For the Like a Spell anthology, we asked writers to challenge the traditional tropes and send us something new—original stories of magic users, interesting twists on the typical sorcerers and mages. The response was overwhelming and exciting, and we decided to publish four separate anthologies, using the theme of classical elements (earth, air, fire, and water) as the focus for each collection.
For the air anthology, we’ve focused on stories portraying the love between men and women. Both Plato and Aristotle thought of air as being both wet and hot, and this seems an apt description of the union between men and women. Air can be gentle or rough, hot or cold; it can draw you closer or push you away. It can caress, but it can also punish.
September Sui’s “Carnival” is like no carnival you’ve ever experienced. It teems with secrets and mysteries, and when a simple farm girl is finally old enough to attend, she isn’t frightened, like her friends, but is instead intrigued and desperately curious. The carnival master in particular interests her, and she is determined to learn his secrets… in the privacy of his tent after the main show.
In “The Alchemist,” A.D.R. Forte tells the tale of an alchemist whose work relies on both his skill and his discretion. His business is simple: women come to him in secrecy, and in exchange for the essence of their sexual passions, he pays them in money and pleasure without ever touching them. But his latest customer is more mysterious than most, and he’s sorely tempted to push past his professional boundaries.
In Dee Maselle’s “Rapture,” Melyse finds herself taken by Ivon the Fiend, despite being neither a damsel nor in any particular distress. In fact, although she knows she should be terrified, the thought of being ravished by the Fiend only makes her more excited, and it is with a small thrill of anticipation that she lets him carry her off to his castle.
In “Refrain,” V.A. Cates introduces us to Marlene, a witch who specializes in brewing potions. When Jack comes to her looking for a love potion—but with no particular love interest in mind just yet—Marlene feels strangely drawn to him. She knows she shouldn’t get involved with him, for his own sake, but one thing leads to another, and her single-minded desires overpower any concern she once had for the innocent, mortal man.
In “Curandero,” Donovan Blake introduces us to Sani, a Navajo curandero, which is a kind of spiritual healer. Most of his patients are just depressed, or have regular medical problems, but Sani is intrigued when a man comes to him with a real, bona fide hex on him. Unfortunately, in curing the man, the hex gets transferred to Sani… and he finds himself forced to track down the witch/succubus/vampire/whatever-she-is to kill her and end this hex once and for all. What he discovers when he finds her in person isn’t quite what he expected, though.
Morrigan Cox plays with the idea of food magic in “Heat in the Kitchen.” Justus and his brother have been sent by their coven to seek out a rogue witch in town, but when Justus sees her food truck—the Kitchen Witch—and gets to know her, he realizes she might be using her magic for good. And the enchantment he feels when he looks at her doesn’t seem to be magical in origin.
Mary Andrews takes food magic a step further in “Potions and Pastries.” Our narrator is a witch who uses her potions mastery to make delicious pastries. While closing up shop one day, her assistant, Leland, asks her to taste-test a new chocolate cake recipe he’s concocted. It’s an aphrodisiac recipe, though, and all the yearning she’s kept buried refuses to stay hidden any longer.
Finally, in “Entwined,” Kassandra Lea introduces us to Canis Cavender, a wizard who has grown tired of peaceful forest solitude and has moved to the city to be part of society again. When Anwyn shows up to bring him the jar of fairy dew he asked for, dripping wet from getting caught in the rain, Canis insists she stop dripping on his floor—but he’s unprepared for her to emerge from the bathroom dressed in nothing but one of his button-down shirts.