Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) August 2017 - US Post

Patricia Forde - The List - Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (August 1, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1492647966

You are The Wordsmith now. Are you ready for the challenge?
The city of Ark is the last safe place on Earth. To make sure humans are able to survive, everyone in Ark must speak List, a language of only 500 words.
Everyone that is, except Letta. 
As apprentice to the Wordsmith, Letta can read all the words that have ever existed. Forbidden words like freedom, music, and even pineapple tell her about a world she's never known. 
One day her master disappears and the leaders of Ark tell Letta she is the new Wordsmith and must shorten List to fewer and fewer words. Then Letta meets a teenage boy who somehow knows all the words that have been banned. Letta's faced with a dangerous choice: sit idly by and watch language slowly slip away or follow a stranger on a path to freedom . . . or banishment.

Ronald Kidd - Room of Shadows - Published by Albert Whitman & Company (August 1, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0807568057

Ever since his dad left, David Cray has had anger issues. So after he beats up school bully Jake Bragg, his mom grounds him in their creepy new house. Bored, David discovers a secret room with an old-fashioned desk, a chest, and a carving of a raven. Suddenly he's having strange dreams about the room and the house, and violence seems to follow him wherever he goes. Who is the Raven who is taking responsibility for these violent pranks? And why do the pranks resemble Poe's?

Frank L. Cole - The World's Greatest Adventure Machine - Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 8, 2017) 

ISBN-13: 978-0399552823

An adventure novel about four lucky kids and a mysterious, but thrilling ride for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Jurassic Park!
 
    CastleCorp and the famous Castleton brothers are unveiling the World’s Greatest Adventure Machine! The roller coaster is an experience like no other, and four lucky kids have won the chance to be the first to ride it. 
    There’s Trevor, whose latest stunt got him in trouble at school again. There’s Devin, whose father is pushing him to be the next Internet sensation. Nika’s wealthy grandfather isn’t too pleased about her participation. And Cameron, he’ll be the first to tell you, is a certified genius. 
    The whole world is watching. But as the kids set off on their journey, they begin to realize that there is perhaps more to their fellow contest winners than meets the eye. And the Adventure Machine? It might just have a mind of its own.
    Join the contestants on their wild ride if you dare. Your adventure starts now!

Joel Ross - Beast & Crown - Published by HarperCollins Children's (August 22, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062484598

A thrilling new middle-grade fantasy from Texas Bluebonnet award winner Joel Ross, author of The Fog DiverPacked with adventure and humor and filled with goblins, royals, and magic, this is a tale of unlikely heroes who embark on a daring quest.
Boot boy Ji is tired of scrubbing soles and untangling shoelaces. He doesn’t want to bow and scrape. All he wants is freedom—for himself and his friends.
He decides to risk everything for a chance to accompany a young nobleman to the Diadem Rite, a magical ritual that chooses the heir to the Summer Crown. Ji doesn’t care about crowns or ceremonies, but he vows that this trip will grant him and his friends new lives, far away from boots and bowing. What Ji doesn’t know is that he and his friends have a dangerous part to play in the Diadem Rite. One that will change them forever.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Den Patrick - Witchsign - Signs New Three Book Deal In The Ashen Empire Series ( HarperVoyger)


Natasha Bardon, Publishing Director at HarperVoyager has bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to three books including WITCHSIGN by Den Patrick from Julie Crisp Literary Agency. WITCHSIGN will be the first of three books in The Ashen Empire series.

It has been seventy-five years since the dragons’ rule of fire and magic was ended. Out of the ashes, the Solmindre Empire was born. Since then the tyrannical rulers have worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane from existence. However, children are still born bearing the taint of the arcane, known to all as ‘witchsign’. Vigilants of the Synod are sent out across the continent to find and capture all those bearing the mark.

No one knows when they’ll will appear and enforce the Empire’s laws.

But they’re coming. And gods help those who bear the sign of the witch.

Natasha Bardon said: ‘I’m delighted to welcome Den Patrick to the list. Den is a gifted writer and this new trilogy is packed full of the fantastically complicated and deep characters that readers have come to expect from Den’s work.’

Den Patrick is the author of the Erebus Sequence, published in 2014. The first installment, The Boy Who Wept Blood, was longlisted for British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer in 2015. He lives in London with his fiancée and their two cats.

Den Patrick says:  'I am delighted to sign with Harper Voyager and introduce readers to a world of Vinterkveld, with its many dangers, adventures, and surprises.'

Julie Crisp said: 'With all the grit and imagination fantasy readers of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence love, Den's series is a perfect fit for Voyager. We're very excited to be working with Natasha and the team there.'

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview With A.P. Winter - The Boy Who Went Magic

Today, it's great to be interviewing A. P. Winter, debut author of The Boy Who Went Magic, to find out more about him and his writing. This is an amazing magical read that was recently published by Chicken House in June 2017.  I send a very warm welcome to A. P Winter - thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Let's talk about writing! How do you want your readers to react when they read the first and last page of The Boy Who Went Magic?
Really good question. I wanted the opening to tap into the excitement I always felt opening up an adventure story as a kid - that sense that anything might happen - and at the ending. I hope the reader feels they've been on a journey with Bert, with all the bittersweet feelings the end of a good journey brings. 

This is your debut book. What did you learn from writing it? 
It is my debut 9-12 novel. I think the most important thing I learned how useful it is to have a good bad guy. Prince Voss didn't exist in early drafts, but once he came to life, it really made a lot of things fall into place.  

I hear you have a discerning palette for chocolate, does this help you write a good story for children? 
I don't know about palette, but there are some complementary skills. Chocolate tasting relies heavily on a good memory, specifically a good memory for sensory experiences, and I think that does cross over with what you tap into when you're trying to create an evocative world. 

Can you remember an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I remember making a teacher cry with one of the earliest stories I wrote. It was about a ghost porpoise who'd had a sad life. I actually thought this meant I was in trouble until she explained it was a good thing. 

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I don't really think about it. All my main characters are an amalgamation of people I know and aspects of myself, so I never consider writing 'a woman' or 'a man' - it's more about figuring out who they are and what they want on a character by character basis. 

What did you edit out of this book?
Honest answer - tonnes of stuff. I take editing pretty seriously, and there was a lot that got cut and changed to become the novel it is now. My saddest omission was the pirate island. There was a whole middle section of the book where they hang out with some pirates and get into scrapes, but unfortunately, everything that happened there always felt like filler instead of an essential part of the story, and the pirates had to go. The last remnant of them is a couple of comments about how flamboyantly the crew dress on the Professor's ship (they were glam pirates). I miss those guys.

Has the city of York inspired any part of this book?
I don't want to spoil too much, but York has about two miles of medieval wall that is part of my regular running route -  descriptions of one of the key locations in the book are based on the feeling of running there when it's foggy, and you feel like you're up in the clouds. I mean, I said I wasn't going to spoil anything, but that doesn't take much detective work to piece together. There's a castle in the clouds. It's ace. That was York. 

I love the cover for The Boy Who Went Magic. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Definitely (it also just occurred to me that the castle in the clouds is on the cover, so I don't know what I was thinking there). I was so grateful for Manual Sumberac's art on that cover. I work part-time in a bookshop, so I know how big a difference it makes to stand out from the crowd, especially when it comes to impulse buys - I don't think there's anything like that cover on the shelves. 

You're hosting a literary dinner party, which particular authors/illustrators would you invite and why? 
I tend to avoid writers like the plague in real life (obviously with the exception of the lovely people at Chickenhouse, or anyone else I follow on twitter, or work with, or anyone else I may have offended there), but I guess it would be fun to hang out with Cervantes. I love his Don Quixote, and he did a lot of prison time, so I'm pretty sure he'd be excited about whatever I cooked. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Tony Mitton - Potter's Boy - Book Review by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


Tony Mitton is an award winning poet who lives in Cambridge. He has previously delighted children and adults alike with his lyrical and narrative verse which was featured in the brilliant book Wayland. This is a beautifully told tale reinventing the northern legend of Wayland the Blacksmith. It was fantastically decorated with lovely images by the talented John Lawrence and is a must-have book to track down and read.

Potter's Boy is Tony's first ever novel and will be published at the start of November (2017) by David Fickling Books. I'm sorry for the early review, but this is such a fantastic story that I couldn't stop myself from reviewing it. It is definitely one of my favourite reads of this year. I can't help but think that this book is based on Tony's childhood and his upbringing, from living in places like North Africa and Hong Kong. His dad served in the British army and Potter's Boy is heavenly influenced by Buddhism and the arts/traditions of China and Japan; it really makes this story special and a real joy to read. 


The story is a poignant one. It is told from the older perspective of the main character Ryo, now aging in life, who tells the story of his former young self and reflects on the journey that he set out on so many years ago. The story cascades through a picture of tranquility and an idyllic village life in medieval times. As a potter's son, he's destiny to take up his father's noble trade, but this all changes when Ryo witnesses a stranger scare a set of bandits away from the remote village. The mystery man moves so deftly and swiftly that he actually dances his way to tackling the brigands and scaring them away. Ryo is so mesmerized by this display that he wants to train to become a warrior and a hero. 


Leaving the safety of his family, and the sleepy village in the mountains of Chazan, he goes in search of his dreams. This path leads him on a journey to find his own way in the world and a deadly path of self-discovery. Three important encounters change his life forever and make this an epic fantasy filled adventureThe story reflects a way of life and traditions in a deep and rich Asian culture that you will soon become immersed in.


The historical reality has a deeper meaning that the reader will pick up on. It is an exciting and thrilling journey to the heart and soul; a book that will make you think and listen. I really loved the landscape the author has painted, not with brush strokes, but with beautifully artistic words. The narrative is molded like a vase that turns into a vision of a potter's son and the adventure that he took in finding the meaning of life. 


This is a traditional tale that I would really recommend to anyone and everyone to read. It is a very well-written story that flows like poetry and washes over the reader in so many ways. Get this on your reading list. It is published in November 2017 as a beautiful hardback book - you will not be disappointed. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Summer Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) August 2017 - UK Post Two


Mark Powers (Author) Tim Wesson (Illustrator) - Spy Toys: Out of Control! - Published by Bloomsbury Childrens (10 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1408870884

Toy Story meets James Bond in the second book in this incredible action-packed series!
Fresh from the success of their first mission, our heroes the Spy Toys - Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear, Arabella the Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll and Flax the custom-made police robot rabbit - are ready for their next task. This time, the secret code that controls every Snaztacular Ultrafun toy has been stolen and all over the world toys are revolting and turning against the children who own them. 
Can Arabella disguise herself as a super-sweet little doll in order to find out more from the daughter of Snaztacular's top scientist? Can Dan and Flax chase down Jade the Jigsaw, the puzzling prime suspect for the robbery? And can they save the day before the mind-controlled toys forget what it means to play nice?
Featuring hilarious illustrations by Tim Wesson throughout, this series is perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart and David Solomons' My Brother is a Superhero.

Lari Don - The Witch's Guide to Magical Combat (Kelpies) - Published by Kelpies (17 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1782503071


Molly's shape-shifting curse is getting stronger and more unpredictable. Becoming a hare she could cope with. At least she could run... fast. But now she's turning into the prey of any predator she hears. Life's pretty dangerous if you become a worm whenever you hear a bird tweet. As Molly and her friends search for a stone that can curb the Promise Keeper's powers, and each one of them must face their own monster, Molly is forced to choose: is she prepared to use dark magic to break her curse? Will she become a witch and enter into magical combat? And if she does, will she lose the friendships she most cares about? In this third and final thrilling installment of the breathtaking Spellchasers trilogy the team faces a blizzard of powerful threats. Can they bring balance to the magical world, defeat the creatures that pursue them and finally break Molly's curse? Or will darkness triumph over friendship?

Maz Evans - Simply the Quest (Who Let the Gods Out?) - Published by Chicken House (3 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1910655511

Elliot Hooper's troubles are far from over: his mum's health worsens, he's struggling at school, and a bunch of anarchic Greek immortals have moved into his home - including teen goddess Virgo, who's in trouble with the Zodiac. What's more, death-daemon Thanatos and his scary mum are at large. As even more immortal allies and enemies emerge, Virgo and Elliot must learn how to be heroes ...

Katherine Rundell (Author) Hannah Horn (Illustrator) - The Explorer - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (10 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1408854877

From his seat in the tiny aeroplane, Fred watches as the mysteries of the Amazon jungle pass by below him. He has always dreamed of becoming an explorer, of making history and of reading his name amongst the lists of great discoveries. If only he could land and look about him.
As the plane crashes into the canopy, Fred is suddenly left without a choice. He and the three other children may be alive, but the jungle is a vast, untamed place. With no hope of rescue, the chance of getting home feels impossibly small.
Except, it seems, someone has been there before them.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Pam Smy - THORNHILL - Published by David Fickling - Book Review by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she's left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines - Mary's through intimate diary entries and Ella's in bold, striking art - Pam Smy's Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.



This will be one of the most impressive and eye catching books that you will see this year. It is set to be published by David Fickling Books in the UK on the 24th August 2017 and published in the US by Roaring Book Press on the 29th August 2017. Graphically, it is comparable to the work of Brian Selznick, but with a unique and dark, ghostly twist which is laced with edgy realism.
 A wonderful book crafted from an exciting voice of narratives.

This is the first book to be both written and illustrated by Pam Smy. It was developed out of an opportunity from her publisher, which resulted in the cultivation of her own ideas into this amazing book. Inspired by a walk around Cambridge in England, where the author/illustrator lives, she stumbled on an unusual abandoned house with a wall around it and a "KEEP OUT" sign. Armed with her sketch pad and brilliant imagination, this became the seed for the story.




On opening the book, the images and the words are outstandingly provocative and beautiful. The black and white illustrations lead the readers into a dark and fantasy parallel wonderland. The first diary entry is from the 8th February 1982 and begins with "I knew it was too good to last. She is back". From this moment we are gripped, as we turn the pages to a centerpiece of blackness with a brooding building providing an indication of the eerie ride that is to come. The magnificent feast of black and white illustrations (about half of the book) pop out at you and tell one part of the story which will plunge you into an atmospheric world of dark secrets, loss, loneliness, friendship and the lasting damage brought on by bullying and neglect.




This is an amazing story with a disturbing twin narrative that will glue you to the pages of two girls separated by 30 years who gravitate to one place, THORNHILL. This is an old institution for children with a hidden past that will leave you entranced and slightly disturbed. This is visually one of the best books you will find for the young (10+) as well as old. It's chilling, gripping and really makes you think.

The fantastic and unusual format will encourage and captivate children whilst the strange, and rather spine chilling story tackles everyday issues. It is beautifully expressive and commands the reader's attention throughout. I was instantly transported to this world. My fantasy mind was floating through a visual landscape that made me want to explore the house and the grounds, it was an absolute delight. The thought process and the amount of work that has gone into this book is incredible. You will look at it on the bookshelves and think WOW. It is definitely a book to cherish and keep.

I would love to see more books like this one being published. Many congratulations to Pam Smy and the David Fickling Team - I truly believe that this is a future classic.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Summer Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) August 2017 - UK Post One

Kelly Barnhill - The Girl Who Drank The Moon - Published by Piccadilly Press (24 Aug. 2017) 

ISBN-13: 978-1848126473

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is in fact a good witch who shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna's thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge - with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth's surface. And the woman with the Tiger's heart is on the prowl . . .

The Newbery Medal winner from the author of the highly acclaimed novel The Witch's Boy.

Helena Duggan - A Place Called Perfect - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (1 Aug. 2017) 

ISBN-13: 978-1474924160

Violet never wanted to move to Perfect.

Who wants to live in a town where everyone has to wear glasses to stop them going blind? And who wants to be neat and tidy and perfectly behaved all the time?

Violet quickly discovers there's something weird going on in the town - she keeps hearing voices, her mam is acting strange and her dad has disappeared.

When she meets Boy she realizes that her dad is not the only person to have vanished... and that the mysterious Watchers are guarding a perfectly creepy secret!

Julia Jarman - The Time-Travelling Cat and the Egyptian Goddess - Published by Andersen Press (3 Aug. 2017) 

ISBN-13: 978-1783445738

Topher and his father are trying to get over the death of Topher's mother, an Egyptologist, when they take in a stray cat. This cat bears an uncanny resemblance to a cat ornament given to Topher by his mother and so they name it 'Ka', meaning 'double'. Topher becomes very attached to Ka and is puzzled by her mysterious absences. One day when he is playing a computer game with an Egyptian theme, Ka jumps on the keys and spells out the name Bubastis, which was the centre of cat worship in Ancient Egypt. Could Ka really be leading a double life and what is she trying to tell Topher?

J .R Wallis - The Boy With One Name - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (10 Aug. 2017) 

ISBN-13: 978-1471157929

Twelve-year-old Jones is an orphan, training as an apprentice hunter alongside his mentor, Maitland, tackling ogres, trolls and all manner of creatures that live in the Badlands – a hidden part of our own world, and which most people think exist only in fairytales and nightmares. But all Jones secretly wants to be is an ordinary boy and to leave the magical world forever...

When an ogre hunt goes wrong and Maitland is killed, Jones finally has a chance to find out where he came from. But the truth he uncovers isn’t what he’s expecting and it seems that if Jones is going to make his dream come true he’ll have to defeat a creature not even Maitland had dared take on and he won’t be able to do it alone…
 
He’s going to need help from Ruby, the first girl he’s ever met. She’s outspoken, fearless and determined to prove she’s as good as any boy, and unlike Jones, being ordinary is the last thing on her mind. Ruby’s desperate to find her place in the world and thinks the Badlands could be it. So, working together isn’t going to be straightforward. In fact, it could be downright dangerous.
 
But who said getting what you want is supposed to easy, even if it is just wanting to be ordinary?

Friday, 21 July 2017

Larry Correia - Monster Hunter Siege - Prologue - Been Book Pick August 2017

PROLOGUE
Thirty years ago Auhangamea Pitt invaded the Soviet Union. It wasn’t his first time, and even though he ended up getting shot through the brain, this trip wouldn’t be his last.

His team had been sent by an agency with no name, snuck there in a submarine that had traveled beneath the Arctic ice. They were all pros, collected from various elite units, and given this temporary additional duty. Pitt was the senior NCO, but when you got loaned to Special Task Force Unicorn you no longer held a rank. Everybody was Mister whatever their assigned fake name was for the duration of the operation.

Only Auhangamea Pitt had been loaned to STFU so many times now, the full timers just called him the Destroyer. He had developed a reputation over the years. He’d get the job done with minimal drama and could be trusted to never speak of it again. There were plenty of men who were just as good at covert operations as he was, but many of those would be tempted to ask questions afterwards, like how did that guy with the scales breathe fire? Not the Destroyer. Monday morning he’d be back at his day job preparing to fight normal Communists, and he wouldn’t give Unicorn another thought until the next time they needed some regular human soldiers to babysit one of their special snowflakes.

They carried no identification, their clothing had no tags, and they were armed with subguns manufactured without serial numbers. They were sanitized. If captured, their existence would be denied, and the rest of their miserable lives would be spent being interrogated by the KGB. There would be no international incident, just a shallow grave…if they were lucky.

The mission was comparatively straight forward this time. A Task Force asset had been spying on a secure military testing area on an island. The team would take a raft to shore, go inland, and retrieve him. They weren’t told why he was there, or why it was important enough to risk sending an attack sub into the Barents Sea to pick him up. Frankly, Destroyer didn’t want to know. Nothing good ever came from asking too many questions about Task Force business. He had seen some weird things while assigned to Unicorn, and didn’t like to dwell on it afterwards.

The team had been briefed aboard the sub, given a pick up location, and the code phrases to make sure they had the right man. The Destroy had violated his personal rule against asking too many questions, because he needed to make sure this particular asset wasn’t too special. Not that he minded, but if the asset turned out to be a five-hundred-pound monstrosity with a bull’s head again, they’d swamp the raft. Plus, the horns might poke holes in the rubber.

However, they were told that this particular asset would appear and act like a normal man for the duration. Whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

It turned out that none of those details mattered anyway, because they walked right into an ambush.
* * *

Two minutes into the hopelessly outnumbered and lopsided fight, a rifle bullet struck Auhangamea Pitt through the base of the skull. The 7.62x54R round was fired from a Dragunov rifle approximately two hundred yards away, but it still retained enough destructive energy to easily shatter the bone and fling blood and brain tissue ten feet. His spinal column was severed, and the medulla oblongata—the part of the brain which regulated unconscious functions like respiration and heartbeat—was completely pulverized.

He had been running. Moving target and poor light. It was either a really lucky shot or the Russian sniper was damned good. Either way, it didn’t matter, the base of the brain was the best target in the human body. Hitting it with a bullet was like flipping a kill switch. He’d made that shot several times over the years, and knew that it meant instantaneous death. Lights out.

Only somehow the lights stayed on as he’d toppled over the edge of an icy cliff. The sixty foot fall would be more than sufficient to break most of the bones in his body. Going down, he knew he was double fucked, but it wasn’t like you could be extra dead. He hit the rocks like a trash bag full of stew.

So when Auhangamea Pitt found himself lying broken in a puddle of blood, paralyzed, but still somehow conscious of the world around him, his first thought was well, this is bullshit.

He laid there for a while, listening helplessly as the rest of his team perished. Once the gunfire tapered off, the Russians walked to the edge of the cliff and shined a light down on him, but it was obvious that he was dead, so they didn’t even bother to climb down. Once the flash lights weren’t pointed at his eyes, he was able to watch the northern lights. The aurora borealis was so beautiful, this wasn’t the worst place to die. There had been plenty of close calls in stinking jungles and third world back alleys that would have been worse, so he watched the pretty lights and waited for death, more mystified than frightened.

He was a warrior and warriors die in war. There was no reason to be a big baby about it. Or maybe the bullet had torn out the part of his brain that processed fear? There was either going to be something next, or nothing. All he knew was that he should have gotten on with it by now.

The being that appeared above him was made of light. At first he thought his brain had finally run out of oxygen, and this was that light at the end of the tunnel thing that the near death experience people always talked about. He’d always thought that sounded like bullshit. Only this wasn’t a tunnel, this light was walking toward him. It was a man made of light, so logically the Destroyer figured it was an angel…Considering the life he had led it was a little surprising it wasn’t a devil. Most of the people he’d offed must have had it coming after all.

You are trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead, the blob of light said. Fate has brought you here before us because your bloodline is the key. We will postpone death until the cycle is complete. In exchange you will prepare the God Slayer for the final confrontation between good and evil.

Which all sounded like hippie nonsense to the Destroyer, but it wasn’t like he was in any position to argue semantics. More of the beings had gathered around him. It was a glowing angel beach party.

Then a light touched his head and filled the bullet wound with dreams.

He saw so much, so fast. It wasn’t a glimpse into the future, so much as a mission packet, and a demonstration of the serious repercussions of failure. He would have a son. That son would die saving the world or he would die trying and the world would fall. It was all or nothing. He was shown the signs which foretold the end, and then he was given a glimpse of the end.

That little peek into the future demonstrated that the part of his brain that processed fear was working just fine. What he saw scared the hell out of him.

War is coming. The demon beneath the mountain will rise. The Chosen must not be given the truth until then. Once you reveal the truth, we will no longer stave off your death, and death is a jealous thing. The Chosen must find the truth of things on his own. You will prepare him so that he may survive the crucible, but you must not ever fight his battles for him. Can you do this?

What did they expect him to do with a shattered spine and collapsed lungs? Nod? Sure. And then he hoped the light got the message. I got this.

We can only hope so. It is a terrible burden, sending your son to die so that others may live.
* * *

“So then I woke up covered in blood and otherwise fine. I got back to the raft, signaled my ride, and went home. Before that mission I used to say there wasn’t a godless heathen communist born who could kill Auhangamea Pitt. Turns out there was, but even then it took the jackass a few decades to get it to stick. So that’s it, boys.” Dad sighed as he leaned back in his chair. “That’s how we got to this. Now you know.”

My father, my brother Mosh, and I were sitting around Dad’s kitchen table. We had been there listening to him talk for an hour. I had absorbed the story better than my brother—who was looking incredulous and bewildered—but to be fair, I’d seen a lot more supernatural stuff than he had.

“That’s it?” Mosh asked. “Holy shit, Dad, you just told us a story about you coming back from the dead, war angels versus mountain demons, prophecies about the apocalypse, and that’s it?

Dad shrugged. “I don’t think they picked me because I’m inclined to be flighty.”

Mosh just sat there, mouth open, trying to come to terms with what he’d just heard. “Okay…That is so metal.” Then Mosh asked the question I lacked the courage to. “So the story is told. Do you really think you’re going to kick the bucket now?”

“Maybe…Beats me.”

“Aren’t you scared?” Mosh asked.

The tough old bastard actually laughed. “More like relieved. I’ve been carrying this secret a long damned time. Those things haunted my dreams off and on your whole lives. Little glimpses of the world dying if I dropped the ball. I guess they thought I needed the reminder to stay on task. Look, dying don’t scare me. I’ve been retired for years. It’s basically the same thing. By the way, don’t you dare tell your mom I said that.” Dad turned and looked me square in the eyes. “Better question, are you?”

“Scared?” I asked.

“Sure.” He’d figured out that I was the son this all fell on. If his supposed angels were telling the truth, I would be the one giving up my life to save the world. “Are you scared?”

“I’d be a fool not to be.”

“Good answer. It’s on you now. I did what I could. Was it perfect? Hell no. But I look at you two and how you turned out and all I can do is hope it’ll be good enough. I didn’t know exactly what was coming, and I didn’t just want to raise killers. That’s easy. I tried to raise good men.Owen, from what I’ve heard, you’ve seen some shit. You’ll be ready to face whatever comes. Remember, you’ve got the training, the skills, and a hell of a good crew at your side. You’ve got enough stubbornness to never back down, but try to have enough humility to learn from your screw ups.” Then he looked toward Mosh and scowled. “David…Well, you’ve still got a lot to learn.”

If he had said that to the old Mosh, it would have turned into a protest, and then a fight against the man who never thought anything was good enough. Maybe my little brother would storm off for a few years and become a rock superstar just to spite him or something…Only a few days ago my brother had watched a casino get sucked into another dimension, so right now he conceded the point. “Fair enough.”

“So what happens next?”

“They didn’t exactly brief me on the timeline. There are signs. Some have happened.” He began ticking off on his fingers. “Time got broken. That demon’s symbol began appearing. More bad things are coming. You’re going to make them right. It is time you take the fight to him.”

“Anything in particular I should be watching out for?”

“I’ve got a general sense of dread and a suspicion a whole lot of bad things are involved, but it’s fuzzy after the demon starts putting his mark on things. Destiny only gets you so far. My gut feeling is that what happens next is still up in the air, but this son of a bitch is so evil, nothing is off the table. He’ll hide in plain sight. Come at you sideways. There’s nothing he won’t do against you. You’ll figure out the rest as you go…Anybody else want a beer?” Dad got up and walked to the fridge.

“No thanks, Dad.” Mosh had been steadily drinking himself to death since the Condition had cut off his fingers, but I think he’d gone cold turkey since we’d escaped Las Vegas, so hopefully he was getting his life in order. To be fair I had to remember I had a head start in the apocalypse business, my poor brother was still playing catch up.

Dad opened the refrigerator door, stared at the contents for a moment, and then collapsed.

Published by Baen Out 1st August 2017 

   The Monster Hunter Series
Monster Hunter International
Monster Hunter Vendetta
Monster Hunter Alpha
Monster Hunter Legion
Monster Hunter Nemesis

Monster Hunter Siege

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge