Whispers in the Waters
by Sarah Chislon
Publication date: September 27th 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Ladies don’t shame their families.
Ladies don’t confront Otherwordly threats.
Ladies certainly don’t admit some taint of the fae has touched their souls—unless they wish to find themselves confined to an Institution.
Gently-bred herbalist Jessa Caldwell is trying to be a lady. She conceals her true nature amongst her plants and her sketches—where she can almost shut out the whispers she alone hears. But a threat to her beloved aunt forces her from the comfort of home to a town perilously near an Otherworldly Crossing, with its ever-present risk of fae incursions.
To protect her aunt and the townsfolk she comes to care for, she must uncover the individual responsible for a series of increasingly dangerous attacks—but to find this saboteur will require embracing the part of herself she fears most, an act that could cost her dearly. In a world where Vigilists lock up fae-touched mortals, Jessa must decide if she’s willing to risk exposing her true nature to obtain the truth and protect those she loves.
Whispers in the Waters, a gaslamp fantasy novella, serves as the prequel to Tattoo of Crimson, the first book in the Blood of the Fae series. If you like quick-minded heroines who solve cases with logic and intuition, Otherworldly intrigues, and beautiful yet deadly fae, then you’ll love this mystery set in a world of manners and mythical monsters.
I rounded a bend, and the slight woman I’d seen in the stratesman’s shadow when we’d arrived in Milburn stumbled down the lane, her gown of muslin streaked with dirt and littered with forest debris. She clutched a ragged silk shawl around her shoulders, as though it could shield her from notice.
Nelda, Mrs. Wilkins had called her. Her palm dripped blood, and tears streaked her cheeks. For a moment, I remained rooted in place. If the townsfolk were to be believed, Nelda had brought a vengeful attack against Melle and her family. But the downcast lines of her body spoke of brokenness and distress, not malice.
“Nelda?” I hoped she wouldn’t take offense at the use of her given name from a stranger. I hurried forward. “You’re hurt. What happened?”
“I . . . I don’t know.” Nelda lifted her hand and watched as blood wept from it, one drop after another splatting against the dusty surface of the road. The wound cut deep.
Could Mrs. Wilkins have been right when she’d suggested madness? I shifted the bundle of clothes from one arm to the other. “Can I accompany you home and find someone to tend your injury?”
She laughed, a wild, off-key sound. “Home? I have no home.”
“Then where are you staying?” I lowered my voice in an attempt to soothe her. “I’ll help you there and fetch an herbalist, if it suits you.”
“Staying? No one will house me. Not after what’s happened at the mill.” She jabbed toward the trees with her uninjured hand. “I stay in the forest. At least here, I’m close. Close to where home used to be.”
I drew in a sharp breath. To live in the forest, this close to a Crossing? It was unthinkable. Otherkind might lurk anywhere, not to mention natural predators. Had the entire town truly forsaken her, simply because she’d wed the wrong man and he’d abandoned her? Or was there more that I missed? Society offered swift condemnation for those who failed to abide by its strictures, but other than a poor choice in a husband, what wrong had she done?
She swayed, and I rushed to steady her. “You can’t stay out here. You need proper shelter and someone to look at your wound. Come with me into Milburn, and we’ll find an herbalist.”
“No, I can’t.” She backed away, every scrap of color leeching from already-pale features. “No one here wants to help. They’d only try to lock me up!”
Sarah Chislon lives in Virginia with her husband and three daughters. When she’s not writing, she’s homeschooling her children and running a web development business with her husband. As an avid reader and a lifelong story-weaver, she delights in creating fantastic worlds and exploring them alongside her characters.
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