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New Release: A Feast of Panthers – Sean Eads

The Feast of Panthers - Sean Eads

QSFer Sean Eads has a new queer historical fantasy out: The Feast of Panthers.

Oscar Wilde is pulled into a dark conspiracy led by followers of an ancient Egyptian deity seeking to reestablish her terrifying religion—and she wants Wilde to be her new high priest. But Wilde does not stand alone, and as the coming conflict reveals stunning secrets about those closest to him, he realizes his greatest ally happens to be his fiercest nemesis—the Marquess of Queensberry.

Originally from Kentucky, Sean Eads is a writer and librarian living in Denver, CO. His first novel, The Survivors, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His third novel, Lord Byron’s Prophecy, was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Colorado Book Award.

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Excerpt

Wilde flinches back at the sound of the other voice. The barmaid steps aside to reveal a man of about 5’7, compact and sturdy. A brawler. He can’t be much older than twenty. He’s clean-shaven with brown hair parted on the right. His blue eyes show a liveliness, almost distracting Wilde from observing a nose that’s been broken more than once. In that instant, Wilde wants to hear the story behind every break. The man’s hands have scabs on the knuckles.

“I’d be pleased if you’d join me.”

The man sits down.

“I take it you’ve been following me.”

“Not a hard thing to do with the way you dress.”

Wilde smiles. “I like to stand out.”

“Not always a good trait, sir, if you’re in the mood for advice.”

“To me not standing out is unthinkable,” Wilde says, and then wishes he’d answered with less flippancy. The young man is being serious, and his seriousness complements him like his broken nose.

“May I have your name?”

“It’s Charles. But I go by—”

“Charlie.”

“How did you reckon that, sir?”

Wilde grins. “You look like a Charlie.”

The youth flashes an open-mouthed smile, allowing Wilde a glimpse of a missing bicuspid. Again, this shouldn’t add to his attractiveness but somehow it does.

“My mates in the ring all call me Charlie Knock Down.”

“The ring?”

“The boxing ring, sir. But I guess you wouldn’t know much about that.”

The barmaid returns with their drinks. Charlie has half the contents of his mug downed before Wilde can even raise his cup to his lips. “A boxer, you say? Are you not a detective?”

“No.” He drinks deep from the mug again and then inspects it from top to bottom like he thought it’d be larger. “Were you hired to follow me?”

“No, sir. I was asked.”

“By whom?”

Charlie puts down the empty cup and laughs. “His Lordship told me you’d figure it out if I said anything about boxing. But then he said you’re a good talker, too, one who sometimes only cares to listen to his own voice. You do talk nice. I’d talk to myself all the time if I had a voice like yours.”

Wilde delight sours with realization. “Queensberry sent you.”

Bosie’s father is famous for his love of boxing. Even its rules bear his name, a fitting tribute for such a brute of a man.

Charlie raises his empty cup to acknowledge the truth, then shakes it to get the barmaid’s attention. Wilde observes the girl’s wicked little smile as she answers the summons. She doesn’t find his broken nose so out of place, either.

“Thank you,” he says once he has a full mug again. “Spying is thirsty work.”

“How long have you been at it?”

“Today was the fifth time, sir.”

“So often? We’re better acquainted than I realized. I therefore insist you call me Oscar. It will make following me less tedious in the future.”

“That’s a funny way of looking at it, but you might be right. After the third time chasing you around London, I did start thinking of you as a kind of companion. You’d stop and I’d say to myself, ‘Oh, what’s he looking at now?’ I wonder if it’s shoes.”

He laughs. They both do.

“Tell me about the fourth time.”

“Last week,” Charlie says, draining the glass again. “You made several stops before going to a pub called—”

“The Red Tiger,” Wilde says, stiffening.

“You were there a bloody long time—or so I thought.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I waited across the street for more than an hour. Then I went inside and you weren’t there. I figured you must have seen me and ducked out a back exit.”

“In a manner of speaking,” Wilde whispers, more to himself. “Did you talk to anyone in the tavern? Make inquiries?”

“No.”

“Do you remember a short man behind the bar? Except he wouldn’t have appeared short to any customer because he was walking on crates.”

“Crates?”

“Never mind. Charlie, did Queensberry say why you were to follow me?”

The young man shakes his head. “His Lordship just told me to watch and if anyone tried to hurt you, I was supposed to—”

“Hurt me?” Wilde leans forward, touching Charlie’s forearm. There’s a lot of firm muscle under the coat sleeve.

“That’s right. And if someone tried, I was to do my best to make sure it didn’t happen.”

“Queensberry sent you to protect me? The man’s threatened to kill me more times than I can recall.”

“That’s not anything I know about.”

Wilde stares at this earnest, improbable guardian angel in wonder.

“Protect me with what, Charlie?”

Charlie smiles, bunches his hands into fists, and says, “Why with these, Oscar.”


Author Bio

Originally from Kentucky, Sean Eads is a writer and librarian living in Den- ver, CO. His first novel, The Survivors, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His third novel, Lord Byron’s Prophecy, was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Colorado Book Award.

Author Websitehttps://www.seaneads.net/
Author Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/sean.eads.14
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