Title: The Island: Vampires of the Merovingi #1
Author: Sarah M. Cradit
Genre: Historical Fantasy Horror
Release Date: March 12, 2018
From the USA Today bestselling fantasy author of the House of Crimson & Clover novels comes a chilling new historical fantasy series, Vampires of the Merovingi. Ancient lore, a vidid historical backdrop, and elusive, tantalizing mythical creatures await readers as they dive into the secretive, ancient, powerful world of The Saga of Crimson & Clover.
1789. Saint-Domingue. Hispaniola. West Indies.
Etienne de Blanchefort has seen incredible success as a colonial planter in the Northern Province of Saint-Domingue. Though uprooting his family from France a decade past was a gamble, life in the tropical West Indies has been good to him, his wife, and four children. With France embroiled in their great revolution across the Atlantic, he harbors little doubt he made the right decision for his family’s future.
Until, that is, the arrival of his fiend.
Etienne’s practical nature cannot reconcile what he knows to be true of his world with what he cannot ignore about the abominable creature haunting his family and the island.
Nor can he ignore his wife’s terrifying dreams that slowly steal her vitality.
Or Victorine’s burgeoning free spirit and wariness of their way of life.
Or Nanette’s curious, furtive behavior as she hides in trees.
Or Marius’ secret new friendship with one he cannot name.
Or Flosine’s unsettling drawings of a man from a time long before theirs.
Etienne’s fiend will not stay elusive for long. He has a request. A very particular, very important request, one that will change the lives of Etienne, his family, and his descendants forever.
Nanette swung her left leg up and accidentally jostled the branch holding her precious ink. With a sharp cry, her gaze traveled toward the ground and the inevitable loss of her only outlet.
She was shocked to see Childeric holding the bottle upright in his right palm, his left outstretched to her.
“You must be more cautious, mon cher,” he chastised. His alabaster flesh reflected the bold green of his tunic, and he seemed preternatural to her; a figment of her dreams.
“I am grateful,” Nanette replied with a hasty breath, gathering her leg and skirt to one side to avoid an unseemly disaster. His hand remained high in the air, an invitation.
She had climbed up with the help of several branches, hitching her skirts to avoid a snag. Going down would be even less ladylike, and she had counted on being alone. Childeric settled her ink down on a nearby flat stretch of dirt and returned with both arms wide.
Nanette set her lips in a tight line, unwittingly resembling her mother in that moment. She saw no other choice. He was not leaving, and she could not be seen flashing her undergarments in the presence of a man. Unchaperoned, no less. With a fearful glance around the grounds, she pulled in a breath and dropped into his arms. His embrace was solid, but brief. He backed away before the blush could fully form in her cheeks.
She had never before been so close to him. Now, she could see his eyes were the brilliant violet hues of indigo dye, and his skin was lineless, devoid of the markings of the age and experience someone of his words bespoke.
“Has no one discovered your love of trees?” Childeric teased, his blood-red lips forming a smile that paused her heart.
Nanette shook her head. “I must return to the house.”
Her head pulled to the side, startled by the impudence in his question.
“Your secret will not ever leave my lips,” Childeric said when she found herself unable to form a reply. “As you have kept mine, I shall keep yours.”
Nanette swallowed a lump in her throat. “You’re mistaken. You’ve bade me keep no secret of yours.”
Childeric paced a circle around her, his steps nimble. “So, you have told your maman and père of the strange man who visits you and tells you tales?”
“I have not!” Nanette exclaimed, indignant, realizing in the moment his point. Her expression turned cross. “Yet, as I am not the only one you visit, it is not such a secret after all.”
“Marius and Flosine know no better. They see me through the visage of a child. Not you, Nanette. Yours is the age of discernment.”
“They have not yet developed a healthy fear of the world. They trust without thought, and move through life with an artless grace. They do not yet understand the consequence that can follow a decision, a split-second choice.”
“They’re six and four,” Nanette offered, frozen in spot.
Childeric swept one arm of his brilliant emerald tunic toward the Caribbean. Chartreuse waves lapped at the shore, cresting against the crag. “You stand at the cliffs and innately accept that to fall is to invoke injury. Even death. Yet at the bottom also lies a world unknown to you. You see, in your dreams, that I am the cliff. You have not yet decided where I lead.”
The abruptly adult turn the conversation took left Nanette unwittingly stumbling back up the grassy cliff side. The temptation to continue this palaver was stronger than she’d like to admit, for admitting it would be to embrace her maman’s claim she was nearing her journey as a woman. Her fear of being caught with a man unchaperoned outmaneuvered all other competing emotions.
Her eyes moved toward the ink, standing behind Childeric. To reach it, she would need to either cut a wide berth or brush directly past him. His smile broadened, as if he could see through to the darkest thoughts in her heart. As if he enjoyed them.
“Here you are, mon cher.” Childeric’s outstretched palm held the pot of ink. She’d not even seen him move to reach for it. She couldn’t fathom how he’d done it so quickly. She didn’t want to. “Not a drop spilt.”
Eyes averted, Nanette swiped the pot and murmured her gratitude before whirling and fleeing back over the arc of the cliffs, toward the safety of the house, sensing his indigo eyes burning word-shaped cuts into the soft flesh of her back.
Sarah is the USA Today bestselling author of the Paranormal Southern Gothic series, The House of Crimson & Clover, born of her combined passion for New Orleans, and the mysterious complexity of human nature. Her work has been described as rich, emotive, and highly dimensional.
An unabashed geek, Sarah enjoys studying obscure subjects like the Plantagenet and Ptolemaic dynasties, and settling debates on provocative Tolkien topics such as why the Great Eagles are not Gandalf’s personal taxi service. Passionate about travel, Sarah has visited over twenty countries collecting sparks of inspiration (though New Orleans is where her heart rests). She’s a self-professed expert at crafting original songs to sing to her very patient pets, and a seasoned professional at finding ways to humiliate herself (bonus points if it happens in public). When at home in Oregon, her husband and best friend, James, is very kind about indulging her love of fast German cars and expensive lattes.