Esher Hill

He listens more than he speaks, is never parted from his dog and wishes he were best known for locking his amorous friends in the cellar in order to continue his reading. He’s talented enough with a blade that his life shouldn’t have been complicated, even cursed with a brain at odds on the idea of living, but his sister thought to save him by making the soul trade and instead rendered the town’s knowledge of his depression the least of Esher Hill’s problems. He’s affectionate and loyal, but to help his sister, he’s going to have to work with a company of strangers in the most dangerous place in the Marchverse, strangers with no interest in seeing him survive himself, never mind the weird magic of the Gast…

Set approximately forty-two years before Tes arrives at the College, the stories of Esher Hill and his companions depict a young Kit March and his meeting of Faiza and the future Professors Roxleigh, along with a fellowship of queer, trans, neurodiverse and a-spec characters fighting monsters and each other.

Faiza and the Professors Roxleigh are non-narrating minor characters in The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March, while Kit is a narrating protagonist.

Love is the Reckoning: a Marchverse novelette

Cover of Love is the Reckoning: A Marchverse Novelette by K. A. Cook. Cover shows a cartoony-styled indoors tavern scene with a lot of different brown wood textures: wood panelling on the walls, wood floor, a square wood window frame, a crooked wooden table in the centre of the image and a wooden stool and a wooden barrel sitting in front of it. A candle stub sits on the window frame, looking out to dark green trees against a star-lit sky. The table bears beer glasses, a green wine bottle, a brown bottle of spirits, orange liquid in a glass, a plate of biscuits and a plate bearing a wedge of yellow cheese with red rind. A wooden log rests against one side of the window frame, an unsheathed longsword against the other, and a sack sits against the wall underneath the table. A cage bearing a twisted, vine-style plant sits in the top right-hand corner, above the table. Text is written in a white, handdrawn, fantasy-style type.

Esher Hill left his home and kin a crying wreck of a man, too depressed and dysphoric to care what his people make of him. If he’d had his way, that would have been the end of it.

His sister Mara, the village witch, made sure he didn’t.

Two years later, Esher owns a dog, a blade, a career and a new body—the shape of masculinity he always felt he should be. A miracle Mara refuses to explain. A miracle the Sojourner’s priests reject and fear. A miracle, say the Grey Mages, that cannot exist without something precious sacrificed in exchange: a soul.

Returning home in search of his sister and the truth isn’t just a matter of enduring stares, whispers, explanations and the condescending pity from those he left behind.

Love holds edges sharper than Esher’s sword, for nobody wins but demons in the sale of souls.

Links: forthcoming

Sequel Works: The Crew of Esher Hill

The Crew of Esher Hill: a Merchverse serial

Cover of The Crew of Esher Hill: A Marchverse Serial by K. A. Cook. Cover shows cartoon-style vines, trees, mushrooms and plants in a swamp theme with lots of aqua and blue-green tones for the plants and leaves, and purple-brown tones for stumps and branches, giving everything an uncanny, unnatural feel. A clear, glowing sphere sits on a stump at the bottom right of the cover. Test written in a white, handdrawn, fantasy-style type.Esher Hill’s dying sister once sold her soul to save Esher’s life. Saving Mara means venturing into the Gast, a dangerous place of magic walled off from the rest of the world, in search of an ancient elfish relic.

He won’t survive the Gast alone.

Faiza Hiba Khalil studied dragons and artefacts to escape the pressures of title and family. They leap at the opportunity to use their knowledge on Esher’s quest—even if they have no idea how to use the sword that accompanies their fire-proof armour.

Marie and Sarie Roxleigh know two things: they are women and they are wed. Astreut disagrees. In the wilds of the Gast, they might find power enough to make their safety—but they have no reason to trust Esher and his crew.

Kit March is a magician and trickster with quick words, an affinity for narrative and a heart filled with guilt—but Kit’s magic is designed to impress and entertain, not protect.

Indigo has mastered horses, weapons and a biting absence of fear, but nothing else about hir life will ze share. Ze serves the Grey Mages, not Esher—but ze alone knows where and how to find the artefact that will save Mara’s life.

Esher can’t risk a single mistake, but his crew may be more dangerous to Esher than the Gast.

Links: forthcoming (exclusive to Patreon supporters)

Prequel Works: Love is the Reckoning, Ringbound

Sequel Works: The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March

Forthcoming stories include Love is the Binding, a novelette depicting Esher’s first meeting with Faiza and Indigo; and A Census of Dragons, a short story about Faiza’s previous life as a princess and dragon scholar.