Do you love Halloween? I do, I do, I do. In the UK, where I live, a lot of people complain about it. “What is this American invention that has crossed the Atlantic and is spreading its commercialized tentacles everywhere, etc.” What those good folk don’t realize is that it’s all our fault. Yes, we British actually invented Halloween. Possibly in cooperation with the Irish.
It started with the pagans (doesn’t it always?). In Ireland, and possibly in parts of Britain, too, Halloween was called Samhain. In my mother’s homeland, Wales, it was Nos Calan Gaf, Winter’s Eve. And the Saxons called it Blood Monat, the month of blood. It was a festival that marked the arrival of winter. A time of magic and danger, when the barrier between this world and the Otherworld became so thin that gods and monsters could cross into our universe and walk among humans. On that night, people who had been enchanted and turned into animals could regain their human form, until dawn.
Later, the Catholic Church adopted the feast and made it into a festival of the dead. 1 November was the day of All Hallows, All Souls. So the day before became All Hallows’ Eve — Halloween. Still a time of danger and magic. Poor people went round to the houses of rich people and offered to pray for their souls in return for food. Rich people would bake special cakes to give out, called “soul cakes”. The practice was called “souling”. Irish immigrants took it to the US where it became trick o’treating.
So the monsters are still with us, though usually in the form of little kids wandering the streets in costume. Normal rules are still suspended — it’s the only night in the year when we positively encourage our children to accept sweets from strangers.
It’s also a perfect time to read ghost stories and paranormal tales. I would like to suggest two of them, which have been inspired by Halloween and the old Celtic myths that accompanied it.
MYSTIC DESIRE is a collection of brand new paranormal romance stories by talented BVS authors. Buy link: https://books2read.com/u/4j1AD2
It includes stories about hot warlocks, Native American dream catchers, mystical jewelry, lustful vampires, a grumpy leprechaun, a ghostly terrier, a zombie apocalypse and things that go bump and ooh! in the night. There is something for everyone in this anthology!
MUSIC FOR A MERMAN, on pre-order at the special promo price of $0.99 until the release date of 1 November, is Book 2 in the Sea of Love series, a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by Welsh folk tales. Buy link: https://books2read.com/u/mdG7Bw
Rob Regor knew that humans were trouble. All the shape shifting mermen of the Morvann Islands knew it. And human women were double trouble… especially when they were lying on the road in front of a digger.
Can Rob, merman and rookie cop, fight his attraction to the sexy eco-warrior Charlie? Can Charlie open up her heart to Rob, when a secret buried in her past surfaces and changes her completely?
Read below an extract from The Sweetest Magic of All, my story in the Mystic Desire anthology…
Saffy knelt on the grass and opened the book of spells. Book was a strong word for the worn diary in which Auntie May had recorded her enchantments, but all witches had books of spells. So she’d call it a book, just as she called herself a witch.
Though she was only an apprentice. A chill crept over her skin, as if a shadow had blotted out the summer sun. She stared hard at the spidery handwriting, but all she could see was the thin body of her aunt, almost swallowed up by the tubes and machines that were keeping her alive. Only one thing could help her now, the magical amulet that she’d once worn around her neck. The amulet had vanished a week ago, on the day she’d had a stroke, and they’d rushed her to the hospital in Swansea. No one had been able to find it since.
Cold enveloped Saffy and seeped into her limbs. The amulet was her aunt’s last hope. She had to find it. Now.
She took a deep breath. The familiar smells of the seaside meadow streamed into her nose, pushing back the icy fear that dug its claws into her flesh. Salt on the wind. Wildflowers. Good, rich earth, softened by the morning dew. “I can do this,” she said.
She placed the book on the grass and waved her hands above it, the way her aunt had shown her. Auntie May had made magic look so easy. Saffy had never managed to cast a spell on her own, but today she had to try, and succeed. She kept breathing, in and out, to keep herself calm. The spell to find lost objects was supposed to be easy. And this meadow was a special place, where the ancient magic of the world flowed fast and strong. Surely the spell would succeed here.
Saffy laid her hands in the grass, on either side of the yellowed pages. A ladybird landed on her index finger and walked down onto the book, as if to encourage her. She concentrated. All her life seemed to pour into the breath she was taking… into her tongue as it formed the words.
“Bound and binding
See the sight
Hear the sound
What was lost
Now is found.”
She closed her eyes and waited for the vision that would show her where the lost amulet was. All she saw was the red light of the sun, shining through her lids. She opened her eyes. There was only the meadow, frothy with oxeye daisies, and the turquoise dome of the sky. A perfect midsummer day, mocking her and her pathetic attempts at magic. Bitter dismay surged, burning her throat and the back of her eyes. She let out a strangled cry. “Fuck and triple fuck!”
“What have you lost?”
The male voice, behind her, made her jump. She turned. A man, wrapped in a black coat, was staring at her, just a few feet away. A warm tide of embarrassment rose from her neck to her cheeks. He must have heard her say the spell. He’d think she was nuts.