Originally published in late 1996, Night Calls by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel has been called “Little House on the Prairie meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “a story rich in regional historical detail, voice, and charm”.
Set in an alternate early 1800s Michigan Territory, the Night Calls series describes Alfreda Sorensson’s growing knowledge of magic, her training by her family, and her adventures in helping protect her friends and community.
“When you have the Gift, your life is not your own.”
I was born to a family that harnessed the winds and could read futures in fire and water. Yet my mother kept her secrets.
Then the werewolf came, sharing his madness.
Now it’s my turn to keep secrets…
Each of the three books in the series, Night Calls, Kindred Rights, and Spiral Path, is published by Book View Cafe. They’re all told from Alfreda’s point of view. We get to know her thoughts, concerns, fears, and hopes as she grows into her role and potential.
Night Calls by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
Night Calls has two distinct halves. In the first part of the book we’re introduced to Alfreda, or Allie, her family and her local community, as well as the practitioner magic as it’s used by her father, aunt, and extended family.
Her journey to becoming a practitioner is triggered by her magically-influenced ‘instinct’ that wolves are involved in a recent spate of deaths. It turns out these aren’t simple wolves, and that the real threat are werewolves. From here, Annie’s father begins training her in woodcraft with a twist. The book’s approach to a monster-hunting story reminds me of Jo M. Thomas’ highly recommended 25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf, with its first-person perspective of a young woman growing into her role as a powerful protector. The two books a perfect pairing!
As the story progresses, we’re introduced to a wider range of “creatures from the old world”, and the skills and tools needed to defeat them. These range from vampires, to more elemental and folklore-related monsters. Allie’s family begin training her in an ever-growing range of techniques, and she eventually leaves with her Aunt Marta to begin her training proper. This is where the second part of the book begins.
While staying with and learning from Marta, the pair are called to help a small settlement that’s suffering a terrible fate. The story opens up, exploring the wider world and the people and supernatural beings that inhabit it.
Like many reviewers, I was stunned that I hadn’t spotted this book sooner.
“Frankly, I think whoever does the marketing for her publisher ought to have his or her legs taken off at the knees. I devour fantasy, and even though the book has been around for nearly 20 years, I'd never heard of it or her. I feel cheated!”
I loved its ‘slice-of-life’ approach, matched with action-packed and danger-filled sequences.
My own recommendation reads:
“Bought the full book immediately after enjoying the sample from Book View Cafe!
This magical, period adventure moved along at a quick pace. Plenty of events, but not at all rushed. The language, descriptions and sense of location & time seem spot-on. It's the first in a series too, so I'm excited to read more.
Books like this are why I love buying and reading indie ebooks!”
Kindred Rights by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
The second book in the series, Kindred Rights has a similar split to the first. We get to know what Allie has learned, some of the people she’s helped. And we are suddenly thrust into a wilderness survival story while Allie is hunted by a group of dark practitioners.
“…we are all Death’s pupils, we practitioners—students of the great healer.”
When magic broke free in my blood, I chose to follow our ancient family path and become a practitioner. I’m learning to heal, and to protect innocents. I dip into minds, stalk vampires, and set wards by the light of the moon. I can hear the children of the night calling.
But there are other families…and other paths. Families with twisted ambitions and frightening powers. On the frontier, folk whisper that one clan is the most dangerous of all.
Chief among those dark sorcerers is a man known as the Keeper of Souls.
And now he wants to keep mine.
Spiral Path by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
The third book, Spiral Path, takes us back East. I can’t wait to get stuck into this story. Again, it gives us a new setting, and new challenges for Allie, including the threat of war.
“The world is woven of secrets.”
Ritual magic mixes dangerously with wild magic. Yet Alfreda Sorensson’s talent has grown until she becomes a target for worldly and unworldly powers. Now, to save her soul, she must leave her pioneer home in the Michigan Territory to take refuge at an elite New York school, where her wild magic places her in direct conflict with the ritual taught to young Americans and Europeans.
Alfreda suspects that half the professors may not be human at Windward Academy. It’s a curious place, a last chance for students who can’t control their powers, and a place where everything is a test, in one way or another.
At first Alfreda thinks her greatest challenge will be mastering ritual. Then she learns that traitors have infiltrated the school–and the new nation. War looms between the United States and England, and Alfreda answers the call. Only after she spies her way into an enemy magician’s estate does she learn the true challenge of her own power–
Because when dark magic finds her, she’s utterly on her own.
Where to buy the Night Calls series
All three books in the Night Calls series by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel are available to buy direct from Book View Cafe in either DRM-free Mobi (for your Kindle) or ePub (for everything else) formats.