Jack Winter: psychic, mage, troublemaker. Marked by a goddess as her favorite and marked by a demon as his heir apparent, Jack isn't so much a warrior as a survivor, doing what he has to in the shadow-world of magical London to keep himself alive. He's spent time in mental wards, jail and Hell itself, but Jack has the uncanny ability to come out on top. It doesn't make for a life with many friends (at least friends who manage not to get themselves killed), but Jack's just fine with being solitary. That way, it's easier to see who's sneaking up behind you.
Giants. Never seen one, meself. Heard the story—everyone hears that story. In the West of England, in the country of Cornwall, there was a bloke named Jack. Giant comes to town, munches on the locals. Jack figures out the giant is stone stupid, digs a pit, traps the giant and whacks his head off with a pickaxe. Not content with his big pair of swingin' brass ones and giant piles of treasure, Jack finds himself another giant, this one with a musty old castle, and hangs a couple more giants with his bare hands. Goes to Wales, nearly gets munched on by a Welsh giant pretending to be his friend. Moral of the story is, never trust a Welshman.
Got another one for you—in the North of England, in the city of Manchester, there was another bloke named Jack. Gets sick of his mum and her boyfriend smacking him around, and knows something's gotta be done. This Jack isn't particularly brave, but what he is is clever. Knows that Kevin, the boyfriend who leaves welts and bruises all over his body, blacks his eyes and smashes Jack's records, the only thing he truly loves when Jack steps wrong, goes down the pub every month when he gets his dole money. In spite of it all, Kevin still owes cold hard cash to a shark named Matthew Pike, a scary bastard if there ever was one. So one night, when Kevin's wandering home pissed from the local, Jack follows him. He's small, only twelve years old, and thin as two fence posts nailed together. Easy to blend in with the dark spots, since every other light in Moss End, the little Beruit of Manchester, is put out.
Jack follows Kevin. He's not big and not brave but he's got an idea, and he's nicked a bottle of bourbon, Kevin's favorite, to go with it. Stuck the bottle on the embankment wall near the canal, and doubled back to wait for him. He sees it, gleaming like amber in the sodium light. Approaches, unable to believe his good fortune. Some sod just leaving a whole pint on the canal wall? Just walking off and forgetting what easily costs a couple of quid, the good stuff, the smooth-going-down-stuff? It's his night, it is. His good luck, because he's the sort of bloke who thinks he deserves good luck, even as the universe teaches lesson after lesson to the contrary.
He doesn't see Jack, watching from the shadows.
Who's to say what happened to Kevin? Manchester is a shithole, and the bricks in the wall are loose and fragile as broken glass. Not going to support the weight of a fat, pissed bloke relieving himself into the canal forever. And there's Matthew Pike to consider, the kind of hard man who'd tumble Kevin into the canal, arse over teakettle, when he refused to pay up. Cut your losses, and teach a lesson to your other marks in one go. Good business, that, and Matthew Pike knows the value of good business. He's a snake, not a giant. The coppers know it too, and when they come 'round, it won't be to Hannah Winter's flat. Blessing Kevin is gone, really. Poor woman. Everyone in the council houses around them could hear the fights, the smack of fist on yielding flesh.
Jack creeps in his window at dawn, and goes to sleep. For the first time in months, it's quiet, no sound of Kevin's snoring. No sound of him waking up, grumbling through his hangover, and screaming at Jack's mum to make him a fry-up. No stumbling off to the day laborer camp to pretend to look for work, and coming home again to snort coke that's half dishwashing powder and pin Jack against a wall, sour breath in his face.
Jack, not brave but far too clever, knows it won't last. There are no giants in the wastes of Manchester, but plenty of monsters. They don't know Jack is out there, watching them with his eyes that see both the living and the dead.
But he knows them.
Pete Caldecott did everything she could to save Jack from Hell, even reigning in the dark machinations of the Morrigan to help bring him home. Still, Black London has not welcomed Jack back with open arms. . . So when a friend in Los Angeles asks for help tracking a sorcerous serial killer, Pete and Jack decide a change of scenery couldn’t hurt. . .
But the shadow side of the City of Angels turns out to be more treacherous than they ever imagined. Together, Pete and Jack must navigate a landscape teeming with hostile magic-users— and fight an unknown enemy. When their investigation leads to a confrontation with the demon Belial, Jack learns that he wasn't the only thing to escape from Hell. Now it’s up to him and Pete to track and eliminate an evil older than the Black itself—before it turns L.A. into Hell on Earth. And destroys life as they know it back at home…
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Ends September 7th, 2011.
Caitlin Kittredge is the author of four Black London novels featuring Jack Winter: Street Magic, Demon Bound, Bone Gods, Devil's Business and is writing the forthcoming fifth book in the series Soul Trade, scheduled for Spring 2012. She also writes steampunk novels for young adults. You can follow Caitlin on Twitter under @caitkitt and find out more about her, her questionable sanity and love of pie, unicorns and Batman at www.caitlinkittredge.com.
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