Excerpt from The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Black Witch

The Black Witch Chronicles #1

by Laurie Forest

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest X
The Black Witch by Laurie Forest
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  • First Published:
    May 2017, 608 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2018, 608 pages

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Print Excerpt

Winter Institute

Elloren Gardner has spent much of her life in the sheltered town of Halfix, far away from the magic and politics that infuse Valgard, her homeland's capital. With no magical ability of her own, Elloren never expected her powerful aunt, a member of the Mage Council, to take interest in her…until Vyvian appears in Halfix out of the blue, determined to see her niece's future settled once and for all. But before her aunt can sweep her away, Elloren encounters a friend from her past, setting her on a path she never could have imagined for herself.

I'm awakened by a sharp rapping at my window. I jerk up from my bed, look toward the window and am startled by the sight of an enormous white bird sitting on a branch outside, staring intently at me.

One of the birds I saw flying in from the mountains.

Its wings are so white against the blue light of predawn, they seem otherworldly.

I creep out of bed to see how close I can get to the bird before spooking it, but don't get far. As soon as I lose contact with the bed, the bird silently spreads its massive wings and flies out of sight. I rush to the window, fascinated.

There, I can still see it, staring fixedly at me, as if beckoning me to follow.

It's across the field, near the long fence that separates our property from the Gaffneys' estate.

I haphazardly dress and run outside, instantly consumed by the strange blue light that covers everything, transforming the familiar landscape into something ethereal.

The bird is still staring at me.

I walk toward it, the odd-colored scene making me feel like I'm in a dream.

I get quite close to the creature when it flies away again, past the garden, where the fence to my left disappears briefly into some dense bushes and trees.

I follow, feeling a thrill course through me, like I'm a child playing hide-and-seek. I round the corner to a small clearing, then jump with fright and almost bolt in the opposite direction when I see what's there.

The white bird, along with two others, sits on a long tree branch. Directly below stands a spectral figure in a black cloak, its face hidden in the shadow of an overhanging hood.

"Elloren." The voice is familiar, halting me before I start to run.

Realization of who this is crashes through me.

"Sage?" I'm amazed and confused at the same time, my heart racing from the jolt of fear.

She stands, just beyond the fence. Sage Gaffney, our neighbor's eldest daughter.

Warily, I make my way toward her still figure, aware of the watchful birds above. As I get closer, I begin to make out her face in the blue light, her gaunt, terrified expression startling me. She was always a pleasant, healthy-looking girl, a University scholar and daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Gardneria. Her zealously religious family fasted her at thirteen to Tobias Vassilis, the son of a well-thought-of Gardnerian family. Sage had everything any Gardnerian girl could ever dream of.

But then she disappeared soon after starting University. Her family searched for her for over a year to no avail.

And yet here she is, as if risen from the dead.

"W-where have you been?" I stammer. "Your parents have been looking everywhere for you…"

"Keep your voice down, Elloren," she commands, her eyes fearful and darting around restlessly. She seems poised and prepared for escape, a large travel sack hanging from her back. Something is moving beneath her cloak, something she's carrying.

"What's under your cloak?" I ask, bewildered.

"My son," she says with a defiant lift of her chin.

"You and Tobias have a son?"

"No," she corrects me, harshly, "he is not Tobias's." She says Tobias's name with such pure loathing, I wince. And she keeps the child hidden.

Excerpted from The Black Witch by Laurie Forest. Copyright © 2017 by Laurie Forest. Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Teen. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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