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ANNOUNCEMENT: The Way of Thorn & Key (serial)

QSFers Holly Karlsson and Allison Carr Waechter are working on a really cool queer fantasy serial: The Way of Thorn & Key.


Magic only exists in stories, at least that is what Poppy Travers has always believed. When her father dies and strange objects begin to appear amongst his possessions, Poppy begins to wonder if the truths she’s always accepted are reality. Will she turn the key that opens the door to her future?


Under the right conditions, a witch’s key can open doors to anywhere on Earth. Magical artifacts must be protected, no matter the risk. For magic to flourish, witches need to remain separate from the dangerous human world. These are the truths Briar Blackthorn has always lived by, until magic begins to change. Which door will Briar choose to change her fate?



When a strange letter arrives at her father’s house, Poppy initially dismisses it as a cruel and ill-timed joke. She has no time for mysteries, but her curiosity and loneliness soon leads her to follow the letter’s instructions. What waits on the other side of the door?


Briar Blackthorn is having one humdinger of a day. She’s been chased by a vengeful ostrich, watched her magic go awry, and the love of her life barely knows she exists. On top of everything else, she’s having disturbing visions. Something is wrong in Primula, but what does it all mean?


Ace, Bi, Demi, Gay, Gender Fluid, Lesbian, Non-Binary
Please note, as this is a serial, all characters are not described yet, but each of these identities will appear in the series overall. The narrator of Episode 2 would likely identify as “queer” or “sapphic” (rather than bi or lesbian) and her love interest would definitely identify as a lesbian.


Anyone can read The Way of Thorn & Key for free! Every month, we make one episode available for free via Book Funnel, posted on Patreon. You can read on an ereader, your computer, your phone, whatever works best for you! Book Funnel guides you through the steps to downloading whichever format works best for you. Free episodes are only available for a limited time.

However, our patrons are invested in our ultimate goal of publishing The Way of Thorn & Key as a hybrid-style graphic novel, similar in style to Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle. More info here.

Find It On Patreon


EPISODE 1: Poppy, 2018

I’m staring at the ocean from the weathered steps of my dad’s house, the colors blurring before my eyes as I focus on nothing. I’m not sure how long I’ve been sitting here, but the tips of my fingers are cold where they press against the rough fabric of my jeans. My skin feels wet, brushed with moisture from the salt-filled fog lingering on the edge of the garden where the iceplant grows, and the wind keeps blowing my hair across my face.

The sky’s the color of cold cement, and the waves below me a dark, unwelcoming green. They’re angry, and I can hear them crash against the bluff below, tearing across the tidepools and rock-strewn beach I cannot see. Even the surfers have abandoned them, off to friendlier swells. As a child, I’d found the sound of the waves soothing, lulled to sleep by the rolling tide, but now it just reminds me of what I’ve lost. You’re alone, the ocean shouts. Alone, alone, alone.

EPISODE 2: Briar, 1928

So far, it’s been a real humdinger of a day. The unearthly sound emanating from the ostrich pursuing me suggests it’s not about to get better. Startled by the noises it’s making, I slip on a patch of sand and throw my hands out to brace myself. I narrowly miss hitting my face on a stone wall.

As I pick myself up off the ground, I glance behind me. The gargantuan bird is hissing. Like a cat, but deadlier. I swear as I skid down the wrong street. This isn’t where I arrived in Kolmanskop, and it’s imperative that I exit through the door I came in, or my key won’t work. I peek over a garden gate and see the right street, just on the next block. The green door I came through is right there; the front door of a manor house that looks as though it belongs in Lower Saxony, not the Namib desert.

I hop the fence and dart through the strangely manicured gardens. The Germans have been importing water to grow lush plant life here in the desert, a complete abomination of nature. Still, the plants hide me a bit and I pray to the Kore and Hecate that the ostrich can’t follow. The things can’t fly, after all. But they are fast. Too fast. Somehow it’s found me, its long neck peeking around the house on the corner of the street. And now there’s voices, shouting in German. They’re still a ways off, but they’ve obviously discovered I’ve taken the Matryoshkas.

Author Bios

Holly Karlsson (Episode 1): Holly Karlsson is a fantasy and science fiction author. She weaves worlds filled with magic, dangerous quests, mythical creatures, and compelling characters. Holly is the author of The Daughters of Fire & Sea Trilogy, and Unusual Diction. If you’d like to receive writing news and info about new releases, you can sign up for her newsletter at

Allison Carr Waechter (Episode 2): Allison Carr Waechter is the author of Vessel of Starfire, the debut novel in the Outlaws of Interra trilogy. She lives in Minnesota where she spends her days telling stories and helping others tell theirs. Right now she is probably drinking a cup of tea and herding a lynxcat off her desk. Follow her work and sign up for her newsletter at for news of upcoming tales.

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