Jun 1, 2012

{Guest Post + Giveaway} of Cursed by Benedict Jacka

Cursed (Alex Verus, #2)Today on Seeing Night Reviews author Benedict Jacka is here to talk about his latest novel in teh Alex Verus series Cursed. We get some insight on Alex himself and his shop! Plus after just finishing Benedict's first book in the series Fated and loved it, I thought I would give away a kindle copy to one luck follower!

Alex and his Shop
Alex Verus is a mage – specifically, a diviner.  Mages in the Alex Verus setting are specialists – they can use one and only one type of magic (which is set by their personality) and they can’t use spells of a type that doesn’t match their own.  An air mage can’t throw fire, a fire mage can’t speed up time, and a time mage can’t affect someone’s body or mind.  Diviners like Alex are generally regarded as one of the weaker types, as they can’t directly affect the physical world – all their magic does is provide information, letting them see the probabilities of future events.  On the other hand, you can do a lot with information if you know how to use it, and being underestimated can be quite handy.  

Alex lives in the Camden borough of London, where he has a flat (above a shop), a shop (beneath the flat), a small number of friends (mostly nonhuman), and a not-quite-apprentice named Luna (who’s cursed – long story).  Here’s Alex’s own description of the shop he spends his time in.  
    My shop’s tucked away down a little side street in Camden, only a minute’s walk from the canal.  The rail and road bridges that interlock the area make it tricky to find, but plenty of tourists still filter through.  The sign above my window says ‘Arcana Emporium’, along with a description of the contents that’s technical enough to stop most people immediately thinking ‘magic shop’.  A notice on the door lists my opening times as 10 am to 5 pm Mondays to Saturdays, and every now and again it’s actually right.   As far as I know I’m the only mage in England who runs a shop.  Most mages think it makes me eccentric or just plain stupid, and to be fair they’ve got a point.  Money isn’t a big concern to most mages.  Sure, they need it, but it isn’t the primary medium of exchange the way it is to regular folk, for the simple reason that most mages who know what they’re doing and are willing to put in the work can leverage their power into as much money as they’re realistically likely to need.  They aren’t all millionaires, not by a long shot, but they don’t generally have to worry about paying the rent either.  So as a general rule, you can’t buy anything really valuable from a mage with cash, because cash isn’t scarce enough for them to value it.
    The real currency of the magical economy is favours.  Mages are specialists;  a typical mage is great at one thing and poor to useless at everything else.  If he’s faced with a problem that requires a different type of magic from the kind he can use, he can’t do anything about it – but he probably knows someone who can.  And that mage might need someone else’s help a bit further down the line, and so on.  Established mages have whole networks of friends and contacts to call on, and let me tell you, mages take those favours seriously.  Failing to pay your debts in mage society is bad.  We’re talking ‘sold to Dark mages as a slave’ levels of bad.  Of course it still happens if the guy in question thinks he can get away with it, but it’s rarely a good idea in the long term, and at the higher levels, a surprising number of things run on simple promises.  They might not be as good as gold, but they can buy you a hell of a lot more.
    What this means is that anyone with enough magical items to set up a shop is generally powerful enough that they don’t have any reason to sell said items in the first place.  They also tend to be leery (for good reason) of putting large stocks of highly valuable items in an easily accessible place.  Or maybe they just think serving customers is beneath them.  Who knows.  There’s a certain band of items, though, that you can make a business out of selling – the stuff that’s just useful enough to be worth keeping but not powerful enough that a mage would bother to trade a service for, like old or weakened focuses, or the kind of one-shots which don’t do anything dramatic.  Then there are rare components, which don’t do anything useful on their own but which are really inconvenient to run short of right in the middle of a ritual.
    And finally there are things which aren’t magical at all, like crystal balls and tarot decks and herbs.  They’re pretty much useless for anything except window dressing, but they’re good camouflage.Put all of that together, and you’ve got the contents of my shop.  There’s a roped-off area in the back-right corner, next to the door to the hall, which contains the genuine magical items, or at least the weaker ones.  Two shelf stands hold a collection of nonprecious and semiprecious stones, as well as figurines and materials, and a rack holds herbs, powders, and various types of incense which together make the whole shop smell vaguely like a herbalist’s.  Staffs, rods, and blades of various type take up another corner, and you can get a good view out onto the street through a wide glass window, which was currently streaked with water from the steadily falling rain.  
And lastly, you get the customers.  
    My clientele used to be strictly small fry.  A tiny fraction who knew what they were doing, a slightly larger fraction who sort of knew what they were doing, and a whole lot whose knowledge of magic would fit on a Post-It note.  After the business six months ago, things changed.  My shop suddenly got popular, and adepts, apprentices, and even mages started coming along.  Trouble is, along with the influx of knowledgeable people, I’ve also picked up a whole lot of idiots.  On a Saturday like today, I’m lucky if one customer in five knows enough to be trusted.  The rest . . . . . . well.

About Cursed:
Benedict Jacka's acclaimed Alex Verus series continues with Cursed. Since his second sight made him infamous for defeating powerful dark mages, Alex has been keeping his head down. But now he's discovered the resurgence of a forbidden ritual. Someone is harvesting the life-force of magical creatures—destroying them in the process. And draining humans is next on the agenda. Hired to investigate, Alex realizes that not everyone on the Council wants him delving any deeper. Struggling to distinguish ally from enemy, he finds himself the target of those who would risk their own sanity for power...

FatedAbout Fated:

Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...

For those who need to catch up in the series to get their copy of Cursed!
1 eBook (Kindle) copy of Fated 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I will be dropping by the Shop the next time I am in Camden ;) What an awesome series. I am hopping over after this to check out Fated and looking forward to getting started on the journey. Thank you for bring, what looks like a really great sounding series to my attention today and for the lovely giveaway opportunity.

  2. I think the shop sounds great and I would stop in. I would say never underestimate magic either. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. I think Alex's shop sounds really cool, I'd love to drop in and browse around.

  4. Both Alex and the shop sound quite interesting, indeed. The shop is certainly a place I would visit!

    Tracey D

  5. I totally want to visit...as long as I can have a power.