Thrilling YA Fantasy, Grim Nora and the Secret of the Skull by A.M. Albaugh. Excerpt and Giveaway Inside!

Posted: February 15, 2018 in Blog Tour Hosting, excerpt, rafflecopter, Recommended Reading
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Grim Nora and the Secret of the Skull
by A.M. Albaugh
Genre: YA Fantasy
278 pages
When Nora Youngblood’s father dies on her sixteenth birthday, it’s the
end of everything she ever knew. But a new journey begins with a
skull-shaped pocket watch – the last gift from her father, a
professor of archaeology. Where did this mysterious trinket come
from, and why would a warlock named Kabos now be hunting her for
Nora, now an orphan, finds protection under a wizard named Malachi, his
handsome apprentice, Aidan, and a brother she never knew she had. As
she learns the truth about her family’s mysterious past, Nora seeks
to uncover the secret of the skull, which leads to both a powerful
and dangerous weapon. With the fate of the skull in her hands, she’s
lured into the hidden world of Dubhgail to combat the treacherous
Kabos – who has kidnapped her brother. Can she sacrifice herself to
save her brother and her friends?
In this fantasy novel, a teenage girl discovers her magical heritage and
soon finds herself facing the might of an evil warlock in another
A. M. Albaugh is an award-winning poet and photographer. She studied
anthropology and communications with an emphasis in film and
television at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Favorite authors
include Hermann Hesse, Dostoyevsky, J.R.R. Tolkien, Marion Zimmer
Bradley, Lao Tzu, Kurt Vonnegut, Knut Hamsun, and Kahlil Gibran. She
also enjoys writing code.

Grim Nora and the Secret of the Skull Excerpt:

When Nora awoke, she was lying on a large crimson bed with gold sheets. She gazed around at the spacious dark room, lit by many white candles. Walls of black granite surrounded her. Her only way out was a black iron door with no handle. She got up and pounded on it with her fists.

“Let me out!” she yelled. “Do you hear me? I know you’re out there!”

But Nora could only hear silence. She tried pounding on the door again, but once more nothing happened. She sat down on the bed in defeat. Shortly thereafter, a loud clanging sound came from behind the door, and it swung open. Nora stood as Kabos walked briskly toward her, followed by three soldiers. He wore black and gold robes, and came to a stop a few feet away from her with his arms behind his back.

“Welcome to my home, Nora,” Kabos said. “I am honored that you came all this way. But I am rather disappointed that you did not come alone. Had I known more were coming, I would have been more properly prepared for their stay.”

“Where is my brother?” she asked.

“He is still alive,” he answered. “You made the right choice.”

“You tricked me,” she accused.

“I am not responsible,” he sneered. “However, Orhan does not kill indiscriminately.”

Tears came to Nora’s eyes as the image of Lena holding her father’s lifeless body flashed in her mind.

“I see you are still in denial about what you have become,” he said, eyeing her. “Do not try to hide it, Nora. Do not waste tears on people who do not deserve them.”

She looked at him, ashamed. “It’s my fault,” she said softly.

“Do not tie the noose so stiff around the neck,” Kabos said. “Let go of blame. Let go of sorrow… Let go of fear. I can show you how…”

He walked toward her, but she backed away from him in disgust.

“Do you think your brother will accept you now?” Kabos asked angrily. “He was clearly envious that you possessed your mother’s talents, and he did not. But now, well… You are no longer the same little sister he can protect.”

“No,” Nora said, shaking her head. “I will never believe your lies.”

“Then know this,” he hissed. “Your father gave you the skull because he wanted you to become the Morrigan.”

“Liar!” she said angrily.

“Am I?” he said and smirked. “He told me so before he died. He said, and I quote, ‘She will be a warrior queen feared and loved by all’. It is tragic how you cling to your pathetic brother. You think he is all that you have left. But you have no idea what you are, do you? You are all alone, Nora. No one to love, or be loved in return… You have already caused irreversible harm. They will never come for you now.”

“I may not know what tomorrow holds, but I know what you are,” she said quietly. “You’re an abomination!”

Kabos gazed at her in silence. Then his eyes turned red and his many sharp teeth protruded from his mouth. She stepped back in terror. He grabbed her arm and dragged her out of the room and down the hallway. They descended down many stairs. He pushed her into a dark round chamber with large mirrors. He stopped in front of one of the mirrors. He held her close to it.

“Look!” he commanded.

Nora looked into the mirror. Her reflection faded, and she began to see a monster form in the darkness. It looked like a giant red bull with claws and large, razor sharp teeth. The monster took notice of her, and began to run at her. She screamed and tried to step away from the mirror, but Kabos held onto her. As the monster appeared to jump at her, she cried out again and closed her eyes. Kabos let go of her, and she fell backwards. Opening her eyes, she noticed that the monster had not jumped out of the mirror. He appeared taken aback by something, as though he had been electrocuted.

The monster paced back and forth. A soldier brought in a prisoner. The prisoner was in tattered rags and chains. He fell to his knees and pleaded with Kabos. Kabos ignored him, and pointed. The soldier tossed the prisoner at the mirror, and Nora watched in horror as he was sucked inside. He tripped and fell. After he got up, he looked around anxiously. Then he shrieked in terror as the monster approached him. The monster tore him apart and ate him. Nora closed her eyes in horror. The soldier grabbed her and made her stand.

“Each of these mirrors are holding cells in the void,” Kabos explained to her. “Some of them hold monsters, and some of them hold prisoners. Some hold monsters and prisoners, which can be highly entertaining at times.”

The soldier pushed her, and she was forced to follow Kabos as he pointed out a mirror. She saw that there was a crowd of naked people covered in feces and urine. There was no room and they were unable to move. They were bone thin. Tears came to her eyes. Kabos turned to her.

“Wait, there’s more,” Kabos said enthusiastically.

They came to a stop in front of another mirror. At first, Nora did not see anything. Then she covered her mouth in horror. She saw her brother lying on the ground. His clothes were tattered. He had scars and bruises. There were bones scattered around him. She noticed his hands were shaking.

“Raynor!” she shouted, but Raynor did not lift his head.

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