Genre: Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: September 28, 2015
Number of pages: 355
Word Count: 90,674
Evangeline Black quickly becomes entangled in the magic that thrives in Gnome, Mississippi, when she spontaneously shifts into a wolf only hours after arriving.
Her life is out of control, and she has to rely on the kindness of strangers: the psychic caretaker of the lovely antebellum home where her mother was born, the sheriff who practices his own version of Native American-inspired magic, and a rocker werewolf. While she struggles at the bottom of the magical learning curve, it becomes apparent that someone is stalking her.
Evangeline quickly learns two things about Gnome. The first is that anything is possible. The second is that magical creatures are much less enchanting when they want you dead.
“How’s the aura practice been going?” Ben asked.
“Well, I’ve read the book… most of it… and I’ve been practicing. I’m just too easily distracted.”
“Okay, well, we’re going to work on that because concentration is key to everything, the auras and your shifting.” Ben excused himself for a moment and went to the kitchen. When he returned a few minutes later, he had a steaming cup of tea. “This is what I call a meditational blend, just a few herbs I’ve put together that will help you to reach the desired state a lot quicker.”
Ben laughed. “Not exactly. The point isn’t that you hallucinate; it’s that you relax and focus. You won’t see any pink elephants, I promise.”
I grinned. I already felt pretty relaxed after the wine. “You should be wondering about the fact that you offered me some strange drink, and I drank it without question.”
“I assume it means you trust me.”
I did. “So, will it make the auras more visible?”
“That’s up to the viewer. The auras are always there. If you are trying to see them, it will help. I wouldn’t recommend that a person use this as a crutch, but I feel like you might need a little boost to get started. So, bottoms up.”
“So, were you born with power, or is it a learned thing?” I asked, as I brought the cup to my lips.
“I believe we’re all born with power. Free will is the power to choose. Most people forfeit that power by choosing to accept limitations. It’s a case of worldwide groupthink. During our early years, it’s easy to accept the concept of magic. As we get older, that faith in what is unseen is educated out of us, and we begin to rationalize what we once believed was magic and force it to fit within the limitations of the mainstream worldview. Once you break away from that groupthink and accept that there is more, that’s when the magic begins. It may not be much at first, and you are still tempted to rationalize it.”
I nodded. “It was easy for my friend Aimee to rationalize some of the things I experienced. The more she tried to convince me I was imagining things, the more I began to think I was crazy.”
Ben nodded. “There’s a war inside all of us. Because of your heritage, the part that was telling you to believe was probably a lot stronger than it is for most.”
“Stronger than it was for you?”
“Probably, although, I started exploring at a young age. I didn’t really allow myself to get to the point where I bought into the mainstream worldview. I think that made all of the difference.”
I tossed the last of the tea back and swallowed. There was no sugar in the cup, so the taste was a mixture of grass, bitter plants, and something naturally sweet-tasting like fennel. “It’s not bad, but it’s not great either.”
Ben grinned, taking the cup from my hands.
I was mesmerized by how graceful his hands were. They weren’t big and rough. What can I say? I’m a hand person.
“Just give it time to kick in,” he said as he gently set the cup on an end table. I noted that he used a coaster.
“So, out of curiosity, you just made this using the right plants?” I asked.
“Well, it’s a combination of things—plants and my own personal power. The plants are completely harmless herbs that might be used in cooking or sold over the counter as supplements. They probably wouldn’t have any effect whatsoever without… help.”
I was trying to focus on what he was saying, but I was distracted by the sensation of tunnel vision.
“I don’t exactly follow a recipe,” Ben continued. “I just kind of go with my gut. Different herbs are reputed to have different properties, like for curing the sniffles or having visions, whatever. I pick certain ones and put them together, but the real magic is in the intent.”
“So, you do a spell over them?” My words felt thick in my mouth. The room seemed to be expanding and getting darker at the same time. I was sure the walls were breathing.
“No, it’s not like I recite an incantation or say magic words or anything. It’s more like praying and directing my will at them.”
“So… if the real power in the tea is your own, why do you need the tea at all? What can’t you just..?” I waggled my fingers.
Ben laughed. “Do what? The tea is more like a vessel… or a conduit. I can use a vessel to store power and even concentrate power, which can then be transferred without exhausting my current resources.”
I was feeling the room beginning to spin, and, although I was sitting cross-legged on the carpet, I seemed to be slithering to the floor and nearly fell over backwards. “O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick!”
Ben laughed as he reached out to catch me. “Don’t leave just yet. Try to focus. Stay with me, okay?” He propped me up against the couch like I was a rag doll. Very much unlike a supermodel.
“I’d say that was more than just a little boost.” My head flopped back on the couch, and I looked up at the ceiling and saw the stars where I was sure there hadn’t been a skylight earlier. The room was falling away from my vision, and I was looking at the night sky through the trees. Then I was looking down and saw myself sitting in Ben’s living room with the beautiful man bent over me. I was watching my own eyes, a dead stare, as my arms lay limp at my sides. I could hear him urging me to focus, and I sensed the beginnings of concern in his voice. The tiniest thread of fear that the worst case scenario might have manifested.
About the Author:
Emily Night grew up in a series of small towns in Mississippi. The youngest of four children, she dreamed of being a writer from the moment she wrote her first story in the fourth grade. At the age of twelve, she rode her bike up to the square of a small town and asked the editor to publish one of her stories. While the editor did not, he was very kind and encouraging. She graduated magna cum laude from Mississippi College and later obtained a Master’s from Belhaven University. She prefers reading and writing fantasy because fantasy allows her to test the modern-day limits of what is possible.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Emily-Night/e/B01602KWWW/
5 signed copies When In Gnome
What I loved: Evangeline Black returns to her biological mother’s home town of Gnome after her biological mother’s death. Having been adopted, she knows little of the woman, her history, or of the town. What she finds in Gnome are a lot of quirky characters and multitudes of magic. Told from alternating first-person perspectives, the reader gets inside both Evangeline’s mind and Daniel, the caretaker of the property, as well as some of the other supporting characters. While I’m not always a fan of this type of narration, it worked well in this debut novel.
What I wanted more of: Evangeline accepts her magic ancestry and ability to shape shift pretty quickly. Most people, even if they believed they were ‘different’ or had inclinations about their life not being normal, would possibly be more skeptical. I thought additional time should be spent on the main character both coming to terms with her magic nature, her ancestry, and learning what it entailed.
And Finally: If you want to be transported to a magical place with lots of conflict, interesting characters, then Gnome is for you. I loved Evangeline Black and became engrossed in her quest to find herself, and in doing so facing many interesting and sometimes scary challenges and adventures.