Nestled deep within the forest lies a mysterious school dedicated to wiping out the werewolf population. But where exactly do werewolves come from? And why are children not bitten by a werewolf turning?
Mia is about to discover the answers to these questions and more. When fifteen-year-old Mia’s father is murdered, it’s her estranged uncle that comes to the rescue—but what he offers her in return for his help could be worse than the life she’s leaving behind. Taken to Hood Academy, a unique school deep in the forest, she discovers friendships, love, the courage to stand on her own…and werewolves.
Is Mia destined to become one of the pack or will she be the hunter chosen to destroy them? This unique twist on the origins of werewolves and werewolf hunters will grab readers by the throat as they are drawn alongside Mia into a dark and mysterious world as she quests to discover her true identity.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Inspired by Blyton's make believe world, Shelley began to create her stories, weaving tales around faeries, witches and dragons.
Writing has always been Shelley's first love, but she has also enjoyed a variety of job roles along the way; from waitressing to sales and marketing and even working as a turkey plucker.
Shelley lives in the West Midlands, UK with her three teenage children, two fish and a dragon called Roger. She is at her happiest with a slice of pizza in one hand, a latte in the other and Game of Thrones on the TV. She would love to live in the Shire but fears her five foot ten inch height may cause problems. She is an obsessive list writer, huge social media addict and a full-time day dreamer.
Read an Excerpt
The blue flashing lights pulsed through the fractured front window, illuminating the blood splatter on the walls. The click-click of the forensic team's camera ate into the sterile silence as the officers combed through the living room.
Like something out of a macabre horror show the blood covered everything, coating the threadbare rug in front of the fireplace with its crimson wash. The splintered remains of the coffee table littered the overturned chair, and the smell of death clung to the walls.
I lifted my eyes to look at the police officer who knelt in front of me, his face a mask of professionalism even though he must be wishing he was anywhere but here.
'Did you see who killed your dad?' I slowly shook my head as the officer tried to determine what had happened.
'Someone tried to kill you, miss. I want to help. Did you see who broke in and attacked you?'
I couldn't answer. The words were stuck in my throat. How could I tell him that my dad was the one who tried to kill me and that a wolf had jumped through the window and ripped out his throat? Who would believe me?
The paramedic dropped a medical kit at my feet and began wiping the blood from my face, the sudden cold of the antiseptic wipe causing an involuntary shudder to run through my bones. The police officer and paramedic exchanged a look. The same kind of look that my teacher and headmaster used to give each other when I tried to cover up the bruises down my arms.
I slumped a little further into the kitchen chair, letting my long dark hair fall around my face.
'Anything you can give us by way of a description will help.' The police officer clicked the end of his pen and poised it over the clean sheet of notepaper.
'Big,' I managed to say. My lips cracked as I spoke, and I could feel a trickle of blood slide down the side of my mouth. The paramedic wiped it up before moving to the gash on my forehead.
'It ... he was big. Dark hair. Brown eyes.'
The officer noted it down and let out a deep sigh. Not the best description for them to go on, but it was all I could give him. If I'd told him the attacker was hairy, with sharp claws and fangs, the paramedic would have had me committed. I didn't need to escape from one prison to then find myself in another.
'It's late. Who can we call?' the medic asked as he secured a small bandage to my head. 'Any family?'
The police officer grabbed the radio from his shirt pocket. 'I've already called social services. As she's a minor we need to find her a bed for the night. I'll chase them up.'
'No!' I could hear the flicker of panic in my voice as the threat of being sent away loomed. 'I can call my brother. He'll let me stay with him. He's much older than me and has his own place. It'll be fine.'
They exchanged another look.
'What's his number and we'll call him for you?'
I hadn't seen Zak since he walked out nine years ago. He'd promised to come back for me but he never did. He left me alone with that bastard who called himself our father.
'I'll find it,' I mumbled, standing up and moving towards the living room. The police officer barred the door.
'It's probably best that you don't enter the crime scene, miss. You've been through enough tonight already, so why don't you take a seat and tell me where to look?' Double shit.
I needed to stall for time. If only someone were willing to lie to the police about being my brother then I wouldn't have to go with the social worker. Unfortunately, friends were a luxury I never got to enjoy.
My heart beat faster as I wrestled with the possibility of leaving this house. If I went with them, Zak would never be able to find me. I stumbled against the dresser, knocking a vase to the floor with a loud crash.
The paramedic led me back to the plastic kitchen chair and I lowered myself into it, resting my head on the wooden table and letting my long hair fan out around me. The softly murmured voices of the police officer and the medic washed over me as I closed my eyes.
Throat torn open — blood gushing from the wound as it sprayed across the furniture — his eyes wide in shock and panic as he fell to the floor.
Keeping my head on the table, I tuned into the conversations around me. The officers were speculating on the attacker, trying to understand how someone could cause that much carnage.
Strong assailant — nothing missing — bloody mess — no chance of survival.
They went on, talking through all the possibilities. Of course, none of them came close to the truth — how could they?
I squeezed my eyes more tightly shut as I tried to block out the images that danced across the inside of my eyelids. His eyes. The blood.
A man's deep voice cut through the air and a shudder skittered down my spine. The sharp tone and arrogance reminded me of my father, and I had to lift my head to check he hadn't risen from the dead.
I opened my eyes and blinked against the stark brightness of the kitchen light.
'This is Sebastian Roberts, miss.' The police officer led him into the room.
The well-dressed man filled the kitchen doorway; his dark suit and long overcoat looked as if they cost more than my dad earned in a year. His shoes shone in the bright light of the kitchen, and I instinctively tucked my tatty trainers under the chair.
I figured him to be middle-aged and he had thick black hair that was neatly clipped around a square face. The hard lines of his nose and jaw worked to highlight the cold grey eyes that stared down at me.
'He says he's your uncle.' The police officer gestured for Mr Roberts to take a seat, but he remained where he was, watching me with predatory eyes.
I'd only met this man a couple of times when I was a kid, but the striking resemblance to my father would have convinced anyone that he was who he said he was. They could have been twins apart from the difference in hair colour and the small fact that this man was clean-shaven and professional, and my father had been a drunken mess with a violent temper.
'We were about to call her brother to come and get her.'
My uncle huffed. 'If Mia's brother gets in touch, then do feel free to pass on my details so he can come and visit her at my home.' Sebastian Roberts looked pointedly at me as he said it, and I understood immediately that I was busted. He knew I didn't have a clue where Zak was.
* * *
THE POLICE OFFICER took Sebastian to one side as his female colleague escorted me towards the stairs to pack a bag and collect anything I needed. I took my time ascending the steps as I strained to overhear their conversation.
'Is there a number where you can be reached, sir?'
'Of course. Here's a business card with my direct number and the address where Mia will be staying for the time being.'
Where I would be staying remained a mystery to me. The only flicker of hope I could hold onto was that it couldn't be any worse than here.
As I gazed around my dismal bedroom, it struck me what a pathetic life I had led so far. A handful of books, some of my mum's handwritten poetry that I'd managed to salvage after she died, underwear, four tops and two pairs of jeans. My worldly belongings fit into one backpack. I avoided looking directly at the female officer as she glanced around the dank bedroom. The pity on her face was almost too much to bear. Staying in this house was supposed to have been temporary. Zak had promised that he would come back for me. I didn't need a new bed or lots of pretty things, not if I needed to get away quickly when he came. Of course, he never had come back to get me.
I gave a sharp nod to indicate that I was done, and we made our way back down to the kitchen.
Sebastian was waiting by a large black car when I arrived. The medic pressed a spare bandage into my hand as I stepped out of the front door, and the police officer gave a grim nod of his head as I walked towards him.
'We'll be in touch, miss,' he told me. I didn't care if he did get in touch. I just wished this whole brutal night would disappear from my memory, but I forced a smile and whispered my thanks.
The fresh night air settled around me like a cloak, the sky dotted with grey clouds that swept across the full moon, its creamy light bathing the front garden in an eerie glow.
Sebastian watched me as I trudged down the path and joined him on the passenger side.
'We have a long drive ahead of us, Mia.' He opened the door. 'We better get started.'
I didn't look back. I didn't want to see the broken window or the blood splattered across the walls. The neighbours had congregated on the pavement and were watching the events unfold. I avoided their staring faces as I slid into the leather seat and closed the door.
The tinted windows offered me some comfort as the black car slid past the gawping faces. I shut my eyes and let the exhaustion creep over me.
* * *
THE SOUND OF the car engine cutting out stirred me from a frenzied dream of blood, teeth and carnage, and I was grateful for the reprieve as the whirlwind of images steamrolled through my brain. Sebastian sat motionless at the wheel and stared ahead through the windscreen.
'Are we here?' I wasn't quite sure where here was, as my mysterious uncle had been a bit vague on our destination. I'd been too distracted to bother asking and now my uneasiness troubled me.
He grunted and shifted his gaze to look over at me, his eyes sweeping over my face and hovering on the split lip and bandaged forehead.
'Not yet. We've been driving most of the night, and I thought you might need a bathroom break.'
He had stopped at the motorway services. I noticed the glass-fronted building in the distance and saw the steady stream of people rushing in and out. The car park was busy with motorists in need of a caffeine fix before resuming their journey. The flickering sign for beverages beckoned to me, and I sat up straight in my seat.
'I could do with a coffee.'
We entered the building side by side but in silence. I didn't know this man and he didn't know me. If I was going to spend the next God knew how long with him, I needed to open my mouth and at least attempt to hold a conversation with him.
'Two white coffees.' He handed over the cash, ignoring the pleasant smile from the barista as he motioned for us to sit in a free booth.
'I'm not sure that sixteen-year-olds should drink coffee.'
I almost laughed.
'You don't have kids?'
'No, my brother was the sibling graced with offspring.'
I did laugh at that.
'I don't think my dad thought he had been graced with anything.' I stirred my coffee a little too violently and watched as it slopped over the rim and left a muddy puddle on the table.
'Your father had a lot to deal with. The death of his wife, the loss of his son. It all took its toll on his mental health and ...'
'How dare you.' I dropped the teaspoon with a clatter as I raised my voice. A couple of patrons glanced in our direction.
'What do you know about our life? Dad was a bastard, plain and simple. These bruises were from him and they weren't the first. They wouldn't have been the last either if that ... if he hadn't been killed.'
I dropped my gaze and lifted the coffee cup to my lips. My hands shook slightly as I let my little outburst settle. I'd never done that in the past. I'd never verbalised what my dad had done, even when my teachers tried so hard to get me to admit it. It all went back to Zak. If I had spoken out about the violence, social services would have taken me away. Zak wouldn't have been able to find me when the time came. I couldn't risk that happening, so I kept my mouth shut.
Sebastian's words surprised me.
'What have you got to be sorry about? He was the bad one, not you.' I realised that there was every possibility that Sebastian was also a bad one. Could this be a family gene?
As if reading my mind, he began to shake his head.
'I'm nothing like my brother, Mia. You are perfectly safe with me. The death of your mother changed him in ways none of us could understand. He was such a kind man once. A long time ago.'
'Well, I must have been out that day because I never saw any kindness, not a single moment of it.'
I wanted to say more, but as I opened my mouth to speak his phone began vibrating in his pocket.
'I need to take this. I'll be back soon.'
With that he stood up and walked away, his mobile pressed up to his ear.
* * *
THE SMELL OF diesel and strong coffee assaulted my senses. I took another sip of the hot liquid and screwed my eyes shut. I'd never really liked coffee, but I opted for it in a bid to convince Sebastian that I was a sophisticated teenager. Why I believed that drinking a cup of coffee would make me look less of a child was a mystery to me. I remember seeing it on a TV show once. Road to nowhere and a cup of coffee, please. Stupid. As he was paying, I should have gone for the hot chocolate with extra cream.
The tiny screen above the entrance showed the network of motorways, giving out up-to-date advice on scheduled roadworks and estimated travel times. The southbound route was busy, even at this time of night, with a flow of vehicles heading to the capital. The traffic heading north was much lighter. North; I had a faint memory of Zak telling me that he wanted to go to Scotland. He had shown me a map once, trailing his index finger up to the centre of the United Kingdom and tapping the spot over the county of Nottinghamshire.
'This is the belly button of the UK,' he had said. 'I'm going to start here and work my way up north until I make it to the Scottish mountains.'
Zak's need for adventure was palpable. Being outdoorsy kids, we thrived on that glimpse of freedom. I only wish that I'd been allowed to venture further than the garden gate more often.
We both loved the smell of the trees after a rainstorm, and lying on the grass to watch the clouds or the stars in the sky.
We had been brought up in a colossal concrete jungle. Grey boxes stacked on top of each other with a token patch of green grass at the centre of each estate. The trees were dead and the animals were either feral cats or angry dogs.
I shifted in my seat as I tried to shake the memory of home, or rather, the house I had lived in. My thoughts were interrupted when a young man placed a steaming mug of hot chocolate in front of me.
'Can I join you?' He didn't wait for an answer but slid into the space opposite and took a long drink from his own mug.
'Please.' He gestured for me to drink. 'It looks like you need an injection of chocolate.'
The skin around his mouth crinkled when he smiled and his front teeth were slightly crooked. I guessed him to be in his early twenties.
'It's a gift,' he continued as he nodded at the cup. 'A simple act of kindness.'
I fidgeted in my seat and looked around for Sebastian.
'People aren't kind and gifts don't exist,' I said, pushing the mug away and waiting for the explosion of anger that normally accompanied my backchat.
'Hmm, I see.' He put his own mug down and laced his fingers together, studying me with mysterious brown eyes that seemed much older than the face they occupied. His gaze rested only briefly on my split lip.
'You don't believe in acts of kindness?'
I shook my head, my hair swishing around my shoulders.
'No, I don't. Nobody does anything without wanting something in return.'
'So if I offer you a hot chocolate what do you suppose I want in return?'
I sat back in my chair and squared my shoulders. The gravity of a sixteen-year-old girl sitting in a service station all alone in the middle of the night suddenly hit me.
'My uncle will be here any minute and he won't be pleased to find you in his seat.'
'I've scared you,' he said, holding his hands up. 'I'm sorry, that wasn't my intention. I was looking for a bit of light conversation to pass the time, that's all.'
He picked up his mug and took another gulp, his eyes still fixed on me.
'I'm sorry,' I whispered. 'I didn't mean to be rude. I'm ...' I stopped myself from opening up to this mysterious stranger.
Reaching for the mug, I smiled weakly at the young man. 'Thank you for the hot chocolate.'
He watched me as I sipped my drink.
'I'm Terry.' He extended his hand across the table and I took it, shaking it firmly just as Zak had taught me.
'So Mia, where are you heading on this chilly morning?'
I hesitated; regardless of the sweet, hot chocolatey gesture I needed to lie to this guy. I wasn't ready to spill all the gruesome details of my screwed-up life, especially to a stranger.
'I'm going to Scotland.'
He raised his eyebrows and let out a long, low whistle. 'That's a hell of a long journey.'
I laughed at his expression and managed to relax my posture, realising for the first time how tense I was.
'I'm visiting my brother, and he lives in the Scottish mountains.'(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Hood Academy"
Copyright © 2019 Shelley Wilson.
Excerpted by permission of BHC Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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