QSFer Dan Ackerman has a new queer fantasy historical book out: “The Practical Mage’s Guide to Magic and Mayhem.”
Hiram Reinhart abandoned a life of privilege when he could no longer stomach the ugliness of plantation life. Now he resides in Canada, selling small enchantments to keep his rag-tag family fed and housed, if only barely.
Matthew Blackwell, another mage, seeks out Hiram’s assistance in order to find a demon. Hiram seeks out the demon on his own, concerned for the creature’s well-being. The demon, Phaedrus, turns down Hiram’s offer of aid at first. Soon enough, Hiram and Phaedrus regret not helping each other and not much later, it’s all they can do to stay alive.
God had graced Hiram Montgomery Reinhart with a life of privilege. He had come into the world as the son of a wealthy planter in southern Georgia. He had chosen to give that away, and though he would not have admitted it, he spent a lot of time regretting that decision. He did not regret freeing the slaves or ending the fighting ring, and he certainly didn’t regret buying his niece back from the monster to whom his father had sold her.
He missed the warm weather.
He missed his soft bed and the rich food that Susan had prepared.
He missed having nice things.
In Georgia, he’d had a lot of nice things. A full wardrobe of fine clothes, a feather mattress, and a four-poster bed. He’d eaten off fine China with polished silver. Every luxury paid for in human flesh.
In his new life, luxuries were more than limited; they practically didn’t exist. What he did have, he’d bought with coin he’d worked to earn.
Ellen, a girl of six, sat with Hannah, her mother, and Cassie, her grandmother, at the table. She played with her only doll as the two women mended clothes. They all worked, the women doing what domestic work they could find and Hiram selling his services as a mage.
On the plantation, Ellen would have worked, too. Chores all day. She would have cared for Hiram’s children, her own cousins, if Hiram had ever married. Here, she didn’t worry about things like that.
Hiram didn’t want her to work.
He felt bad even making her sit down for reading lessons when she didn’t want to do them. Sometimes, he made her, but most of the time, he agreed to let her play a little longer or consented to read her a story instead. She would follow along as he read; sometimes she even giggled when he did voices.
He felt he had to do voices. His mother had always done voices.
He wondered if anyone would remember his birthday. He would be twenty-six on August seventh, which was this coming Friday. It was a greedy thought, but for more than two decades, his birthday had been marked with lavish gifts and a large party where his father hosted other planters, their poised wives and pretty daughters, their haughty sons.
Someone knocked on the door.
Hannah opened it but stepped back just as quickly and said, “Hiram, someone for you.” More quietly, she warned, “He stink of magic.”
Dan Ackerman is a writer and educator who has lived in Connecticut for their entire life. They received wrote their Master’s thesis on representations of women in same-sex relationships in contemporary Spanish literature and cinema.
In their spare time, Dan continues to read and write, supplemented with a healthy amount of movie marathons and gaming.
Author Website: https://dan-ackerman.com