Unseen Magic!

I love both reading and writing novellas. A well written novella can provide romance, drama, danger, family issues, and a happy ending in one swift reading bite.  And I like writing novellas because one can go through all the stages of any writing project–enthusiasm, anxiety, panic, and finally satisfaction that it’s done in a much shorter period of time than for a novel.  My theory is a novella has a beginning and an end. and not much in between, which is good because it avoids the dread Saggy Middle.

Since I like novellas, I’ve written a fair number of them, but because they’re usually part of a larger anthology, sometimes readers don’t find them. That’s why it’s nice to reissue novellas as standalone ebooks once I have the rights back.

One such novella is Unseen Magic   which has just been released.  There is an audio version narrated by the wonderful Siobhan Waring, but that will be available at different times on different platforms.  Unseen Magic was part of an anthology that I did with Jo Beverley, Barbara Samuel, and Karen Harbaugh. We all liked writing stories with a touch of the paranormal, so we came up with a Holy Grail theme and titled it Chalice of Roses. We all used “rose” in the title of our stories so mine was then called The White Rose of Scotland, but I never thought that was an appropriate name.  (Chalice image by Dawn McDonald on unsplash.com

Now that the anthology is out of print and I can release my story, I’ve renamed it Unseen Magic which fits better. It’s part of my Guardian world, which includes a Georgian trilogy (Kiss of Fate, Stolen Magic, and A Distant Magic) and several shorter works.  The magically gifted Macraes of Dunrath, Scotland, figure in many of the stories.

Set in England during the WWII Blitz, Guardian heroine Jane Macrae is working in military intelligence in London when a powerful intuition sends her north to her home in Scotland.  At a remote railroad station, a frantic Canadian RAF pilot rushes onto the train and says he desperately needs her help.  Again guided by intuition, Jane follows him out into the dangerous night.

Unseen Magic Excerpt

Scotland, May 1941         

            Jane Macrae’s heart was in the Highlands.  Unfortunately, her weary body was on a crowded wartime train crawling its way north from Edinburgh.  She woke from a restless, unsatisfying doze to find that the young soldier snoring next to her had a hand resting on her thigh.  It was the most fun she’d had in months. 

She removed his hand, grateful that she had chosen to look “fast” by wearing trousers.  These last horrible months in London during the Blitz had made her a dedicated trouser wearer.  So much more convenient when running to an air raid shelter or pulling survivors from collapsed buildings, as she’d done more than once. 

Jane was good at finding people in the rubble.  If she tired of working for military intelligence, perhaps she’d join one of the rescue services.

She glanced at the window, wishing she could see the Scottish hills beyond.  Railway blackout regulations required blinds over windows and painting all the light bulbs blue.  The effect was eerie, to say the least.  But soon she’d be home. 

Closing her eyes again, she tried to find a more comfortable spot on a deeply uncomfortable seat.  She was one of the few civilians on the poky train.  Most of the passengers were soldiers, sailors, and airmen heading north to serve at some of Scotland’s many military installations.  The young, earnest, and doomed.  Damn Hitler!

            Jane’s work had kept her in London for these last crazy months, and on the whole, she’d coped reasonably well with the constant threat of German bombing.  But two days before, she’d been hit by a fierce need to head home to Scotland.  The pure, calm energy of her family estate at Dunrath would clear her mi

Macraes had lived at Dunrath since before the family was called Macrae.  The glen had been a grand place to grow up, and not only because it had the best weather in Scotland.  As the youngest of a large family, she’d been teased and indulged and taught.  Those had been golden days between the wars, though she’d been too young to fully appreciate them.  Such times were gone forever.  But the peace of Dunrath endured, and it was calling her home. 

            Though the distance between Edinburgh and Dunrath wasn’t that great, the train was a slow one that halted at every tiny station in the empty hills.  She kept track of them, since name signboards had been removed from most stations.  It would be easy to get off in the wrong place. 

Her compartment cleared out two stops before hers since that station was a transfer point.  Already the peace was getting into her bones and unwinding her tension and grief.  She yawned.  Only an hour or so more…

            Jane woke when the train lurched to a halt at the next station.  This was remote moorland, with only a sprinkling of crofts and villages.  She was settling down again when the door to her compartment opened and a wild-eyed lunatic surged onto the train.

            Not a lunatic—a pilot.  She would have known that even if the stranger wasn’t wearing a leather flying jacket like hers.  Near thirty, she guessed.  He was tall and tawny and fit, with a pilot’s quickness and the confidence that can seem arrogant. 

But what caught Jane’s attention and brought her sharply awake was his aura.  Magic blazed around him like a city in flames.

            The pilot’s fevered gaze swept the compartment and locked onto Jane.  Two steps brought him to her seat.  “You must come with me now!” he said in a North American accent as he loomed over her.  “It’s…it’s life and death.”

The story touches on real history, such as Hitler’s obsession with the occult and his search for sacred objects.  The Faerey Fox is a real bi-plane of that time period.  (My Mayhem Consultant found it for me.)  Rudolph Hess was Hitler’s deputy Fuhrer and he did fly to Scotland in hopes of negotiating a deal with the Duke of Hamilton to convince the UK to exit the war.  (This did not go well for him!)  In theory he flew solo but his plane probably had room for a black sorcerer.  And Jo Beverley liked that my hero came from Halifax because that’s where she and her husband lived when they first emigrated to Canada.

Of course there’s a happy ending!  I hope you enjoy Unseen Magic if you read it.

Mary Jo



14 thoughts on “Unseen Magic!”

  1. I’m really looking forward to this! I’ve read Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz more than once. It’s another great book with a premise thar white sorcerers worked together to prevent the Nazi invasion of Britain. It’s a great read!

  2. Thanks, Janice, I need to look Lammas Night up! The premise–using magic to defeat evil, is a good one and has been used in many interesting ways. I use it in my first magic YA, Dark Mirror, and there was even a Disney movie with Angela Lansbury as a white witch protecting Britain. (“You cannot pass the sea, you cannot pass the sea!”) I love reading and writing fantasy!

  3. Well Mary Jo, you know I love your magical world. I have the Chalice of Roses anthology- definitely one of my keepers. It will be so much fun to reread this story in a new light!

  4. Thank you for your response! I’m grateful for your willingness to engage in discussions. If there’s anything specific you’d like to explore or if you have any questions, please feel free to share them. Whether it’s about emerging trends in technology, recent breakthroughs in science, intriguing literary analyses, or any other topic, I’m here to assist you. Just let me know how I can be of help, and I’ll do my best to provide valuable insights and information!

  5. What a fantastic resource! The articles are meticulously crafted, offering a perfect balance of depth and accessibility. I always walk away having gained new understanding. My sincere appreciation to the team behind this outstanding website.

  6. I loved the novella too! The entire Chalice of Roses was an excellent read. Unseen Magic fits well into the Guardian Series, Congratulations!

  7. Mary Jo, when I traveled for business, almost always by air, anthologies were my favorite form, and somewhere, in some airport in the Midwest, some lucky person found my copy of Chalice of Roses when I left it behind by mistake! And I’d barely started it! So, I was very happy to see this post, purchased the e-version immediately, and just finished it – it’s terrific! Like all the best novellas, it’s sweeps you into the story immediately, and leaves you totally satisfied at the end, all in the space of a few hours or less – thank you! And now I’m on the hunt for another copy of the entire anthology….

  8. So glad you enjoyed my story, Constance! I agree that a good novella has to start fast, move quickly, and give a great, satisfying ending! Chalice of Roses was never available as an ebook, but used print copies are available at Amazon and other places.


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