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The Hemlock Chronicles: The Complete Series (Ebook)

The Hemlock Chronicles: The Complete Series (Ebook)

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No rest for the wicked… or the dead.

I'm Jas Lyons, and as far as anyone knows, I'm nothing more than a novice necromancer who banishes the dead for a living. I might be the last surviving member of the notorious Hemlock Coven, but I've never been able to cast a spell in my life. If my secret goes public, I'll become a target for my coven's enemies, so it's safer to lie low.

When an attempt on my life awakens the dormant spirit of the last Hemlock witch, bound to me through a deadly ritual, my cover is blown. If I want to survive the horde of enemies hunting me down, I need to learn to use her magic, but the spirit has no interest in sharing. Worse, binding a ghost to a living person is forbidden by the supernatural  council, on pain of (permanent) death.

To get my own life back, I'm forced to ally with a rogue vampire who might be the only person who can help exorcise the spirit before she gets us both killed. If he discovers my secrets, the Hemlocks' enemies will be the least of my problems — but even in death, the Hemlock witches have an agenda of their own. And if I betray them, they'll ensure I pay the price.

I trained to banish the dead, but if I'm not careful, I'll end up joining them…

This bundle contains the complete Hemlock Chronicles series: Witch's Shadow, Witch's Soul, Witch's Spirit, Witch's Secret, and Witch's Sacrifice.


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If the Hemlock Coven had taught me one thing, it was not to trust the past to remain buried. 

Of course, as a necromancer, re-burying things was in my job description, along with skulking around creepy warehouses on what was supposed to be my day off.

“There are no zombies here, Jas,” said Lloyd, his voice echoing creepily back at me through the darkness.

“You sound like someone stole your birthday present,” I told my friend and ghost-hunting partner. “No zombies is good news.”

“Not if there’s worse.” He inched forward into the gloom, his pocket torch lighting the way. “The guild wouldn’t have sent us here on a false alarm.”

“If you say so.” My footsteps crunched in what I sincerely hoped wasn’t human remains. Even in the populated areas of Edinburgh, abandoned places swiftly fell prey to wild fae. Our job was to take care of undead, ghosts and poltergeists, not faeries, but the pair of mercenaries who’d run screaming out of this warehouse an hour ago had sworn that whatever had attacked them hadn’t been alive. 

Lucky for us.

The creepy old warehouse was prime zombie territory—isolated enough that nobody would be able to smell their stench—but smelled more like a witch’s brew. I shone my torchlight over the ground in search of broken bones, but saw only dirt and used condoms. Ugh. “Of all the places to bump uglies, why pick this dump?”

“At least they’re practising safe sex,” said Lloyd.

“If they’re not the ghosts we’re hunting.”

No dead bodies had yet to materialise, reanimated or otherwise, but ghosts were generally tied to the place they’d died in. That made us suckers for walking right into their lair. There’s a reason the necromancers’ job description might as well contain the small print: ‘first person to die in a horror movie’.

Being able to see and sense ghosts was often a swift ticket to joining them.

I held the spirit sensor in my other hand, following the intermittent beeping noise. The guild’s devices were only ten percent accurate, but it was better than nothing, and certainly better than walking in without a plan. As Lady Montgomery’s assistant, it was on me to set a good example for my laid-back partner. Banish the dead, try not to get killed. Simple.

Lloyd halted, his torchlight casting long shadows in the gloom. “Is it just me, or does this place smell like the witches’ market?”

“It does a bit,” I admitted. I could barely make out his lanky frame next to me, tall and dark-skinned, with locs that occasionally brushed against my face when I stumbled over the edge of my cloak. The necromancer dress code made us look like clones of the Grim Reaper, minus the scythe. Just one perk of the job, along with the appreciation for a well-timed zombie pun. “Maybe some humans were screwing around with magic in here.”

“Even humans wouldn’t be that stupid.”

“I wouldn’t underestimate them. Look at those mercenaries.”

“Point taken,” he said. “By the way, you might want to look into getting that cloak of yours trimmed if you don’t want to see what the floor tastes like up close.”

I rolled my eyes at him. “All right, no need to rub it in.”

I was a foot shorter than him, under five feet. I’d hoped my growth spurt wasn’t over when I’d arrived here in Edinburgh at sixteen and that I’d grow into the uniform, but no such luck. You didn’t necessarily have to look intimidating to do the job, but it helped to be taken seriously. I got most of my clout at the guild for being Lady Montgomery’s assistant. I was more ‘cute’ than scary, with dyed jet-black hair, a lip piercing, and the sort of complexion that managed to get sunburned even here in Scotland. The piercing made faeries think twice about punching me in the face, but I didn’t go out of my way to antagonise anyone. Not the living, anyway.

As I crept forwards, the faint sound of rustling came from ahead, while the pungent smell of herbs grew stronger. Maybe a witch had been hanging out in here after all, but not our ghost. Performing witch magic required three things: a functioning brain, which zombies didn't have; the ability to touch things, which ghosts were sorely lacking; and a certain amount of magical talent, which witches lost the moment they passed over the veil.

Lloyd took a step backwards. “What the bloody hell is that?”

His torchlight caught on some leaves lying on top of a dark stain on the floor, encased in a chalked symbol.

My mouth went dry. Chalk symbols meant witchcraft, and ominous stains meant trouble. But despite being the expert of the two of us on all things witchy, I didn’t have a clue what the symbol actually meant. Ghosts’ magic disappeared when they died. Usually.

Oh, boy.

A jet of icy air slammed into me, as though someone had switched on a high-powered fan right in front of my face. I stumbled backwards, catching myself against Lloyd’s arm. “That’d be our spirit.” But the blast of air hadn’t felt like necromantic energy alone. Please, please don’t let that ghost be what I think it is.

Another wave of icy air blasted into us, along with a helping of snowflakes. Not my lucky day, then. Spirits were harmless. Poltergeists were a nuisance. But what we had here was a half-faerie ghost: the magic of the living fused with the persistence of the dead.

“Show yourself,” I said into the empty air. “We’re necromancers. You can't hide from us.”

The space in front of us flickered like the screen of an old TV, and the transparent figure of a young man appeared, hovering above the chalked symbol. Bright blue eyes glowed with magic, and his silver hair gleamed dimly with the light of the spirit world.

“Wasn't so hard, was it?” I said. “Now if you come with me, you'll leave limbo behind.”

Magic crackled between his fingertips, chilling the air. Faerie magic wasn't normally visible to humans like me, but he'd removed the glamour so I'd see every second of his attack in full technicolour glory.

“Nobody likes a show-off,” I told the ghost. “Put the magic away and we can talk. I might even introduce you to my supervisors.”

“I don't care.”

He clearly hadn't met Lady Montgomery, the fearsome leader of Edinburgh’s necromancer guild and the person who'd have my head on a platter if I didn't stop this ghost before he caused criminal damage.

“That's not very polite,” I said. “Look, you’re no longer one of the living. You’re dead. Deceased. No magical tantrums will change that.”

Half-faeries were by and large terrified of death, probably because their Sidhe parents were undying. Born with a Sidhe’s magic but a human’s mortality, half-faeries turned into the worst kind of poltergeist. I wouldn’t lie, I’d rather trip over a pair of wannabe witches screwing one another in the dirt than face a poltergeist’s faerie magic.

The ghost gave me an accusing stare. “You’re still alive, but you look… ghostly.”

“I’m a necromancer. Did the uniform not give you a clue?”

Blue light exploded from the ghost’s fingertips, brushing past my cheek and leaving a painful sting in its wake. Oh damn. Necromancy, unlike other types of magic, wasn't designed for use in combat. It was possibly the most impractical magical type in existence, requiring props and incantations and hours of preparation. We didn’t have hours. More like a minute. If the ghost realised he could blast the doors of the warehouse clean off and wrap the city in a blizzard, then we'd be in real trouble. The presence of the weird chalk symbol made me all the more certain this guy hadn’t died here alone.

“Cover for me,” I muttered to Lloyd, and dug in my pocket for my set of necromantic candles.

While Lloyd moved in to block the spirit’s path, I ran backwards out of range, dropping to a crouch and laying out the candles. We’d done the same routine in worse conditions than pitch-black darkness: he distracted the ghost, I laid the trap. But today was different. My gaze kept drifting towards the chalk symbol as I laid down each candle. Dark magic… blood magic.

A whisper traced the back of my neck, a shiver stirring in my blood. Like a faint trace of magic called to something inside me. A part of me long forgotten. 

A part of me I wanted to forget. 

Twelve candles, set in a circle, would give our ghost an express ticket into the afterlife. They remained unlit until my command, after which any ghost trapped between them would be dragged to the other side of the veil, never to bother anyone again.

I looked up, ready to lure our ghost into the trap—but he wasn’t there.

Lloyd swore. “The bloody ghost vanished.”

“Shit.” I spun around on the spot. “Get back here!”

The candles weren’t lit, so the ghost wouldn’t spot them until it was too late. One small problem: in order to avoid clueing him in, neither of us would be able to expose the candles, either. 

Lloyd stepped to my side. “I suppose it's too much to hope that he hopped over the veil of his own accord?”

“He's a faerie. He wouldn't cross the veil if you paid him.”

“Not much you can pay a ghost,” he said quietly. “Especially one using blood magic.”

“That’s not blood magic,” I said automatically. Lloyd talked a big game about knowing all the deepest and darkest secrets of necromancy, but to most of us, those areas were out of bounds. Even to me, and I was the one entrusted with staffing the archives in the necromancer guild’s library in my free time. Too many necromancers had gone bad to risk that information ending up in the hands of novices.

“Blood, check. Chalk lines, check. Weird herbal concoction, check. If that’s not blood magic, I’m a unicorn.”

“Lloyd,” I hissed. “Get down.”

“The blood magic is on the ground.”

I grabbed the back of his coat. “And the ghost is right above you. Don’t knock over the candles.”

As the ghost descended in a shower of icy snowflakes, I yanked Lloyd to the floor along with me. The ghost’s attack smashed into the place where we’d been standing, stinging the back of my neck. Ow.

Lloyd groaned beneath me. “You’re crushing me.”

“You’re welcome.” I climbed off Lloyd, swearing. I’d dropped my torch, and the light had gone out. “Get out here, you cowardly little shit.”

The ghost flung another handful of magic across the floor. I dodged, then dropped into a fighting stance. I might not have the range of fancy tricks a faerie did, but if he wanted to thwack me with necromantic magic, I’d return the favour.

“Come and hit me,” I said, my voice ringing in the darkness. “I’m wearing iron.”

“That’s not going to work,” Lloyd hissed in my ear. “If it was, I’d have thrown my spell at him.”

I twisted to stare at him. “Since when did you even have an iron charm?”

“Why? It won’t work.”

He doesn’t know that. He’s a faerie. Being dead isn’t quite computing for him yet. He’ll see the iron barrier, panic…”

And run right into the candles.

Lloyd went silent. “Yes. Where are the—?”

“Ten metres behind us, give or take,” I said in a low voice. “Not sure. I lost track when I knocked you over.”

“Yeah, I’m covered in some kind of crap I don’t really want to know about. One iron spell, coming right up.”

Greyish light flashed before us, lighting up the gloom. The iron barrier looped around both of us, covering our section of floor.

“Come and get us!” Lloyd shouted.

Nothing stirred, but a faint breeze lifted the leaves surrounded by chalk lines. Blood magic or not, I couldn’t leave a dubious magical trap lying around. The boss would kill me.

Oh, screw it. 

I stepped out of the iron circle towards the dimly lit chalk lines.

“Jas?” he hissed. “What are you doing?”

“Taking down his little piece of witchery.” I scuffed the chalk symbol with my toe. That ought to do it.

A whisper feathered over the back of my neck. 

“Hey there,” I told the ghost. “Ready to play nice?”

I stepped away from the witchy trap, towards Lloyd’s faintly lit form. If our pesky ghost wanted to avoid the iron, it would be forced right into the candles.

The ghost appeared before us, silvery hair aglow. I wished I hadn’t dropped my torch, but Lloyd turned his onto the highest setting, illuminating the iron spell. A circle of grey light surrounded us all—including the ghost. 

“You trapped me!” the ghost screamed. “Get it off—get me out!” 

The iron wasn’t harming him—it had no effect on the dead—but he wailed and screamed like he’d been tossed into a vat of acid. Screeching, he slipped over the edge of the candle circle—

“Lights.” I snapped my fingers, and the candles switched on in an instant. The ghost shrieked again, trapped in a web of twelve criss-crossing lights. A cheap trick, but it worked like a witch charm. 

Grey fog filled the room, and everything vanished except for Lloyd, me, and the screaming faerie ghost, still encased in candlelight.

“Welcome,” I said. “This is your own personal afterlife. Please proceed directly to the gates.”

“And no littering,” added Lloyd. “C’mon, hurry up. Hades doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

The ghost, his magic sealed and his spirit bound for death, stared at us and the sudden greyness which had replaced the warehouse. As necromancers, we were the only type of supernatural who could cross into the spirit realm without dying ourselves.

“Hades?” said the ghost. “Is that what’s behind the gates?”

“Wait and see,” Lloyd said. “Necromancer’s privilege to know. Your personal coach along the River Styx is waiting for you. Say hi to Charon for me, and don't screw with the archangel at the pearly gates.”

“Didn’t we already have words about mixing up your mythology?” I gave him an eye-roll. To the ghost, I said, “Just relax and float towards the gates. You’ll be on the other side in a second. It’s painless. Honest.”

The ghost did not start floating towards the gates, but remained where he was. The candle lights grew dimmer.

“You know,” he said, “I don't feel like playing nice.”

Magic exploded from his hands, right at us. I dodged, my heart sinking. How could he still use magic? That symbol… had it been some kind of magical amplifier? It’d been a long time since I’d learned those symbols, but a distant memory stirred, and even here in Death, the faint smell of herbs filtered in.

“Calm down,” I warned.

The ghost grinned, raised his hands once more, and blasted us with necromantic power. Lloyd howled, stumbling backwards, until the fog buried him from sight—leaving me alone with a ghost dead set on staying put. If we weren't careful, we'd be the ones taking a swift and brutal trip through the not-so-pearly gates.

“Look, it’s not worth kicking up a fuss. You’re still dead.” I raised my hands, but my own necromantic power paled in comparison to a full-powered poltergeist. They could keep going for hours when pushed.

I did have a way to swiftly end this… but playing my best card was risky. 

I never knew what might happen when my other magic came out to play.

A rush of power welled inside me, from somewhere deep within, a bottomless pit I’d never looked too closely at. My hands tingled, my body reverberating with a humming sensation that seemed to come from deep below the earth—but we weren’t on earth. Not even close.

The ghost screamed.

“Go,” whispered a voice that wasn’t mine, though it came from my mouth.

The ghost bolted. His transparent form floated away, towards the gates of death. They appeared—long, endless gates stretching across the horizon as far as the eye could see—but while ghosts became more transparent the closer they got to the gates, my body glowed with magic. Power rolled beneath my skin like a tidal wave.

A shadow in the corner of my eye warned me of another ghost within my personal space. 

I whipped my head to the side, and a voice whispered in my ear, “Hemlock.” 

I recoiled, and abruptly, my senses came back. I sucked in a breath as my body returned to consciousness, and shook my numb fingers to get some sensation back into them.

“You in there, Jas?” Lloyd peered into my eyes.

I stepped backwards, my legs trembling slightly. “Yeah. The ghost’s gone. I told him to screw off and I guess I scared him more than I thought.”

He laughed. “Go, you. The bastard shut me straight out of the afterlife.”

“I saw. What gave him that power?” I didn’t expect an answer. Nor did I like deceiving my closest friend, but it was safer for nobody to know that sometimes, when I fought against the dead, I wasn’t me at all.

“Haven’t a clue.” He handed me my torch, which I switched back on. “Your voice goes all posh when you’re scared. It’s hilarious.”

“I’m glad I entertain you,” I said, feeling my face heat up. I couldn’t hide all the signs that I’d spent my teenage years living with a branch of high society English mages, but I did my best. I barely classed as a mage by adoption, and the fact that half my family were a mix of witches, mages and necromancers didn’t help. I got by just fine using my necromancer talent, the only type of magic I’d ever have. And as long as it stayed that way, the word ‘hemlock’ would remain buried deeper than the dead.

I crouched down to retrieve the candles while he put the iron spell away. “That cute ghost was haunting me again last night,” he said. “Reckon she’ll be impressed with our iron strategy.”

“You’re not going to tell her it was your idea?” I pulled a face. “You should just ask why she’s hanging around.”

“Because she’s lonely and wants someone to talk to?”

I slipped two candles into my cloak’s fathomless pocket. “She can have all that and more in the afterlife, free of charge. Come on, you know I’m not supposed to enable this shit.”

“You’re not my boss,” he said, which was technically true.

“I’m boss enough to tell you to stop making out with ghosts and get on with the job.”

“Yes, O wise one.”

I rolled my eyes and reached for more candles. Lloyd was bi with a slight preference for dudes. I was straight with a significant preference for dudes who had a heartbeat. You wouldn’t think the latter part would need stating, and yet. Necromancers got creative. Especially when, given enough practise, the spirit realm started to feel as real as the everyday one.

Candles retrieved, I cast one last look at the remains of the witch’s circle. By now, I was sure that’s what it was. It sure as hell wasn’t necromancy. But while I might have the dubious honour of calling myself a Hemlock witch, I had zero talent to back it up, and no formal training to speak of. With the perpetrators gone, a scuffed chalk symbol and a weird stain wouldn't qualify as reliable evidence. Not to mention, I'd have to answer questions about how I'd come by that knowledge to begin with—which would make a creepy whispering ghost the least of my concerns.


There was little of my birth coven left. I had no real ties to them, since I didn't have any witchy talent to speak of, but that didn’t make it any less weird that the ghost had spoken the name.

“Jas? You’re spacing out. You okay?”

I took in a long, slow breath. The poltergeist was gone and wouldn't bother us anymore. That's all that mattered. Why I’d heard that voice say hemlock… I must have imagined it. There was no reason for a disembodied spirit to know that name. The Hemlocks had erased themselves from all public record. For all intents and purposes, they had never existed. 

“Yeah.” I hitched on a smile. “Let’s go and report in.”

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