Read Serpent's Storm Online

Authors: Amber Benson

Serpent's Storm

Table of Contents
 
 
PRAISE FOR
cat’s claw
“Callie bounces from twist to twist as she explores Benson’s richly imagined world, where multiple mythologies blend, and the afterlife is run as a corporation.”

Publishers Weekly
 
“An entertaining, frenzied fantasy frolic that will have the audience laughing at the chick-lit voice of the heroine, who is willing to go to heaven on a hellish cause.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
 
“Readers get another dose of the irresistibly flaky heroine. Join Calliope on another rollicking adventure.”
—Romance Reviews Today
 
“Incredibly imaginative and creative, silly and fun.”
—Errant Dreams
 
“Benson is back with a second helping of her refreshing take on death and purgatory as viewed through her heroine’s less-than-enthusiastic eyes. Normality is what Callie Reaper-Jones longs for, but it’s definitely not in the cards for this quirky and stubborn heroine. As curses and dangerous missions collide, Callie’s offbeat humor and viewpoint guarantee a madcap romp.”

Romantic Times
 
“A fun, snappy read to the tune of a chick-lit writing style, set in a colorful supernatural world. It’s a charming mesh of several myths with an unconventional modern-day twist that hosts a cast of quirky, likable, and diverse characters.”

Fantasy Dreamer’s Ramblings
 
“Sustains the style and pace of
Death’s Daughter
but adds deepening characterization.”

The Monthly Aspectarian
death’s daughter
 
“Amber Benson does an excellent job of creating strong characters, as well as educating the reader on some great mythology history . . . a fast-paced and very entertaining story.”
—Sacramento Book Review
 
“An urban fantasy series featuring a heroine whose macabre humor fits perfectly with her circumstances. Sure to appeal to fans of Tanya Huff’s Vicki Nelson series and Charles de Lint’s urban fantasies.”
—Library Journal
 
“Beguiling . . . Calliope emerges as an authentically original creation . . . Benson gives [her] a wonderfully varied landscape to explore, with elements of Hindu and Norse mythology and European folklore swirling around more familiar Judeo-Christian lore . . . The humorous tone never gets in the way of the imaginative weirdness of the supernatural events.”
—Locus
 
“Benson provides a fun romp that defines the rules of an exciting new universe you’ll be chomping at the bit to dive back into time and again. There’s action; there’s intrigue, redemption, an adorable hell puppy, and even a hot guy or two. What more could you ask for?”
—Buffyfest
 
“Amber Benson writes an amusing, action-packed, chick-lit urban fantasy loaded with more twists and curves than a twist-a-whirl . . . Filled with humor and wit, this is a refreshing, original thriller as double, triple, and nth crossings are the norm.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
 
“With a creative story line as proof, Ms. Benson adds writing to her ever-growing list of talents. Set within an intriguing paranormal world,
Death’s Daughter
unfolds a seductive tale of power and deception. A great start to a series that will be easy for readers to get hooked on.”
—Darque Reviews
“Opens the door on an intriguing, fully thought-out universe, with a likable main character and the potential for mayhem around every corner. It’s a lot of fun.”
—Fangoria
 
“The first-person point of view and the fast-paced plotting contribute immensely to creating a lively and funny story packed with nonstop action.”
—The Green Man Review
 
“Callie is sarcastic, smart-mouthed, and overwhelmed. I liked her a lot! . . . a lighthearted but still-suspenseful paranormal . . . The mythology and settings were unique and creepy . . . I will be eagerly awaiting more adventures of Callie, Clio, and Runt the hellhound.”
—Night Owl Romance
 
 
“A clever and well-told story . . . It’s also a step outside the current paranormal-fantasy rut but with enough elements in common to please fans of that form as well.”
—Critical Mass
 
“Amber Benson has created a brash, sassy heroine oozing attitude as she deals with family, business, an angry goddess, zombie armies, and betrayal in this imaginative blend of assorted mythologies. The snappy dialogue keeps pace with the quick pace while providing a fun touch of self-deprecating humor. It should be interesting to see where Benson takes Callie next.”
—Monsters and Critics
 
“ ‘Multitalented’ doesn’t begin to cover the gifts of former
Buffy
TV-alumna Benson. Her quirky, cranky, and humorous heroine leads readers on a wacky first-person adventure through hell. Great supporting characters and wild antics keep the pace brisk and the humor flowing.”
—Romantic Times
 
“There’s a whole lot of promise here . . . enjoyable.”
—SF Site
Ace Books by Amber Benson
 
DEATH’S DAUGHTER
CAT’S CLAW
SERPENT’S STORM
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
SERPENT’S STORM
 
An Ace Book / published by arrangement with Benson Entertainment, Inc.
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Ace mass-market edition / March 2011
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN : 978-1-101-47724-3
 
ACE
Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

For my mom,
who isn’t part fish
prologue
Blue sky.
She would do anything in the world to see blue sky again. The only window in her cell perpetually framed the same picture each and every day: large gray thunderheads always on the verge of spilling rain yet never seeming to deliver on their promise. She hated the window, the view from it, the cell in which she was incarcerated . . . all of which acted as a continuous reminder of the crimes she’d committed.
Yes, she’d done some stupid things—mostly she’d underestimated the people who’d sought to thwart her—but she didn’t regret any of her actions. She’d acted in the right. She’d done what she knew was necessary to secure a future that was most deservedly hers, and she’d do it all again if given the chance.
She’d be smarter the next time, though. There would be no compassion for the people who’d brought her suffering. She would grind them under her stiletto heel and feel no mercy toward them. She would make them suffer as she had, and she would enjoy every second of it.
There was a rattling behind her at the heavy iron door that barred her escape, and she turned, expecting to see a guard—one of the nasty Bugbear creatures with its four unblinking, button eyes showing nothing but reproach—bringing up her breakfast. Instead, the figure at the door was humanoid and covered in a light brown shroud that obscured its face. It carried no tray in its hands.
“What do you want?” she said, her words like acid as she glared at the figure, hoping to cut short this unexpected and unwelcome visit.
The figure pulled back its hood as if in answer, revealing a sharp, feminine face and curious eyes. A pair of red, cat-eyed glasses sat jauntily on the tip of the woman’s nose. A long, low-pitched laugh burbled from her throat as she smiled broadly from beneath her cowl-necked shroud.
“Why, I’m here to spring you, of course, darling. At the Devil’s behest, of course.”
The acid drained from her tongue as she took in her savior’s words, a malevolent grin slowly spreading across her face.
How quickly things change,
she thought to herself as she followed the woman in the cat-eyed glasses out of the cell, looking forward to the blue sky she knew was very much in her future.
one
Waking up next to a deliciously hot, naked man—one who was in my bed of his own volition—was like the most glorious feeling in the entire world. Right up there with winning an all-expenses-paid trip to Tahiti on
The Price Is Right
or having someone gift you a twenty-four-hour shopping spree at Barneys, Saks,
and
Neiman Marcus all on the same day. Yes, those were the things that rated A++ in my book, and having a naked man in my bed topped every one of them.

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