EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT: Shadowplay by Laura Lam

14 December 2016

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After last month's publication of the glorious Pantomime, the first in Laura Lam's celebrated Micah Grey trilogy, comes ShadowplayRe-enter the extraordinary world Laura's created with the exclusive extract below, ahead of the book's publication tomorrow! 

Micah Grey almost died when he fled the circus with Drystan - now he and the ex-clown seek to outrun disaster. Drystan persuades his old friend Jasper Maske, a once-renowned magician, to take them in. But when he agrees to teach them his trade, Maske is challenged to the ultimate high-stakes duel by his embittered arch-nemesis.

Micah must perfect his skills of illusion, while navigating a tender new love. An investigator is also hunting the person he once seemed to be - a noble family's runaway daughter. As the duel draws near, Micah increasingly suffers from visions showing him real magic and future terrors. Events that broke the ancient world are being replayed. But can Micah's latent powers influence this deadly pattern?

 

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1

THE MAGICIAN

 

“I know I have created magic to rival the greatest anyone has ever known. What I do not know is whether the price of the gamble was worth it.”

The unpublished memoirs of Jasper Maske: THE MASKE OF MAGIC

 

We didn’t run.

We kept to the shadows as we sneaked through the streets of Imachara. Any noise made us jump – any stranger could later be a witness to turn us into the Policiers or the Shadow that pursued us. The Penglass domes threaded throughout the city reflected the full moon, and the cold blue light reminded me all too clearly of what had happened tonight. What I had done.

Don’t think about it. Not now.

Every step hurt my broken arm, wrapped in a makeshift sling. Drystan, the white clown of R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic and my fellow fugitive, reached out and clasped my shoulder, careful not to jostle me. We had reached our destination.

“This is where we’ll find the magician?” I asked.

Drystan nodded. The flickering light of the gas lamps tinged the falling mist golden and cast shadows across the old Kymri Theatre. The boarded windows stared like blinded eyes from between the soot-streaked limestone. The columns carved with hundreds of glyphs and stylized demi-gods had once been painted, but only a few chips of teal and orange paint remained.

It was late, but there were still some hardy souls out, hunched against the rain: two men sharing an umbrella, a woman with her hood tight around her face, heels clicking along the cobblestones. I turned my face away.

The wide, impenetrable door before us was re-enforced with swirling tendrils of brass. Drystan hesitated before stepping forward and thumping the heavy lion’s head-knocker.

We waited in silence, our breathing quick, my heartbeat still thundering in my ears. My pack with all my worldly possessions lay heavy on my shoulder. The drizzling rain turned into drops that snaked their way down my spine. Through the door, I heard footsteps. My pulse spiked.

“Someone’s coming,” I whispered to Drystan, who did not have ears as keen as mine.

The key clunked in the lock and one of the brass and oaken doors swung inward. Whoever was behind it remained in shadow.

“Who is it?” a voice asked. “We are closed.”

“Someone you owe a favor, Jasper Maske.” Drystan held up a coin, glinting silver in the light of the streetlamp. “And a séance.”

The door opened further. A tall man emerged from the gloom. He had a pale, somber face flanked by dark hair and silvered temples. An immaculate beard framed his mouth. He held an orange glass globe in one hand, the light dancing against the dips and crevices of his face. He was the very image of a magician, from his shining boots to his neatly arranged cravat.

The magician regarded us for a long moment. “Drystan Hornbeam. It has been a long time.”

He knew Drystan’s full name, which meant he knew who he was – the estranged scion of one of the noblest families behind the throne of Ellada.

Drystan and I made a strange pair. Drystan’s bleached white hair lay plastered to his skull. His pink and white clown’s motley was translucent against his skin, thrown on in haste after his other clothes had been splattered with blood. Remnants of greasepaint smeared his cheeks. I made an even odder sight, in a patched coat over a torn wedding dress from my role in the pantomime of R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, half of its pearls missing. My broken left arm was wrapped in a hasty sling from a strip of the dress and my face bloomed with fresh bruises and cuts.

“And who is your companion?” he asked, turning his attention to me.

“Micah,” I said, holding out my unbroken arm, which he did not take.

He peered at me. He did not ask why a beaten teenager with a boy’s name and voice stood on his threshold in a torn wedding dress.

Drystan rolled the coin along his knuckles.

“Very well, Drystan. Keep your coin,” Maske said. “And come inside.”