Spell Blind is a new book in a new series by David B. Coe. I totally recommend it. I’ll be honest, it took me a bit to get hooked, so if you start it, stick with it. You’ll get into it, I promise. It takes Coe a little while to explain the characters and the magic system and that slowed things down. But once the story gets going, it gets going good.
Justis is a private investigator and a former cop. He’s also a weremyste, which is essentially a person with magical powers who is also affected by the moon’s phases. As with every magical system, there are rules and limits, pros and cons, and choices. Justis, so far, chooses to continue to use his craft, and thus knows that in the future he could lose his mind.
The murder story is a great mix of traditional cop “who done it” and magical storytelling. The Big Bad is indeed Big and Bad, which was one point that sort of worried me for a while. The bad guy doesn’t show up in person for at least the first third of the story, and I was concerned that when he finally did directly interact with our hero, he wouldn’t be all that scary. No worries there, Coe is at his best when he is writing the evil guy.
Good read. Waiting for the next one. I bet it is even better.
The dead body settled into the river bed, barely disturbing the underwater plants or any of the river’s cold-blooded residents. If they were of the mind to notice, they would note that they’ve seen this before. And for some, it simply represented food, a part of the chain to which they belonged as scavenger, predator, and prey.
If a human noticed, he or she might think that the body was mysterious and disgusting. Then they would call the authorities and the wheels of administration would churn.
But the body was found by a Sasquatch, part of a hidden race that still lived in the forests of the Mid-West United States, while struggling to stay hidden in the disappearing glades.
The Sasquatch was tall and hairy as the tales suggest, but not a galumphing Chewbacca like figure. This Sasquatch was female, with a decidedly female form, and wore clothes that approximated a dress, or maybe a sari. Her eyes were beautiful, large and brown, and the hair on the body was fine and soft. Her features were quite visible and more delicate than one might expect given the stereotypical descriptions of Big Foot. The hair on her head descended in a fighting queue, bound by leather.
Malilah, as she was known, came upon the body at dusk, while fishing in the river. She stood on the bank and noticed eddies swirling where fish concentrated. She became curious, investigated, and found a human foot, which then led to the rest of the human body. Withdrawing it from the water proved tricky, as some of it was already decomposed and preferred to stay with the fish rather than cling to the torso it came with.
Malilah examined the corpse and realized it was a human female. The body still had shreds of a T-shirt and shorts on it, but no shoes, which struck Malilah as odd since the soft-footed humans always wore shoes. Sneakers, she believed they were called, which struck her as funny because there was nothing sneaky about people. Humans made a racket wherever they went and no manner of shoe could fix this.
This thought was followed immediately by the sound of humans arriving. Malilah stepped away from the body and faded into the woods. She stayed close enough to listen the chatter of the men.
“Look at this. This must be her!” said Man With Hat.
“I was afraid of this. I’ll contact control to tell them that we have her. They’ll need to prepare her mother for the news,” said Man With Radio.
“I don’t see any injury here. Nothing to indicate what killed her,” replied Man With Hat.
The other three men, Man With Stick, Man Who Smelled, and Man Who Was Still Boy lay a yellow tarp on the ground and gently moved the body onto it. They wrapped the body up, secured it with rope and discussed the best way to transport it to a pick-up site.
What they didn’t see, but Malilah sensed, was the other Sasquatch watching from the opposite side of the river. This Sasquatch was known to her and to all the tribe, as Outcast. The Sasquatch were a gentle people, with strict rules about hunting. Outcast violated their laws when he killed a deer for the pleasure of killing, not for food. During the conclave to establish his punishment, he attacked the head of the tribe, was subdued, and cast out. No one had seen him since.
Now, Outcast stood on the opposite river bank, and Malilah wondered if he was the cause of the young woman’s death. She knew Outcast could see her so she didn’t try to hide. Once the men left with the body, she simply walked to a shallow place where she could cross and approached Outcast directly.
Outcast gestured her to follow and led her up to his camp on a high cliff overlooking the river. The scent of death was everywhere and Malilah recoiled at the stench. A carcass of some kind hung from every tree. Deer bones littered the ground, interspersed with tinier bones of birds, squirrels and skunks. On the largest tree, a human skeleton hung and clattered in the breeze like a macabre Halloween decoration, complete with a pair of pink Adidas running shoes.
Malilah’s stomach churned. This was not the way of her people and she couldn’t believe that Outcast had gone this far. Her people revered life, hunted only when needed, and made use of the animal inside and out, ensuring no waste. This was an abomination that lay in front of her.
“What have you done?” she demanded.
“Taken what I wanted. We have strength and size. Shouldn’t we take from those smaller and weaker?” Outcast taunted.
“No,” cried Malilah. “In addition to being offensive to our beliefs, you bring attention to us with the death of humans. You put our existence at-risk!”
“Let it be at-risk,” Outcast scoffed. “We live in hiding for what? So the soft humans can spread, destroy the forest and crowd us out of our living spaces? I see no honor it that!”
“There is certainly no honor in this!”
Outcast sprang at her, giant arms outstretched, anger on his face and a need for violence etched into every sinew. Malilah ducked, fell on her back, threw her feet in the air and connected with his body, shoving him over the cliff. He fell directly onto the rocks, dead on impact.
Malilah looked down at his body, and let the truth of what she had done sink in. Outcast, she whispered to herself. I killed, and now it is I who is Outcast. Her tears were carried on the wind to the rest of her clan. They mourned, but turned their backs on her as they wondered what this death would truly mean for their race.
1. Editing happens. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to respect it. If you write, you edit. The first draft is basically vomit on paper. The second draft removes obvious grammatical errors. The third draft will reveal crazy changes in tense, POV, or inconsistencies in the story. Then you get to the real work, telling the story the best you can. (see point 3)
2. Filter words are real. I didn’t even know this term until this week when I was told by a writer and friend that I really needed to research “filter words.” A quick Google Search revealed exactly what they are, and an even quicker read of my story revealed exactly how prominent they are in my writing. Lightbulb Time!
3. Telling the story the best you can means that each and every sentence has to work. Each sentence has to make the reader want to read the next sentence. I used to think of writing more holistically, but by the time you are on the fourth draft of something, you better be paying attention to sentences. They are all part of your creation and each every one deserves attention. It could be a simple noun/verb but make sure it is the right noun and the right verb. He walks is a sentence. He sauntered is a lot more informative. The fat man sauntered across the deserted street at midnight, is part of a story that I may want to read.
4. By draft four you get really excited when you write a good sentence. I wrote one today. Here it is: “A happy little whistle joins the humming in her head and the sound is a symphony that only she can hear.” I know that you cannot tell that is a particularly good sentence without context, but I’m excited because my character has gone from mentally confused (and sympathetic) to completely batshit crazy by this time in the story and this sentence really ties that up in a bow. She’s stealing babies, after all.
5. If you need help, and are truly working on your craft, ask for help. Don’t ask for help from random people, but from people who know you are putting in the effort and perhaps even like you. You may hit pay dirt and learn something. But you better as hell be putting in the effort. No one wants to help a lazy writer. Writing is work. It if was easy everyone would be doing it.
6. When you send flowers to someone to say “thank you” for their help, make sure you put your name on the card with a short thank you message. Anonymous flowers to a single woman are creepy.