Freya Beauchamp has been kidnapped and sucked into the past, forced to relive the horrors of Salem and return to the witch-burning hysteria that gripped the small Massachusetts town. Freya's family is determined to save her, but the Passages of Time are closed to the Beauchamp family, leaving them stuck in the present. Joanna, Freddie, and Ingrid must find another way back to save Freya before it's too late. Because this time, when Freya is hanged, she's not coming back... ever. The Beauchamps are sure that their nemesis, the trickster god Loki, is behind Freya's kidnapping - but is the witch hunt just a way for the power-seeking Putnam family to settle scores and consolidate their hold on the lands and power in town?
Release date: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Hachette Books
Print pages: 288
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Winds of Salem
Melissa de la Cruz
“Centuries after the practice of magic was forbidden, Freya, Ingrid, and their mom struggle to restrain their witchy ways as chaos builds in their Long Island town. A bubbling cauldron of mystery and romance, the novel shares the fanciful plotting of Blue Bloods, the author’s teen vampire series… [B]reezy fun.”
“A magical and romantic page-turner… Witches of East End is certain to attract new adult readers… The pacing is masterful, and while the witchcraft is entertaining, it’s ultimately a love triangle that makes the story compelling. De la Cruz has created a family of empathetic women who are both magically gifted and humanly flawed.”
“For anyone who was frustrated watching Samantha suppress her magic on Bewitched, Ms. de la Cruz brings some satisfaction. In her first novel for adults, the author… lets her repressed sorceresses rip.”
—New York Times
“What happens when a family of Long Island witches is forbidden to practice magic? This tale of powerful women, from the author of the addictive Blue Bloods series, mixes mystery, a battle of good versus evil and a dash of Norse mythology into a page-turning parable of inner strength.”
“Witches of East End has all the ingredients you’d expect from one of Melissa’s bestselling YA novels—intrigue, mystery and plenty of romance. But with the novel falling under the ‘adult’ categorization, Melissa’s able to make her love scenes even more… magical.”
“De la Cruz has, with Witches, once again managed to enliven and embellish upon history and mythology with a clever interweaving of past and present, both real and imagined… [It] casts a spell.”
—Los Angeles Times
“De la Cruz is a formidable storyteller with a narrative voice strong enough to handle the fruits of her imagination. Even readers who generally avoid witches and whatnot stand to be won over by the time the cliffhanger-with-a-twist-ending hits.”
“Fantasy for well-read adults.”
“A sexy, magical romp, sure to bring de la Cruz a legion of new fans.”
—Kelley Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of the Otherworld series
“Fans will be delighted with the next entry in her new adult series. A compelling tale of powerful magic, romance, betrayal and suspense.”
In a rambling colonial house in a little elusive town by the sea on Long Island’s northern and easternmost tip, a silver-haired witch named Joanna Beauchamp lived with her two daughters, Ingrid and Freya. Blond and brainy, thirty-something Ingrid was the local librarian, while barely-out-of-her-teens Freya was the wildest bartender who had ever mixed drinks at the North Inn’s bar. The women lived quiet, solitary lives, suppressing their natural talents in adherence to the Restriction of Magical Powers. The law was handed down from the White Council after the Salem witch trials effectively ended the practice of magic in mid-world after Freya and Ingrid were hanged in 1692.
Immortals, the girls returned to life, scarred by the experience and wary of the mortal world, and small-town life continued apace for centuries until the day Freya won the heart of the very handsome and very wealthy philanthropist Bran Gardiner, whose family owned the Fair Haven estate on eponymous Gardiners Island. Helpless against the force of her desire, Freya 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.
Following Freya’s lead of throwing caution to the wind, the witches soon unleashed their full powers—Joanna, whose specialty was recovery and renewal, brought the dead 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, and even gave the mayor’s wife a powerful fidelity knot. Freya, who specialized in matters of the heart, served up heady potions, and every night at the North Inn became a wild, hedonistic romp. It was all a bit of harmless, innocent, enchanted fun until a girl went missing, several residents 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.
But these were no ordinary witches, and Fair Haven was no ordinary mansion. Rushing to untangle the mystery, Ingrid discovered archaic Norse symbols in a blueprint of Fair Haven manor, 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, when she was pursued by her true love, Balder, the god of joy, and his brother, Loki, the god of mischief.
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 Ragnarok, the doom of the gods.
Because once upon a time in Asgard, the Bofrir bridge connected the kingdom of the divine to Midgard, the mortal world. One fateful day, the bridge was destroyed, and the mighty strength of all the gods’ powers along with it. The culprits of this heinous act were said to be Fryr of the Vanir and his friend Loki of the Aesir, two daring young gods whose childish prank wrought terrible consequences. Accused of trying to take the bridge’s power for themselves, Loki was banished to the frozen depths for five thousand years, while Fryr, the god of sun and harvests, was consigned to Limbo for an indefinite period, as his crime had been the greater one. It was Fryr’s trident that had sent the bridge to the abyss.
With the bridge destroyed, the gods were separated. The Vanir (or as they were known today, the Beauchamp family, gods and goddesses of hearth and earth) were trapped in Midgard, sentenced to live their lives in mid-world as witches and warlocks, while the Aesir (the warrior gods of sky and light, mighty Odin and his wife, Frigg) remained in Asgard, but both of their sons were lost to them for thousands of years. Their sons were Balder and Loki, Branford and Killian Gardiner. It appeared Loki had poisoned Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, and unleashed the doom of the gods, so Freya banished him from their world.
Fryr was Freddie Beauchamp, Joanna’s long-lost son and Freya’s twin, who suddenly appeared to Freya in the alley behind the North Inn one evening with unsettling news. He had escaped from Limbo, and revealed that he had been framed for the destruction of the Bofrir and knew the identity of the real culprit.
No, it wasn’t Loki. Not Bran Gardiner at all, but Killian Gardiner, the god Balder, who was responsible for its destruction and Freddie’s imprisonment.
Determined to prove her lover’s innocence, Freya turned Killian’s boat, the Dragon, upside down to follow her brother’s wishes. She didn’t find the missing trident, but one night, she found something else: the mark of the trident on his back, which proved Killian did indeed have the weapon in his possession.
Meanwhile, Ingrid was falling in love for the first time in centuries with Matthew Noble, a sweet police detective. But romance between a virgin witch and a mortal was complicated, not to mention a rowdy band of lost pixies caused further havoc by robbing treasures from the great homes in the area. Ingrid was forced to choose her loyalties—to the mortal who loved her, or to the magical creatures who only needed her help.
Back from Limbo, Freddie spent his time shagging coeds and playing video games until his attentions were focused on the lovely Hilly, the goddess Brünnhilde. Only one thing stood in his way: her father, who manipulated Freddie into signing a document that bound him to marry his daughter Gert instead.
Joanna had problems of her own, as a charming widower and her ex-husband competed for her attentions, while a troubled spirit made contact with her, to warn her that a powerful evil was bent on destroying the Beauchamps—an evil that had begun all the way back in Fairstone in the seventeenth century, with Lion Gardiner, Loki in yet another incarnation.
The pixies confessed to stealing the trident and placing it on the Dragon to incriminate the innocent Killian, but it was too late as Hilly’s sorority sisters, the Valkyries, had already whisked him away for punishment. Freya was still in shock at his sudden disappearance when she, too, was snatched away from North Hampton, a noose appearing around her neck…
Which meant that she had been taken back to Salem, and unless her family could figure out a way to rescue her from the darkness of their past…
Freya was cursed to relive the witch trials all over again… The girls will not stop. They babble and fling their arms, or become deaf and dumb. When anyone approaches, they hide in corners or under the furniture. Physicians, ministers, and men of Salem Town have come, and they advise fasting and prayer from the community. Fasting and prayer.
But their fits grow worse still. Yesterday they made animal noises, Abby crawling on the floor like a pig, while Betty mewed like a cat. They carry on in such a fashion it is impossible for them to go about their usual employment that delivers them from the temptation of idleness. Ordinarily, they are known to be exceedingly pious and good, docile little girls.
Finally, at a loss, Griggs was called, and as fasting and prayers had proved futile, the doctor declared the girls “under an evil hand.” The villagers could only come to one conclusion: the girls had been—
—Freya Beauchamp,May 1692
Late March in Salem Village and the early spring flowers were in full bloom—the yellow, purple, and white crocuses of the meadow, the lily of the valley in the woodlands, brilliant clusters of grape hyacinth and daffodils the color of baby chicks.Violets proliferated along the ponds and rivers all the way to the town harbor, and everything was peaceful in the vale as fat hogs lolled in their pens and cattle and sheep grazed in green pastures.
Inside the small wooden houses of the village, servant girls groped for their clothing in the pitch-black, rising before the cocks crowed to revive the dying coals in the hearths with a quick blast of the bellows. The womenfolk donned layers of petticoats and shifts, lacing up their bodices and putting on their white caps, while the men and boys pulled on their breeches and boots to set to work.
In one particular household, a farm on a substantial property on the village outskirts, encompassing part of the Great River and Indian Bridge, the maids did their best to keep their master’s temper temperate, or at least not blustering their way. The farm belonged to one Mr. Thomas Putnam, the eldest sibling and leader of the Putnam clan, a handsome but austere man, with a near-perpetual somber cast to his brow. Thomas was one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Salem Village, although to his dismay and chagrin, not the most prosperous. That title belonged to land-rich families like the Porters and his half brother, Joseph Putnam, who also had a finger in the mercantile business of the port of Salem Town.
But such taxonomies were neither here nor there at the moment. Mr. and Mrs. Putnam and their children slept tranquilly as the house servants and farmhands began their daily work. On this fine morning, two young maids, Mercy Lewis and Freya Beauchamp, filled large baskets with dirty linens and cookware to wash in the nearby river. Mercy, a sixteen-year-old orphan, had seen her entire family slaughtered by Indians in the Eastward two years earlier. Freya, a year younger, had also ended up in service after she had arrived at the family’s doorstep one day, fainting dead into Mercy’s arms.
Freya knew her name but had no recollection of her past or her people. Perhaps she had survived the smallpox and lost her memory to the fever. Or maybe, like Mercy, she had seen her family killed, and the horror of it had caused her to forget. When Freya strained to look back, she saw nothing. She did not know where she came from. She knew the dull ache she felt in her heart was the absence of family, and she knew that she missed them, but for all she tried, she could not remember her mother or father or a single sibling. It was as if her past had been erased—taken—lost as leaves spirited away by the wind.
All Freya knew was that Mercy was a friend from the start, and for that she was grateful to have found a place in the Putnam home. With the large farm and several young children underfoot, the family had gladly taken her in as an extra hand.
The laundry and dishes assembled, the girls stepped out of the house and onto the dirt path, baskets balanced on their hips. Freya’s red hair, startling as a sunset, glowed like a halo in the early rays of light. Of the two, she was the more striking one, with her rosebud lips and creamy skin. She had a lightness to her step and a quick, beguiling smile. While Mercy was pretty, with pale blue eyes and a high forehead, it was not her scarred cheek or hands that made her less so, but a tightness to her person that showed in her pinched lips and wary expression. The older girl tucked a wayward strand of blond hair that had fallen out from beneath her cap as she stopped by a bed of flowers, setting her basket on the ground. “Go ahead, pick one,” she urged Freya as she knelt on the ground, “pick a violet, and let us have a violet war!”
“No, dear, we mustn’t tarry. Poor Annie is all on her own!” Freya said, meaning the oldest Putnam daughter. “We can’t leave her to tend the little ones by herself while Mistress is bedridden.” The lady of the house often took to her room to recover from the many tragedies of her life. Like her husband, Ann Putnam had been disinherited by her rich father, with his wife and sons seizing permanent control of his wealth. Her failed battle in court against them had left her bruised and embittered. Worse, soon after her three beautiful nieces died from a mysterious illness, one right after the other, and her sister, the girls’ mother and her only close friend, died as well, most likely from a broken heart. Their loss had left Mrs. Ann Putnam frail of body and spirit.
Freya reminded Mercy that there was no time for idle pastimes such as picking flowers. There was much to do still: the rooms swept and scrubbed, the butter churned, the ale checked, the kindling gathered, supper cooked. “Not to mention we must make more soap and those golden candles Reverend Parris bid for his altar. We need—”
Mercy laughed and put a finger over Freya’s mouth to shush her and pulled her down to join her on the grass. She was tired of hearing about their endless chores.
Freya laughed as well, but covered her mouth with a fist, worried that someone might hear them. Her bright green eyes glinted at Mercy. “What on God’s green earth is a violet war anyway?” she asked as she placed her basket next to her friend’s.
Mercy smiled. “Choose your violet, and I’ll show you, cunning girl!”
Freya blushed. Mercy knew all about Freya and her talent with herbs—it was their closely guarded secret. But then the mistress knew, too, and she hadn’t sent Freya away. When Freya had first arrived, she had heard Mrs. Putnam complain of headaches, so she had gone into the woods and picked peppermint, lavender, and rosemary to make a potent brew that instantly eased her discomfort.
The mistress was grateful, but she warned Freya that Thomas mustn’t know of her gift. Mr. Putnam was a devoutly pious man, and he might mistake Freya’s talent for making physics as the devil working through the girl. Not that it had stopped Ann from asking for another and another. “I miss my dear departed sister and those poor dead children,” she would say. “Girl, could you make something for the pain?” Freya always obliged.
Ann also frequently asked Freya if she could see into her and Thomas’s future. Would there be more land, more money?
Freya had heard from Mercy that their master and mistress had both been cheated out of shares of their inheritances from their fathers. Ann wanted to know if anything would change in this regard. Freya tried hard to please her, but she could not glimpse into the future, just as she could not glimpse into her own past.
As Mercy watched, Freya chose a perfect violet with dark, rich purple petals, plucking it at the base of its stem. Mercy did the same with her fire-scarred fingers.
“Hold up your violet and make a wish,” Mercy instructed. “Perhaps we shall wish for two other girls to do our work,” she said with a naughty smile.
Freya chuckled as she closed her eyes, contemplating a wish. Truly she did not mind having so much to do. It was folly to wish their lives otherwise. Work was important to the community and to their household. No, there was something else. Something else that she knew would not easily be wished away, and she was not entirely convinced she would desire its removal either.
The other day, Freya had discovered she could make objects move without touching them. She had made the butter churn itself just by thinking that she had to do so. When she saw the handle turning on its own, she almost screamed. Later that afternoon the same thing happened with the broom, sweeping the room as if possessed by a spirit. Freya tried to stop it but could not help but feel thrilled at the sight.
What was wrong with her? Could it be that the devil had possessed her like the Revered Parris warned from the pulpit? She was a good girl, devout, like all the girls in the Putnam household. Why had she suddenly been invested with such power? This gift? Did she even want to wish it away?
“Silly girl, have you made your wish yet?” asked Mercy, staring curiously at Freya, who had opened her eyes.
She hadn’t made a wish at all, but now she did: she wished that she and Mercy would be like this always, the best of friends, and that nothing would ever come between them. “I’m ready.”
Mercy instructed her to wrap the stem of the violet, where it curled beneath the petals like a bent neck, around the part of her own stem that curled the same. The girls interlocked their flowers.
“Now pull,” said Mercy, “and whoever lops off the other’s head—the flower—will have her wish.”
The girls pulled at the stems of their interlocked violets, moving the flowers this way and that. It was Freya’s violet’s head that went flying off.
Mercy raised her victorious violet with her scarred hand. “I got my wish!” she cried.
Freya was glad for her friend but felt wistful just the same. “Come on now, let’s go.”
Mercy rolled onto her side, staring dreamily up at Freya, as she pressed her violet into the cleavage of her bodice. “All right. But first, I must tell you a secret.”
“A secret!” said Freya. “I do love our secrets.”
Mercy grinned. “There is a new young man in town. I saw him training with the militia in the field by Ingersoll’s Inn on Thursday.”
Freya batted her pale red lashes at her friend. “And?”
“A dashing youth with dark hair and green eyes,” Mercy added. “I can’t wait for you to see him! For aught I know, he is already promised to another maid, but you must see how very handsome he is.”
Freya thrilled at the description. “Do you think he will visit the Putnams?” she asked.
“Maybe, but we will most likely see him in church.”
With that pleasant thought, they both rose and followed the path to the river.
Later that evening, after dinner and prayers, after the bread had been made for the morning and placed in the oven door by the hearth for the night, and the little children put to sleep, the girls lowered their rope beds in the hall, their work finally done for the day. The beds hung about a foot apart. They shook out their blankets and lay in the flickering light of the fire.
Mercy reached out her hand, and Freya interlocked her fingers with her friend’s. They should know better. What if the master awoke and saw them holding hands? He would not approve of such a display of affection. He might misinterpret it. But they interlaced fingers nevertheless, the way they had hooked their violets together earlier, until slumber seized them, and their hands fell apart.
Early the next morning, Thomas Putnam drove the girls to the meetinghouse in Salem Town, traveling a good way across hillocks, rivers, inlets, and rocky terrain. Legal proceedings involving villagers still had to take place in Salem Town, as the village was not yet fully independent, to his continuing annoyance.
Freya and Mercy had been summoned as witnesses in a case between two quarreling goodwives. The whole affair had been the talk of the village for an entire year now. The girls would be providing evidence against Goody Brown, the defendant, who lived near the Putnam farm. Mercy had once been in Goody Brown’s employ, while Freya often went to the Brown household to buy or trade baked goods for the Putnam house. It was Mercy who had volunteered their services to Mr. Putnam, as she surmised that he was wear. . .
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