BOOK DETAILS

Famine: Book One of The Apocalyptics (Volume 1)

Famine: Book One of The Apocalyptics (Volume 1)

by Monica Enderle Pierce

ISBN: 9780985976125

Publisher Stalking Fiction

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Literature & Fiction/Horror, Literature & Fiction/Genre Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have escaped their bonds and only two damaged souls can recapture them.

Matilde is a troubled child with a fierce will to survive. Bartholomew is a fifteen hundred-year-old warrior who’s lost his freedom, his faith, and everyone he’s ever loved.

She must learn to trust. He must learn to love again.

The fate of every soul depends upon them.

*A gritty, noir-ish, Edwardian Era fantasy, FAMINE is the first novel in a four-book paranormal series. It contains graphic violence, strong language, and sexual content and is intended for adult readers.*

Sample Chapter

Caught in a maelstrom of black feathers and beady eyes, Bartholomew tugged down his top hat and turned up his coat collar to a murder of crows’ sharp talons and beaks. Black-winged bastards. He ducked the raucous birds and continued along the murky Mulberry Bend as evening’s growing shadows reached for him.

“I have some lovely calico for your lady, sir.”

Lady? A sneer curled Bartholomew’s upper lip as he continued past the fabric shop’s proprietress. Though she bore a feminine and striking form, his unwanted mistress Famine was far from ladylike.

Indeed her presence impelled Bartholomew to spend as much time as possible in New York City’s infamous Sixth Ward—the Five Points. Famine found its poverty pathetic, and her disinterest provided him some small measure of escape. And so it was that Bartholomew Etienne Pelletier had a strange affection for the Bend’s wretches and crooks.

“A fat duck for your dinner tonight, sir?”

Bartholomew skirted the butcher and the pale, plucked carcass that the man had thrust into his path.

Crows. Doubtless they were haunting him for a reason. But after fifteen hundred years of searching, it seemed too much to trust that they were leading him to freedom.

“You look like a gentleman who appreciates fine tobacco, sir.”

Bartholomew glanced down at the tobacconist. Indeed he was one to appreciate the finer, and coarser activities the Five Points offered an Edwardian gentleman—he’d already been entertained by one of its ladies that afternoon. But a practiced sniff brought the bitter stench of tar across his palate, and Bartholomew strode onward. The rickety shop was a charlatan’s abode.

The crows reappeared one, two, and three-by-three along his path. They winged up en masse, wheeled about, and disappeared into a narrow alley. Bartholomew scowled and stepped into the dank corridor but saw only broken bricks, crumpled paper, and stagnant water—until he followed the rustle of wings. The black sentinels stared down from the ledge of a four-story, red brick tenement, and Bartholomew’s displeasure deepened. He disliked the creatures—among them were spies. But he knew not to ignore them. The crows were the Catcher's inhuman eyes, and there was something she wanted him to see.

“By any means necessary,” he murmured. He pocketed his gray, kidskin gloves and scaled the wall, finding handholds few men could grip. Once atop the roof, Bartholomew straightened his black frock coat and brushed dust from its folds. Exacting in appearance, manners, and most particularly, revenge, he wore clothing the color of ashes and coal, and bore the semblance of a man not yet in mid-life, but beyond the folly of his twenties. Truth be told, he could still recall his boyhood on the banks of the Rhine, though fifteen centuries had passed.

The crows skittered from his path as Bartholomew prowled the roof’s perimeter and surveyed the cesspool that was New York’s Sixth Ward. Built on reclaimed swampland, the ward hosted impoverished immigrants, thieves, murderers, whores, and all manner of slumgullion. It also sustained mosquitoes, lice, bedbugs, cholera, consumption, and an ongoing turf war. Only the latter puzzled him; Bartholomew saw nothing worth fighting for in the streets below.

He removed a silver cigarette case and a box of matches from his coat pocket then extracted a cigarette and struck a match off the roof tiles. The tang of sulfur was obliterated by the acrid, woodiness of fine tobacco as he inhaled the flame into the tip of his cigarette. He held the lungful of smoke, enjoying the warmth it spread through his body, and flicked the match over the ledge to land in a puddle. He turned the case, running his fingers over the lines and leaves that had been etched into its silver surface.

At six-plus feet in height, Bartholomew was long and lean with a wiry muscularity that belied his physical power. He wore his brown, wavy hair to his collar, sported a trim beard, and didn’t care a whit for current fashion. He smoked and drank, though he was incapable of getting drunk, and Bartholomew cursed—in many languages. He was by many accounts a handsome man, bearing the strong-boned features of the Belgae.

As one, the crows peered over the ledge and up the Bend. Bartholomew followed their gaze and spied a small figure flitting between horse carts, tradesmen, and sluggards. A young girl, her blonde braids flying and blue shawl clutched to her chest, was sprinting his way with a larger girl and two boys in pursuit.Bartholomew slipped the case into his pocket and crouched at the ledge. He dragged on his cigarette and watched.

With her pursuers gaining ground, the urchin found her path blocked by an overturned market cart. She ducked between two men and scuttled around the corner into the dead-end alley below Bartholomew’s perch. She ran to a door at the rear of the building and tugged on its handle. But it didn’t give. With a little, high-pitched noise and a kick to the door, she whirled, and found her escape blocked again.

“Gimme that.” The larger girl’s voice bounced off the grimy alley walls as she shoved past the two boys.

Bartholomew surveyed the aggressor’s black eye and ratty, calico dress and caught the sneer that curled her lips back from her broken front teeth. He glanced at the crows. The Catcher wanted her? But the birds squabbled, preened, and minced about the roof. They called insults at him, arched and flapped their wings, and chortled as if sharing a good laugh at his expense.

“No!”

The word was clear and strong, and Bartholomew looked down, surprised by its power.

The older girl stalked toward her defiant prey, hand outstretched. “Gimme that or we’ll smash yer face.”

“No!” the little girl repeated. “This is fer Samuel. Get yer own, Catherine.”

Bartholomew leaned out over the roofline like a gargoyle as smoke swirled around him and away. A small smile tugged up the corner of his lips. He hadn’t missed how the little girl had twisted Catherine’s name into an insult.

Neither had Catherine and her fist smashed into the little girl’s cheek. The child crashed into the brick wall and landed in a slimy puddle. Her head struck the bricks with a crack.

Catherine smirked as she yanked the bundled shawl from her victim’s arms. “Now it’s fer me. Matilde.” She spat on the little girl then marched back to the waiting boys.

Bartholomew’s fists clenched as Catherine unwrapped a small heel of bread from the ragged fabric and doled out shares to her lackeys. Her back to the little girl, the bully draped the stolen shawl over her shoulder and shoveled bread into her mouth.

Matilde rolled over. She rose to her knees and looked around. She hefted a chunk of red brick, and the smile returned to Bartholomew’s lips. Her palm barely fit around the flat side, and the jagged, broken edge jutted past her fingers. His smile became a wicked grin as Matilde stood, clutched the wall for a breath, and turned to her attackers. She stumbled toward them, her hand down and behind as she came upon her assailant.

“Hey, Catherine.”

The bully turned, and the little girl leaped forward. Her rock-filled fist whipped around to smash Catherine’s cheek and nose. The bully girl’s head snapped to the side. She staggered into one of the boys, and they both hit the ground as the second boy stared at Matilde, open-mouthed like a fish. He wore a swath of bright red blood across his chest and face.

“Nobody steals from me!” Matilde fell upon her attacker, fist aiming for her face. Somehow Catherine dodged the brunt of the blow, and Matilde’s fist glanced off her cheek and ear and smashed into the ground. But the pain of crushed, bloodied knuckles didn’t stop her. Nor did the older girl’s sobs and pleas. As one boy stood staring, and the other bolted, Matilde raised the brick once again.

A burly man pushed past a gathering crowd and captured Matilde. She kicked, cursed, and twisted to see her new attacker. “Settle, child,” the man said. “She got yer message.”

The girl jerked, blinked, and looked from the watching adults to her prone assailant. Two women were bent over Catherine, who sat broken and stunned, her face unrecognizable and her calico dress covered in blood and breadcrumbs.

And the remaining boy still stared at Matilde with wide, reverent eyes.

Matilde. Bartholomew rocked back on his heels, twisted, and stood. He slunk along the roofline, his focus on the retreating man and child. The girl sobbed as the man carried her along the Bend, turned the corner into a narrower space between two tenements, and ascended a set of rickety, wooden stairs.

Bartholomew stuck his cigarette between his lips, trotted toward the edge of the building, and leaped to Matilde’s tenement. He moved away from the roofline then crouched, closed his light brown eyes, and focused on locating the girl within the building. When he was certain of her whereabouts, he crossed the roof, dropped to the rusty balcony outside the child’s apartment and, melding with the shadows, beheld a wretched home.

A gaunt woman stooped at a wooden washbasin, scrubbing clothes like she was skinning a live cat. Her face, so similar to the girl’s delicate countenance, had been beautiful but now bore the pockmarks of disappointment and drink. “Where’s the bread?” she demanded.

The man put Matilde down, and the child scurried to put a table between herself and the woman. “Catherine Connelly stole it from me, Mama.”

The woman jerked around to glare at her daughter. Water dripped from the shirt in her hands, darkening her faded red dress and pooling at her feet. The weight of the woman’s judgment slowed time. “I suppose that’s yer excuse for losing yer shawl and soiling yer dress?”

“Yes, Mama.”

She pinned the man with a withering glare. “I thought you showed her how to fight, Pieter.”

“I did, and Tilde gave the Connolly girl a sound beating.”

The woman grunted. “Clean that blood outta yer hair, then bring Samuel for supper. You’ll eat last since you’ve lost the babe his bread.” She returned to the wash. “Maybe hunger’ll make you run faster next time.”

“Yes, Mama.” Matilde disappeared into an adjoining room, and Bartholomew shifted to peer through the grimy bedroom window. The girl paused at a basin in the corner of the room. She scrubbed blood from her cheek and blotted it from her scalp and knuckles. Her body trembled and she swallowed sobs even as she cast an evil glare toward the door as her mother lit into her father to get their bread money back.

A toddler boy sat on the bedroom floor, his leg tied to a bed frame with a length of rope. He wielded a wooden spoon like a cudgel, and Matilde endured several blows as she freed him, changed his diaper and clothes, and cuddled him.

“I’m sorry I lost yer bread, Samuel,” she said as the babe chanted, “Bed, bed, bed.”

Night came and Bartholomew held to the shadows watching the stars brighten and a waxing moon on the rise. Back pressed to the cold, brick wall, he turned a matchstick over and over, itching to light a cigarette. But he dared not lest he draw unwelcome attention. Famine’s soulless cadavers skulked around the Ward’s dark alleys and rooftops. Her unnatural brood would love nothing more than to report his interest in a certain small girl.

Continues...

Excerpted from "Famine: Book One of The Apocalyptics (Volume 1)" by Monica Enderle Pierce. Copyright © 2014 by Monica Enderle Pierce. 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 solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Monica Enderle Pierce

Monica Enderle Pierce

I write books that entail elements of fantasy or science fiction, often include historical settings, and have been described as lyrical, powerful, and sensual. My first book, Girl Under Glass, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semi-finalist.

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