Magic. Romance. And a fight to the death.
Torn away from her high school graduation, Sierra Reeves discovers that everything she thought she knew is a lie.
In a flash, she’s no longer a normal girl preparing for college, but a Fluidus—a rare supernatural with telekinetic powers. Her new abilities attract the attention of both the Ardere regency and the Culpatus, a group that wants to overthrow the supernatural government. Fearful for Sierra’s future, her grandmother decides to leave their home state Vermont and hide out in Savannah, Georgia.
In Savannah, Sierra forms an alliance with the overprotective and handsome Ardere marshal Gavin McLoughlin. With his help, she slowly accepts her new powers and that she’s a part of the supernatural community.
Just when Sierra begins to settle into her new life, her world is rocked again. In addition to the Culpatus discovering her location, a serial killer is on the loose in Savannah.
Fighting to control her developing power, and facing danger on multiple fronts, Sierra will have to use all her resources to stay alive.
Fluidus Rising is the first of five books in The Ardere Series.
Book 2: Mirror Sacrifice will be released in February 2018.
Sierra Reeves had expected the day of her high school graduation and eighteenth birthday to be a joyful event. It signified the end of her overly protected and boring existence and marked the beginning of her actual life.
Yet, here she stood in line to accept her diploma, pulling at the ends of her chocolate-brown hair and feeling nervous instead of joyful. A layer of sweat coated her back, and her forehead itched underneath her graduation cap. She kept glancing back at the parents in the bleachers. The ceremony had started over half an hour ago, and Dad was still a no-show, the seat next to Gran unoccupied. Despite being in her seventies, Gran Waldeburg had a vitality about her that many teenagers lacked. Instead of sitting at home and knitting or complaining about modern life, she stayed active by gardening, cooking, cycling, and acquiring unusual clothing. Today she wore a floor-length, paisley dress with bell sleeves adorned by half a dozen multicolored necklaces, making her stand out like a beacon in the mass of neutral suits. Normally, Sierra didn’t mind Gran’s eccentric style, but today she wished Gran would’ve gone with something more subdued.
Noticing Sierra’s stare, Gran arched an eyebrow, which matched her unruly winter-white curls. Sierra whipped her head back, redirecting her attention to the podium. One after another, the students accepted their diplomas and shook hands with the principal.
“Fifteen more to go, and then it’s our turn,” Tammy said.
The minuscule size of Manchester, Vermont and their high school resulted in Tammy Scott standing next to Sierra Reeves. So far, this was the only good thing about June eighth.
Tammy tapped Sierra’s shoulder. “Did you ask about Burlington?”
“Yes. The answer is still the same. I can’t go.” Sierra chewed on her lip.
“Why not? It’s only two and a half hours away, and you’re eighteen now. She can’t tell you what to do!”
In front of Sierra, Becky whirled around, the golden tassel on her cobalt cap swinging, and put a finger to her lips. Tammy smiled sweetly at her, then jabbed Sierra. “It’s just for the weekend. You deserve to celebrate graduation and your birthday.”
Sierra sighed. “I tried everything. Gran won’t budge. You know I want to go.”
“That’s what you always say.”
“This time is different. She’s not just being overprotective. Dad’s coming back from business. He wants to spend the weekend with me.”
“I see. And where was he for your last five birthdays?”
Sierra pressed her lips together until her molars touched. Tammy’s brown eyes turned apologetic, and she tried to reach out. Sierra leaned away. Gran always said, “You can’t take back words.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that.”
Sierra nodded, acknowledging the apology. “It’s our turn.” She made her way to the podium, taking care not to slip on the shiny, parquet floor in her three-inch black pumps. Her nerve endings grew tauter with each step. She swallowed, trying to get some moisture into her mouth. Her gaze swiped one last time over the parents in the bleachers to confirm that the seat next to Gran was still empty. Despite his promises, Dad hadn’t made it after all.
Principal Carr smiled encouragingly. A tall and put-together woman, her graphite pantsuit fit her to a T. Sierra swallowed hard. With all eyes on her, and while her dad was missing, she wanted to get this over with. The principal said words of congratulation. Their exact meaning escaped Sierra, the syllables melting into white noise. Finally, the principal reached for the diploma. Eager, Sierra extended her hand, and then the strangest of things happened. The diploma floated into her palm.
It didn’t fall into her palm. It wasn’t blown into her hand.
No. It floated. As if it had obeyed her will.
The principal gave a nervous laugh. Sierra blinked in rapid succession and then hurried from the podium, furtively glancing at the students and parents surrounding her. No one seemed to have noticed. She shook her head. Of course not, objects didn’t just up and fly through the air. She must’ve imagined it. Nerves.
Then she noticed the frown on Gran’s face and something else. Gran’s whole body was outlined in a green hue. Okay, now she really had lost it. Sierra sat down in her seat and kept her gaze trained on the podium, not daring to sneak another peek at Gran.
Fortunately, Tammy didn’t speak or try otherwise to engage Sierra until the end of the ceremony, giving her plenty of opportunity to convince herself that the stress of the day was responsible for the mirages. Take deep breaths. Try to relax. How did Gran’s technique work again? Ah, yes. My breath travels from the top of my head to my toes. Oxygen to the brain, neck muscles soft and pliable, unknotted belly, calmness in my feet.
“Are we still on for six?”
“Hmm?” Sierra turned to Tammy to discover the graduation ceremony was over and everyone was clearing out. “Sorry, yes, of course. Do you want me to bring something?”
“As if you could sneak anything past your Gran.” Tammy chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’ve stashed away a cherry vodka bottle. Plenty for the two of us until we get to Rick’s party. Your job is to secure a curfew past midnight.”
Sierra sighed. “I can’t make any promises. It depends—”
“On your dad and Gran. Yeah, I know.”
“I’m glad to hear you understand,” Gran said in a calm yet firm voice, joining them.
Tammy jerked. Recovering quickly, she said, “Of course, Mrs. Reeves.”
Sierra pushed her lips together, suppressing a smile. As much as Tammy enjoyed giving advice to others on how to stand up to authority, she didn’t adhere to it herself.
“We must go.” Gran placed her hand on Sierra’s arm. The green glow was still there.
“What do you mean? There are drinks and paninis outside.” Sierra pointed toward the hall.
“I’m sorry. We can’t stay.”
“Umm, I’ll catch you later,” Tammy said. She pointed to her cell and mouthed, “Text me.”
“What’s going on?” Sierra asked.
“I’ll tell you once we’re on our way.” The urgency in Gran’s voice and in her face temporarily drowned Sierra’s further protests.
She pushed past her classmates, praying no one noticed her leaving early. She swallowed hard when her gaze fell on Ben and a raven-haired girl. Two months had passed. She should be fine. But she wasn’t. Ben had been the one to break it off after two years, saying it would be too hard for them to make it work—what with him going to college in Boston, while she remained in Vermont. Now it looked as if distance hadn’t been his only motive.
“Go to the passenger side. I’m driving,” Gran instructed.
Deciding to pick her battles, Sierra acquiesced. She buckled up, her pulse accelerating. “What’s going on? You’re freaking me out!”
Gran’s veiny hands, bedecked with chunky antique rings quivered. “You’ve already noticed the changes, haven’t you? I’ll explain everything in a bit—”
“What is it?” Did it have to do with Dad? Panic unfurled in Sierra. What if something bad had happened, preventing Dad from attending her graduation? An accident? A heart attack? Dad ran daily. He was in good shape. But diseases struck even healthy people…so did drunk drivers. No, it couldn’t be. Dad was fine, most likely delayed by an important last-minute meeting. At least that’s what Sierra kept telling herself during the short drive it took to reach their home.
“You have ten minutes to pack. Bring only necessities. I’ll handle the passports and other documents. I promise I’ll explain everything. Please be patient.” Gran killed the engine and made her way down the gravel leading to their two-story brick house.
The last time Gran had used her “I’m very serious” voice was when a ten-year-old Sierra had swiped painting supplies from a store without paying.
Whatever was going on now, it was serious. Her pulse accelerated, drumming loudly, until it was all she could hear. How bad could it be? Was Dad alone in a hospital somewhere? Was he in critical condition?
She needed to hurry. Rushing up the wooden stairs, she felt nausea at the scent of cinnamon and applesauce, which normally calmed her. She breathed through her mouth and forced herself to keep moving. From underneath her metal-framed bed, she pulled out a suitcase and threw in clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, and her sketchbook before forcing the zipper shut. About to leave the room, she realized she didn’t have her mother’s bracelet, which she had misplaced the day before.
“Hurry up!” Gran called.
“Just a second.” Sierra darted around the room, digging through drawers. Nothing. She threw the cerulean cover back, hoping to find the bracelet in her bed. Tears stung her eyes. She couldn’t lose the only heirloom she had from her deceased mother.
Something crunched below her high heel; she kneeled to retrieve it, relieved to find the bracelet. Strange…she could’ve sworn it hadn’t been there a second ago. Pressed for time, she hauled her suitcase up and hurried down the stairs.
While Gran locked the house and started the Chevy, sickening scenarios raced through Sierra’s mind. Only a horrific event would’ve made Gran pull Sierra out of her graduation celebration.
The not knowing drove Sierra insane. In a whisper, she asked, “What is it? Did Dad get in an accident?”
“Sierra, your father is dead.”
One of my favorite genres to read is paranormal and this is a great start to a new series and a new author. Sierra is whisked away by her Gran after her graduation, and in all the turmoil of losing her father and finding out the magical world is real and she’s a part of it and part of the Ardere world, Sierra is expectedly lost and confused. As she learns her powers have unlocked and tries to manage them, she’s become a target, as a Fluidis, a rare type of Supernatural that a lot of people want a part of. When they get to Savannah, Gavin – the lead Ardere swears to protect her, even against other Arderes.
I’m not going to lie, there are still a lot of unanswered questions with this supernatural world that I have not fully grasped. But even with that, the book is fast paced, especially from the mid-point on. A little more development in the magical part of the book would do wonders, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. Reviewed by Cyrene