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Cursed Trinkets, Haunted Objects and Deadly Curios

The ever-brilliant Gail Z Martin talks exploring hidden histories in antique shops – and the effects such searching has on her fiction…

For me, going into an antique store has always felt like Indiana Jones opening up the tomb of the pharaohs.

You never know what you’re going to find—or what might find you. Every object in that store once belonged to someone else and witnessed a part of that person’s life. That vase in the corner was once a wedding present. The people in those old sepia-toned photographs are unknown now, but they were part of someone’s family. The sterling silver snuff box or flask was part of a long-ago man-about-town’s accoutrements.

Each piece has a secret story. Every one of those items witnessed someone’s history, their joys and sorrows, accomplishments and failures. Some of those antiques might have even been part of history—carried into battle with a soldier, tucked away in an airman’s jacket, carefully packed in a carpet bag when a family emigrated. Many of the pieces were expensive or rare at the time they were purchased. Perhaps they were an object of desire, envy, obsession. All those tales to tell, all those secrets to reveal—locked in silence because while it’s true that dead men tell no tales, neither do their treasured objects.

I spent plenty of time at antique shops, flea markets and cemeteries as a kid. (Maybe that explains a lot, come to think of it.) For me, they always served as amazing story prompts. My dad could spent most of an afternoon in one curio store or another, brushing the dust off of odd finds, chatting up the store owner, digging through baskets, bins and piles to find a treasure.

I was bored, and boredom begets inventing diversions. So I would wander around, making up stories about the pieces I saw, imagining the exciting lives of their prior owners, figuring out for myself how the item came to be in the store. My imaginings included spies, pirates, cat burglars, jewel thieves, jaded mistresses and fancy gentlemen, down-at-the-heels aristocrats, exiled nobility and financially embarrassed robber barons. That odd necklace over there? Cursed—and I’d spin a tale that went into all the gory details. That music box? Haunted. Those strange masks from somewhere exotic—most definitely magical.

Of course, I knew the truth was more prosaic. Those antique shops had acquired their treasures from the estate sales of old people who died or went into nursing homes, or from the overstuffed houses of middle aged people downsizing to move to a Florida condo. Yard sales and consignment, lost luggage and abandoned storage units probably accounted for most of the other pieces. But even if the pieces weren’t really cursed or magical, they were haunted, in the sense that they were a touchstone to memories of people now dead.

Cleaning out my dad’s home when he passed away was a direct inspiration for the first Deadly Curiosities novel, and continues to inspire Vendetta and most of the Deadly Curiosities Adventures short stories. Some of the objects he collected were interesting, others were odd, but there were several that were downright spooky. In fact, there were a couple of pieces that clairvoyant friends advised me to get rid of, which was strange since they had never been to the house, had seen no photos, and shouldn’t have known the objects existed. I took their warnings seriously.
Mostly, I felt the weight of time as I cleaned out my parents’ home and my father’s collections. Many of the pieces he treasured were old by the time he bought them, passed from one collector to another over decades, or even centuries. I wanted to hear their stories—except for a few that I thought might not let me sleep well at night if I learned their secrets.

That’s really where the inspiration for Trifles and Folly—the antique and curio store owned by my main character, Cassidy Kincaide—came from for the Deadly Curiosities series. Except that I took it a step farther—the items weren’t just sometimes haunted, magical or cursed. That was just the beginning. Cassidy and Teag and Sorren had a secret mission—to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands.

Cassidy is a psychometric—she can read the history and magic of objects by touch. Not only does that clue her in to dangerous items, but it also provides an interesting defensive magic by enabling her to draw on the memories and emotions stored in old objects. Teag has Weaver magic, the ability to weave magic into fabrics and to weave >Gail’s site for full details…

Deadly Curiosities: Vendetta is out in December 2015
Pre-order: UK|US

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Sale highlight: Deadly Curiosities

With 25% off all eBooks direct from the DRM-free Rebellion Store we’re here to help you find a title you’ll really love with our title highlights:

Deadly Curiosities

Gail Z Martin

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From the best-selling author of The Chronicles of Necromancer Gail Z Martin, we bring you an original new urban fantasy series:

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret.

Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670 – acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500-year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up…

Why the critics loved it:

“Martin weaves together fact, fiction, and the supernatural to create a realistic underworld for modern Charleston, S.C” – Publishers Weekly

“Familiar, accessible, and enjoyable, Deadly Curiosities is the kind of book to have serious crossover appeal for urban fantasy and horror readers alike.” – Beauty in Ruins

“I found myself emotionally invested in the outcome of each one, even the dog, and when they were facing the badest, strongest, entity, I was so nervous, I had butterflies in my stomach worried over what would happen to them. Deadly Curiosities is a great combination of paranormal and mystery…” – Much Loved Books

Why we love it:

A spooky new urban fantasy for fans of Warehouse 13 and Buff the Vampire Slayer: Deadly Curiosities effortlessly demonstrates Martin’s incredible world building skills in a can’t-put-down tale of paranormal fantasy, set against the highly original setting of modern-day Charleston. With Deadly Curiosities 2 on the way for early 2016 now’s a great time join Cassidy and her team.

Read it? Loved it! Try this:

Desdaemona by Ben Macallan

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Jordan helps kids on the run find their way back home. He’s good at that. He should be – he’s a runaway himself.

Sometimes he helps the kids in other, stranger, ways. He looks like a regular teenager, but he’s not. He acts like he’s not exactly human, but he is. He treads the line between mundane reality and the world of the supernatural.

Desdaemona also knows the non-human world far too well. She tracks Jordan down and enlists his aid in searching for her lost sister Fay, who did a Very Bad Thing involving an immortal. This may be a mistake – for both of them. Too many people are interested now, and some of them are not people at all.

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Deadly Curiosities Review Round-Up

It’s finally here! Deadly Curiosities is now available in all good book shops State-side, and of course on amazon in both print and for the kindle.

Want to know what all the hype is about? Check out just some of the lovely things people have been saying:

Publishers Weekly: “Martin (the Ascendant Kingdoms saga) weaves together fact, fiction, and the supernatural to create a realistic underworld for modern Charleston, S.C”

Beauty in Ruins: “Familiar, accessible, and enjoyable, Deadly Curiosities is the kind of book to have serious crossover appeal for urban fantasy and horror readers alike.”

Red Star Reviews: “Let me start by saying this book was awesome! Very engrossing right from the start! I’ve enjoyed every Gail Z Martin book I’ve read and Deadly Curiosities is no exception to this!”

Book review by Charlotte: “This story is full of action. It kept me on the edge of my seat. I can see this story as a major motion picture full of action and adventure.”

Books Boones & Buffy: “An atmospheric tale filled with fascinating historical details, a protagonist with a very cool ability, and lots of scary ghosts and shadowy corners.”

Fiction Vortex: “Martin is clearly in her element when bringing the ghosts of Charleston to life. Cassidy’s investigation is peppered with the stories of pirates and smugglers whose deaths are tied to the evil threatening the city. I’ll admit, I’m a big fan of ghost stories and I loved the touch of character Martin gave to her haunts.”

She hearts books: “This is one of those books you just can’t put down until you’re finished reading.”

The Book Adventures: “The world-building, the setting, the characters, the relationships have depths to them that make this a complex and very interesting urban fantasy novel.”

Not yet read: “Gail Z. Martin does an excellent job painting vivid scenes, her suspense and fight scenes are amazing and her characters charming. I can’t wait for more!”

Sci-Fi Fan Letter: “a fun start to a new series”

Wicked Scribe: “The villains are delightfully evil, the crimes are horrific and you get pulled into the motivation to find and stop this paranormal killer before things get even worse.”

I smell sheep: “The characters are wonderful making me want to get to know them and kept me turning the pages to find out just what was happening and where it would all end up.”

Much loved books: “I found myself emotionally invested in the outcome of each one, even the dog, and when they were facing the badest, strongest, entity, I was so nervous, I had butterflies in my stomach worried over what would happen to them. Deadly Curiosities is a great combination of paranormal and mystery…”

Gizmo’s Reviews: “If you like kick ass action at every turn, and the unknown whether the characters will all survive or not, then please read Deadly Curiosities and give the finger to publishers who say that UF is dead and gone.”

A Bibliophile’s Reverie: “This novel felt like a shiny twist between Warehouse 13 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” 4/5 stars

Love Fantasy More: “If you’re looking for a nice summer ghost mystery, Deadly Curiosities is a great book for you. And if you like procedural type books, you may even love it more than I did!”

Elder Park BookReviews: “the characters were rich and fleshed out and [there was] plenty of new takes on supernatural powers to keep this novel innovative.”

Caffeinated BookReviewer: “An old school urban fantasy with a Warehouse 13 vibe, this tale was action packed. Filled with magic, supernatural creatures and possessed objects. I quickly consumed this and look forward to reading more.”

Bibliosanctum: “I do hope she has plans to continue expanding Cassidy’s story as well, because this was a lot of fun. I would return to Charleston and Trifles & Folly in a heartbeat.”

The Book Adventures: “A fast-paced, suspenseful and sometimes creepy story, this book brings paranormal closer to horror and further from fantasy, and was a welcome change from the tropes that pervade the sub-genre.”

Missing Volume: “Good world building and the huge plus for me is there is no romance building the background between the characters. I’ll be looking for more books in this series.”

Ponderings of Psyche: “Dark Curiosities brought up fresh ideas and mixed it with the old ones, making a perfect blend of read that will certainly not fail the expectations of the readers of urban fantasy.”

Dab of Darkness: “This was a fast-paced urban fantasy with a twist: antiques. So, lots of history was tossed into the mix, and I loved it.”

Mixed Book Bag: “Deadly Curiosities has just the right blend of paranormal and mystery and a great start to a new series.”

Doctor’s Notes: “The book was fast paced so I flew through it with ease and was fully invested in it.”

Tome Tender: “Deadly Curiosities is a fun, unique and interesting story with marvellous possibilities for what might come next.”

Are you a reviewer or blogger interested in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror or Alternative YA & Children’s Fiction? If you’d like to receive advance title information and review copies, as well as opportunities for guest blogs and interviews with our authors contact us at Please include information about the site or publication you review for, any genre preferences and your preferred contact name and email.

Get it now: UKUS

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Bridging Old and New by Gail Z. Martin

Why write an urban fantasy series after three successful epic fantasy series? Because it’s fun.
(P.S. That’s the same reason I’ll be writing a steampunk series for 2015, too.)

Truth is, a lot of the same interests run between my epic and urban fantasy. Scratch the surface, and find a history major and museum geek.

Plunk me down in a major city with time to kill, and I’ll find the museums. (Heck, I’ll find them in a minor city if you give me time.) And yes, I read the plaques underneath the objects, even when I’ve got the audio tour. I love discovering cool old stuff, weird objects, creepy funeral customs, and pretty things from the past.

In Deadly Curiosities, my main character Cassidy can read the history and strong memories/magic imprinted on an object. I don’t claim that ability, but I do have a wild imagination, and more often than not, I can close my eyes and feel the past around me. (Note: I avoid doing that when touring places like the Tower of London.)

While Deadly Curiosities happens in modern-day Charleston, SC, it’s a storyline steeped in the past. “Buttons” was the short story I wrote for Solaris’s award-winning Magic: The Esoteric and Arcane anthology (and reprinted this year in the British Fantasy Society’s Unexpected Journeys anthology). It was a contemporary story with the characters you’ll meet in the novel. But before that, I had written short stories in the Deadly Curiosities world spanning the 1500’s and 1700’s for other anthologies.

Sorren, my nearly six hundred year-old vampire, is the thread of continuity through all the stories. In Vanities (originally published in the British Fantasy Society’s The Bitten Word), we see Sorren’s first job for the Alliance, battling a demon in Antwerp in 1565. I’ve written two other stand-alone short stories that follow up on Vanities: Wild Hunt and Dark Legacy, that show more of Sorren’s origins, tell the story of his maker, Alard, and hint at the creation of the Alliance.

The very first story about Trifles and Folly, the antique shop in Deadly Curiosities, appeared in the Rum and Runestones anthology and was set in the 1770’s, just before the American Revolution. The anthology prompt required pirates and magic, which is what Steer a Pale Course delivers. That story was popular enough to get me invited back to the Spells and Swashbucklers anthology, with The Low Road. Then Marie O’Regan tapped me for The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, and Among the Shoals Forever was born.

Sorren’s past is Old World—Europe and old gods and ancient monsters. His maker battled Viking warriors and gained the help of a Norse Seior. A hundred years later, Sorren travels to Charleston to set up Trifles and Folly in 1663, forging a long-standing arrangement with one of Cassidy’s ancestors.

I know that Europe has phone booths older than anything we’ve got here in the States, but Charleston is one of our oldest cities. Unlike New Orleans, Charleston hasn’t been heavily used for urban fantasy, which made it a fresh location with much of the same charm and danger. Charleston, like New Orleans, has a very prominent European connection, and when you walk its cobblestone streets, you can feel in your bones the truth of Faulkner’s quote: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”

As in New Orleans, the younger sons of European gentry came to Charleston to make their way. Men with service to the crown received land grants and set up sprawling plantations. Fortunes were won and lost. And while Charleston is known as the “Holy City” for its hundreds of churches, beneath that piety ran rivers of blood in brothels, duels and slavery.

Look beyond the beautiful mansions and gardens heavy with bougainvillea, Spanish moss and gardenia, and you’ll find the tragedy of the slave trade. Charleston was part of the “Triangle Trade” with the Caribbean—molasses, rum and slaves. By some accounts, the majority of slaves in the U.S. came through Charleston Harbor. Those slaves brought their beliefs with them, religions that melded and changed to create the Voodoo of New Orleans and the Hoodoo of the Lowcountry. Charleston’s past rests uneasily, not far below the surface.

While New Orleans has always embraced its wild side, Charleston opted for repressed propriety. But like a convention of accountants in Las Vegas, even the proper folks have to let loose sometime, and Charleston’s back alleys were the place for indulgence. Duels were fought. Pirates were by turn welcomed and shunned in Charleston depending on the benefit to the city’s fathers. Blackbeard himself blockaded the city in 1718. The city’s history is full bad boys and wild girls.

I’m very excited about Deadly Curiosities and the chance to spin tales about haunted objects, dark magical items and cursed heirlooms. And I’m thrilled to be working on the second book in the Deadly Curiosities series for 2015 with even more thrills and chills.

If you want more of Cassidy, Sorren and Teag right away, check out my free novella on The Final Death. Coffin Box and Wicked Dreams also continue the adventures of Cassidy and her team, and you can find them with my other ebook short stories on Kindle, Kobo and Nook.

Cassidy and crew will be turning up in a couple more anthologies this year. Retribution, an all-new Deadly Curiosities adventure, is featured in the Athena’s Daughters anthology by Silence in the Library Publishing. The Restless Dead will be in the Realms of Imagination anthology from Dark Oak Books.

So the next time you pick up that family heirloom, pay attention if your fingers tingle or you catch a glimpse of something that isn’t there. Cassidy can tell you, the past may be gone, but it doesn’t stay buried.

I’ll be celebrating the launch of Deadly Curiosities the whole week of June 22-29 with more than 30 different guest blog posts, a Facebook launch party featuring prizes, guest authors and surprises, podcasts, three different excerpts, a Reddit give-away/AskMeAnything and a Goodreads party/give-away. Get all the details at, follow me on or on Twitter @GailZMartin!

I’ll be signing in major cities across the U.S. and in England, Wales and Scotland this summer—the full book tour schedule is on my website, so please stop by and say hello!

About the Author
Gail Z. Martin writes epic and urban fantasy, steampunk and short stories. She is the auth

or of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle series and the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series of epic fantasy books, as well as the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy world and coming in 2015, Iron and Blood, a Steampunk novel, co-written with Larry N. Martin. Gail is a frequently contributor to US and UK anthologies. She also writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.

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The past bites: what has Deadly Curiosities author Gail Z. Martin been up to?

Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin is one of our big release this summer – a dark urban fantasy with a dark of magic and a smidgeon of the arcane. Gail is one of our bestsellers at Solaris and it’s a delight to welcome her back to the fold…

Cassidy Kincaide owns Trifles & Folly, an antique/curio store and high-end pawn shop in Charleston, South Carolina that is more than what it seems. Dangerous magical and supernatural items sometimes find their way into mortal hands or onto the market, and Cassidy is part of a shadowy Alliance of mortals and mages whose job it is to take those deadly curiosities out of circulation.

Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670—acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500 year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Sorren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up

So that’s Deadly Curiosities, but what has Gail been up to?

Last week she appeared over on Reddit for an AMA where she answered, well, anything – including a question about why we appear to be obsessed with the undead…
I’ve read a bunch of theories … everything from being a reaction to an economic recession to a way of dealing with global uncertainty and rapid culture change. Maybe. I don’t know.
I have liked vampires since I was about 5 years old and watched the old Dark Shadows soap opera back in the early 1960s. (Not sure why my mom let me, but hey, it shaped my life!) I was totally hooked. I even dictated a story for my grandmother to write down (I couldn’t spell yet) about a vampire. I playacted vampires (seriously–some kids made a race car out of a big cardboard box. I made a coffin and then practiced sitting up with great style.)
I wouldn’t say that I’m any more concerned about death/dying/afterlife than anyone else. I have my beliefs, but I’m not in a hurry to test them out. I didn’t have any really early childhood trauma of losing someone. I just always thought that ghosts, vampires, werewolves and magic were super cool, and that’s what I liked to read/watch so it’s what I wanted to write. But you’re right–the undead certainly do show up in my writing!

She’s written a blog post for SFX magazine about how the book was written in the wake of her father’s death and features a great passion for the past, as well as a love of its setting – the American city of Charleston (our PR guy and history nerd, Mike, just got all excited because Charleston was founded in 1670 as ‘Charles Towne’ in honour of King Charles II).

She also talked to Bull Spec about her use of language and how even fitting words can lift a reader right out of the story:
There are a couple of etymology web sites that have become bookmarks on my computer because I am frequently checking to see when a word or phrase was first used, and how it was used. For example, people have been puking since the Middle Ages, but they didn’t barf until recently. And while they have been pissing for hundreds of years, it’s only in the last few decades that anyone has been pissed off.

She’s also talked about how writing Deadly Curiosities as a novel has whetted her appetite for further adventures in the same world and what it’s like jumping between genres in her writing.

The reviews have already started to trickle in too over on Goodreads and Bibliophile’s Diary gave it a five out of five, adding:
No spoilers guys, but I really enjoyed the plot and how the story turned out. Along with the great setting the magic is fascinating. There are magics we’ve all heard of, such as Cassidy’s ability to read objects she touched, but then there were ones I was unfamiliar with such as Weaver magic and the system created for it. Can we also talk about the Voudon (Voodoo) in the novel? I have such a love for that particular character, Lucinda, you wouldn’t believe. I really wanted more about that side of the world, I’m hoping we see more about the Voudon or local magic in future books.

Deadly Curiosities is out in print and ebook for North America on 25th June and in print and ebook for the UK and Ireland on 3rd July.

But if you can’t wait, Gail is offering an online multi-part novella FOR FREE that’s set in the same universe. The Final Death is a prequel to Deadly Curiosities and here’s the blurb:

Vampires, vengeful ghosts and Voodoo are all in a day’s work for Cassidy Kincaide, owner of Trifles and Folly, an antique and curio store in historic, haunted Charleston, SC whose real mission is to get dangerous magical objects off the market and out of the wrong hands. When developers disturb old graves, Cassidy and her team land in the middle of big trouble as the restless dead return to finish old business and feast on the blood of the living. A novella in 5 parts–watch for new additions!

You can read The Final Death right here – enjoy!