What Trickery is This?

Mature Magic Book 4

One of the great things about midlife is having the experience and knowledge that comes from decades of navigating jerks and mansplainers. Unfortunately, I had nothing in my repertoire to help me deal with a true Trickster.

Amid magical mushrooms, ghosts popping up in unexpected places, dangerous predators, strange pregnancies, barking cats, meowing dogs, and an endless array of other weirdness, I’m facing a foe unlike any I’ve encountered before as Lares of Rome. My new enemy is determined to destroy my dominion and he doesn’t care who he takes out in the effort. 

He probably doesn’t realize it yet, but he’s in for a curse, swear, curse of a battle. It’s going to take the combined effort of an entire town and all of my council and allies, but I have no intention of giving my people over to the type of madness the Trickster generates.

    

"This book is a well written, fun fast paced non-stop action ... and keep you guessing of what the next chapter will reveal, it's a very entertaining paranormal mystery with unpredictable, unique, clever, creative original story line with a lot of fun imaginations.  it's full of mystery, magic, actions, adventures and humor, very hard to put down with many twist and turn that keeps me glued to my seat. It is a great read and I highly recommend this book to any paranormal cozy mystery fans, can't wait to read the next book in the series."

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Praise for What Trickery is This?

Jen16 - Booksprout Reviewer

What Trickery is This? is an incredible book. It is engaging and suspenseful. This book is a magical, action-packed adventure. I could not put the book down. It is well written and vividly detailed with wonderful characters. I loved this book. It is an absolute must read!

Margery - Booksprout Reader Review

What a journey! A visit to the tiny town of Rome, a small town with normals and many varieties of others was exciting! The Lair who over sees all really had her hands full. With the whole town going topsy-turvy, birds mooing, dogs tweeting, people turning many colored stripes and solids, buildings turning upside down and disappearing cemeteries, our Lair and her council are working double time to right the wrongs. With no clues and their energy running on empty, they all need someone or something to help. After many trials and adventures they find out the why. Now they have to figure out how to fix things. the trials and excursions kept me on the edge of my seat. I could not put the book down. A definite must read book!

Read an Excerpt

“Frogs in people’s beds. Fish flopping around in trees. The buildings along one whole side of Randall Street are facing the wrong way, their front doors pointed toward the back walls of the buildings behind them…” Bev took a breath, shoved a medium-length strand of blonde hair off her cheek, and went on. “Cats are barking, dogs are meowing. The sky is brown above Peace Park and the ground is blue.”

I held up a hand. “Stop. I can’t take it. Clearly, we can’t solve all of these problems magically or with my own personal favorite, brute force. So, what does that leave us?”

“I could get a bunch of gnomes together and we could just sink the whole town,” Niele suggested. “We can all move somewhere else and start over.”

Wanda snorted. 

“Tempting,” I told him. “But that won’t fix everything. Besides, I personally wouldn’t like it if Monty started meowing. I’d be confused over whether to feed him fish sticks or beef jerky.”

“How about you feed him what dogs are supposed to eat,” Ferral, the cranky advocate, suggested. He settled a judgmental silver gaze on me, and his square jaw tightened with pique. “As I’ve been saying for the last hour, we need to find the source of all this.”

“How?” Trish wailed from above. We all glanced up as she whipped past. 

The warrior fairy member of my council, Trish had arrived at my house in her fairy form rather than in her usual jeans and tee-shirt and hadn’t come out of it yet. She’d been buzzing back and forth over our heads, mumbling to herself. I figured that meant something had gone wrong within the fairy community. But, since my list was already long and her problems promised to be particularly ugly given the nature of the fae, I didn’t ask. 

“You don’t find Tricksters,” Gren told the advocate. “They find you.”

“Trap,” Trish muttered as she flashed past my head. “Trap, trap, trap, trap.”

I shared a look with Mavis, and she winced. “Trish, honey,” the mom of my heart said. “Do you think you could land somewhere? You’re giving me a stroke.”

The fairy jerked to a halt and twitched, her ankle-length gown dancing around her legs like seaweed drifting on the bottom of the ocean. The gown had a vivid blue bustier and was cinched at the waist with a belt of knives. In her fairy form, Trish was only twelve inches tall. She held a knobby walking stick that was as tall as she was. A double strand of what looked like shimmering droplets of water encircled her blonde head. “We have to trap him.”

I bit back a reference to her being Captain Obvious, knowing that to a warrior fairy, the term entrapment held a different meaning than it did to the rest of us. The fairies considered trapping an art form. And they were very good at it. “Do you have something in mind?”

She swayed as if she was jonesing to start flying again but managed to keep herself immobile. Just barely, if the juddering of her tiny foot on the air was any indication. “Not yet. I’m working on it.”

I looked at Bev, the sister of my heart. Bev had been my sister in every way except blood since I was fifteen years old and lost my mom to a terrible disease. She and Mavis were my family as much as if we shared DNA. “Can the witches do something to draw him in so Trish’s trap, when she comes up with it, can contain him?”

Bev grimaced. “Theoretically, yes. But historically, our containment spells have been unsuccessful with Tricksters.”

“Why’s that?” Luke asked. The shifter’s golden eyes were an eerie bright yellow in his wolf form, and his white teeth were much larger. As a man, his “fur” consisted of a bristly jaw and longish dark hair. His voice was so deep he always sounded like he was an inch away from a growl. 

“The Trickster is right in front of you yet impossible to see,” Bev intoned as if reading prophecy. She ran her fingers through her blonde bob, making a mess of her straight bangs. 

“What exactly does that mean?” I asked a titch impatiently. I’d never been a fan of prophecies. They always reminded me of fortune cookie messages…useless because nobody knew what they meant.

She fixed her gray gaze on me. “It means the Trickster is part of all this. He doesn’t just create chaos from the background. He joins in the fun.”

I narrowed my eyes and shook my head. “Okay. I still don’t know what that means.”

“He could be anyone or anything,” Wanda clarified. “He can become one of his targets if he wants to.”

Curse, swear, curse! If that was true, how in the name of the goddess’s favorite goldfish were we going to find him? I shrugged. “I’m at a loss and open to suggestions.”

Wanda got up from the table. “I’ll go see what I can find in magical history about Tricksters. Maybe there’s something that will help us get him.”

“Surely someone somewhere has defeated a Trickster,” I said. 

They all stared at me, their expressions grim. 

“Nobody?”

Ferral expelled a frustrated rush of air. “In every instance I can think of, the Trickster left after he’d completely destroyed his target. Nobody’s ever figured out how to stop them.”

“I have a suggestion,” Bev said. “But you’re not going to like it.”

“I haven’t liked anything since I woke up to polka-dotted teens and an upside-down cemetery,” I said.” Let’s hear it.”

“You can ask the crone for help.”

The room became unnaturally quiet. Nobody moved. Expressions were perfectly neutral. I couldn’t tell by looking at the members of my council what anybody thought. 

“Am I to read the traumatized silence as disagreement?”

Mavis grimaced. “In my case, it’s unhappy agreement. If anybody could help with this, it’s the crone.”

Ferral shook his head. For once, I was happy for his tendency to instantly resist any suggestion. “That’s not a good idea.”

“Of course it’s not a good idea,” Bev said, glaring at him. “There are no good ideas right now. But we need help from someone very powerful. She’s the most powerful magic user I know.”

We fell into a contemplative silence again. The quiet lasted until someone knocked on my kitchen door. I jumped at the sound, my cheeks heating with embarrassment because my first thought had been that I didn’t want whoever it was to see me in all my purpleness. 

I gave Trish a pleading look. She nodded and sent a wave of silvery sparkles in my direction. The glamour settled over me, returning my skin to its usual vampiric paleness. I sagged with relief. “Thank you.” 

Trish nodded and then returned to spinning frantically around the room. 

Niele opened the door and glared at whoever stood outside. “What do you want, demon?”

Everyone tensed at the word. Everyone except Wanda. She glanced at me, a guilty look in her dark brown eyes, and went to join Niele. “Let him in, please.”

Niele glanced at me and I nodded. After another moment’s hesitation, the gnome stepped back, and Wanda reached a hand through the door. She gave someone a little tug, and the demon Bathos came inside. He settled eyes the color of midnight on me and smiled. “Hello, Madam Lares. You’re looking well.”

I inclined my head. “Bathos. I could say the same of you, but it wouldn’t be true.” I cocked my head at him. “To what do I owe the displeasure?”

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