A big welcome to David Niall Wilson as part of his blog tour with Let’s Talk! Promotions for The DeChance Chronicles Omibus & A Midnight Dreary.
Donovan DeChance is a collector of ancient manuscripts and books, a practicing mage, and a private investigator. This Omnibus Collection includes books I, II, III, and IV of the series. Included are Heart of a Dragon, Vintage Soul, My Soul to Keep (The Origin story of Donovan DeChance) and Kali’s Tale – book IV of the series. Also included are the bonus novellas “The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature,” and “The Preacher’s Marsh,” both of which provide background on settings and characters that appear in Kali’s Tale. If you enjoy this book, you should read Nevermore, A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe, which follows on Kali’s Tale, has a cameo from Donovan DeChance, and leads into Book V – A Midnight Dreary.
Heart of a Dragon, When a local houngan begins meddling with powers she may not be able to control, a turf war breaks out between the Dragons motorcycle club and the Los Escorpiones street gang—a war that threatens to open portals between worlds and destroy the city in the process. With his lover, Amethyst, his familiar, Cleo – an Egyptian Mau the size of a small bobcat –the dubious aid of a Mexican sorcerer named Martinez and the budding gifts of a young artist named Salvatore, DeChance begins a race against time, magic, and almost certain death.
Vintage Soul, When, despite the finest in natural and supernatural security, a sexy and well-loved, three hundred year old lady vampire is kidnapped right out from under her lover’s nose, Donovan is called in to investigate. There will be no ransom for the kidnap victim, and if Donovan doesn’t prevent an ancient, forbidden ritual from reaching its culmination, far more than a single vampire’s undead existence will be at stake.
My Soul to Keep, Donovan DeChance is a very private man, and he is in love. When he invites his partner and lover, Amethyst, for a quiet dinner, she has no idea of his true intention. Donovan has planned a sharing – a vision that will give her the keys to his early life – the origins of his power – and a lot more than she bargained for. Join young Donovan as he fights to keep his soul, save a town, and learn the roots of his teacher and guardian – and meet his familiar, Cleo.
Kali’s Tale, When Donovan is asked to follow in secret as a hot-headed group of young vampires set out on a ‘blood quest’ to kill the ancient who created the young vampire Kali against her will, he learns that – as usual – there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye. Through the juke joints of Beale Street in Memphis, to the depths of The Great Dismal Swamp, Donovan and his lover and partner, Amethyst, find themselves drawn along on one of the strangest quests in their long, enigmatic lives as they delve into the world of the undead, the magic of The Blues, and the very heart of alchemy both to protect their young, vampiric charges – and to prevent an ancient evil from destroying the balance of power in the universe.
A Midnight Dreary, the long-awaited fifth volume in The DeChance Chronicles, picks up outside Old Mill, NC, when Donovan, reminded that he has promised his lover, Amethyst, and Geoffrey Bullfinch of the O.C.L.T. a story, draws them back in time to a vision of the final chapter of the novel Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. At vision’s end, they realize that they have to act, to free Eleanor MacReady from the trap that holds her on the banks of Lake Drummond, in the Great Dismal Swamp,
These novels directly crosses over to the original series O.C.L.T. – where Donovan is a sometimes consultant. It features appearances by Geoffrey Bullfinch and Rebecca York, O.C.L.T. agents, as well as Old Mill, North Carolina’s own Cletus J. Diggs.
Excerpt from Heart of a Dragon.
The sky was dark with clouds. Drizzle misted the air and dripped down the glass windows of shops and diners. Neon signs blinked, flashing their multi-colored messages to shadow people on the streets. Donovan walked to the end of the alley and glanced up and down Hawthorne before ducking back into the shadows beside Club Chaos. There were other entrances, but they wouldn’t take him where he needed to go.
There are cities within cities. What we know and believe we know about places and events is based on our observations, and experiences. The alley beside Club Chaos looked like any other alley; it was dark and littered with debris blown in by the wind. One thing set it off. Near the center, there was a phone booth. There was nothing remarkable about it, and unless you really thought about it, even the most logical question might not occur. Why was it there?
There was no reason for a phone to be located in a dark alley. It was unlikely that those passing on the street would see if it they needed it. It was even less likely they would leave the safety of the street lights and rummage in their pockets for money to make a call there in the shadows, particularly in a time when everyone from school children to the elderly had a cell phone.
Donovan glanced over his shoulder toward the street and saw that he was alone. He ducked into the booth, tucked the receiver under his chin, and dialed 360.
The phone booth was the entrance to the many facets of Club Chaos. There were levels upon levels to the place, each serving a different segment of the city’s population. Live music played on most levels. There was jazz, reggae, rock and even swing in one of the older sections. Donovan wasn’t interested in the night life, or the parties. Not this time, anyway.
When the booth spun, he stepped into a dark room lined with candle-lit tables. A polished wooden bar ran along one wall. There were no bright lights. There were no mirrors. It was a quiet place where sound didn’t carry. Donovan closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them to acclimate his sight.
A lone figure sat at the bar. He was tall and thin with long gray hair that spread out around his head like a nimbus of dirty string. He didn’t look up from the tumbler of whiskey in front of him, but Donovan recognized Cord immediately. He crossed the room and took the stool beside him.
“Whiskey,” he said to the bartender, “on ice with a little water.”
Cord remained silent until Donovan had his drink and the bartender retreated. It didn’t take long. They called this bar “The Crossroads,” lying as it did somewhere near the heart of Club Chaos, but they might as well have named it “Discretion.”
“So,” Donovan said at last, glancing at Cord out of the corner of his eye. “You said that you had information?”
“You brought money?” Cord asked.
“I never pay before I know what I’m getting. You’ve dealt with me before.”
Cord slid his gaze sideways. The man’s face was angles and slits. His eyes barely seemed to be open, and his mouth was set in a grim line. The informant’s skin seemed to be stretched taut over a pointed chin and high cheekbones. There was no way to read his emotions, assuming they existed. He stared at Donovan for a moment in silence, and then turned back to his drink. He spun the tumbler slowly on the damp napkin it rested on and started to talk.
“There are things happening in the Barrio.”
“Martinez?” Donovan asked quickly.
“Not Martinez. Anya Cabrera.”
“Anya has always been active in the Barrio. That’s hardly a great secret.”
“She has expanded her operations,” Cord said. He turned to meet Donovan’s gaze. “She has taken up with Los Escorpiones. They now participate in her rituals, and they are spreading their influence, challenging for territory.”
“Voodoo is a very old practice,” Donovan said slowly. “While I don’t claim to understand those who find comfort in it, it’s not inherently dangerous, unless there’s something more?”
“Oh, there’s more,” Cord said.
The man fell silent. Donovan waited a moment for the rest of the information, and then realized they’d reached the turning point. Nothing more would be forthcoming without payment, and the only question remaining was – how much, and would the information be worth the price? He considered what he knew about Anya Cabrera. As long as he could remember she’d held court in one or another of the dark corners of the city. She had a shop that was open by day, selling candles and amulets, hexes and wards. Most of it was pointless and powerless, but she was a shrewd woman. Enough power trickled through her door to keep clients coming and going in a steady stream.
Cord wouldn’t have called him if things hadn’t changed. Donovan slid his hand into his jacket and drew a fifty from an inner pocket. His jacket was probably his single greatest asset. He’d designed it, adding pockets and hidden slits in the lining over the years. It was armed with small scrolls, scraps of parchment, pendants and charms. He also kept it well stocked with a variety of money in various denominations. Some of it was very old, some of it was from places far away. Most of it was green and folding and worked just fine in Club Chaos. He laid the bill on the bar, but closer to his own drink than to Cord’s. He didn’t turn to watch the man, nor did he worry that the money would be snatched. He waited, and after a moment Cord began to speak.
“The Loa walk a fine line between this world and their own,” he said. “They enter when the wards are set and the moment is right. They walk and they talk through the living, and then they depart. That is how it has always been.”
Donovan said nothing. He knew all of this, and knew that Cord was only building to his point.
“Anya Cabrera is summoning the Loa,” Cord said, “but they are not departing as they should. Some have remained days, possibly weeks. Each time she holds her ritual, the portals remain open longer; the veils have grown thin. She controls them – the living, and the spirits who inhabit them. She plans a war.”
“You have seen this?” Donovan asked.
Cord nodded. “Last night in Santini Park, there was a battle. You may have heard?”
Donovan nodded. He’d known there was to be trouble – two local gangs – but it hadn’t seemed of importance. There were many such groups in the city, and quite a number in the Barrio. Power was a tenuous thing, and always under contention. Donovan kept tabs on such activity, but rarely found a reason to get involved.
“Anya Cabrera was in Santini Park?” Donovan asked, at last.
“Not in person,” Cord said. “But she was also not far distant, and before the battle, there was a ritual. Some of those who fought were the possessed.”
Donovan thought about this for a moment. When he didn’t respond, Cord continued.
“Several of The Dragons fell. One of them was Vasquez. If the storm hadn’t broken when it did, it would have been worse. Anya Cabrera intends to run any power from the Barrio that is not under her control. The boundaries between the Barrio and the rest of the city are already tenuous. This could be a problem.”
Donovan nodded. He withdrew a second fifty from his pocket.
“Vasquez? You’re sure? The one they call El Gigante?”
Cord nodded. He didn’t look up as Donovan passed over the money. “If anything changes, I’ll be in contact.”
Donovan remained seated as Cord slipped off his stool and faded into the shadows. There was only one exit from the room, and it led into the phone booth. There were chambers in the back, and darker alcoves where larger groups could sit and speak in silence. No matter how loudly you conversed at The Crossroads, the sound didn’t carry. The bartender continued quietly polishing beer glasses and watching the door. Probably, if one looked carefully enough, there were other exits. Donovan had never questioned it; he appreciated the privacy afforded, and was pretty sure he didn’t want to tangle with whoever provided it.
After giving Cord time to make his departure, Donovan rose and left the bar. The alley was as empty as it had been when he arrived. He straightened his jacket and stepped out into the street, turning uptown toward home and blending into the growing evening crowds.
During the day, Donovan avoided the streets as much as possible. His striking appearance and slightly antiquated wardrobe tended to attract too much attention with the sun high in the sky. At night, a different city emerged. Those who were out and about had their own agendas, and their own concerns. They had no time to worry about a tall, lone figure walking quickly away into the city. Donovan didn’t feel like taking the portals … he wanted to think.
His knowledge of Anya Cabrera, and of voodoo, was rusty. There had been no reason to pay attention to the old woman for some time; the more active power in the Barrio was an old man named Martinez, and Martinez was content to remain within comfortable borders. San Valencez was a large, sprawling city with many levels of apartments and ghettos surrounded by outlying suburbs. The Barrio was only a small, southern quarter, home to poor Latino families and bordered by the territories of two gangs – The Dragons, and Los Escorpiones. The form of Voodoo practiced by Anya Cabrera had a very small following in the city, but it was concentrated in and around the Barrio.
Still, Donovan knew some things. He thought back to other times, and other places far from San Valencez and California. Donovan had come by his learning through long travels and even longer nights of study. He’d visited Jamaica, and Haiti. He’d spent time across the border in the jungles of South America and the cities of Mexico. Back in his study he had books, manuscripts, hand-scribed notes he’d taken himself, and he thought that, perhaps, it was time to review some of them and refresh his memory.
There are many channels of energy running in and through the world. Places of power rested where they crossed, and lines of magic littered their trails. Each of them was the source of mysteries and rituals, but one thing was true of each and every one – there was a balance. Nothing came without cost, and there were rules. When the rules weren’t followed, the balance became skewed, and when that happened it was no longer an individual concern. Imbalance in one quarter led to a similar imbalance somewhere else – equal and opposite. Donovan had devoted much of his life to the protection of that balance.
If what Cord had told him was true, Anya Cabrera was dangerously close to upsetting it. There was a reason the Loa only visited during particular rituals, and there was a reason they needed to return. While controlling them on this plane might seem simple and appealing, control, like anything that required effort, wore thin over time. The thought of those dark spirits walking the streets unfettered sent a chill up his spine.
He passed Forty-Second Street and turned, glancing in the direction of Santini Park. He knew that any evidence of the night’s activity would have washed away in the storm. Probably the area was cordoned off by the yellow crime-scene tape and sawhorses, shadowed and forgotten by night. He turned away and continued toward home. He had reading to do, and he needed to get word and questions out to other contacts. It was looking to be a long, interesting night.
(1) Ten dollar Starbucks Card and a David N. Wilson Book Collection, and (5) Books from the author, winners’ choice