Burning cauldrons. Black cats. Magical spells and potions. High school.
Kevin always had one ability that set him apart from everyone else. Healing. He healed his classmate Rachel when they were six years old, even though it almost exposed him.
He lost his parents after starting high school. Now a senior, he struggles to stay out of his sister’s way as she takes care of both of them. He sleeps on the couch in their one-bedroom apartment and walks to school. His sister is the only person he calls a friend. As if that weren’t enough, he discovers his power goes far beyond simple healing.
Kevin is a witch.
On top of everything, he has to deal with the surprises of the supernatural world. It turns out witch-hunters, vampires, and werewolves don’t like witches all that much. Kevin will need help from his new girlfriend Rachel, the sympathetic vampire Victoria, and every trick in his spell-book to survive.
“Come on! Get on up here. Are you scared?”
Six-year-old Rachel Evans looked around frantically. She could hear the other kids in school playing on the swings and monkey bars around the corner. Miss Brown, the recess monitor, organized the games they played. Tag, dodge ball, kickball.
She didn’t know what was going on just around the corner.
Rachel looked up in the tree. John Crowe and Melissa Johnson had already climbed halfway. Melissa’s twin brother, Michael, was still working his way up, grabbing branch after branch.
John, Melissa, and Michael spent all their time together, and everyone liked them. To be friends with them would make everything so much easier. Everyone would stop picking on Rachel, making fun of her. They’d stop calling her Four Eyes and choosing her last for kickball.
She pushed her thick glasses onto her nose and took a deep breath. They weren’t supposed to be away from the other kids. If Miss Brown caught them, they would all be in deep trouble.
“We’re not supposed to be here,” Rachel said. “Miss Brown always says we’re supposed to stay where we can see her.”
Melissa laughed. “See? I told you she wouldn’t do it. She probably can’t see through her four eyes.”
John smiled. Michael made it to the limb opposite his friends. He sat and leaned his weight against the tree so he wouldn’t fall.
“It’s not that hard,” he said. “You can do it, Rachel.”
She smiled and blushed. She didn’t realize they knew her name.
“I thought her name was Lisa?” Melissa said.
“Her name is Scaredy-Cat,” John said. “She can’t climb a tree.”
Rachel looked down at her clothes. She wore a pink dress her mother had bought
for her. It wouldn’t be easy to climb a tree in it.
But she had to try. If she didn’t, they would say bad things about her all over
school. They would make fun of her more than they already did.
She didn’t know why the other kids didn’t like her. She heard her parents talking
about it one day after dinner. Dad thought it was because he was one of the richer people in town, and everyone else was jealous. Rachel thought it was because Mom was prettier than everyone else’s moms.
Whatever the reason, there were days the kids in her class were relentless. She would get on and off the bus, crying her eyes out. Mom would always be at the bus stop to pick her up, and Rachel had to quickly wipe her eyes and keep from crying so Mom wouldn’t see.
On the days they didn’t pick on her, they didn’t talk to her at all. No one wanted to sit with her at lunch, or play dolls with her.
It was only by freak chance that she was near the corner, playing alone, when she heard John and his friends climbing the tree.
She grabbed the lowest branch and pulled herself up.
“Well, look at this,” John said.
Melissa shook her head. “She’s not gonna be able to do it.”
Michael laughed. “Probably not. Her glasses are too heavy.”
Rachel gritted her teeth and grabbed another branch. She felt so high up already,
but she wouldn’t quit. They were just a few more limbs up, sitting and laughing at her. But she would show them. Then she could greet Mom at the bus stop with a smile instead of tears.
“She’s really doing it,” John said.
Michael nodded. “Maybe she’s not such a wimp after all.”
“Look at that dress,” Melissa said. “It’s so ugly.”
“It’s not ugly,” Rachel said through clenched teeth. “My Mom bought it for me.”
She grabbed the branch John and Melissa were sitting on. Their legs dangled just
next to her hands. She was almost there. One more limb to climb. Her hands slipped.
Her head smacked the limb beneath her as she tumbled to the ground. She landed on her back, her head smacking the ground. Her eyes rolled back in her head.
“The dummy fell!” Melissa said.
Rachel cried. She tried to roll over, but she couldn’t move. She couldn’t even see. She had never been so scared in her life. Not even in her bed at night, before Mom checked the closet for monsters.
John and his friends climbed down the tree. They all leaned over her.
“Be quiet!” Melissa said. “You’re gonna get us all in trouble.”
“Whoa. What’s wrong with her eyes?” Michael said.
“Please, go get my Mommy.”
“Shut up!” John tried to cover her mouth to quiet her down. “Miss Brown will hear
Melissa grabbed John’s hand and looked at her brother. “Come on. Recess is
almost over. Let’s just go.”
“We’ll keep this a secret,” Michael said. “It’s her own fault she fell.”
John nodded. “We’ll lie if she tries to get us in trouble.”
Rachel heard them running away. She tried to reach in the direction she thought
the playground was, but she couldn’t move her arm. She couldn’t move anything. “Mommy, Daddy. Help me,” she cried.
Her head started to ache. The pain settled all around her eyes. Her hands and feet
She heard Miss Brown’s voice in the distance.
“Okay, everyone, five minutes left. Start bringing everything in.”
Rachel tried to sit up once again, but a sharp pain ran through her back. She cried
out. Tears ran down her cheeks and dripped to the ground.
The thought ran through her mind that she might die. No one knew where she was,
and no one liked her enough to come looking for her.
She thought there were voices not too far away, from the woods behind the school. “Oh my God!”
She heard footsteps running, and then stopping near her. A hand rested on her
A girl spoke first. “Are you hurt?”
“I fell,” Rachel said, her words slurring somewhat. “From the tree.”
“This is Rachel,” a boy said. “She’s in my class. Why is she talking funny?”
“Let’s go get Miss Brown.”
“No. I can help her.”
Rachel heard the both of them move away and start whispering to each other. She
tried to think of anyone named Kevin in her class. There was only one she could remember. Kevin Mishnar. He always sat in the back. He didn’t speak much, never raised his hand to answer any questions. He had an older sister, Kristin, in fourth grade. Everyone made fun of them because they weren’t really brother and sister. They were both adopted. Their parents couldn’t have children.
They were once again at Rachel’s side.
“You shouldn’t do this,” Kristin said. “You’ve never done it on a person before.” “Rachel, can you get up?”
“I can’t move. My back really hurts. I can’t even see anything. Please, get my
Mommy and Daddy.”
“That sounds bad. Maybe like a broken back or something.”
“It’ll work. It always works. Give me your water.”
Kristin sighed. “I don’t think we should be doing this.”
“Stop, Kristin. Just don’t tell Mom and Dad.”
“Do you think I’m stupid?”
“I’m not stupid. You’re stupid.”
Even through the darkness in front of her eyes, Rachel thought she saw something
glow bright blue.
“Rachel, drink this water.”
She cried. “I don’t want water. I want my Mom and Dad.”
The water touched her lips. Too much poured down her throat and she started to choke.
“Not too much!” Kristin said. “Just a little at a time.”
“I know. Be quiet.”
Rachel put her hand to her throat to try to stop gagging. She could move her hand.
“Okay, that’s good,” Kevin said. “A little more.”
She felt fingers under her head, lifting her slightly as a bottle was put to her lips.
It was the coldest water she ever drank. It tingled as it went down her throat.
Her legs began to move.
She gripped Kevin’s hand to hold the bottle steady. The pain in her back went
“See? I told you.”
“Okay, okay. Just hurry up.”
The darkness went away. She could see again, although everything was blurry. She could see the tree she fell from, the branches and leaves swaying back and forth in the wind.
There were two shapes huddled over her.
“She looks okay. Let’s go.”
“Do you feel okay, Rachel?”
She blinked a few times, and wiped tears from her eyes. “Yeah.” “Good. Come on, Kristin.”
Rachel’s head was lowered back to the ground. The two shapes over her ran away.
She managed to sit up and look back in the direction of the playground. The blurriness finally started to disappear.
There was a taller girl running with a boy, hand in hand, as they disappeared around the corner. The kids all ran to the doors as the recess bell rang.
She looked up at the tree, at how high up she fell.
There was no pain as she slowly climbed to her feet. She wasn’t even sore.
She reached up to adjust her glasses, but didn’t feel them. They were on the
ground next to her feet.
She didn’t need them to see.
Mom and Dad would never believe her.
- The novel was meant to be a standalone novel. It was a refresh of a novel I wrote back when I was in my teens.
- When it came time to rewrite the role of the vampire in the novel, I immediately thought of Victoria from Demonspawn. I thought that would be a cool way to tie the two novels together. This little action inadvertently created a pretty cool series, I think.
- Jack Kursed was originally meant to be in this novel, with story elements that ultimately flowed across Jack Kursed and Demon’s Doorway. His quest to lift his curse was going to be a subplot in this novel. But I wanted to focus on Kevin, and the novel was pretty packed as it was. I did drop two hints that Jack existed (very subtle clues ), knowing his tale was next.
- Alicia (Alex’s sister from Demonspawn) has a small scene with Victoria at a club/bar. It was this scene that had me thinking of pairing Kevin and Alicia, although it took quite a few novels to get there.
- In the Damned and Cursed universe, witches are the most powerful supernatural creatures. Their power is tempered by the fact that they’re mortal, they can die. A full-blooded witch (both parents are witches) are the most rare and powerful, but half-witches are strong in their own right.
- I almost didn’t have Alex show up at the end. I didn’t want him to “steal Kevin’s thunder”. But I thought it made for a cool moment, and I wanted to show how much Alex had grown.
- It took quite a bit of thinking to come up with the magic system I use. I was going to go with a spoken-word type system. Just straight up speaking magic words, and making things happen. That reminded me of a wizard, though, and the idea soured. I ended up going with the alchemy/potion type route. I felt this gave him limits I could work with. No potions or items, no magic. He can do some basic things (grabbing a random pair of glasses and seeing through walls), but for his stronger magic, Kevin needs more exotic ingredients.
- Boiling pots on a stove replaces a cauldron, but I love the imagery of a cauldron, so I bring it up from time to time.
- Favorite scenes: The scene in which he heals Rachel’s parents in the hospital. Where he first creates a magic feather. The sequence where he cures his teacher of being a werewolf.