The Banished blends horror with a high-stakes thriller about revenge, delusion, and the ethics of violence
Rival factions of witches in 1880s Bucharest disagree on how to use their spells to replenish depleted power. The hardliners promote the use of murder, while Travis’ family promotes a new kind of magic that feeds from human fear alone. They champion their approach as enlightened because victims survive with no recollection of torment. After a grave mistake gets them banished by the hardliners, Travis is driven to perfect his parents’ advancements and avenge them.
Travis comes to discover that he cannot stomach the trauma he inflicts, and that his parents’ technique, once pushed to its limits, transports souls to the Devil.
Currently pitching agents, working cover (above) if I decide to self-publish
Excerpt from Chapter 5:
The conjured man, eerily wavering in the gaslight that flickered against masonry, came to linger outside a cottage window and tapped, waited, and then tapped again. Travis heard screams from within and ducked behind a tree.
“Daddy?” children’s voices called out from inside. “Daddy’s in the window.”
Travis watched as the door cracked open and a woman took halting steps outside.
“Ivan? My God! Is it you?”
The ghoul glided into the light of the entryway. The woman reached out to touch his face and recoiled. Her dead husband, somehow risen, pushed her hand aside and stormed in.
“No!” she screamed as he marched toward four children huddled on the floor.
She leapt in front of the intruder, spread her arms, and waved them to block him, but her eldest son was snatched up and dragged from the room and onto the front lawn. The woman bolted out and jumped on his back while the children’s screams pierced the darkness.
"He’s killing a boy!" Travis shouted to his parents. "Shaking him like a rag. Do something!"
The woman fought savagely against bites and scratches and managed to wrest her stricken son from the attacker. They made it back inside and slammed and locked the door.
Travis watched the specter lurk outside. He pounded on the hardwood, gave up, and hovered in front of a window on the side of the house where his family huddled inside. The ghoul shattered the pane with a few sharp jabs, and shoved his head into the room.
“Don’t leave me,” a deep, otherworldly voice implored. “I am alone. Far away. Empty.”
“Get away from here! My God. Help us!” Travis heard his wife shriek.
The conjured man pounded at the adjacent pane to widen the opening. He cleared away shards and then smashed another.
Travis hid under a hedge and watched as the back door of the cottage creaked open. Two of the children climbed on their mother’s back, and two clung to her legs. She slowly removed her hand from the mouth of her injured son, and motioned to him to remain quiet. They crept further, looked toward the intruder, and then made their way as quickly and silently as they could into the street.
"Run! Please get away," Travis whispered. "Now’s your chance."
The boy stumbled, but his sister grabbed his hand and dragged him until he regained his footing. They whimpered and chased their mother, who had already turned a corner.
The ghoul shimmied though the window with an incongruous grace. Travis waited and heard a roar. The former master of the house hovered beyond the back door, bellowed a second time, and then bolted after his family.
Travis sprang to his feet and followed. A mix of urgent pleas for help, shrieks of the children, and deep-throated moans of their father coursed through the darkness.