"A fast-paced adventure brimming with romance, mythology, and dangerous secrets. I was hooked!" –Elly Blake, New York Times and international bestselling author of the Frostblood Saga
When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man’s grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list.
But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you.
Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how to save the world—from herself.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||3 MB|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
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The classroom smells like a funeral home.
Hushed voices pulse over the pairs of students hunching over trays spaced across the counters. The odor of bodies fresh out of gym class mingles with the scent of formaldehyde.
Hair dampens at my temples. A crematory would be cooler.
Not many have finished their assignments. Only a few overachievers sit in the rows of empty desks on the other side of the room, their tasks completed, proud smiles on their faces.
Mrs. Cryer shuffles around the tables watching over us — a reaper waiting for lost souls, her bony finger pointing out errors. She shuffles around with purpose. She shuffles around without direction. Then she stops at our table, her eyes peering over reading glasses.
"Mr. Bove and Miss Jordan, you two are falling behind," she says, a disapproving tsk in her voice. She only uses last names when she wants to emphasize her warning. "Best hurry before class ends."
She continues shuffling around.
Biology is my least favorite class. Mrs. Cryer's assignments are outdated. It's her last year teaching, her retirement long overdue. Stern and direct, she's not the sort of teacher I usually like, but I do. There's an underlying kindness to Mrs. Cryer. A kindness hiding in her eyes, evident in her actions.
One of the things I like about my school: my brother, Dalton, is in the same grade. We're not twins or anything. Actually, we're cousins. His parents adopted me when mine were killed in a boating accident on Lake Como in Italy. I don't remember them. I was two when that all went down.
The thing I hate about school: Dalton's in my biology class.
"Come on, Ana." Dalton slides the dissection tray closer to me. "I did all the setup. Just make the first cut."
The little green body looks rubbery — almost fake — crucified to the tray with pins as it is. I push strands of dark hair from my face with a latex-gloved hand. I could've opted out of this barbaric ritual of separating body parts from an innocent frog.
Why did I even agree to this?
It's because Dalton coaxed me. He knows how to get me to do stuff. All he has to do is throw down a dare. Been doing that ever since forever.
I glare at him through the plastic goggles. "Just give me a sec."
He flashes me a smug look. One that says he knows I won't do it and he's about to get out of doing the dinner dishes for a month. His eyes are almost the color of the frog's body — sort of yellowy green, but alive. That movement he always does to get the sand-colored bangs out of his eyes annoys me.
A smirk twitching the corner of his lips, he drums his fingers against the table. A move to make me nervous. Make me give up. I contemplate tugging off one of my latex gloves and slapping his face with it. Challenge him to a duel. Like pistols at dawn.
Behind me, Rod's goofing off again. Teasing Sofia and Maggie. He's okay, just has it bad for Sofia. Everyone in school is just okay. Your typical cliques, as in all the schools across America. Dalton and I are like chameleons, morphing into whichever group we feel like hanging out with at the time.
"I'm getting old here." Frustration sounds in his voice. I'm not sure if it's because I'm taking so long or because his crush is flirting with the two most popular girls in school.
The tiny scalpel shakes as I ready to make the cut. My stomach lurches as if it wants to leave my body and walk out the door. I don't want to do this. It's not right. The instrument slips from my hand and clatters onto the table.
"I can't." I pull off the gloves, drop them beside the tray, and push the goggles up to my forehead. "This is just too inhumane. Poor frog never hurt anyone. I don't get why we can't do virtual dissections like they do at Grant."
"Ha!" That smug look is back on his face. "Do you concede, then?"
My eyes go back to the frog. Sadness deflates my soul the way a balloon loses air. Had it been hopping in a pond somewhere green and lush, minding its own business, searching for bugs to eat before the net caught it? Had it been scared, struggling against the cords to get out? Had it been docile once it realized there was no hope? No escape.
A girl's squeal sounds behind me just before Rod stumbles and hits my back, pushing me forward. My bare palm lands on the frog, its body cold, firm, and lifeless. A shudder runs down my spine, and I pull back my hand as if I'll catch a disease.
"Eww." I push Rod away. "Be careful."
"Oh sorry," he says, a laugh hanging in his voice.
Mrs. Cryer's eyes shift in our direction. "Mr. Stone, settle down, or you'll spend lunch in the office."
Rod returns to his table, Maggie and Sofia's stifled laughs greeting him.
Dalton shoots out of his chair. "Did you see that? It moved."
I snap back around. The frog is as still as a statue in the tray. "It did not. Stop doing that."
"Doing what? I swear it —"
The frog's eyes pop open, and it struggles against the pins holding its limbs down. A gasp punches from my chest, and I scoot back. This time it's me bumping into Rod.
"Hey," he protests, shoving me back toward my table.
"What is going on over there?" Mrs. Cryer's commanding voice stills the class.
This can't be real.
Dalton hurries beside me. "What the hell? This frog is alive!"
The frog tugs a limb from one of the pins. Its head bangs against the tray as it frees itself from the others. It struggles onto its stomach and pushes off, landing on the table with a thump.
Screams and table legs scratching across the tiles break out across the classroom.
"Oh, hell no," Maggie yells, scrambling behind Rod.
Everyone moves away from the frog, but I step closer as if there's an invisible tether between us, drawing me in. Those round eyes stare at me, the slits opening and closing, just watching. My heart gallops in my chest, the thrumming in my ears drowning out all the excited voices around me.
A croak belches out of its mouth. It heaves and heaves and heaves until slimy, clear fluid is expelled from its mouth and splashes onto the table, rushing across the top, spilling over the edge, and dripping to the floor.
It stinks worse than Dalton's trainers do after a long run — a mixture of formaldehyde and sour meat.
The frog springs from the tabletop.
Gasps sound. Bodies bump into tables and chairs.
The frog lands on the next table, then takes off for the next and the next and thuds like a rolled-up, wet sock against the window. Slime runs down the glass.
The little thing sits there on the top of a short bookcase pushed up against the windows, just staring outside as if he's longing to be free. I get the little guy. There're times when I feel trapped, which makes no sense because it's not as though I have restrictions. Jane's too busy to keep tabs on us.
Then the frog lunges again.
And it hits the glass pane, again, again, again. Thud. Thud. Thud.
On the last hit, the frog drops onto the bookcase.
A swarm of yellow-and-brown wings shoots up from somewhere under the window outside.
"Where did all those butterflies come from?" a girl asks, her voice shaky.
"Those aren't butterflies." I don't have to turn around to know it's Miles talking. He knows stuff. Random stuff like what he says next: "They're death's-head hawkmoths. Like the ones in The Silence of the Lambs. That's strange. This isn't their environment."
The flying creatures take off across the lawn and disappear into the trees.
Everyone inches closer to view the frog. Mrs. Cryer parts the sea of students on her way over. She leans over the frog, studying it for several seconds before straightening and turning to face us.
"Very clever prank." Her voice is sharp, cutting through the excited voices around her, causing the classroom to suddenly fall silent. "Who's the mastermind?"
Twenty-two pairs of eyes glance from Dalton to Rod, but no one answers her.
"All right." Her sigh says she'll be a bloodhound tracking the culprits until they're found. "Everyone, back to your tables and put them in order. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Bove, go to the janitor's room and grab some cleaner and a box to get rid of this mess." Her eyes point to the bludgeoned frog.
Rod slumps his pointy shoulders. "Why do we have to clean it?"
She takes off her glasses, which is a sure sign her patience is wearing thinner than a sheet of paper.
Dalton rests a hand on my forearm. "I didn't do this. I swear."
I yank away from his grasp. "Yeah, right. Then why were you so determined for me to dissect it? You were setting me up."
"Whatever. Believe what you want." He walks off, flipping the bangs out of his eyes and muttering, "How could I get all those butterflies, anyway?"
"Moths," I say to his back.
"Whatever," he says again, giving me a quick glance over his shoulder.
I turn to go back to my desk and catch another look at the frog's tiny, broken body, lifeless on top of the bookcase. My stomach fists, and it feels like the world tilts on its axis.
It's nothing. Just a prank.
I study Rod's face. He wears a mask of indifference. Maybe he did do it.
Just outside the window, one of the moths clings to a low-hanging branch. Its yellow-and-brown wings twitch. I move closer to the window. The skull marking on its back should creep me out, but it doesn't. I've seen one at my dad's funeral. It was lying flat against his casket the entire service. Stayed there like one of those butterflies pinned to a collector's board until the best man I'd ever known was lowered into the cold, dark ground. At the rattling of the crane, the moth took off for the trees surrounding the cemetery.
"You okay?" Maggie asks.
I nod, my eyes burning as I stare out the window. "I'm good."
Her concerned look reflects in the glass pane. "Whoever did this is so disturbed." She whirls around, her blond hair fanning in the air, and strolls off in the direction of her desk.
The moth launches off the branch and flutters away, its body diminishing to a black dot in the distance.CHAPTER 2
The Delaware River is rowdy, bucking and slapping the pile of rocks on its bank. I sit on my favorite rock, writing in my journal. The dark clouds above promise to dump rain soon, but I don't care. This is our place. Dalton, Dad, and me. And I miss Dad. I want him back.
I need him back.
Three months. Such a short time, yet an eternity.
Three months. The last time I saw his face, his expression frozen, covered in makeup to look alive, his linebacker body completely filling the coffin.
This is where he died. In our place. An aneurysm. We were hiking the rocks, and he collapsed. In our place.
It was him and me. Dalton had gone ahead. He never could wait for us. Dad collapsed, and I froze. I did nothing. To this day, I don't know how long I just stood there. When we didn't show up to the part that sticks farther out into the lake, Dalton doubled back. He called 911.
The doctors said there wasn't anything I could do. He died instantly, but that doesn't stop me from doubting them and wondering if it was my fault.
The wind makes the tears on my face cold. I swipe them away with the sleeve of my hoodie.
I take out Dad's 1950s vintage Ronson pocket lighter. It doesn't work, but it's a part of him, so I keep it with me. His father gave it to him when he was a boy. Probably should give it to Dalton. He's his real kid, after all. I click the igniter off and on.
Off and on.
I'll give it to him eventually. Right now, I need it. Besides, Jane gave Dalton a bunch of Dad's things, so he's all set.
Though he was my uncle, my mother's brother, he'd become Dad. Strong and protective. I felt safe with him. How could a little vein take Goliath down? Leave him crumpled on the ground as if the world was done with him. But I'm not done. I need him. There're so many words left unspoken and too many moments lost.
Off and on.
He left us alone with her.
My aunt doesn't fit into the mother role. A neurosurgeon, Jane is always busy. Dalton is her biological son, and I'm the forced-on-her daughter.
Footsteps sound behind me. I know who it is without turning around. Before he can see the lighter, I shove it into my pocket.
"I thought you'd be here," Dalton says.
There's nothing to say, so I don't respond.
"Analiese Grace Jordan, are you ignoring me?"
I cross my arms over my chest. "I'm not talking to you."
He stops at my side, picks up a rock, and throws it. The stone skips across the water before plunking under waves. "You know, Mom would be mad if she found out you came to Fishtown on your own."
I jut out my chin.
"Really? You're seriously not talking to me?" He picks up another rock and throws it. This time the rock plunks under the water without skipping, and it takes all my effort not to tease him about it.
"On Dad's soul, I swear I didn't do it."
That's big. He'd never risk lying when Dad's soul is at risk. I finally break my silence. "Then who?"
Another rock. Skip. Skip. Skip. Plunk.
"Don't know. Probably Rod."
I close my journal then slip it and my pen into my backpack. The journal is where I write my memories of Dad. I don't want to forget anything. And it's therapeutic. Makes me feel connected to him, helps me deal with the dark hole inside me.
I also use it to keep a record of my panic attacks for my psychotherapist, Dr. Herrera. She wants me to jot down what starts it, how long it lasts, and how I feel during each one. There aren't as many entries for them since I started taking my meds. Usually, I have an episode when I forget to take several of my scheduled doses in a row. But now I have them set in my phone's alarm so I won't forget.
I've always had them. The attacks are just more intense since Dad died.
Dad. His name was Eli. Never played favorites with Dalton and me. He treated us equally. Loved us the same.
Like a festering blister, the wanting to know my real parents is painful. It was Dad who brought them to life for me, telling me stories behind the many pictures in the rows of albums lining one of the shelves in his home office. There're many tales of him and my mom growing up together. She got him into trouble a lot. My mother was assertive and excellent at math. One trait I have, the other I'm working on.
I capture all that in my journal, too.
"You know," Dalton says, pulling me out of my thoughts. "Technically, you have to do dishes for a month."
I hug myself, trying to fend off the chilly spring breeze. "No, I don't."
"Yeah, you do. You threw down the glove before Freak Frog woke up."
"Seriously?" I slide a look at him that says he better rethink his statement.
He flashes me the-hard-to-resist Dalton smile — all toothy and dimply. "Too soon?"
I'm not going to budge. He wants me to, but I'm not. That look of his isn't going to win this time. I press my lips together but can't stop the corners of my mouth from lifting and betraying me.
"I knew you weren't mad at me." He hops off the rock. "You want to get a latte?"
"Sure," I say, giving in. Shaking my head, I let my smile win. It's Dalton, after all. How could I stay mad? He's all I have.
My thoughts turn in my head, and it's as if I'm walking in a haze, ambling along the river beside Dalton. "The incident with the frog was no coincidence," I say. "Not to mention the moths. How could someone even get that many? And why?"
Dalton wraps an arm around my shoulder. "Whoever set up that prank better hope I don't find out who they are."
"Even if it's Rod?"
"Yes, even him."
"You're so tough." I laugh, feeling the tension of the day loosen from my shoulders. It was just a prank. Dad would tell me to pretend it was no big deal — don't give the culprit the satisfaction of a reaction.
I bump Dalton's shoulder with mine and smile up at him. "I saw the mail. Congratulations. First place, huh? Your sculptures are going to make us millions one day."
He pulls on the back of his neck. "Yeah, if I live through high school. That mythology final is going to kill my GPA."
"If you let me out of the dishes tonight, I'll help you study for it." I live and breathe mythology. Our dad was a history professor, and that was our thing. I know the obscure gods and goddesses, not just the ones made popular by comic books and movies.
"Deal." Now he bumps my shoulder, but it has his weight behind it and makes me stumble a little. He chuckles. "Graceful."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Analiese Rising"
Copyright © 2019 Brenda Drake.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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