Is winning a writing contest worth risking your life?
Nothing exciting ever happens in the town of Maplewoodthat is, until famous thriller writer Ian Tremblin holds a short-story writing contest with a prize that seems to be the opportunity of a lifetime: five finalists will get to spend the evening with Tremblin himself in the haunted mansion Daemon Hall, and the winner of the best short story will see publication.
Wade Reilly and the other finalists could never have imagined what they find lurking in the shadows of this demonic mansion. During a suspenseful night of tale-telling, strange incidents mix the realms of the real and the supernatural. What is Tremblin really up to, and can he be trusted? What about Daemon Hallis it alive? And, more to the point, will any of the contestants make it out of this hall of horrors to tell their story?
In the tradition of Stephen King, this chilling novel will have teen readers on edge in anticipation of what's to come with the next extinguished candle.
About the Author
ANDREW NANCE is retired from a twenty-five-year career as a morning radio DJ. He uses his storytelling skills to give ghost tours throughout historic St. Augustine, Florida, where he lives. Daemon Hall is his first novel for young adults.
Read an Excerpt
It's going to be an awesome day. Finals are over and I did pretty well. I'll coast the rest of the week and then, look out; summer vacation begins. Plans include keeping it late on both ends: staying up late and sleeping late. I'll hang with my friends, watch way too much TV, and see if I can't finally learn a backside ollie good enough so that I don't fall off my skateboard. And I'm going to enter that contest, so I'll have to do some serious writing. I think I'll use that spider story I've been working on. I feel good. I might work up the nerve to ask Erin Page if she'd like to go out this weekend.
I run downstairs in the silent house. My parents already left for work. My brother, Lee, has gone to meet some friends at the pancake house for a before school breakfast. I'm in a hurry and make a quick meal of toast and plum jelly, pack my book bag, and open the door. The morning sun touches my face and feels greatfor a second. Pain hits from nowhere and I grunt. Sometimes it comes on slow, sometimes a little faster. Today it feels like I'm slammed by a speeding tractor-trailer.
The book bag falls from my hand as I clutch at my chest. I want to scream, but my teeth are clenched and I can only manage a drawn-out hiss that empties my lungs. I struggle for a deep breath but can only wheeze. A chill sweeps through my body, yet I pour sweat. Dizziness overtakes me and I fall by the front door.
Fear! The terrible fear has returned. But why? Why now? Shaking violently, I crawl into the house and use the banister to pull myself up the stairs. In my room I only think of one thing: finding someplace safe. I crawl under the bed. Fears that never concern me in everyday life now plague me: nuclear war, terrorists, spiders, disease. Then, worst of all, my terror finds focus with my own mortality. Oh God, I'm going to die here. They won't find my body until the smell of decomposition leads them to check under the bed.
The fear ebbs just enough so that I wonder what is wrong with me? One word repeats over and over in my head: insanity, insanity, insanity.
FROM THE DESK OF
1313 Mystical Way
3318 Cascade Rd.
Often when I am corresponding it is for purposes other than pleasure. Most of my mail has to do with business, usually between the Macabre Master publisher and myself. I do spend quite a bit of time answering my legion of fans, but that too has lost its charm. Other correspondences range in mundane topics from research to financial. So it is indeed a great pleasure to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, to announce that you are one of five finalists in my young horror writer contest.
I found your entry, "A Countdown to Infestation," promising in its unique delivery of the chronology of the story. Watching the hours tick away for your protagonist and his inevitable fate proved to be truly suspenseful. Keep your fingers crossed that you will win and have a book published in the Macabre Master series.
I will arrive in Maplewood on July 31, but you are to have no contact with me until the following night, when you and four other finalists will meet me at sunset at the front gate leading to Daemon Hall. Please arrive alone. Wear comfortable clothing. Bring a bedroll, though I seriously doubt that anyone will sleep. No backpacks, handbags, or sacks are allowed. If it doesn't fit in your pockets, don't bring it. Cameras, cell phones, iPods, and recording devices of all kinds are prohibited. Flashlights are also on the expressly forbidden list. In fact, anyone discovered with a flashlight will be immediately evicted from Daemon Hall and forfeit any eligibility to win the contest. CANDLES WILL BE OUR SOLE SOURCE OF LIGHT!
Enclosed is a legal waiver absolving me of all responsibility in the case of death, injury, demonic possession, paranormal haunting, werewolf consumption, or vampiric bloodletting. Have a parent sign the form and mail it back to me at your earliest convenience.
I look forward to meeting you, as I am sure you are eager to meet me.
My brother dropped me at the front gate of Daemon Hall a half hour before sunset. Three others were already there. I climbed out of the old VW Bug and pulled my Boy Scout bedroll after me.
"If you die of fright, I get all your CDs," Lee said, and drove off. Jerk.
I turned to the other finalists. "Hi. What's up?"
"Four little Indians going out to sea, a red herring swallowed one and then there were three," a black guy said. He was about my age, skinny and tall, with extensions hanging to his shoulders.
"Don't mind Demarius," another finalist, a goth, said. She wore the appropriate black clothes and makeup. Other than one strand left its natural red, her hair had been dyed black. "He's been quoting Agatha Christie since we got here. Drop your bedroll over there with ours."
"I read Ten Little Indians again to get in the mood for tonight. You ever read it?"
I added my bedroll to the pile. "Uh, no. I saw the movie once."
"Books are always better. But you know the story. Ten people go to that empty island and start dying according to the poem. Choking, cut up, poisonedyou gotta love it! That's what tonight reminds me of. Wouldn't surprise me if bodies started piling up."
"In Maplewood?" the goth said. "Nothing exciting happens here in the armpit of the world. That mansion may look spooky, but Ian Tremblin wouldn't use it if it were dangerous. The only thing dying tonight is your chance of winning the contest."
"Ooooh, sounds like someone is full of herself," Demarius said.
She turned to me. "I'm Chelsea, Chelsea Flynt. You've already met Demarius Keating. And this is Kara Bakshi," she indicated a younger girl.
I shook Chelsea's hand and then held out my hand for Kara. She looked at it like it might be a snake in disguise and then briefly grabbed it. Ugh, her palm was clammy.
"I'm Wade Reilly."
She mumbled something unintelligible. She was around thirteen, with straight black hair, a dark complexion, and some pudge, courtesy of lingering baby fat. Her eyes were magnified through the thick lenses of her glasses.
"We're all finalists," Chelsea said. "I wrote 'The Babysitter (Revisited).' Kara's entry is 'Too Much TV,' and Demarius," she hooked her thumb in his direction, "has the losing entry, 'The Field Trip.'"
"The losing entry? Someone is living in fantasy land." Demarius rolled his eyes. "What's your story, Wade?"
"I wrote 'A Countdown to Infestation.'"
"Cool title. What's it"
The roar of a powerful engine interrupted our conversation. A dark blue Firebird raced up the dirt road and lost traction, but the driver regained control without slowing. With a final burst of acceleration, the driver spun the steering wheel and hit the brakes, causing the rear of the car to spin around and come to rest in a shower of dirt. Music thumped but ended as the driver shut off the engine. The door opened, and a muscular guy got out.
"I don't believe it," Chelsea mumbled, and glared at the new arrival.
The driver looked at us. He focused on Chelsea a moment, gave her a wink, and ducked back into the car. He stood again, holding something.
"Herethink fast," he said, and threw it at Demarius.
"Hey!" Demarius held up his arms and a football bounced off his hands.
"Nice catch, Slick," the driver said.
"Yeah, well, that's why Coach Garnett hates me. The only black kid over six feet tall who can't catch a football," Demarius said.
"Coach Garnettyou go to Central. I'm Chris Collins."
Chris stood three inches taller than Demarius. He wore a white football jersey with a blue number five on it. His arms were as muscular as the warriors in the sword-and-sorcery books I liked when I was in middle school. Chris had dark hair cropped close to his head and a fierce look that softened as he smiled.
"Don't pay any attention to Coach Garnett. He's an idiot," Chris said.
"I'm Demarius. I was at the game last year where you caught that interception and scored a touchdown. You guys smoked us."
Chris shrugged and turned to Chelsea.
"Exactly what are you doing here?" she asked.
"It's a small world, isn't it? I'm a finalist in the contest."
Chris leaned toward Chelsea. "And you still have a chip on your shoulder."
Sensing trouble, I stepped between them. "UhI'm Wade Reilly, and this is Kara Bakshi."
Chris ignored me. "Two words for you sweetheartanger management." He stalked to his car and got three bottles of water. He twisted the top off one and chugged it down. He stuffed another into a pocket of his jeans and held the third. "We've already started two-a-days. Coach says we gotta stay hydrated."
"You can put your bedroll over there with ours." Demarius pointed to the pile.
"Didn't bring one. I'll share Chelsea's." Chris gave her another wink.
Things got quiet as the sun began to set. I grabbed the tall metal bars of the front gate and checked out what would be our home for the night. At a distance Daemon Hall looked like a castle. Turrets rose from stone walls, and gargoyles perched on the roof. The weathered stone blocks turned from gray to yellow to orange to pink, reflecting the hues of the setting sun.
"Creepy," Demarius said when Daemon Hall became no more than a monolithic silhouette against the night sky.
"As dark as it is," Chelsea pointed out, "it'll be even darker inside."
Kara moved closer to me. I could sense how scared she was.
"I can't wait to meet Ian Tremblin," Chelsea said. "I have over twenty of the Macabre Master books."
"Yeah, he writes over the top," Demarius said. "Which book is your favorite?"
"The first of the Wampyr series," Chelsea answered.
"Figures," Chris said. "Vampires and weirdo goth clubs. It's right up your alley."
"I like Turn of the Wurm best," Demarius said. "It's high on the splat factor. The whole time I read it, I kept checking under my bed."
"Knight on Earth is my favorite," I told them.
"Yeah!" Chris said. "I love how that kid kicks all that demon ass!"
"I'm gonna be a famous writer just like him. I'll have me a big house, fancy clothes, and fast cars," Demarius said. "Bet he drives up in something like a Viper."
"No way! We're talking the King of Teen Scream, the Macabre Master himself. He'll show up in a chauffer-driven limo," Chelsea said.
"It'd be cool if he drove a hearse," Chris said.
Kara changed the subject with a whisper. "It'sdisturbinghere, isn't it?"
"Five little finalists."
The words were spoken softy, and at first I wondered if I was hearing things.
"Five little finalists waiting at the door. One vanished down a hole and then there were four."
"Hey! Who said that?" Demarius called out.
"Four little finalists plain for all to see. One was dragged into the night and then there were three."
"There's only five of us, right?" Chelsea asked, hugging herself.
"Three little finalists, made up this hearty crew. One was forced to walk the plank and then there were two."
"That isn't how the poem goes," Demarius shouted.
"Two little finalists, one went on the runscreamed and tripped and broke a neck and then there was one."
"Where are you?" Chris yelled.
"The last little finalist, almost had it won. Poor thing went insane and then there were none."
Kara, near tears, gripped my arm.
"I'm right here, on the other side of the gate." A figure stepped from bushes by the entrance. As he came toward us, he lit a candle in a lantern. "My last match." The candlewick flared, illuminating his face.
"Ian Tremblin," Demarius said, in awe.
"Guilty as charged," the author replied, and gave a little bow.
He unlocked the gate, and beckoned us through, holding the lantern to get a look at us and showing himself as well. He was tall and imposing. His gray hair was cut short, but his beard grew to his chest. He kind of resembled Oliver Reed after his transformation in one of my favorite classics, Curse of the Werewolf. His eyes were as wild as his beard. By candlelight they were black, yet they sparkled, reflecting ambiance, the landscape, and the very expressions on our faces. His untamed look was held in check by a pair of scholarly glasses perched on his nose. He further highlighted his literary appearance with a tweed jacket, complete with suede patches at the elbows.
Ian Tremblin turned his attention to Kara and lifted the lantern to her face. She looked ready to bolt. "You must be Kara Bakshi, the youngest of our adventurers. Demarius Keating, no doubt. Judging by your knowledge of Agatha Christie, I believe you'll have fun tonight." He moved the lantern from finalist to finalist. "Chelsea Flynt, you are just as I pictured you. Chris Collins. If I ever need a bodyguard I'll offer you the job. Last but not least, Wade Reilly." He stared at me for a few seconds. "We should hurry and get a start to the evening. Grab your bedrolls and let's make our way to Daemon Hall."
Copyright © 2007 Andrew Nance
This text is from an uncorrected proof
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Daemon Hall is an interesting thrill ride of scary stories told in interesting ways. This young adult novel leaves you hanging and checking the closets for things that go creep in the night. Five teenagers meet the famous Ian Tremblin after becoming finalists in a contest at the haunted Daemon Hall for a chance to be published. The stories about the house are legendary. No one has made it through the night. Each teen has written a story that thrills. The variety of writing styles keeps the story on edge. As each story is read the candles extinguish and the house begins to act out on its visitors. Keep reading to see who makes it, who scares, and who gets the chance at being published. Andrew Nance keeps you guessing through each story, poem, chat room convo, and scare fest. The imagination and updates of classic stories kept me reading and checking under the bed.
This book was short, in size, but had so much packed into it you couldn't ask for more! I loved it and I personally know Andy Nance. He is a wonderful guy and I would expect nothing less from him, and I can't wait for the sequel that will be arriving everywhere in March! Hope everyone who read it was as satisfied and amazed as I was. For the twists, turns, stories and frights were very well played. Also, the characters were really easy to relate to, whether with attitude, looks or style, and they were wonderfully created in Andy's mind. Must Read for anyone who likes suspense, terror or just reading! Check it out. --Nick
This book was awesome! I could not stop reading it once I started, it just drew me in with it's uniqueness and thrillingly scary stories. The author really makes you feel as though you are in the building with them or off in one of those freaky scary stories. Great book and I recommend it too everyone.
If you are a fan of scary stories, be sure to get your hands on DAEMON HALL. Andrew Nance uses a unique approach that actually weaves ten scary stories into one already creepy tale.
Wade, Chelsea, Kara, Demarius, and Chris are five teens who have earned their place as finalists in a writing contest. Horror writer Ian Tremblin challenged teens to write their own scary stories. From the finalists he plans to select a winner who will be rewarded by having his or her story published. But there's a catch ...
The five finalists must bring their stories and their bedrolls and spend the night with Tremblin in Daemon Hall. No cell phones, no flashlights, just ten candles to keep the darkness at bay. During the night, a total on ten scary stories will be told, and after each story a candle will be extinguished, leaving the group in complete darkness until morning.
One story after another is told and darkness begins to take control. As the stories get creepier, so does the house. To add to the suspense, the teens begin to disappear one by one and Mr. Tremblin starts acting more bizarre. Who will win the honor of being published? Who will even survive the night in Daemon Hall?
Readers of DAEMON HALL are treated to ten truly frightening tales. Each on their own could entertain listeners around a campfire on a dark night. Andrew Nance's twisted tale will have you looking over your shoulder for many nights to come.
If you are a fan of scary stories, be sure to get your hands on DAEMON HALL. Andrew Nance uses a unique approach that actually weaves ten scary stories into one already creepy tale. Wade, Chelsea, Kara, Demarius, and Chris are five teens who have earned their place as finalists in a writing contest. Horror writer Ian Tremblin challenged teens to write their own scary stories. From the finalists he plans to select a winner who will be rewarded by having his or her story published. But there¿s a catch ¿ The five finalists must bring their stories and their bedrolls and spend the night with Tremblin in Daemon Hall. No cell phones, no flashlights, just ten candles to keep the darkness at bay. During the night, a total on ten scary stories will be told, and after each story a candle will be extinguished, leaving the group in complete darkness until morning. One story after another is told and darkness begins to take control. As the stories get creepier, so does the house. To add to the suspense, the teens begin to disappear one by one and Mr. Tremblin starts acting more bizarre. Who will win the honor of being published? Who will even survive the night in Daemon Hall? Readers of DAEMON HALL are treated to ten truly frightening tales. Each on their own could entertain listeners around a campfire on a dark night. Andrew Nance¿s twisted tale will have you looking over your shoulder for many nights to come. **Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka 'Readingjunky'
This book was creepy and yet I couldn't put it down. You can relate to the characters and want to find out what's going to happen next. The ending left me hanging, so I hope there'll be a sequel.