The angels of Yeluthia abandoned their alliance. Demons are merely legends of the past. If those are the truths Coura grew up learning, why is she thrown between both during her first venture outside of the Magic Arts Academy? Both creatures are real, but which is friend and which is foe?
With her life teetering on the edge of uncertainty after completing her dark magic training, she thought traveling to the palace with her mentor, Byron, would allow her time to figure out what she values most. Instead, they discover whispers of political manipulation surrounding a new law that could impact the future for all mages. If that wasn’t difficult enough for her to keep up with, Coura also falls into something much more frightening: a secret locked away within herself. A pair of black wings opposite to those belonging to the angelic race and seething with demonic power attach themselves to her, labeling her as an enemy to some and a threat to all.
Decades have passed since anyone has seen either and questions are raised as the world of magic is evolving. Armed with sword work and dark magic, Coura is thrown into the part she was fated to play in the battle between the angels and long-forgotten demons.
Targeted Age Group:: 13-24
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The inspiration I find for my stories comes from a variety of sources, but mostly through music where I can picture the scenes as if they were a movie or TV show. I will always say that my writing is for me, first and foremost. It's a means of expression during free time when the world around becomes stressful and problems weigh me down, and I often find myself rereading my work and smiling at what was put to paper. I have also seen myself grow with the characters in my stories and understand that sometimes you want to simply pick up a book and let your mind and heart be swept away.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
When I begin to envision the stories I plan to write, the characters are usually already at the point where their growth eventually leads them, meaning I essentially back track in order to follow what their motivations are. Since The Shadow's Grasp is the first book in the Dark Angel series, I was able to have some fun exaggerating certain characteristics in order to establish their base personalities and where they will need to develop as the books progress.
Against the setting sun spreading over the town of Nesten, the silhouette of a child moved quickly down the dirt path and into the trees beyond. Paulina Galdwin stood in the doorway of her simple home while Coura ventured out into the woods surrounding the quiet town.
“Don’t travel too far now. Supper is almost ready and it’s getting dark!”
Although Coura heard her mother’s voice, she continued to wander farther into the forest while waving carelessly to show she heard the call. It’s not like I haven’t been lost before, she thought absently.
Once away from the area, she burst into a full sprint, allowing her lungs to get some exercise along with her legs. Soon enough, Coura recognized her goal, a fallen tree split at the roots. In fact, it was the largest tree she had ever seen, spanning at least three times her arms’ length, making it the perfect landmark in the woods outside her home.
Her pace naturally slowed to a walk after climbing over the giant log, as it always did when she passed this area. In another few minutes, she would be at her destination, the place her village labeled “Sunrise Hill.” Despite the name, Coura and both of her parents found it to be the perfect area to watch the sunset as well since the sky above it opened up to both ends of the world, allowing for sunlight to pass over constantly on a clear day.
“I’ll be just in time,” she muttered to herself with a familiar eagerness between breaths and a quick glance up to the blue pieces of sky visible beyond the canopy.
Within a few seconds, Coura pushed through a wall of needled branches, winced as they poked her bare arms, and blinked in the sunlight pouring over the hill that overlooked miles of dense forest below. As she took a seat at the edge of the hill, the bottom of the sun’s circle began to just touch the end of the earth. Coura let out a contented sigh before she relaxed and listened to the sounds of small birds, insects, and other woodland creatures shifting around. Soon enough the sky transformed into shades of orange, red, and yellow melding together against the blue that darkened over the distance away from the white sun. It was a beautiful sight at the end of the long summer months. All was at peace, something difficult to find outside of Nesten.
It’s a shame only very few of us aren’t afraid of what hides in the forest, she thought glumly.
In the town where Coura and her mother lived, everyone knew it to be safer during the day and within Nesten’s limits. No one ventured off the trails and into the trees unless necessary and armed. Even now a short knife hung at Coura’s waist, the weapon she rarely carried with her otherwise. Absolutely no one was allowed out after dark with the monstrous creatures that wandered about. She had only seen them a handful of times, and thankfully, all but one were from a great distance. Unfortunately, that encounter was the most recent, injuring the man who trained her how to hunt and fight with a knife and terrifying her for weeks.
Before that, I didn’t know how dangerous they could be. Most of the other times were on this hill with Mother and Father, and we watched them walk around.
The creatures were difficult to make out in the shadows as their elongated bodies appeared to be covered with slick, black fur. Her father once told her that no two were alike, that some could look like giant dogs or cats, while others were more lizard-like. What he made sure she knew was that all of the creatures had purple eyes with sense in them. Before Coura could ask what he meant, her father scooped up her tiny body in his arms and the pair hurried back to Nesten.
The memory helped her remember the brief amount of time she had to return home before night fell, and with one last glance at the nearly sunken sun, Coura made her way through the brush just as the last light started to fade. The giant fallen tree was within sight when hurrying became more difficult as darkness approached. Within minutes, the woods would be pitch-black as the treetops blocked out the moon and stars.
Despite the dangers the woods brought, Coura never felt afraid. It helped that she knew how to defend herself and, most importantly, at least according to her parents, stay calm.
“As long as you remain alert and relaxed, you can prepare for whatever comes,” her hunting teacher Gordon always said.
Coura smirked at the man’s voice replaying in her mind. I might not be as sharp as him, yet, but sometimes I wonder if everyone might be worrying over nothing. No one goes looking for trouble, so why should we all not do something to keep them away? Father never seemed too concerned when he was here. An expected tightness gripped her heart at the thought as she put a hand on the trunk and prepared to climb over.
“It’s a little dark to be wandering around, young one,” said a smooth voice to Coura’s right. At once, all of her muscles tensed, and she sprang back to face the stranger with knife drawn.
What? How come I didn’t hear or see anyone? Coura thought frantically as she scrambled to stand how Gordon taught her when defending. She spread her feet wide while leaning forward a bit and keeping her arms apart as if expecting the stranger to attack. Instead, the woman in front of her laughed sweetly and stepped closer.
“Oh, calm down,” the stranger said with a finger pointing at the knife. “Put that toy away now, I only want to talk for a moment.”
Although it was dark, Coura could tell this woman wasn’t human, at least not entirely. Black, silky hair flowed down like a wave to her waist, something Coura felt her mother would scoff at, and her skin-tight outfit covered all but the face, hands, and feet. Three aspects of this creature immediately convinced Coura she was not human. Firstly, her eyes were a deep violet with humor dancing in them, then she noticed the tips of two pointed ears sticking out from the woman’s hair. Finally, and most frightening, was her charming smile while approaching Coura with sharp canine teeth. The realization made her knees shake.
I’ve never seen a shadow creature take a human form, but this woman doesn’t exactly feel human at all either. Is she something entirely new? she wondered while still remaining solid despite her fear.
This time, the woman waved her hand at the knife with amusement. “I told you already, I just want to talk, child.”
“If you don’t mind, I would rather be on my way,” Coura countered in a weak voice. Slowly, she backed up a pace to prepare to go around the trunk still blocking her way home.
“You’re from that town near here, aren’t you?” the enchantingly smooth voice asked with interest.
The stranger startled her by circling the fallen tree swiftly to stand in front of Coura’s path like a leaf dancing in the wind. Sweat began to trickle down Coura’s neck as she saw how fast the woman moved, and how it would be impossible to escape by running. Somehow, she managed to speak somewhat calmly once more, though the words seemed to pour out while her mind raced for an excuse to get away.
“Who are you? We shouldn’t stay out here after dark or else the monsters in these woods will come after us. If you’re looking for something, I can help direct you to the nearest road.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed slightly, then she looked in the direction of Nesten. “Do not fret, dear one, I already found what I desire.” Her tone suggested that something unpleasant awaited the people in Coura’s hometown.
As they stood in the silence that followed, Coura’s hopes sank and her body grew so tense that her head throbbed. Never before did she see herself in this kind of danger, the one where fighting to escape was not an option, and most likely not only her life was on the line. Finally, the woman crossed her arms, tilted her head, and addressed Coura once more.
“You’re all alone,” she said coolly, focusing on Coura’s vulnerability. “I can sense the beings around here, but even so, I’ve visited this area quite enough to know you humans fear the creatures at night. Yet, for some reason, you chose to come out here.” A wide grin graced her lips full of mischief. “Lucky me.”
Even though she was practically paralyzed with fear like a small animal, Coura became hypnotized by the woman’s voice. Her gentle tone lulled Coura into a near trance, keeping her hanging on every word. It became difficult just to think.
“I have an idea,” the stranger continued with a finger on her lip, seemingly oblivious to Coura’s fears and internal struggle. “You see, I am very bored. I think I can have some fun with you. What’s your name, young one?”
“Coura,” she responded automatically, still unable to process the situation. What’s going on? This isn’t like any creature I’ve seen or heard about. She can’t be human, can she? What does she mean by “having fun” with me?
“Ah… Coura,” the woman said, stretching the name as if tasting it like the adults did with wines and ciders. “What a lovely name.”
Coura couldn’t even flinch as the stranger put one hand under her chin and tilted it up so their eyes met. Only then could she see that what she thought were the woman’s clothes was really a part of her skin, like a smooth fur. The sleek, fit body beneath could not distract her from the muscles underneath. Her breath caught at the stranger’s next words.
“You see, dear one, I am a demon. You may call me Soirée.”
She let out a giggle as Coura felt her eyes widen with sheer terror. A demon? This can’t be real, can it? They were only in stories about the founding of Asteom, so how is she here?
Only whispers of demons ever reached the children in Nesten, mostly because no one knew anyone who had ever seen or heard of one besides in the story of their country’s creation. For one thing, they were remote and spent their days alone seeking power and causing pain and trouble. For another, they fought with the angelic beings who protected the humans in Asteom by chasing demons away. However, the angels eventually had become as scarce as demons. There was one other piece of information Coura was familiar with regarding demons.
They possess people. They take over their bodies and destroy their minds. That’s why we never hear about them—everyone who was in contact with them gets killed! Wait, she said she wanted me to keep her entertained. Does that mean … I’m only a child. What could she possibly use a child for?
While all of this ran through Coura’s mind, the creature, Soirée, continued to smile down at her. Something else, an anger and annoyance at her situation, began mixing in with the fear. “What do you want?” she choked out, but succeeded in showing that hint of frustration.
Sadly, it was a pathetic gesture that only made the demon chuckle again. “Why such hostility? I said I want to have fun, and because I am so generous, you get to share in it too! What do you think? Will you let me borrow your body for a while?”
“It’s not like I have a choice.” Coura couldn’t stop herself from mumbling, which the creature heard and laughed at. By now, her chest hurt from the strain of the pounding heartbeats while her knees threatened to give out. All she wanted to do was cry.
I’m just a child. Why would she do this? It has to be a nightmare… I wish Mother were here, or Father, or Gordon.
At the thought of her family and hometown, Coura grew curious about the demon’s intentions. She couldn’t help herself from glancing up into the creature’s face and noting a patient expression. Does she expect me to respond? I might as well give up now. If she wants to capture me, I have a feeling I wouldn’t even know what happened. Why does she hesitate? Could it really all be for her own sick entertainment to torture me and the other townsfolk?
Something about this encounter didn’t sit right with Coura, about being caught alone on a regular trek away from Nesten. No matter what, she knew in her aching heart that the demon would not let her go. If that is the case, I can’t willingly let her hurt Mother and the others in town.
“You are … asking me, right?” Coura said calmer than she felt.
“I suppose I am, child,” Soirée responded lazily, as if the waiting was growing tiresome.
“Do demons keep promises?”
The demon tilted her head curiously like an animal and raised an eyebrow. “A demon never lies. At least, I don’t.”
Coura swallowed and sheathed her knife against her protesting instincts. For her idea to work, she had to believe Soirée. “If all you want is something to entertain yourself, I will help under one condition.”
The demon didn’t even try to hide her amusement. “Oh? I’m quite interested in hearing this.”
All at once, the inevitability of her fate caught up with Coura. A single tear escaped her watering eyes while her lips quivered. After all, she repeated in her mind, I’m only a child. I shouldn’t die so soon and all alone.
“I would like to make a deal with you…”
Links to Purchase Print Books
Buy The Shadow’s Grasp Print Edition at Amazon
Buy The Shadow’s Grasp Print Edition at Barnes and Noble
Links to Purchase eBooks – Click links for book samples and reviews
Buy The Shadow’s Grasp On Amazon
Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought! All information was provided by the author and not edited by us. This is so you get to know the author better.