House of Cards
by Ilana Waters
Eighteen-year-old Sherry has just begun her newly independent life in Paris when she is kidnapped by a group of vampires. They hold her hostage in the House of Cadamon, their catacomb lair beneath the city, ruled with an iron fist by a leader known as “the Master.” The only thing keeping Sherry alive is her ability to tell vampire fortunes through tarot cards, a task she is forced to perform night after night. She finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a four-hundred-year-old reluctant blood drinker who is as much a prisoner of Cadamon as she is.
Things get even more complicated when Sherry and Lucas begin falling for each other—hard. Will they be able to keep Sherry alive long enough for them both to escape the House of Cadamon? Or will the Master and his band of evil minions succeed in controlling the lives of the young lovers—by whatever means necessary?
With its breathtaking Parisian setting, fast-moving plot, and strong-willed heroine, this paranormal romance will keep you spellbound!
“You are not the only one with powerful gifts of the mind, my child. I have been experiencing very strong, troubling dreams that you would come for a long time now. The true reason I kept you here was because Lucas seemed so happy for your company. It is not often I see him willing to cooperate with the House’s rules, which he did for your sake. But if you mean to harm me, or to take him away . . .”
He set the book aside and stood up, seemingly in one movement. Instinctively, she backed away, nearer to the other side of the room. She now stood in front of the marble fireplace.
“Wait—please.” This couldn’t be happening. How many times had that thought run through her head since she’d been kidnapped? “I can explain.” He took a few steps forward, and she circled around, so that she was now facing the fireplace. “My predictions are dependent upon the actions of the questioner. If you change your actions, the outcome changes too. For instance, if you . . . maybe treated Lucas differently, or . . . us mortals differently, maybe he wouldn’t want to leave. The future can always change. You can be the one to change it, if you really wish to.”
The Master shook his head and stepped even closer. “I have no wish to change what has worked splendidly for so long, my dear. And why should I have to? My rules are very fair. Lucas is the only one who seems to have such trouble following them. But I think ending your life will take care of that. Perhaps once and for all.” He kept walking towards her as if he were on a pleasant evening stroll in Montmartre.
“Vampires do not change, silly girl. Not our faces, or our bodies, or our minds. We are immortal. We are eternal.”
She backed up until she hit the piano. She’d have to go around it to run out of the room, and that meant heading nearer to the homicidal vampire in front of her. Not that she could move fast enough to escape. Even if she managed to get back to her room, he’d easily break down the door, or use his telekinetic powers to lift the bar across—
Powers. Her telekinesis. Maybe she could use it to distract him, or confuse him. Anything to buy more time. He obviously wasn’t interested in talking anymore: he’d already made that clear. If only there was something in the room she could use as a weapon. The fireplace had gone cold; she couldn’t even set anything ablaze to destroy him. Why the hell hadn’t she come up with a plan before this?
She looked up. The arming sword above the fireplace. The one the Master had used to slaughter hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people in the name of his god. The sword he’d brandished while separating precious lives from the endless possible futures that awaited them. The Master had his back to the fireplace. He wouldn’t be able to see what she was doing.
She needed to lift that sword. And she needed to do it now.
God, why hadn’t she practiced more? Why had she let her mental and psychic powers grow so weak? She tried to lift the sword the tiniest inch without taking her eyes off the Master, lest he suspect what she was doing. To lift an item without looking at it was difficult enough, let alone the impossibly heavy sword that she’d never managed to move before. But she had to try. It was her only hope.
The chill upon her skin had been transformed. Now Sherry felt as if she were on fire. She was breathing so hard she sounded like an old, sick dog. Her lungs wouldn’t fill with air quickly enough, and her heart beat so fast she was certain it was going to explode.
With his keen senses, the Master must have sensed her distress. But he ignored it as if nothing were happening. He took one last step towards her and moved his hands to lift up her hair—just like before. Sherry sucked in her breath and clenched her fists and narrowed her eyes at the sword for all she was worth.
This is a great paranormal romance for all vampire/monster lovers. 18-year-old Sherry is just getting settled in Paris and uses her gift to read Tarot cards as a means to earn a living. She’s had a rocky past and still must fight to keep from going under in the beautiful city. But she’s tough – mostly. The descriptions of the market place where she has her stand and the surrounding atmosphere were wonderful! I had no trouble placing myself right there next to her.
When the evil vampires appear – and yes, they are not the nice friendly types – the danger is tangible. When Sherry’s swept into the underworld of Paris, her reactions and thoughts are very realistic. And the descriptions are so vivid, it felt like the air around me was even growing musty and old.
This story takes a slightly different twist on vampires, one that in many ways is more realistic than other myths and stories. The romance isn’t instant but develops over time giving the reader a chance to get to know the characters and the situations they face. I especially enjoyed the fact that each vampire’s personality was different; they couldn’t be thrown into one category. I learned to hate or love the individual characters, and was kept on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next – and no, the turns were not always predictable.
Even weeks later, I catch myself thinking about some of the scenes. This was definitely an enjoyable read.
About the Author
Ilana Waters is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey. When not creating content for websites, she works on middle-grade and young-adult fiction … and nibbles string cheese. She once pet-sat an electric eel, and enjoy walking in circles around the park for no particular reason.
Her first book, The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt: Book I of Hartlandia is a middle-grade fantasy. Read my earlier blog post about Castles in the Air, a 70-page novella also set in the Kingdom of Hartlandia. Ilana is currently writing Book II of the Hartlandia trilogy, due out later in 2013.
Ilana has also written House of Cards, a young adult book.