“The time is far off, the place is charming strange, and this is rollicking, jaw-clenching adventure.”
— Katherine Dunn
author of Geek Love
A thrilling adventure set in a peculiar world, a fantastical 18th century, where a young woman must uncover the secrets of her past while confronting the present dangers of a magical wilderness
When Tom Orange rescues a mysterious young woman from the flooded Antler River, he senses that their fates will deeply intertwine.
Dennis Mahoney's Bell Weather is an otherworldly and kinetic story that blends history and fantasy, mystery and adventure to mesmerizing effect.
A lush and wild land whose magical wonders—prismatic weather, strange creatures, and otherwordly natures—are shadowed with a dark threat. A captivating, kinetic fusion of mystery, adventure, history, and fantasy, Bell Weather will leave you spellbound.
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Meet The Characters of Bell Weather
A vivacious young woman who appears, without explanation, floating down the river in the remote town of Root. She is as gregarious as she is secretive about her past in the mother country of Bruntland. The only thing surer than her talent for disaster is her lightning-proof, powder-charged talent for escape.
A colonial war hero and owner of the Orange Tavern in the strange town of Root. An upright man with a temper, Tom struggles to balance private interests in his public house. He is fiercely loyal to his makeshift family.
Molly’s brilliant, chronically ill older brother. He plays the harpsichord and studies everything from surgery to flintlock pistols. Devoted to his sister and at odds with their father, Nicholas is implacably willful and ready to act—with cunning—for personal advantage.
Lord Augustus Bell
Molly and Nicholas’s father, and a powerful general in the war to control the new world of Floria. Despotic and hot-tempered, he loves and molds his children with commanding intensity.
Dr. Benjamin Knox
A progressive 18th-century doctor of great skill and eccentric interests. He is Tom Orange’s best friend. Benjamin is both boyish and mature, as liable to marvel at the weather as he is to risk his own life for a patient. Married to Abigail Knox.
A woman of strict conscience and stricter judgment who believes moral duty is all that keeps the frontier from falling into chaos. Abigail is intelligent and highly pragmatic. Married to Benjamin Knox.
Sheriff James Pitt
The sheriff of Root. A man of firm intent but dubious ability, he is committed to colonial justice even as he boils over personal wrongs.
Tom’s cheerful, twenty year old cousin. She works at the Orange Tavern to avoid her abusive father, and forms a close friendship with Molly.
Glossary of Terms Used in Bell Weather
Also called the Aquatic Islands, a wealthy, independent nation in the Solar Ocean and home to excellent sailors and traders.
A monarchy, part of the continent of Heraldia, and the ruling power in the distant new world of colonial Floria.
A potentially fatal, infectious disease characterized by severe fevers and bleeding pores.
Tiny black birds that travel by the hundred, terrified of everything and huddled into swarms.
An overnight, precipitous drop in temperature, unique to the Antler River Valley, that heralds the town of Root’s brutal cold season.
Vine fruits that redden and combust if they are not picked before they fully ripen.
A continent discovered and settled by Heraldic countries, now primarily ruled by Bruntland; the colonies are largely independent, however, and indigenous tribes remain.
The main harbor city of northeastern Floria, bustling and cosmopolitan, deeply weathered in appearance due to efflorescing salt.
The primary religion in Bruntland and Floria, based upon the life and teachings of a wandering savior named John Lumen.
Black-clad forest thieves who steal everything from their victims, including the most precious parts of the victims’ bodies.
An ephemeral, luxurious warm spell following deadfall.
An isolated wilderness town halfway between the major Florian settlements of Grayport and Liberty, known for its remarkable weather, flora, and fauna.
Walking weeds that traverse gardens and attack vulnerable plants; they are medicinally useful once crippled and replanted.
Trees that shed all of their red leaves, at summer’s end, in sudden rushes.
The capital city of Bruntland, situated near the coast of the Eccentric Ocean; most of its grand, central buildings are constructed of a ghostly pale mineral called lunarite.
Lean, gray, wolfish bears that sleep all summer and prowl the winter woods of the Antler River Valley.
Town of Root, Continent of Floria, 1763
Lush spring made amends for Root’s monstrous winters and remoteness in the forest, but the snowmelt, mud, and early-season flux left the town unstable, prone to floods and violent storms.
It was daybreak. The heavy fog had just begun to brighten, and the blurry trees and hills cupped the narrow valley like a pair of giant hands enclosing something fragile. Tom Orange stood with his horse, two miles north of town, and saw a woman in the middle of the riotous Antler River. He was tired and he hadn’t drunk his morning cup of smoak, so when the dull floral pattern of her gown caught his eye he disregarded it at first, assuming it was blossoms. Only blossoms on a huge, twisted branch—not a body. Not a thing worth saving in the wreckage of the flood.
Tom removed his tricorne, tightened up the ribbon in his ponytailed hair, and put his hat back on before the mist wet his scalp. Every spring the river surged with swirling flowers. White petals, black centers—they were minuscule and stemless and appeared in quick profusion, well before any known plants began to bloom. The river undulated white like a meadow made of foam. Some of the townspeople said they floated from the Wolf Mountains in the north. Others thought they blossomed at the bottom of the river and emerged when the potent spring current stirred them up.
“Richly imagined in every detail, Bell Weather is a grand, ambitious tapestry of a novel that utterly transports the reader. I lost days in this amazing book.”
— Ted Kosmatka
author of The Flicker Men
“Dennis Mahoney has created a living map, one that clicks and whirrs with unexpected clockwork. As the gears turn and the map expands, storms of color wash through a historical landscape usually rendered in umber and soot. Bell Weather presents a vivid, fully realized, and fantastical new world.”
— Will Chancellor
author of A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall
“Bell Weather is both old-fashioned and newfangled, romantic and strange. Fans of the fantastic have a new world in which to lose themselves.”
— Thomas Mullen
author of The Last Town on Earth
“It takes a lot for a book to stop the world from spinning, but the moment I cracked Bell Weather, I was swept away by Dennis Mahoney's stunning imagination. What incredible fun. There's an entirely new and rich universe in town.”
— Richard C. Morais
author of The Hundred-Foot Journey
Credit: Jack Mahoney
Dennis Mahoney is the author of Fellow Mortals, a Booklist Top Ten Debut in 2013. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, son, and dog.