Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Paranormal Romance
Date Published: September 15, 2015

A story of the living, the undead, magic, betrayal, love, more betrayal, and blueberry pancakes. Gracie Daniels has it all. She’s young, pretty, in love and about to graduate from the University of Southern California, but her world is turned upside down when she wakes up, dead, in the morgue. But that’s only the beginning of Gracie’s new undead life. She has to learn to survive impending decomposition from a Wiccan spell that went wrong and numerous betrayals, all while searching for a mysterious alchemical spell book. Then along comes handsome Troy Scott. How can Gracie balance being dead and falling in love? It would be easier to give up, 
but that’s not Gracie.
Why was I in the morgue? I struggled to sit up and quickly realized I was naked. Buck naked, not a stitch on. I blinked and saw the origin of the voice, a petite young woman wearing an open white lab coat and blue scrubs. Her nametag said Sarah.
She yelped and clamped a hand over her mouth. “I can’t believe it. Talk again.”
Okay. “Hi. What am I doing here?” My voice was stronger now, and I didn’t feel quite as cold.
Sarah giggled like a high school girl. “I’m Terra.”
“Nametag says Sarah.” I grabbed the sheet that had bunched around my waist when I sat up and pulled it up to my chin.
“That’s a vanilla name. My coven name is Terra. And you’re Gracie. Nice to meet you face-to-face, Gracie.” She smiled a broad, look-what-I-did smile.Two other bodies lay on tables, their feet poking out, each with a toe tag dangling in the air. That made me think. I pulled up the sheet to expose my own feet. What the hell! I had a toe tag as well.
“Sarah, I mean Terra, what’s going on?” I brought my foot up and slipped the tag off.
Terra was still smiling. “You, um, you...I did something.” She shoved a piece of paper into her pocket.
“Why am I here, in the morgue?” I wrapped the sheet around me like a toga and swung my legs over the side of the table, dangling them over the sterile white tile floor. There were strange little glass jars around my table.
“Oh, that’s easy. You’re dead.”
“No, I’m not. I’m sitting here in a morgue talking to you.”
“Yeah, you are dead. You’ve been dead for six hours. I couldn’t wait much longer because they might start the autopsy. I had to get to you before it happened, obviously.” Terra clapped her hands together. “So, what do you feel like? Are you breathing? Do you feel like yourself, you know, before you died? What’s it like to be not dead anymore?”
“What?” It was hard to concentrate on Terra’s endless questions.
She pulled out a little compact mirror from her pocket, along with the piece of paper she’d just put in there, and held the mirror near my lips. “Can you breathe? Are your lungs working? The mirror isn’t fogging up. How are you not breathing? This is so cool. Oh my God! What’s it like?”
I shoved her hand away, making her drop the mirror. It shattered. “Can you shut up for a minute? I need to think.” Her voice was like an icepick stabbing my brain. The piece of paper was clutched in her other hand, and I wanted it. While she looked at the ground, I grabbed the paper and saw what looked like a couple of recipes and…an incantation?
“That’s mine. And you broke my mirror.” Terra pointed to the shards. “Damn it! I don’t need bad luck.”
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
She pouted. “You can keep the spell, I don’t need it anymore. Hey, I’d better run. Nice to meet you.”
“Wait!” I reached out and held her by the sleeve and waved the paper in the air. “You’re not leaving me here. Is this an incantation? What’s going on? Where are my parents and Raf? Are you a doctor?”
She didn’t look, or act, like a doctor. She was maybe in her early twenties, like me, but unlike me, her hair was platinum blonde with pink highlights. Heavy black kohl outlined her eyes, she had her eyebrow pierced and had two cheek dimple-piercings. Doctors didn’t look like that, did they? She looked like a groupie at a boy band concert. I hated groupies.
She giggled. “No, I’m not a doctor. I got a job here as a tech so I could be near the bodies when they came downstairs.” She tugged her arm free, bent down and picked up several of the open jars that now I could see were filled with dried plants floating in liquid; the herbs I’d smelled. “I’m kind of a Wiccan alchemist. I made up the name. But don’t tell my coven what I did! They’ll excommunicate me or whatever for practicing without a license.”
“Practicing? Practicing what, exactly?” I lifted the sheet away from my body just enough to check myself out. I didn’t have any cuts or wounds. Was this a joke? Raf had tried to prank me once, by swapping my guacamole with wasabi, but I managed to subvert it by switching it back when he wasn’t looking. He knew how much I hated wasabi and in fact, anything spicy. But this time it looked like he got me.

Fun, Sarcasm, Death … not in that order
Gracie Daniels wakes up naked on a table with a tag around her toe. Yup, she’s been pronounced dead and is seconds away from having an autopsy performed to determine why. We’ve all been there … or not. But then we didn’t have Terra, a member of a Wiccan coven, practicing reanimation spells. While the shock of what’s happened to her is unsettling, so is finding your boyfriend is already hooking up with a study buddy from geology. But when one door closes, another one opens and you find a hunk named Troy Scott. Unfortunately, you also find out that if you don’t do something, you’ll start to decay ... unless you find that freaking book on alchemy. 
This is the premise of Sofia Diana Gabel’s GRACIE, DEAD OR ALIVE. It’s part mystery, part paranormal, and part satire. Is satire a genre? It should be. It’s also a pretty good read. I liked Ms. Gabel’s style of spinning a tale and appreciated the imaginative twists and turns the story took. It kept me interested and laughing which are the two things I most like to be outside of caffeinated, but a book can only do so much.
I liked Grace Daniels and watching her try to find a solution to her predicament. And, of course, she makes all the wrong moves! How many people here have been dead before? A show of hands, please? I thought not. I would hazard a guess and say that it’s pretty disconcerting and would probably throw anyone off their game, so I forgave her.
The story is fast-paced and moves along at quite the clip. It’s not predictable and that’s always a plus. It’s well-written and also humorous. If those sound like things you enjoy, then I suggest you dive on in and give GRACIE, DEAD OR ALIVE a try! I’m giving this a 3.8.
Sofia Diana Gabel is a multi-genre fiction writer who was born in Sydney, Australia, but is now living in the United States with her family. With degrees in environmental science and archaeology, she enjoys being out in nature when she's not glued to her desk writing or researching a new story idea. Writing is a true passion of hers, born from a love of the written word that can transport the reader to different places or worlds and deliver them back to reality, safe and sound.

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Twitter: @sofiadianagabel     

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