Howdy, I’m Catrina Burgess. I have a YA series coming out this October called the Dark Rituals. It’s full of ghosts and magic. I’m so excited to share this series with everyone and introduce my heroine Colina to the world.
I’m giving away a bunch of cool stuff in a Paranormal Readers Survival Kit – a Rafflecopter giveaway the contest is open to international readers.
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In Awakening, the first installment in the Dark Rituals series, a former healer turns to the Death Arts to seek revenge.
Seventeen-year-old Colina was born a healer. But after a horrific event forces her to leave her clan, she becomes desperate to learn the dark magic of the death dealers, mages who draw their power from the spirits of the dead. Colina was taught to fear and hate death dealers, but becoming one of them is the only way for her to get the revenge she seeks—and the only way for her to survive.
Colina asks a young death dealer named Luke to help her, but he’s reluctant to train her in the Death Arts. Little does she know convincing him to teach her will be the easiest part of her journey. To become a death dealer, Colina will need to undergo three dark rituals, each more terrifying than the last. At the same time, she’ll have to deal with her growing feelings for her mentor. Too bad the first ritual involves him strangling her to death.
As Colina undergoes the trials, she discovers an untapped darkness within herself. If she survives the horrific rituals and gains dark power, what will she become?
Catrina Burgess’ Dark Rituals series originally appeared on Wattpad with over three million reads. Awakening is the first book of four and was named Wattpad’s Best Suspense Story of 2014.
Check out more about the books in the series - http://fullfathomfive.com/writers/catrina-burgess/the-dark-rituals/
Read Dark Rituals reviews on Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19086878-awakening
Praise for Awakening, Book 1 in the Dark Rituals series:
"A paranormal story unlike any other. If you are looking for an original plot look no further. … I couldn't put it down! Every single time I thought I was getting to a lull where I might be able to stop reading, the hooks dug in deeper." —Goodreads reviewer
"The plot twists and turns on this wild horror ride. … A must read by an exceptional upcoming author." —Goodreads reviewer
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Teaser from Book:
We were in the middle of the cemetery, standing at the edge of a very old, very creepy grave. No one was around but us—and the dead. I looked at the tombstone standing beside me. Etched on its surface were the words mathew smith, 1805–1850.
It was hard to believe we’d trekked to a cemetery in the middle of nowhere in the deep of night. We’d crossed pastures and even splashed through a stream to get here.
Overhead, the moon cast long shadows over the rows of marble headstones. The cemetery looked like something right out of a horror movie. The gravesites themselves were a combination of patchy dirt and grass, and I could make out shapes above the headstones. A handful of life-sized angel statues were scattered around, appearing to move with the shadows. And beyond those were a few larger monuments—aboveground tombs that were the resting places of the truly wealthy. Inside the wrought iron fence surrounding the cemetery were only a couple of planted trees. It was fall, and although the trees around the countryside had changed color and started to drop their leaves, these trees were bare, their limbs gnarled and twisted. I couldn’t fight the feeling that Luke and I were being watched, and a chill ran down my back as I wrapped my arms around my body. I turned back to where Luke was working.
A dozen candles now lined both sides of Mathew Smith’s grave. On the marble headstone was a box, and at the foot of the grave sat a bottle full of a red liquid that looked like blood.
“You need all this to do a spell?” I asked.
The act of healing came from within. It was true that healers often used herbs, salves, and elixirs in combination with their magic, but for the most part healers stayed away from all the trappings that came with spell magic.
Luke started lighting candles. “I do. Spells are about focusing your abilities and calling on the forces of nature.”
“Why this graveyard?” I asked.
“Because graveyards are a doorway to the other side. Think of them as a portal to the dead—a place where many spirits are closest to the earthly realms and easier to contact.” Luke looked around and made a wide sweeping gesture with his arm. “We’ve buried the members of our family in this particular graveyard for generations.” He pointed down at the grave. “We could do the spell on any grave, but one of the strongest mages in our family line is buried here.”
I looked down at the grave and tried to quench the fear rising inside me. “What spell are you doing tonight?”
“It’s the first part of the ritual. It’s called the passage—the passage into the magics of the death dealers. Your spirit has to commune with the other side. You have to touch the hereafter and see death firsthand in order to wield its power.”
I straightened my back and tried to feel brave. “So I do have to die.”
He looked up at me and nodded his head. “It’s the way my guild has guided students in the Death Arts for centuries.”
“You plan on killing me. Then what? You’ll bury me and bring me back up like a voodoo zombie?” I couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of my voice.
“No. There’s no voodoo involved and no zombies.” He went back to lighting candles.
I watched him work for a few minutes in silence. He pulled something out of a black duffle bag he’d brought. It was a glass jar full of black powder. He started sprinkling some on the ground around the gravesite.
“I trust you,” I said quietly.
His expression turned sullen. “Trust me to kill you and bring you back?”
I knew about death. I had watched Mama bring people hanging on the brink of it back with her healing. But whether she could bring them back or not was never a certainty. Death had its own rules: when it decided to claim someone, its grip could be stronger than a riptide.
Luke walked forward until he stood in front of me. “I’ve been by my uncle’s side when he’s done this. I’ve assisted him in the ritual, but I’ve never done it myself. It’s not something you’re allowed to do until you’re older, until you truly master your power.”
“You can do it. I have faith in you.”
His eyes filled with anger. “And if you’re wrong? If you trust me and something goes wrong?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Then game over. Look, everything in life is a risk—a gamble. I’m here, and I’m throwing the dice.” I didn’t want to ask the next question on my mind. It’d been haunting me ever since he’d told me about the ritual, but now, standing here in the cemetery, I had to know. “How are you going to do it?” I whispered.
“Strangulation is the easiest.” His voice was suddenly void of emotion.
What the hell did he mean, “strangulation is the easiest?” I assumed he’d give me a potion. I’d drink something, slowly fade out, and then be given an antidote to undo the spell.
“I’m going to put my hands around your neck and squeeze the life out of you. You have to experience the pain—experience your death at the hands of a death dealer. It’s the only way the ritual works.” Fear—there it was again in his eyes. “You don’t have to do this. It’s crazy we’re doing this.”
I took a deep breath and stepped toward him, even though my body screamed at me to run away from certain pain and death. “You know we don’t have a choice. If you want to save your sister, you need my help. I can’t help you as I am. I need power.” It was true—I wanted to save his sister—but I also wanted to exact my revenge, and I was willing to do anything to see the men who killed my family pay.
He stood looking at me for a long moment and then turned and walked over to the bag. He pulled out a handful of black feathers.
He looked back at me. “Raven feathers.” He started scattering them about the area. “I’m just about done with the preparations.”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked, trying to keep the fear I was feeling from showing.
He pointed toward the ground. “Lay down on the grave.”
This wasn’t happening. I was in some bizarre nightmare, and I had to wake myself up.
“On the grave?” This time I couldn’t keep the tremble out of my voice.
He didn’t look at me when he answered. “Make sure to lie on your back. I have to be able to see your eyes.”
I got down on my knees and then slowly turned over and laid down against the damp grass. I tried not to think about the skeleton lying a few feet beneath me.
Luke was suddenly straddling me. “There’s still time to change your mind.”
Yes, yes, get out of here! the voice in my head screamed.
“Do what you have to,” I whispered.
I flinched when his hands encircled my neck. They were bigger than I imagined, and the panic I felt rise from the pit of my stomach was almost more than I could stand.
“Last chance. You don’t have to do this,” he said. The fear was back in his eyes.
The images of my father’s broken body flashed through my head. I had no choice, I had to continue.
“Do it,” I said between clenched teeth.
His hands tightened, and in a moment of sheer terror I changed my mind. He needed to stop. I couldn’t go through with this. My hands came up and clawed against his fingers, but he was too strong. My lungs were bursting with the need to breathe. I looked up into his eyes. The expression on his face was one of blank concentration.
He’s killing me.
I had to stop him from strangling me. I struggled, I twisted, but he was too big and too heavy. The pressure on my neck increased. There was a blinding pain as I felt my throat being crushed. My hands gave up on his and I reached up to claw out his eyes. He anticipated my move and raised himself up until his face was out of reach.
You’re killing me! I tried to plead with my eyes. He had to see the expression in them and know that I wanted him to stop. But he didn’t.
The pressure increased.
There was a burning in my chest and my eyes clouded with tears—the desire to breathe, to live, was so strong I could feel it pulsating through my whole being. But there was no breath, no air. My lungs, my heart needed oxygen to survive, and without it, I began to die.
The beating of my heart slowed. My thoughts turned to the burning, the terrible burning that was consuming my body. I could feel his hands crushing my neck. My eyes unfocused, and then my vision went gray and a sudden darkness beckoned.
Then there was nothing. No pain. No graveyard. No Luke. Just a vast emptiness surrounding me.
Without warning, I wasn’t alone. I realized in a moment of horror that I sensed something nearby. Not the living, but something else. Spirits? At first I couldn’t hear or see anything in the darkness, but then a black cloud and a rush of noise surrounded me.
Is that screaming?
Someone was shouting—another voice was praying. Slowly, one face formed in front of me and then another, until I was surrounded. But these faces weren’t flesh and bone—they were ghostly images, flickering in and out of the darkness. Thin, transparent lines of gray came and went like someone was turning a light switch on and off. More noise…this time someone was yelling in pain. Something held me immobile in this place.
Where am I? How do I escape?
The faces and voices began to move closer, and I felt nothing now but fear.
And then a loud, male voice boomed from within the darkness. “You are not of my blood, but my blood brought you here to this space for the ritual. What is it you’re seeking?”
“Seeking?” I asked. No—I didn’t ask… I wasn’t really there, was I?
“Come, child, there isn’t much time. What is it you seek?”
Revenge. The word blazed across my mind.
“So be it,” the voice said, and the world around me went silent.
No more ghostly images. No more sound. Now just a vast, gray space stood before me. Lighter gray wisps floated in the darkness toward me, like fog on a moonless night, and I was overcome with panic and claustrophobia. The dark mist closed around me and my blood chilled at the thought that any number of monsters could be in it with me…on top of me. But I seemed to be alone, and I drifted in the darkness for what felt like an eternity, unable to tell up from down, all scale and substance lost in the darkness. I could feel my arms and legs, though they seemed distant and numb, and when I touched my face with my hand, my skin felt cold and stiff.
Am I caught somewhere in between the world and the afterlife? Is any of this real?
I drifted forever, trapped out of time and space, and terror overcame me. I screamed and cried, but no one came to help. I was stuck here and feared I might never escape. Finally, my panic began to subside. I picked a direction and tried to swim through the smoky darkness. The mist, or smoke, or whatever it was, swirled around me, but it didn’t feel like I was moving. I struggled for a while, until I finally gave up.
I screamed in frustration, wishing—no, demanding—to be somewhere else, and finally, the mists began to move. I felt more than saw the fog swirl around my face, but when my shock at the movement broke my concentration, it stopped. In the far distance—or perhaps not far at all, it was hard to tell with no frame of reference—I saw what I thought was a flicker of light.
Gathering my will, I drove myself toward it, and it either slowly moved closer to me, or I moved closer to it.
And then I noticed something else.
A growl, a snarl. Small, red eyes peering at me from the darkness. The eyes blinked, and I felt stunned. What was this new horror? More ghosts? No, something different—something worse. I knew it in my very core.
I’d been frightened when confronted by the ghostly images and strange cries, but now something inside me—something more primitive—was reacting. Whatever was out there was far worse than anything I’d experienced so far. It was evil. It was dark and sinister.
It wanted me.
The eyes were moving closer. The snarling was louder now. I felt a terror rise within me that I had never felt before. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. The thing in the darkness would consume me.
About the Author:
I write because it helps keeps the darkness away and reminds me that there is magic in the world. I live with one husband, two dogs, and a cat named Shitty Kitty in a small mining town in Arizona. At night this place is definitely spooky. I swear I’ve heard the wind giggle, and sometimes there’s a very odd breeze. Luckily, I love all things that go bump in the night. I adore old movies. I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan.
I’ve been known to eat pizza and cold Chinese food for breakfast, and I’m the queen of the board game Stratego. I’ve never been beaten. NEVER!
What am I doing when I’m not writing? I turn into my alter ego Chaoscat, the owner and operator of RomanceJunkies.com—a romance review site that been around since 2002.
Website - http://www.catrinaburgess.com/
Follow me on Twitter @catrinaburgess1
Author Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/authorcatrinaburgess