SHADOW MAGIC ~ Dark Mystery Romance

Do you enjoy paranormal mysteries, slow burn romances, and unconventional heroines? 
Then you'll love reading this new series!


Ghost summoning? No biggie. Raising the dead? Bring it on. Solving my sister’s sudden disappearance? A bit more complicated...

I’m Serena LeStrange, a necromancer with a fondness for animals, who prefers to hide her freakishly fabulous skills from others. Only my sister makes me feel less of a weirdo, so when she mysteriously vanishes from college, I enroll at Macabre Academy to start my own investigation. 

Except this is no ordinary school for the magically inclined, it’s home to all monsters—even the most dangerous ones. And after meeting an incredibly gorgeous vampire and a sinfully hot reaper, I find myself entangled in a passionate, yet forbidden, flirtation. To complicate matters, I get stuck with a ghostly genie sidekick and suspect a sinister sorority of misdeeds.

But to solve the mystery, I’ll need all the help I can get. Someone at Macabre knows what happened to my sister, and I won’t stop until I dig up the truth.

Unfortunately, some dark secrets prefer to stay buried.
Author note: 
The quirky character names are meant to be clever and amusing. (Okay, so maybe I got a little carried away, but it was fun!) And the story has a few frightfully silly puns. 
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Readership: Upper-YA, New Adult, and Adult
Rating: PG-17; No F-bombs or sex (slow burn / mild sensuality), but there is passionate kissing; Moderate violence and alcohol use.
ARCs: If you are a book reviewer interested in reading/reviewing this book, please contact me

Now that you’ve been properly warned, boos and ghouls, read on if you dare…


Death’s unique aura hung heavy in the room. As a necromancer-in-training, I had an acute awareness of the three corpses in the lab, as well as the dead insects within the walls and the squashed spider in the corner.
 “The majority of preternaturals consider shadow magic to be the most dangerous sorcery to wield,” Professor Rig A. Mortis said, scratching his cheek. “Those who perform necromantic rites are often shunned by their peers.”
A few students nodded in agreement. Only thirteen of us with a rare genetic anomaly had enrolled in this course, Resurrection 101, at Conjuration University.
“Why?” Daemon Graves, a stocky guy with black curls, asked. “Necromancy is like innovative recycling. Reduce, reuse, resurrect.”
Several students laughed, including Daemon’s girlfriend Necole D’Kay, who didn’t look like she usually smiled. Ever.
“The clan rulers think it’s precarious to have influence over death, and they distrust our kind, which is why you must endure such intense training and obtain a license before embarking on a career as a resurrection specialist.” The professor sighed. “Thus, morale among necromancers is, let’s be honest, consistently low.”
His words sent a chill quivering down my spine, with visions of necromancer hating mobs trampling through my head.
 “To successfully perform a resurrection on a preternatural, animal, or human, they have to be dead for less than thirteen hours,” Professor Mortis said. “Can anyone tell me why?”
Several hands shot upward, including mine. Groups of four, wearing dark-blue lab coats, had gathered in the center of the room around three gurneys. On each one lay a deceased human male donated to science.
Professor Mortis moved about the room. “Miss LeStrange, you may answer.”
I lowered my arm. “Resurrections can be risky. After thirteen hours, a shade can take possession of the empty vessel.”
I was never a fan of lab days, and this windowless classroom resembled a morgue from a horror movie. It always felt unnaturally cold, giving me the creeps. The white industrial tile walls and linoleum flooring held the pungent odor of bleach, practically burning the tiny hairs in my nostrils.
“Indeed.” Professor Mortis scrutinized the room, his piercing stare slashing at our confidence. His tall, lanky frame towered over most of the students, and his pallid complexion resembled the underbelly of a dying fish. He’d styled his dark hair in a severe side-part, and he wore a brown oxford shirt and slacks under a black lab coat. “Tell me more about shadow magic, Miss LeStrange.”
“Only necromancers have this power, which can be used to communicate with spectrals, create zombies, and resurrect the dead,” I said.
The professor nodded. “Correct.”
My chest filled with warmth and I smiled. Those long nights spent studying instead of socializing had been worth it. If I hoped to become a pet and familiar resurrection specialist, I needed a degree in Necromantic Rites.
A draft as cold as the grave prickled my senses. All the warm feels vanished, and the grin dropped from my face. My gaze darted about the room.
There. A ghostly man holding a scythe stood near the counter, where a tray of sliced limes and a pitcher of lemonade sat. My heartbeat quickened. The glacial touch of death felt so strong from the grim reaper, the fine hairs along my nape bristled. For a second, I thought he was here to collect a soul, until he stared at me and sucked in a breath. His eyes widened, as if he was as shocked as I was at seeing him. Then he slowly raised one arm and wiggled his fingers at me.
Okay, this was getting super-duper weird.
No one else noticed the semi-transparent reaper. The professor walked right past him. Maybe I was sleep deprived from cramming all night. It was times like this that I wished my sister, Harper, were here. She’d tell it to me straight. Since I couldn’t call her in the middle of a class, I still needed confirmation that I wasn’t one fry short of a Happy Meal.
I leaned closer to one of my lab partners. “Daemon, do you see that phantom reaper?”
Daemon looked around. “Nothing here but necromancers and corpses, Serena.” He frowned, his gaze lingering on my head.
I self-consciously touched my hair. “I meant—”
Shhh,” Daemon said. “You’re being weird.”
Well, that wasn’t very nice.
Huh. So I was the only one who could see the reaper. This was getting weirder by the second.
Feeling hot and prickly, despite the chill in the room, I unbuttoned my lab coat. Professor Mortis droned on about necroplasm, but I barely listened. I caught sight of the other students’ distorted reflections in the glass cabinets above a stainless-steel counter. Everyone looked humanoid in appearance, and normally all necromancers had black hair and bright-green flecks in their eyes, yet I had one glaring difference. I was born with vivid blue hair, making me resemble Cookie Monster’s love child. Once I’d wasted a thousand dollars on an elfin glamour to conceal the bright strands, but it dissolved within an hour.

And contrary to popular belief, necromancers didn’t wear black tunics and hang out in graveyards. Personally, I always strove to look fashion-fierce, and today, I’d worn a black, V-neck shirt with a jean mini-skirt and Jimmy Choo biker boots beneath my lab coat. While I was no fashionista, I was a trendy necromantrix, dang it.

Professor Mortis wandered the room’s perimeter. “Can a necromancer control a zombie?” He pointed at one of my lab partners, Necole D’Kay. “You may answer, Miss D’Kay.”

I stifled a giggle. For some odd reason, most preternaturals enjoyed having names that reflected their supernatural pedigree.

 “Only advanced necromancers can manipulate zombies,” Necole said smugly. Her midnight hair draped around her shoulders like a glossy veil and her lab coat clung to her curvaceous figure. Necole’s brown eyes swirled with green flecks and her dark brown skin glistened under the fluorescent lights. I wondered how she could stand so long in those last season Prada heels. “It’s forbidden to create zombies by the clans and the accords we have with the grim reapers.”

Her answer might explain why the reaper was visiting the class. He must’ve been making sure we didn’t violate the treaty. I’d briefly studied reapers last semester, and they didn’t like our kind messing with the balance between life and death. Which meant he wasn’t a fan of necromancers.

Well, boohoo for him. I had to pass this class.

“Correct.” Professor Mortis walked past my group. “What exactly is a zombie? Anyone?”

“A soulless, mindless corpse,” Necole replied. “They are freakishly strong and have cannibalistic tendencies.”
A few students uttered disgusted grunts.
While Professor Mortis discussed the dangers of creating zombies, my attention went back to the reaper. He stopped at the chalkboard to examine the drawn runic symbols. Reaper must’ve collected a soul nearby, then stuck around campus. Since he was only observing, I hesitated to disrupt the class. And I’d have a hard time convincing anyone he was real if I was the only one who could see our ghostly visitor.
I decided to ignore him.
“Can a necromancer cure illness or heal injuries, Mr. Graves?” Professor Mortis asked.
“Not theoretically,” Daemon said. “We can resurrect a human, animal, or preternatural by creating revenants, once we have a license. Besides a few bizarre side effects, a revenant retains normal brain and organ function.”
The irksome reaper meandered across the room, no more than a misty shape. He cast a glance in my direction with a curious smile.
My jaw ached from how hard I was grinding my molars while I tried to tamp down on my annoyance.
Do not look at him. Maybe he’ll get bored and go away.
Professor Mortis strode to the front of the classroom. “For today’s exam, each student in your group will take a turn performing a resurrection on the cadaver, and then extinguish the life-force.”
Deep breathes. Everything hinged on this test. If I hoped to get a necromancy license, I had to pass with flying colors.
Our group of four turned toward the gurney to practice on the same corpse. The skin on the partially naked cadaver was sallow and his stomach bulged over a pair of faded, plaid boxers. A tag dangled from his left toe with the name, Harold Rotter. The flames of three candles—red, black, and green, the colors representing blood, death, and the afterlife—flickered at his head and hips. The corpse lay on a bed of hemlock, saffron, rose petals, henbane, and graveyard dirt, the standard ingredients used in a resurrection.
Reaper resumed a casual stroll with that amused grin still clinging to his lips. My irritation flamed hotter.
Don’t acknowledge him. Just get through this lab!
“Even the slightest variation can weaken the intent and the resurrection will backfire,” Professor Mortis warned. “Let’s begin.”
Acid scalded my stomach at the thought of bonding with a random corpse. Yet, if I wanted to practice necromancy, this exam was a requirement. The bonds between a necromancer and revenant were personal, special. Unlike with zombies, who only did our bidding, if one could successfully control them.
Since I’d been assigned to go first, I positioned my palms over the corpse’s chest. Shadow magic shivered through me—an icy, tingling sensation, like a cold wind on a brisk winter night. My hands glowed with a neon-green radiance, and the power made the body jerk as if it had been hit with defibrillator paddles.
 “By my command, I resurrect the spirit of…” My voice died.
The shadowy reaper had moved closer. His chilling energy slammed into me. My heart froze, refusing to beat for several seconds, then banged against my ribcage. My magic faltered and waned.
Come on, Serena, don’t necromancy this up!
Necole elbowed me in the side, and I jumped, shooting her a glare.
She tapped an impatient foot. “You can’t lose focus during a resurrection.”
Necole was right. Not that I’d never tell her that. I couldn’t let Reaper distract me. My narrowed stare bore into his. Tilting my head, I jerked it at the door as if I had a convulsive twitch. My lab partners gave me sideways glances. Reaper ignored the subtle hint to leave.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Refocusing, I stared blankly at the body. What was the guy’s name? I couldn’t think clearly with that frustrating reaper watching me. The tag attached to the corpse’s toe caught my eye. Oh, yeah.
“Harold Rotter, now reenter the mortal plane.” Gritting my teeth, I held my hands over the human’s chest again. My power, like the biting chill of fresh snow, surged into the cadaver, channeling the soul back into its body. I had to unclench my jaw to recite the rest of the incantation. “Uh…flesh, life, breath be revived. I now order thee to arise!”
I lowered my arms, and the magic settled around me.
The other two groups had recited the same incantation without interruption. Their cadavers sucked in air and a lone streak of chartreuse colored their hair. Eyes popped wide and blinked. Each revenant sat up and swung their legs over the side of the gurney. They appeared confused and agitated. The students spoke in calming voices to put the revenants at ease, then offered them a slice of lime. One revenant poured himself a cup of lemonade and took a swig. An odd side effect of resurrection was a fondness for sour foods and a stripe of yellowish-green in their hair.
On our table, Harold Rotter didn’t move.
Necole folded both arms over her chest. Daemon frowned. Our other lab partner was texting on his phone, while we waited for the body to resurrect. And waited.
A swoosh of air ruffled my hair. The candles around the corpse blew out, smoke curling up from the wicks.
Necole huffed. “What’s your glitch, Serena? Relight the candles.”
Except I couldn’t move. Reaper stood on the other side of the gurney now. Our gazes locked. I gasped as his features became more discernible. For a moment, my brain shorted out.
The reaper’s short blond hair framed a breathtaking face, his skin the color of ivory. He had to be a foot taller than my five-six height, with a superhero jawline, ice-blue eyes, and a cheek dimple that was really working for him. Reaper’s muscular frame filled out a black three-piece suit over a crisp white shirt, and Prada loafers peeked from beneath the hem of his pants. The scythe in his hand had a curved blade, shiny and razor-sharp.
Hardly the black-cloaked, scythe-wielding personification of death I’d always envisioned. He was young and gorgeous and…smirking at me.
My cheeks warmed. I glanced at my lab partners, who appeared oblivious to the stylish reaper. He brought an index finger to his lips, and I fought the urge to kick him in the shins.
“Miss LeStrange? Is there a problem?” Professor Mortis asked, his voice tart from across the lab.
“No, sir.”
“You’ve screwed up the ritual,” Necole whispered. “If I lose any credits, I’m gonna hex you!”
Now I felt like kicking her.
“I’ll just perform it again,” I snapped, determined not to take any psycho from this chick.
The infuriating reaper cough-laughed into his fist. Jerk.
Professor Mortis stomped over to my group. “Why hasn’t your corpse resurrected?”
I tensed. “I’m not sure, sir. Give me a sec…”
Reaper dissolved into shadows, but I had a bad feeling he’d show up again.
Professor Mortis stopped in front of me with his back to the corpse on the gurney. I backed up a step as he faced me with a stern expression. “Miss LeStrange, I expected more from you. You come from a very prominent family, and yet, you seem to lack the necessary skills to achieve their level of excellence.”
A sense of shame coiled low in my gut. Before it could spread like poisonous fumes, I lifted my chin. The truth was, I might never reach my family’s legendary status. I wasn’t like anyone else and it only fueled my determination to prove myself.
Harold Rotter’s head popped up over the professor’s shoulder. His eyes were milky-white, and his mouth stretched into a grotesque sneer. His tongue swiped across blue lips and his gaze locked on Professor Mortis.
My stomach took a nosedive. Sweet smoldering sage. I hadn’t resurrected Harold Rotter.
No, I’d accidentally created a flesh-eating zombie. 

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