by Anna McKerrow
Hi WITCH readers! I’m delighted to share an excerpt with you from my new novel, QUEEN OF SEA AND STARS, 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 second 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 – as well as featuring extra added London occult bookshops, covens meeting on Hampstead Heath and much more! I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
‘I come with a message for one among you.’
Morgana’s voice hung in the air between them all and sounded inside their heads at the same time. ‘Faye Morgan, sidhe-leth, step forward.’
Faye’s heart beat faster, and she released Gabriel’s hand.
‘I’m… I’m here.’ She tried to get her voice under control, but her nerves showed.
‘Faye. There is something important you must know about the war between the faerie kingdoms,’ Morgana’s voice sang with the splash of oars in a still lake and the vibrant hum of the pink-white crystal of her castle.
‘I come to speak to you, and you only. I have been trying to communicate with you for some time.’
Faye thought of all the shadows, the dreams, the smoky fingers of the fae that had reached out to her since she’d come to London. She’d ignored them all.
‘Why?’ she asked. ‘Please. I wanted to start a new life here. Can’t you leave me alone?’
‘No!’ Morgana’s voice echoed in her ears. ‘There is a prophecy that drives this war. The rifts between the elemental kingdoms are deepening because of it, and you lie at its centre.’
‘A prophecy? What prophecy?’ Faye demanded.
‘Your involvement with Finn Beatha has begun a series of events that can only end in—’
But there was an interference, suddenly, like an electrical storm, or the irritating black and white snow on the TV set when a storm knocked out the aerial, back at home in Abercolme where Faye’s TV was the same ancient one she’d grown up with.
The goddess’s outline flickered; Faye stretched her hand out, as if she could touch Morgana, but her fingers closed around air as the goddess faded.
‘They will not let me through,’ Morgana’s voice faded away. ‘Do not trust them!’
Faye opened her eyes, but the goddess was gone. Yet, not everything was normal.
A different forest appeared around the circle, slipping against the oaks of the Heath like a blurred negative.
Faye looked around her, but the rest of the coven seemed to be caught in a moment of stillness; frozen in time.
‘Can only end in what?’ Faye screamed, but there was no answer.
Instead of the familiar, thick trunks of the oaks, with Hampstead Heath beyond them, a new, golden-green forest stretched out around her. Immediately, she knew she was in the faerie realm.
To her right flowed a merry stream, with a bridge over it. The bridge was in the shape of a woman’s body, with her toes and fingertips the points where soft grass met the banks of the stream.
The bridge was carved from wood and varnished in a golden brown, gleaming in the strange light.
The walkway over her back was unsupported by a rail, and the bridge was narrow. No bridge in the fae worlds, it seemed, was an easy one to cross, and all of them required fearlessness.
Faye’s breath caught in her throat. Was this the way to the faerie forest, the entry to Falias, the Faerie Kingdom of Earth? Had this place, somehow, interceded on Morgana Le Fay’s power?
Its presence had banished her from the circle: someone hadn’t wanted her to deliver her message to Faye.
What had the faerie queen been trying to tell Faye? She felt rattled by the experience, her heart beating with panic.
Beyond the bridge, Faye saw a tall, golden gate leading into the forest; again, the gate itself was formed of the carvings of two women embracing, made of the same gold varnished wood.
The hinges of the gate were at the heels, bottoms and elbows of the figures, whose bodies were entwined in an eternal kiss. As she watched, the door swung open, as if to show Faye what lay beyond.
Her panic quieting, Faye walked over the bridge and to the gate.
She stood at the entrance to the deeper forest and stared in, but roots and vines wrapped themselves around her feet and ankles, and she could go no further.
She could see the exposed black roots of the trees beyond, and the black soil that glowed with jewels: amber, citrine, jet and emerald sparkled in the ground like pebbles on a beach, and huge unpolished chunks sat like menhirs among the densely packed trees.
The air smelt of lemons, but underneath there was the taint of copper: of blood and earth.
Stop, traveller. Only one pure in her desire may enter the Queendom of Moronoe, Mistress of Earthly Delights a chorus of voices sang out. Have knowledge of where you tread. Know thyself and admit thy deepest desires.
Faye’s awareness flickered back to the circle, but she was only vaguely conscious of the rest of them.
She tried to return to the ordinary world, tried switching her awareness completely, but the faerie forest was too strong.
She could hear soft laughter: the cries of delight attracted her, drew her in, lighting a flame of desire in her belly.
I want… I want… she tried to say what she felt, but she was too confused. Stop this, I don’t want it. Return Morgana Le Fay to me. She had a message for me.
The laughter seemed to come from the lumps of crystal; from the deep black hollow slits in the trees. Many would like the pleasure of your company came the answer. We await you.
Faye realised she was stamping her feet as if to free them from the roots.
There was a flash of golden light and a deep voice rumbled through the trees; like a persistent echo in a mountain range, like the sound of the earth shifting under their feet.
A different voice than the laughing one; the husky woman’s voice that had called her into something dark, somewhere she desired to go but didn’t know why.
The scene changed and Faye was standing back in the circle, but the faerie one that overlapped the ordinary world.
She could see the Hampstead Heath oak grove, but she stood within another circle, one with gold-green trees ringed with light.
The call came again and a splintered shard of loss in Faye’s heart twisted uncomfortably; it had been there ever since she’d been old enough to know what a father was, and know that she lacked one.
The other children in Abercolme had fathers. Cheerful ones that cracked jokes, quiet fathers that helped them with difficult homework, fathers that shouted, fat ones, thin ones, fathers that smelt of whisky.
She was left out; she’d experienced none of those things. Being called daughter, suddenly, by someone she didn’t know, was more hurtful than she expected.
This voice was a man’s, loud and deep.
A figure strode through the trees, a gold light pooling around him in the night.
For a brief second Faye thought it was Finn, and she recoiled, her awareness returning to the ordinary world. He was tall and graceful in the same way as Finn was, and his outline was similar: strong shoulders, a regal bearing.
Yet when Faye saw his face, it wasn’t one she’d seen before. This man was dark where Finn was blonde and blue-eyed; his hair was black, his skin was brown like sun-baked soil, he wore a short, shaggy beard.
His features were as perfect as Finn’s, but his jaw under the beard was squarer, his face broader.
He was dressed in a black tunic, pinned at the shoulder with a yellow-gold stone brooch, and black trousers underneath; he wore sandals of dull copper leather, and a belt of the same, which featured a seven-pointed star on the buckle.
Lyr of the Faerie Kingdom of Falias stepped into the circle and the glow around him, like an aura of gold, lit up the whole clearing. He bowed his head respectfully to Faye.
‘I come for my daughter, on this night of equal power between our realms of earth and magic, light and dark, day and night,’ he said, his voice as deep as the earth. He held out his hand. ‘Come. We have much to say to each other.’
About the book:
Queen of Sea and Stars is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.
As a child, Faye Morgan was always an outsider, shunned for the ancient and powerful magic that runs through her veins.
Ever since she was a little girl, growing up in the village of Abercolme on the wild coast of Scotland, Faye Morgan’s life has been steeped in the old ways – witchcraft, herbal lore and a blood connection to the dangerous and unpredictable world of Faerie.
But magic is both a gift and a burden, and Faye has more than paid the price of living between two worlds. Neither accepted by the villagers, nor welcome in the Faerie kingdom of Murias after rebuffing the fickle and attractive Faerie warrior king, Finn Beatha, Faye runs from Abercolme, hoping to leave that life behind.
However, even in the twisted, cobbled streets of London, Faye finds her blood bond with Faerie won’t be broken. A Faerie war of the elements is brewing and, though she doesn’t yet know it, Faye is fated to play a terrible part. If she is to survive, she must learn to embrace her own dark power and face Finn Beatha once more… but in doing so Faye will discover secrets in her own past that never should have been disturbed.
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 Unsplash