Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in London and lived in Israel, before somehow ending up in St. Louis, where she works as a puzzle constructor and writer. She lives with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of P.A.W.S and Argentum and has short stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Shades of Fear, Darkly Never After, and Sins of the Past. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!
When Miri’s grandmother dies, she takes with her the family secret. Miri finds herself alone and abandoned in a St. Louis boarding school. But she is about to discover the secret isn’t dead.
Taunted by bullies, Miri is shocked to learn she possesses a secret power. It can save her… but can it save those she loves? After she is befriended by others with the same strange, magical powers, her history comes alive. And with it, Miri’s fate becomes more dangerous.
Join Miri on a mysterious and supernatural journey with her new friends, members of an underground St. Louis society called the Partnership for Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters, better known as P.A.W.S.
Vienna, October 20th, 1941, today was Celia’s tenth birthday. This was not how she imagined celebrating it. She was with her family - her mama Miriam, her papa David, her elder brother Issel and her baby sister Liza. They were huddled together in the back room of their tiny two-room apartment in Grosse Spielgasse, in the dark, barely breathing.
Outside the building, the boot steps got nearer and nearer – Celia heard shouting, screaming, gunshots. She crouched down even closer to the ground, wishing that somehow they could all melt away into the shadows. Celia clutched her cat Max tightly in her arms, feeling his warmth, his soft tabby fur close to her skin, willing him to stay quiet.
Her mamma cradled little Liza at her breast, nursing her so she would not cry out. Outside the pounding footsteps get closer, closer: “Juden, Juden, Heraus, Heraus, Schnell, Schnell!!” Now they are at the door of the neighbors – the Wassersteins. She heard crying and a single gun-shot.
Miriam beckoned to her, “Celia, mein Katzerl , come here,” she whispered, “I have something for you, for your birthday.”
Celia approached Miriam cautiously, still clutching Max to her, “What is it Mama?” she said gazing into Miriam’s blue, blue eyes – studying her prematurely wrinkled face, memorizing every crease. Mama, my mama, she thought.
Still holding baby Liza with her left hand Miriam reached round the back of her neck with her right and unclasped the chain that she always wore beneath her clothes, close to her heart. It was a silver chain with a cat charm on it. “Take this Celia, mein Katzerl, wear it always, remember I love you. Ich liebe dich.”
“I love you, Mama,” she whispered as she fastened the chain around her neck, just as the doors burst open – six gestapo soldiers rushed into their home – “Juden, Heraus, Heraus . . .” Celia watched as her family was herded out of the door . . .
The death of Alistair has brought a measure of peace and calm to those at P.A.W.S., but his silver charm remains in Miri’s possession and it seems to almost have a life of its own.
Nightmares and questions torment Miri until the charm mysteriously disappears and Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin, who claims to have repented his past association with Alistair. But can he be trusted?
And what of Jenna, a young girl once held captive by Alistair who carries a terrible secret—a secret that could determine the future of P.A.W.S.
Out of the darkness came a face more terrible than any Miri had ever seen before: huge fangs dripping with blood, eyes once blue, now glowing yellow and red, reflecting the blood that flowed all around them. Miri tried to scream, but nothing came from her lips. Echoing through her head was terrible laughter.
“You thought you were done with me, Miri, but I am immortal. I can never die. And now I am inside you! Thank you, Miri. Once, long ago, I gave you life and now you are returning the favor. How thoughtful of you! Oh, what fun we are going to have together. You have brought me into P.A.W.S.—exactly where I want to be.”