Today I am so pleased to welcome M.A. Grant to Joyfully Jay. M.A. has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Iron Crown. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thanks so much to everyone here at Joyfully Jay for having me on to talk about THE IRON CROWN, the last book of THE DARKEST COURT series. The Seelie Court has fallen, the Unseelie face annihilation, and the only hope for Faerie’s survival lies with Lugh, Queen Mab’s youngest son, and his Wild Hunt. Lugh is haunted—figuratively and literally—by shades of the past and his best friend Keiran is the only one who can keep him from being devoured by his magick before they win the war. But, as the excerpt from Lugh’s perspective shows, even Keiran may not be able to help him on Samhain…
A small branch rolls out of the flames, so I use another stick to nudge it back into place. The fire spits and pops, too loud at this hour, a living creature unwilling to die with a whimper.
He lay me down on a bed of harebell and kissed me till I sighed. And then he sliced into my heart and bled me till I died.
Terror grips me and steals the air from my lungs when the singing reaches me from the burial mounds. No. She couldn’t have found me here, not after so many days of riding. Except, the shade isn’t alone. Shadows move across the field, drifting over the grass toward me. The stick drops to the ground when I press my hands over my ears and close my eyes. But her singing continues, so I give up protecting my ears and dig the heels of my palms into my eyes instead. The pressure sends up bright starbursts of pain flickering against my closed eyelids.
Pain is good. Pain helps me focus. I have to keep them out of my head. I have to keep them at bay. Every Samhain, when the veil between worlds is the thinnest, the oldest shades come begging closure, not realizing it’s an impossible task. There are no bodies left to lay to rest. No way of completing their last wishes. When I fail, they have no choice but to stay with me, trapped in my head.
And there are so many coming toward me now. I can’t fall asleep. Focus. Build up the fire. Heat water. Make a drink. Find constellations. Anything. Anything to stay awake. It’s the best plan I have.
Slowly, I drop my hands and listen. Out in the darkness, the singing has faded. Maybe she and the others have wandered off in another direction.
Except, when I open my eyes, a filmy gaze holds mine with the same dark command of a basilisk’s stare. A bony hand skates down my cheek. Where it touches, a deep chill bites in and spreads, sending pins and needles into my jaw, my throat, my temples… I hunch against the pain and try to cradle my head in my hands, but it’s too late. Shadows swirl around me, keeping out of the fire’s light as they wait their turns, whispering all the memories they need to give me. The shade who found me first slides into my mind like an oily shadow and begins rooting around the empty spaces.
I crane my head over my shoulder and grunt, “Keiran.” He’ll wake up and tell me stories, distract me from their insistent attention.
A strange coldness runs through me, as if my blood is freezing me from the inside out. The shade’s still there in my head, but it’s reaching out for more. Demanding more, and I don’t know what it wants—
My muscles lock up when the shade dresses itself in my flesh, wriggling until it fits under my skin.
“Keiran!” I try again, but it’s strangled, cut off by the shade’s grip on my voice. It flexes its control over me, forces my muscles to move, forces my body to rise and stagger toward the burial mounds.
“Keir,” I beg one last time, losing my battle to stay here beside him. His name, combined with my desperate need, opens a seam, a vulnerability, in the walls I try to erect against the attack. The shade digs in at that weakest point and pries and—
After the last Faerie Civil War, the leaders of the magickal pantheons stripped the shining Seelie Court of its power and tasked the dark Unseelie Court with maintaining the natural balance of the world.
Ages later, a twisted intrigue throws the balance of all Faerie into ruin and ignites a new civil war.
Discounted by his family and haunted in the Unseelie sidhe, Queen Mab’s youngest son, Lugh, leads the Wild Hunt on quests across the dangerous Wylds. At his side is his best friend, Keiran, a Viking rescued from death centuries earlier. Between Lugh’s uncanny gift for being in the right place at the right time and Keiran’s power of persuasion, they’re revered across the Wylds—as long as Lugh keeps his true identity hidden from the people of the Sluagh.
Keiran and Lugh have loved each other for centuries—as friends and brothers in arms. Lugh has long since put aside his romantic love for Keiran to protect their friendship. But with the looming war in Faerie and the ghosts of the dead dogging Lugh’s every move, Keiran realizes there may be room for romance between them after all, if only they can survive.
Rallying the Sluagh to fight in the looming war between the Seelie and Unseelie seems an impossible task. To achieve it, these childhood best friends will have to free Lugh from the restless souls haunting him and turn the tides threatening not only their growing love, but the balance of life and death itself.
M.A. Grant has always loved reading and writing, but fell in love with the romance genre when she started working at an independent bookstore in high school. After meeting her husband in college, they began a steady northward migration and are now happily living in the rugged beauty of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. When she’s not calling out to passing ravens or making a cup of tea, she’s writing dark and moving stories.