Aged Mother Jilo is wise in the ways of magic…but once upon a time, she was just a girl.
1950s Georgia: King Cotton has fallen. Savannah is known as the “beautiful woman with a dirty face,” its stately elegance faded by neglect, its soul withering from racial injustice and political corruption.
Young Jilo—fiercely independent, intelligent, and ambitious, but thwarted by Savannah’s maddeningly genteel version of bigotry—finds herself forced to embrace a dark power that has pursued her family for generations, an ancient magic that may prove her salvation…or her undoing.
Explore the fascinating history of one of the Witching Savannah series’ most vivid and beloved characters, as the resourceful and determined Jilo comes of age, strives to master formidable magical skills in the face of overwhelming adversity, and forges her strange destiny against the turbulent backdrop of the civil rights struggle in the American South.
Past Praise for The Line (Witching Savannah Book 1) by J.D. Horn
“In this debut contemporary urban mystery, J.D. Horn weaves an intricate, gripping tale of magic and mysticism with the assured grace and lyricism of a seasoned novelist.”
—Kathryn Leigh Scott, author of Dark Passages and star of the classic TV series, "Dark Shadows"
“The witch is dead and Mercy Taylor needs to find out who killed her in Horn's intriguing debut…This tightly paced, entertaining series opener shows great potential.”
J.D. Horn was raised in rural Tennessee and has carried a bit of its red clay with him while traveling the world, from Hollywood to Paris to Tokyo. He studied comparative literature as an undergrad, focusing on French and Russian in particular. J.D. also holds an MBA in international business and worked as a financial analyst before becoming a novelist. Along with his spouse, Rich, and his furry coauthors, Duke and Sugar, J.D. divides his time between Black Butte Ranch, Oregon, and San Francisco, California. Previous titles in the bestselling Witching Savannah series are The Line, The Void and The Source. www.witchingsavannah.com
Jilo (Witching Savannah Book 4)
By J.D. Horn
47North (April 26, 2016)
ISBN: 978-1503953734| 368 pages, paperback | $14.95
ASIN: B B0176BJYSO | 370 pages, Kindle | $5.99
Genres: Thrillers & Suspense, Occult, Supernatural, Witches & Wizards, African American Historical, Southern Gothic
Available at Amazon: amzn.com/ 1503953734
EXCERPT from Jilo by J.D. Horn
“Thank you, Pastor,” Jesse’s mama said, placing her hand on his shoulder. Pastor Jones looked at her, Bible still held high, seeming to deliberate whether or not he should shrug her off and carry on. “I do so appreciate you coming out today,” May added in a sincere tone. Jesse knew his mama, though, and despite her calm demeanor, he knew she’d heard enough. The preacher had been given more than enough time to speak of wheat and chaff and wise virgins with well-trimmed wicks. The look on her face was the one she used when placating anyone in authority—usually the buckra, but occasionally one of their own. “We need to be getting the babies and the old folk out of the sun before one of them falls ill.”
The young man searched her face for a moment, then acquiesced. “Thank you, sister,” he said, taking a step back from the head of the grave.
Jesse’s mama smiled again at the preacher. “You go on, now,” she said, dismissing him in no uncertain terms. “We can handle it from here.” Jones lingered for a moment, as if considering whether he should listen, then nodded and walked away from the grave, passing by Jesse and his family on his way to the cemetery gate. He hesitated a moment when he reached Jesse’s daughters, who watched the young pastor with listless trepidation. Opal shifted Jilo, balancing the baby on her hip. Jones reached out to pat Poppy’s head, but then stopped dead at the sight of Jilo, doll-like in her starched white cap and gown. The pastor pulled his hand back slowly and hurried on toward the gate. Silence fell over the group until he was well beyond the boundary.
“Opal,” his mother called. Jesse’s eyes darted to his daughter.
“Yes’m.” The girl startled and straightened to attention at the sound of her nana’s voice.
“You bring your sister on up here,” Jesse’s mama instructed. “Bring Jilo to me.”
Jesse felt Betty tensing beside him. “You stay right where you are, girl,” Betty said, wagging her finger at Opal, who seemed nearly split in two by her desire to please both her nana and her mama at the same time. “What you need my Jilo for?” Betty took a few steps forward. Jesse couldn’t help but notice that she had moved toward his mother, ready for confrontation, rather than toward her baby, ready to protect.
He knew there was no need to protect Jilo from anything that was going to happen here, so while Betty geared herself up for a shouting matching with his mama, he stepped back and approached the girls. “Let me have her,” he said with a nod to Opal. Her face relaxed in gratitude as she handed the baby over.
Jesse took Jilo in both hands and shifted her into the crook of his arm. He leaned his head over to plant a kiss on her round cheek, then reached out and ran his thumb over Opal’s cheek as well. Over the sound of their mama’s indignant shouting, Jesse winked and said, “Your daddy has the best girls in the whole wide world; you know that, don’t you?” A smile curved on Opal’s lips, and she blinked once before nodding her response.
“And you, my little flower?” he said, turning toward Poppy, who scurried up to him and hugged his leg. He patted her head. “I love my girls,” he said. “All three of them.” When Poppy released him and slid back next to Opal, he closed his eyes for a moment before turning to face the scene unfolding behind him.
“And I,” Betty said, waving her finger in his mama’s face, “am not gonna have my babies take part in any of the old woman’s Hoodoo. You hear me?”
“Jilo,” his mama replied in her calmest voice, even though the angry set of her mouth and the crease that lined the center of her forehead told Jesse she was anything but relaxed, “is the last born. You want to be good and clear of the old woman”–her head rocked in indignation–“then we need to pass Jilo over the coffin.”
Jesse had almost reached his mother’s side when Betty caught sight of him. She pushed roughly past the mourners who didn’t have the sense to part between them like the Red Sea at the wave of Moses’s staff. “Gimme the girl.”
Jesse took a step backward and placed his hand over the back of Jilo’s little capped head. “It’s our way.”
“It may be your way, but it ain’t my way, and she’s my child.” Betty now stood within spitting distance of him, her chest and shoulders heaving. She flung out her arms, grasping at the linen of Jilo’s gown.
There was no way he was relinquishing the girl to those clenched and angry hands. “She’s my child, too.” For a moment, Betty’s face froze. Then her eyes narrowed, and she tilted her head. Her lips parted, readying to speak the truth that his cousins had been whispering behind his back, the truth his gut already knew. The truth that his own heart told him was the greatest lie of all. But then she stopped. Her tongue darted out of her mouth and licked her lips instead.
She gestured with a wide wave of her arm that included him, his mother, the casket, and the baby. “All right, y’all heathens go right on ahead. Y’all do what you need to do.” She spun around and stomped off, heading toward the gate.
Opal and Poppy started to take off after her, but their mother swung her hand back, signaling for them to stay put. Jesse could read the worry and confusion on their little faces from a hundred paces. “You come up here with Daddy and Nana,” he called to them. They hesitated, keeping an eye on their mother’s receding back. “Come on,” he said and urged them forward with a wave of his free hand. The two girls joined hands and walked forward with some lingering trepidation.
Jesse’s mother positioned herself on the opposite side of the coffin. He shifted Jilo off his shoulder, taking her in both hands. She gurgled with laughter, a bit of drool falling from the side of her mouth. Her black eyes twinkled with such love and intelligence, so much soul. It was like she’d already lived a thousand lives, and held every secret of the universe in her chubby, damp hands. He pulled her in close and placed a kiss on her forehead, then reached her over the casket to his mother.
His mama’s calloused, yet gentle, hands brushed his. As he let Jilo drop into her grasp, his ears were met with a loud pop, and his eyes registered a flash of bluish light. Everyone stood there gaping in silent amazement. Jilo squealed happily and reached her chubby arms across the void of his nana’s grave toward him, a joyous mystery playing in her eyes.