This novel is part of a trilogy set in the general area of where I grew up in Arizona. The paranormal aspect is inspired by an Indian legend that intrigues me. Native American Indian myths are fascinating and come from some point of reality. The story of Morning Star and Feather Woman, a high plains Indian myth is integral to the magic of the haunted canyon in my story.
"Morning Star placed the yellow feather in her hair and, giving her the juniper branch, directed her to shut her eyes; she held the upper strand of the spider's web in her hand and placed her foot on the lower, and in a moment she was transported to the sky."
The protagonists of the first book in the trilogy, Blood Stones: The Haunting of Sunset Canyon, are Darcy Peel and Alan Brandt. Tying these two together is the mystery of the canyon and the mysterious Emmaline Marton who inhabits it.
The story is set in a fictional environment that borrows physical aspects of both Sedona and Prescott—high desert and red rock terrain in which a little town called Dry Creek exists. Darcy grew up here. Due west of Dry Creek is a rugged mountain range that I named Prospector’s Mountain. Slicing deep across the northern section of the mountain is Sunset Canyon, a beautiful, carved sandstone gorge created by eons of erosion from Little Springs River. Breathtaking in its towering walls and the way light plays on every twist and turn, the canyon delivers more than scenic glory (as evidenced by events in the story that reinforce the myth of “the curse”.) It brings death to anyone searching for the Lost Blood Stones Mine.
There are several time frames in this story. 1911, 1984 and the present.
Though Darcy Peel spent her youth in Dry Creek, she had been away for a very long time. The reason she left Arizona to teach and do research at a prestigious university in California after receiving her doctorate, had everything to do with the mystery of Sunset Canyon. Darcy purposely put distance between herself and the constant reminder of something she saw in the canyon when she was twelve years old, just before an unexplained flash flood almost killed her and her siblings and took the lives of two people. Her sister, Deanna Peel, however, stayed to take care of their mother, keep the family roadside café and gas station going, and ultimately to raise their brother’s son after the brother, Derek Peel was killed. Derek was only twenty-six years old when the canyon took him.
Now, her sister Deanna has disappeared while looking for ancient ruins she theorized proved that Indians inhabited Sunset Canyon and were the real-life people that inspired the stories of ghost warriors and Fleshtakers who are part of the “curse” of the canyon. Darcy is compelled to come home, heavy-hearted with regret for not being there for her sister, to find out what happened to her and ultimately to face the horrors of that long-ago tragic day in the canyon.
Alan Brandt has also returned to the Dry Creek area, though he doesn’t think of his signing on with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department as a Deputy as actually returning home. He was very small when his mother took him to live in Sedona. He grew up there away from his mother’s family, unaffected by his illegitimacy as he would have been if he and his mother stayed. The McCann family owned one of the biggest cattle ranches in Arizona at the time, and Mary McCann, a beautiful, elegant and artistic young woman had embarrassed and outraged her own father when she refused to divulge Alan’s paternity.
Both Darcy and Alan are dealing with multiple issues and conflicts in their lives. The uncertain fate of her sister has thrown Darcy’s life into turmoil. She knows that her sister would never get lost in Sunset Canyon. But a box of research and diaries sent by Deanna one week before she went missing compels Darcy to leave her settled, productive academic life and come back to Dry Creek. The more Darcy finds, the more she is convinced foul play was involved. But with the growing intensity of haunting dreams of the canyon that are awakening her memory of the strange occurrences on the day of the flood when she was a girl, Darcy wonders if the foul deed was by human hand—or something much more frightening.
Complicating her life even more is her incredible attraction to Alan. He says he can help her investigate but conflict begins when she discovers he is associated with Craig McCann who hates the Peel family. Darcy finds that Alan's uncle had been at heated odds with Darcy’s sister about development plans near the canyon. Some even say McCann and Alan are in business together. Is Alan just playing her to find out what Deanna was going to report to the Bureau of Indian Affairs with the intent of halting the development plans that would include stepping up gold prospecting in the area as well?
For Alan the level of attraction between him and Darcy heightens his desire to start his life over and do it right this time. He feels it should be simple—their first meeting proved they had chemistry—an overwhelming attraction he has never felt before. But he soon finds out that Darcy has come back with a purpose that puts him in the middle of the long-standing feud between the McCanns and the Peels. Trust is an issue. She has to be convinced that he is not in the enemy’s camp.
More teasing details to come about the haunting of Sunset Canyon and the mysterious Emmaline Marton – the character I haven’t written about today. She is pivotal, but I don’t want to divulge too many of her secrets. I will say that she has the capacity to love someone for a very long time.:-)
Blood Stones: The Haunting of Sunset Canyon - coming summer, 2016. This has been a labor of love, but I’m so ready to deliver this bouncing baby novel before I am too tired to raise fingers to keyboard and -- Push!