Blood Hex by Erin Butler – Review/Excerpt

Blood Hex by Erin Butler – Review/Excerpt


BloodHexTour

Blurb:

Two girls. Four centuries. One curse.  Isabella started it—all because a boy fell in love with her—but it ends with Sarah. Isabella and Thomas meet in secret during the witching hours while the  rest of the villagers hide behind locked doors. And even though Isabella’s scared, she wants Thomas more. He’ll protect her from the night, from his father who’ll decide her future, and from the paranoia-fueled hunting parties taking away innocents. Centuries later, seventeen-year old Sarah runs away to an aunt she never knew she had. Her dad? Dead. Her mother? A liar. She wants the memories of a father she never got, but instead, discovers her father’s death wasn’t innocent. Everyone—the Wiccans, the townies, even her quasi-boyfriend—are hiding something. The secret the history-rich town will kill to keep entangles Sarah into a centuries  old witch curse.

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About the author: 

Erin Butler lives in upstate New York where winter is her arch nemesis. She prefers to spend her time indoors reading and writing, but ventures out for chocolate, sunshine, and to perform her librarian duties at a local library. She lives with her very understanding husband, a stepson, and doggie BFF, Maxie. Erin’s dreams of becoming an author started in Kindergarten when she wrote her first story about witches, the eloquently titled, six-sentence page-turner, “The Three Witches”. Now, she likes to write longer works for teens in many different genres.

Top 5 “Love, Laughter & Friendship” Moments in Blood Hex

True, Blood Hex is a touch on the supernatural thriller side, but that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have its awww or LOL moments. Here are just a few to whet your appetite!

  1.       Girl Ogles Boy

“Holy…mm mmm.” It wasn’t Rose. Nope. For sure not Rose. I stretched my neck and bumped my head on the windowpane. “Ouch.” I rubbed at the blossoming sting and then placed my palms on the warm glass. The real life picture also made me smile.

A guy, about my age, tanned to a deep bronze with a great bod, pushed a mower around a beautiful backyard garden with rows and rows of red roses. He wiped at his face using a shirt and then slung it over his shoulder. My aunt came around the side of the house and pointed at the row next to him. He nodded, his sun-tinted golden brown hair falling into his face before he pushed it back with the shirt hem.

  1.       Sarcastic Sarah

Drake warned this would be weird, but this was bad. This was like Mardi Gras night at one of the clubs back home, but worse. Much worse. These people were into it. And it was everybody. The whole freakin’ town was crazy.

At least not everyone wore a ho costume though, which was good, considering. Considering Adams was no Miami and there were people of all shapes and sizes in this rinky-dink town. Plenty wore the obvious, overdone witch look—faces painted green, long, thin, wart-covered noses, and pointy hats.

Oh, the hat. Now this was where the townies got clever. Black ones, purple ones, red with black lace ones and the best one yet, lime green and black striped that matched the tights the women wore. Yes, a group of them. A senior citizen group, that, from the look of their arthritic knuckles clutching straw broomsticks, probably made their way over on a bus from the local nursing home. At least they weren’t the ones in the corsets and G-strings.

I can’t believe my dad grew up here.

I kept it low-key. As in off the crazy radar low-key.

  1.       Ex Problems

“Well, then,” Marlene said, defeated for the moment, “you’re definitely lucky to have found him. He just loves this stuff.” She smiled wide, her face overexcited, like she was seeing Disney World for the first time. She reached over and started to rub Drake’s hand.

I took mine away from his shoulder. No way was I going to get into a territorial boy fight with this backcountry skankarella. I picked up the Adams Gazette and ignored them.

“I think I’m the lucky one,” Drake said. He pulled his hand away and placed it in his lap.

  1.       “…have fun.” *wink,wink*

He pulled on my sneaker. “Come here.” I twisted and sat in between his legs, laying my back against his chest. He folded his arms around me. “Just because we’re acting like Nancy Drew doesn’t mean we can’t…have fun.”

He kissed my neck and no matter how much I wanted him to keep going, I turned to him and kissed his lips. “We should really pay attention to this.”

  1.       Friends share everything…even their Wiccan status.

“Then, why do you stay?” I asked.

“I told you. Research. I thought I would have figured it out by now. I thought I could help them by seeing what they’re doing and then telling somebody so they would make them stop.”

“Who? Like the witch police?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.” Jennie said, throwing up her arms before she grabbed back on to the safe handle.

“But you haven’t found anything that bad?”

“No. Like I said, I’m a newbie. A Wiccan Virgin.”

I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek into Blood Hex!

 

Excerpt:

The lights around the park dimmed. I twisted toward the makeshift stage again. Forty feet away, a figure stood tall, elevated by the 2×4’s that lay out on the grass only a few hours ago. A hooded black robe disguised the guy, not that I would know who he was anyway. The dark night, the material folding over his head, made him look like a faceless grim reaper. It was dusk and getting darker, the pink deepening to a rose red.

The robed figure lifted his hand, smooth, indifferent, a marionette being played with. His hand made a wide, sweeping horizontal arc, pointing into the faces of everybody.

My stomach twisted and turned into knots. Drake bumped into my shoulder and held out a drink as he sat down. Then, the figure yanked his hands in the air and a big blaze of fire erupted from the space between the stage and the audience. I jumped, deftly managing to spill half my soda. I barely noticed.

Flames shot up, reaching toward the night. The smell of gasoline used for ignition hung in the air. A few people laughed behind me. Drake even joined in. “Gotcha,” he said, leaning over, whispering in my ear. With him so close, the cologne clinging to his long, black robe smothered the wood smoke that had filled my nostrils.

I peered at him. He turned away and pulled his hood up. He was the exact match of the person on stage.

I sat with a wizard. I talked with a wizard.

I made fun of people for things like this.

Still, I inched closer to him. The fire, the reddish sky, the grim reaper, the witches, everything. It got to me. An eerie feeling tangled itself within every thought, like something hidden watched from just beyond sight.

On the stage, the figure in the dark cloak threw back the hood. The fire glow cast the face in shadows, an ever-changing kaleidoscope of orange, red, and black. The speakers thumped, thumped, thumped as the black hooded figure tapped the front of the microphone. The hollow sound echoed throughout the open park and bounced off the surrounding buildings. No one talked. They barely even moved. Only the slight ripple of the crowd as everyone inclined their heads and inched forward, awe-struck.

The wind picked up, fueling the flames. The blazed erupted, flaring up, lighting the figure’s face. I gasped.

The grim reaper wasn’t a guy. It was Rose.

Drake peeked over at me, his eyebrows knit together. “You okay?”

“That’s my aunt,” I whispered loud, still trying to comprehend it myself. “What is she doing up there?”

“She’s the leader.”

“Huh?” Uneasiness squeezed my chest, like the time I went to see that stupid Ouija board movie with friends. They all laughed through the scary parts while I spent most of the movie with my heart trembling and one second away from closing my eyes. “Leader of what?”

“This.” Drake opened his arms wide and twisted his body, scanning the corners of the five-sided park. “She puts all this together.”

I took it all in. Giant banners announced “Adams Colonization”, eerie witch posters and mannequins with stringy green hair and large, red eyeballs stared back. The guards along the stage dressed in old brown suits and hats I guessed were supposed to be replicas of what the first settlers wore. The costumes reminded me of pilgrims. They stood at attention, faces impassible as they monitored the crowd. The picture sank into my brain, this parallel reality where past met present in a jumbled mesh.

Drake leaned into me again. “Sorry. I should have told you.”

No wonder why she said she was too busy to hang out with me. I snuck forward a little, caught up in the surprise appearance of Rose. The arm that had been touching Drake instantly chilled. He was so nice. And cute. But the reason why I came here was up on that stage.

Rose’s voice rang out, low and seductive. “On this day in 1610, our ancestors inhabited a foreign land. Today, we call that piece of land Adams, Virginia.” Scattered applause swelled through the park. “Our ancestors brought with them superstition…and fear from England. Men and women, children—all terrified of one thing.” Rose’s hypnotic voice was mesmerizing and I leaned forward even more. “Witches.” The stare of an old, wise woman lingered over everybody and when her eyes met mine, a pool of black reflected the licking orange flames.

“They fled here, terrified of the supernatural. They hoped to start a new life. One without the constant paranoia. They failed. Our ancestors lived in complete, maddening, unrelenting fear their entire lives. Are we like them?” Audible no’s and descending grunts rose from the crowd. “No. We’re not.” Her voice pitched higher, and louder. “Today, we embrace our history. Today, we stare the supernatural in the face and laugh at it.” Loud cheers erupted from every corner of the park and Rose shouted over them, “Today, we celebrate!”

Rose motioned to the side of the reaching flames. Two men in the ugly brown trousers and jackets nodded. “During this opening ceremony, we will conquer fear as they did back in the old days.” The men pulled at ropes, hoisting a cross into the air. Mounted to the cross beam was the body of a woman, her mouth agape in horror.

I drew in a sharp breath. I felt Drake move next to me so I turned my gaze on him. A sly smile graced his face. He put his arm around me, pulling me closer. “Are you scared?” he whispered.

I couldn’t speak. These people were freakin’ crazy. My eyes darted through the crowd, looking for a policeman—somebody—who might stop this.

“Don’t worry. We always do this on opening night,” Drake said, pulling me even closer, rubbing my shoulder with his hand.

I wanted to scream at him to do something, to help the poor woman. He only sat smiling, eyes bright with anticipation. I knocked his hand off me and pulled away, but before I could wiggle free of Drake’s arms and run to the fire pit, the cotton clothes the woman wore caught fire from the reaching flames underneath. My breath clogged my throat. I didn’t know whether to scream first, or cry.

The flames spread fast. The waistline already edged with black char before the fire incinerated it. Dark gray smoke furled over the helpless woman and puffed up toward the blood red sky.

 Review:

Okay, I have to admit that I stayed up way too late reading this book because I was hooked.  Yes, hooked.  If you know anything about me and my big sister Harlie, we LOVE stories about witches.  There is something powerful about a witch.   For me, they are more powerful than a vamp, sexier than a were and there’s that are they a good witch/bad witch thing going on.  🙂

In this story, we have a normal teenager that just wants to know what the hell happened to her father when he died all those years ago.  To do that, she leaves Miami and travels to a backwoods town in Virginia.  If I were Sarah, I’d be mad too at my mother for withholding all that information about my dad.  And then to find out that he might have been tied to witches in his hometown?  Yep, I’d be freaking out, too.

What I really loved about this story was that each chapter talked about the past and the present.  It was super easy to follow and it flowed quite nicely.  I was never lost but I will have to admit that I didn’t make the connection until the very end when it was revealed.  Ooooo, Pink likes that when I can’t figure it out.  Yes, I’m weird.  Harlie can figure stuff out rather quickly but me…not so much.

Sarah is a good character and I immediately liked her.  Sassy, snarky and the disbelief in her was great.  I’m not sure that I would have believed everything that I was seeing either.  From Miami to the backwoods…yep, not believing it.  She did find a sorta boyfriend in Drake but for me, I never really connected with him.  I knew something was up with him from the get go but never quite figured it out.  🙂  Her aunt Rose was just too weird for me but also very integral to the plot.  The teenagers in the story were the usual suspects but Jennie stood out for me.  She had figured it all out and was hell bent on helping Sarah whether she liked it or not.

Isabella and Thomas broke my heart.  I can not imagine living in the time of witch hunts, burning at the stakes and general fearfulness of the occult.  Especially since women weren’t considered smart and had to answer to a ma.  Humph…I don’t answer to a man and if I lived in that time, I would have been in the stocks for a very long time.

This book was creepy, thrilling and very fast paced.  The twist in the end was a doozy and it completely threw me for a loop.  I never saw it coming and I was a little let down.  While I loved the book and everything that it encompassed, I was let down in the last couple of pages.  😦  I’ll let you read it and see if you felt the same way I did.

Overall, I would recommend Blood Hex.  It has everything that I’m looking for in a YA paranormal…well except the last two pages.

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