Alpha’s Revenge by Catherine Stine


The Peculiar Delights of Research in a Halloween Spook House

Catherine Stine

          I’ve been fascinated by the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia ever since I visited for their Halloween fright tour, and saw the actual, untouched surgical room from when they opened in 1829. It still had a rickety metal operating table, sharp and crusty medical tools, and frighteningly tiny holding pens. The idea for one of my witch novels, Witch of the Wild Beasts rushed in right then and there. It would be a thriller involving doctors devising medical mischief and unlucky prisoners, including Evalina Stowe, a woman accused of witchcraft.

          It turns out that in the 1850s, when my novel takes place, Philadelphia experienced an explosion of new medical “breakthroughs”, from the wacky to the notable. At the offbeat end, there were herbal remedies inspired by the German Pow Wow or Braucherei practitioner, a combination of ritual prayer, herbal applications and the chanting of charms to not only heal the patient, but protect the farmers’ cattle and sheep. On the remarkable side, were the “plastic operations” of Dr. Thomas Mütter, who pioneered plastic surgery at Jefferson Medical School, and who invented applications we use to this day, such as the Mütter flap. This uses a flap of living skin, still partially attached, to cover open, damaged areas until they can heal, at which point the connected flap is cut and stitched. Dr. Mütter, who appears in the book, was quite the flamboyant dresser, who liked to match his suit to the color of his carriage. To this day, the Mütter Museum is a go-to attraction for all sorts of medical oddities, including dozens of wax molds of eye diseases and ‘The Soap Lady’, a woman whose body was exhumed in Philadelphia in 1875. She is nicknamed this because a fatty substance called adipocere coats her remains.

          I grew up in Philadelphia and thought I knew a lot about its history, but in the process of research for the novel, I learned many new, startling facts. I love writing historical fantasy for this very reason.

          Before Eastern State Penitentiary was built with its single cells and solitary confinement, people of all ages, including children were thrown in one holding pen at another location. Thus, Eastern State revolutionized the system and was considered state of the art when it was built. It was equipped with skylights, central heating and some of the very first flush toilets, and inspired by the Quakers’ belief that solitary penitence could quell an inmate’s urge to commit crimes.

          Yet it wasn’t long before people realized that “paying penitence” 24/7 alone in a cell did not cure people of criminal behavior. Rather, the isolation drove them stark raving mad. Charles Dickens, who visited the prison, wrote a scathing treatise, saying, “Solitary confinement is rigid, strict and hopeless… I believe its effects to be cruel and wrong.” Oddly enough, during that era the phrase What the Dickens was a euphemism for What the Devil! Go figure.

          Even in this cultured, modern city of Brotherly Love, superstition and chaos were alive and well. According the an article on the Historical Society of Pennsylvania blog, a sensational case occurred in 1852, with newspaper headings entitled, “Superstition in Philadelphia,” and “Witchcraft – Evidence of an Enlightened Age”.

          “Mary Ann Clinton & Susan Spearing, residents of Southwark Ward, were formally charged at the ‘Court of Quarter Sessions,’ with “conspiring to cheat and defraud George F. Elliott, by means of fortune telling and conjuration,” in order to extort money. The ‘Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’ alleged that the two women were giving Mrs. Elliott, “a bottle containing some portions of Mr. Elliott’s clothing, and telling her that as the clothing decayed, so Mr. Elliott would moulder away, until he would finally die by virtue of the spell…”

It appeared that Mrs. Elliott suspected her husband was guilty of infidelity, a belief that “had so strong an effect upon her as to make her wish for his death.” Thus, she had enlisted the services of Clinton & Spearing, who also encouraged the jealous wife, as an “ordeal of witchcraft,” to “take her husband’s clothes, tear them to pieces, fill the bottle with them, then boil the contents nine times, and this would give him such extreme pain as to cause his death.”

          Enter my heroine, Evalina, accused of witchcraft when her pet bird, flies down the throat of her violent boss and chokes him to death. Add to this mix, Dolly Rouge, her prison neighbor and ex-bawdy house madam, Lightning, a homeless urchin who knew Evalina’s brother and was jailed for stealing horses, and Birdy, a handsome, kind Irishman jailed for a tragic accident while blasting granite for the railroad who Evalina falls for. Oh, and add a handful of sinister doctors, and Evalina’s perilous plot to gain justice for her brother’s murder.

          Research is the grounding for the fire that ignites the writer’s mind. And research in a Halloween destination was a pure spine-tingling delight.


Alpha’s Revenge
Royal Alpha Wolves Club
Book Three
Shared World Series
Catherine Stine

Genre: Werewolf Shifter Romance
Publisher: Konjur Road Press
Date of Publication: September 3, 2020
ISBN: ISBN: 978-1-7333901-4-9
ASIN: B08CWVBZM7
Number of pages: 165
Word Count: 42k
Cover Artist: Crown Atlantic

Book Description:

A heartbroken furious alpha, a forbidden childhood crush revisited.

Will karmic justice destroy them both?

From the languid, sexy heat of New Orleans, all the way to the icy Canadian Wilderness, supernatural creatures live shadow lives amongst mortals. But what if one of the most powerful and regal of beings—wolf shifters—found their packs disappearing through longstanding battles and vicious payback?

The Royal Alpha Wolves Club, a worldwide, ancient organization formed to keep order and secrets safe among werewolf packs is faced with this very dilemma. So, when the club leader gives the dire order for all royals to find a mate and produce an heir within a year it’s in the wolf shifters’ best interest. Wayland, though, is not on board.

Meet Wayland Leblanc—legendary royal alpha, hell-bent on revenge for his murdered mate. When the edict comes down from the leader in his new territory that all royals mate and produce an heir within the year or lose royal status, Wayland hits the road. He’s not ready. Instead, he charges up to Canada in his mini-camper, to wreak revenge on Thorn, the Tundra shifter who killed his mate Sabine and their unborn babe. He conscripts an army of coyote shifters in his revenge plot, and stuffs down his lingering heartache by partying with neighboring witches.

What he doesn’t plan for is falling hard for Stormy, Thorn’s mysterious sister. But pursuing a star-crossed Juliet to his Romeo just might cost Wayland and Stormy their lives.

4 books. 4 authors. 4 alphas. 1 shared world.



“Who are you?” It was dawning on him. Could it be his old Tundra playmate, Stormy? They hadn’t seen each other for years. It was rumored that Thorn had kept her so protected it was like she was locked in his ivory tower prison. Holy damn, if it was Stormy, he should have nothing to do with her. She was Thorn’s little sister. Could he still be confused? He’d just been hit so hard that maybe his brain had gone freaking haywire. “Where’s Ransom?”
          “He’s alive but you messed him up good. Why are you coming around, so angry, gunning for a fight? You look so familiar, but… ” She ran a cooling cloth over Wayland’s swollen eye. She smelled of forest phlox and river moss—of the Canadian tundra in summer. He struggled to get up again and realized she’d tied his arms, torso and ankles down with thick vines. He didn’t believe in hurting a woman. But his rage bubbled dangerously close to the surface. If he stayed like this too much longer, and she leaned closer to him as she cleaned his wounds he might not be able to stop from snapping his head up and biting her.
          “Why the hell did you tie me up?” he snarled.
          “For your own safety and for mine. You seemed unhinged. Who are you anyway? You look so familiar.”
          “Wayland. I used to live around here.”
          “Wayland!” She stopped cleaning his swollen eye and stared down at him. “Wayland Leblanc.”
          “Yeah, a damn Leblanc. The Tundras, led by your vicious brother slaughtered us a year ago in case you need reminding. Bunch of fucking savages,” he growled.
          “I know who you are. Your father killed my father.”

          “So, you are Stormy, Thorn’s sister,” he muttered. The very man I’m hunting down.

 

About the Author:

Catherine Stine is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fantasy, paranormal romance and sci-fi thrillers. Witch of the Wild Beasts won a second prize spot in the ‘19 RWA Sheila Contest. Other novels have earned Indie Notable awards and New York Public Library Best Books for Teens. She lives in Manhattan, grew up in Philadelphia and is known to roam the Catskills. Before writing novels, she was a painter and children’s fabric designer. She’s a visual author when it comes to scenes, and she sees writing as painting with words. She loves edgy thrills, perhaps because her dad read Edgar Allen Poe tales to her as a child. Catherine loves spending time with her beagle Benny, writing about supernatural creatures, gardening on her deck, traveling and meeting readers at book fests.






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