By Lisabet Sarai
In the world of sorcery, familiars are spirits, often taking the form of animals, who protect witches or wizards and enhance their magical abilities. The familiar is a guide, a companion, and in some sense a mirror or alter-ego to the occult practitioner to whom it superficially belongs. The most common familiar in Western folklore is a black cat, of course, but ravens, owls, whales, bears and even rats can play this role in different cultures.
The relationship between witch and familiar is complex. The witch depends upon the familiar—without its assistance her powers will be diminished. Often the association will be voluntary, but sometimes a sorceress may bind a familiar to her will by charms or may strike a bargain to compel the familiar to serve her for some period of time. Familiars involved with those who practice black magic were often believed to be demons, summoned and embodied by the witch’s rituals.
My new paranormal romance puts a different spin on the traditions of familiar spirits. My hero Tom began life as a black cat. In need of a familiar, the sorceress Delphine Montserrat seized him, when he was barely beyond kittenhood, and endowed him with human form so that she could use him to sate her physical lust. Tom has spent his adolescence as her prisoner, alternating between human and beast shapes, smothered by her darkness, forced to participate in her unholy ceremonies.
When he escapes, using knowledge of the witch’s magic against her, Delphine pursues him, determined to recapture him and regain the incremental power he provides. Tom flees to New York City, where he encounters animal-lover Shaina— first in feline form, then as a man. The bond between them is immediate and intense, both physical and spiritual. Shaina vows to do everything she can to free Tom from the witch’s curse.
What I didn’t understand when I wrote the book is that in some sense, Tom becomes Shaina’s familiar. She hails from generations of Caribbean witches, though she only comes to understand this toward the end of the story. As she battles Delphine for possession of Tom’s body and soul, she grows into her powers. Tom chooses to stay with her because he loves her, but his presence augments her hereditary magic.
I find this parallelism intriguing, especially since it crept into the story unintentionally. I never fail to be amazed by the richness of the creative stew served up by the subconscious.
Of course, Tom is far more that just Shaina’s familiar. He is her soul mate, the man of whom she’s dreamed for as long as she can remember. From the very first, they understand one another. They are fated to be together, connected by tenderness and passion— but also by magic.
Here’s a quick snippet, with Tom in his cat form. Shaina can’t resist him.
Blurb for The Eyes of Bast:
Trust your heart. Follow your dreams.
Shaina Williams’ grandmother bequeathed her that wisdom, along with an old pendant from the Islands, carved from an ocelot’s tooth. When instinct tells Shaina to visit the feral cat trap she’s set in Central Park, she listens to that inner voice. She discovers she’s caged a magnificent black tom, but the cat inexplicably vanishes after she tends to his wounds. Seeking the errant feline, Shaina encounters instead a handsome stranger whose slightest touch sets her body on fire. As the day dawns after a night of ferocious passion, her mysterious lover is forced back into his true shape—the tomcat she rescued.
Born a cat, Tom was transformed into an unwilling shape shifter by a sorceress who craved a human plaything to satisfy her perverse lusts. Centuries old and irresistibly powerful, Delphine Montserrat will stop at nothing to find her runaway familiar. Shaina vows to do whatever is necessary to defeat the vicious but seductive witch and save the man she believes is her soul mate—even though it might mean losing him forever.
Publisher's Note: This book was previously published elsewhere. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Totally Bound.
Excerpt from The Eyes of Bast:
He gazed up at me, his eyes glittering like paired jewels. I ventured a scratch behind his ears and was rewarded by a low purr. “You’re going to be fine, puss. But now I have to put you back into the cage.”
“Rowrr!” His sudden growl startled me. I managed to capture him in the towel before he could run. “Pfftt! Rrr-owl…!” He raised his voice in obvious protest as I tried to bundle him back into the trap.
“Hush, puss! Shh! Do you want to get me evicted?” My lease said no pets. I reasoned that the ferals I occasionally kept here overnight didn’t qualify as pets, but I wasn’t eager to test this theory.
“Rowrr!” my guest insisted. I scratched his ears again then smoothed the fur under his chin. He settled into my arms.
“You really don’t want to go back in, do you?”
“Mrrow.” His meaning was obvious.
I was so tempted to agree to his wordless plea for freedom. I could imagine how awful it must be, to be locked up when you were used to roaming free. Of course, given his willingness to let me touch him, he might not be feral at all. He wasn’t wearing a collar and it was clear he hadn’t been neutered, but still, the shelter should check to see if he’d been microchipped.
He rubbed his cheek against my arm. His hefty body vibrated with his purr. Then he stretched out his neck so he could lick the back of my hand. His warm, rough tongue sent a delicious little shiver up my spine.
“You’re very hard to resist. Do you know that?”
“Meeow.” I could have sworn he was smiling.
“Okay, you win.” After all, it was one room. The doors and windows were locked. Where could he go?
Like the sound of The Eyes of Bast? Buy it here.
This post is part of my blog tour for The Eyes of Bast. Totally Bound has a giveaway on their website in conjunction with the tour. Just to sweeten the pot, I’m adding a couple of other prizes. Leave a comment with your email and you could win this statue of Bastet from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Or if you’d prefer, I’ll send you a brace of other stories that feature magical soul mates: Hot Spell and Rough Weather.
About Lisabet Sarai:
Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – more than fifty single author titles, plus dozens of short stories in various erotic anthologies, including the Lambda winner Where the Girls Are and the IPPIE Best Erotic Book of 2011, Carnal Machines. Her gay scifi erotic romance Quarantine won a Rainbow Awards 2012 Honorable Mention.
Lisabet has more degrees than anyone would ever need, from prestigious educational institutions who would no doubt be deeply embarrassed by her chosen genre. She has traveled widely and currently lives in Southeast Asia with her indulgent husband and two exceptional felines, where she pursues an alternative career that is completely unrelated to her creative writing.
For more information about Lisabet and her writing, visit her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com) or her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com). She also hangs out at the group blog Oh Get a Grip (http://ohgetagrip.blogspot.com), writes monthly reviews for Erotica Revealed (http://www.eroticarevealed.com) and contributes to the ERWA blog (http://erotica-readers.blogspot.com).
Enter Totally Bound’s April blog tour competition for the chance to win any eBook of your choice, not including boxsets or anthologies.
Direct link: https://www.totallybound.com/competition/april-blog-tour-giveaway