Spotlight & Giveaway: Rise and Divine by Lana Harper

Posted May 9th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 19 comments

Today, HJ is pleased to share with you Lana Harper’s new release: Rise and Divine




To save both her town and the woman who loves her against all odds, a witch haunted by loss must reckon with her turbulent past, in the next magical romance in the Witches of Thistle Grove series by New York Times bestselling author Lana Harper.

Even in a family of chaotic necromancers, Daria “Dasha” Avramov has always been an outlier. An event planner at the Arcane Emporium occult megastore, Dasha is also a devil eater: a rare necromantic witch with an affinity for banishing demons and traversing the veil, the boundary between this realm and the next.

Still grieving the loss of both beloved parents years ago, and plagued by a dangerous obsession with the world beyond the veil, Dasha is fiery yet guarded, an expert at dodging commitment. Her worst regret is a devastating breakup with the wise, empathetic, and sensual Ivy Thorn, her event-planning counterpart at Honeycake Orchards, and probably the love of Dasha’s life. Dasha has managed to break Ivy’s heart not once, but twice, so things are more than a little tense between them.

When they’re thrown together to plan the Cavalcade—a month-long festival celebrating Thistle Grove’s ceremonial founding with dazzling spectacles held by the town’s witch families—Dasha hopes that the third time might be the charm, while Ivy refuses to let herself be hurt again. As they confront the pain and passion lingering between them, Dasha and Ivy must also stand against an otherworldly threat unlike anything Thistle Grove has faced before.


Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from Rise and Divine 

“It was my aunt’s,” Emily began, untying the pouch’s drawstring and fishing out a heart-shaped locket on a delicate chain, letting it pool in her palm. Candlelight caught its links with a sinuous, flickering gleam. Again, I saw Amrita stiffen with distaste, but Emily’s fingers curled protectively around the locket, betraying no trace of fear or distress. She toyed with it fondly, running her fingertips over its edges as she spoke. “Passed down from my maternal grandmother, her mother before that, and so on. It’s belonged to the women in my family for at least four generations.”
I nodded, committing this to memory. The age of the substrate mattered when it came to infestations. Something old, infused with decades or even centuries of emotion, tended to be a more attractive and sturdier medium, a better home for malevolent entities than an item without its own patina of history.
“How did it make its way to you?”
A fine tremble of emotion rippled over her features. “My aunt passed away, a little over six months ago,” she said, swallowing hard, a corner of her mouth twitching. “An aggressive cancer; we had almost no warning. Most of her estate went to debts, the rest to me and my mother. This piece in particular, she left to me.”
“Your aunt didn’t have any daughters of her own, I take it?” “Not anymore.” She licked her lips, tightened them against the slight quiver in her chin. “But she used to. My . . . my cousin, Scarlett. Lettie. She died when I was fifteen. We were almost the same age; my mom and Aunt Percy, they had us less than a year apart. They used to call us Irish twins. And that’s what it felt like to us, too. Like we were sisters instead of cousins.”
“So you were close,” I prompted. The mention of a dead cousin as well as a dead aunt had piqued my interest, but I didn’t want to lead her or bias myself. Still, any kind of tight entanglement with the departed was promising.
“Yes.” A faint smile ghosted over her lips. “I lived with them for a while before Lettie died, for almost a whole year back when I was twelve. My father wasn’t in the picture, and my mother was weathering a rough patch. She has bipolar disorder, with a panic disorder on top of that, and meds back then were even more of a guessing game. It took a while for her to reach something like an even keel. So we agreed I’d move in with Aunt Percy and Lettie, just until Mom found her footing.”
“How was that? Living with them?” Emily seemed willing enough to reminisce about her cousin and aunt, but two teenagers circling each other in close quarters could create a frothy turbulence. The sort of psychic turmoil that sometimes left a contrail, a delicious impression that drew some entities like bees to nectar.
“Wonderful,” she said wistfully, no bitterness whatsoever. “I’d been living with my mom in Boston before that, in one of the college student neighborhoods she could afford. It was pretty much what you’d expect. Loud, crowded, parties at all hours. But Aunt Percy, she had this gorgeous restored farmhouse in Vermont. Acres and acres of land, a few horses. So much quiet and sky, exactly what I needed at the time. And Lettie and I, we had the run of the place. I even went to school with her that year, and it was like . . . I don’t know, an endless sleepover with your best friend in the world. Like I’d fallen into this cozy fairy tale.”
“What happened after that?” I asked.
“My mom got better, and I went back to Boston.” Emily’s face darkened like a storm front. “I’d been gone for almost three years by the time Lettie died, but I visited every summer, sometimes even for holidays. It was a drunk driving accident, the kind where everyone else walked away practically without a scratch. Just awful, cosmically shitty luck.”
Amrita flicked a subtle glance at me, gauging my reaction. My mother had died in a car accident, too, six years ago, though that had been a highway pileup caused by an ice slick rather than any human recklessness.
I gave Amrita a tiny, reassuring nod in response. Corkscrew twist in my stomach aside, I’d come a long way since the days when the slightest reminder of my mother’s absence could send me spinning out, where nothing and no one could reach me.
“I don’t think my aunt ever really recovered. If you even can, from a loss like that.” She toyed with the locket again, turning it over and over between her fingers, her drawn features softening a little. “That’s what’s in here. A lock of Lettie’s hair. I assume that’s partly why Aunt Percy left it to me. She knew . . . she knew the way I loved her, too.”
My interest sharpened almost tangibly, like a lens focusing. So there was an organic component involved, which could be a powerful locus for sympathetic magic.
“Then weird things began happening,” I guessed. “Once the locket passed to you.”
Emily nodded, a rapid bob, throat spasming as she swallowed. “It was just the odd thing here and there, at first. Lights flickering, creaking noises, thumping in the walls. The kind of stuff you can write off as faulty wiring, an old house settling, maybe mice. Or, you know. Pipes.”
“Pipes,” Amrita and I deadpanned in long-suffering unison. As far as explanations for the paranormal went, crappy plumbing really played an outsized part. Sometimes I wondered if we even needed the oblivion glamour that was cast over Thistle Grove to prevent its normie residents from retaining memories of magic, when eighty percent of the time you could blithely pin the blame for anything from a rogue demon to a rampaging poltergeist on “pipes.”
“But then,” she went on, a little smile tugging at her lips, “I started feeling her. Lettie.”
My shoulders tightened by reflex. Now we were really getting somewhere. “How do you mean? Cold spots in certain areas of the house? A sense of presence?”
“No cold spots, nothing like that. But a presence, yes. It was only in my dreams at first. Lettie and I’d be lying together by our creek at sunset, like we used to.” Her brow furrowed. “She’d be talking and talking to me, telling these long, winding stories. Holding my hand, or with her head resting on my stomach. Always touching. And I . . . I’ve missed her so much, for so long now. It was like really being with her again. I’d try so hard to remember what she said to me after I woke up, but I never did. I could never hold on to the words.”
A chill trickled down my spine, and I could feel the prickle of the sideways glance Amrita stole at me, to confirm that I’d registered this aberration, too. Normal shades didn’t behave this way, not even the punchier ones. They didn’t have the bandwidth or the cohesion to affect the living like this, trespassing on their dreams.
But other things did.
“You said ‘at first,’” I probed, resting my forearms on the table’s edge. “What happened after that?”
“Um.” She licked her lips again, strained gaze darting between the two of us. “After that . . . well, a few months ago, Lettie started getting into bed with me.”
“I see.” I strove to keep my tone neutral, though even as someone on first-name terms with a variety of chthonic entities, the notion of something inhuman slinking into my bed gave me an instant case of the willies. “Did you feel a dip in the mattress, something like that? Or has she made physical contact?”
“Contact.” She smiled, an expression of such sheer joy and affection that it only unnerved me more. “She spoons me sometimes. Snugs her arms around my neck, all warm. Exactly the way we used to sleep, the nights I snuck into her bedroom so we could stay up and freak each other out with ghost stories.”
All warm. That wasn’t right at all. Shades felt like nothing to most humans, completely incorporeal—and on the rare occasion where they manifested an ectoplasmic form dense enough to emit a temperature, the living experienced it as a freezing, bone-burrowing cold. I should know. As an Avramov, ectoplasm had been my magical clay since I began casting, and decades later I still wasn’t immune to its slimy, icy texture.
“And this happens every night?” I asked, my pulse kicking up.
“No, but it’s gotten more frequent. And I’m not—I’m not saying I have a problem with it, per se,” she added hastily, lest I get the wrong impression about nighttime snuggles with Alleged Dead Lettie. “It feels so precious to be close to her again, after all these years of missing her. Like a gift. Like she’s missed me, too, so much that not even death could keep her away from me forever.” She huffed out a tearful little laugh, tucked her lips behind her teeth. “You’re . . . This is the first time I’ve even told anyone else. Believe me, I know exactly how unhinged this all must sound.”
Amrita reached across the table and gave Emily’s free hand a quick squeeze, her eyes warm with compassion. I noticed that Emily’s cuticles were raw and inflamed, as if she had been worrying at them while avoiding the glossy coat of her polish. “Not at all,” my sister assured Emily. “It’s your experience, and you’re doing a wonderful job describing it for us. That’s what we’re for—to hear stories just like this. And then help, if we can.”
“That’s the thing,” Emily said, mouth twitching in a brief, pale smile. “I’m not completely sure I even need help. For the most part, I love having her there. It’s just that . . . I’ve been waking up so tired, the mornings after she spends a night with me. And I used to run hot, but now it’s like I’m freezing all the time. It’s gotten bad enough that I went in for a check-up, but everything seems fine. And I—I guess what I’m asking is, would that be normal? In, in situations like this?”
That posture I’d seen when I first arrived hadn’t been fear, I suddenly realized, but a desperate, ferocious hope. Emily didn’t want to be saved, delivered from any evil—she wanted confirmation of what she hoped was the truth. That this was truly the ghost of her beloved cousin reaching out to her from beyond the veil, wanting nothing more than to cozy up against her living kin’s back. That sounded sublimely fucking creepy—even to me, someone who, not that many years ago, would have given anything for the smallest sign of my mother reaching out to me from beyond that depthless dark.
But part of Emily—the part that had her gnawing at those ragged cuticles—at least suspected that something here was terribly wrong.
“And I can handle it,” she continued before I could reply, gaining conviction. “The fatigue and the cold, whatever else happens. It’s a ridiculously small price to pay for having gotten her back, in any form. If this is what I can have of her, then I’ll take it. But . . . I want to be sure. That it’s really her, and not . . . I don’t know. Something else.”
“It’s very brave of you,” I murmured, holding her eyes. “On both fronts. To be willing to make that sacrifice, and to be willing to know the truth. But I do have to tell you, even if it is Lettie’s shade—what you might refer to as her ghost—that’s attached itself to the locket, I wouldn’t advise allowing her to stay with you. For one thing, it isn’t really her. Shades are only shadows, echoes of unresolved emotions. Not the person you knew.”
I could see from the unyielding defiance on her face that this wouldn’t be a convincing line of argument; she didn’t care which part of Lettie she might have gotten back. Grief could be like that, hollowing you out enough to make you starved for crumbs you could barely see, much less taste.
“More importantly,” I went on, trying another tack, “the living and the dead aren’t meant to mingle, to entangle so closely. Their presence wears on you. Long term, there would be both spiritual and physical consequences. Progressively more severe.”
Without conscious thought, my fingers drifted up to the hollow of my neck, where the protective Avramov garnet hung on a slim silver chain. It was the gem ward we all used to keep ourselves grounded, given the way our mere existence attracted anything of an ectoplasmic bent. Because we Avramovs weren’t just necromancers, or speakers to the dead—something in our blood made us into living beacons, the human equivalent of standing stone circles. A walking invitation for possessions and infestations of every stripe.
My own especially volatile nature meant I sometimes needed the garnet’s anchor even more than most.
“I’ll make that decision for myself,” Emily said, with a stout lift to her chin. There was such a vibrant energy to her, an electric sense of leadership, loyalty, and fearlessness that burned in her like a brand. Luminous enough that even I could see it, having known her for all of fifteen minutes. I could understand why something would have wanted to feast on that vibrant part of her. Maybe even I wouldn’t have minded just a little bite of all that zest. “That’s why I’m here. I want to know for sure.”
“Understood.” I reached a hand across the table, palm up. “May I?”
Reluctantly, as if she was just a tiny bit afraid I might steal it from her, she relinquished the locket, letting the chain pool onto my palm. It was a vintage heart etched with whimsical little flowers drawn from curlicues, its edges rubbed lopsided by years of handling, the raw brass still warm from her skin. A sweet curio, with a warm, feminine energy to it. Likely just as appealing to whatever now lived in it as Emily herself was.
I closed my eyes, grasped at the locket with my mind, and tumbled headfirst into darkness.

Excerpted from Rise and Divine by Lana Harper Copyright © 2024 by Lana Harper. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.

Excerpt. ©Lana Harper. Posted by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

Giveaway: One print copy of RISE AND DIVINE for a US only winner.


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Meet the Author:

Lana Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witches of Thistle Grove series. Writing as Lana Popović, she has also written four YA novels. Lana studied psychology and literature at Yale University, law at Boston University, and publishing at Emerson College. She lives in Chicago, where she spends most of her time plotting witchy stories and equally witchy tattoos.
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19 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Rise and Divine by Lana Harper”

  1. Linda Romer

    Rise and Divine sounds great! Looking forward to reading this. Thank you

  2. Patricia Barraclough

    I have never read anything like this before. I have read very little paranormal fiction and that mostly shifters. This is intriguing. Thank you for the excerpt.