Allure (The Hoodoo Apprentice Series #2) by Lea Nolan, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Allure (The Hoodoo Apprentice Series #2)
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Allure (The Hoodoo Apprentice Series #2)

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by Lea Nolan
     
 

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Allure by Lea Nolan

Worst. Summer. Ever.
Emma Guthrie races to learn the hoodoo magic needed to break The Beaumont Curse before her marked boyfriend Cooper's sixteenth birthday. But deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry, dark, mysterious forces encroach, conspiring to separate Emma and Cooper forever. When Cooper starts to change, turning cold and indifferent,

Overview

Allure by Lea Nolan

Worst. Summer. Ever.
Emma Guthrie races to learn the hoodoo magic needed to break The Beaumont Curse before her marked boyfriend Cooper's sixteenth birthday. But deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry, dark, mysterious forces encroach, conspiring to separate Emma and Cooper forever. When Cooper starts to change, turning cold and indifferent, Emma discovers that both his heart and body are marked for possession by competing but equally powerful adversaries.

Desperate to save him, Emma and her twin brother, Jack, risk their lives to uncover the source of the black magic that has allured Cooper and holds him in its grip. Faced with the horror of a soul-eating boohag, Emma and Jack must fight to resist its fiendish power to free Cooper long enough to join their strengths and face it together, before it destroys them all.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
02/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—Allure picks up a couple of months after Conjure (Entangled Teen, 2012) ends. Fourteen-year-old Emma has spent the summer brushing up on her hoodoo skills (not the same as voodoo). Now that her 97-year-old mentor, Delia, is out of the hospital, the two of them can work together to perfect the right blend of leaves, roots, and other earthy finds to rid Emma's boyfriend, Cooper, of the curse that threatens to destroy his soul. Soon, Emma, Cooper, and Emma's twin brother, Jack, come across Cooper's 22-year-old stepmother's dead body. The grotesque state of the corpse bears a disturbing resemblance to Cooper's mother's body when she died years ago. When officials attribute the stepmother's death to natural causes, Emma and her capable crew know that something sinister is afoot and it is up to them to make everything right. Nolan's story is fleshed out with vivid details. The sultry heat of the South Carolina low-country summer is nearly palpable, as are the sights and scents of Delia's garden of medicinal plants. Cooper's soulless father is consistently repugnant with his loathsome personal hygiene. Magic, romance, suspense, and mystery in equal measure make this a must-read for fans of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight." books (Little, Brown). The author does a great job of recapping events from Conjure so teens need not have read it to appreciate this sequel.—Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781622660223
Publisher:
Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Series:
Hoodoo Apprentice Series, #2
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
562,318
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.16(h) x 0.96(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Allure


By Lea Nolan

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2013 Lea Nolan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62266-023-0


CHAPTER 1

A stiff, hot wind blows across the Beaufort River, carrying the scent of parched sea grass, mucky earth, and belly-up redfish through the car window. Low tide in the South Carolina Lowcountry can be a smelly proposition, especially in the summer when temperatures soar past sweltering. Stinky or not, these salt marshes with their maze of dense green reeds, and downy white egrets are some of the most beautiful places on earth. Definitely paint-worthy.

But before I can grab my canvas and oils, we've got to get Miss Delia home from the hospital in one piece, which shouldn't be a problem with Cooper Beaumont at the wheel. Fixing his eyes on the road ahead, he guides his father's beige station wagon across the Lady's Island bridge heading toward St. Helena Island, my summer home-away-from-home. I on the other hand, prefer to stare at him.

Shooting me a quick sideways glance, he smiles. "What are you looking at?" he asks, just loud enough to hear over the engine's purr.

Caught gawking, my cheeks flush. "You." Because with his square jaw, golden-brown hair, and eyes that appear blue or green to match his clothes, he's just about the most gorgeous guy I've ever seen. And by some miracle, after secretly loving him for more than an entire year, he's officially my boyfriend. It's our very own happily ever after.

Providing we find a way to break the curse that threatens to steal his soul.

Cooper lets his right hand slip from the wheel and inches it across the front seat to clutch mine. Our fingers entwine and he gives me a squeeze. A warm tingle shoots up my arm. Even after a few weeks of being a couple, the excitement of his touch hasn't grown old.

Miss Delia clears her throat. "Best keep both hands on the wheel, boy. I don't want to end up back in Beaufort Memorial. The food's awful."

Though it couldn't possibly be worse than what landed her there in the first place — being attacked by a pack of gigantic, seething, demon dogs with serrated fangs.

Glancing in the rearview mirror, Cooper flashes his devastatingly handsome grin, the one that makes my heart thump a little bit harder. "Don't worry, Miss Delia, I won't let anything happen to you." Still, he heeds her advice and returns his hand to the steering wheel.

Squelching my disappointment at his withdrawal, I twist around to face her in the backseat. The sight still makes me wince. Though most of her stitches have been removed, bright pink scars mar her oniony, brown skin. A few larger abrasions still require bandages, but thankfully most are on her body, hidden behind clothes. Images of the savage attack flash across my mind, making me shudder, but I shake them off because Miss Delia miraculously survived.

"We took care of everything while you were away. I tended the garden and the guys cleaned up the mess from Hurricane Amelia." I work to make my voice sound bright.

Miss Delia smiles. Even her milky-white eye looks a bit clearer. "Thank you, Emma. You're very kind. I knew I picked you for the right reason."

My chest swells. She did pick me. Even though I'm only fourteen, she made me her apprentice. She's the best, most powerful Gullah hoodoo root worker on St. Helena and probably the whole Lowcountry. Though if I'm being honest, she only agreed to pass her mantle to me because I begged. Earlier this summer, my twin brother, and giant pain-in-the-rear, Jack contracted The Creep, an ancient curse that dissolved his flesh, exposed his chalky bones, and made him reek like pond scum. The memory alone churns my stomach. Thanks to Miss Delia, I learned enough hoodoo magic to destroy The Creep and cure Jack, but not enough to protect her from the monsters that nearly ate her for dinner. Which is why she was in the hospital for so long and why the station wagon's rear compartment is crammed with her brand-new wheelchair. The hellhounds weren't content to just slice open her flesh. Their massive paws pounced, bruised her spinal chord, and left her unable to walk.

Cooper hangs a left at the dingy-gray tract house at the corner. The tires crunch as he starts down the unmarked dirt road that leads to Miss Delia's house. Pocked with holes and overgrown vegetation, it's a serious hazard but we've traveled it so often this summer he could probably do it blindfolded. "I hope you don't mind, Miss Delia, but Jack and I made a few changes to your house," he says.

Her snowy-white brow quirks. "What kind of changes?"

"Just a couple accommodations to make it easier to get around. I know you practiced driving that chair in the hospital, but it'll be different in your own house."

She crosses her arms over her teal housedress. "Pshaw." She shakes her head, her lips turned down in disgust. "In all my ninety-seven years, I've never needed an accommodation."

"It's not a big deal." I play down the additions, knowing how deep her pride runs and how difficult it must be to accept her new disability. "They just added a ramp to the porch." And widened the front door, rearranged some of her furniture, and hung a few guide rails, but she'll discover all that when she gets there. "Maybe we can come up with some spells to help speed your healing." Though according to her doctors, that's nearly impossible.

She narrows her lids. "Way ahead of you, child."

Rounding the bend, we approach her glistening bottle tree, an enormous live oak that drips with Spanish moss and dwarfs her ramshackle house. On a normal day it's impressive, but today, with the golden, mid-afternoon sun streaming through its thousand multicolored bottles, it's dazzling and almost seems to radiate its own light.

A sleek, silver Mercedes Benz is parked just beyond the tree, in front of Miss Delia's lush garden.

Miss Delia strains forward in her seat. "What do we have here? Your brother hasn't tried to drive again has he?"

I laugh, remembering Jack's last attempt behind the wheel. We all survived, but it's not something I'd recommend him doing any time soon. "No, he's helping our dad with the last of the storm cleanup at High Point Bluff." If it weren't for my father, the plantation's caretaker and sole employee, the place would fall apart.

Cooper pulls up next to the Mercedes and cuts the engine. Scanning the car, he whistles. "Sweet ride."

The garden's perfume floods the open car windows. I inhale the fragrant scent of hundreds of flowers and herbs, some rare, some mere weeds that have been cultivated for centuries by Miss Delia and her ancestors. These plants are the secret ingredients of hoodoo magic. But without her experience and knowledge, it's just an overgrown patch of dirt.

Three designer suitcases covered with gold initials perch on Miss Delia's porch, just steps away from the open front door.

"Were you expecting someone?" I ask.

Just then, a woman in a crisp sea-green linen pantsuit sweeps out of the house and floats across the porch. Her medium-brown skin is flawless and wrinkle-free, making her look somewhere in her midthirties, but something about the regal way she carries herself tells me she's probably a lot older than that. She grasps the railing, her lips curled at the sides, managing a smile that doesn't move past her cheeks.

"Well I'll be." Miss Delia doesn't appear the least bit excited.

A moment later a girl who looks at a couple years older than me follows, flinging the screen door wide and letting it slam behind her. Tall and lithe, she stalks toward the suitcases on the opposite side of the porch, crosses her arms, and then shifts her weight so her right hip pops to the side. Which conveniently provides us the perfect angle to admire her clingy, low-cut halter top, skintight shorts, and fuchsia-streaked bob that perfectly offsets her light brown skin and bright pink lipstick. Though considering the sweltering South Carolina heat, she might want to reconsider the black leather boots.

"That's ... interesting," Cooper utters under his breath as I stifle a laugh.

A pricking sensation works its way around my scalp, a sure sign my spirit guide wants me to take note of what's happening. Though I'm not sure who to be more cautious of — Pink or Mrs. Fancy Pants.

Miss Delia grabs at the door handle with a liver-spotted hand. "Help me out of this car, Cooper." Her voice brims with urgency.

"Sure thing."

In a flash, he's got the rear door open and yanks out the wheelchair. I slip on my flip-flops, then come around to Miss Delia's side, unlatch her seatbelt, and help swing her around so Cooper can lift her out. Through it all, the two on the porch stay put, watching us do all the work. After gently setting Miss Delia in her chair, Cooper pushes her over the uneven earth to the stone path. From there, she takes over, flicking the switch to engage the motor. We follow as she maneuvers her way through the garden and up the new ramp. The wooden structure isn't perfect and doesn't come close to what my dad would have built, but it's safe and sturdy and does the job. When we reach the top, she stops short.

The woman in the pantsuit fans herself. "Lord, I forgot how hot these Carolina summers are. I broke a sweat watching you make your way up here."

Miss Delia nods. "Heaven forbid you strain yourself, Angelica. You must keep those delicate hands safe."

Lifting a set of perfectly manicured fingers, the woman smiles. "Can't argue with you there. These hands change lives." She steps forward and bends to kiss Miss Delia's cheek.

Stiffening, Miss Delia accepts the gesture. "I'm sure they do. Emma, Cooper, say hello to my granddaughter, Dr. Branson. She's a plastic surgeon in Chicago."

"Hi. Nice to meet you." I wave, feeling way out of place at this little family reunion. Trying not to be rude, I work to keep my eyes trained on Dr. Branson, but can't resist a furtive peek at the girl. She's definitely older than me, maybe even older than Cooper, though not by much. Rather than paying attention to what's happening on the porch, she's staring at the bottle tree, her head tilted as if she's counting the pieces of glass. If so, it's going to take a while.

"Hello, ma'am." Cooper extends his hand toward Dr. Branson. She barely grazes it with her own.

"These chillun have been a great help this summer. Especially Emma." Miss Delia clasps my arm with her gnarled hand.

Dr. Branson scans me up and down. "I see. Someone's got to tend the garden." Only she says it like she means something else entirely. And that she totally disapproves.

That's probably my cue to leave. I clear my throat. "Maybe Cooper and I should go so you all can visit."

Cooper nods. "Sure. We can come back tomorrow."

Miss Delia snaps her head toward me. "Nonsense. We've got work to do. Or have you forgotten we're on a deadline?"

Nope. I'm pretty clear on the whole soul-snatching thing.

Three hundred years ago, Cooper's great-great ancestor gave Maggie, an enslaved African girl, to Bloody Bill Ransom and his band of vile pirates in exchange for not sacking High Point Bluff. But things didn't go as planned and they killed her, which enraged her grandmother, Sabina, an African queen with a brutal sense of justice who used her mystical hoodoo powers to seek revenge. She unleashed The Creep on the scurvy pirates, and cursed the Beaumont progeny forever by stealing their souls when they come into their manhood, turning them unspeakably dark and corrupt. If we don't break the Beaumont Curse before Cooper's approaching sixteenth birthday, he'll end up just as gluttonous, selfish, and arrogant as his grotesque father, Beau. With just three weeks to go, time's a-ticking.

Dr. Branson sighs. "See, this is what I feared. At your age you shouldn't be working anymore, even if you do have some sort of ... assistant." She flicks her wrist dismissively toward me. "And now this ... accident." She scans the scars on Miss Delia's face with an expert eye. "It nearly scared me to death hearing you were in a coma. We flew down just as soon as I cleared my schedule."

"That was very kind, but you ought to know better than to worry after me. You going to introduce me to my great-granddaughter?" Miss Delia nods toward the girl on the other end of the porch.

Now I see the resemblance. Despite the girl's dye job and eye-popping fashion statement, she and Dr. Branson actually have very similar features.

Dr. Branson plasters on a smile. "Of course. Say hello to your great-gran, Taneea." Her voice drips with syrup.

Taneea drags her attention away from the bottle tree, glares at her mother from beneath shaggy bangs, then glances at Miss Delia. "Hi." The diamond chip in the Monroe piercing above her lip glints in the sunlight.

Miss Delia smiles. "Hello to you, too. It's nice to finally meet you in person."

"Uh-huh." Taneea shrugs, then pivots on her thick rubber heels and plops into one of the rocking chairs. It creaks against the cracked porch floor as she rocks back and forth, staring at the tree once again.

An electric shock wave rolls over my scalp. I'm guessing she's the one my spirit guide is warning me about.

Miss Delia turns to Dr. Branson. "I may be old and frailer than you remember, but I wasn't born yesterday. Why are you really here?"

"I know you may not believe it, but I worry about you, Gran. You're getting up there, it's amazing you're able to live alone at ninety-five —"

"Ninety-seven," Miss Delia corrects her.

"Right, ninety-seven. But that's even more to my point. You're vulnerable. Things can happen to you here all by yourself. I mean, look at you, all scraped up from that fall ... or whatever you were up to. And now you're stuck in that chair. You need someone to take care of you."

Cooper and I exchange nervous glances. His baby blues reflect the same anxiety that's churning in my gut. The doctors in the hospital already broached this conversation with Miss Delia, offering to find her a nice, quiet assisted-living facility. They didn't get very far. Miss Delia made it clear she's never leaving her house and garden. And now her granddaughter's jumping into the fray, likely spurred on by the hospital doctors. This is liable to turn ugly. Curse deadline or not, maybe Cooper and I should beat it out of here. We can always come back in the morning.

I inch toward the porch steps beside the ramp. Cooper follows my lead.

Miss Delia scoffs. "You're going to take care of me, Angelica?"

Dr. Branson smiles. "I wish I could. But I have my practice to consider." She gestures toward her daughter. "I was thinking Taneea might instead. She's missed out not having you in her life. This could be a great opportunity to get to know each other."

Taneea huffs and runs her black-polished nails through her bangs, revealing a silver eyebrow ring. "That's just your excuse for dumping me in butt-crack nowhere."

"Seems your daughter has no interest in caring for her great-gran. Fine by me. Emma's all the help I need."

Dr. Branson chuffs out a laugh. "You can't be serious. Emma isn't family. And she can't keep watch over you twenty-four hours a day. What if you have another fall when you're alone? What if something worse happens? I couldn't live with myself."

Miss Delia stiffens her jaw. "You've managed to live with yourself — and my daughter — for nearly thirty years in Chicago. It didn't bother you to take her away from her home, or her legacy."

Dr. Branson raises her palm. "Please, Gran, I don't want to argue about hoodoo anymore. I know you believe in it, but I've studied science. It's a bunch of bunk. Mama's had a better life with me than if she'd stayed here."

Cooper tugs on the bottom of my T-shirt. It's definitely time to bounce. Walking backward, we climb down one step and then another.

Miss Delia stiffens. "Emma and Cooper, get back here. I thank you for your visit, Angelica, but I think it's time for you and Taneea to leave."

Gulping, I hop back on the porch and stand next to Cooper.

The whites of Dr. Branson's eyes turn misty pink. "I can't." Her voice is suddenly small.

"Sure you can. Climb into that fancy car of yours and drive off my lawn."

A tear spills down Angelica's cheek. "You don't understand. I can't. Taneea isn't welcome back at home."

Taneea's expression turns hard. "That's only because you're weak. And your new husband is a giant tool." Pushing herself out of her chair, Taneea strides across the porch, yanks open the screen, and storms into the house, letting the door slam behind her once again.

"It's not my fault. You've left me no other choice," Dr. Branson calls after her, but Taneea doesn't bother to turn around.

A high-pitched squawk echoes across the yard. Turning toward the bottle tree, I search for the sound. It comes again, this time sounding rough and raspy and almost like a strangled cat. The tiny hairs at the nape of my neck rise. A second later a glossy, blue-black crow launches off a high branch and soars across the yard into the woods beyond Miss Delia's house.

Leaning forward in her wheelchair, Miss Delia's stare bores into her granddaughter's eyes. "What is going on?"

Wiping the perspiration from her face, she replies, "Have you ever wanted something so bad you'd be willing to sacrifice everything to have it? No matter what the consequence?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Allure by Lea Nolan. Copyright © 2013 Lea Nolan. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author


Lea Nolan is also the author of Conjure, first in the Hoodoo Apprentice series. She lives in Maryland with her heroically supportive husband and three clever children.

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