Witches, Spiders, and Schemes
by Elizabeth Pantley
October 3, 2023 Book Blast
Welcome Back to Destiny Falls
A magic mirror to an enchanted world… A mysterious ghost… A hilarious, perpetually annoyed witch… A brave, sassy cat… Two unexplained deaths and a mysterious community filled with secrets… Can Hayden and the people of Destiny Falls solve the mystery and return the community to its peaceful, enchanted existence?
Hayden’s adventures in Destiny Falls continue in book four of the Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic series. Starting with a strange old woman at a cave and her father’s mysterious ferry journey, there are secrets to be unwound.
The enchantments in Destiny Falls are showing cracks, and Hayden suspects that it is tied directly to her family, which has a history that’s more complex than she realized. When two bodies are found floating in the bay it’s clear that the mysteries surrounding Gladstone and the ferry are more dangerous than people realize. And then . . . those spiders.
Luckily, Hayden and her sassy sidekick, Latifa have developed a group of family and friends in this enchanted place who are all ready and willing to help solve the mystery, and release Destiny Falls to resume its normal, amazing, enchanted existence.
Praise for Witches, Spiders, and Schemes:
“Will blow you away!”
~ Cozy Mystery Book Reviews
“Just when I thought I knew who the killer was, BAM, a twist.”
~ Leslie, Storeybook Reviews
“The mystery, magic, and delicately woven story held me captive! I couldn’t ever imagine such a delicious story!”
“So. Darn. Clever. It’ll keep you on your toes – hopping and guessing – until the final pages.”
~ Pages & Paws
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Better Beginnings, Inc.
Publication Date: November 5, 2021
Number of Pages: 292
Series: Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic (#4)
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
I stared at the old woman. She was sitting on a rock in the mouth of a cave in front of us. She gawked at me as she sipped from a bottle of green Gatorade. How had a romantic hike up to the mountain lake taken such a strange turn? She told Han and me that her name was Mnemosyne, but that she was called Nemmy.
Nemmy? Could she be the woman from the stories I’d been told? Was that even possible?
Gaspar, the ghost who’d been telling me tales, had a daughter called Nemmy. She was King Gaspar Reuben’s youngest daughter of three. The one who had been tutored in black magic by an evil crone witch and bestowed with dark powers. She had lived a century ago but had partaken of the rumored fountain of youth found on the sinister island of Gladstone. Was this her? If it was, why did she look so old and frail? And how was she here?
I shivered and took a step closer to Han. He put his arm around my shoulders and the weight of it allowed me to exhale.
We had hiked for hours to reach the alpine lake. It was baffling to find an elderly woman sitting this far up. She didn’t look to be the type who’d be able to climb a set of stairs, let alone a mountain. She had no hiking supplies with her, and she wasn’t dressed for it either, in her long dress that seemed more suited for a carriage ride in the Middle Ages. When I asked her if she had hiked up here by herself, she laughed at my question, saying that no, she didn’t get here by herself, but then she changed the subject. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, she told us her name. I’m almost sure she said Nemmy. Her strange appearance, plus that familiar name, made it possible that she was the witch from the stories the ghost had told.
“You are the recently discovered Caldwell relative who fell through the mirror into Destiny Falls,” she said. It wasn’t a question. It was clear that she knew who I was. “How kind of you to deliver yourself right to my front door. I have something especially for you, Helen.”
“It’s Hayden.” I corrected her automatically.
“Ah, right. Hayden.” She made an effort to stand up but was struggling, so Han and I helped her. As soon as she was upright, she raised her arm and pointed her bony finger inches from my face. With her other hand, she pulled a handful of herbs, dust, and dirt from a pocket and tossed it at me. “Ostend mee-hi virtute!” she shouted.
In a flash, Han tugged me by my arm and pushed me behind him. It was a sweet protective gesture that I appreciated in the face of this deranged old woman.
The woman did a panicky little jig, shook her hands wildly, then grabbed in her pocket for more of the mixture. She tried to throw it around Han and into my face. She repeated what she had just said. Only much more exuberantly. Then she stomped her feet in frustration and repeated loudly, “Virtute! Virtute!”
I coughed at the dust and squinted at her. “What is she doing?” I whispered out of the side of my mouth to Han.
“I have no idea. But it sounds like some kind of spell,” he side-whispered back. “Slowly back away.”
The woman who could be Nemmy rolled her eyes. “I’m not a superhero, but you know I can still hear you,” she whispered back to us out of the side of her mouth.
We both turned to look at her. She laughed heartily and we heard her mumbling, “A spell! What will they think of next?” Then her laughter abruptly stopped. Her face sagged and she growled at us to leave her alone.
What if she was just a random senior citizen and her name a coincidence? Maybe I misunderstood her, and she said her name was Emmy. “Are you sure you don’t want us to wait until your hiking partners come back . . . Emmy?” I asked.
She pursed her lips and shook her head. “Your benevolence is exhausting, young woman, and you’re more than I anticipated. Just leave me in peace.” She waved her arm and turned away from us. “Go! Go away!” she yelled. Then she stepped into the entrance of the cave, leaving us standing there gaping at the cavernous opening.
Han and I gathered up our gear and started the trek back down the mountain.
“Well. That was strange,” I said. “I feel badly about leaving her up here alone, but she was adamant, so what else could we do?”
“That’s true,” Han said. He was quiet for a moment, then he stopped walking and turned to face me. “Hayden, while we were standing at the cave, I experienced flashes of old memories returning.”
My jaw dropped and I waited for him to explain. He’d been in an accident not far from here. He had fallen off a cliff and suffered a concussion that caused him to lose his memory of the accident.
“What did you remember?”
“Random bits and pieces. The cave itself seemed familiar, except the one I recall had a wooden door on the front, which seems unlikely up here on the mountain. The old woman’s voice was familiar. I remembered hearing her say that Lazarus had taken control. But that’s it. It’s so frustrating not to be able to remember. I don’t know who Lazarus is, or what he’d taken control of, or who she was talking to. But the cave and her voice. Those I clearly remember.”
“Han! That’s so much more than you remembered before! Maybe all your memories of that day will start to return now?”
“I hope you’re right. It’s difficult having such a hole in my memory. Especially since what happened goes against all my years of training.”
I already knew that. Han’s position as Destiny Falls Special Forces Officer, and his past work in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, meant that he would not have ignored all his training and fallen off an obvious cliff.
“If the woman is Nemmy, the witch daughter that Gaspar told me about, maybe she had something to do with your accident?”
“Exactly what I was thinking,” Han said.
I was baffled by our strange encounter and concerned about Han’s returning memory indicating the woman might have something to do with his accident. But if I were being perfectly honest with myself, I was mostly annoyed and frustrated that our first official date had been ruined by her sudden appearance. I’d waited so long for our first date, and it was going perfectly until her presence knocked the romance right out of the moment. We had just had our first kiss in the most romantic fairy tale setting by the waterfall. It felt like more than a kiss. It was the merging of two souls. I was basking in the afterglow of it when her cough had stolen our moment. I took a deep breath and refocused.
There was that name again: Lazarus. His name was mentioned on the list that was imprinted on the back of the letter that my missing mother had written me. There was no explanation. Just a row of question marks after his name. He’d also been mentioned in several stories about the ominous island of Gladstone and the illegal scheme to transport people there so that they could search for the fountain of youth. Based on the bits and pieces I’d heard, Lazarus appeared to be a dangerous human being. Who was this mysterious person, and how was he known by this old woman? This enigma. Possibly the king’s wicked daughter, Nemmy.
Han and I discussed all these questions as we made our way down the mountain. After two hours of this he suggested that we take a break, table our discussion for later, and salvage what we could of our first date. We found a beautiful clearing near a small stream and spread out what was left of our picnic. We even made a plan for our second date. The conversation turned happy and once we settled in, I absorbed every minute with a lightness in my heart.
Excerpt from Witches, Spiders, and Schemes by Elizabeth Pantley. Copyright 2021 by Elizabeth Pantley. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Pantley. All rights reserved.
Elizabeth Pantley is the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents, published in over twenty languages.
She simultaneously writes the well-loved Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic book series and the new Magical Mystery Book Club series.
Elizabeth lives in the Pacific Northwest, the gorgeous inspiration for the setting in many of her books.
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