NEW RELEASE BLITZ: The Terrible by Tessa Crowley (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title: The Terrible

Author: Tessa Crowley

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/13/2024

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 96300

Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, fairy tale, fae, gay, magic/magic users, monster, spirit/wraith, royalty, soulmates, true love, violence, murder

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Once upon a time in the kingdom of Leithbrochen, a king and queen in need of an heir went to seek the aid of a fairy who lived in a hut that was never in the same place twice. Many years later, in a small village along a river, a monster made of shadows begins to kill and devour people in the night.

Ness Catterick, the adviser on all matters magical to the Crown of Leithbrochen, is placed in charge of dealing with the monster. To his dismay, the attacks are occurring in the same village where he grew up as a homeless orphan, reviled and abused for being lethfae, half fairy.

But this monster, called the Terrible, is not what it seems. After all, Ness knows there’s no such thing as monsters, only men behaving monstrously. And Prince Cathair, with eyes like bottomless pits and a sadistic obsession with Ness, is proving to be more of a threat than the Terrible ever could be.


The Terrible
Tessa Crowley © 2024
All Rights Reserved


“So, about that blood moon.”

Three pairs of eyes turned to me and the room went quiet. After nearly four years of serving as an adviser at court, I probably should have gotten used to the way the bottom dropped out of every conversation the second I mentioned magic.

“I’m sure you all noticed it. Last night?”

But based on their expressions, they hadn’t. I sighed, drummed my fingers on the arm of my chair.

“It’s a portent,” I explained. “Based on the time of its appearance, it’s most likely a sign of nearing political upheaval.”

“That’s not really our…area, Ness,” Muriel said, eyeing me over her golden spectacles. It was her office we’d met in this time, a drab but utilitarian space that perfectly reflected Muriel and her no-nonsense bun and neatly pressed tartan sash.

“I know,” I said as if there was even the slightest chance I didn’t know that my fellow advisers were ignorant to most matters magical. “But it seemed prudent to warn you at the very least. We do tend to be rather involved in politics.”

“Is there anything more specific you can tell us?” Fionn asked as he peered up at me over a hawkish nose, eyes sharp. His back hunched from a life spent bent over tomes on economic theory, creating for him the kind of mind for which I had endless respect and no jealousy. “It’s hard to prepare for something as broad as political upheaval.”

“Blood moons only rise for the greatest forces of man and magic,” I explained. “One rose on the eve of Canmore’s victory over Angliel. Legend says another rose when the Unseelie were first cast out—”

Sinead cleared her throat delicately, drawing my attention to Muriel, who’d gone white at the mention of the Unseelie. Irritation flared familiarly. It was a constant struggle, advising the Crown and my fellow councillors on magic when even talking about it at any level of detail had them jumping at shadows.

“No, I don’t have anything more specific,” I said instead. “I have plans to go into the Faewyld tomorrow to scry.”

“Well, good,” Sinead said and reached behind her head to retwist the bun that had fallen out over the course of the meeting. “Get back to us if you learn anything.”

Assuming I make it out alive, I didn’t say.

“Just don’t take too long,” Fionn said, snapping shut his book of notes and standing. “The Small Council meeting is in four days, and Clans MacDiarmad and MacLaghain are likely to turn it into blood sport with their land dispute.”

My fellow advisers all mumbled their grievances as they gathered their books and quills to leave. I was slightly slower to react, wondering whether or not I should tell them of the nonzero chance that I would die before the meeting of the Small Council.

Eventually, I decided not to bother. They wouldn’t want to hear about the Faewyld, so, wordlessly, I packed my things up.

“By the way, Ness,” Sinead said as she, Fionn, and I exited Muriel’s office into the dark hallway, “more of your correspondence ended up on my desk yesterday.”

She handed me a stack of letters. I frowned as I took them.

“Again? That’s three times in one week.”

“They just hired a new hallboy to run the letters,” she said by way of explanation. “He’s afraid of…well.”

I flinched. “Right.”

He was afraid of me. Most people in the castle were. Never mind that I’d been the ward of the Queen Regent since I was twelve and serving as court sage since I was twenty—I was lethfae, and I could use magic, and that was all most people needed to know.

“You should try introducing yourself to him,” she suggested. “Once people meet you, they usually realize you’re not nearly as scary as you look.”

Fionn chuckled, Sinead grinned, and I gritted my teeth. The joke was that, short and slight and willowy as I was, I didn’t look scary at all. But in my not-inconsiderable experience, it didn’t matter how nonthreatening I looked: my waist-length hair and slightly pointed ears gave my blood away from twenty paces.

“I’ll see you at the meeting,” I said. Fionn nodded at me, Sinead waved, and as we came to the fork in the hallway, we all went our separate ways.

The meeting must have taken longer than I’d realized. As I made my way across the vestibule landing and into the royal wing toward my office and quarters, I realized that the castle was largely silent. I didn’t even see any servants running in and out of various rooms for turndown.

The already long walk thus made sufficiently less interesting, my mind wandered.

I wasn’t looking forward to going into the Faewyld. Even the Seelie, who were ostensibly allies of Leithbrochen, were dangerous in the best of circumstances. My affiliation with the Crown would not mean much if I managed to offend some flinty fae prince who happened to pass through while I was there.

And that was to say nothing of the wayward spirits that tended to get lost in the Faewyld, confused and angry and looking to take out their frustrations—

“Lord Councillor.”


I’d been caught unawares, and in my haste to spin around, I nearly tripped over my boots. When at last I regained my footing, one hand braced on a nearby statue of Queen Moire the Clever, I looked up toward the source of the voice. To my sudden, overwhelming disappointment, it was: “Your Highness.”

Prince Cathair of Leithbrochen, tall, broad, with dark hair that curled around the crux of his well-defined jaw. Prince Cathair of Leithbrochen, standing in a shadowed alcove beside a statue of King Canmore the Bold as if he’d been waiting for me there. Prince Cathair of Leithbrochen, with eyes like two bottomless pits.

All at once, my heart started to pound frantically against my ribs.

“It’s late, Highness,” I said. “Aren’t you leaving for the hunt tomorrow?”

“Yes,” he answered. “I wanted to speak with you beforehand.”

My skin crawled; a visceral reaction, the same one I always had when forced to hear him speak. His voice was flat and cold as ice, devoid of any variation in tone or emphasis.

He came closer to me, across the hallway. At once, I stumbled backward and quickly thumped into Queen Moire’s leg. Before I knew it, he’d crowded me against the statue.

He was hardly a breath away when he said, “I wanted to once again offer you an invitation to my chambers.”

“Then I shall once again decline,” I answered.

Cathair did not seem particularly off-put. For as long as I’d known him—over a decade now—he’d never seemed particularly anything. He was all but a statue, himself: meticulously crafted, assiduously maintained, and fundamentally lifeless.

“My birthday ball is next month,” he said. “I expect you will be there.”

“I’ll have little choice in the matter, I’m sure. You know how your mother is.”

“I am looking forward to seeing you in formal wear. I anticipate that the sight will be…pleasing.”

If anyone else had spoken this way to me, I’d have called it flirtation. With Cathair, it was cold analysis, less a compliment and more a dissection.

Truly, there was something wrong with the prince of Leithbrochen. To me, it felt gigantic and obvious and terrifying. The iciness of his tone, the flat affect, the unnatural stillness with which he held himself—he was a great yawning chasm dressed up as a man.

I couldn’t say what made him this way. Even if I’d known, I doubt I would have cared. I preferred to avoid Cathair than understand him.

Cathair, unfortunately, did not feel the same. Despite his reputation for being unaffected by everything from tantalizing desserts to threats of violence to stunning duchesses from Lamarse, he’d always pursued me like this, with dogged determination. Why was I a deviation? Another question I didn’t care to answer.

“You are using a different oil in your hair,” he whispered.

My heart drummed so loudly I was sure Cathair could hear it. I pressed myself harder into the statue behind me. “You are very close.”

Footsteps from the hallway’s far end forced Cathair to move several steps backward. Two courtiers laughed about something together and passed without noticing us.

“One of these days, Lord Councillor, you will relent.”

Cathair turned on his heel and left, the soles of his leather boots thudding dully on the stone. With his parting, a great weight dropped away from my chest, my stomach hollowed, and I shuddered and shook for a while, letting my breath catch up to me.

Everyone in this fucking castle either feared or resented me—except for Cathair. Gods only knew why he pursued me. I had never seen any evidence to suggest that he’d ever wanted anything in the way he wanted me.

At the very least, he’d never forced the issue. If he ever made the decision to openly pursue me, I’d have little choice but to accept his advances. But of course, I was lethfae. A prince could never court a lethfae—he could only ambush one in dark halls, apparently.

I walked the rest of the way to my quarters on wobbly legs. Sleep would be eluding me tonight.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Tessa was born and raised in Virginia and graduated with an English degree from VCU in Richmond before moving to Portland, Maine. She has a cat who runs her life and a day job as a 911 dispatcher (it’s not as exciting as it sounds). When she’s not writing, Tessa’s likely reading, playing tabletop RPGs with her friends, or spending time with her retired parents.

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