Thursday 26 June 2014

Blog Tour Spotlight & Giveaway - Death Toll by Robert Poulin

Death Toll
Ghost Wars Saga
Book 2
Robert Poulin

Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Publisher:  Ghost Watch Publishing
Date of Publication: June 2014
Number of pages:  324
Word Count:   96,000
Cover Artist:  Hannah Carr

Book Description:
What started out as a routine call led to so much more...

My name is Veronika Kane, and I’m the Captain of the Ghost Watch in the reborn city of Shadow Philadelphia. After we disposed of the city’s previous master and his minions, things were looking up, but in war things are never that easy. A routine call with Detective Frank Cooper blew the cover off of an elaborate scheme to plunge the city of brotherly love into chaos. When Necromancers, Were creatures, and the horrors of Chaos come together it can’t mean anything good.

With new and old enemies joining forces against us, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Lucky for me, my old friend Frank Cooper will be there to lend a hand, along with Brianna, a strong willed were-ferret, and the stormy eyed wizard Nathaniel Carter. I just hope it will be enough to save everyone.

This time, our enemies aren’t just attacking us in Limbo; this time, they are taking the battle to the streets of the living world and its unknowing citizens. If the Old Ones rise, I don’t think there will be anything anyone can do to stop them.

My name is Veronika Kane, and this war is far from over.

Buy Links:
Amazon Kindle ¦ Amazon Paperback ¦ Createspace Paperback

Excerpt for Death Toll


Jezebel watched the old crone with a mixture of disgust and fear. She had to suppress a growl of anger as the beast that lurked within her reacted to her fear. Two bitches of her pack stood at her sides; both of the tawny haired women were also watching the crone, but they didn’t do nearly as well as she did
in suppressing their fear. Their tense bodies vibrated with the desire to flee. Jezebel licked her lips and smiled predatorily as she momentarily pushed the crone from her mind and allowed her beast to feed on her companions’ fear. The beasts within the other two women reacted to her hunger, and their own desire for blood, meat, and violence pushed the fear of their hosts aside. The three women began rubbing up against each other and growls of playful threat filled the Philadelphia night as they psyched themselves up for the coming hunt.
            After a few minutes, Jezebel forced her mind back to the work at hand. She’d successfully distracted her subordinates who continued to rub their heads against her and grope her curvaceous body with their hands. More than sexual play, the contact allowed the suppressed beast within them to feel and comfort each other. The beasts were always wanting to fraternize with each other, and hyenas in particular needed it or they’d get quite grumpy. When you became a were-hyena, you left your inhibitions behind. This suited Jezebel just fine; she’d been a stripper in Vegas when she’d been offered the chance to become a were-hyena. She didn’t regret her choice for one moment. She
had power now: the beast within her was cunning and strong. The move to Philadelphia had presented many opportunities to grow in power, and one of those opportunities was a new ally. That’s what had taken her and her pack mates away from her strip club this night; the crone was her new ally’s avatar of choice for the moment. Judging from the power that the witch could wield, her ally was even more powerful than she’d imagined. At this point, others would be wondering if they’d gotten in over their heads, but not Jezebel. For her, there was no such thing as too much power. For her, the more power her ally had, the more there was for her to gain.
            It took Jezebel a moment to spot the crone again, but she did so with little difficulty. Her night vision enhanced beast sight enabled her to penetrate the night shrouded city’s darkest shadows. The old witch was tucked deep into an alleyway across the street from where Jezebel and her companions waited. She was surrounded by three menacing figures who towered over her and gave off a dangerous crimson aura that identified them as vampires. The crone stood against them unafraid, having lured them to the very spot that she’d desired. The vampires weren’t the hunters this night, they were the prey. The witch that stood with them was short, maybe five foot two, and was draped in an
unflattering robe of mud brown. Her hair was long, unkempt, and white, and her eyes were black and shadowed by bushy white eyebrows. The nose on her face was pointy and looked too long. The crone had called herself Bridget Bishop when she’d presented herself to Jezebel a few days ago. Jezebel had the uneasy feeling that the woman believed herself to be the very Bridget Bishop that had hanged in 1692: the first of the Salem witchcraft trial victims. After working with the woman for a few days, Jezebel wasn’t at all sure that the idea was impossible. The crone was incredibly powerful, she talked funny, and she knew almost nothing about the modern world.
            The witch made a sharp gesture and two of the vampires went suddenly rigid and unmoving. The third vampire glanced at her two male companions nervously, but her attention was redirected towards the crone who’d tilted her head so that her throat was bared. Jezebel’s enhanced sense of smell caught the scent of fresh blood on the air. She shuddered as her beast suddenly roared to life, and it took all her strength of will to hold the hyena within her back. The vampire who was only a few
feet away from that delicious smell was unable to hold herself back though. She lunged at the witch with blinding speed and plunged her fangs into the crone’s neck.
            Jezebel had to grab her two companions before they could rush into the alley and join the feast. She let her beast roll over them so that she could fully dominate the two lesser bitches and force their beasts back down. The two lesser beasts cowered in fear from her own dominant beast. She growled at them until they crouched low and pawed at her leather clad thighs in submission.
            Meanwhile, the witch had begun to chant and the alley was beginning to fill with a nasty looking green fog. The blood lust quickly evaporated from all of their beasts as their hackles raised and dread suddenly filled them. Shapes were moving in the fog that now almost totally obscured the alley. A tentacle lashed the air at the border of the fog, and a scream of pure terror rent the night. Jezebel shivered as the air was filled with the sound of cracking and breaking bones and wet meat hitting the ground. The horrific symphony went on for what seemed like hours. The crone chanted the entire time. Jezebel’s beast watched with her in fascinated horror, but she sensed that the other two’s beasts
had fled to hide in the deepest holes they could find, leaving their hosts huddled together in terror.
            Finally, the mists began to clear and the movement of huge unseen monstrosities faded. The witch ended her ritual, and a sudden blast of wind cleared the alley of all evidence of green fog. The alley pavement and all the building walls around it were coated in glistening wet gore, yet the crone and the three vampires stood there apparently unscathed and untouched by the gore that covered everything else. The witch cackled in delight and began walking towards Jezebel. The three vampires followed in her wake. They moved like vampires, all graceful and predatory, but their auras were wrong now: their normal scarlet was now flecked with a corrupting yellow-green. The coppery blood scent that often accompanied vampires was also missing from these transformed creatures. Jezebel’s work with the crone over the past few days had alerted her to the fact that the witch had some way of turning vampires to her master’s service, but tonight’s demonstration was the first time that she’d seen how
it was done. For the first time in years, Jezebel wondered if she wasn’t in over her head. Could this be done to her and her people, she wondered.
            As Bridget Bishop drew closer, Jezebel’s bitches began to whimper fearfully, and she turned on them in fury. She grabbed them both by the hair, and her beast launched its claws into them and pulled their beasts from their hiding places. The beast spirit residing within Jezebel wasn’t able to leave her body completely, but as long as some part of it remained in contact with its host it could act against other spiritual creatures as it did now.
            “Stop your sniveling,” she commanded with a growl that carried her beast’s scent and power. “You are bone-crusher hyenas. Stand up and stop acting like prey!”
            The two women rose slowly, drawing heavily upon their pack leader’s strength and courage. By the time the witch reached them, the trio was ready to stand together as a team. Jezebel had no illusions though. She would order a retreat before fighting against such odds as the witch and her three vampires. Hyena’s fight best in large packs, and if the crone or her vampires threatened them, she would retreat and gather the others of her pack.
            “I see you assessing your situation Jezebel,” the hag chortled as she came to a stop a few paces away. The vampires fanned out around her and regarded Jezebel with cold hunger in their eyes.
“Nothing has changed. Our alliance was hammered out by the Black Pharaoh himself. The turning is reserved for our enemies. Fulfill your end of the bargain and you have nothing to fear and much to gain.”
            Jezebel nodded curtly, angry that the witch had read her so easily.
            “What now?” she asked.
            “We leave for Providence immediately,” the witch answered and turned towards the Ford Expedition parked at the curb nearby. “Our little strike team has business with the wizards of the Order.”
            Although Jezebel was aware of the mission, the idea of going up against the wizards caused a shiver to pass through her. The beast within her reacted by raising its hackles, and a soft growl escaped her lips. All creatures of the night knew better than to tangle with the wizards. Avoiding them was usually the best policy if continued survival was important to you.
            “Don’t fret girl,” the old crone croaked at her. “The Order has grown weak, and the Old Ones fear them not. My master will trod upon the protectors of humanity.”
            “I ain’t no damn child!” Jezebel growled; her fear of wizards was forgotten as anger flared up in her. She hated the old witch’s patronizing attitude. “My sisters and I will feast upon the meat of wizards and snap their bones between our jaws this night.”
            The witch’s answering cackle didn’t do anything to improve Jezebel’s mood. Her beast wanted to snap and crunch the crone’s bones more than it wanted anything else in recent memory. Jezebel suppressed a sigh of frustration as she led her pack mates to the Expedition. She wished she could kill something before embarking on this trip; a little violence prior to getting into the vehicle with the exasperating witch would make the next few hours so much more bearable. Even better would have been some sex mixed in with the violence. There was nothing like fucking and getting ones claws good and bloody while doing it. Her head full of lustful, nightmarish fantasies, Jezebel got behind the wheel of the Expedition and revved the engine.

Mors Morta stared at herself in the wall length mirror of her personal bathing chamber. She stood totally naked except for the jewelry that glittered in the chamber’s candlelight. A fire opal gleamed at her throat, dangling from a gold chain. Sapphires dangled from silver earrings, and diamond encrusted bracelets flashed at her wrists and ankles. Her nipples were pierced with blood iron, but her favorite piece was the ruby piercing her clit. She licked her ruby lips, and the diamond that pierced her tongue glinted brightly until her tongue disappeared back into her mouth. She was of average height, but nothing else about her was average. Her hair was raven black; it was long, hanging halfway down her back, and straight. Like her hair, her eyes were also black. Her face was perfectly shaped with perfectly proportional nose, lips, eyes, and chin, and her skin gleamed with perfect health: there were absolutely no blemishes. Her breasts were firm and well sized, not overly large. Her legs, hips, and buttocks were what young women dreamed of when they imagined themselves to be movie stars or models. Mors Morta loved to gaze at herself in the mirror. There was no creature more perfect than herself except perhaps her mother, the Morrigan. Thinking of her mother displeased Mors Morta. Being the second most powerful fae and the second most beautiful woman in the world was just intolerable.
            Mors Morta banished the thought of her mother from her mind with a shake of her head. There was an unannounced guest waiting for her, and he’d already been made to wait while she bathed. She pondered for a moment what she should wear and finally settled on just shadows. She enjoyed teasing men; it was great sport. Aside from that, she never knew before hand whether she’d take a man to her bed. It always depended on how well they played the game. A shiver of anticipation ran through her as she wondered how well her guest would play. Thraknir had warned her that the stranger exuded a mysterious power far beyond what he’d ever encountered. That was saying a whole lot since Thraknir had served in both her court and her mother’s, and she’d have him flayed if he’d exaggerated the guest’s power. She’d gone to great lengths to prepare herself for the man; he’d better be worth the effort.
            As Mors Morta departed her bathing chamber, shadows gathered around her and formed into a diaphanous gown that both hid and revealed her most private parts with each movement. Her head was held high, and a small smile played across her features as she passed through her dominion and finally entered the sitting room that she’d decided to use for this audience. The room was dominated by a huge fireplace which blazed with a crackling fire. The red carpet was plush and sensuous on her naked feet. The chairs that dotted the room were elaborately gilded affairs made of rare woods and satin cushions. The walls were adorned with expensive original oil paintings and there were two oak bookshelves stuffed with leather bound tomes. The electric lights of the modern age were off. Mors Morta preferred the light of real fire.
            As she entered the room, she felt the roiling power that came off of the stranger in waves. She knew immediately that he must be containing that power in order for her not to have sensed it miles away. It said a lot about his control that he could hide it until she was in his direct presence. He was standing near the fireplace and gazing into the fire as she walked in. He was tall, a little over six feet, and his hair was brown and shoulder length. His skin gleamed with health, with no visible blemishes, and was perfectly bronzed as if he’d lived his life in the equatorial regions of the world. His eyes were deep brown and were pools of bottomless knowledge when he fixed them on her. He had an eagle’s nose and his body looked perfect and muscular. Mors Morta was filled with lust for the man as soon as her eyes met his; she would bed him whether he played the game well or not; it would be interesting to see if he could survive the ordeal. Only one man had ever done that.
            “I am Mors Morta,” she introduced herself to the stranger. Her voice was like an angel’s and powerful compulsions rode upon it. Her shadowy gown moved with each word, revealing her secret places. “Who are you to demand an audience with the heir of the Shadow Court?”
            “I am The Man with Many Names,” the stranger answered quietly. He seemed to be unfazed by her beauty or the magic she was using on him. “I come to you as the avatar of Azathoth, the Lord of Chaos.”
            Mors Morta pursed her lips in displeasure. The shadows about her grew thicker and hid her body completely. She’d heard of the Old Cults; they worshiped old gods that supposedly predated the Nephilim. Azathoth was their chief deity. Anyone who worshipped the Old Ones was an enemy of the fae in her opinion. She wanted to banish this Man with Many Names immediately, but his power prevented her from ignoring him outright. He was a real threat. What was he doing in Philadelphia, she wondered.
            “What do you want?” she asked coldly.
            “One of your minions interfered with my subjects a few days ago,” he answered without emotion. “I want to negotiate an alliance with you. I can make it worth your while. I can give you your fondest wish. Ally with me and I’ll rid you of your mother and you can ascend to her place.”
            Mors Morta stared at The Man with Many Names in stunned silence. How could he possibly know what her deepest fantasy was? Visions of herself as the most powerful and beautiful fae in the world flashed before her in a vision that she often daydreamed of.
            “No!” she croaked, shaking her head violently. Now he was using magic on her. He might be able to dispatch her mother and elevate her to the highest ranks of the fae, but then she’d be the thrall of two new masters, and the little that she knew of the Old Ones told her that they would be far less pleasant than her mother.
            The Man with Many Names sighed dramatically.
            “Very well then. A truce. You and yours stay out of my affairs and I’ll do the same.”
            “Why should I agree to this?”
            “Because if you don’t,” he said taking a step towards her. “I’ll kill you and your whole household right now.”
            His power rolled over her and drove her to her knees. The power was on the same level as her mother’s, maybe even more. She trembled as she forced herself back to her feet. The negotiation was over. The terms were clear, and she saw no way around the truce that didn’t involve her death. She would do what she had to do to save herself, but she was smart enough to realize that whatever this man was up to in Philadelphia, if he succeeded, she’d probably wish he’d killed her anyways. The best thing for now was to play along.
            “Alright,” she panted. “I’ll sign a truce and call my people off. Who interfered with your affairs?”
            “A troll,” The Man with Many Names answered simply.
            Mors Morta stifled a smile as she regarded her guest. The only troll that she knew that could garner the attentions of a power like this man was Alrik Solheim. Alrik was the king of trolls, and he’d signed a treaty with the Shadow Court in order to provide additional security for his nearly extinct race.
If there was anyone in Philadelphia who could throw a wrench into the plans of a chaos cult, it was Alrik. Best of all, he could act independently without her getting the blame since he was technically an ally and not a minion.
            “I’ll have the papers drawn up in the usual manner,” she said turning away from the stranger and exiting the room. The usual way was through a blood bond ritual. Thraknir would take care of the details. She was pensive as she returned to her chambers. A few hours in front of the mirror should calm her, she thought.
            “Send for Alrik as soon as our guest has departed,” she ordered her invisible servants. It had been some time since she’d had the troll in her bed. The memories of those three encounters flooded her, and she smiled wickedly as she studied her figure in the mirror. Not only was Alrik the only man to have survive her bed, he’d done it three times. She briefly considered not trying to kill him as he reached climax this night, she needed him to deal with The Man with Many Names after all, but she discarded the idea almost immediately. She needed a good fuck more than she’d needed it in a long time, and there was nothing like the thrill of your partner knowing that you would strike to kill at any time while you fornicated with him. Men were meant to enjoy her perfection only once, and of course they should never have another woman after partaking of her. Of the thousands of men she’d fucked in her three centuries of life, only Alrik had survived. To bed him again and not try to kill him would only be an insult to him. Besides, if he couldn’t survive sex with her, how the hell was he going to survive thwarting the avatar of a god?

They attacked the Order’s warehouse at 4:11 in the morning. They were a day late due to unforeseen circumstances, but they’d all fed well and rested during their delay. The city was deep in slumber with only a few trucks on the road heading for their early morning pick-ups or drop-offs so few would be around to notice what was going on. The warehouse was a rectangular structure with a flat roof and large double loading garage doors in the front. Jezebel had never been to Providence before, but the GPS gave her unerring directions through the small city’s haphazard streets. She’d parked the Expedition a block away from their target and they’d gone the rest of the way on foot. The old crone had ordered them to stop when the wizards’ storage building had come into view. Crouching, she’d slashed her wrist with an obsidian knife and used the blood to draw arcane symbols on the sidewalk. Jezebel and her pack mates had shied away as the witch began to chant in a soft voice. The hair at Jezebel’s nape had risen as a light had suddenly flared around the warehouse. She thought she saw a huge tentacle beast beating at the magical wall surrounding the warehouse. The vision lasted only a moment and then the blue shimmering light exploded in a shower of sparks.
            “Go!” Bishop had hissed at them. “We have scant time before the wizards send reinforcements.”
            The vampires had vanished entirely; their speed was incredible compared to Jezebel and her lackey’s. Jezebel called on the beast within her to give her speed and launched herself towards the warehouse after the vampires. She followed their nightmarish scent where they’d crossed the street and gone down an alley between the wizard’s warehouse and a furniture store. The door half way down the alley had been smashed open and lay on the floor twenty feet into the room. Jezebel smelled fresh blood and heard moans coming from the darkness nearby. She badly wanted to join the hunt, but that wasn’t the purpose for which she’d been brought to this place. The vampires were here to do the killing: she was here to seek. It was a good thing their little delay had left her quite satisfied in the killing department otherwise her beast would have been very hard to control. As it was, it growled in frustration at being denied the opportunity to join in the killing.
            “Spread out and find the jars,” Jezebel growled to her two companions. “I want them found in less than two minutes. Go!”
            Jezebel followed her own command by sprinting towards the back of the warehouse. She ignored a man who was stumbling down the stairs to see what was going on. The vampires would deal with him. She focused her attention on the smells of the room. The scents of blood, dust, wood, cement, rusting iron, and decay were a heady concoction that should have made it nearly impossible to track down one specific scent, but she picked up what she was looking for almost immediately. It was the scent of salt mixed with sulfur and copper. She found the jars packed in crates that were stored behind a chain linked fence. Snapping the chain that held the fence gate shut and locked was no challenge to Jezebel. Her pack mates had picked up the same scent she’d followed and they joined her as she yanked the gate open. She grabbed one of the large wooden crates and, with ease, hoisted the more than two hundred pound box and carried it towards the center of the warehouse. The witch had
entered the facility and was standing in the center of the room. She was chanting again. Jezebel stopped and waited for nearly a minute as Bishop uttered her incantation. The air in front of the crone began to shimmer, and then a hole opened up and hung suspended in the air giving Jezebel a view of a lit room beyond. Jezebel almost dropped the crate she carried as she stared at the sight in wonder. The hole opened wider until it was more than large enough for two grown people to walk through together.
            “Bring that here,” Bishop snapped at her, and Jezebel obediently brought the crate to her. When the witch motioned for her to put the crate down, Jezebel did so and removed the lid by prying her razor claws between the seams and pulling the lid off with a screech of protesting nails. Jezebel and the witch peered into the exposed crate; there were large jars filled with a blue powder, and each was marked by a label with an alpha-numeric code on them.
            “What’s so important about these?” Jezebel asked with disgust. The whole trip suddenly seemed like a waste of time to her.
            “The greatest alchemist of all time is within one of these crates,” the witch said with a mad gleam in her eyes. “When I resurrect him, the secret lore of Yog Sothoth will once more be known to man, and the portals of the outer dark will open for our great god Azathoth. Now quit stalling and get all those crates to the other side.”
            Jezebel shivered, picked up the crate and, stepped through the portal. She didn’t feel anything as she crossed the threshold. The room beyond was colder and damper giving her the impression that she was below ground, but nothing else happened. Her two companions deposited their crates in the room, and the three of them returned to the warehouse to pick up more. By this time, two of the three vampires had joined them, the third having been sent out to watch for possible trouble. Bishop watched
them impatiently as they made quick work of moving the crates. She sent Jezebel back once more to make a quick sweep of the warehouse upstairs and downstairs to make sure that no jars were left undiscovered. Jezebel did in fact find a single jar locked away in an upstairs safe. She couldn’t open the thing, so she ripped the entire thing out of the wall and carried it down to the waiting witch, who stared at her quizzically.
            “Couldn’t pass up the chance for some loot, eh?” the crone asked nonchalantly. “You’re sure there are no other jars?”
            “There’s one in here,” Jezebel said hoisting the safe for emphasis. “I can smell it, though it’s very faint. It’s lucky you sent me up there and it attracted my attention. See what avarice can get you.”
            There was a sudden crashing sound as one of the garage doors was blown apart. The third vampire regained its feet before Jezebel even had a chance to register that it had been hurled through the door. Standing on the sidewalk just outside the garage stood two angry looking men with blazing blue auras. One was tall, wearing blue jeans, a white tee-shirt, and a black leather jacket. He was pretty young looking and had a cocky look about him. The other man was short with graying hair and piercing blue eyes. He wore a black trench coat and sported a wooden staff. The younger man raised his hand to strike at the vampire again but failed to see the black streak of energy that shot from Bishop’s outstretched hand. Meanwhile, the vampire turned its attention to the other wizard and leaped at the older man who shot a bolt of fire from his staff. The wizard’s flame bolt struck the vampire, and it shrieked as its skin dissolved into a puddle. Almost simultaneously, Bishop’s black bolt struck the younger wizard, and he joined the vampire, screaming in agony as he fell to the ground and flopped about like a fish out of water.
            “Noah!” cried the older wizard as he crouched down to check on his companion. He didn’t turn his eyes from the vampire though, so he witnessed the big sack of blood filled jelly that wriggled free from the vampire’s burned up body. The thing seemed to float upwards, and it had dozens of tentacles protruding from it. A look of terror crossed the older wizard’s face as he once more raised his staff to send fire at his assailant. Before the fire could spring from the staff ’s tip however, a tentacle shot out from the floating blood sack and wrapped around his throat.
            “Through the gate, you fool,” the witch croaked at Jezebel and pushed her towards the portal. Jezebel did as she was told though she badly wanted to stay to see the rest of the fight. Bishop stayed on the other side for another two minutes then the blood sack appeared and passed through the gate followed by the witch and the two remaining vampires. The portal closed.
            “What the fuck is that thing?” Jezebel asked nodding towards the floating jelly bag.
            “It’s a servant of our master,” Bishop answered shortly. “There’s a lot of work to be done. Get back to your club and start getting me some were-beasts to sacrifice.”
            Jezebel stared at the witch in consternation. She hadn’t even gotten her breath back yet and Bishop was already moving on to the next task. At least the next part of the plan involved her working with her own people with no witch or vampire involvement. She looked around to get her bearings.
            “Where the hell are we?”
            “Byberry, the vampires can show you out.”

About the Author
Robert Poulin was born and raised in the New England state of Connecticut. After spending his late teenage years in Boca Raton Florida, Robert moved to upstate New York where he lived with his uncle Wilbrod Poulin and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. After earning a Bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Teaching, Robert went back to Florida where he taught Social Studies for a few years.

After returning to Northern New York, Robert took a job with the North Country Center for Independence: a disability rights and advocacy organizations. Robert has worked for NCCI for thirteen years and is now the Executive Director. Wail of the Banshees is Robert's first novel; he has been a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction since second grade when he discovered The Hobbit.

Urban fantasy in particular has become Robert's favored genre in the past decade. Robert has been legally blind since infancy, but thanks to a mom that encouraged independence, hard work, and a healthy dose of dreaming, the disability has mostly just been an inconvenience.

Author Links:
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  1. Thank you for the chance to win.

  2. Thank you for the awesome giveaway!!!

  3. Great book, thanks for the giveaway.

  4. Sounds intriging

  5. This sounds like my kind of series! So glad I came across this book! Thank you for the op!

  6. Liking the cover :)

  7. Love Urban Fantasy! Good luck with the book!

  8. Thanks for the amazing excerpt & giveaway!