A lithromantic witch who non-romantically loves a schoolmarm … and should have been told about aromanticism before she sold her soul. An aromantic drover and swordsman who non-romantically loves the people who drove him away … but doesn’t know if he can ever find comfort at home. An aromantic priest who doesn’t love anyone … and shouldn’t endure the questioning of their work and their worth.
The Mara and Esher Hill stories focus on transgender, aromantic characters trying to navigate relationships, work, family and illness in a world that’s got a long way to go in demonstrating its acceptance of aromanticism.
One: The Sorcerous Compendium of Postmortem Query
Necromancer Mara Hill has waited weeks for the Thinning: the one night the dead walk freely amongst the living. Her wandering great-aunt, Rosie, was wise in the way of magic and the world, and Mara knows of none other to ask. Books and magic alike haven’t restored her fading love, and Benjamin Lisabet is too wonderful to risk losing. Why can’t Mara keep herself from falling out of love whenever the girl she yearns for dares love her back?
She’s sure that Aunt Rosie’s spirit will offer up needed advice. She just doesn’t expect a deluge of deceased villagers set on unravelling everything Mara knows about what it means to love and be in love.
Contains: A sapphic, lithromantic trans witch fearing her shape of love; a bisexual aunt who adores girls; an aro-ace trans brother armed with pokers; a wealth of casual queerness; and a world learning to be bold about its own diverse aromanticism.
Two: The Mundane Progression of Premortem Colloquy
After a night of revelations to her dead aunt Rosie and her living brother Esher, Mara Hill must dare another with Benjamin Lisbet. If she’s truly the woman Mara hopes, surely Benjamin will be receptive to a conversation of the “I love you and want to be with you, just not romantically” sort? Surely this afternoon won’t stray beyond Mara’s preparations of a picnic basket, chives, rehearsed speeches and less-rumpled clothing?
Yet her months of searching for magic to refresh her fading love means there’s too much she doesn’t know about Benjamin. Too much Mara needs to know to hold this conversation without losing Benjamin’s friendship.
Mara thought speaking of her fading love under cover of dark difficult enough … but speaking of romance in daylight is another challenge entirely.
Contains: A sapphic, lithromantic trans witch making a misstep in the quest to build a love that honours her nature; an autistic, idemromantic schoolmarm with coeliac revealing her struggles in building romantic relationships with allistic women; and a conversation concluding in utterances of the word “when”.
Three: What Makes Us Human
Moll of Sirenne needs prompts in their girdle book to navigate casual conversations, struggles to master facial expressions and feels safest weeding the monastery’s vegetable gardens. Following their call to service, however, means offering wanderers in need a priest’s support and guidance. A life free of social expectation to court, wed and befriend does outweigh their fear of causing harm—until forgetting the date of a holiday provokes a guest’s ire and three cutting words: lifeless and loveless.
A priest must expand a guest’s sense of human worth, but what do they do when their own comes under question? Can an autistic, aromantic priest ever expect to serve outside the garden? And what day is it…?
Contains: A middle-aged, agender priest set on defying social norms around love; an alloromantic guest with a journey to undergo in conquering her amatonormativity and ableism; an elderly aromantic priest providing irascible reassurance; and the story of how Moll became Esher’s guiding priest.
Four: Those With More
Suki Lewis has always known what she wants—or, more correctly, what she doesn’t want. She also knows that a good woman of Freehome, deserving of her mother’s uncritical love, wants something she can’t fathom or mimic: a stable, lasting romantic relationship.
She can’t safely stay, but leaving means surviving the challenges of priesthood, her mother’s abuse and the belated finding of a name for her differences: allosexual aromanticism.
Those With More collects four stories showing Suki’s lifetime navigation of her belief, family, community and identity.
Contains: The adventures of a sharp-tongued trans, aromantic protagonist navigating other people in exploring allosexual aromanticism, her priesthood and the pressures of amatonormativity, love, emotional abuse and family.
Five: Love is the Reckoning
Esher Hill left his home and kin a crying wreck of a man, too depressed and dysphoric to care what his people make of him. If he’d had his way, that would have been the end of it.
His sister Mara, the village witch, made sure he didn’t.
Two and a half years later, Esher owns two dogs, a blade, a career and a new body—the shape of masculinity he always felt he should be. A miracle Mara refuses to explain. A miracle the Sojourner’s priests reject and fear. A miracle, say the Grey Mages, that cannot exist without something precious sacrificed in exchange: a soul.
Returning home in search of his sister and the truth isn’t just a matter of enduring stares, whispers, explanations and the condescending pity from those he left behind.
Love holds edges sharper than Esher’s sword, for nobody wins but demons in the sale of souls.
Contains: A graysexual, aromantic trans man fighting his own mind; the trans sorcerer of a sister who loves him; a grizzled aro-ace mayor and barkeep; and a heavy reliance on schemes and manipulations in the absence of simple communication.
Six: A Quest of Spheres and Phalanges
To save Mara’s life, all Esher Hill need do is ride to Sirenne, get his guiding priest to permit his addressing the Grey Mages and convince representatives from a powerful collective of magic workers to heal a dying sorcerer. He has his fathers’ money and a willingness to work off any remaining debt. How much more, short of his now-unsellable soul, can her life cost?
It seems simple enough a prospect, if Esher ignores the encumbrance of a family friend, his inability to remember his medicines, his hand’s meeting a wall, a tray-spilling mishap and the Greys’ staggering disdain for altruism. Not to mention his increasing lack of sleep, stability and sanity following his kin’s revelations and manipulations! But when Esher learns what—and where—he must seek for the Greys’ promise of healing magic, his hope of retrieving their long-lost artefact seems as broken as his right hand. How can he survive the Gast’s pantheon of horrors when he feels increasingly unable to survive his own mind?
How can he help Mara if he can’t even help himself?
Contains: A graysexual, aromantic trans man struggling to cope with the aftermath of his family’s secrets; a collection of neurodiverse priest-psychologists in service to their community and god; an enigmatic sect of magic workers in pursuit of an eldritch artefact; and a genderless, aromantic Rajadi noble with a passion for archaeology, maps and well-explained social customs.