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Friday, March 1, 2019

Guest Post by Laura Bickle: I love a good showdown, don’t you?

High Noon at the Tree of Life
By Laura Bickle

I love a good showdown, don’t you?

For the final book in the Wildlands series, I needed to write a proper showdown at high noon to bring this weird western adventure to a close. The stakes are high, and not everyone will walk away from the last fight for Temperance, Wyoming.

Here are the players, armed to the magical gills:
Petra Dee. This geologist and former skeptic has been forced to believe in the supernatural. She’s acquired a coyote sidekick who may or may not have a bit of the Coyote with a capital “C” behind his luminous eyes. And magic has even allowed her to cheat death…she’s discarded her dying body in favor of a shiny new doppelganger form, courtesy of a homunculus cooked up in the local bartender’s basement. She’s made an uneasy truth with magic, but magic may not have made a truce with her.

Gabriel. The last of the undead cowboys, the Hanged Men, Gabe married Petra during a temporary period of mortality. When he isn’t taking the form of a conspiracy of ravens in the sky, he’s regenerating beneath the alchemical Tree of Life. The more he’s steeped in magic, the more distant he grows from Petra…a divide that may put both of them at risk.

The phoenix. The back country of Yellowstone is burning, and the culprit is a phoenix who seems determined to raze anything in its path. The phoenix years to complete its final alchemical process, to join with another source of magical power. In the meantime, the tiny town of Temperance, the nearby reservation, and the ranch on which the alchemical Tree of Life sits are in the line of fire.

The Tree of Life. The alchemical Tree of Life has lost almost all of its children. The Hanged Men are buried for good. Only Gabriel remains, and the tree has grown grasping and jealous, threatening to take Petra as one of its undead children…whether she wants to go or not. Its leaves quake in terror at the coming of the phoenix. Fire is its only true fear, and it will do anything to keep from burning to the ground.

The alchemist, Lascaris. The founder of Temperance has been thought to be dead for more than a century. But he’s found a way back from the spirit world, a means to return to Temperance. If Lascaris summons the phoenix and succeeds in joining with it, he will gain immortal power beyond his imagining, and his wickedness will rule the land again.

Pigin, an atavistic spirit of rot and decay. Pigin has lived on this land for millennia, poisoned once upon a time by Lascaris’s alchemical experiments. He’s been locked in a battle of darkness and light with the phoenix. This time, if he wins, he’ll bring death and ruin upon Temperance.

It’s high noon, and the red sky is choked with smoke. Fire is coming, and the players are converging upon the Tree of Life. Who will be left standing when the dust clears?

Phoenix Falling: A Wildlands Novel (Dark Alchemy #5) 
by Laura Bickle
February 26, 2019
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager
ISBN-10: 0062567357
ISBN-13: 978-0062567352
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror,
Dark Fantasy, PNR, Paranormal Fantasy
Laura Bickle, the critically acclaimed author of Nine of Stars and Witch Creek, returns with a fiery new chapter in her celebrated Wildlands series.

In the Yellowstone backcountry, a merciless source of evil carries a torch for the past…

Petra Dee and her immortal husband, Gabe, have been trying to gain a toehold in what passes for ordinary life in Temperance, Wyoming—

a wickedly enchanted land founded generations ago by the alchemist, Lascaris. Petra may be adept when it comes to the uncanny, but as a reasoned geologist, Petra still can’t fathom the wildfires suddenly engulfing Yellowstone National Park, or why Gabe claims to have seen the sky explode in flames. The answers could lie in the past.

It was a dreadful night in 1862 when Lascaris went harvesting for souls, only to be set upon by townsfolk determined to eliminate the root of all evil in a trial by fire. Petra can’t help fearing that Lascaris has crawled out of the ashes of history to wreak vengeance—and to complete his mission by claiming every vulnerable soul in Temperance.

With the help of Gabe and her coyote sidekick, Sig, Petra must now venture into Lascaris’s shadow before he turns her world into an inferno burning out of control.

“Bickle is well on her way to establishing her work as a cornerstone of her genre.”
—Publishers Weekly

About the Author:
Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today! I appreciate it!

  2. I have enjoyed this series from the beginning and just finished reading this final book. I'll miss these character's, that wiley coyote and their world. Thanks for the fun guest post and congratulations on your newest release, Laura.