When she went to South Texas as a County Home Demonstration Agent in 1940, Aletha Barrett was in culture shock. Raised in the gently rolling green farmland of Northeast Texas, Aletha was unprepared for the vast sandy expanses and different societies she found there. From unearthing baby rattlesnakes to exploring the unknown spiciness of Mexican food, every day was a learning experience. Ever an adventurer, Aletha ventured deep into Mexico when it was largely unknown to North Americans. Over the course of several trips she witnessed what might have been a murder in Mexico City, endured the then-perilous Pan-American Highway at the mercy of a drunken bus driver and stayed in Acapulco when it was a tiny village with just two hotels. In later years, after marrying and having a family, Aletha always said she was going to write a book about her life in South Texas, but somehow the right time never came. After Aletha’s death, her daughter Janis Susan May, a writer and novelist, was going through her papers and found an outline, some notes and a rudimentary chapter or two. Janis Susan had been raised on her mother’s stories and knew them by heart, so working from the notes she completed the book. It was, she says, the best testament she could envision to the memory of a remarkable woman.
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Who would have thought such a little thing could have had such horrible consequences?
Damaris pulled a shiny ornament from the box, then looked at it sadly. Of course the first one she pulled out would be one that she and Jeff had chosen together. A silly caricature of an idealized rural church, it had two stereotypical aged hillbillies with raggedy hats and plaid jackets standing hand in hand in front.
“That’ll be us,” Jeff had said. “Old and wrinkled and still in love.” Then he had kissed her.
A tear dropped and splashed on the thin glass. That had been just over a year ago and they had been planning their first Christmas in their new home. After living for years in an apartment they had unexpectedly found the perfect house while on their way to the lake. Jeff had called it a miracle, and it really seemed to be one when suddenly they owned the place within weeks.
Miracle? Damaris thought bitterly. More like a curse. Everything seemed to go wrong once they got into the house.
No. It wasn’t the house that was cursed, it was her.
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Aurora Mathis is coming home. Back to Merrywood, an estate she doesn’t remember. Back to the house in which her father died by his own hand. Back to where she witnessed his death.
Charles Mathis captivated millions of readers with a series of eerie fantasy novels before taking his own life when Aurora was just a toddler. Aurora tried to hide from his infamy but now she wants to learn about the man she never knew.
She agrees to attend a convention honoring her father’s work but on arrival is filled with a gnawing sense of unease and soon begins dreaming of the strange, inhuman beings who populated her father’s books. When she starts receiving odd gifts and seeing mysterious robed figures in the halls of Merrywood, Aurora worries she may be losing her mind.
As the days pass and the happenings around her turn from odd to dangerous, Aurora begins to wonder if the magical world her father created may not be completely fictional…
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Bert Carmody can’t catch a break. As a hieroglyphs translator he’s actually quite good. However, being pudgy, balding and awkward, he’s always in the shadow of his young, charismatic coworkers.
Disillusioned and bitter, Bert spends his free time scouring the markets of Cairo hoping to find an unrecognized genuine artifact for the pittance a scholar can afford. His latest discovery is another piece of rubbish, just another animal mummy—one of literally millions of votive offerings from the ancients to one god or another.
Or is it?
Suddenly, things start looking up for Bert. But as he starts to get the recognition he deserves, there are deadly consequences for his coworkers. Will Bert finally be set for life, or will the lure of the mummy ruin him forever?
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When Brianna Forte is made executor of the Clerkwells’ estate, she thinks it’ll be a simple task to catalogue and liquidate their assets. After all, they lived very modestly, their only apparent interest in life being a large collection of eerily lifelike little figurines called Timeless Innocents.
Exquisitely crafted yet somehow ominously creepy, the figurines are all different and made of some hard fleshlike material. When a parade of sinister characters turn up demanding she sell them the figures, Brianna begins to investigate their origin—and what she learns will change her life forever…
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Four tales of mystery, including curses, emeralds, horror, the supernatural… and a kangaroo.
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