What Spookery is That?
Mature Magic Book 5
I'm trying to find my missing Council member, which might involve visiting the spectral plane. Something that I'm strangely not looking forward to. (sarc) The last thing I need is this...this mess. Achieving my full powers feels like mega-menopause, hot flashes and all. Unfortunately, these flashes can actually burn.
Something’s changing. Something big. I’m finally achieving the last stage of my Lares power. I realize the transformation is hard. It’s painful and confusing. I know all of this because my advocate, the world’s crankiest moon hound and consummate know-it-all was elated to inform me about it. What I didn’t know was that I’d be trying to save one of my council members in the middle of the whole mess. Unfortunately, this is all starting to remind me of my initiation into the Lares gig. I barely survived that transition. I’m not so sure I’m going to survive this one.
"Love, love, love it!
Now this is what I'm talking about! This is classic Sam Cheever! Great characters, great world building, great relationships, great interactions. Twisted plots and unexpected obstacles! I couldn't get enough of this book! Fabulous book that I highly recommend. If you love oddball characters, unique story lines, magic and romance, people working together for a good cause, food, tears, pain and joy, you'll love this book!"
More From This Series
Praise for What Spookery is That?
Kristen L - Booksprout Reviewer
This was a thrill ride from the moment I cracked the covers open and then never let up – not even at the end. And there’s a whole lot of stuff that happens there that’s made sure I’m desperate to get my hands on the next book just so I can learn what happens next. I don’t have any guesses where the author is going to take this story, but I want to be first in line to take that ride.
Deb - Booksprout Reader Review
Aggy and her council find themselves battling demons again. There is so much action in this book. I enjoyed reading this story. It has action, magic, friendship, and love and sadness all mixed in. Many of the action scenes are very intense. Poor Aggy has to go through the last cycle of being a lares and it is most painful. It was a difficult book to put down.
Read an Excerpt
The moon was blue. It hung over us like a threat, so big and so close I imagined I could feel the touch of its rays against my skin.
My hot, sweaty skin.
Ten feet away, Wanda and Caleigh, otherwise known as the crone, had their heads bent over a grimoire they’d opened in the thick, overlong grass of the graveyard. I’d been informed by my groundskeeper, the gnome, that the grass would go into shock and falter if he cut it so late in the season.
I didn’t know about any of that. I just wished it wasn’t drenching my sneakers. Blowing air through my lips, I felt instantly shamed. I was a sweaty, cranky mess. I knew my mood was bad, but didn’t seem able to do anything about it. I was facing the last stage in becoming a full-fledged Lares, a guardian protector for Rome, Indiana. The process encompassed four levels of acclimation: Understanding, Acceptance, Outreach, and Response. I was working my way through Response, and, as far as I could tell, it seemed way too much like menopause.
I tugged the damp t-shirt away from my chest and sighed as a wisp of cool air slipped beneath it. Impatience rippled under my skin. I bit it back, knowing its source. I’d been impossible to live with for a month. Maybe longer. Really, since my friend and council member, Trish had left us to manage the fairy realm.
With Reverend Dodson also missing, I was feeling out of sorts and scattered.
That was what I blamed it on, at least. But I had a notion that wasn’t really the cause.
I had bigger problems.
Wanda broke away from the crone and ambled toward me, her long legs eating up the distance between us and her hands shoved into the pockets of her fashionably ratty jeans. I took a moment to enjoy watching her move. She’d grown a couple of inches since she’d moved in with me. Filled out a little. And her dark brown eyes sparkled with humor and pleasure more often than not. She reminded me of a colt whose legs had grown too fast and she wasn’t always sure what to do with them.
I smiled at the thought.
A large black cat trotted after my kid, long tail lazily fanning the air. Wraith fixed me with round, yellow eyes and licked his chops as if wondering if I’d taste like chicken.
The teen stopped in front of me, tucked a heavy strand of straight black hair behind one pierced ear, and frowned. “Aggy, it’s sixty degrees out here. Are you sure you don’t want your coat?”
I shook my head. The temperature of the air might be sixty degrees, but I might as well be standing on the crust of a volcano judging by my internal temperature. “I’m fine, sweetie. Did you figure it out?”
She narrowed her gaze for a beat. “Are you feeling all right?”
My entire body went rigid with irritation. I tried to hide it, hoping Wanda wouldn’t notice. Everybody kept asking me that question and I was getting sick of answering it.
Taking a long slow breath, I forced a smile. “I’m okay.” When she started to frown, I reached out and touched the sleeve of her coat. “I promise.”
She expelled air. “Okay. Well. We think we know where he has to be.” Her gaze slid toward the woods and her frown deepened.
At the back of the wide lawn, galloping from the woods at full speed, the White Mare thundered toward us. Normally, the sight would alarm me. It usually meant trouble. But I knew from my own experience that the magical horse was simply reacting to the magical influences caused by the thinning veil.
The blue moon. I’d been told by the white-haired woman crouched a few feet away that the veil was at its absolute thinnest during a blue moon. I could feel the truth in her statement. Magic danced along my skin, pulling up gooseflesh in its wake.
The crone was wearing faded stretch jeans, bright red sneakers, and a tee-shirt that read “Dachshunds Aren’t Dogs. They’re Necessities. Like Potato Chips and Wine.”
That sentiment wasn’t wrong. My own little necessity was in the house playing with the crone’s two sweet girls. I could hear their happy yips all the way from the house.
“How much time do we have?” I asked the teen.
Wanda turned around and bellowed. “Caleigh? What’s the timeline?”
I tensed every time the girl called the crone by her given name. Something told me the powerful witch slash magical historian didn’t allow such intimacies easily or often. But the crone simply pushed herself out of a crouch and started toward us, her gnarled fingers wiggling as if she were mentally doing a math problem.
Or a spell. At five feet six inches tall, the crone was my height and slightly stooped from her unknown but decidedly advanced age. Her abundance of white hair blasted straight up from her scalp, rolled into a soft lift at the crown, and then plummeted straight down to skim the tops of her flat butt cheeks. Her eyes were her best feature. They were a beautiful ocean blue, touched with green and silver specks that made them always seem to dance with humor.
“Eight hours,” she finally said. “In and out. If you’re not out by then, you’re stayin’ there.”
Ignoring Wanda’s worried gaze, I asked, “Where exactly am I going?” I really didn’t want to know…but I needed to.
To say I wasn’t excited about ducking into the spirit realm to rescue my missing ghostly council member would be a massive understatement. I’d grown accustomed to the ghosts who haunted the little church graveyard and had considered Reverend Dodson a friend. But my advisor, the ever-snotty moon-hound shifter, Sir Ferral of the Guardian Assembly, a.k.a. my advocate, informed me that the spirits in the spiritual realm were generally a nasty bunch. It appeared the closer they got to the heart of spookdom, the meaner a spirit became. He’d also delighted in informing me that the kind and benevolent Reverend Dodson might not even know who I was if he’d gone too deep, which would make him a solid “them” in the “us vs them” column.
Since it was Ferral’s job to keep me informed and up-to-date on all the weird stuff my new role as Lares guardian for the tiny town of Rome, Indiana threw at me, I trusted him.
He was generally an arrogant as…um…jerk, but he did know his stuff.
“I don’t suppose you can tell by all that…” I swirled a finger in the general direction of the open grimoire. “…magic stuff, where the Rev is and if he’s gone mutant on us?”
The crone glared at me from her mostly unlined face. The only signs of age on her face were a sunburst of “laugh lines” at the corners of her eyes, badly misnamed in her case, and the area around her mouth, which was heavily lined, probably because she had a bad habit of pursing her lips as she was currently doing, making her mouth resemble an anus. I squelched a smile at the thought. “I’m not a magical GPS, Lares. Nor am I a mystical mood ring.”
Wanda snorted before catching a look from me that turned her expression neutral.
“What I can tell you is that you’re going to be fighting for your life in there.” She frowned, a smidgeon of warmth taking some of the coolness from her blue eyes. “Are you sure you want to go in there alone, girl? There’s a reason you have a council, you know.”
Wanda nodded enthusiastically. “Let me go with you,” she said, her tight expression revealing the full extent of her concern.
I shook my head. “I need to go it alone,” I said, my gut twisting at the thought.
“Who says?” barked the crone, sounding like an angry kid on the playground. “Is it written in the stars?”
I narrowed my eyes at her mockery. Even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t tell her why I felt an immutable need to enter the spiritual realm alone. I couldn’t tell her because I didn’t understand it myself. So, instead of responding to her question, I asked a new one of my own. “When do I need to go in?”
The crone held my gaze for a long moment. I got the sense she was considering pressing for a response to her question, but she broke eye contact before I did—go me—and shook her head. “Before the moon falls from the sky.”
Then she turned on her heels and headed for the White Mare, who was waiting patiently for her near the house. The crone gave a shrill whistle and the door to my house swung open, seemingly without any help. Two little female dachshunds ran barking out of the house, my little darling, Monty, hot on their heels.
“Oh no you don’t,” I said, reaching out to snag him as he ran past. “The girls are going home, and you’re staying here.”
He barked enthusiastically in my arms, his happy brown gaze following them into the forest bordering my property. As they disappeared from sight, he sagged, whining unhappily.
I kissed him between his sad eyes. “Sorry, little man. We’ll have another play date soon.”
He lay his glossy head on my shoulder and sighed.
Wanda giggled. “You’ve broken him.”
I grinned, bumping her shoulder as we fell into step, heading for the house. High above us, a dark shape fluttered against the night sky and yellow eyes shone through the darkness. I settled Monty’s feet into the grass and he took off running toward the house, racing Wanda.
Watching them go, I smiled.
The spirit realm is restless.
I glanced up at the bat, which darted to and fro, chasing bugs that should have already been gone at that time of year. “I’m going in soon.”
“Early tomorrow morning.”
The bat fluttered up to the belfry high above my head. I glanced up as moonlight painted a ribbon of light across its midnight-hued wings.
He’s deep into the spiritual realm, Batty told me. It’s not going to be easy to get him out.
I opened my mouth to respond as agony tightened through my middle, and I doubled over, a scream throbbing in my throat.
Wings fluttered overhead and a raven cawed three times. A beat later, the door to the house slammed open and I heard Wanda calling my name.
Footsteps pounded toward me. Wanda’s small hands, nails painted bright pink, grabbed my shoulders and eased me backward onto the grass. I sat down hard as another wave of misery clawed through me. Riding the wave were hundreds of voices, pleading for help, for advice, or just to be heard. It was overwhelming, impossible, and I fought to shut it down because it felt like the pleas were tearing me apart.
Soft hands pushed strands of silver-tipped black hair off my face and told me to take slow, careful breaths.
The jagged claws of pain eased slowly away and I was finally able to breathe.
A raven cawed again, closer than before. The big black bird dropped to the grass beside me and began to pace, its wings lifting and lowering with apparent stress. “Pee!” the raven announced enthusiastically.
I laughed, wincing as my stomach tightened around the pain. “Yeah, I almost peed myself too.”
The raven ducked its head a few times and then, with a final caw, took to the air and flew away.
Wanda sat down next to me. “Is it getting better?”
I nodded, one hand rubbing my stomach where the pain had been.
“Aggy, you can’t go into the spiritual realm by yourself. What if you have an attack and nobody’s there to help you?”
The “attack” she referred to was a side-effect of my body reaching for the final level of power inherent in my Lares magic. As my advocate, Ferral, had explained, the last phase included an elevated ability to mentally communicate as well as the ability to fix things without physically being present. The transformation required a full physiological overhaul that was extensive and painful.
I’d reached the third level several months earlier, but ascending to the last one had been slow in coming.
Judging by the pain of reaching it, I’d be okay if it took its sweet time. Or never came at all.
“I’m going to talk to Ferral about someone coming with you.”
I shook my head. “No.”
Wanda frowned, clearly annoyed that I wouldn’t listen to reason…her reason, which, as a teen, she believed was the only reason there should be. I knew she didn’t understand why I’d been digging in my heels. But I couldn’t explain the feeling that I wouldn’t need anybody to come with me. That I’d have everything I needed to accomplish my task when I crossed into spirit realm.
Besides, I had a burning need to prove myself worthy of attaining the fourth level of magic. Since taking over the Lares job, I’d been plagued by feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the magic had been given to the wrong person. Despite the fact that my own father, who for all intents and purposes had abandoned me when I was fifteen, was also a Lares, I couldn’t get past the fact that I hadn’t even known magic existed until I was already ankle deep in my seating, the hellish process I’d gone through to become Lares.
Andrew Lenore had left my mother and me behind to pursue his own guardianship. The scars of that rejection still stung, even thirty years later.
A new tightness began to build in my gut. Seconds before the wave of jagged pain hit me again, cold, oily sweat broke out on my forehead and trickled between my shoulder blades.
I took a deep breath and clenched my teeth against the building pain.
I had no idea how I was going to rescue Reverend Dodson from the spiritual realm in my current condition.
But somehow, I had to do it.