An enchanted mask. A harrowing castle. A reclusive dark lord. With the helping hand of the village witch, these three ingredients form a spell that will warm your heart as much as it chills it. Madame Howell makes her second appearance in Jae El Foster’s literary universe in this fairy tale that puts a new twist on an old classic. When a village maiden finds herself in a forbidden castle, she discovers that its sole occupant might be less of a monster than he has been made out to be. However, dark secrets and black magic are afoot, and a ‘happily ever after’ could turn disastrous. Will true love conquer all, or will a dark power make their world come crumbling down?
$2.99 - eBook or $14.99 - Print
Published Sept. 2018
“Natalie Wills,” the old withered voice called as pleasantly as possible from the back of the shop. “Come in, dear. I’ve been expecting you.”
“You have?” Natalie asked as she stepped fully into the shop and shut the door behind her.
“It is your birthday, is it not?” the old woman asked in a long breath as she stood from her shadowed chair and stepped out into a bit of light. She had aged a bit since Natalie had last seen her, but the young woman recognized the friendly glimmer in the old woman’s eye.
“Why, yes, ma’am. I’m eighteen today.”
“Eighteen. That’s a wonderful age to be. A very cherished number. You should do something to celebrate this milestone.”
“Well,” Natalie began, smiling a bit and rolling her eyes up to the ceiling, “Willem Grillis’s parents are throwing a masquerade ball in his honor. He, too, is turning eighteen this week.”
“And you are going to this ball?” the withered old woman asked as the glimmer in her eye seemed to catch a spark and ignite.
“Oh, yes! I’ve been looking forward to it since I received my invitation. Mother made me a beautiful gown to wear, but it’s a masquerade ball which means I need to find a mask. That’s my reason for visiting today, Madame Howell. I was hoping you might have something here that would suit me. The dress is cream lace and white silk with cream pearls around the collar and cuffs.”
“It sounds enchanting,” Madame Howell breathed slowly. “And I think I may have something here just as enchanting that will suit you for all of your needs.”
“Oh, Madame Howell! That would be wonderful!”
“Give me a moment, child,” the woman answered in her kindly old tone and raised finger as she turned away from Natalie, moving back into the shadows of the shop. “It is in the back room. I will return momentarily.”
Natalie did not hear a door open or close, nor could she see a door at all. It was almost as if Madame Howell had walked through the wall, or simply into darkness. The young woman found this quite curious, but she did not allow it to plague her mind. She refused to admit that her parents had been right. She refused to admit that Madame Howell was a witch.
End of Excerpt