Katharine Eliska Kimbriel is joining us today with her novel Spiral Path. Here’s the publisher’s description.
“The world is woven of secrets.”
Ritual magic mixes dangerously with wild magic. Yet Alfreda Sorensson’s talent has grown until she becomes a target for worldly and unworldly powers. Now, to save her soul, she must leave her pioneer home in the Michigan Territory to take refuge at an elite New York school, where her wild magic places her in direct conflict with the ritual taught to young Americans and Europeans.
Alfreda suspects that half the professors may not be human at Windward Academy. It’s a curious place, a last chance for students who can’t control their powers, and a place where everything is a test, in one way or another.
At first Alfreda thinks her greatest challenge will be mastering ritual. Then she learns that traitors have infiltrated the school–and the new nation. War looms between the United States and England, and Alfreda answers the call. Only after she spies her way into an enemy magician’s estate does she learn the true challenge of her own power–
Because when dark magic finds her, she’s utterly on her own.
What’s Katharine’s favorite bit?
KATHARINE ELISKA KIMBRIEL
What happens when your life changes in the course of a single night? When the world splits open and reveals something so dangerous, that the people who love you immediately take action to protect you from it?
This is where Spiral Path, the third book in the Night Calls saga, begins. Thirteen year old Alfreda Sorensson lives in an alternative pioneer America right on the cusp of the War of 1812. There are strong practitioners—magic users who are also gifted with knowledge of herbs and healing—who protect the communities out in the territories. An old soul, Allie has bloomed into a potential power, and that is attracting people—and entities—who would like to use her. Although she has learned the first notes of her family’s dark legacy, Wild Magic, she knows no ritual magic.
Ritual magic may be the key to her survival.
Alfreda is packed off to Windward Academy, where her mother’s elusive cousin Esme, the wizard of Manhattan, is training the loose cannons of this generation’s magical elite. But Windward is nothing like Allie imagined, and nothing is quite what it seems. The powerful students are least in sight, the fringe students mostly ignore her, and her professors are by turns distant and too friendly—and probably not human.
She’s there to learn ritual magic, and finally we get to the scene that may be the heart of the book, one of the scenes I return to when I look for the meaning of Spiral Path. Allie meets the rituals teacher, an arrogant young man of great power and seemingly little empathy. He wants to know if Allie has any ritual training at all—he was told she did not, but she can see that there is something printed in her rituals book. It should be blank to her until she casts her first spell.
However, Alfreda has had the first great lesson of a practitioner—she has called Death and introduced herself to him. More…Death knows Allie quite well, as he taught her the core of Wild Magic in Kindred Rites.
To gauge her skill, Professor Tonneman tells her to summon Death.
You never summon Death unless you have a question only Death can answer.
Here is where everything begins to go wrong, or right, depending on your point of view. Because the ritual teacher always summons obstacles to that attempt to demonstrate ritual potential. And Alfreda is a pioneer, a child raised first to survival and then to absorb as much civilization as her family could tote along to their new world. She’s smart, stubborn, and insanely curious—and as time goes on, she learns more and more about when to hang onto her polish of manners, and when to cast it off again.
For a moment I could not remember which way was east, and panic froze me. Then I remembered, and sprang over to the eastern side, to slice Raphael’s sigil into the space between the lines. The archangel who is the great healer first, who holds the trumpet of the Apocalypse, Raphael’s name was one I knew as well as my own. Then the warrior general Michael for the south—
Something pale and green flashed. I leapt away from it, careful to remain in the circle. Dropping the athame into the goblet, I grabbed one of the longest logs, whirled and slashed at the dripping, glowing thing—arm. The blow connected with a satisfying, terrifying thud and crunch.
Oh, Lady, it’s real, it’s real, it’s real—
She’s going to summon Death, all right.
Most of us in the Western world are civilized by our families. Allie is thrust into the game of new cultures and rules even as she learns that a sharp young woman with power needs to know when, and how, to thump things that go bump in the night.
I thank her for the lesson, because my family did too good a job teaching me to follow convention. There is a time and place for obedience, and I hope Allie’s adventures remind readers that being good people who look out for themselves and others does not always mean following the rules.
She’s only been at Windward for seven days, and she’s opened more than a few windows in some lives—and had a few doors opened for her. I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next.
NIGHT CALLS SALE:
KINDRED RITES (Night Calls 2)
SPIRAL PATH (Night Calls 3)
Katharine Eliska Kimbriel reinvents herself every decade or so. The one constant she has reached for in life is telling stories. “I’m interested in how people respond to choice. What is the metaphor for power, for choice? In SF it tends to be technology (good, bad and balanced) while in Fantasy the metaphor is magic – who has it, who wants or does not want it, what is done with it, and who/what the person or culture is after the dust has settled. A second metaphor, both grace note and foundation, is the need for and art of healing. Forthcoming stories will talk about new things that I’ve learned, and still hope to learn … with grace notes about betrayal, forgiveness, healing and second chances.” A Campbell Award nominee.