The Water Witch (Fairwick Chronicles Series #2)

The Water Witch (Fairwick Chronicles Series #2)

by Juliet Dark


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Perfect for fans of Deborah Harkness and Elizabeth Kostova, The Water Watch is a breathtakingly sexy and atmospheric new novel of ancient folklore, passionate love, and thrilling magic.
After casting out a dark spirit, Callie McFay, a professor of gothic literature, has at last restored a semblance of calm to her rambling Victorian house. But in the nearby thicket of the honeysuckle forest, and in the currents of the rushing Undine stream, more trouble is stirring. . . .
The enchanted town of Fairwick’s dazzling mix of mythical creatures has come under siege from the Grove: a sinister group of witches determined to banish the fey back to their ancestral land. With factions turning on one another, all are cruelly forced to take sides. Callie’s grandmother, a prominent Grove member, demands her granddaughter’s compliance, but half-witch/half-fey Callie can hardly betray her friends and colleagues at the college. To stave off disaster, Callie enlists Duncan Laird, an alluring seductive academic who cultivates her vast magical potential, but to what end? Deeply conflicted, Callie struggles to save her beloved Fairwick, dangerously pushing her extraordinary powers to the limit—risking all, even the needs of her own passionate heart.
Includes a preview of Book Three of The Fairwick Trilogy: The Angel Stone

Praise for The Water Witch
“A lighthearted, fast moving fantasy . . . The Water Witch should appeal to readers of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels.”—New York Journal of Books
“Dark has an exquisite and clear voice. . . . One is aware of being in the hands of a mistress of the fine arts of storytelling and characterization. . . . It’s all just great fun.”—Albany Chronogram
“An intriguing story that will keep readers guessing.”—Romance Reviews Today
“Readers are sure to enjoy being back in the atmospheric Fairwick. The cliffhanger ending will only leave readers clamoring for the last installment in this interesting trilogy.”—SheKnows

Praise for Book One of The Fairwick Trilogy: The Demon Lover
“Dark’s letter-perfect gothic style is a satisfying tribute to previous gothic novels, and the paranormal elements, including incubi, fae, vampires, and witches, make this a stellar romance.”—Booklist, included in its list of the year’s “Top 10 SF/Fantasy Titles”
“Steamy and nuanced.”—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345524249
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/12/2013
Series: Fairwick Chronicles Series , #2
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 520,941
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.92(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Juliet Dark is the pseudonym of critically acclaimed literary suspense writer Carol Goodman, whose novels include The Night Villa and The Lake of Dead Languages. Her novels have won the Hammett Prize and have been nominated for the Dublin/IMPAC Award and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her fiction has been translated into thirteen languages. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her family.

Read an Excerpt

The Water Witch

A Novel
By Juliet Dark

Ballantine Books

Copyright © 2013 Juliet Dark
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780345524249


One of the perks of academia—the part that was supposed to make up for the low salary, living in a hick town a hundred miles from a good shoe store and a decent hair salon, putting up with demanding, entitled eighteen-to-twenty-two-year-olds, and navigating departmental politics—was getting summers off. I had always imagined that once I was established in a tenure track job I would spend my summers abroad. Sure, I’d pin the trip on some worthy research goal—reading the juvenilia of Charlotte Brontë at the British Library or researching the court fairy tales of Marie d’Aulnoy at the Bibliothèque Nationale—but there was no law that when those venerable institutions closed at dusk I couldn’t spend my evenings catching a show on the West End or listening to jazz in a Left Bank café.

What I had not pictured myself doing during my summer break was swatting through the humid, mosquito-infested woods of upstate New York in knee-high rubber boots.

I had known I was in trouble when I opened my door that morning to find Elizabeth Book, Dean of Fairwick College and my boss; Diana Hart, owner of the Hart Brake Inn; and Soheila Lilly, Middle Eastern studies professor, on my front porch. The first time these three women had shown up on my doorstep together had been last year, the night before Thanksgiving, when they’d come to banish an incorporeal incubus from my house.

Only then they hadn’t been tricked out in knee-high rubber boots and fishing tackle. Fairwick was big on fishing. The town had been plastered with fishermen welcome! signs since Memorial Day. There was a “Small Fry Fry-Up” at the Village Diner, an “Angler’s Weekend” at the Motel 6 on the highway, and a “Romantic Rainbow Trout Dinner for Two” at DiNapoli’s. Out-of-town RVs with airbrushed vistas of rushing streams and leaping trout had been clogging Main Street for the last few weeks. Our part of the Catskills was apparently the fly-fishing capital of the Northeast. Still, fishing seemed like a mundane activity for these three women. The dean, as I’d learned this past year, was a witch; Diana was an ancient deer-fairy; and Soheila was a succubus. A reformed, nonpracticing succubus. But still. A succubus.

“What’s up?” I asked guardedly. “Is this an intervention for my plumbing? It has been making some strange sounds.”

I was only half joking. One of the reasons I had opted to stay home this summer was to get some work done on Honeysuckle House, the lovely—but time consuming—Victorian I’d bought the fall before. Since I’d been forced to banish my boyfriend four months ago I’d thrown myself into an orgy of home repair. I’d been breathing dust and paint fumes for weeks. Today I’d been waiting for the arrival of Brock, my handyman (who also happened to be an ancient Norse divinity), to fix some broken roof tiles, when the doorbell rang.

“No, dear,” Diana said, her freckled face breaking into an awkward smile. When the three of them had come to banish the incubus from my house I’d joked that they were there for an intervention, but when four months later Diana and Soheila had come to break it to me that my lover, Liam Doyle, was that same incubus and that he was draining not just me but a dozen students of our life force, the joke hadn’t seemed so funny. I think they all felt a little guilty when we found out Liam was innocent of attacking the students. But he’d been an incubus and you couldn’t go on living with an incubus. Could you?

“I’m afraid we have a problem that only you can help us with,” Liz said.

“You need me to open the door?” I had learned in the past year that I was descended on my father’s side from a long line of “doorkeepers”—a type of fairy that could open the door between the two worlds. By a lucky—or perhaps unlucky, depending on how you looked at it—coincidence, the last door to Faerie was here in Fairwick, New York. So far my unusual talent had brought me nothing but grief and trouble.

“Yes!” they all three said together.

“What do you want me to let in?” I asked suspiciously. The last creature I’d let in from Faerie had tried to eat me.

“Nothing!” Diana insisted, her freckles standing out on her pale skin the way they did when she wasn’t telling the whole truth. “We want you to let something out. A lot of somethings, actually . . .”

Liz sighed, squeezed Diana’s hand, and finished for her. “Undines,” she said. “About two dozen of them. Unless you can help us get them back to Faerie they’re all going to die.”

“It’s their spawning season,” Soheila explained as we tramped through the woods that started at the edge of my backyard. “It only happens once every hundred years. The undine eggs . . .”

“Eggs? Undines come from eggs?” I asked, appalled. The only undine I knew about was the water nymph in the German fairy tale who marries a human husband and then, when he is unfaithful to her, curses him to cease breathing the moment he falls asleep.

“Of course, dear,” Diana answered, looking back over her shoulder. The path obliged us to walk in twos and Diana and Liz were up in front. “They have tails at this stage so you couldn’t very well expect them to give birth . . .”

“Okay, okay,” I interrupted. Although I’d written a book called The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to know about the sex lives of fish-tailed undines. Thankfully, Diana took the hint and left out the more graphic details of the undines’ sex life, concentrating instead on the life cycle of their young.

“The eggs are laid in a pool at the headwaters of the Undine . . .”

“Is that why the stream is called the Undine?” I asked. I’d heard of the stream. The lower branch, south of the village, was popular with fishermen, but the upper branch, which had its headwaters somewhere in these woods, had been declared off limits by the Department of Ecological Conservation.

Liz Book sighed. “The locals started calling it that because of a legend about a young woman who lured fishermen into the depths of the trout pools and then drowned them.”

“They probably just fell in after a few too many drinks,” Soheila said. “It’s true that undines seduce human men—if they get one to marry them, they get a soul—but they don’t kill them unless they’re betrayed.” Soheila pushed back a vine and let it snap behind her, nearly hitting me in the face. Since she was normally the most charming and sophisticated of women, I had the feeling that the subject was sensitive for her. I’d learned this past year that Soheila had become part human when a mortal man fell in love with her, but he had died because her succubus nature had drained the life from him. Since then she’d scrupulously avoided any physical contact with mortal men, even though I suspected she had a crush on our American Studies professor, Frank Delmarco. A suspicion confirmed by how melancholy she’d been since Frank had gone away a few weeks ago to a conference called “The Discourses of Witchcraft” in Salem, Massachusetts.

“Anyway,” Diana continued in the strained, cheerful voice of a grade school teacher trying to keep her class on subject, “the eggs hatch into fingerlings that stay in the headwaters until they’re mature—we think it takes close to a hundred years—then, when they’ve matured into smolts, they begin the downstream journey to the sea.”

“The sea?” I asked. “But we’re hundreds of miles from the sea.”

“Not the Atlantic,” Liz said. “The Faerie Sea. The upper branch of the Undine flows through an underground passage into Faerie before it joins the lower branch.”

“I thought the door in the honeysuckle thicket was the only way into Faerie. You told me it was the last door.”

“It is the last door,” Liz said, “but there’s also an underwater passage to Faerie in these woods . . . or at least there used to be. It’s been growing narrower over the years, just as all the other passages to Faerie did until they closed. This passage was only big enough for a juvenile undine to slip through the last time they migrated a hundred years ago. We’re afraid that it’s clogged now, and when a passage to Faerie clogs it’s like when an artery to the heart closes—smaller veins open up around it. Unfortunately many of these smaller veins lead to the Borderlands instead of Faerie. If they don’t get through to Faerie they’ll die, but if they get stuck in the Borderlands . . .”

Her voice trailed off and I shivered, recalling my dream from last night. To be caught in the Borderlands meant death or an eternity of suffering.

“So,” Liz continued, “we thought with your doorkeeper powers you might be able to open the passage wide enough for them to go straight through to Faerie without getting lost in the Borderlands.”

“But I have no idea how to open an underwater passage,” I said. This was true, but I was also thinking of the dream. It had started seductively enough but had ended with my demon lover trying to drown me. He had been angry with me for trapping him in a watery hell. If that were true, I didn’t much like the idea of taking a dip into any body of water that might be connected to the Borderlands.

“Would I have to get in the water?” I asked.

“We don’t think so, dear . . . Wait . . . Do you hear that?”

Liz tilted her head and held up a manicured finger. At first all I heard was the buzzing of mosquitoes and flies in the heavy humid air. Even the birds were too tired to sing in the midday heat. I wiped a trickle of sweat away from my eyes and was about to tell Liz I didn’t hear anything when I became aware of a soft burbling beneath the drone of insects. A breeze stirred the heavy underbrush, bringing with it the delicious chill of running water.

“We’re at the headwaters,” Soheila said, sniffing the air and lifting her heavy dark hair off the nape of her neck. “The water bubbles up from a deep natural spring—the coldest, clearest water you’ve ever seen. Not many ever get to see it because it’s carefully hidden.”

Although I was still disturbed by the idea of going anywhere near a watery passage to Faerie, the sound of the stream was making my parched mouth water and my sweaty feet ache for a cold dip. If I could help the undines without getting into the water I wanted to do it. After all, they were harmless juveniles.

Only when I’d agreed to follow the three women farther into the woods did I remember just how volatile teenagers could be.

We scrambled through tangles of shrub, following the sound of water deeper into the thicket. Pushing the vines aside, we dislodged the bones of small animals and birds. I’d seen remnants like these around the door to Faerie, the remains of creatures who had gotten stuck in the Borderlands and died there. I felt the pressure of the vines on my skin as we passed and heard the creak of fiber and pulp as the thicket contracted around us—like one of those Chinese finger puzzles.

“Are you sure we can make it through this?” I asked, struggling to keep my mounting sense of claustrophobia at bay. It felt like we were in a wicker basket that was shrinking around us.

“Don’t worry.” Soheila said matter-of-factly. “Liz knows a spell to keep the thicket from closing in on us.”

That’s when I noticed Liz and Diana were silently mouthing words as they walked through the woods and that the vines were curling away from us as we approached. I felt reassured until I looked back and saw that the vines were also intertwining behind us. Just when I thought I couldn’t stand the claustrophobic woods another second we emerged into open air: a glade encircled by ferns. I felt and smelled the coolness of water before I saw the pool, which was the same deep green as the surrounding woods. When my eyes adjusted to the murk, I realized that the burble that had drawn us came from a spring bubbling up from a cleft in a giant boulder and falling into a wide basin hollowed out of gray-green granite. The women formed a circle around the basin and then crouched down beside it to scoop handfuls of water to their mouths. In this age of bottled water and rampant pollution it went against most of my instincts to drink from a hole in the ground, but thirst overcame my reservations. I knelt beside Soheila, cupped my hands beneath the ice-cold trickle, and brought a handful to my lips . . . 

A mineral chill filled my mouth, my throat, my belly . . . then spread outward, plumping every desiccated cell in my body. It was like drinking pure oxygen. I took another sip and it was like imbibing the ether of outer space. After a long draft I bathed my face, resisting the urge to plunge headlong into the shallow basin. Instead I sat back on my heels to look around.

From the basin the water spilled from rock to rock: a granite stairway leading down to a green pool scooped out of the stone. Wild irises grew around the pool; water lilies floated on top of it. I made my way down to where Soheila, Liz, and Diana were bent over, gazing into the water. I crouched beside them and stared through crystal clear water down to moss-covered stones. I leaned farther . . . and found myself looking into a pair of moss green eyes, the same color and shape as the stones at the bottom of the pool. I flinched and the eyes blinked—then vanished in a whirlpool that splashed cold water in my face.

“They’re quite frisky,” Liz said handing me a bandanna to wipe my face.

“They’re ready to migrate,” Soheila said, pointing to the far side of the pool. At first all I could see were rapids spilling into a fast-flowing stream, the clear water twisted into skeins of transparent silk where it braided over the rocks, but as we moved closer I saw that those transparent skeins were actually long thin bodies, slender as eels, slipping over the rim of the pool and into the stream.

“Those are undines?” I asked, recalling the illustrations of the winsome maiden Arthur Rackham did for the German fairy tale. She had looked far different from these eel-like creatures.


Excerpted from The Water Witch by Juliet Dark Copyright © 2013 by Juliet Dark. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Water Witch: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of you like a touch of magic with insight and fun this is for you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this trilogy so far and can't wait to read the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the first in this series and then this one. While it is interesting to me I don't think I will get the third. I love the premise and the other worldly creatures but got lost in the the book a bit. It has a tendency to move a bit slow as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is turning out to be quite a wonderful trilogy. I did think this book moved a little quicker than the first. I wish the third book was out right now, but I guess I can survive a couple of months till September. This is not a paranormal romance for teens as there are pretty explicit sex scenes. Other than that, if you love a good paranormal romance, this is a really good series. It has a great story line, good buildup of plot and characters, and lots of hot and heaviness!!!!!! What more could you ask for? Thanx Ms. Dark for another cliffhanger! Holding my breath till the last installment gets here (hope it gets here fast)!!!! -- SPeeD
book-babe-311 More than 1 year ago
First off I want to thank LibraryThing Early Reviewers for choosing me to receive this book in return for a honest review. When I won it I did not realize that it was second in a series until I received it so I took a chance on buying the first one in the series titled The Demon Lover. I loved the first book and I loved this book just as much if not more. It was a great dark gothic story which was also very sexy at times. It has all the magical elements and characters I love such as witches, fey, incubus, vampires, undines, Norse demigods, brownies, trolls, succubus, and the nephilim made a great new add! Loyalties where tested much more in this interesting plot and although it leaves the main problem unsolved at the end your thrilled to know that the story will continue and I can't wait for it to come out because I will be buying it for sure to see what happens to Callie and if she can have true love after all with a happy ending! Im recommending this beautifully written and wonderfully descriptive trilogy to all my fellow book buddies as well.
JackieBCentralTexasJB More than 1 year ago
Read on March 07, 2013 BOOK SYNOPSIS "You have only to call my name to bring me back", he whispered, his breath hot in my ear. "You have only to love me to make me human". Callie McFay is the guardian of the last gateway between the world of Faerie and mankind. Seduced by a powerful incubus demon, she has succeeded in banishing Liam to the Borderlands but he still haunts her dreams, tempting her with the knowledge of how to bring him back. But loving an incubus usually ends in death for a human. For her own sake Callie must learn to control her desires and ensure Liam remains trapped for all eternity in his watery prison. Only there is a more dangerous creature than Liam in the Borderlands. The Water Witch is also looking for a way back... My Thoughts Flat out this second book was for me easier to get into, easier to stick with and easier to follow the flow of all the threads that the author wove together! Now I am familiar with the world she has created, comfortable with all the characters and their different roles to play and totally immersed in Callie's dilemma and hoping against hope that she can finally find a way to free herself from the incubus so she does not end up a victim as did others before her. This book is shorter therefore it is a faster reading experience as well, do not be fooled by that though as there is still a lot going on not the least of which is Callie trying to figure out how to harness and utilize correctly her unstable powers so she can prevent having the last gate between mankind and Faerie being closed and thus losing all her supernatural friends and colleagues at Fairwick if they choose to leave rather than being trapped in the world of humans. Between that challenge and trying hard to keep her sanity after banishing her Incubus lover Callie truly has quite a tough row to hoe but this time she also has more at stake than her heart as well! This time my focus on the story was uninterrupted and since the world in which it takes place is familiar that made it not only more enjoyable but a faster read as well. I also have to admit that the plot lines wove together much more smoothly in this story and even though it ended in another cliffhanger and with Callie once again bereft there is hope that the next story The Hallowed Door will finally bring Callie closer to her longed for and much deserved HEA! [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
CAJ45 More than 1 year ago
Love this series!!!! I can't wait for the 3rd book. This book broke my heart and I don't know how I am going to wait for the next book. The Water Witch had me finishing with watery eyes. So good! Definitely is one of my favorite series now! So good I can't say it enough.
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StarryEyedHeart More than 1 year ago
This is book two to the Fairwick Chronicles, and it exceeds its first companion by far! Anything that did not make sense to me or did not catch my attention in the first book, did here; maybe it was because the pacing was better, which lead me to focus more on every detail. I’m not sure,  but if you are a fan of Juliet Dark’s Gothic tones, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.  
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
Book two in the Fairwick Chronicles Series has built on book one, The Demon Lover, and created a much more in-depth, detailed story! I was immediately drawn in, knowing the characters already, I connected and saw how much the main character, Callie McFay, the part witch/part fey college professor has grown into her budding powers, also discovering that, as a child, these powers were bound to hide them from her grandmother, an accomplished and overbearing witch. Finally, I can say I like Callie! She is fighting back, trying to unbind her powers any way she can! The changes in her character seem real, her insecurities are still there, just not so 'in-your-face' and overpowering. I felt like she was finally learning to actually LIVE. Supernaturals again abound, throughout the book, but they are far more 'human' and fleshed out, working together to save their way of life when caught in the middle of two factions fighting over the gateway to the other realm where the fey are from. Should the gate be destroyed? Is it worth the costs to all involved? Is there a sinister agenda behind those who want to destroy the last link to a long and rich history? Meanwhile, Callie is still finding herself attracted to mysterious men who seem a little dark, still choosing poorly...until Bill comes along. He seems almost too good to be real. Who/what is he? I found this book to be the best so far and hope to see more like it! Four well-earned stars for a great plot! This ARC edition was given to me by Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for an honest review.
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, and Netgalley.) This is the second book in the ‘Fairwick Chronicles’ series, and picks up 4 months after the end of book 1.) **Warning – some unavoidable spoilers for book 1 ‘The Demon Lover’** At the end of book 1 Callie banished her boyfriend Liam, (who turned out to be incubus) to the borderlands of Faerie, and is now getting on with her life. The problem in Fairwick this time is that the ‘Grove’ are trying to permanently close the last door to faerie, which means that those faeries still in this world would die, and those in faerie would be unable to come back. Obviously the faeries are in uproar, and the witches are in uproar, and everyone is generally pretty hacked off. …. I’m not even sure I can bring myself to finish writing the summary for this book. I just had so many issues with it, not least of all that it was so dull! And Callie just made some stupid decisions. I gave the first book the benefit of the doubt – it wasn’t a favourite, but it was okay. This one was definitely not better. In fact, I had trouble finishing it. I was actually finding other things to do instead of reading it! It was totally one of those sort of books! So what didn’t I like? Anybody who saw my status updates on Goodreads, will have caught a few of these already, but here goes. Firstly; Callie is off to open another gate (yes – there is only 1 gate to faerie (the one in book 1), but conveniently there is also a second gate – just for the undines in the water to pass through) - Why say that there is only 1 gate to faerie, and then go and invent another one! Check your own story here for heaven’s sake! Secondly – Callie goes to open said second gate, gets dragged into the water by the undines, and goes for an underwater swim through to fairie. Hang on a minute – Callie is human-ish –surely she needs to breathe? How many people can ride underground streams without drowning? Come on! Thirdly; once Callie makes it through to fairy, she bumps into said ex-boyfriend – Liam the incubus who was killing her, and who she banished to the boarder-lands of faerie for good. So what does Callie do? Obviously, she unchains him, and has sex with him on the river bank. Exactly what every girl in their right mind would do. NOT. Why go to the trouble of banishing him, to then immediately unshackle him and have sex with him. Give me a break. Fourthly; when Callie gets back from Faerie, she finds that the storm created by one of the undines knocked her handy man off her roof and killed him. Do they arrange a burial? A cremation? No, they decide that his spirit is hovering nearby, and they’ll try and put it back in his body. So do they get to it? No, they decide to wait 24 hours, just because. Sorry, but either let the bloke die or do something now. Can you say brain damage???? Fifthly, god this is getting old. When they then decide to put said spirit back in its body, they decide to let Callie join the circle, even though her magic is ‘untrained and volatile’. Great idea when you’re trying to un-kill somebody. And then, when everything goes wrong (I wasn’t surprised), they decide to hire someone to teach Callie, so hire someone they’ve never met, who tries to teach her to shapeshift. I mean seriously, that’s where every witch in training should start eh? Shapeshifting? What happened to lighting sticks on fire, and taking petals off a flower or something. I mean, Callie is enough trouble as it is without adding shapeshifting to the pot! Okay, that was the first 35%-ish of the book. After that, it was just dull. So dull, and the decisions didn’t get any better! By 50% the dusting was looking like something more interesting to do (which is not a good thing). Overall; somebody else might enjoy this book, but after this book and the first in the series, you are going to have to put a gun to my head to get me to read anything else this author writes. Save yourselves now and steer clear of this one. 3.5 out of 10.