Laura Thalassa took the romance world by storm when she published Bewitched and it was one of my favorite fantasy romances of 2023. That’s why I’m happy to share the cover for Bespelled.
In addition to that, Bloom Books also shared with us an exclusive excerpt and we have a Q&A with the author. Honestly, I’m SO excited to pick this book up and see what happens next for these two as the end of Bewitched was wild.
Whether you’ve started with Bewitched in your author journey with Laura Thalassa or have read her previous works, this series is proving to be incredibly fun and exactly what I was looking for in 2023. Plus it ended up being nominated in the 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Romantasy and I’m expecting the same treatment for Bespelled.
With that being said, I’d like to thank Bloom Books and Laura Thalassa for allowing me to reveal the cover, and this amazing excerpt and share this fun Q&A Laura did so without further ado, let’s break it down.
See the beautiful cover for Bespelled by Laura Thalassa!
If you’ve read Bewitched, you can see how perfectly this matches the first book and I just adore it. This series is easily one of my favorite fantasy romance series I’ve read and I’m TOO excited to talk about it. That’s why I’m so happy to start the next section by sharing an excerpt from the book.
While Laura Thalassa is still working on it, she was nice enough to share an excerpt with us and if this doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what else will so let’s get into the excerpt.
"The ache in my bones is getting worse.Earlier, I assumed it was exhaustion and the aftereffects of overdrawing my power. I assumed the spells Memnon cast to remove my pain wore off. I assumed, I assumed, I assumed.But I was wrong.This is what Memnon had been hinting at when he wanted me to come to him.I’m starting to feel the effects of the unbreakable oath.I blow out a breath as I weave my way between the massive evergreen trees, dread gathering in my stomach. I knew there were consequences to not upholding a magical oath. I didn’t realize they made you feel like shit.I don’t know how much longer I will be able to ignore the vow before I end up begging the sorcerer to marry me, just to ease the pain.Between the boughs of the trees ahead of me, I catch sight of Slain Maiden’s Meadow. The last time I came here, I wasn’t yet a student. The field looks lovelier now, in the dying light, the sunset painting the dead grass golden.And there, in the middle of the field, my soul mate waits, his back to me.Memnon is the sound of straining leather. He’s the smell of horse-sweat, grass, and man. He’s sun-warmed skin and wind-tousled hair. He’s a part of me just as much as Roxilana is, and no amount of magic or anger can change that.As though sensing my gaze on him, he turns, his own eyes alighting when they meet mine.Memnon kisses me fiercely as he sinks into me. There’s only me, him, the endless grasslands around us, and the heavens above us.“I am yours forever,” he breathes against my lips. He pulls away to search my gaze, his features bathed in the soft orange glow from my magic. “Forever.”Can he feel it? The past pressing on us like it has a presence of its own? Does it close up his throat like it does mine? Or am I the only one drowning in these memories?“Little witch,” he says, watching me as I cross the last of the distance between us, “you beckoned.”A shiver courses down my back at the low, honeyed sound of his voice.“We need to talk,” I say, switching to Sarmatian. Out here in these woods we have more seclusion than my residence hall, but anyone could be listening.I let my magic pour out of me. The pale orange glow wraps around us like a blanket, forming a magical barrier to block out sound. I don’t incant the spell, but it’s there nonetheless, woven into my magic through my intent alone.Memnon reaches out, stroking my power like it’s a cat. “I’m listening,” he says, his eyes flicking from my magic to me.“When the curse was lifted, did you see into my past?” I ask.The sorcerer’s brow furrows. Whatever he thought I was going to say, this isn’t it.“I saw your recovered memories from this life,” he responds slowly. “But once the curse moved to your first life and you started to weep … I lost the connection.”He’d been wiping away my tears and reassuring me I was okay. I’d almost forgotten those details.“So you didn’t see how that life ended,” I say, just to be sure.His gaze moves between my eyes and my mouth. “No, I didn’t.”“What do you think happened?” I ask.Memnon’s expression grows grim. “I haven’t the faintest clue. That is what I still wish to know. Why you cursed me to endless sleep, and what you did after I was gone.” I can hear other, more personal questions that he won’t voice but still echo down our bond.… Did you regret burying me alive? … Did you betray me for another? … Did you fall in love with someone else? … Were you happy? …“How did I betray you?” I prod him. “Tell me exactly the steps you believe I took to entomb you.”Memnon’s eyes narrow as he looks at me, a muscle in his cheek jumping. “Selene, if this is some sort of trick—”“Oh, there’s a trick involved, but it wasn’t made by my hand.”His brows rise, caught off-guard by my response.“Tell me,” I insist. “How did I fuck you over? I want to know every detail you believe I carried out to place you in that sarcophagus.”The sorcerer’s jaw tightens with indignation. “This is my life you ruined—”“No,” I say viciously, “it is my life that you ruined. Two thousand years ago along the banks of the Amazon River, I died to keep you safe from a horrible fate! There was no grand plan, there was no life after you. I protected you, and what did you do when you woke? You blamed me. You attacked me. You betrayed me and everything we once were with your vengeance.”Memnon looks as though I’ve struck him.Goddess, but my bones ache, and I’m breathing heavily. All around us, my magic twists and writhes with my churning emotions.“What?” Memnon finally says, his voice hushed.“You wish to understand the past and my motives better?” I grab his hands and place them on either side of my head. “See them for yourself.”Memnon’s hands flex against my skin, a wisps of his magic curling out from beneath his palms, as though he can’t quite contain his emotions. Down our bond I feel the first tendrils of his rising horror.I don’t think he wants to believe me, nor do I think he wants to read my mind. Not now that he knows he might not like what he finds.“Do it,” I insist, shaking his hands a little from where I still grip them. My eyes are pricking, and I didn’t mean to get worked up over this, I just wanted his help, but this is how I get it without owing him anything. This is how the sorcerer understands that he owes me. The truth of our past—and our first demise—makes everything he’s done to me so much worse.Memnon works his jaw, his scar tugging a little at the action. His smoky amber eyes hold my gaze for several seconds.Finally, he bows his head, then nods, his fingers flexing against me again. “Alright, Empress. As you wish.”He adjusts his hold. “Repeat after me:” he says, “‘Pes datapzaka kubiwapsasava vi’savva ziwatunutasa vak mi’tavekasavak ozakos detgap.’”I bare the last memories of my first life for you to see.I recite the incantation, gripping his hands tightly, my heart beating fast as I prepare to relive this particular memory.Memnon’s magic rushes from his hands, the blue tendrils of it slipping into my mouth and up my nostrils. I arch my back as it moves to my head, my hands tightening against his.And then that final, fateful day of my last life unfolds right before my eyes."
You might be thinking, is that all? You’d be wrong as this is a packed post so hopefully by the end, you’re ready to preorder Bespelled because I know I am but I wanted to share our Q&A with Laura Thalassa. Considering that she’s quickly become one of my favorite fantasy romance writers, how could I say no to this?!
Let me just say that I was bit behind so I didn’t get to come up with all the questions and Bloom Books did help me out with these so shoutout to them for that. With that being said, let’s get into the Q&A section.
Q: You shared that you are endlessly intrigued by ancient history, ancient religion, archeology…and it seems like these elements perfectly click together in Bewitched and Bespelled—have these books and this story been brewing in your head for a long time? What sparked the saga of Memnon and Selene/Roxilana?
Laura Thalassa: This series has been knocking around in my mind for years! And yes, it was absolutely an excuse to nerd out about ancient history, which I’m deeply passionate about. However, I used a lot of artistic license to bring the ancient aspects of Memnon and Selene’s story to life. As much as I love history, I think it’s the romanticized aspects of it—such as ancient curses, love that transcends time, and so on—that can add a richness to the story.
As far as what sparked the idea, I think it was simply that I wanted to write a book with a witch as a main character. My first love, when it comes to reading, has always been Paranormal Romance, and it’s the genre I always return to. I really wanted this series to be one that had all the exciting, supernatural elements that drove me to the genre in the first place.
Q: Is this Memnon based upon the Memnon of Grecian legend and myth?
Laura Thalassa: I’m sorry to disappoint, but he is not in fact based upon the legendary Memnon from the Iliad. To be completely honest, I believe I pulled that name out of thin air because it sounded ancient to me (what can I say, I’m super highbrow when it comes to these things). Only later did I learn there was a mythical man who went by the same name. If Memnon is based on anyone, he would be more of an amalgamation of some of the famous nomadic rulers who had nicknames such as “Scourge of God,” and who were honestly considered terrors of the ancient world.
Q: “Goddess but I’d love nothing more than to stab this man with a spork.” These books are…funny! The same great Thalassa world-building, the dark fantasy elements, but the laughs are fresh, and definitely set Bewitched/Bespelled apart from your other iconic series (The Four Horsemen, The Fallen World, etc.) Did Selene just come out of your imagination cheeky as heck, or were you looking to impart a lighter touch?
Laura Thalassa: Oh I’ve had so much fun with the humor in this series, and the shift was deliberate. Before Bewitched I spent roughly four years writing my Four Horsemen series, which set on a bleak post-apocalyptic Earth, and while I was writing that series, the real world endured a global pandemic! During that same time I suffered several deep, personal losses, so when I wrapped up my Horsemen series, I knew I wanted to write a series that would make me smile in the process. And that’s the long story behind Selene’s creative use of the spork.
Q: Curiosity killed the cat (err, reader) – how did a power-hungry sorcerer warlord from Sarmatia (modern-day Urals) end up entombed in the jungles of South America?
Laura Thalassa: The short answer to this is that one particular character (who will remain unnamed) was being very, very naughty and chose to entomb the sorcerer back in the ancient world. As far as how Memnon managed to get all the way from Eastern Europe to South America, the wonderful thing about writing a paranormal story is that you get to bend the rules of the real world, so while typical ancient humans might not have been regularly crossing the Atlantic Ocean, supernaturals in my world could do so via magical roads known as ley lines. These supernaturals could also get hopelessly lost on these magical roads and end up in alternate times and realms, … but that, I suppose, is a story for a different day.
There is SO much to be excited about with Bespelled and honestly, I’m just ready for it. If you’re as excited as I am, you can preorder Bespelled from your favorite book-buying website. You can also get caught up on the rest of Laura Thalassa’s backlist which I highly recommend.
Bespelled by Laura Thalassa is set for release on May 28th, 2024.
What do you think of the cover for Bespelled by Laura Thalassa? Are you excited to get back into the story of Selene and Memnon? Let us know, fantasy romance readers!