My next novel, Demon King, launches worldwide on Friday, 3/30!
In celebration, and as a treat to my readers, I’ve marked the preorder down to just $0.99!
Ancient evils lurk in the Western New York town of Oneka Falls, and they are hungry…
Only three children have encountered them and lived. Psyches fractured, each child has survived as best they could—wrapped in fantasy, the comfort of amnesia, or the silence of isolation When those evils intrude on their lives a second time, it sets a chain of events in action that can only end in destruction. But who will be destroyed, the children or the ancient evils that plague the town?
Start reading Demon King today and find out!
Demon King is available for preorder at these fine retailers:
Here’s a teaser:
At the bottom of the hill stood a white clapboard house, dressed with peeling paint and creeping ivy. Dark windows gaped like missing teeth. Over twenty bikes teetered in an unstable heap amidst the mini-tornadoes of whirling fall leaves in the backyard. The pile held all kinds of different bikes: BMX, ten-speeds, bombers, everything. Beyond the house, the gravel road faded into a two-rut track and wound away through the Thousand Acre Wood.
Toby Burton stood at the top of the hill looking down at the house, unsure and anxious. The classifieds had said one ten-speed bike was available, not twenty, but maybe the guy fixed them up and sold them? That didn’t make much sense, though, because the ad listed twenty bucks as the price. Who would put time and effort into fixing up a bike and sell it so cheap? Unless he got them even cheaper. Maybe he bought them from a junkyard for twenty bucks a truckload.
The twenty-dollar bill in his front pocket was heavy on his mind. He’d stolen the money out of his mom’s purse that morning. If he left that second, he could slip it back into her purse without her knowing.
But he wanted a bike. Needed a bike.
Toby dithered at the top of the hill, and the temperature dropped with the sun. Anxiety scribbled across his face, he checked the time again. He wasn’t allowed to be out past dark, though it would be a rare thing for his mom to notice when he came home.
Everyone else had a bike. He was the only one in his grade left taking it on the arches. His mom had the money, but she didn’t want to spend it on him. Not that she thought of Toby much anymore—he was old news. The only thing she had time for now was her new boyfriend. Randy.
Randy the hitter. He needed a bike to get away from Randy.
The house at the bottom of the hill looked okay. It was just a house, like any of the others on the street. Maybe in worse repair, but nothing too far out of the norm for the shitburg town he lived in.
“Just do it, Toby,” he whispered, but still he dithered. He had to decide. If he didn’t leave immediately, there would be no way to make it home before dark. Not without the bike.
“Do it, do it, do it,” he said to himself.
He set off down the hill with a confidence he didn’t feel, his stride long and lanky, hands flopping loose at his sides. It wouldn’t hurt to check out the bike. See if it was as advertised. No charge for looking, right?
The house looked bigger at the bottom of the hill. More imposing. Empty windows stared at him from the second story. The gate of the little white picket fence shrieked as he opened it, sending chills shivering down his spine. He mounted the rotting wooden steps to the porch, watching the windows. The house had an old-fashioned door bell—the kind you had to pull. With a glance over his shoulder, Toby reached out and pulled the lever.
The door banged open. A tall, thin man stood in the shadowy interior beyond the door, looking at Toby with rheumy eyes. His white hair stood up around him in a gossamer halo. Food had stained the front of his shirt in multiple places. He wore an old pair of chinos and black work boots. “Ayuh,” the old man said, in a creaky, scratchy voice.
“Huh-hello, mister. I’m here about the bike.”
The old man grinned with half of his mouth, but his eyes were hard and cold. “Ad says to come after suppah.”
Toby shrugged. “I’m not allowed out after dark.”
The old man made a clicking noise in the back of his mouth and jerked his chin to the side, like a weird bird. “Mayhap I’m not allowed out before dark, whaddaya think about that?”
Toby shrugged and looked at his feet. There was a weird scent coming from the open doorway. He’d smelled nothing like it before, and whatever it was, it was foul. “S-sorry, mister.”
He turned to leave, and a hand fell on his shoulder. He glanced at it sideways. The old man’s hand was inky-black and shriveled like the pictures of that mummy they’d seen in school. The bones of the man’s hand pressed against his skin and his skin was loose, drooping. His fingers ended in sharp claws. Toby’s mind yelled Run! as loud as it could, and he lurched in the man’s grasp and tried to bolt for the street.
“Now, now, sonny-boy,” crooned the old man. “Nothing here to be scared of. Nothing too far out of the norm for this little town, eh?”
Toby looked at the man’s hand. It was back to normal, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Now, that’s better, son,” said the old man with a pat on the shoulder. “You wanted to know about that bike, right? Might as well take a look-see since you came all the way over here from Mill Lane. Can’t hurt to check it out, can it? See if the bike is as advertised. No charge for looking, right, boyo?”
Toby stood staring out at the empty street, the old man standing behind him in the way Toby imagined a father would. The longer he stood, the man’s warm hand resting on his shoulder, the less afraid he became. He grew more and more confident as the minutes ticked by.
“C’mon, son, let’s do it,” whispered the old man. “It’s right back here in the yard. Through the house is fastest.”
Toby glanced back at the growing shadows on the street. Going inside seemed to be a questionable idea.
“Just do it, Toby,” said the old man. “Do it, do it, do it.”
With a rueful grin, Toby turned and walked into the house.
What happens next? You’ll have to read Demon King to find out! 🙂