by Anna McKerrow
Hi WITCH readers! I’m delighted to share an excerpt with you from my new novel, DAUGHTER OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS, which is out now. My name is Anna McKerrow, and I’m an eclectic witch who enjoys writing about real witchcraft in my books. This book, the first in a new series, takes place in a modern day Scottish coastal village. It’s the story of Faye Morgan, a hereditary witch, and her journey to understand her sexual shadow via the “underworld” of the faerie realms. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
‘Annie, you can’t drink all the wine. It’s an offering for the sunrise.’ Faye hugged the foil blanket around herself and pulled her scarf back over her nose.
It was December and they were camping out on Black Sands Beach, waiting for the cold sun to break over the black night horizon for the winter solstice.
Annie drained the insulated travel mug of the home-made raspberry wine they’d brought.
Faye made it from the raspberry bushes in the garden behind the shop; like any good witch, she had maintained the garden that had always been there as far as she knew.
Scabious, comfrey, lavender, dandelion, mugwort and nettles grew along the stone-walled edges of the long garden behind the house.
Two apple trees stood like guardians at the end, and the raspberry and bramble bushes dominated the east side of the garden, drinking the sun into their ripe fruit every summer.
On the west side of the garden, wild white and yellow roses clutched their wall like possessive lovers, not allowing anything else to grow there.
‘Cannae let these good offerings go unappreciated.’ Annie burped. She did the same thing every year. In a way, it was part of their tradition now.
She and Annie usually came to the beach late on the night of the 21st December, the shortest day, and camped on the beach, ready to watch the sunrise and welcome in the new solar year.
Faye liked presents and turkey dinners as much as the next person, but she had always celebrated the old ways in private – when Moddie and Grandmother had been alive, they had too.
Now Annie had become her solstice companion.
Grandmother had died of a heart attack when Faye was twelve, and Moddie had passed, suddenly and without warning, from a stroke when Faye was eighteen.
The local doctor was surprised as Moddie was young still, having had Faye when she was in her early twenties, and in generally good health.
She had steered Faye away from where Moddie had been laid peacefully in the spare room and made her a cup of tea.
Strokes can happen at any time, she’d said, handing Faye a mug with a generous amount of sugar stirred into it. I mean, it’s something that happens in your brain, as you know. But it’s like a lightning strike. Something as fast and savage as heartbreak. Or, falling in love in the first place.
Faye, who suspected Moddie had been heartbroken over something in her past for some time, hadn’t answered.
A stroke was medical; it was mercurial, exactly like lightning.
It was just one of those things; she suspected the doctor of trying to make her feel better.
But death was a door that seemed to swing open easily for some as soon as they walked near it, and was slowly, creakingly pushed open for others, after a long struggle.
For some, it seemed that they danced with one hand forever on the door, daring it to open, until one day, it acquiesced.
Moddie, for some reason, had prompted the door into the next life to swing open suddenly and gather her into its velvety blackness at the first hint of her passing by.
Because Faye was eighteen already and an adult in the eyes of the law, no arrangements had to be made to look after her; she continued running the shop almost without a break.
But she was still young, and Annie had taken to dropping in more to help and staying over at the house a few nights a week.
Neither of them ever talked about it, but Faye knew that Annie was substituting herself for Moddie in all the little spaces she had used to inhabit in Faye’s life.
And that included the solstices.
Every year, Faye and Annie brought Grandmother’s grimoire with them and recorded their thoughts and impressions of the solstice in it.
The grimoire was a book of old Scottish folk magic, added to by generations of Morgans.
In the blank pages at the back, after the pages of remedies, rituals and strange sigils, there was a handwritten section which was a cross between a diary, recipe book and magical journal, where Grandmother and the Morgans before her had observed the moon, the seasons, recorded the magic they did and how well it worked.
That aspect of the book was what people called a Book of Shadows, nowadays: a kind of reflective journal of magic which was always a work in progress.
Faye had found it a few years ago when she needed more stock space for the shop and had finally set to clearing out Grandmother’s room which was downstairs at the back of the cottage.
It had been convenient for the formidable woman to be on the ground floor when she’d started to find the stairs difficult.
Not that she gave up her mobility easily, Faye had remembered with a smile as she’d packed boxes with the blankets, throws and nightdresses that had stayed in Grandmother’s wardrobe after she died, as if she’d just been away on holiday.
And after walking became tough she’d taken up residence in the easy chair by the fire in the shop, which had been the sitting room when she was a bairn, telling stories, reading palms and dispensing advice.
Sometimes Moddie had rolled her eyes, not wanting her mother in the shop all the time, but Grandmother wasn’t going anywhere.
At the bottom of a drawer containing woollen socks, scarves and various hairbrushes – Grandmother had kept her white hair long, and still brushed it a hundred times every night, just like she had done with Faye and Moddie’s deep red auburn curls when they were children – Faye had found a large, brown leather-bound notebook.
It was plain on the cover and wrapped with a leather thong.
When she opened it, she found Grandmother’s neat, copperplate handwriting.
The Magical Record of Alice Morgan, it read. It started with some passages that concerned local faerie lore.
At Midwinter one of the faerie kingdoms of Murias, Falias, Gorias or Finias take a child and, at Midsummer, a willing woman. The child must be under a year old, so that it can be raised in the Glass Castle with no memory of its mortal parents, and the woman must be fair, and willing to join the Faerie Dance forever more. In thanks, the faerie king and faerie queen will bless the land and grant boons to the villagers of Abercolme.
There was a song that Faye remembered from childhood:
Grandmother said that the faeries were the reason that Abercolme seemed to have always been blighted – at least, for as long as anyone could remember.
According to Grandmother, the frequent storms, flooding and subsequent loss of crops on the farmers’ lands were because the villagers no longer observed the old ways.
Moddie had rolled her eyes when Grandmother started on that particular topic.
It’s nothing to do with the faeries, Mother, she had said. It’s just bad luck. Sometimes bad things happen.
However, a lot of bad things had happened in Abercolme: there was no denying that. In the 80s and 90s, the local fishing community had been hit hard by the effects of overfishing in the Scottish coastal waters, and many old local family businesses – bakeries, butchers, blacksmiths – had not survived the financial struggles of a national recession, leaving Abercolme a ghost of what it had once been.
She had stayed, though: where else could she go? All Faye had was the shop, and Annie.
Leaving Abercolme, as dark as it could sometimes be, would be to leave her heritage.
Her ancestors had trod this sand; Faye at least had the comfort that the rising Midwinter sun might cast her shadow on the same place it had theirs.
About the book:
Daughter of Light and Shadows is available on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes.
Faye Morgan – beautiful, independent and lonely – runs her family’s small shop of magical curiosities like her mother and grandmother before her. She longs for an escape, unaware of the dark power that flows through her veins…
When Faye casts a spell into the sea one cold morning, her call brings her to the attention of the wild and impulsive faerie king Finn Beatha. Finn pulls Faye into an intoxicating new world, both magical and treacherous… and as bewitching as Finn himself, who seems to command every part of her when he’s near.
As Faye’s passion for Finn grows, so does her fear that she might be there for some darker reason… and that she could be trapped in Faerie forever. Is there something in Faye’s past connecting her to this place, to Finn? And dare she find out more when every moment draws her further away from her old world?
About the author:
Anna McKerrow has written poetry, children’s and adult books. She lives in London and is originally from the West Country, which gave her accent a subtle (yet noticeable) pirate twang as well as a love of cream teas and all things mystical. She is an eclectic pagan witch and feminist who also loves crocheting blankets while watching episodes of Miss Marple. Anna loves mythology, magic, tarot, punk, grunge, rock and alternative music, fantasy and sci-fi novels, travel, luxury skincare products, chocolate, spas, candlelight and stormy beaches. She owns the requisite witchy black cat. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AnnaMckerrow, Facebook, or check out her website: www.annamckerrow.com
featured image via Pexels
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