Authors: Melissa de la Cruz
for Mike and Mattie
Surely the serpent will bite
Once upon a time in North Hampton …
Three extraordinary women led very ordinary lives. Silver-haired and green-thumbed Joanna Beauchamp lived in a stately colonial on the northern and easternmost tip of Long Island with her two daughters, Ingrid, the local librarian, and Freya, a sexy bartender. For years beyond count, they lived quietly and peacefully among the residents of their small, mist-shrouded town.
Joanna spent her days redecorating her home, gardening, worrying about her girls, and lavishing all the affection she had for her missing son on the housekeeper’s six-year-old boy, Tyler. Brazen redhead Freya won the heart of wealthy philanthropist Bran Gardiner, whose family owned Fair Haven manor on eponymous Gardiners Island. She celebrated her engagement by having a torrid affair with Bran’s younger brother, Killian, he of the dark, smoldering good looks and devil-may-care attitude.
Ingrid, blond, haughty, and painfully shy, was the library’s ranking archivist of historical architectural blueprints. When she wasn’t fighting to save her beloved library from extinction from a smarmy local developer, she was turning down a variety of suitors, including voracious reader Matthew Noble, a handsome detective on the North Hampton police force.
But despite their seemingly normal lives, all three women shared a powerful secret. Goddesses from Asgard, they were witches in our world. The residents of North Hampton never suspected that Joanna, Ingrid, and Freya were just three of the many gods and goddesses stranded in Midgard after the legendary Bofrir bridge that connected the two worlds collapsed under mysterious circumstances.
Trapped in our world and unable to return to theirs, they had been restricted from using their powers ever since the White Council enacted the Restriction of Magical Powers after the Salem witch trials, which effectively ended the practice of magic in mid-world. But the three women became restless after suppressing their true natures for so many years, and slowly began to use their otherworldly abilities. Joanna’s specialty was recovery and renewal; capable of raising the dead, she brought toy soldiers to life. Ingrid, a healer who could tap into people’s lifelines and see the future, began to dole out her spells and charms to any patron with a trying domestic problem. Freya specialized in matters of the heart and served up heady love potions at the North Inn Bar.
With no seeming repercussions to their magical escapades the Beauchamp girls became bolder in their practice: Joanna brought a man back to life, Ingrid gave the mayor’s wife a powerful fidelity knot, and every night at the North Inn became a wild, hedonistic romp because of Freya’s potent cocktails. It was all a bit of harmless, innocent, enchanted fun until a local girl went missing, several locals began to suffer from a rash of inexplicable illnesses, and a dark menace was found growing in the waters off the Atlantic, poisoning the wildlife.
When the mayor turned up dead, the finger-pointing began, and for a moment it felt like the Salem witch trials all over again.
Rushing to untangle the mystery, Ingrid discovered archaic Norse symbols in a blueprint of Fair Haven manor, the Gardiners’ ancestral home. But just as she was close to cracking the code, the document disappeared. Freya discovered she was caught in a centuries-old love triangle with Bran and Killian that harked back to the days of Asgard itself, back when the world was made and she was not yet a witch in Midgard but rather a young goddess pursued by her true love, Balder, the god of joy, and his brother, Loki, the god of mischief. Bran and Killian Gardiner weren’t mortals at all, they were the brothers Balder and Loki—but who was who? And had she chosen correctly? Not to mention, it looked as if there was a zombie on the loose. Joanna’s resurrection had gone awry.
Soon, Norman Beauchamp, Joanna’s long-lost ex-husband, was back in the picture, and everyone was trying to save not just their little town but all the nine known worlds of the universe from
, the ancient legend that foretold the end of the gods.
They succeeded, and Loki was banished from mid-world, sent back through the hole he’d made in the Tree of Life in the hopes his return journey would heal it. But the mystery of the collapse of the bridge remained, even as two young gods had been punished for its destruction—malevolent Loki and Freya’s twin brother, Fryr, whose magical trident had been found in its ruins.