Length: 362 Pages
Publishing: 14th April 2020
For her, it’s her late grandma’s legacy. For him, the mother of all black arts spoils, granting one demon the power of a God. Immortality.
When occult-magnet Ruby falls victim to Demon Lord Drayvex’s viperous allure, she loses a sentient dark relic to his light fingers and appetite for power. Like calls to like. But when Drayvex himself loses the relic to a traitor to the throne, Ruby coerces him – the tyrant king with a soft spot for humanity – into helping her save her pokey old world village from becoming a ground zero of mass demonic carnage.
Both invested in reclaiming the relic, the one thing Ruby and Drayvex agree on is that it’s in the wrong hands. Co-existing in a precarious arrangement between predator and prey, to save the planet they both love for different reasons, they must become a formidable double-team in the face of an apocalyptic takeover. Now, the fate of both human and demon alike rests with a killer that walks between worlds, and a woman with a curse in her bloodline.
Rachel Hobbs lives in soggy South West Wales, where she hibernates with with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes.
Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her.
Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night.
Shadow Stained by Rachel Hobbs is a dark horror fantasy story about a girl with a unique and powerful necklace and the demons, particularly one, who wants it for the power it holds. I read the first few chapters and found that the descriptions – though sometimes a bit much – pulled me into the story. They create a world that is dark and foreboding though, at the same time, endlessly fascinating. It is a violent world that is not for readers who cannot stomach a lot of blood and gore. In these first few chapters, I got some Buffy vibes. Even though the main character does not have any special fighting abilities like Buffy, the intermingling with demons reminded me of one of my favorite television shows. I am curious to see where it all goes and if I continue to get those Buffy vibes or if it veers off into a whole other direction that is uniquely its own. If you like dark, horror fantasy, this is one you will want to take a closer look at, and I have even included an excerpt to get you started.
“A pulsing entity.
It called out to him from within the torrents of rain, enticing with a promise of unimaginable power, demanding his full attention.
When Drayvex had first arrived and breathed the alien atmosphere, it had nudged against his senses. He’d almost dismissed it. But as he’d lingered at the point between worlds, he’d deduced that not only was the entity moving towards him, but its power was on a whole other level.
A low-level demon shot down the cobbled street below him. It took him a second to realise that it was, in fact, his demon.
Drayvex narrowed his eyes from his rooftop perch. Kaelor had followed him through the portal. On top of this, his idea of blending in was truly spectacular. Moron.
The rain lashed around him in waves, hurling itself at him, then evaporating into a fine mist upon contact with his hot flesh. He looked down at the village below, sharp eyes slicing through the downpour, and zoned in on the strange power.
What he saw threw him off his guard.
It was a girl. A human girl emanating a throbbing black aura.
Drayvex relaxed his jaw, allowing the tension to ebb from his taut muscles. She didn’t strike him as an unusual specimen. The girl wasn’t interesting to look at, nor was there anything about her that stood out. Nothing except that delicious black energy that gathered about her in a possessive miasma.
“He watched the girl flee with mild interest, studying her as his minion blocked her path. Would this power weaken and die without its human host? He would soon find out. Kaelor was about to have his way.
As the demon below made to strike, Drayvex’s eyes remained on her.
Kaelor pushed off the stones, disappearing in a pop, teleporting with over-dramatic enthusiasm.
Unless, Drayvex mused, watching as the demon materialised in front of her. Unless, she was something more. A slick pretender that liked to play human. If that was so, Kaelor would be put in his place, permanently. The ultimate lesson in biting off more than one could chew.
The demon leapt for the kill. The human slashed out with perfect timing, a hidden blade in her hand.
Drayvex stilled. The human had teeth after all.
As the blade sliced into the soft abdomen of his demon underling, Kaelor vanished, fleeing like the miserable coward he was.
Drayvex stared, glued to the diminutive creature standing victorious on the soaked street below. It had been more panic than calculated swipe. A clumsy, last-ditch thrash; but frankly, this girl had the luck of the devil. For one she’d hit him with her eyes closed.
Drayvex felt his eyes narrow, fresh suspicions emerging. He found himself studying the human with growing intrigue. It was then that he noticed what was around her neck.
It looked like a piece of jewellery: a ruby teardrop enshrouded in a delicate silver webbing. It hung on a worn leather cord, with the surrounding silver lattice pulled back on either side to reveal the gleaming face of the stone. The darker line running through the centre gave it the distinct look of an eye. Its slit pupil stared out at the world into which its power bled.
“It looked like a pendant, but Drayvex knew better. He stared at the stone in revelation. It was unbelievable.
As the girl walked away with her life, his demon was long gone. Drayvex made a mental note to punish the worthless ingrate. If he’d wanted to be followed, he would have told someone he was leaving.
The pulsing presence lingered in his mind long after her absence.
Old notions of ambition seduced him where he stood. A venture like this would prove to be the best kind of distraction. The kind that would produce hard results.
Bringing up his hands, he studied the curved, black tips of his fingers. These would have to go.
Drayvex clenched his hands into tight fists, and then unclenched them, flexing his fingers anew. He examined the blunt human nails that had taken the place of his claws. Their subtle black sheen was the only thing that gave away his disguise.
His tongue wandered over an array of pointed teeth, and their tips dulled and shrank under its touch. The Lapis Vitae. He, like many others, had assumed that such a powerful object could never be outside the mythos of its own existence. Now that he had seen it for himself, he could confirm that it was everything it claimed to be and more.
The corners of his mouth lifted as he considered his fortunate position. He would do whatever it took to possess it.”
Excerpt From Shadow-Stained by Rachel Hobbs
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