Black Amaranth, a dark fantasy by Sasha Hibbs, wastes no time plunging the reader into its world. Ally has just graduated high school. After years of being tormented by Brandi, her oh-so-popular nemesis, she’s coerced her friends Michael, David, and Jessica to crash Brandi’s graduation party. And crash it they do—in a most wholesome and satisfying manner, despite Ally’s sullen mood. This mood is born of her resentment towards her caregiver, Uncle Argyle, who failed to attend the ceremony—but if Ally thinks that’s bad, it’s only because she has no idea what’s to come. Within the first several pages, Ally—and the reader—learn that her whole “normal” life has been a lie, that she is an immortal tasked with righting an ancient wrong, and in doing so, changing the world—or destroying it. At first incapable of grasping the full implications of what she is and what she must do, she focuses instead on saving her uncle, who it turns out has been sheltering her, for all of her life, against the terrible truth of what she has been from birth. Sheltering her from the truth of her parents, her “aunts,” and most significantly, her own perilous destiny. And to think, just yesterday, her biggest problem had been the prospect of breaking the news to her uncle that she’d be moving out and going to college … There’s a veritable rogue’s gallery of paranormals in Black Amaranth: a host of seraphs, a community of gypsies who practice magic—and Malik, of the Nosferati, who seems to be Ally’s appointed consort, whatever her “friend” Michael may think of that. Yet, in spite of all of this magic, this complex cauldron of interweaving plots that involve the fate of the world as we know it, it’s the human characters who propel this story. Ally’s friendship with Jessica and her insufferable twin brother, Dave (think “Ron” from Harry Potter, as a rough reference) lend a constant reality to a plot that moves fast and sometimes requires some re-reading to keep up. These are teenagers you recognize from your own past, or wish you did, and their loyalty is genuine, touching—and hopefully enough, as so much hangs in the balance. As Ally leans on them, and yearns for her first kiss with Michael, we lean with her. It is through those characters that we relate to problems bigger than ourselves, and root for a brave young woman whose very destiny seems the appointed destruction of us all.
Vulcan Legacies, 1
Eighteen-year-old Ally Watson arrives home from high school graduation, more than a little annoyed that her Uncle Argyle—Ally’s legal guardian and only surviving relative—didn’t even bother showing up. But instead of berating him for his forgetfulness, Ally finds him in a life-or-death battle with a monster. Argyle manages to kill the creature, and gives Ally a parcel containing a destiny she never knew existed.
Ally, along with her best friends Michael, Jessica, and David, hurry to Georgia to uncover the truth of Uncle Argyle’s secrets, and the meaning of the mysterious marks that Ally bears. Are the marks related to the blacksmith mythology of her ancestors? Who are these heavenly warriors who show up in the oddest of places? And will an ancient gypsy curse destroy the very things Ally fights to save?
Black Amaranth: a simple flower, a symbol with an ancient legacy, a conduit for prophecy…while faith and hope are essential to the journey, Ally soon discovers that love is the most powerful force of all.
14+ for brief language and adult situations
“LOU’S HOUSE OF BLUES?” Dave read the large neon sign in disbelief. “You’re taking us to a…bar?”
“To the Gypsies, and the one I am seeking out in particular,” Parthenia looked straight ahead, “happens to spend most of her time in this bar.”
“Mom thinks we’re going to church camp.” Dave’s face spread into a big smile. “I wonder what she would say if she knew we were going to a bar.”
“We’re eighteen,” Jessica said, reminding him. “Just once, Dave, please be cool.” Jessica winced.
“Cheer up, Jessica.” Brandi patted her mockingly. “There’s a first time for everything.”
“Whatever. I’m sure this beats your lame keg party,” Jessica said.
Nothing surprised Ally anymore, not even the rough-cut lumber bar staring back at her. Motorcycles and beat up trucks lined the gravel parking lot. A wraparound porch with live oaks bordered the outside. Looking determined, Parthenia motioned for them to follow her up there. As Ally ascended onto the creaky porch, her eye caught a slumbering black dog. She sidestepped to miss treading on the dog. Instinctively, Ally bent down and brushed her hand along the thick black coat.
“Good Lord, Miss,” a voice said. Ally looked up into an old pair of friendly brown eyes. “You must be somebody special,” he said, swaying back and forth in a dilapidated rocking chair, the ripened wood groaning with each sway, paint chipping up the back spindles. “Miss Elma doesn’t like anybody,” he said. His deep Southern accent drew out each syllable slowly.
“Sorry,” Ally apologized.
“No need to be sorry, Miss.” Ally could see a warm smile through the grey stubble wrapped around his aged features. “That there dog showed up one day and she’s been laying here ever since like she’s been waiting on someone.” He turned his head out to the horizon, pulling out a battered harmonica and bringing it up to his lips, he paused and said, “You have a good day, Miss.”
Ally looked down at the dog. Lids slowly peeled back revealing deep-set hazel eyes. The dog stretched out her tired limbs, stood to her full height, and nudged Ally’s knees, placing her head under one of Ally’s open palms. Her long silky hair fell between Ally’s fingers.
“Looks like you’ve got a friend—a very large black German Shepherd friend,” Michael said, his eyes smiling.
“Ally,” Parthenia interrupted, “please tell her to sit. I’ve got a feeling this one’s going to follow you.” Parthenia met Brandi’s gaze, their intense eyes implying something they weren’t saying. “Eli, perhaps it would be best if Solomon and Jeb waited out here with Lucy.”
Eli turned, instructing them to wait and watch over his little sister.
“There are three Ravenscraft women: Denaulda, Griselda, and Irini.” Parthenia looked deeply into Ally’s eyes and then shot a look of caution to Michael and the twins. “Denaulda is the eldest sister, and by right, the acting leader of the Gypsies. She is the most powerful next to their holy woman, Belle Crow. Let me caution you now. Do not cross them. They prove to be useful and good allies, but can also prove to be fearful enemies if you’re not on the same side as them. Remember, the curse of the elder Gypsies coupled with Vulcan crossing them is what caused all of this to ensue in the first place. Their magic runs deep, it’s old, and just as the blaxxmiths have a particular affinity for a single element, Gypsies have a strong affinity for magic.”
“Ooo, this should be fun,” Brandi purred mischievously.
“Try to curb your enthusiasm, will you?” Parthenia glared back at Brandi.
“I’ll not say a word.” Brandi winked and said, “Promise.”
“Are they witches?” Jessica asked, a noticeable trace of anxiety in her voice.
“They’re worse than witches,” Eli barked out.
“What is your problem? Considering how you treated me last night, I doubt that your dislike is exclusive to Gypsies. I’m guessing that you hate everyone and everything.” Jessica’s face flushed with anger. Eli fumed, but said nothing.
“No, they are not witches,” Parthenia said, interrupting the awkward silence. “They are Gypsies, and if you want to get on their bad side quick, call one of them a witch.” She turned and looked down her nose at Dave.
“Gotcha,” Dave said, seeming to understand she worried most about what might come out of his mouth.
“Stay behind me and try not to stare at anyone,” Parthenia said.
“Stay, girl.” Ally pointed her finger down at the porch. Miss Elma was obedient, sliding her long muscled legs down, crossing them over top each other and resting her head on her large paws. “Good girl.”
Ally stepped in behind of Parthenia, leaving the rest to trail in after her. Ally looked around in awe. She had never been in a bar before, and wasn’t too disappointed by the one she was standing in now. Red booths lined the unevenly cut board and batten walls, and a few were occupied by men and women who stared directly at them. Round tables just big enough for two were scattered throughout, leading up to a large empty dance floor. Strings of colored bulbs hung down low from the walls, casting dim shadows that mixed in with smoky air. Bar stools surrounded the long slab bar, while behind it a large, intimidating man eyed them up as he casually wiped his hands off on a white towel.
“Hello, Lou,” Parthenia said. “Denaulda around?”
He jerked his head in the direction of the stage, Parthenia following the line of his gaze, sighed softly and said, “Great.”
“Remember me just saying that Gypsies were gifted with a particular talent? Strong magic?” Parthenia whispered close to Ally’s ear.
“Uh-huh,” Ally said, looking straight ahead to the empty stage.
“Well, you’re about to find out what Denaulda’s is,” Parthenia said, sitting on a barstool and turning to face the stage. “Might as well have a seat and try to stay there.”
Michael and Dave eased down into an empty booth, leaving the opposite side open for the girls. Eli and Brandi opted to sit with Parthenia on barstools.
At the corner of the wooden stage, men were pulling out and tuning guitars and harmonicas. As a slow sultry rhythm played out of their instruments, a petite, dark-haired woman emerged from behind beaded curtains onto the stage. She slinked her way up to the microphone stand like a snake closing in on its prey. She curled her slender fingers around the mic as she cocked her head to the side, looking at her audience with thoughtful, heavy-lidded eyes. Ally’s arms erupted in goose bumps, a surefire warning that something otherworldly was about to happen.
She began to sing, sound floating dreamingly out of her mouth, weaving in and around the crowd like an invisible serpent, creeping up around their heels, sliding up and into their souls.
Michael and Dave twisted around, their heads following the direction of the eerie tune as Jessica mechanically stood up from the bench.
“What are you doing?” Ally whispered between her teeth while tugging on Jessica’s sleeve.
“Just one…dance.” Jessica didn’t look down at Ally; she walked slowly onto the dance floor as though the melody willed her to do so. Problem was, Jessica was a wallflower, or at least when they went to the prom Ally couldn’t peel her away from the wall if her life depended on it.
Ally looked around wondering if Denaulda’s music was having the same effect on everyone else. Brandi smiled naughtily which told Ally there must have been some part of her that expected this. Beside her, Eli watched Jessica through burning eyes. A few patrons joined Jessica on the dance floor, swaying back and forth to the beat, their bodies sweeping in and out in circular motions.
From the wall, a steely gaze followed Jessica. A boy with a shock of blond hair materialized from the shadows and inched his way towards the dance floor. He didn’t look much older than they did but he carried himself like a prowling marauder. His arms encircled Jessica’s waist as he closed the distance between them. To Ally’s surprise, Jessica welcomed him.
Denaulda’s lips curled up into a wicked smile. The tune hung in the air, like a poisonous gas. Ally couldn’t ignore the soothing, rich words.
When we were young and full of life
you reached in deep, and pierced my heart with a knife.
The night cries out, sweet and high,
weeping for her children with a gentle sigh.
Young nights, young nights, where did you go?
I can smell the night air, and how the moonlight glowed.
Young nights, young nights, come back to the home we both know.
“Where’s Lucy?” Dave kept his eyes fixed on Denaulda. “I think I should…” Dave’s words drifted off into the chorus.
Jessica reached her hands up and tangled her fingers into the thick blond hair of the boy she’d glued herself to. They appeared to only have eyes for each other as though no one else existed in the room. Ally was ready to get up and separate the two when another wave of lyrics poured out from Denaulda, nailing Ally to her seat.
I have loved you tender and loved you long,
but you were caught in the crossfire, we got it all wrong.
Can we ever go back to the way it used to be?
Young nights under the Spanish moss, just you and me.
I can smell the night air, and how the moonlight glowed.
Young nights, young nights, come back to the home we both know.
Ally couldn’t budge. “Michael?” She looked up, knowing he would fix this, but when she met his eyes, her breath caught in the back of her throat. Heat spread up through her face as his blue eyes bored into hers. The Michael staring at her now wasn’t looking at her as friends look at one another, but as something much different: as a man who looks, really looks, at a woman. Without Denaulda’s enchanting music, Ally wondered if his penetrating gaze would have bothered her or not.
Eli crossed the floor in long strides, catching Ally’s attention. She sat there unable to move, nervous, knowing that the direction Eli was currently going in wasn’t a good one. Eli’d had a chip on his shoulder since they all met, but more so towards Jessica than the rest of them. Ally just didn’t know why, though.
“Enough.” Ally could barely hear what Eli was saying to Jessica over the music. Denaulda looked entertained by what was transpiring on the dance floor. Jessica paid no attention to him, moving in closer to her partner, so close you couldn’t wedge a piece of paper between them.
Eli’s lips twisted into a snarl as he grabbed Jessica’s wrist. The next few moments happened before Ally could fully register what she was seeing. The blond boy swung at Eli, whose hand cupped the boy’s fist, holding him there effortlessly. He jerked Jessica to the side, causing her to rock on her heels, attempting to balance herself. He flung the boy’s fist down in disgust. “You’re done here,” Eli said to the boy through clenched teeth.
“Oh, no we’re not,” Jessica said, seething and stepping away from Eli, going back into the arms of her dance partner.
Eli growled as he grabbed her arm. Jessica spun around and slapped Eli across the face, sending an echo throughout the bar.
“Do not ever touch me again!” Jessica’s face reddened, almost matching the color of her hair. “Do you understand me?”
Eli stood there blinking in disbelief, raising a hand up to where hers had just been.
“Okay, boys.” Denaulda motioned for the band behind her to stop. “I think it’s time for a break.”
As soon as Denaulda quit singing, her spell dissolved. All those affected shook their heads, clearing up the lingering fog, all except Eli. He stood still, tracing the outline of where Jessica’s fingers touched him.
“Um…” Jessica looked back and forth between Eli and the blond boy staring at her and said, “Hmm, this is awkward. Excuse me.” Jessica quickly brushed past them and darted back to sit down. “What was I doing?”
“Let’s just say that you gave Brandi a run for her money,” Ally said, sugar-coating the truth as Jessica slouched down further in the booth.
“Parthenia,” the words were rich, alluring, “what brings you to my neck of the woods?” Denaulda’s eyes slid past Parthenia and landed directly on Ally.
Denaulda tilted her head, studying Ally through suspicious eyes. “I read the stars last night. Do you know what they told me?” Her eyes, the color of ash, rounded as she studied Ally.
Ally couldn’t speak, her voice was jammed. Looking at this sorceress was unnerving. Ally just shook her head no.
“They told me Death would be coming to visit me today.”
I thought Black Amaranth was a great read & I really enjoyed it. The synopsis tells us everything we need to know as we join 18 year old Ally on her journey of self discovery. Ally was a great character, easy to gel with and really route for. I liked everything about her particularly how she can take everything in her stride, I loved watching her grow as she dealt with the secrets and the things that were thrown at her. I liked the relationships that developed for her, it was sort of a love triangle but wasn’t overly complicated because she was only on the verge of a relationship but happened to have two potential boyfriends. I did feel a connection to her from both sides and would have happily went with either one, although one was slightly more mysterious than the other BUT she has a way to find her true mate… This was also one of those books where the secondary characters are just as important and interesting as the main characters, it was easy to become involved in their drama & relationships and I really hope we get their stories too. The storyline was awesome, quite original and a great introduction to a series that has so much potential. I loved the history of it all, there are a lot of myths from all sides that lead up to current times and a big prophecy which is again told differently by all sides but all equating to the same outcome. We meet a couple of the clans of the supernaturals and they were really interesting particularly the warriors who are to protect Ally, every one of those men need a book of their own and I can’t wait to see them in action. ;) This book is filled to the brim with secrets and a whole lot of them are surrounding Ally which is always great, her heritage has been kept secret from her so she’s about to stumble upon that in a big way and I really liked that, I liked how she finds out things about herself from the past and they brought about some really revealing moments and it doesn’t end there, because as I said ‘brimming with secrets’…. And there are some jaw dropping surprises in store towards the end. I also love the soul mate angle, I’m such a sucker for soul mates, truly, nothing makes me happier and it was done well in this, I like how it’s possible to find out who your true mate is and I like the bonding part too in which the lovers make the ultimate sacrifice for love. To sum it up… Black Amaranth is an awesome story filled with so much potential, it has great characters, tons of secrets, a fair bit of action, a huge helping of romance from more than one source, a nice big prophecy and a battle between good & evil in the ultimate power play and really can’t wait for more.
Eighteen-year-old Ally Watson graduates high school without her Uncle Argyle in attendance, but only because he's too busy trying to save her life. Ally and her friends - Michael, Jessica, and David - find themselves thrust into an entirely new understanding of their world and embark on journey of self-discovery, intrigue, danger, and love. Together they must solve an ancient puzzle about Ally's past and save the world from an impending apocalypse. Sasha Hibbs weaves together a variety of spiritual traditions to create her own complex mythology, and she does it in a way that is completely original. Well done! I was instantly hooked by the plot and as I continued to read, I fell deeper into the tangled web of secrets that make up Ally's family history. Each chapter presented new twists and turns that kept me guessing and hungering for more. The characters are relatable and interesting, and the climax at the end of the book will leave you begging for the second installment in this series. A fun, fast-paced read!
I found this to be an extremely readable and enjoyable book. I loved the way in which the author created a complex mythology by taking a few familiar characters and stories but twisting ancient history into something uniquely hers. At times I thought maybe a little too much "historical" detail was given and I got slightly confused keeping the various alliances straight occasionally, but overall, I found the whole thing mesmerizing, and I was definitely pulled into all the action. Ally and her friends are likeable; I loved their devotion and commitment when facing formidable odds. This is the opening book in a planned series. It ended at a logical place, but I'm sure we can look forward to plenty more action, additional world-building, and more surprises in the next book. This book was provided to me by the author in return for my honest review.
I thought this was a great book. It has a great story line, it is easy to follow and understand and it keeps wanting to read till the end. I did not want to put the book down, I finished it in two days for me that is miracously and I also cant wait for book #2 to come out so i can see how the story plays out.
Mesmerizing and spellbinding! This is a book you'll devour in one sitting. An incredible breakthrough debut YA paranormal novel. The world building is amazing, the characters stunning, with twists and turns that leave you reeling. Truly original and fresh. I cheered and cried throughout the book. The twist at the end was a surprise I did not see coming and only left me in want of book 2 in this series!
One of the best YA novels printed! The author's creative writing will keep you wanting to read more and more.
This book was amazing! The excerpt on the publisher's website had me intrigued, and right away, Sasha's writing sucked me into the story and wouldn't let go. It's easy to identify with Ally as she struggles to figure out who she is, and contemplates the impact of her decisions (which are VERY far reaching) on the people she cares about, and really, the entire world. I think the thing that astounds me most about this book, is the intricate mythology that Sasha has created. She's pulled from a variety of traditions to make a whole new world and that is not easy to do. It could get a bit hard to follow at times, but I think that mostly had to do with the fact that I was up all night reading and therefore very tired! I just didn't want to put it down. The climax of the book was extremely powerful, though I can't say much about it or I'll spoil it. Let's just say that there are a lot of twists and surprises. And I can't wait for book 2!
Ally Watson just graduated from High School and is irked that her only family left, an over protective and strict uncle, did not even show up. Her anger fades once she gets home and sees that he had been fighting for his life against a monster. Along with an order to run, he gifts her with a package which leads to learning about the world and her destiny that was hidden from her; one that contains family that she never knew, the truth about the ones she does, other beings, and a destiny she was not prepared for. Michael Blackwell is Ally's best friend and has known her for what seems like forever. He is steadfast in his belief that she will do what is right and make the right choices. Their close friendship could finally have the chance to blossom into more, but it could be tested by the enigmatic and alluring Maric. Ally is told that the mysterious marks on her back mean that she is the descendant of angels; herself being the angel of death, and that she is the key to an old prophecy that will make or break the world. Everything hinges on her decision, which will decide the fate of all races, including the High Sons of Nashoba, the Nosferatu, and Gypsies. On top of that she will have to struggle with new powers, find and rescue her uncle, and deal with the seductive and mysterious Nosferatu Maric. She has to make the right choice, or plunge the world into an apocalypse. In the process she might lose what she has always known. Will she pick the right one in time, or is it already too late? This is a remarkable read, with vivid and intriguing characters, an exciting new world, and a good touch of action. Ms. Hibbs's world is crafted of tinges from different familiar myths mixed with her own ideas and concepts of those well-known myths and beliefs making them something new and exciting to read. It is a thrilling read, full of twists I never saw coming, the best being the one at the end. With such a surprising and heart-wrenching ending you will want to get a hold of the next book ASAP to see what happens next. - See more at: http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/BookReviews/blackamaranthbook1bysashahibbs.html#.Um2Cq-go5dg
Ally Watson’s high school graduation proves to be more of a turning point in her life than she could ever have imagined. She is upset because her only living family member, her Uncle Argyle, didn’t show up, but she soon learns that he had a very good reason. He was in a life-or-death battle with a monster, and in killing the monster, her uncle opens up a destiny for Ally that she never could have imagined. Sasha Hibbs captured me immediately with Uncle Argyle’s battle against a necrosapien, and once captured, I couldn’t put the book down. Ally is a typical eighteen-year-old who wants to leave home after graduation and head to college with her two best friends, Jessica and David. Suddenly everything has changed and she is escaping with a package her uncle thrust into her hands, racing away from the battle with the twins, Jessica and David, and her best friend, Michael. The novel is Ally’s coming of age story, and her decisions will affect all of humankind. Hibbs has developed Ally’s character fully making her easy to identify with. The other supporting characters are also fleshed out in great detail. In addition, Hibbs has created an entire mythology involving the descendants of Vulcan, and the details of the mythology are well presented and clearly defined. In addition, the plot is complex, action-packed, and exciting. There are twists and turns which cause the suspense to build to a terrifying conclusion. Ally learns of her family history and she is forced to confront the reality of who she really is. She discovers secrets upon secrets, and she has to make the most important decision of her life before she can fully assimilate all that she has learned. She has guides along the way, but the path is unclear and she is uncertain. She has to decide if coming into her true identity means abandoning those closest to her. I really enjoyed following Ally through her adventures and it wasn’t until the end that I even began to see where I thought she should go. The ending is really just the beginning as this is the first in The Vulcan Legacies series. I certainly hope that the second novel is published soon! Readers of fantasy with a mythological twist will certainly enjoy Black Amaranth. Just be sure that when you begin reading it that you have a free schedule, as it is a hard book to put down.