Excerpt of "The God of the Underworld" from FATHOMS BETWEEN by Laura Holt

Welcome to Magic, Myth, & Mischief in celebration 
of fairy tales, mythology, and fantastic beasts of lore such as dragons, fae, mermaids, and unicorns!
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Stop back all week long for fun author interviews, exciting giveaways, reviews,
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Next week on September 28th, check out Laura Holt's guest post over at That Artsy Reader Girl for a delightful post about Hades and his spooky book recommendations!

Look forward to Laura's brand-new release FATHOMS BELOW, the third book in the Star Crossed quintet, out October 2nd, 2018!

Today, we have a spoiler-free excerpt where you get to meet Hades for the first time alongside Cather Stevens!

New to the series? You can also check out  the first two books in the series, FATHOMS BELOW and FATHOMS ABOVE. Mandy has reviewed the books here!


Hermes took her to a brick warehouse on the outskirts of Megalopolis. She didn’t ask how he knew where to find Hades, or if Peter would be okay while they were gone. Both seemed pointless when you were following a god.
From the street, the four-story building appeared deserted. There were no lights in the windows, and several of the glass panes were busted. When they drew closer, however, she made out a man standing by the door. The orangey glow of the streetlamps illuminated his wide frame. He glowered at them, but said nothing, reminding Cather of the bouncers she’d seen at dance clubs.
Hermes slipped the man a drachma and whispered something that she didn’t catch. The man must have, though, because he tucked the coin into his pocket and opened the door for them. Taking her hand, Hermes led her inside.
Here, a narrow hall led deeper into the building. At the end was another door with a square window covered by a dingy shade. A sign hung on the knob. Cather didn’t know what it said. The words were in Greek. However, she guessed from the picture of the skull at the bottom that it wasn’t welcoming them to a tea party.
She cut her eyes at Hermes, wondering, not for the first time since she’d agreed to see if Hades would help them, if this was such a good idea. This was the kind of place her mom had always warned her against going, where dirty deals happened under tables and cops performed regular raids. If his uncle preferred this element, maybe they were better off without him.
Hermes ignored the sign and pushed the door open with a creak of unoiled hinges. Before she could protest, he pulled her over the threshold.
The smell was the first thing she noticed. A rank mix of sweat, blood, and unwashed gym socks, it assaulted her nostrils, making her gag. Covering her mouth and nose with a grimace, she peered around, curious in spite of herself.
Like the rest of the building, this part had seen better days. The walls were covered with spray painted symbols in pinks, yellows, and neon greens. The cavernous ceiling was a mess of pipes that twisted away into shadow. The windows were covered with roll up blinds. Several tall floodlights had been arranged between them on tripods. They were the only light in what looked, at one time, to have been a production line. The skeletal remains of a conveyor belt and several robot packaging machines had been pushed against the wall. Covered in a thick layer of dust and cobwebs, they sat in the shadows, sad and forgotten.
There were people everywhere, dressed in a variety of grunge clothes, tank tops, and cargo pants with more pockets in them than Cather thought any human being could use. Their hair bore the same colors as the spray paint on the walls, as if a neon birthday cake had exploded on top of them. Each one was arranged in a wild do. She saw mullets, Mohawks, dreadlocks, and cornrows. When they moved, they swayed back and forth, like sea anemones in the ocean of bodies around her.
The noise level in the room was deafening as the crowd cheered and whistled. Some people chanted names that she didn’t recognize. Several waved fistfuls of paper money in the air. All attention was directed at the fenced-in ring that had been erected on a platform near the center of the room.
Two men stood inside, circling one another, fists raised. Predatory expressions warped their faces, making them indistinguishable. The scene was a surprisingly familiar one, thanks to all the times she’d watched the sports network when she was dating Justin.
“This is where the ruler of the underworld spends his spare time? An underground cage fighting match?” she asked, unable to hide her disbelief.
“Hades loves anything that’s dark and violent, and this is both. Come on.”
He led her farther into the crowd, using his shoulder to clear a path to the stage. Cather did her best not to brush against anyone, though it wasn’t easy with the press of the crowd. One guy she bumped into turned around, a cigarette dangling from his lip. He snarled at her, undoubtedly about to say something nasty. When he noticed Hermes beside her, however, he must have thought better of it, because he turned away without speaking.
She turned away, relieved, only to jump as a pit bull barked at her, snarling and straining at its leash. Its owner, a girl twice Cather’s size with half a dozen facial piercings, laughed as she leaned on the shoulder of a guy with a shaved, tattooed head.
“Why don’t you take that thing outside?” Cather snapped, adrenaline making her voice shake. Instead of earning her an apology, this only made the girl laugh harder. Hermes tugged on her hand, pulling her away, and Cather pulled her jacket hood up over her head, scowling, in an effort to ignore her.
A bell clanged, signaling the end of the round as she and Hermes neared the edge of the stage. Craning her neck, she peered at the fighters in the ring.
At the sound of the bell, they had returned to their corners to wait for the next round. One was talking to an older man. His coach, she guessed, when he wrapped a towel around the fighter’s neck and handed him a bottle of water. The fighter was huge, like the Hulk on steroids. Muscles bulged from every part of his skin. His hair stood up on his head in gelled spikes that appeared sharp enough to be used as weapons. His ears bore the telltale cauliflower look of a seasoned fighter that Justin had pointed out to her more than once, and one of his eyes drooped a little. When he smiled at something that his coach said, his lips pulled back to reveal more than a few missing teeth, as well as several that were chipped. Cather winced at the sight, wondering how many punches to the face he’d taken over the course of his career.
He wore a pair of black gym shorts and a matching tank top. Yet he wore a spiked leather dog collar around his neck and brass knuckles on his hands. Tattoos ran up and down his arms like sleeves.
Instead of being barefoot, he wore heavy-looking combat boots that added another inch to his height. Their toes gleamed in the spotlights as he stomped and bellowed, lifting his hands to the ceiling and drawing the attention of the crowd. They responded enthusiastically, cheering and shouting words of encouragement. Cather saw more bills exchange hands as men with shifty eyes and nervous fingers slipped in and out of the throng like weasels.
More impressed at his confident display than she would have admitted, Cather turned to study his opponent. She wondered who would be crazy enough to fight someone who looked like they ate nails for breakfast. When she realized the answer, her mouth fell open.
She hadn’t been able to tell from far away. Now that she saw him up close, however, it was obvious that the man in the other corner was a god. The silver hair hanging down his back in a braid long enough that it grazed the backs of his knees was a dead giveaway. As if that wasn’t enough, his otherworldly pale skin was practically translucent in the bright light. The thin coat of sweat on his bare chest made it sparkle as if covered in diamonds.
His eyes weren’t gray or hazel, but a mix of the two, and hooded by thick lashes, giving him a dangerous, mysterious look. From the corner of her eye, she noticed more than one girl in the crowd eyeing him with interest. She wondered what they would say if she told them who they were really admiring. Most likely they wouldn’t believe her. After all, a few weeks ago, she wouldn’t have believed her, either.
“Is that him?” she whispered, inching closer to Hermes so that he could hear her over the crowd. “Hades?”
“The one and only.”
Hades’s eyes flicked toward her, as if he had heard her say his name. Belatedly, she realized that, of course, he had. The noise of the crowd was probably like television static in the background to an immortal. The look of suspicion on his face changed to confusion when he saw who’d spoken. He studied her while she stood frozen, trapped by the crowd and Hermes’s hand in hers, unable to get away. He looked, she thought, like he was wondering what she was doing there, and why wouldn’t he? She was as out of place among this crowd as a pumpkin in a potato patch.
When he glanced from her to Hermes and back again, understanding filled his eyes. The effect was like steaming tea being poured into a china cup, warming his expression. A slow, wicked upturn of his lips turned his face into something beyond simple beauty. Her heart caught in her throat, cutting off a gasp. His expression promised pleasure, happiness, love, a happily ever after better than anything she could imagine—all of the things that she secretly wanted but was too afraid to ask for. Yet behind that pretty picture lurked a darker promise, of torture, pain, and forbidden voyeurs beyond her worst nightmares. She stumbled back, running into a skinny guy whose pants sagged to his knees.
“Hey!” he protested, and she mumbled an apology.
Hermes turned to her. “Are you all right?”
“He’s-he’s looking at me.” Cather pointed at Hades, hand trembling. She shoved it in her pocket to hide it. Seeing that he had Hermes’s attention, Hades grinned wider and waggled his fingers in greeting.
Hermes grunted. “He always was the biggest showoff in the family. Be careful, though. As the god of death, Hades has the power to ensnare mortals with his mind and make them do things they wouldn’t normally do. If you don’t look him in the eye, you should be fine.”
“No direct contact. Got it.” She swallowed, her throat scratchy, and changed the subject. “So, what’s he doing up there, anyway? I mean, he’s not going to really fight that guy, is he?”
“It sure looks that way.”
“But—” She bit her lip, remembering what he had told her about Zeus forbidding all deities from mingling with mortals. “Isn’t that illegal? Not the street fighting,” she added, giving Hermes a get-real look as he arched his eyebrows. “I know that’s illegal. And no, you don’t have to remind me that gods don’t care about our mortal laws. If the cops showed up, Hades could probably give them the slip in a puff of smoke or something, so it’s not like being arrested is high on his list of things to be concerned about. I meant, isn’t it illegal because he’s a god? What about Zeus’s law, the one that says immortals can’t mix with mortals anymore?”
“Well, first of all, no one here knows he’s a god,” Hermes pointed out. “So, no one knows about his advantage. As for Zeus’s law, it never applied to him, remember? Although, I doubt if it had, Hades would’ve paid it any mind. He’s always pretty much done what he wanted whether his brother liked it or not.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right.” Cather removed her hand from his and tucked her hair behind her ears, recalling the discussion they’d had on the way to Salem. “You never told me why, though. I mean, I get why Zeus’s law couldn’t apply to you. You had to be able to come to Earth to chronicle its history and help uphold my family’s curse. But why Hades? What does he do, go around collecting souls to take back home with him?”
“Among other things, although he doesn’t wear a black cloak or carry a scythe. Mortal ideas of what deities look like are always so amusing. Mostly, though, he was exempt from the law because, after the divinities took Mount Olympus from the Titans, Zeus divided the spoils among the three of them and Prometheus. As the eldest, he took the throne. Poseidon got the seas. Prometheus got the Earth—though, as you know, he lost it later—and Hades was left with the underworld. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy about getting the short end of the deal. So, to make up for it, Zeus gave him free reign to roam the Earth to collect the souls of the dying and transport them back home to the underworld. Using his powers to sway weak-minded mortals to do things they normally would not do, well, that is simply something he does to pass the time now and then.”
“He doesn’t sound nice,” Cather noted. Trepidation writhed in her stomach.

Hermes shrugged, as if she had said something he already knew. “He’s not, but if you’re going up against Zeus, he’s the best ally to have on your side.”



Laura Holt is from a small Georgia town, where she lives with her daughter. Growing up as the oldest of three sisters, Laura used her imagination to make up stories as a way to escape from the sometimes crazy-making monotony of everyday life. As she got older, her love of stories grew into a love of books, especially fantasy, and eventually, she wrote her own stories down as well. When Laura isn’t busy writing or thinking up a new way to promote the Star Crossed series, she can be found curled up on the couch reading, working out, or spending time with her daughter. A few of their favorite pastimes include watching shows like Merlin on Netflix, shopping, and going treasure hunting. Laura is also active in the children’s ministry at her local church, is addicted to Pinterest, loves anything chocolate (as long as it doesn’t have soy in it), and is always looking for a new way to get her daily adrenaline fix.  

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O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Laura Holt
Release Date: November 30th, 2016
Publisher: The Book Patch
Received: For Review


Cather Stevens doesn’t love. Not now, not ever. She has spent her entire life watching love ruin her mother, her aunts, her cousins, her grandmother, and she made a vow a long time ago that she would never let that happen to her. But when she meets a winged boy named Hermes who tells her that she is the key to ending the star crossed curse that has plagued the women in her family for centuries, she will have to redefine everything she knows about love, life, and herself.

With more than just her own heart on the line, she must find the location of her great-great grandmother’s diary. It was hidden long ago, fathoms below her town, and holds the answers to all of her questions, especially one: are the fairy tales and Greek myths that she grew up hearing actually fiction like she was taught to believe, or are they something more…something real?

Author: Laura Holt
Release Date: August 8th, 2017
Publisher: KDP
Received: For Review

Cather Stevens is the many time’s great granddaughter of Thisbe, the original Juliet, whose determination to be with her true love Pyramus caused a star crossed curse to be cast over all the women in her family. This curse, created by Zeus, King of the gods, has lasted for centuries, and has doomed more men than Cather can count, including her own father, to early graves. Only Cather possesses the ability to break it, and with the help of Hermes, the Book Keeper and Messenger of the gods, that is what she intends to do.

The gods don’t make anything easy, though, especially when a mortal dares to challenge the divine. Soon, Cather finds herself pitted in a race against time against Athena, the goddess of Wisdom and Battle Strategy, who will stop at nothing to prevent Cather and Hermes from reaching their destination: Salem, Massachusetts, where Peter Ganis, the last living descendant of Pyramus’s bloodline, lives. Because of his ancestor’s tie to Thisbe, a marriage to Peter will help Cather end her family’s curse once and for all. But can she love a mortal boy, or will the shattered pieces of her soul forever belong to Hermes?

Author: Laura Holt
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Laura Holt

It worked. 

Cather Stevens thwarted the curse of star-crossed love that has plagued the women in her family for centuries. All it took was a marriage to Peter Ganis, the last living descendant of Pyramus's bloodline, whose sway over her grows stronger with each passing day. The pieces of Thisbe's soul are still out there, though. To erase the curse, Cather must travel to Greece's most mythological places and track each one down with the help of her husband and Hermes, the Book Keeper and Messenger of the gods, who still holds a piece of her heart that neither is willing to give up.

But when an unexpected tragedy befalls Peter, Cather is forced to put her trust in none other than Hades, god of the Underworld and Zeus's biggest rival. With magical assassins on their tail and danger lurking around every corner, they must work together to reunite the soul pieces before Ares, god of War, who was sent to Earth to stop them, destroys them and dooms Cather, her family, and both the men she loves forever.  



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