The Stray Spirit is out now!
A bard and a forest spirit uncover a deadly magical threat…and the key to survival lies within their own forgotten songs.
Struggling bard Emry Karic has only one path home: impress the Auric Guild, join its ranks of elite musicians, and return to his family with his honor in hand.
Difficult to do on a good day. Impossible to do with a possessed lute.
Hours before Emry’s big break, an unnatural earthquake strikes, forcing a forest spirit named Aspen to take refuge in his lute. Aspen is loud, talkative…and not leaving anytime soon.
Panicked, Emry swears the spirit to silence on stage, in exchange for a favor: he will help investigate the mysterious quake that nearly killed them.
But Emry is a bard, not a scholar, and his research leads straight to the person who resents him the most: Cal Breslin, his studious ex-girlfriend. Despite their history, Cal can’t pass up the opportunity to study a mythical being. Yet as the trio delves into the forgotten folklore of spirits and gods, they uncover a magical threat—and lingering feelings—looming beneath the surface…
Also coming up in this series: The Spirit Well & Spirit Rising.
Praise for The Stray Spirit
“I came in with high expectations, and it exceeded every single one. This is honestly one of my new favorite books, I loved every moment of it. I cannot remember the last time I cried finishing a book just because it was so amazing and it was so bittersweet that it was over. Also, of course, cried twice at “You’re my grove now.” Along with the crying, I laughed, I smiled almost throughout the entire novel (including while I was at the airport, making me look like a minor lunatic), and had my heart racing. There are no words right now to describe how much I enjoyed this story, and I cannot wait for more of it.” – Bailey Gallup, Amazon Verified Purchase
“This book captivated me the whole way through – the world building was engaging and the characters were both diverse and diverting. I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to see what would happen to everyone, and I wanted to learn more and more about the world within which they lived! It was a comforting, heartfelt fantasy read with magic and romance, and I already can’t wait for Book Two.” – Steve, Amazon Verified Purchase
“Ashwick’s first publishing establishes her brand of cozy low fantasy, an enjoyable cast of characters, and her skill at executing a well thought out vision with care.” – Roddick Rules 2009, voluntary ARC review
“Oh this was an absolute delight! This cozy fantasy was a perfect debut novel for Ashwick. I found myself desperately flipping pages, completely engrossed with the story and characters…As for the story, it was a light read but dense with beauty. I wish there were more scenes with Emry playing the lute because they were written so eloquently. How is it possible for music to be written so beautifully in a novel? I’ve never seen it done well, until now. Encore, please and thank you.” – Laura Winter, Amazon Review
“A clean and uplifting adventure with a touch of romance. It has a completely fresh and unique storyline with characters I was rooting for the whole way through! Beautifully stunning world-building and very entertaining! Riveting and charming from the first chapter on, highly recommended, if you like fantasy at all read this book!” – Starr Green, Amazon Review
Meet the Characters!
- our POV character!
- mid-20′s, he/him
- straight and still in love with one (1) Academy student
- anxious bard just trying to get into the Guild
- if he gets in, he can go home
- Gods, he wants to go home
An Emry Excerpt:
Emry picked his way into the ring of aspen trees, careful not to crush any of the rhythm blooms under his feet. He swung his lute around. Plucked a few strings to check the tuning. Looked up at the largest tree in the grove.
And felt very stupid.
“I—” he said aloud, then winced. His loud voice had no place here, but he felt the need to talk nonetheless. “I don’t normally do this. Up north, you see, they…” He fidgeted. “Listen, I know you’re not actually there, but—but I just really need the luck, all right? I, um…” He set his fingers into place on the strings. If he closed his eyes, he could almost pretend he was back in Senne. That his family stood behind him, waiting for him to start.
Alone now, he said, “I hope you like this, I guess.”
He closed his eyes and began to sing.
- mid-20′s, she/her
- demi and (secretly) still in love with the anxious bard she left back in Tazlo
- brilliant, analytical, self-assured Academy student and researcher
- wanted to make a grand metaphysical discovery
- not thrilled that her ex did it first
A Cal Excerpt:
Though Calliope Breslin stood several inches shorter than Emry, she managed to look down at him over her broad nose as if he were a dog shaking mud all over her boots.
“What are you doing here?” Icicles fell from her mouth as she spoke.
“I’m, um…putting this book back?” Emry held up the book.
“I can see that.” Her brown eyes flicked over him. “You don’t work here, you’re not a student, and you don’t normally read. What are you doing here?”
Aspen the Forest Spirit
- over a hundred winters old, they/them
- aro/ace, strong & fast platonic attachments
- do they adopt the entire Karic family? ….maybe
- guess who the stray spirit is
- it’s Aspen
An Aspen Excerpt:
“I’m sorry,” Aspen blurted. “I won’t do it again, I’m sorry—”
Emry slammed the door shut. “Whatever. You got what you wanted, didn’t you?”
As he dropped the lute on a wobbly chair and paced about the kitchen, Aspen took shape on the table, their human form small and wavering.
“I was just—I was scared, all right?” They hugged their knees up against their chest. “I don’t like this. I don’t like being in the lute and not in my tree, and no one wanted to go to Vornik to figure it all out, and I was scared.” They looked up at Emry. “I didn’t mean to scare you, too.”
Emry met their gaze and stopped pacing—his anger couldn’t quite stand up to the sight of a mythical being shivering on his kitchen table. The stories said that spirits could summon sunlight, call storms, move mountains.
They didn’t say anything about their fears.
For more art, check out the Artwork page!
You can find content warnings for The Stray Spirit here.
Coming Up Next in The Lutesong Series:
The Spirit Well
The Spirit’s Curse