Title: Aspect of Winter
Author: Tom Early
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Sadie Thompson
Length: 260 pages
Release Date: October 15, 2015
Blurb: It’s hard enough being gay in high school, but Fay must also deal with hiding his magical ability—powers he barely understands and cannot possibly reveal. His best friend Sam is his only confidante, and even with her help, Fay’s life is barely tolerable.
Everything changes when Janus University, a college for individuals with magical capabilities, discovers the pair. When the university sends a student to test them, Fay and Sam, along with their classmate Tyler, are catapulted headfirst into a world of unimaginable danger and magic. Fay and Tyler begin to see each other as more than friends while they prepare for the Trials, the university’s deadly acceptance process. For the first time, the three friends experience firsthand how wonderful and terrible a world with magic can be, especially when the source of Fay’s power turns out to be far deadlier than anyone imagined.
The fire suddenly roared back up again, the flames tinged an eerie purple. A keening noise filled the air, coming from the portal. The air became charged with energy as something began to force the portal to open wider. With a final sigh it complied, the jagged crack of light spreading to around twenty feet wide and opening up even farther.
It happened all at once. Screams of rage and fury filled the air as thousands, and I do mean thousands, of vaguely human-shaped clouds with glimmering yellow lights for eyes flew out of the portal, forming a hurricane of spirits around us. The air was filled with them, and their hatred was so intense that we all cowered slightly. They kept flying counter-clockwise around us at dizzying speeds, until it seemed like we were surrounded on all sides by a swirling gray wall, interspersed with pinpoints of yellow light. Then they separated, rocketing off in every direction, leaving smoke and ash to fill the air.
Pulses of white light began to flare up as the Sluagh Sidhé, the dark spirits of Irish lore, slammed themselves into the candlelight protecting the graves. Some of them vanished as they were pulled into the mirrors, but most of them flew through the few trees dotting the graveyard, flying too high to be caught. We breathed a collective sigh of relief as no corpses rose. We hadn’t missed anything, thankfully. The spirits weren’t relenting, however, and the air was already beginning to thicken.
“Sam!” I shouted. “I don’t think the mirror trick is going to work for these guys! They aren’t taking the bait! What was the other weakness that the Baí Zé said they had?”
“It was light, Fay! Really powerful light, enough to affect the souls of the dead!”
Sam muttered a few words, and a Light orb began to circle around her, keeping the Sluagh Sidhé at bay, and I did the same. Tyler stuck close to my side, protected by the pale light surrounding us.
Then the redcaps arrived en masse. Dozens of diminutive creatures, similar in appearance to the clurichaun save for their bloodred hats, ran through the portal, each clutching a wickedly sharp bone sickle. They were grinning wildly, and their serrated teeth gleamed.
“Sam!” I shouted. “We need to act, now!”
I gritted my teeth and pulled out a few of the ice diamonds that I hadn’t laid out in front of the bonfire, and dropped them on the ground as the redcaps approached. I focused hard and the ice began to run like water, gathering around our feet and rising. Soon we were all wearing small boots of ice, except for the soles. Hopefully it would provide some small protection against getting our tendons sliced open by those sickles.
A second later they were on us. Tyler had backed away rapidly and was leading a few of the bloodthirsty creatures to the side.
Sam had… whoa. Her own shield was up and ready. Sam had modified the Minor Orb spell again. She had conjured her five orbs and sent them rotating helically around her body, almost too fast for me to see them. In the second before the redcaps forced me to pay attention to my own fight, I watched as the first one to get too close to her was just blasted to one side with incredible force. A few of the Sluagh Sidhé flying through the air were pushed aside from the wind her orbs were generating as well.
“Inertia, bitches!” Sam screamed victoriously. Sweat was pouring down her brow from the effort, though. She wouldn’t be able to keep it up for long.
Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day.
When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now.
Winner’s Prize: Free signed copy of Aspect of Winter