– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Something Wicked’ blogtour, organised by Xpresso Book Tours.
About the Author :
Emma Dean is the aspie author of Draga Court and the Council of Paranormals. Juggling work, life, higher education, and a rambunctious toddler leaves little room for much else, but when she gets the chance she dives into a good book and likes to re-read the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop every year during Christmas.
Title: Something Wicked (University of Morgana: Academy of Enchantments and Witchcraft #1)
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Reverse Harem, Romance
If she could make it through her first semester without killing anyone … that’d be great.
San Francisco Bay Coven has been torn apart and no one feels this more than Mika Marshall. Kenzie Kavanagh exposed her father and brother’s betrayal.
So Mika is starting at the University of Morgana a semester late and praying to the Fates that she’ll be able to catch up and graduate with her class. But as a witch with an undeclared specialty she’s trying not to bring too much attention to herself.
Because Mika has a secret and if she doesn’t learn to control her powers, people will die.
**This is a slow burn reverse harem academy series. All paranormal books by Emma Dean exist in the same world – the Council of Paranormals.
Mika leaned against one of the tables in the massive greenhouse and watched as students filtered in. There weren’t many taking Advanced Poisons but the ones who were, were fascinating.
The first two classes of the day had gone pretty well. Audrey had both Advanced Latin and Shifter Studies with her on Mondays and Wednesdays. But she was alone in her Poisons class.
The other witch was great at diverting attention away from Mika since she already knew so many people with as outgoing as she was. They were fairly normal first days – a general reviewing of the schedule and then getting right into it. None of the classes Mika was taking were easy.
But she could already tell this class was going to be different.
It was quiet in the conservatory with the black metal scrollwork holding the glass in place. The massive greenhouse was nearly an entire wing of the university and three stories tall. Mika knew this was going to be one of her favorite places.
The humidity was suffocating in her coveralls. But handling these kinds of plants required her to take safety measures. It was something she’d been taught from the moment she’d been able to walk. Wear clothes that could be washed and covered every inch of skin.
Mika had her black coveralls that she’d brought from home on over her regular clothes, boots that sealed the coveralls and didn’t allow anything to touch her skin, special gloves that could be washed but protected her from any oils that might be secreted from the plants. A scarf around her neck would cover her nose and mouth if they had to do any cutting or crushing – it was generally a good idea, even just smelling some poisonous plants could make someone faint.
Everything else was in the locker rooms specifically set up for herbology students. Cream that protected skin was everywhere, both magical and non. This portion of the greenhouse was under lock and key; only students with a pass or teachers could access these plants.
She surveyed the other students and dismissed them immediately. All except one.
Honestly, she was surprised to see a male witch in this class. Most never made it to Advanced Poisons. It wasn’t really their thing. But this one – he was tall and mysterious. So tall he would probably tower about a foot over her.
Mika had a weakness for tall guys.
His gorgeous brown hair was messy and slightly curled, falling in his face just a little. The green in his light-bluish green eyes seemed magnified with all the plants around him. Mika couldn’t help but notice how muscular his arms were with the way his coveralls hung from his waist, showing off his tank top.
Despite her vow to avoid men and any potential boyfriends throughout her university career, Mika’s heart started beating just a little bit faster. When he looked up, his gaze went right to her like he knew she’d been watching him, her stomach flipped and Mika had to look away.
She glanced at her watch. Only two more minutes and the class would start.
Professor Hayes waltzed in a minute later in custom coveralls that looked a lot like Mika’s just in a faded green instead. The professor had her long blonde hair up in a severe bun and she wore glasses. There would be no room for bullshit with her.
Mika looked up at the glass ceiling as the silvery light filtering in seemed to change somehow. She blinked and realized it was snowing. It had been a long time since she’d been around snow, and the way it fell in whispers on the glass added to the magic of the conservatory.
“Welcome class. The reason you are here is because you’ve either met the pre-requisites or you’ve tested into this class. Congratulations. Most never make it this far.” Professor Hayes had a hard gleam in her eye as she studied each of them.
It was like she was assessing who was going to mess up and potentially kill themselves, or perhaps someone else.
“People have died in this class. Murderers have used what is learned here. I guarantee you’ll end up with some kind of burn at the very least. So if you want to make it out alive you listen to me and follow the rules. Do you understand?”
Mika nodded, remembering a similar conversation her mother had had with her when she was about five and touched a plant that had left a burn mark for weeks. “Be smart, Mika,” she’d said. “If you’re not smart, you’ll die.”
It was advice she’d taken to heart and applied to her entire life. Mika had made sure she was smart. Even if she had to study twice as hard as everyone else. She wasn’t going to make a stupid mistake and die.
Not when it was so easy to end up dead.
“Professor Hayes?” some quiet girl with black hair asked. “Will there be opportunities for extra credit?”
Mika couldn’t stop herself from rolling her eyes. Couldn’t they get on with this already?
“We’ll see,” the professor said, eyeing the girl like she’d probably be the first to head to the infirmary. “Now I’m going to pair you up, and you will be partners for the rest of the semester. We’re going to start with every day poisonous plants and flowers and their uses.”
Professor Hayes took her phone out of her pocket and read off names. Mika felt that same flutter in her stomach when her name was called and the professor pointed to the guy who had caught her attention. “Mika Marshall, you’re with Ethan Ellington.”
She didn’t even have the opportunity to be shocked that the professor had pronounced her name correctly. Ethan was already headed toward her and the way he looked at her…it was almost a glare but not quite.
Somehow it made him even more attractive.
He didn’t say anything as he jerked his chin toward one of the work tables. Mika followed after him and wondered what his deal was. Maybe he was annoyed she was a freshman. This was a higher level class after all. Freshmen weren’t usually allowed.
But they’d made an exception for her of course – she was a Marshall with an affinity for poison.
“Now, we’re going to start with Morning Glory. It’s toxic, but it doesn’t usually kill. The fascinating thing about the Morning Glory is it’s one of those flowers that can cause hallucinations. The seeds contain a chemical similar to that of LSD.” The professor walked around the greenhouse, setting pots of the flower on each worktable.
Mika sat on the stool and ignored Ethan next to her as best as she could. She forced herself to pay attention to the professor, even though this was hardly advanced.
Hopefully they’d get into more dangerous plants as the semester went on.
“You don’t need to wear gloves for these, but I advise you scrub down after every class. Now,” Professor Hayes snapped, whipping around to study Mika.
What she’d done to gain her attention she had no idea.
“Morning glory is used in a few different types of spells and potions. The most popular is an infusion, but philtres are also common. Ms. Marshall, name one for me.”
She must have seen Mika’s test scores. Professor Hayes was one of the more strict professors or so Mika had heard, but she was also one of the best. Had she known she’d be instantly singled out…maybe she would have avoided this class.
“Obfusca,” she murmured. “It makes a person confused if made with sea water. If the potion is made with river water it can remove memories. Officially, it is not a curse, but it’s also not a healing potion.”
The professor narrowed her eyes and then smiled. “I’m pleased to see you’re just as good as your test results indicated. Welcome to Morgana, Ms. Marshall.”
Too many people were looking at her.
Mika dropped her gaze to the flower and its deep purple petals. Ethan chose just then to lean in closer to her. Instantly she stiffened as the scent of his cologne reached her nose.
“Who are you here to kill?” he whispered.
Her eyes snapped to his and there was laughter there, like this was some hilarious joke. “Excuse me?”
“Normal people don’t take Advanced Poisons in their first semester.” Ethan pulled out a sketchbook and started drawing the morning glory. “Unless it’s your specialty I guess.”
“It’s not.” Mika couldn’t believe how green his eyes looked in this light, and how even in the dead of winter his skin was still slightly tanned. “But it’s one of the few things I’m good at.”
Ethan smiled at that, glancing at her as he drew. “I’m an Herbology major. Is the Marshall Greenhouse in San Francisco as amazing as I hear?”
So he did know who she was. Ugh, Mika wished she could just be a normal witch for once. But high society witches all knew each other. Which meant Ethan wasn’t from the West Coast. So who was he?
Ellington wasn’t a familiar clan name either.
“So who are you here to kill?” she asked, plucking one of the flowers as instructed so she could separate the parts.
“I just like plants. There’s something so beautiful in something that has such variance. Some are deadly and some can save you. Only knowledge can tell you which one.” Ethan smiled at her then and there was something about the way his hair fell into his eyes.
Mika wanted to reach out and brush it back, maybe trace those glorious eyebrows, and his unfairly long eyelashes.
This wasn’t why she was here.
She went back to placing the petals in one bowl and the seeds in another. Two different potions – one to take something away, and one to give something back. There was beauty in the duality, she’d give Ethan that.
His poetic ass was going to be the death of her if she didn’t pay attention.
The class was two hours long and they went through the basic poisonous flowers, how to handle them, what they could be used for, and how one would prepare them as ingredients for future use. Mika went through the motions, doing her best to ignore Ethan next to her.
It was all basic stuff she knew anyway. Her mother had taught her all this and more by the time she was ten. Their greenhouse had a poison garden just like this one did. It rivaled some of the greats around the world.
“Don’t worry, we’re supposed to learn how to grow and tend nightshade and hemlock this semester,” Ethan said with a little smirk. “Morning glory is pretty tame in comparison.”
How boring. Mika was hoping they’d get to work with the Manchineel tree, fondly nicknamed the ‘little apple of death.’ It was one of the few her mother hadn’t let her near since it could blister skin in seconds.
Snakeroot and oleander were also some of her favorites, but Mika had been hoping for something truly exotic.
“I heard someone is trying to crossbreed poisons,” Ethan murmured. “Would that be more interesting for you?”
Mika whipped her gaze to his and narrowed her eyes. “You think I’m some kind of black widow?”
“I think you like dangerous things.” Ethan didn’t blink as he held her gaze. “Am I wrong?”
She didn’t say anything to that. They didn’t even know each other. Mika owed him no explanation.
But he wasn’t wrong.
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The Magic of Wor(l)ds
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