USA Today Bestselling Author
Never in my thirty years did I think my new normal would be a gig as a soul collector’s assistant—slave really—where I help stockpile souls from the miserable mortals who sell them to him. The demon thinks he can control me, but I plan on doing things differently… my way. But we all know it’s never that easy or that simple, especially in my life.
Surprisingly, things get off to a good start. Who am I kidding? The job doesn’t pan out to be what I first thought. It’s worse. Way worse. And before I know it, I’m in hot water with no easy way out.
If that isn’t bad enough, the soul collector is hiding something from me that could make or break the deal I made with him. Something, if found out, that could change everything…
It’s time to yank up my big girl panties, chuck down some wine, and do things my way. If it doesn’t kill me first.
If you like fast-paced urban fantasy adventure with a kick-butt heroine and plenty of action, suspense, and humor, you’ll love Practical Hexes.
So, at the end of the last book, we were left with a bit of a cliffhanger. Tessa has signed a deal with the soul collector to save the souls from Hollow Cove. Little does she realize the consequences of her action. Marcus is furious and when her father finds out, well that’s going to be interesting as well. Her father has already saved her from the Soul Collector aka Jack once and now she’s up and made a deal. Her services for one month for the release of the Hollow Cove Souls. Unfortunately, service translate to slave in the Netherworld.
There’s more here than meets the eye and she’s determined to figure it out and beat it. From the first night just observing ‘Jack’ she is sickened by what he’s going to expect her to do.
In spite of everything Marcus is supportive of her, and Iris has been sending little curses to Allison which makes Tessa laugh and Allison scream revenge.
Her mother admits that Obiryn aka Obi-Wan Kenobi is indeed her father and tells her to be safe before taking off with Sean again.
Tessa’s first actual soul collecting is very hard for her, and that was followed up by the signing of contracts on the palliative floor. But when she has to bring that soul to the locker, she makes a startling discovery. The familiars are there, they weren’t released like the others. She sees the gorgeous black cat Hildo, but he turns away from her when he finds out she’s collecting souls.
When Tessa wakes on her thirtieth birthday she gets the shock of her life. She’s dramatically aged and Jack knew it would happen. He also lied about the length of her contract. So now she needs a new plan or she will die. Her father can’t help her because of saving her life once, however, he does give her an idea of how to reverse the aging.
It’s while she’s investigating that possibility that she sees Hildo again and he’s actually the one to give her the only real choice. A different deal.
This is a favorite scene.
“Tell me something I don’t know.” I shifted my weight and hissed as more pain came flooding in, but I managed to push myself to a half-decent sitting position. “I think I’ll just sit here for a while. Until my body stops throbbing.”
Hildo leaped onto my lap. “You still haven’t told me what you were doing to the soul collector’s machine. Why’d you kick it?”
Apparently, cat familiars were just as curious as any regular house cat. “Well, if you must know, I was testing a theory,” I said as I stroked the top of the cat’s head, finding it really soothing.
“Which is?” asked the cat as he started to purr.
“That if I released the souls trapped in there—the ones linked to me—it would break the connection and I’d get those parts of me back, making me young again.”
The cat cocked his head to the side. “It didn’t work.”
A depressed, frustrated sigh emitted from me. “Thanks for the tip.” I ran my fingers through his fur. Seeing that he closed his eyes in delight, I kept going. “Where were you guys? I haven’t seen you in a while. I thought something had happened to you.”
“In hiding,” answered the cat. “We’re hoping the soul collector will forget about us. He’s been really distracted lately. So far, I think it’s working.”
“Because he’s been working me,” I grumbled.
“Sorry.” Hildo lay on my lap and stretched out his limbs.
I smiled down at the cat. If this was going to be my new normal, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be stuck with him here. At least I’d have a friend.
“Right behind the left ear, please,” instructed the cat.
I laughed and obliged. “Yes, sir.”
Hildo purred even more loudly. “You know, all that work he’s doing, making you get all those souls… I don’t think it’s going to get her back.”
I frowned. “Get who back?”
My hand froze. “The soul collector has a wife?”
“He does.” “And where is she?” I asked. “The reaper has her.”
I tried to do a double-take, but instead, I gave myself whiplash. Okay. This was all kinds of weird.
I shook my head and stopped petting the cat. “You’re not making any sense. What’s going on? What do you know? Tell me.”
Hildo opened his eyes and turned to look at me, yellow eyes gleaming. “To summarize, our soul collector took something that didn’t belong to him. A soul. A soul that was promised to the reaper. To his credit, the soul collector didn’t know this. He took it and sold it, though. When the reaper found out, he was pissed. So, he took the soul collector’s wife as payment.”
“Holy crap.” I thought about it. “And a reaper is more powerful than a soul collector? I thought they were the same thing?” Goes to show how unknowledgeable I was.
The cat’s tail whipped on either side of him. “They’re not. Reapers are angels.”
“Angels?” I asked, surprised. “Oh, right. The angels of death and all that. I’ve heard the stories. Just never thought they were true.”
“Well, they are. Reapers are responsible for escorting souls to the afterlife, and soul collectors steal them.”
I scratched Hildo under his chin, and he closed his eyes in pleasure. “You’re one smart kitty. How come you know all this stuff?”
The cat cocked a brow. “I’ve been around for over a hundred years. I might not look it, but I’m a hundred and eleven.”
“Happy birthday.” I smiled.
Hildo turned his yellow eyes on me again. “A reaper is like a king, and a soul collector is more like a working-class mortal with a nine-to-five job. He’s been trying to get her back ever since. He thinks offering as many souls as possible will get her back. So far, it hasn’t worked.”
“It explains why he’s been so adamant about getting all those souls before the end of the week. He was trying to buy her back with souls. Why he’s been pushing me so hard.”
I dipped my head. “And the reaper won’t give her back?”
“No. He won’t. He’s enjoying seeing Jack squirm. I think he’s hurting her. The wife, I mean.”
I didn’t like Jack. I liked him as much as I liked a leech. I liked the leech better. But I hated this reaper even more. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I kind of feel sorry for Jack.”
“I don’t,” hissed the cat, his nails clipping through my sweatpants and into my skin. “He put us in here. He did this. He did this to you.”
“I want to claw his eyes out.” “Me too. If I had claws.”
We laughed at that, and it felt both eerie and good to be laughing in another plane of existence.
“What’s going on here?” Jack had appeared from the darkness like a Houdini from hell.
I looked up at the demon. “Enjoying quality time with my buddy here.”
Jack frowned, staring at the cat. “Ah, yes. The familiars. I had forgotten about them.”
Hildo stiffened and I felt like an ass now. If I hadn’t been kicking the machine, the cat would have stayed hidden and out of sight of the demon. Great.
I wrapped my arms protectively around the cat. “Is there something you want?” I asked, hoping to distract him from the familiars.
“Yes.” Jack straightened the sleeves of his jacket. “I’m here to tell you to go home and get some rest. I’ll need you to be in tiptop shape tomorrow.”
“We have fifty-three souls to collect.” He raised his thin hand. “I know. I know. It’s more than you’re accustomed to, but I have no choice in the matter.”
I opened my mouth to protest but stopped. Now that I knew, I could see how jittery the demon was, the nervous twitching of his fingers, the tension in his shoulders, the way his eyes flicked everywhere at once. He was clearly on the verge of a massive meltdown. He was desperate to get his wife back.
And then I had a lightbulb moment.
Foolish? Maybe. Insane? Probably.
“If I can get your wife back, will you break our contract?” I blurted before I could stop myself. Hildo turned to look up at me, but I kept my focus on the demon.
Jack froze, his face expressionless as his white eyes rolled over me. “Who told you about my wife?”
“News travels fast in the in-between,” I told him, and I saw his eyes flick down to the cat. “If I can get her back from the reaper, will you destroy that contract?”
The demon hunched his shoulders, and I saw real pain on his face. “I appreciate you trying, Tessa. But he will not give her back to you, a mere mortal. I have a plan in place to get her back.”
“Is it working?”
“Not yet.” Jack clenched and unclenched his fingers. “It’s a work in progress. One cannot simply ask a reaper to give something back.”
“Not even your wife?” When he didn’t answer, I added, “And with this plan, he’ll give her back?” When he said nothing, I pressed. “You’re not sure he will. Are you? I can see it written all over your face. Listen. If I can get her back, will you destroy my contract?”
This time Jack looked at me as though he just saw me for the first time. “You think you can? How?”
“I have my ways. I can be persuasive.” I picked up Hildo and placed him on the ground. Next, I grabbed Gran’s cane and dragged myself up. I was bent, but at least I was up. I met the demon’s eyes and said, “But I’m going to need some time off.”
Jack’s hairless brow reached the bridge of his nose. “How much time?”
I took the fact that he didn’t object as a good sign. “Maybe a day or two. Enough time to find the reaper and negotiate. Do we have a deal?”
Jack pressed his lips together. “If you can get her back to me… yes. Yes, you have a deal.”
“And the familiars,” I added, glancing down at the black cat at my feet. Hildo let out a meow and rubbed against my leg. “All of them. I bring you back your wife, and we all go free. No tricks. No funny business. No fine print crap. Deal?” I held out my hand.
Jack stared at it for a moment, and just when I thought he wouldn’t, he stepped forward and we shook hands.
“Deal,” said the demon, watching me curiously.
I grinned. “Excellent,” I said, realizing I had just sounded a lot like the soul collector. I felt great, though. More than great.
Because now I was back in business.
Richardson, Kim. Practical Hexes (The Witches of Hollow Cove Book 5). Kindle Locations (2197-2269). Kindle Edition.
What Tessa has to accomplish is dangerous and she is determined to win. There’s laughter, tears, friendship and sizzle as this story winds to it’s conclusion and oh boy what an ending!
5 Contented Purrs for Kim!
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Kim Richardson is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of urban fantasy, fantasy, and young adult books. She lives in the eastern part of Canada with her husband, two dogs and a very old cat. Kim’s books are available in print editions, and translations are available in over 7 languages.