Uninvited

( 9 )

Overview

Kelly Ruland's world fell apart when her brother Jasper walked away the sole survivor of a car accident...and kept walking right out of town. She doesn't want to believe that Jasper was at fault - but then why did he run away? How could he abandon Kelly and her parents? Now, former star student and athlete Kelly struggles to care about anything anymore, sleepwalking through school and experimenting with dangerous behavior as she tries to fill the void inside her.

Then one night,...

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Uninvited

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Overview

Kelly Ruland's world fell apart when her brother Jasper walked away the sole survivor of a car accident...and kept walking right out of town. She doesn't want to believe that Jasper was at fault - but then why did he run away? How could he abandon Kelly and her parents? Now, former star student and athlete Kelly struggles to care about anything anymore, sleepwalking through school and experimenting with dangerous behavior as she tries to fill the void inside her.

Then one night, Jaspers returns...but he's not alone. Someone has followed him home. Someone who hides in the space behind the truth, who hovers in the shadows between the known and the unknown. His name is Archie, and he is the stranger they never asked to know, the guest they never invited . And he's about to challenge Kelly and Jasper to a game that demands a price they may not be willing to pay...

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Full of wicked delights and devilish charm. I really, really loved Uninvited." - Holly Black, New York Timesbestselling author of Ironside and The Spiderwick Chronicles.

"A fantastic, nightmarish tale of temptation and redemption and a fresh twist on fears as old as humanity." - Christopher Golden, bestselling author of Prowlers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416538271
  • Publisher: MTV Books
  • Publication date: 9/11/2007
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Justine Musk grew up in southern Ontario, Canada, and majored in English literature at Queen's University. After living in Australia as an exchange student and Japan as an ESL teacher, she hightailed it to California, where the concept of "winter" has been redefined. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, young twin sons, and dogs. Her first novel, BloodAngel, was published in 2005. Justine is also an active blogger on LiveJournal under the user name moschus.

Look for her website at www.justinemusk.com

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Kelly Ruland didn't know how long the animal had been watching her.

She was at the edge of the road, studying the memorial that she and her friend Nick had been working on for the past few months. After countless designs they decided on a tall wooden obelisk, which they cut and hammered together in Nick's stepfather's workshop. On two sides of the triangle, Kelly painted a portrait of each of the high school students who had died. The third side she had sponge-painted black.

Black for mourning. For the night of the car accident that had stolen so much.

Black for the abyss.

The thought came to her, unexpected and unexplained, and she jerked her head.

It was then that she saw the coyote.

At least, she thought it was a coyote. It looked a bit like a medium-size German shepherd, sitting on its haunches at the edge of the tree line. His fur — she was suddenly certain that the animal was male — was dark tan washed through with black. His narrow head was pointed toward her, ears sharp and alert, as if there was something he needed to communicate. As if they were on the verge of a conversation.

She listened to the wind in the branches, breathed in the smell of green earth.

The coyote lowered his head, as if bowing to her.

Then he slipped into the woods.

"Nick," Kelly said.

"Yeah?" Lanky Nick Hollinghurst was loping up the side of the ravine, twigs snapping beneath his hiking boots, digital camera in hand. He'd been taking shots of the memorial from different perspectives. The sunlight was the lazy, melted-butter kind, but the sun was dropping into the horizon and it was time to go home.

"I just saw a coyote. I think."

"Really?"

"It was awesome." She turned to look at him. "Are there even coyotes around here? Aren't they only in the wilder places?"

Nick shrugged. His sandy-colored hair was cropped close against his skull, emphasizing his dramatic widow's peak. She had known him for over two years now, ever since his family had moved here from the city, and he seemed to have grown when she wasn'tlooking: transforming from a boy of average height and weight into this long-limbed high school senior who was taller than her father. His new haircut, and the way it emphasized his eyes, which were hazel and intense in a way she wasn'tsure she'd truly noticed before, further disturbed her sense of familiarity. Some moments it was almost as if her good buddy Nick had disappeared, to be replaced by this attractive imposter. This stranger. But then she blinked, and saw her buddy again. "Good food sources for them, close to humans," he was saying.

"For the...what?"

"Coyotes." He glanced at her oddly.

"Sorry. Distracted."

He grinned, and for a moment seemed to know she'd been distracted by him, his own face and body.

But no, she realized. Nick was still kind of clueless that way.

He said, "What do you think of the memorial? Happy with it?"

" 'Happy' doesn't feel like the word."

"I guess not." His expression sobered and for a moment there was silence between them. "Are you satisfied with it?"

"I guess."

She wanted to say something more. Something about how empty she felt now that the project was done. How it seemed in some ways like it had been only a few weeks, instead of just over a year, since a car accident killed Ronnie Patel and Kira Thatcher. They had both been friends of her older brother, Jasper.

He had had a lot of friends, once.

Her brother. Kelly wanted to say something about him. How much she missed him. He had walked clear of the accident, trudging up the sloping, leaf-littered side of the ravine just as Nick had a few moments ago. His car, a secondhand Honda Civic he'd bought with money earned working in their father's restaurant, had flown off the road and crashed into the trees below. Ronnie had been thrown from the car and broken his neck and spine, Kira died from internal bleeding en route to Selridge General. Jasper was unharmed. Not a bruise. He refused to answer any questions, seemed in shock. There was some question that night if he could even remember anything; Ronnie appeared to have been in the driver's seat, but Jasper refused to confirm even that.

And then he was gone.

He'd passed a Breathalyzer test and shown no signs of alcohol in his system — Kelly had never known her brother to drink — but rumor had it there'd been drugs floating around the rave. Ecstasy, ketamine, marijuana, GHB. Maybe he'd been tempted. Kelly doubted it. Her brother had been against all that stuff. But he disappeared from the hospital before agreeing to be tested for drugs of any kind.

He had left a single message on the family voice mail:

Don't try to find me. You can't.

"He's obviously guilty and ashamed," people whispered. Or sometimes they didn't whisper it behind Kelly's back, said it straight to her face, even yelled it at her once, after a high school football game, Kira's best friends still in their cheerleader uniforms, one of them picking up a rock and throwing it at Kelly, narrowly missing her. Then and now, Kelly didn't see how that rumor could be true. Ronnie had been in the driver's seat, and everyone in contact with Jasper that night had described her brother as sober and coherent. But he had gone from being the boy with everything going for him — including early entrance to Harvard — to the notorious runaway in just a handful of hours, and Kelly suspected that even his friends had taken his absence as an admission of guilt.

So had she. She still didn't think he was guilty of the accident — didn't see how that could be possible. If his actions were those of a guilty man — and she had to admit they sure seemed like it — then he had to be guilty of other things. She just didn't know what they were.

Except for: not a single letter, postcard, phone call, e-mail, instant message. She had idolized him all her life and he knew that, and now there was only this fat dark nothing where her brother had been. This space marked Missing Person. And he had done that to them, to her.

She often dreamed they were in a room together and she was yelling at him.

His face wasn't on the memorial, but, for Kelly, his presence was all around it, all through it. She had made it, she realized suddenly, for him.

She mentioned the coyote at breakfast the next morning.

Kelly's father was chef and co-owner of a restaurant in downtown Selridge; because he often didn't get home until past midnight, breakfast had become the official family meal. Since Kelly's pregnant mother had been confined to bed rest a couple of weeks ago, they brought breakfast up on trays and ate in the master bedroom, sitting on or around the king-size bed. The little red-haired dachshund, Mojo, lay on her bed in the corner and waited to be tossed bits of sausage.

"A coyote?" Hannah said, absently stroking her belly. She had declared that she was going to do bed rest in style: she wore silk pajamas and the lariat necklace Robert had given her for their last anniversary; she did her hair in a chignon every morning and had a friend drop by every week to give her a pedicure, since she could no longer reach her toes or even see them over the still-growing mound of her belly. Kelly knew there were two little babies evolving in there...but at the same time found it difficult to believe they were actually going to insert themselves into her life, in all their bright, squalling ferocity. "This omelet is lovely, Robbie."

"I made it," Kelly said.

"Well done, you."

Robert glanced skeptically at his daughter. "It might have been a dog. Some kind of shepherd."

"It wasn't a dog. It was a coyote. It looked right at me. For a moment I almost thought he was going to start talking to me. It was bizarre."

"I have to go," Robert said. He was rolling up his shirt-sleeves, revealing the sea snake tattoo from his days in the navy. "I've got vendors to deal with." He touched Kelly's shoulder. "Have a good day at school."

"Right."

"Give my regards to the talking coyotes. You think they sing and dance, too?"

He chuckled to himself as he left the room. Kelly said to her mother, "Does he actually think he's funny?"

"As long as he cracks himself up — which he does — I don't think he cares." Hannah shifted her position on the bed. She had already arranged the day's reading on the pillow beside her: she was switching between a biography of Goya and a book of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates. "We go together like hard and soft," Kelly's father liked to say whenever their friends remarked on what an unusual couple they were: the ex-sailor turned chef, the refined college professor. "Like day and night. Like caviar and white bread you buy at the convenience store." Kelly didn't think her parents were such an odd pair. They had cut into each other over the years. You saw how they fit.

Hannah said, "They have an interesting role in mythology, you know. Coyotes."

Sometimes Kelly blanked out when her mother went into professor mode, thought of other things — the latest handbag she wanted, what TV show was on that night, when she'd next be able to get into the city — but she found herself eager to talk about this. "Yeah. The moment was very...it just seemed very...it seemed more than ordinary."

Hannah yawned. "They're tricksters," she said. "Always up to no good."

Mojo trotted over to the side of the bed. Kelly picked her up, snuggled her for a moment and kissed the top of her head, then put her on the bed beside Hannah. Kelly said, "Didn't that poet guy write a book of poems about a coyote?"

"Poet guy?"

"The husband of the Bell Jar chick. When I dropped by your class once you were talking about him."

"Sylvia Plath. Don't say 'chick.' It's demeaning." Kelly rolled her eyes, which her mother pretended to ignore. "And you're talking about Ted Hughes. He wrote about a crow, not a coyote, but both those animals are often considered to be tricksters in various mythologies, so I can see how you would — "

"Trickster," Kelly said. "Sounds like a good name for a band."

"Maybe you should look it up."

"Maybe I will."

"You do that, my curious child," Hannah said, and in that moment Kelly could almost believe she was still the kind of girl who looked things up, whose grades never equaled her brother's but, when combined with her athletics, signaled a scholarship at a decent university. Kelly pulled away from her mother. Hannah's eyes darted to a framed photograph on the wall — all of them together, Hannah and Robert and Kelly and Jasper, the pretty happy family — and away again. The cheer in her voice sounded forced. "What are you girls doing tonight?"

"Oh..." She hated lying to her mother, but she had also gotten good at it. "They're going to force me to watch that Colin Farrell movie. Morgan will show off whatever designer things she bought in the city. And I'll make caramel popcorn while they pretend to help."

"And the Diamond Dog."

"What?"

"I'm no idiot, Kelly."

No, Kelly thought. You'rejust...depressed. Detached.

But Kelly couldn't blame her, and the truth was she was grateful for her mother's pregnancy for a couple of reasons. The first, and most important, was that it gave her mother a purpose and focus other than her missing son. The second was because, between her mother's high-risk pregnancy and her father's work schedule, which had only intensified since Jasper's disappearance, Kelly found herself left to her own devices in a way she had never been before. As long as she kept her grades mildly respectable, which she could do if she showed up enough and paid enough attention — although even that was becoming more and more of an effort — she had trust and freedom.

"We won't stay out past curfew," Kelly said. This was true, but not for the reason she was about to give her mother: "That's when the freaks and creeps come out anyway."

"Good to know. Although I'm not sure I want to know how you know that."

"I'm a good kid."

Her mother opened one eye, then closed it again. "No one suggested otherwise."

The conversation appeared to be over, but Kelly lingered. She wanted her parents to leave her alone, yet she also wanted them to pay more attention to her. It was a contradiction, she knew, and she didn't really understand it. She gave her mother's belly a pat, saying hello to the little creatures inside, and left the room.

A short time later, Kelly went online:

...as their name suggests, tricksters love to play tricks on other gods (and sometimes on humans and animals). The trickster figure crosses both physical and social boundaries — the trickster is often a traveler, and often breaks rules.

What kind of rules? Kelly wondered. She sighed and shut down the computer. She was reluctant to let go of the whole thing. It had been like a moment of magic in her life, lifting her out of herself, and now she had to accept the boring banal reality of what it had actually been: just a stupid animal.

She heard a car honk outside. Her friend Amy Garcia would be in the driver's seat and Morgan Sutton would be up front beside her. Amy would want to see the memorial, but Kelly didn't feel ready to share it with them, not yet. The memorial felt too private, like something shared between her and Nick.

Or maybe Jasper.

Kelly sighed, and pushed her hands through the dark angled layers of her hair. It was amazing how somebody's absence could burrow into your chest and gnaw the bones there.

Amy honked again.

As she walked down the driveway, Kelly was suddenly conscious of the oaks and maples scattered across the rolling green of their yard, of the hedges that marked off their property. The hedges needed trimming, the grass needed cutting. Their yard was always a little wilder than their neighbors'. She imagined places for a shaggy tan-black body to crouch and hide, imagined animal-gold eyes tracking her as she cut across the lawn to where her friends were parked curbside.

She slid back the door and got inside. Amy and Morgan had the alt-rock station turned up loud. They had gone shopping for school supplies — cute jeans, hooded cardigans, maybe some notebooks and pens while they were at it — and were picking up Kelly on their way back to Morgan's place, where they would have the house to themselves to get ready and plot out their night. "Hey, sexy girl," Amy said, flashing a crooked grin. She was a leggy cinnamon-skinned girl with her dark wavy hair caught back in a head scarf. "Took your sweet time." The Lincoln Navigator actually belonged to Morgan's mother, who allowed Morgan and her older brothers to share it. But somehow Amy always ended up in the driver's seat, which none of them felt the need to mention to Morgan's parents.

Kelly's eyes flicked to the trees again. Stop obsessing, she told herself, but that steady yellow gaze lingered on in her mind. It was just a stupid animal.

Copyright © 2007 by Justine Musk

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Uninvited c:

    Kelly¿s brother, Jasper leaves her and her family unexpectedly after his car crash that kills his two friends. Now, Kelly leads a life of falling into temptations. Then, the two siblings are joined together again when Jasper suddenly comes home. The strange thing though, is that Jasper doesn¿t seem to be alone. Kelly can¿t quite figure out where her brother¿s new personality has come from, or who Jasper¿s new friend is (although I wouldn¿t call Archie much of a friend). Kelly and Jasper battle Archie in a fight for Jasper¿s soul. Why does Archie have Jasper¿s soul, and how did he get it, or how does Jasper get it back? Kelly has to figure these questions out on her own to save her brother¿s life and keep him from leaving her again. Does Kelly succeed, or does Archie ruin their lived forever? The surprise of the car crash in the ending will shock you. <BR/><BR/>I really loved this book! It was definitely a different genre then what I have always read. I was looking for a change in the books I read, and this book was a great choice for me! The ending shocked me, but it made the whole book so much better. There was not anything that I did not like about this book. Although, there was one time when I was reading at home by myself, and I did get kind of freaked out. I guess the book is just that good because it made feel like I was a part of the story.

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  • Posted November 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

    Kelly and Jasper have always been close, but after the car accident that killed his friends, Jasper disappears without a trace. <BR/><BR/>Kelly's lost without her older brother. She feels a void that she works hard to fill by taking E and engaging in risky behavior. <BR/><BR/>One night, Jasper comes back home - but he's not alone. <BR/><BR/>Archie is there in the shadows watching and waiting. Archie doesn't like to lose and he's got control over Jasper's soul. Can the two siblings survive together or will Jasper succumb to Archie? <BR/><BR/>UNINVITED is an addicting tale of paranormal horror. Readers will want to uncover Archie's power over the siblings and the secret of the car crash that changed their lives forever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2008

    Loved it

    I really liked this book! It caught my attention from the beggining! I deff. recommend this book to everyone! = DDD I wish they would make a movie based from THIS book. I wish they would have made a series but i truly loved this book! One of my favorites. Ahhh amazing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2008

    DIDN'T LIKE EVEN THE FIRST 2 PAGES

    NO, NO, i didn't like it, I couldn't even get through the book. O.o

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    Posted December 23, 2009

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    Posted August 12, 2010

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    Posted December 7, 2008

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