The Witchery

The Witchery

by James Reese

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061758607
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 641,316
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

James Reese is the author of The Witchery, The Book of Spirits, and The Book of Shadows. He lives in South Florida and Paris, France.

Read an Excerpt

The Witchery

By James Reese

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

James Reese

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060561084

Chapter One

It is a melancholy of mine own, compounded by many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.
--Shakespeare, As You Like It

What a sight: Havana Harbor seen by late daylight.

I remember it well; for indeed we arrived at sunset, and sadly heard it told that we hadn't time to enter the harbor before dark. This the firing cannons of the Morro Castle made clear: the harbor, indeed the city itself, was closed till next the sun rose. It was slight consolation hearing our captain opine that it was just as well, that the harbor would be too crowded to navigate at night. And so we found a good offing within sight of the Morro's walls, near enough to hear the bells of the city count out the quarter hours; and there we lay off and on all night, tacking in accord with the winds and the water.

For hours I'd watched the silver-green isle of Cuba rising from the blue, ever more anxious yet knowing not that the Athée--aboard which we'd sailed from Savannah--was racing the setting sun. Had I known this, had I known that each evening the Morro's cannons announced that crepuscular closing of the harbor and city, I'd have been sick from nervous upset; for though I'd been sent to Havana, I had only the vaguest notion of what, ofwho I'd find there.

Would Sebastiana d'Azur--my discoverer, my Soror Mystica, who'd absented herself for so long, who'd cast away her courtly renown after the Revolution and retired to her crumbling chateau upon the Breton shore-- . . . would Sebastiana herself be there? Who was the "we" of whom the aged witch had written so cryptically? We have a surprise for you, said the letter sent to me in St. Augustine. Would I have to face again Sebastiana's consort: the man, the menace, the faux demon Asmodei? He who'd hated me from first sight. He who'd sought to harm me. Oh, but Sebastiana's absence had surprised me once before, had it not? In New York. In years past. When I--so deeply needful, so lost--had gone thither, as again she'd directed, by post, only to find yet another epistle apologizing for her absence and consigning me to the care of a houseful of whoring witches. (Mistake me not, sister: I loved the Cyprians, and still mourn their loss and the dissolution of the Duchess's House of Delights.) More likely I, nay, we--yes: I had a companion aboard the Athée-- . . . more likely we would walk alone among the Havanans with no clue but one: Somewhere in the city there lived a monk whom Sebastiana, in her directing letter, had identified by the single initial Q.

And so, though I knew not what, or who I would find in Havana, still I hoped to find such things fast. Thus, each wave separating the schooner Athée from its mooring in Havana Harbor was a hated thing. . . . But mark, for so it was the case: the waves had been few as we approached over the Straits, and our six-day sail from Savannah had been smooth, too smooth and slow: often we'd been becalmed, and had lain in want of wind.

Finally, finally all aboard knew the sight of the Pan de Matanzas--that Cuban mountain molded by a great hand in mimicry of a loaf of bread--and nearer, nearer there could be seen sown fields of cane and coffee bordered by tall, wind-waltzing palms. Nearer still, and the lighthouse could be discerned in detail, so, too, the forts of the Morro and Punta flanking the harbor's entrance: like fists of stone they were, wrapped round the harbor's narrow neck and seeming to strangle the inlet. And beyond, faint as my fate, the city itself climbed the hillsides: buildings in pastel shades, showing roofs of reddish tile.

The Athée's sails had been unfurled to steal from those swaying palms what winds there were; and we beat toward the harbor as best we could, forsaking the changeable hues of the Gulf Stream for the sapphirine seas nearer the island. I imagine now that we truly hurried; for our captain must have known that the harbor would close come dark. By the light of a low, westering sun, flying fish rose beside us: silvery knives they seemed, hurled shoreward by the hand of Neptune. Seabirds were ten times more numerous, now we were nearer land. Gulls cried, and signed their chalky Xs on the slate of the sky. . . . So near, yes; but it was then, with the gulls wheeling overhead, that we aboard the Athée saw a schooner on the opposite tack make for the harbor even as the signals were dropped and the first cannon fired. Of course, I concluded the worst: here were pirates, espied by the Cuban guard and now taking shot. But no: my companion--even more anxious than I to debark, surely--passed to me the dire news had from the captain just as the lighthouse spun to cast its first beam upon the sea: the city was closing.

And so it was that, our suit for entry refused, the Athée bobbed another night at sea. Suddenly I found myself in possession of the thing I wanted least of all: long starlit hours to worry about what was to come, and to worry about what we'd done; for yes, a crime had been committed, such that we--the crew and cast of the Athée--were now one fewer than we'd been when setting sail from Savannah. Of course, none but Calixto and I knew the why, the when, the how of the crime that had been committed: murder.

Indeed, we two wanted off the Athée come dawn; and all that starry, windless night I sat wondering how best to achieve this. How best to avoid the captain, and Cuban customs, and the inquisition sure to come?


Excerpted from The Witchery
by James Reese
Copyright © 2006 by James Reese.
Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Witchery 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
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brjunkie More than 1 year ago
This is the concluding book in the Herculine trilogy. Like the previous two books, it is written by Herculine in a diary fashion. Because it is written different than other books, I was forced to read it slower in order to understand what the authors (Herculine & Reese) are trying to convey. I was also forced to do a little research on the internet, to discover what a few of the French words meant (words like enfin, alors, and bref that are used again and again). As Henri, she sails for Havana, presumably to meet Sebastiana. On the sail there, she falls in love with Calixto, whom she saves from a demon of a man. But this does not save her love because he witnesses her use of the Craft, and sets sail out of Cuba before she is able to explain herself. As Herculine, she is lured by Q., an African alchemist, who is in search of the Philosopher's stone. To achieve his Perfection, he needs where both male and female meet. Unsure of S. coming to Havana, she studies alchemy with Q. The book is pretty boring and a slow start, until part two. Once part two is finished, the story slows down again. Altogether, a good read of H.'s death, with a little too much history lesson for my taste. But, the authors know that, apologize for it, and move on with the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was very sad that there will be no more Herculine. I actually felt as if i 'knew' this character! The alchemy thing kinda dragged, but interesting. I loved that she finally found love towards the end, but really sad that it ended fast.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Had it not been for the first half of this book, this book would have been at least a 4. I almost gave it up after the 100th page of rambling on and on about the specifics of alchemy. I was getting seriously bored. But I couldn't believe that a book in this series wasn't going to do go someplace interesting, so I stuck with it. Fortunately, as soon as Calixto arrived back in port, the pace of the story picked up, and became a really interesting tale. I wish that Reeves would have spent more time developing the relationship between the two witches at the end but he seemed to rush through that part of it, and left me wondering about these two most interesting of characters. There was actually so much going on in the last part of the book that I felt like it was a shame the series seems to have come to an end, and we won't get to learn more about 'The Trinity' or many other of the interesting characters in this series. So, if you read this, and get tired of it about a third of the way through, stick with it. Reeves really pulls it out in the last half of this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As with the first two in the series, I could not put this book down!!! I felt as if I traveled with Herculine and understood The loves, fears, and disappointments as well. I can actually see the faces of every character. I adore this it!