More to come...
The night wore on in New Orleans. The streets of the Vieux Carre exploded with people drinking too much, laughing too loud, and being too outrageous. It was past midnight, officially Fat Tuesday. The party would be nonstop now for twenty-four hours. Something startled Eve from a deep sleep. She stared into the darkness and turned to see the hands of the clock, 1:30. Mardi Gras. It was Mardi Gras. She had hoped to sleep through the night, but now she was wide awake as she heard the voices coming from the Avenue. She got up, wrapped herself tightly in her corduroy robe, and walked out to stand on the gallery. The moon was high and almost full, and the street below was well lit.
It was such a kick seeing the costumed people. Everybody was decked out in glittery feather masks and boas, and there was the occasional creative costume that floated by. She really like the lioness; a tall wiry woman with a long, thick mane of golden hair, dazzling in glitter makeup and a skintight orange and black leotard with a long furry tail. Her jeweled claws sparkled in the lamplight, and even from the second story gallery Eve could hear her hissing and growling at her friends. Laughter rang out from all directions, and the crowds gathered and passed, each group more raucous than the one before. Eve wanted to go out. She needed to go out...
Roxanne squeezed her eyes shut, and Tony tightened his grip on her hand. Joey, Allison and Tony looked on in awed curiosity mixed with cold fear. The raven stopped moving and now sat deathly still, as though in a suspended, timeless void, while the lights over it remained brilliant and pinpointed. Then the air shifted again. The static crackling became louder. Heat and cold at once lashed out at their faces as they watched the man shape appear from the shadows, growing tall and willowy next to the raven. His features were whitewashed in the blinding light, Joey kept shouting the words over and over, not knowing when to stop, and then she was there. A red-headed apparition floated out of the surrounding branches. She joined the bird and the man in the middle of the circle. She floated dreamily around them. Her features, too, were transparent and hard to see in the light. Then a gurgling voice was heard over Joey's voice. A woman's voice. It was the witch, Penelope, and she was laughing...
The American merchant vessel listed dangerously close to the water's surface as the squall beat relentlessly at its masts and rigging. Mountainous waves pummeled the ship's already battered hull with a deafening fury, as it struggled to contain its weighty cargo. Captain Grayson Aloysius Hollister wiped the stinging salt water from his face, and worked tirelessly against the wind to tighten the ropes securing his prized possession. The voyage had been one catastrophic event after another, and his crew of mostly Haitian natives and conscripted labor were convinced the strange tree was their albatross. It stood in the shadows of the stern of the ship; its tangled roots immersed in a huge crate of fresh water and mint leaves picked from the grassy lowlands of India. Captain Hollister had found it there, a sacred banyan tree, where legend had it the beloved Indian master, Siddhartha, would rest himself after long, wearying journeys. It was said that the banyan was a holy place of the Buddha, and it was a tree of great magical powers.
Captain Hollister had commanded his slave workers to uproot a section of the magnificent fig tree and transport it to his trade ship, where he placed it in the fresh water and secured it to the deck with heavy hemp rope. He watched over it with an obsessive desire to bring it to America, where he would sail it up the Mississippi, finally moving it inland by wagon to his colonial settlement.
The storm thrashed the decks, and the Captain was left alone to protect his precious tree from being washed overboard, while the drumming and voodoo chanting coming from the belly of the ship cut through the wailing of the high winds. Grayson Hollister was oblivious to his crews superstitions. He would beat the storm and bring his tree home, come hell or high water...
The Witch and the Banyan Tree
Emotion caught in Eve's throat as she saw her father's face for the thousandth time, just as he had looked in the banyan tree on the night of his death. It hadn't been peace she had seen there in his expression. Not peace. Maybe there was no peace, ever, not even after this disappointing life. Maybe there was nothing. Or maybe there was something much worse . . .
Seeking a new start, Eve Hollister came with her daughter, Allison, to Juniper, Mississippi to renovate the old family Victorian. At first, they felt a special bond with the mysterious banyan tree on the property. They could never have guessed that the tree was actually a portal for dark spirits that would manifest, setting in motion a series of horrific events, forcing them to finally flee Hollister House. Now, ten years later, they have returned to face their fears. The haunted Victorian had been victorious in the past, but evil cannot survive forever-not against the powers of good.
Follow these memorable, colorful characters in this third and final book of the "Hollister House Trilogy" as they travel through this fantastic journey that can only be fully imagined in the gothic Deep South; a romantic place of mysticism, voodoo, and undying love.
The Banyan Tree Awakens
The Legend of the Banyan Tree
She had never seen a banyan tree, and it was far more impressive than she had imagined. In its heart she felt strangely protected by it, loved almost. It was as if the ancient tree had been expecting her …
Eve Hollister needs to start over. Against her father’s wishes, she moves into her family’s decayed Victorian mansion and is quickly caught up in an exotic world of spiritualism and voodoo, propagated by an ancient banyan tree on the property. Battling her own private demons while confronting the misguided spirits of Hollister House, she needs help to put the lost souls to rest.
From a New Orleans brothel to a small Mississippi town, the Hollister’s confront their family’s dark history, unravel the mystery of the banyan tree, and lay claim to their rightful legacy.
A calm fell over the attic as the invaders left it to its peace. On the window sill a large bird ruffled its feathers and shook its black head. It came back to a restful perch and watched with beady eyes as three ghosts appeared; a grayish apparition leaning into a cane and dragging his bent body toward a sparkling vision of an ethereal man and woman dancing in the dark.
In this second novel of what is to become the Hollister House Trilogy, Eve Hollister and her family and friends settle into the beautifully restored Victorian mansion to celebrate their first Christmas together, confident that the house is no longer haunted. But when Eve and Sippie visit New Orleans that confidence is quickly shattered as lingering ghosts manifest and more of the mysterious Hollister family curse is revealed.
By taking the reader on an amazing journey through the romantic French Quarter and colorful carnival season of Mardi Gras, before traveling back to the Deep South of Mississippi with all its gothic imagery, Hollister House (The Banyan Tree Awakens) brings the fantastic fantasy world of Hollister House to a higher, spellbinding level, leaving the traveler begging for more.