18.82 Kim Liggett Blood and Salt

ISBN 13: 9780399166488

Blood and Salt

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9780399166488: Blood and Salt

The last words Ash hears her mother say are, “When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”
 
Determined to find her mother when she disappears, Ash follows her to Quivara, Kansas, the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.
 
Her mother is nowhere to be found, but Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love, murder, alchemy, and immortality. Charming traditions give way to a string of deaths. And Ash feels herself drawn to Dane, a mysterious, forbidden boy with secrets of his own.
 
As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash fights to save her mother, her lover, and herself. She must discover the truth about Quivara before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

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About the Author:

At sixteen, Kim Liggett left her rural midwestern town for New York City, where she pursued a career in  music and acting. While attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Kim sang backup for some of the biggest rock bands of the 80’s. After settling down to have a family, she became an entrepreneur, creating a children’s art education program and a travel company specializing in tours for musicians. She’s married to jazz musician Ken Peplowski, and has two beautiful teenagers. 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

THE DEAD GIRL hung upside down over our kitchen table.

Ropes dug into her ankles as she swayed from the chandelier. Blood traced a line from the familiar cut across the palm of her hand to one of her delicate fingertips. The drop quivered before joining the little puddle headed for my twin’s cereal bowl. I pulled it out of the way, sloshing rice milk and granola onto the table.

“Ash,” Rhys yelled at me, mouth full, spoon mid-scoop. “I’m not finished with that.”

Ignoring him, I dumped his soggy old-man cereal into the sink. I knew he couldn’t see the blood, but I couldn’t bear to watch death touch him.

The dead girl belonged only to me.

“Perfect,” Rhys said, pushing his lanky frame away from the table and holding up his milk-soaked sleeve.

“You’ll live.” I lobbed a tea towel at him.

My mother moved barefoot through the open kitchen, her long chestnut hair swinging behind her as she lit a bundle of sage. “To ward off grouchiness.”

She wasn’t some wannabe hippie. The sage was a holdover from her childhood. Seventeen years ago, my mother escaped Quivira, a spiritual commune in Kansas, with a ton of gold ingots and the two of us in her belly.

“Coffee works for that, too.” Rhys smirked as he poured the last bit into his mug.

“Ooh yes, thanks, love.” Mom took it right from under his nose.

I had to press my lips together to stifle a laugh.

Rhys glared at me as he scooped the oily black beans into the machine and stabbed the button.

This was as aggressive as my brother ever got.

I welcomed the high-pitched grinding noise—anything but the sound of that rope.

The dead girl had been with me for as long as I could remember, hanging above my crib, my bed, but her visits had grown further apart with each passing year.

Because of my mom’s freaky upbringing, she thought I was born a conduit—meaning that I had a special gift allowing me to tap into the senses and emotions of my deceased female ancestors. So far, I’d only seen the one girl and she never made me feel much more than annoyed.

The grinding stopped. The rope crackled and creaked as it spun the dead girl around to face me—and it felt like all the air had been crushed from my lungs.

Bracing myself against the cool granite countertop, I stared up at the face I’d seen so many times before. What had once seemed a vague family resemblance had turned into a startling revelation. It wasn’t just her wide-set eyes, which had rolled back into her head as if trying to escape a terrifying last image, or her down-turned mouth, stretched open, frozen in mid-scream. With our long dark blond hair and pronounced cheekbones, we could’ve been twins.

My mom did a flyby, leaving me in a cloud of sage smoke.

“Wait.” I sucked in a singeing breath as I climbed onto the table, stretching my fingers toward the chandelier.

When the smoke cleared, the dead girl was gone.

“Please tell me you’re not on acid.” Rhys’s voice startled me.

I glanced down to see my mom and brother staring up at me with the same moss-green eyes—comforting and disarming all at once.

I forced myself to breathe. “I saw her.”

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.” My mom climbed up on the table, placing her hands on my shoulders.

“Are we really doing this?” Rhys sighed, navigating his way onto the table and making the china clatter. He had no spiritual gifts to speak of, but he didn’t like being left out.

As a rule, I didn’t keep secrets from them, but they both got weird whenever I saw the dead girl. If I told them she looked exactly like me now, that somehow in the past year she’d grown into my face, or I’d grown into hers, God only knows what they’d do.

My mom brushed tendrils of hair from my face, and my eyes filled with tears. I had no idea what was going on with me; I wasn’t much of a crier. Maybe I was just stressed about what would come next: getting a new mark.

As if reading my thoughts, my mother traced a symbol below my collarbone with her fingertip. “If you’d rather wait, we can do it after school, or—”

“No, I’m fine,” I said, patting her arm. No reason to prolong the agony.

My mother had developed a series of what she believed were protection marks to shield me from the worst of the visions, but she believed a lot of things. The Larkin women had a long history with alchemy and batshit craziness, so since I had the “protection marks,” there was no real way of knowing if I was a conduit or just another functioning schizophrenic.

“Don’t you think she’s had enough?” Rhys said, clearing his throat, deep lines settling between his brows. He hated it—all of it—the history, the marks, the gold.

“I won’t leave you unprotected,” my mother said as she grasped our hands. I felt the hard ridge on her hand pressing against my skin. Like the hanging girl, my mother had a long angry scar covering the length of her left palm. A constant reminder of her past.

“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” she said as she helped us down from the table, then led the way up the spiral stairs to her studio.

“I seriously doubt that,” Rhys said under his breath.

I tried to play it off, but just the thought of the bone needle brought a vile taste to my mouth.

2

YOU’D NEVER KNOW IT by the caustic scent in her studio, but my mother made some of the most exquisite perfumes in the world. She had an elite clientele willing to pay a small fortune for fragrances that were truly unique. She worked on other things, too. Secret things. The smell of sulfur and putrid brine wafted through the air, remnants of her last dalliance with the unknown.

Our apartment had a minimalist modern feel, but my mother’s studio was warm and cluttered—like stepping back in time—a private oasis in the middle of New York City. Exposed brick walls were studded with arched windows, fragrant plants and vines grew in every nook and cranny. Still, my mom’s favorite part of the house was the small stretch of grass in the center of the room. It wasn’t just any grass—the seeds came from Quivira. She seemed truly at home here in the studio, standing among hundreds of mismatched bottles stacked on graduated shelves. As a kid I loved watching her work; I was always fascinated by the layer of fine gold dust that clung to her fingertips as she traced symbols in the air. She had her own language for formulas, a mix of ancient alchemy symbols and Caddo—the language of the Native American tribe who first inhabited Quivira. Supposedly, it was passed on from generation to generation of Larkin women, but my mother never wanted me to learn. She didn’t want us to be a part of that world. Even if it was all in her head, it was still kind of beautiful, like a twisted fairy tale.

I spotted the sharpened bison bone needle on the edge of her desk.

“Do I smell wild jasmine?” I asked, trying to distract myself from what was about to happen.

A smile eased across her lips as she placed two drops of clear liquid into a narrow vial. “You’re close. It’s blue lotus.” She stood on bare tiptoes to reach a bottle on the top shelf. She only wore shoes if she absolutely had to—another holdover from her upbringing.

My mother glanced at me appraisingly. “Your nose may be improving. Any chance it’s rubbed off on your brother?”

“Highly unlikely,” I said. To Rhys, everything smelled like Play-Doh, cinnamon, or feet.

“You know it’s rude to talk about people in front of them,” my brother called out as he meandered around the studio, squeezing through the apothecary shelves with his hands held high in the air, trying not to touch anything. He thought alchemy was just a fancy word for witchcraft, but my mom always said it was about transformation. It could be herbs, metals, chemicals, or even the soul.

“I wish you’d teach me,” I said as I watched her work.

“You know everything you need to know,” she replied as she pulled bottles from the shelves.

“Just what anyone could pick up from a textbook.” I removed a glass stopper to take a whiff. Sharp and metallic.

She smiled, but there was a tinge of sadness in her eyes. “You have your whole life ahead of you . . . a beautiful life, free of all this,” she said as she took the bottle away from me. “You’re not responsible for the sins of your ancestors.”

Rhys made a throttling motion behind her. He hated when she talked in riddles.

“I know what you’re doing, Rhys,” my mother said without turning around.

Busted, I mouthed with a grin.

A deep flush reached all the way to the tips of his ears before he skulked off to look out the windows.

“You know, you have Katia’s eyes,” my mother said to me.

The dead girl. “Wait . . . did Katia look exactly like me?”

“No.” She gave me a puzzled look. “There’s a family resemblance, though. Why would you ask that?”

“Just curious.” I feigned interest in an old marble pestle.

Katia Larkin, my great-great-great-whatever-grandmother, was a powerful alchemist in the 1500s. So powerful that the king of England, the king of Spain, and the Catholic Church all wanted to burn her at the stake. Apparently, she could turn common metals into gold and heal the sick. But the real kicker: They said she was immortal.

How she ended up in the middle of Kansas in 1541 is a sordid tale. Katia and her four children escaped to the New World with the conquistador Coronado. In exchange for their safe passage to Quivira, Katia agreed to make Coronado her immortal mate, but of course, she’d fallen madly in love with one of his soldiers, Alonso Mendoza.

Shit hit the fan when Katia tried to go behind Coronado’s back and make Alonso her immortal mate instead of Coronado. Legend has it that Coronado killed Alonso and forced Katia to blood bind to him. The only way to break the bond was to find vessels, whatever the hell that meant, so she could be reunited with her one true love. It was all very Days of Our Lives, and my mother believed every word of it.

“Are you ready?” she asked, cradling the elixir in one hand, the bone needle in the other.

I nodded and walked to the center of the room, to the raised bed of grass.

Rhys sidled next to me. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Don’t worry.” I shooed him away. “I’ll be fine.”

Rhys perched himself on the far edge of the grass, looking at the wall so he wouldn’t pass out. He wanted to be there for me, but he didn’t do well with blood.

I removed my blouse and lay down, feeling the crush of soft blades against my back.

My mother kneeled beside me. Pushing aside the strap to my camisole, she traced the symbol with her fingertip directly below my collarbone. “Today, I will give you a circle with a dot in the center. Closest to your heart.”

“The symbol for gold and sun,” I said, taking in a jittery breath.

“Someone’s been paying attention,” she said as she leaned over me, her chestnut hair spilling onto her shoulders, obscuring her face.

She breathed slow and deep and began to meditate, or pray, or whatever it was she did. Sometimes Rhys and I would come home from school to find her that way, and we’d wonder if she’d been in that state all day. She always said she was practicing, using the energy of her surroundings to hang on to her soul as the world collapsed around her. Needless to say, we didn’t ask about it often.

Rhys tapped his shiny loafer on the tiles. “Can we just get this over with?”

She dipped the fine bone needle into the murky tincture. “Uhurahak a u’ a,” she whispered. “That means ‘let go and let yourself fall.’”

Concentrating on the narrow shaft of sunlight streaming in through the open skylight, I inhaled deeply as she pressed the needle into my skin. It stung. You’d think after seventeen years I’d be used to it, but it still hurt like the very first time.

This was an ancient method of tattooing—the ink made from rare essences and metals—part of a series of archaic protection spells that left no visible mark after the pinpricks healed. The tattoos covered my entire body now. I didn’t know if they did any good, but it made Mom feel like she was helping me. I’d trade a little pain for her peace of mind.

As she held my shoulder down, I felt my mother’s scar tissue pulsing against my skin.

“The dead girl has a scar just like yours,” I said.

“It’s an honor.” She eased her hand away, closing it into a fist. “She must’ve been chosen to walk the corn.”

“Here we go.” Rhys shook his head. We’d heard these stories a million times, but unlike Rhys, I never tired of them.

“It’s tradition in Quivira,” my mother continued, her features relaxing, her eyes taking on a dreamy quality. “The chosen couple walks the corn on the summer solstice. That’s when Katia tests our blood, searching for the vessels. Nearly seventeen years ago, I walked the corn with your father, Thomas.”

“But he didn’t make it out of the corn,” I said as I tore my eyes away from the patch of blue sky to study her face.

“No, we were separated,” she answered in quiet resignation, pausing to admire her work on the outer rim of the circle. “But Katia led me out of the corn, and allowed me to leave Quivira to raise my children.”

Rhys hunched over, resting his elbows on his knees. I knew it was killing him not to say anything. He thought our entire family history was a crock of shit.

“Katia didn’t get that opportunity,” my mom said after a series of quick jabs with the needle. “Coronado killed her only daughter.”

According to Mom, Coronado was desperate to stop Katia from finding her vessel. When he learned of her plans, he vowed to wipe out our entire bloodline.

“Why did he hate Katia so much?” I asked. “Just because she didn’t want him?”

She paused, the needle hovering above my skin. “Love—hate—sometimes it’s a fine line. Falling in love with Alonso was Katia’s undoing. The Larkin women fall too hard, too fast, and too fierce.”

“I’ll never fall in love.” I exhaled a tremulous breath.

“Sweet Ash.” She looked down at me tenderly, stroking my cheek. “When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

Something about her words felt wrong—like putting pressure on a deep bruise.

She dipped the needle into the vial, then started on the dot in the center of the circle. “To an outsider, Quivira looks like nothing more than unkempt fields, but really it’s a utopia, totally cut off from the world. Katia placed a protection spell over Quivira to keep it that way. It’s beautiful.”

“It’s a cult,” Rhys said.

“The land itself is sacred,” my mother said defensively. “Descendants of the families who came to Quivira with Katia remain to this day. The Mendozas, the Grimsbys, the Hanrattys . . . even Coronado’s children stayed behind. Generation after generation . . . waiting . . .” Her voice trailed off.

“What are they waiting for?” I asked, taken aback by her strange tone.

A bird soared above our skylight, sending a shadow across her face. “Crow,” she whispered as she dug the bone needle into my flesh. “And so it shall b...

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Descripción G.P. Putnam s Sons Books for Young Readers, United States, 2015. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The last words Ash hears her mother say are, When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in--blood and salt. Determined to find her mother when she disappears, Ash follows her to Quivara, Kansas, the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time. Her mother is nowhere to be found, but Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town s history of unrequited love, murder, alchemy, and immortality. Charming traditions give way to a string of deaths. And Ash feels herself drawn to Dane, a mysterious, forbidden boy with secrets of his own. As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash fights to save her mother, her lover, and herself. She must discover the truth about Quivara before it s too late. Before she s all in--blood and salt. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780399166488

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Kim Liggett
Editorial: G.P. Putnam s Sons Books for Young Readers, United States (2015)
ISBN 10: 0399166483 ISBN 13: 9780399166488
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Descripción G.P. Putnam s Sons Books for Young Readers, United States, 2015. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The last words Ash hears her mother say are, When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in--blood and salt. Determined to find her mother when she disappears, Ash follows her to Quivara, Kansas, the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time. Her mother is nowhere to be found, but Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town s history of unrequited love, murder, alchemy, and immortality. Charming traditions give way to a string of deaths. And Ash feels herself drawn to Dane, a mysterious, forbidden boy with secrets of his own. As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash fights to save her mother, her lover, and herself. She must discover the truth about Quivara before it s too late. Before she s all in--blood and salt. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780399166488

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