J.P. Sloan’s new urban-fantasy novel is finally here! Learn more about The Curse Merchant, courtesy of Curiosity Quills Press.
The Curse Merchant, by J.P. Sloan
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Re-Release: September 15th, 2014
Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts
About The Book:
Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian’s disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.
His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn’t be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian’s captivating ex-lover. After two years’ absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen’s affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation… with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.
I kept my reagents with my crafting space in a mini-storage unit in Catonsville. I often used flake gold and semi-precious stones in my crafting, and after a particularly destructive break-in six years ago, I learned to relocate my professional materials separate from my personal.
After a short drive to Catonsville, I punched in the gate code, and found my way to the storage unit. The place was empty for a sunny Sunday morning, so I didn’t have to worry so much about discretion. I keyed open the padlock on the overhead door and slid it up with a rusty rattle. Stepping inside, I sucked in a lungful of dust, then pulled the door closed behind me. The air still held enough autumn crispness to keep the interior of the storage unit from turning into an oven. I wasn’t going to be there long at any rate.
I found the wall switch and clicked on the single bulb in the center of the unit. The familiar stacks of cardboard boxes lining each side of the unit stood in a dusty repose. In the center of the unit, just beneath the light bulb, stood my work table. A black steamer trunk sat beneath it. I found the small key to the chest on my keychain and clicked it open, pulling out the top tray. The usual row of brass Mason jar lids greeted me, though, as I pulled them into view one after another, I realized how sparse my inventory had become. Most pertinently, I needed more lodestone. Any hex involving electronics benefited from a nice shot of natural magnetism, and I was empty.
I rolled back into a squat, staring at the empty jar in my hand. My gaze lifted to the far end of the storage unit, and a black iron cage still cloaked in shadow. The meager light from the bulb never managed to penetrate the bars, and that suited me just fine. A single locked dark-lacquered cabinet sat within, its contents guarded from the light of day, and vice versa.
It was a gift from my teacher, Emil Desiderio. Well, less a gift and more an inheritance. After his unfortunate demise, he had left me his compendium of Netherwork tomes, handed down to him from his mentor. They were a collection of western European hex craft, charm workings, Goetic manifests, Germanic runewords, and some Stregheria curses which, frankly, made my teeth shiver.
Emil was trained from his teenage years in Netherwork. He had doggedly refused to teach me anything that dealt with the infernal forces that power Netherwork. Emil referred to these forces as The Dark Choir. As he put it, the rocks and trees would cry out in praise of God, but there was a Dark Choir that would sing darker songs in their depths, and praised no God.
I had never opened the cabinet. I knew better. The knowledge of Netherwork was alluring in its power and ease of execution. Simply reading one of the tomes was risky. It’s impossible to un-learn something one has learned, and the knowledge held within that cabinet was, simply put, infernal. I’d locked it up and kept the key in a box in the top of my closet. Even before Emil’s death, I knew I wanted nothing to do with Netherwork. The outcome, invariably, was death.
About The Author:
t, I am a storyteller, eager to transport the reader to strange yet familiar worlds. My writing is dark, fantastical, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, and other times hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed. I write science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, and several shades in between.
I am a husband and a father, living in the “wine country” of central Maryland. I’m surrounded by grapevines and cows. During the day I commute to Baltimore, and somehow manage to escape each afternoon with only minor scrapes and bruises. I am also a homebrewer and a certified beer judge. My avocations dovetail nicely!
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