If you're in the mood for a holiday read and you love horror, The Christmas Bell is the perfect addition to your TBR pile. This horror novel follows three women in the same family as they unleash an evil presence over the days leading up to Christmas. Will they survive the sinister spirit or fall prey to dark secrets from the past?
I'm giving you a free look inside the book so you can see if it's right for you. Check out the prologue below and then be sure to head to your favorite bookstore to learn more...or, forward this to a friend so they can check it out.
Happy Holiday Season!
L.A. Detwiler, Author
The tree glowed with the traditional lights, a symbolic beacon of brightness amidst the horror that had become her life. She stared at them, wishing she could disappear into the vast number of bulbs on the strand. Wishing she could feel them burn her from the inside out. She wondered if her guilt would crumble with the ashes of her flesh, or if it would, in fact, remain long after the semblance of who she was incinerated.
In the distance, she could hear the Christmas carolers belting out the words to “Silent Night,” but they grated on her nerves. This was not a holy night—it never would be again. This was a night tinged by sorrow, regret, and guilt.
Sorrow for the death of her twin that she painted on her face.
Regret for the part she played.
And guilt—not for the thing she had done, but for the fact that within her core, buried underneath the superficial sorrow and grief and sadness, something else remained.
Joy. Season’s joy, yearlong joy at the fact that she was finally gone. Her greatest tormentor, her greatest fear was gone from this world. She was finally dead.
“Dear, they found this in her things. I didn’t want to give it you, but Father said we should. It was her final wish, after all.”
She turned to look at her mother, or the being who somewhat resembled her mother. After the past few day’s events, she knew that her mother would never exist the same way again either. Sure, she would paint on that faux smile outlined with red lips as she baked pies and went to the women’s choir practice and talked at the supermarket to her friends about upcoming charities. But behind every story, every lie, there would always be the ugly truth that everyone recognized but couldn’t admit. They had failed as a family. They had failed as parents. And Anne had failed as a sister.
Her eyes fell now from the gray, pallid skin of her mother’s tear-stained face to her trembling hands. They looked so wrinkled, so unappealing, as they stretched toward her with the item. It was wrapped in a crumpled piece of notebook paper, the kind that is too thin to be of any substance or natural looking. It was crudely taped around a spherical object, pieces of the translucent tape sporadically placed, as if the wrapper had been in a hurry. The gift lacked finesse and certainly wasn’t one Mother would ever put under the perfectly decorated tree on a normal year. But this was no normal year.
Anne stared at her name hurriedly written in a frenetic scrawl on the front of the tiny package. Sobs threatened to rack her body. She was glad Rachel was gone in so many ways—but there was still something haunting about touching an item that belonged to a girl who didn’t know what fate awaited her.
Or did she? That was something she would push aside for now. She took the package from her mother, choosing to wander to her room to open the final gift. She was surprised her mother granted her this courtesy. Perhaps her mother had already decided, however, to wash her hands of this delicate, vile matter. Her mother in her stark white apron and adeptly curled hair—it wouldn’t do to dirty her face with tinges of the truth. It wouldn’t do at all. She would leave that to Anne, just as she had done back in July.
In her room, perched on her bed, Anne tediously peeled back the layers. Had Rachel really thought this far ahead? She had never been close to her, especially after what happened in July. Why would she decide to leave her a gift now? Was it a final parting, a final remedy for a life that was lived in the recesses of wickedness?
As her fingers pulled back the paper, she knew there was no gift that could assuage her cruelty, could save her soul from the torments she must be facing. Lives are filled with mistakes—but Rachel’s had been filled with fiendish feats performed with remarkable malevolence too filthy to be wiped clean.
When the paper was removed, she studied the metal object in her hands. A bell sat in her hands, a rusty red color. She placed a hand over her mouth, shaking. The bell was familiar. She’d seen it once before but had thought nothing of it. She’d thought it nothing more than her overactive imagination mixing trauma and Christmas together.
But here it was, real in all ways. It was covered in scratches as if someone’s fingernails had dug away until the rusty metal underneath peeked through. She looked closer, leaning in to see a hooded girl carved on the front of the bell, remarkable detail embossed in the surface. She looped a finger through the twine, flipping the ornament between her fingers to examine it closer. As the bell twirled between her fingers, rotating, she noticed that the back didn’t match the front. On the back side of the ornament, a message was carved.
And when she read the words carved in the festive adornment, a foreboding gloom drowned her until she was gasping for air. A dread like she’d never felt swept through her veins, clawing at her skin until she could scarcely remember who she was. She choked on sobs, crumpling to the ground. A ringing in her brain drowned out all her awareness.
As she looked once more at the words, she knew she wasn’t imagining it. For where words such as Noel or Happy Holidays or Good Tidings should have been, a dire warning of the most menacing kind was clawed into the surface of the metal. She knew who it was from. She knew what it meant. She just didn’t know what the consequences would be.
But when her eyes finally unlocked from the carved words, she saw it. Across the bedroom, near the corner. And as her heart beat wildly, words frozen in her throat, she knew that she wasn’t actually safe at all . . . and that the sinister occurrences were probably only beginning.
Christmas and all its joys had morphed into a Darker Christmas Spirit—one that there was no celebrating and certainly no escaping from.
At the realization, she tossed the ornament across the room, only to notice that where the twine had been, a bloody cut was now seeping on her finger. She watched the red droplets fall, knowing that the White Christmas the carolers sang about outside their home had turned to red.
Horrifying, fiendish red.
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books