. Some of them will probably  have breasts, and some of them will probably have penises.

That’s… that’s really it.

So this bundle. I spent a lot of time this year reading a lot of indie books, and I was delighted to encounter a lot of great stories which have no trouble with the whole Women Are People thing. This bundle is composed of my top favourites, and they’re fantastic because they’re peopled with all kinds of the peoples. These characters are tough and strong and weak and feeble, they’re smart and foolish, wise and mad. They’re broken, or they seem like nothing could ever break them. They’re possessed of a magnificent wit, they’re fond of bad jokes, or they have no sense of humour at all. They’ve had good times and bad times, learned from some of them and spectacularly failed to learn from others. They are heroes and villains and all the shades of grey in between. They like to drink, or they like to knit, or they like to dance.

Some of them have breasts and some of them don’t, which puts that biological distinction down at the bottom of my personal List of Important Stuff where it belongs. In some ways it’s sad that I have to get this point across by highlighting the ladies, when what I actually mean is simply: these books do people good, whichever genitalia they own.

I could talk about this all day but I won’t, because you and I both have stuff to do. So that’s enough. If you want to read my Bundle of Awesome, it’s still available until the 15th, so for about nine more days. Pay what you want, read a whole lot of fabulous. Get it here.

all-covers-large

My Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle

My Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle

all-covers-largeI’m doing the bundle thing again. It’s been a while since the last one – a whole year – but I’m back with a fantasy bundle this time. It’s called Leading Ladies because it’s all about the fantastic and awesome potential of great female characters (which isn’t to say these books are light on magnificent gents – they really aren’t).

You know the drill – five books for whatever you want to pay, plus five more if you pay at least $15. These books have all been personally selected by me; they’re stories I’ve loved, written by some of my top favourite indie authors, and I’m excited to promote them. There’s also one of my own books in there, Seven Dreams.

This book pack is available from today until the 15th of December, and then it’s gone forever. You can grab it for yourself, or gift it to a friend – and if you like, some of your money goes to charity. Isn’t that cool? I love bundles.

Click here to check it out, and happy reading!

Draykon 4 is out! Llandry Awaits

Draykon 4 is out! Llandry Awaits

Hi world!

I’ve decided to celebrate Halloween/Bonfire Night by releasing a new book, full of, um, scary and llandry_rgb_2500x1667thrilling things! Murder and mayhem! Shady villains! Sinister black dragons! Explosions!

…Aaaaand colourful worlds and whimsy and cute animals and friendship and love and Sigwide. Okay, it’s a new Draykon Series book so its not so season appropriate. I’ll figure out this holiday-theming thing eventually.

This new adventure is a little bit of a change of pace from the rest of the series: Llandry tells the story in her own words, which makes it my very first first-person story. If you’ve ever wondered what really goes on in Llan’s head, you’re about to find out. Good luck.

Blurbism:

Draykoni do not die. Not truly. Not forever.
So we thought. We have been proved wrong.

A killer walks the Off-Worlds, someone with the means and the will to extinguish even the oldest of draykon souls. But why would anybody do such a thing, and how?

I am Llandry Sanfaer: Draykon shapeshifter, ambassador, colony leader. My people are dying beyond hope of revival, and it falls to me to stop it. But the killer leaves nothing behind. No hints, no clues. Just a lifeless skeleton in a dead world.

What’s more, the corrupted energy of Orlind has broken its confines. It’s spreading. With my people and my worlds under threat, I’ll need all my wits, all my strength, and all my friends to set things right.

It is released today, so if you would like to partake of this adventure you may acquire a copy immediately from the following stores:
AmazonKoboBarnes & NobleSmashwordsiBooks

What am I Doing Next?

Well I’m writing two things right now, those being Evastany, Book Five of the Draykon Series, in which Eva regales us about sinister Lokant plots in her own, mildly sarcastic words. I’m also writing Malykant Mysteries 5. Both these titles ought to be going out early next year, watch this space.

As soon as those are finished I’ll be hastening straight on to write book four in the Tales of Aylfenhame, which I’m hugely looking forward to because after all it is my happy land. On a vaguely related topic, I’ll have one more new book for you in the next few weeks, a secret whimsy project called Faerie Fruit which may be of interest to those who loved wandering through Aylfenhame.

So that’s it for news for a few weeks. Thanks for joining me, and happy reading!

Aylfenhame 3 is LIVE! Oh, and a Book Sale

Dear happy reading folk,

Bessie Bell and the Goblin KingAs of today, July 12th, Bessie Bell and the Goblin King is live in all the places! Or more specifically, from all of these places: AmazonSmashwordsBarnes & NobleiBooks • Kobo

Now that one’s out of the way, I’ll be back to writing on Llandry  (Draykon 4). It’s too early to give you an estimated release for it yet, but I’ll keep you posted as I go along.

In the meantime, Smashwords is having their usual summer sale and, as usual, I am participating. If you’re interested in titles like Black Mercury  or The Malykant Mysteries you can try those for free until the end of July (using their handy dandy promo code at checkout, SFREE). If Miss Ellerby and the Ferryman , Seven Dreams or The Draykon Series Omnibus are more your speed, you can get those at 50% off via code SSW50.

That’s it from me! Until next time, happy reading.

– C.

 

Updates and Book News

Updates and Book News

Morning all,

I realised it’s been a while since I shared the news, so here we go.

Upcoming Books

Bessie Bell and the Goblin King (Tales of Aylfenhame, 3) is finished and going into editing shortly. Also, the illustrations are underway! I hope to be able to share more on this soon, but in the meantime, release is tentatively set for May/June. If you’d like to pre-order this one, you can do so here (all stores except Amazon, which is coming soon).

I’m currently writing Llandry, which will be book 4 of the Draykon Series – albeit with a change of pace. In this story, Llandry tells her own tale about what happens after the Waeverleyne War. It’s too early to offer a firm release date yet, but I envisage it being ready by autumn. You can also pre-order this one at Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, or add it to your shelves on Goodreads if you want a reminder when it’s out.

I have begun work on my first non-fantasy title, too, which is presently queued behind Llandry and won’t be done for a while yet. But boy, is it refreshing! Much as I love my dragons and magic and whimsy, it’s lovely to do something different.

 

PaperbacksThe-Malykant-Mysteries-Collection-3D-Barnes-and-Noble

I’ve finally got around to finishing up the paperback of the Malykant Mysteries Compendium. Here it is all shiny-like on Amazon! It should be wending its way to other stores as I speak. With that, everything I’ve published is now available in paperback, which is glorious. It is my solemn intention to keep this up in the future.

 

Website

A little fair warning: I have some changes planned to this site which I’ll be implementing soon. This might lead to some confusion in the short term, but when it’s done I hope it will be a little clearer, a little quicker and juicily mobile-friendly to boot.

 

StoryBundle

I love StoryBundle! Which you might gather from the fact that I’ve worked with them three times now. The fourth is coming up at the end of this year; I’m busy putting together a terrific bundle of fantasy books with some of the best lady-characters around. More on this later in the year.

 

Tea

This may not seem all that important but I assure you that it IS. Having lately wended Englandwards once more, I return with teas aplenty to keep me fuelled while I write the next couple of books. All I need now is the perfect teapot to brew them in, which is a mission in progress.

 

Anyway that’s it for now; back to writing with me. TTFN!

Cover Reveal: Miss Ellerby and the Ferryman

Presenting the cover for Aylfenhame #2!

 

MissEllerby large

 

How lovely is that? This thing of beauty is, as ever, by the magnificent Elsa Kroese.

And with that, the book is up for pre-order in all of the places. More specifically, at Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Here be the blurby bit:

Tilby, Lincolnshire, 1812. Miss Isabel Ellerby is a dutiful daughter to her loving parents, and more than happy to go along with the marriage they have planned for her. But the revelation of a long-held secret turns her neatly-arranged life upside down. When an unwise promise to the mysterious Ferryman of Aylfenhame lands her in the midst of an adventure, Isabel is forced to choose: Will she pursue a safe, conventional life as Miss Ellerby of Ferndeane, or will she follow her heart and her destiny to Aylfenhame?