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May 7th: SUPER MEGA eBook Sale Day!!!

Who’s ready for some super hot ebook deals for ONE DAY ONLY?! Check out all the amazing books you can snag for only $2.99 today!


The Starless Crown by James RollinsThe Starless Crown by James Rollins

A gifted student foretells an apocalypse. Her reward is a sentence of death. Fleeing into the unknown she is drawn into a team of outcasts: A broken soldier, who once again takes up the weapons he’s forbidden to wield and carves a trail back home. A drunken prince, who steps out from his beloved brother’s shadow and claims a purpose of his own. An imprisoned thief, who escapes the crushing dark and discovers a gleaming artifact – one that will ignite a power struggle across the globe. On the run, hunted by enemies old and new, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive in a world evolved in strange, beautiful, and deadly ways, and uncover ancient secrets that hold the key to their salvation. But with each passing moment, doom draws closer.

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The Book Eaters by Sunyi DeanThe Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries. Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories. But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

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Book of Night by Holly BlackBook of Night by Holly Black

Charlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn’t pick, a book she couldn’t steal, or a bad decision she wouldn’t make. She’s spent half her life working for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. Gloamists guard their secrets greedily, creating an underground economy of grimoires. And to rob their fellow magicians, they need Charlie Hall. Now, she’s trying to distance herself from past mistakes, but getting out isn’t easy. Bartending at a dive, she’s still entirely too close to the corrupt underbelly of the Berkshires. Not to mention that her sister Posey is desperate for magic, and that Charlie’s shadowless, and possibly soulless, boyfriend has been hiding things from her. When a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie descends into a maelstrom of murder and lies. Determined to survive, she’s up against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, gloamists, and the people she loves best in the world—all trying to steal a secret that will give them vast and terrible power.

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Place holder  of - 70Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine. But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other. With Marcella’s rise, new enmities create opportunity–and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.

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The Kaiju Preservation Society by John ScalziThe Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on. What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm, human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.mIt’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society who have found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

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On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events in October

Your favorite Tor/Forge authors are hitting the road in October! See who’s coming to a city near you this month.

Mary Robinette Kowal, The Fated Sky

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Tuesday, October 2
Murder by the Book
Houston, TX
6:30 PM

V. E. Schwab, Shades of Magic Trilogy / Vengeful

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Friday, October 5

New York Comic Con, Javits Center Booth #2136
New York, NY
3: 00 PM

New York Comic Con, Javits Center Room 1A18
New York, NY
5:15 PM

Saturday, October 6
New York Comic Con, Javits Center Room 1B03
New York, NY
12:15 PM

New York Comic Con, Javits Center Room 1B03
New York, NY
4:00 – 5:00 PM

V. E. Schwab, Vengeful

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Monday, October 1
Anderson’s Bookshop
La Grange, IL
7:00 PM

Tuesday, October 2
Barnes & Noble
Roseville, MN
7:00 PM

Wednesday, October 3
Coolidge Corner Theater
Brookline, MA
6:00 PM

Sunday, October 7
Arlington Central Library
Arlington, VA
4:00 PM

Monday, October 8
Strand Books
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Marie Miranda Cruz, Everlasting Nora

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Tuesday, October 2
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
7:00 PM

Thursday, October 4
Books of Wonder
New York, NY
6:30 PM

Friday, October 5
RJ Julia Booksellers
Madison, CT
6:30 PM

Saturday, October 6
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Cincinnati, OH
2:00 PM

Sunday, October 7
Kids Ink
Indianapolis, IN
2:00 PM

Wednesday, October 10
Anderson’s Bookshop
La Grange, IL
7:00 PM

Thursday, October 11
Lemuria Books
Jackson, MS
5:00 PM

Thursday, October 18
Vroman’s Bookstore
Pasadena, CA
7:00 PM

David Hagberg, Face Off

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Thursday, October 11
Bookstore 1
Sarasota, FL
6:00 PM

Mark Oshiro, Anger Is a Gift

Friday, October 5
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
11:00 AM

New York Comic Con, Javits Center Room 1B03
New York, NY
2:45 PM

Malka Older, State Tectonics

Thursday, October 18
Fountain Bookstore
Richmond, VA
6:30 PM

Matt Goldman, Broken Ice

Friday, October 5
The Bookstore at Fitger’s 
Duluth, MN
7:00 PM

Saturday, October 20
Corona Public Library
Corona, CA
12:00 PM

Paddy Hirsch, The Devil’s Half Mile

Saturday, October 20
Corona Public Library
Corona, CA
12:00 PM

William Martin, Bound for Gold

Wednesday, October 24
Burlington Public Library
Burlington, MA
7:00 PM

John Scalzi, The Consuming Fire

Tuesday, October 16
University Bookstore
Seattle, WA
7:00 PM

Wednesday, October 17
Barnes & Noble
Portland, OR
7:00 PM

Thursday, October 18
The Last Bookstore
Los Angeles, CA
7:00 PM

Friday, October 19
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA
6:00 PM

Saturday, October 20
Weller Book Works
Salt Lake City, UT
2:00 PM

Monday, October 22
American Writers Museum
Chicago, IL
6:30 PM

Tuesday, October 23
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill, NC
7:00 PM

Wednesday, October 24
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Raleigh, NC
7:00 PM

Thursday, October 25
Avid Bookshop
Athens, GA
6:00 PM

Charlie Jane Anders, The City in the Middle of the Night

Thursday, October 4
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Room 1A18
New York, NY
12:15 – 1:15 PM

Friday, October 5
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
1:00 PM

New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Room 1A18
New York, NY
5:15 PM

Sunday, October 7
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Room 1A18
New York, NY
12:15 – 1:15 PM

S.L. Huang, Zero Sum Game

Thursday, October 4
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
2:00 PM

K Arsenault Rivera, The Phoenix Empress

Thursday, October 4
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
4:00 PM

Friday, October 5
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Room 1A18
New York, NY
5:15 – 6:15 PM

Mark A. Altman & Edward Gross, So Say We All

Thursday, October 4
New York Comic Con, Shop Studies
New York, NY
8:30 – 10:00 PM

Friday, October 5
New York Comic Con, Shop Studies
New York, NY
3:30 – 5:00 PM

Sherrilyn Kenyon, Stygian

Friday, October 5
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
5:00 PM

Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire

Saturday, October 6
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
11:00 AM

Annalee Newitz, Autonomous

Saturday, October 6
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
2:00 PM

New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Hall 1A Author Autographing Area
New York, NY
5:15 PM

New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Room 1B03
New York, NY
6:30 PM

Seanan McGuire, Wayward Children Series

Saturday, October 6
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
5:00 PM

Myke Cole, The Queen of Crows

Saturday, October 6
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
12:00 PM

David Mack, The Iron Codex

Saturday, October 6
New York Comic Con, Javits Center, Booth #2136
New York, NY
12:00 PM

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7 Tor Books Characters You’ll Want To Be For Halloween This Year

Halloween is coming quickly and what better way to celebrate than to dress up as some of your favorite bookish characters?

There are so many great characters to choose from—like Alys from The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan or Baru Cormorant from The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. Take a look at some of the great cosplays and Halloween costumes people are already doing and start planning!

Halloween will be here sooner than you know it.

Go-To Characters

Moiraine “Alys” Damodred from The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

 

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If you’re looking for an easy costume, you can become the fiercest Aes Sedai. All you need is a blue dress and cloak and a brown belt. Additional accessories will definitely enhance the ensemble, but if you want to keep things simple those are the essentials.

Vin from The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

If black is your color, dressing up as everyone’s favorite Mistborn is the perfect costume for you. You’ll need black pants, a black top, and a shredded-style black cloak. If you want accessories, try a black belt, fake daggers, and a coin pouch.

Delilah “Lila” Bard from the Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab

This cosplay of Lila is serious goals, but don’t be intimidated. You too can be Lila. All you need is red pants, a black frock coat, black boots, a mask, and some fake daggers.

Kell from the Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab

Kell’s ensemble is the inverse to Lila’s. You’ll want a red frock-style jacket, which unfortunately won’t be as peculiar as the one in the novel, a white shirt, and black pants. If you can figure out how to make one of your eyes black (black color contacts?!) that’d be amazing too.

New Characters

The Plants from Semiosis by Sue Burke

While the cosplayer above isn’t trying to be the sentient plants that star in Sue Burke’s new sci-fi novel, the all green ensemble total works for these characters. However, if green isn’t your color you can dress up as Stevland, the rainbow bamboo.

Victor Vale from the Villains series by V.E. Schwab

Your favorite villains returned in Vengeful and what better way to celebrate than to dress up as the extraordinary Victor Vale? Getting Victor’s look is pretty easy since he’s described as wearing all black clothing, but if you want to take the costume a step further you can do like the cosplayer above and add a white wig and (fake?) blood to your costume.

Baru Cormorant from The Masquerade series by Seth Dickinson

The most important thing you’ll need to be Baru is a white mask and thankfully that’s easy to get from any costume store. Once you have that, you’ll want to wear dark clothing to complete the look.

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New Releases: 9/25/18

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Image Place holder  of - 96 Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.

But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other once more.

NEW IN PAPERBACK

Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card

The Mongrel Mage by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Moon Hunt by Kathleen O’Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear

Severed by Kate Watterson

NEW IN MANGA

12 Beast Vol. 6 Story and Art by OKAYADO

A Centaur’s Life Vol. 15 Story and art by Kei Murayama

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Supplement I Based on the manga by Kore Yamazaki

Devilman Grimoire Vol. 4 Story by Go Nagai; Art by Rui Takatou

Dragon Half Omnibus 2 Story and art by Ryusuke Mita

Generation Witch Vol. 3 Story and art by Isaki Uta

The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil A Rún Vol. 5 Story & art by Nagabe

Hatsune Miku Presents: Hachune Miku’s Everyday Vocaloid Paradise Vol. 4 Story and art by Ontama

Hour of the Zombie Vol. 7 Story and art by Tsukasa Saimura

Magical Girl Site Vol. 7 Story and art by Kentaro Sato

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Vol. 4 Story by Makoto Fukami; Art by Seigo Tokiya

Monster Musume Vol. 14 Story and art by OKAYADO

New Game! Vol. 3 Story and art on Shoutarou Tokunou

Not Lives Vol. 10 Story and art by Wataru Karasuma

Precarious Woman Executive Miss Black General Vol. 2 Story and art by Jin

Soul Liquid Chambers Vol. 2 Story and art by Nozomu Tamaki

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Meet the #FearlessWomen: Sydney Clarke from Vengeful

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Written by Katherine Forester

The Clarke sisters looked identical, despite the fact that Serena was seven years older, and seven inches taller. The resemblance stemmed partly from genes and partly from Sydney’s adoration for her big sister.

When Sydney Clarke first appears in Vicious, she’s in a tough spot: alone, betrayed by her older sister Serena, and seriously injured. A near-death experience – hypothermia after falling through thin ice – has changed both sisters, made them more than human. Serena’s power, mind control, makes her the perfect ally for the villainous Eli Ever, whose mission is to kill all the extraordinaries (EOs) he can find. And Sydney? Sydney’s power is resurrection, which makes her one of Eli’s most hunted targets.

Sydney is found by the side of the road by Victor Vale, Eli’s rival, and quickly becomes a key member of his group. Not only is her power integral to Victor’s plans of revenge against Eli, but her humanity in the face of evil helps bring the hardened criminals of Vicious together. Not to mention the pet dog she resurrects for her found-family!

Come Vengeful, Sydney is struggling with her seemingly unchanged looks (after all, what adventurous 18-year-old wants to look like she’s still 13?) and the death of her sister. To make matters worse, Victor hasn’t been quite right since Sydney resurrected him: he can’t control his powers and he’s on a killing spree. All this with the ever-looming threat of the EON, ExtraOrdinary Observation and Neutralization, a facility built specifically to detain people with powers.

Barred from making her own decisions and forced to live in hiding, Sydney refuses to let her circumstances define her. She starts pushing back and sneaking out, making new friends along the way. New friends like June, a shapeshifter who could offer her freedom from Victor’s curse.

I don’t want you to save me. I want to save myself.

Sydney is tired of being used by people, tired of hiding, tired of being betrayed. Her powers are growing, after all, and every day she can control them better. She’s going to live by her own rules. She’s going to make her own family.

She’s going to bring her sister back.

Pre-Order Your Copy

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Download the #FearlessWomen Fall Sampler today!

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Image Place holder  of - 33Meet this fall’s #FearlessWomen! These are the authors who are shaping new blockbuster worlds—and re-shaping our own. Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V. E. Schwab, K Arsenault Rivera, Nancy Kress as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as S.L. Huang, Fran Wilde, and Mirah Bolender we think you’ll love the stories these #FearlessWomen have to tell.

This free #FearlessWomen Sampler features the first 20 to 30 pages from each of the following titles:

 

Plus, make sure to use the #FearlessWomen hashtag on Twitter to learn about giveaways and other content celebrating fearless women!

Download Your Free Copy

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Vicious Summer Sweepstakes

Our #ViciousSummer continues! Love villains, superpowers, and tales of revenge? We’ve got something just for you. Comment below for a chance to win a copy of the new hardcover edition of Vicious by V. E. Schwab and a Vengeful tote!

We’ll be offering more chances to win copies of Vicious all summer long. Make sure you follow @torbooks on Twitter so you don’t miss out on the next chance to win!

No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States, D.C. and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are age 13 or older. Entry period begins at 9:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) on September 4, 2018 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on September 9, 2018. Void where prohibited. For full Official Rules, visit https://www.torforgeblog.com/vicious-september-sweepstakes/. Sponsored by Tom Doherty Associates, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10010.

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On the Road: Tor/Forge Author Events in September

Your favorite Tor/Forge authors are hitting the road in September! See who’s coming to a city near you this month.

Brendan Deneen, The Chrysalis

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Wednesday, September 5
Housing Works Bookstore Café
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Friday, September 7
Barnes & Noble
West Hartford, CT
7:00 PM

Saturday, September 15
Words Bookstore
Maplewood, NJ
4:00 PM

Parker Peevyhouse, The Echo Room

echo-room

Saturday, September 15
Hicklebee’s
San Jose, CA
7:00 PM

P. Djèlí Clark, The Black God’s Drums

Drums

Sunday, September 16
Brooklyn Book Festival
Brooklyn, NY
3:00 PM

Brandon Sanderson, Legion

legion

Wednesday, September 19
BYU Store, Wilkinson Student Center
Provo, Utah
7:00 PM

Hank Phillippi Ryan, Trust Me

trustmetour

Sunday, September 2
The Arizona Biltmore
Phoenix, AZ
4:30 PM

Wednesday, September 12
Rockport Public Library
Rockport, MA
7:00 PM

Sunday, September 16
Provincetown Public Library
Provincetown, MA
4:00 PM

Saturday, September 22
Bookfest St. Louis
St. Louis, MO
6:00 PM

Tuesday, September 25
Belmont Books
Belmont, MA
7:00 PM

Drew Williams, The Stars Now Unclaimed

starsnowunclaimed

Monday, September 10
Lemuria Books
Jackson, MS
5:00 PM

Saturday, September 29
Page & Palette
Fairhope, AL
2:00 PM

Mary Robinette Kowal, The Fated Sky

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Tuesday, September 4
American Writers Museum
Chicago, IL
6:30 PM

V. E Schwab, Vengeful

vengeful

Tuesday, September 25
Barnes & Noble
Los Angeles, CA
7:00 PM

Wednesday, September 26
Books Inc
Berkeley, CA
7:00 PM

Thursday, September 27
Powell’s Books
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM

Friday, September 28
Third Place Books
Lake Forest Park, WA
6:00 PM

Saturday, September 29
The King’s English Bookshop
Salt Lake City, UT
7:00 PM

Sunday, September 30
Tattered Cover
Denver, CO
2:00 PM

Malka Older, State Tectonics

state-tectonics

Tuesday, September 4
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill, NC
7:00 PM

Saturday, September 15
Politics and Prose
Washington, DC
6:00 PM

Tuesday, September 25
Housing Works Bookstore Café
New York, NY
7:00 PM

Matt Goldman, Broken Ice

brokenicetour

Thursday, September 27
Le Sueur Public Library
Le Sueur, MN
7:00 PM

Paddy Hirsch, The Devil’s Half Mile

devilshalfmiletour

Monday, September 10
Huntington Beach Library
Huntington Beach, CA
6:00 PM

Saturday, September 22
Santa Clarita Public Library
Santa Clarita, CA
6:00 PM

William Martin, Bound for Gold

boundforgoldtour

Thursday, September 13
Falmouth Historical Society
Falmouth, MA
7:00 PM

Thursday, September 20
Concord Bookshop
Concord, MA
7:00 PM

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Vicious Summer Sweepstakes

Our #ViciousSummer continues! Love villains, superpowers, and tales of revenge? We’ve got something just for you. Comment below for a chance to win a copy of the new hardcover edition of Vicious by V. E. Schwab, plus some villainous swag including a tote and a set of character cards!

We’ll be offering more chances to win copies of Vicious all summer long. Make sure you follow @torbooks on Twitter so you don’t miss out on the next chance to win!

No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States, D.C. and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are age 13 or older. Entry period begins at 9:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) on August 21, 2018 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on August 26, 2018. Void where prohibited. For full Official Rules, visit https://www.torforgeblog.com/villains-august-swag-sweepstakes. Sponsored by Tom Doherty Associates, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10010.

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Excerpt: Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

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Image Place holder  of - 67 Welcome to #FearlessWomen! A super-powered collision of extraordinary minds and vengeful intentions—V. E. Schwab returns with the thrilling follow-up to Vicious.

Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.

But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other once more.

With Marcella’s rise, new enmities create opportunity–and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.

Vengeful will be available on September 25th. Please enjoy this excerpt.

I

FOUR WEEKS AGO

HALLOWAY

“I won’t ask you again,” said Victor Vale as the mechanic scrambled backward across the garage floor. Retreating—as if a few feet would make a difference. Victor followed slowly, steadily, watched as the man backed himself into a corner.

Jack Linden was forty-three, with a five-o’clock shadow, grease under his nails, and the ability to fix things.

“I already told you,” said Linden, jumping nervously as his back came up against a half-built engine. “I can’t do it—”

“Don’t lie to me,” warned Victor.

He flexed his fingers around the gun, and the air crackled with energy.

Linden shuddered, biting back a scream.

“I’m not!” yelped the mechanic. “I fix cars. I put engines back together. Not people. Cars are easy. Nuts and bolts and fuel lines. People are too much more.”

Victor didn’t believe that. Had never believed that. People were more intricate perhaps, more nuanced, but fundamentally machines. Things that worked, or didn’t, that broke down, and were repaired. Could be repaired.

He closed his eyes, measuring the current inside him. It was already in his muscles, already threading his bones, already filling his chest cavity. The sensation was unpleasant, but not nearly as unpleasant as what would happen when the current peaked.

“I swear,” said Linden, “I’d help you if I could.” But Victor heard him shift. Heard a hand knocking against the tools strewn across the floor. “You have to believe me…” he said, fingers closing around something metal.

“I do,” said Victor, eyes flicking open right as Linden lunged at him, wrench in hand. But halfway there, the mechanic’s body slowed, as if caught in a sudden drag, and Victor swung the gun up and shot Linden in the head.

The sound echoed through the garage, ricocheting off concrete and steel as the mechanic fell.

How disappointing, thought Victor, as blood began to seep across the floor.

He holstered the gun and turned to go, but only made it three steps before the first wave of pain hit, sudden and sharp. He staggered, bracing himself against the shell of a car as it tore through his chest.

Five years ago, it would have been a simple matter of flipping that internal switch, killing power to the nerves, escaping any sensation.

But now—there was no escape.

His nerves crackled, the pain ratcheting up like a dial. The air hummed with the energy, and the lights flickered overhead as Victor forced himself away from the body and back across the garage toward the wide metal doors. He tried to focus on the symptoms, reduce them to facts, statistics, measurable quantities, and—

The current arced through him, and he shuddered, pulling a black mouth guard from his coat and forcing it between his teeth just before one knee give way, his body buckling under the strain.

Victor fought—he always fought—but seconds later he was on his back, his muscles seizing as the current peaked, and his heart lurched, lost rhythm—

And he died.

 

II

FIVE YEARS AGO

MERIT CEMETERY

Victor had opened his eyes to cold air, grave dirt, and Sydney’s blond hair, haloed by the moon.

His first death was violent, his world reduced to a cold metal table, his life a current and a dial turning up and up, electricity burning through every nerve until he finally cracked, shattered, crashed down into heavy, liquid nothing. The dying had taken ages, but death itself was fleeting, the length of a single held breath, all the air and energy forced from his lungs the moment before he surged up again through dark water, every part of him screaming.

Victor’s second death was stranger. There had been no electric surge, no excruciating pain—he’d thrown that switch long before the end. Only the widening pool of blood beneath Victor’s knees, and the pressure between his ribs as Eli slid the knife in, and the world giving way to darkness as he lost his hold, slipped into a death so gentle it felt like sleep.

Followed by—nothing. Time drawn out into a single, unbroken second. A chord of perfect silence. Infinite. And then, interrupted. The way a pebble interrupts a pond.

And there he was. Breathing. Living.

Victor sat up, and Sydney flung her small arms around him, and they sat there for a long moment, a reanimated corpse and a girl kneeling on a coffin.

“Did it work?” she whispered, and he knew she wasn’t talking about the resurrection itself. Sydney had never revived an EO without consequences. They came back, but they came back wrong, their powers skewed, fractured. Victor felt gingerly along the lines of his power, searching for frayed threads, interruptions in the current, but felt—unchanged. Unbroken. Whole.

It was a rather overwhelming sensation.

“Yes,” he said. “It worked.”

Mitch appeared at the side of the grave, his shaved head glistening with sweat, his tattooed forearms filthy from the dig. “Hey.” He drove a spade into the grass and helped Sydney and then Victor up out of the hole.

Dol greeted him by leaning heavily against his side, the dog’s massive black head nestling under his palm in silent welcome.

The last member of their party slumped against a tombstone. Dominic had the shaken look of an addict, pupils dilated from whatever he’d taken to numb his chronic pain. Victor could feel the man’s nerves, frayed and sparking like a shorted line.

They’d made a deal—the ex-soldier’s assistance in exchange for taking away his suffering. In Victor’s absence, Dominic clearly hadn’t been able to keep his end of the bargain. Now Victor reached out and switched the man’s pain off like a light. Instantly, the man sagged backward, tension sliding like sweat from his face.

Victor retrieved the shovel and held it out to the soldier. “Get up.”

Dominic complied, rolling his neck and rising to his feet, and together the four of them began filling Victor’s grave.

***

Two days.

That’s how long Victor had been dead.

It was an unsettling length of time. Long enough for the initial stages of decay. The others had been holed up at Dominic’s place, two men, a girl, and a dog, waiting for his corpse to be buried.

“It’s not much,” said Dom now, opening the front door. And it wasn’t—a small and cluttered single bedroom with a beat-up sofa, a concrete balcony, and a kitchen covered in a thin layer of dirty dishes—but it was a temporary solution to a longer dilemma, and Victor was in no condition to face the future, not with grave dirt still on his slacks and death lingering in his mouth.

He needed a shower.

Dom led him through the bedroom—narrow and dark, a single shelf of books, medals lying flat and photographs facedown, too many empty bottles on the windowsill.

The soldier scrounged up a clean long-sleeve shirt, embossed with a band logo. Victor raised a brow. “It’s all I have in black,” he explained.

He switched on the bathroom light and retreated, leaving Victor alone.

Victor undressed, shrugging out of the clothes he’d been buried in—clothes he didn’t recognize, hadn’t purchased—and stood before the bathroom mirror, surveying his bare chest and arms.

He wasn’t free of scars—far from it—but none of them belonged to that night at the Falcon Price. Gunshots echoed through his mind, ricocheting off unfinished walls, the concrete floor slick with blood. Some of it his. Most of it Eli’s. He remembered each and every wound made that night—the shallow cuts across his stomach, the razor-sharp wire cinching over his wrists, Eli’s knife sliding between his ribs—but they left no mark.

Sydney’s gift really was remarkable.

Victor turned the shower on and stepped beneath the scalding water, rinsing death from his skin. He felt along the lines of his power, turned his focus inward, the way he’d done years before, when he’d first gone to prison. During that isolation, unable to test his new power on anyone else, Victor had used his own body as a subject, learned everything he could about the limits of pain, the intricate network of nerves. Now, bracing himself, he turned the dial in his mind, first down, until he felt nothing, and then up, until every drop of water on bare skin felt like knives. He clenched his teeth against the pain and turned the dial back to its original position.

He closed his eyes, brought his head to rest against the tile wall, and smiled, Eli’s voice echoing through his head.

You can’t win.

But he had.

***

The apartment was quiet. Dominic stood out on the narrow balcony, puffing on a cigarette. Sydney was curled on the sofa, folded up carefully like a piece of paper, with the dog, Dol, on the floor beside her, chin resting by her hand. Mitch sat at the table, shuffling and reshuffling a deck of cards.

Victor took them all in.

Still collecting strays.

“What now?” asked Mitch.

Two small words.

Single syllables had never weighed so much. For the last ten years, Victor had focused on revenge. He’d never truly intended to see the other side of it, but now, he’d fulfilled his objective—Eli was rotting in a cell—and Victor was still here. Still alive. Revenge had been an all-consuming pursuit. Its absence left Victor uneasy, unsatisfied.

What now?

He could leave them. Disappear. It was the smartest course—a group, especially one as strange as this, would draw attention in ways that solitary figures rarely did. But Victor’s talent allowed him to bend the attention of those around him, to lean on their nerves in ways that registered as aversion, subtle, abstract, but efficient. And as far as Stell knew, Victor Vale was dead and buried.

Six years he’d known Mitch.

Six days he’d known Sydney.

Six hours he’d known Dominic.

Each of them was a weight around Victor’s ankles. Better to unshackle himself, abandon them.

So leave, he thought. His feet made no progress toward the door.

Dominic wasn’t an issue. They’d only just met—an alliance forged by need and circumstance.

Sydney was another matter. She was his responsibility. Victor had made her so when he killed Serena. That wasn’t sentiment—it was simply a transitive equation. A factor passed from one quotient to another.

And Mitch? Mitch was cursed, he’d said so himself. Without Victor, it was only a matter of time before the hulking man ended up back in prison. Likely the one he’d broken out of with Victor. For Victor. And, despite knowing her less than a week, Victor was certain Mitch wouldn’t abandon Sydney. Sydney, for her part, seemed rather attached to him, too.

And then, of course, there was the issue of Eli.

Eli was in custody, but he was still alive. There was nothing Victor could do about that, given the man’s ability to regenerate. But if he ever got out—

“Victor?” prompted Mitch, as if he could see the turn of his thoughts, the direction they were veering.

“We’re leaving.”

Mitch nodded, trying and failing to hide his clear relief. He’d always been an open book, even in prison. Sydney uncurled from the sofa. She rolled over, her ice blue eyes finding Victor’s in the dark. She hadn’t been sleeping, he could tell.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” answered Victor. “But we can’t stay here.”

Dominic had slipped back inside, bringing a draft of cold air and smoke. “You’re leaving?” he asked, panic flickering across his face. “What about our deal?”

“Distance isn’t a problem,” said Victor. It wasn’t strictly true—once Dominic was out of range, Victor wouldn’t be able to alter the threshold he’d set. But his influence should hold. “Our deal stays in effect,” he said, “as long as you still work for me.”

Dom nodded quickly. “Whatever you need.”

Victor turned to Mitch. “Find us a new car,” he said. “I want to be out of Merit by dawn.”

And they were.

Two hours later, as the first light cracked the sky, Mitch pulled up in a black sedan. Dom stood in his doorway, arms crossed, watching as Sydney climbed into the back, followed by Dol. Victor slid into the passenger’s seat.

“You sure you’re good?” asked Mitch.

Victor looked down at his hands, flexed his fingers, felt the prickle of energy under his skin. If anything, he felt stronger. His power crisp, clear, focused.

“Better than ever.”

 

Copyright © 2018 by Victoria Schwab

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