Publication date: August 25th 2020
Genres: LGBTQ+, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
A teen outcast must work together with new friends to keep her family and town safe from murderous Fae while also dealing with panic attacks, family issues, and a lesbian love triangle in C.M. McGuires’s kick-butt paranormal YA debut, Ironspark.
For the past nine years, ever since a bunch of those evil Tinkerbells abducted her mother, cursed her father, and forced her family into hiding, Bryn has devoted herself to learning everything she can about killing the Fae. Now it’s time to put those lessons to use.
Then the Court Fae finally show up, and Bryn realizes she can’t handle this on her own. Thankfully, three friends offer to help: Gwen, a kindhearted water witch; Dom, a new foster kid pulled into her world; and Jasika, a schoolmate with her own grudge against the Fae.
But trust is hard-won, and what little Bryn has gained is put to the test when she uncovers a book of Fae magic that belonged to her mother. With the Fae threat mounting every day, Bryn must choose between faith in her friends and power from a magic that could threaten her very humanity.
In most fairy tales, the fairies are the good guys. They’re godmothers or magical blue ladies who turn puppets into real boys. The problem with that is most fairy tales are sixty percent bullshit, thirty percent wishful thinking, and ten percent horrifying unknown. That’s not to say there are no fairy godmothers; I just never saw one.
More often than not, I saw the other side of it: the bloodsucking, strangle-you-for-fun variety of fairy. For every benevolent shoemaker or wish granter, there was a killer. Which meant I needed to be ready. Steel-toed boots were always a good idea, and they went well with my dark clothes and roughly twenty thousand talismans, all silver and iron and anti-fairy. I could have pulled off the punk goth thing, except living with a single father meant no piercings or blue streaks until I was thirty or he was dead. And with a pair of twelve-year-old brothers, there’d be no slipping a stud out before I got home.
About the most I could do was cut my dark hair up to my chin and draw on some black eyeliner. My dad tolerated that much. But then, he didn’t know exactly why I wore the steel-toed boots or why my jewelry included an iron nail on a chain. He probably suspected, though.
I checked the time. Eight eighteen. The wind pierced through my dark jacket and into my skin like it had some kind of personal problem with me. I huddled into myself, drawing my knees to my chest. Somewhere out in the town, other high-school seniors were likely hanging out and drinking or smoking. Odds were they’d all die of lung cancer someday. Still, they were having fun and blissfully shortening their lives while I sat on a church stoop alone, waiting for some priest to get with the program and take me to kill some fairies.
The door to the church creaked open. I scrambled to my feet. Father Gooding stepped outside, a large, black duffel bag slung over one shoulder. He stooped just a bit, so it would be a little easier to make direct eye contact. Friggin’ tall people. Hard to name the greater injustice: that he was six foot four or that I was five two.
“I apologize,” he said, locking the door behind him. “The choirmaster called. I really couldn’t hang up without arousing suspicion.”
“So tell them,” I said, and I hated the tight, wheezy tenor of my voice after too long in the cold.
Gooding arched a brow. “That’s awfully rich coming from you, Miss Johnson. Does your family know about your extracurricular activities?”
“The whole reason my dad moved here was because of the fairies,” I reminded him. “And because he knows you protect people from them.”
Gooding gave me that oh-so-disappointed Catholic look of his and sighed. “Bryn, we discussed this. What I’m teaching you is dangerous. Potentially life threatening. Your family deserves to know in case I have to call them to the hospital.” The same lecture he’d given me for the last three years, ever since he first agreed to take me as his apprentice.
“Well, you haven’t yet,” I pointed out. Gooding’s little half-frown would have made a marble statue confess its sins. I diverted my gaze. “You know my dad’s got a lot on his plate, and Ash and Jake are just kids. Besides. You said it yourself: You need the help. There’s too many of them popping up lately.”
Gooding’s lips thinned, but he stopped angling for direct eye contact. Once again, Gooding chose the high road. He just loved to do that. Sometimes that worked in my favor; sometimes it drove me crazy. But it was too cold for me to decide whether his prissiness was a blessing or a curse.
“Come along, then, Bryn.”
Gooding took off across the long stretch of yellowed grass behind the church, and I had to half jog to keep up with his sweeping gait. Well, at least it warmed me up.
“You’re right, though,” he said. “This is the third call from Postoak Road this month. They’re getting more active.”
Another visit to Postoak Road, easily the crummiest place in Easterton, Pennsylvania, but not for the reasons most people thought. By day, Postoak Road was an overgrown stretch of dirt with a line of ancient houses held up by sheer willpower. At night, it turned into the hottest haunt for all of fairykind and the practical classroom for my anti-fairy education. Holy water for redcaps, gifts and thank yous for brownies, seeds or salt for boggarts, dropping down and praying for a little good luck with garden gnomes.
And now an “exorcism.” Air quotes included. Clearly, we were helping some poor, terrified someone who had no idea what was happening.
I am a storyteller at heart, and my poor mother was grateful when I started writing. It gave her ears a break. I write primarily science fiction and fantasy intended for the young adult and middle grade audience. Presently, I live in Texas with my two cats.