The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve's End is that soon she'll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There's nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They're better off taking a chance elsewhere.
What Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.
But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they're all missing?
"A compelling thriller that keeps the reader hooked until the end." -VOYA, Starred
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 2.40(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Reeve’s End is the kind of town every kid can’t wait to escape. Each summer, a dozen kids leave and at least a quarter never come back. I don’t blame them--I’ll do the same in another year. We thought it was just something that happened in towns like ours.
We were wrong.
“Twenty dollars an hour,” I say to the guy who’s stopped me as I head for Doc Southcott’s. I know his name. When your high school has only two hundred kids, you can’t even pretend you don’t. But from his expression, you’d think I’ve clearly forgotten him. Forgotten who he is, at least.
I lean against the crumbling brickwork. “You asked if I can help boost your math grade. The answer is yes. For twenty dollars an hour.”
“But . . .”
“I know, Garrett. You expected I’d do it for the pleasure of your company. That’s what you’re used to--girls jumping at the chance to spend time with you. You’re a decent guy, though, so I’ll warn that it’s not so much you they’re after as a one-way ticket out of Reeve’s End. Preferably with a cute boy who’ll earn a football scholarship . . . as long as he can get the grades for college. Which is why you’re here.”
“Uh . . .”
I sigh and look down the road. There’s nothing to see. Pothole-ridden streets. Rust-plagued pickups. Even the mutt tied outside the Dollar Barn gazes at the fog-shrouded Appalachians as if dreaming of better.
I turn back to Garrett. “I’m happy to help. But you’re not the only one who wants out, and college is expensive.”
“Not for you. With your grades, you’re guaranteed a full ride.”
“Nothing is guaranteed. And I doubt I’ll get a full ride for my post-grad.”
“Med school?” He glances at Doc Southcott’s office. “You’re not serious about that.”
“Are you serious about a football scholarship?”
“Hell, yeah. It’s just . . . med school?”
Kids from Reeve’s End don’t go to med school. Especially those like me, who even here would be from the wrong side of the tracks . . . if Reeve’s End had tracks. Sometimes I figure the train purposely diverted around us for the same reason we don’t have buses or taxis--so it’s harder to escape.
Tutoring won’t get me through med school. Neither will working for Doc Southcott. But I’ve got a plan, and every penny counts. It’s always counted.
“You have your dreams, Garrett, and I have mine. Yours will cost twenty bucks an hour. If you put in the effort, I can bring you up to a B. And the bonus to paying me? You won’t need to flirt to win my help.”
He shakes his head. “You’re a strange girl, Winter Crane.”
“No, I’m just strange for Reeve’s End. So, do we have a deal? I’ve got one tutor slot open, which will fill in another week, when kids finally admit midterms are coming.”
He agrees, still looking confused.
“Tomorrow, after school at the library,” I say. “Payment in advance.”
I have a short shift at the doc’s that day. Mrs. Southcott has managed to convince her husband to take an extended long-weekend vacation, leaving this afternoon. I tried to argue that I could do office work while they’re gone, but apparently she figures Doc Southcott isn’t the only one overdue for time off.
I head to the trailer park. My official address, even if I spend as little time there as possible. Mom died when I was seven. My sister left last year. It’s just me and Bert now. He prefers Rob, but Bert better suits a guy who traded an engineering career in the city for a string of crap jobs that pay just enough to keep him in bourbon. He lost the right to be called Dad when he decided I was a burden to be borne and not gladly.
I pass our trailer and duck into the forest. My real home is out there--an abandoned shack that’s far more habitable than our trailer.
Thick forest leads from the town to the foothills, and what used to be a good source of income back when the local coal mine operated. Shitty work--old-timers still cough black phlegm decades later. But that doesn’t stop them from reminiscing as if they’d had cushy office jobs. There was money then. Good and steady money. Then the mine closed and the town emptied. Those who stayed did so because they had no place else to go . . . or no place else would have them.
My shack is nearly a mile in. That’s a serious hike through dense forest, but it means I don’t need to worry about local kids using my cabin for parties. Hunters do stumble over it in season--and out of season, Reeve’s End not being a place where people pay attention to laws if they interfere with putting food on the table.
I check my boundary thread. One section is slack, as if something pushed against it and then withdrew. Humans barrel through without noticing, so I’m guessing this was a deer. Or so I hope, because the alternative is a black bear or coyote or, worse, one of the feral dogs that have been giving me trouble.
I tighten the thread and duck under. My shack is exactly that--a dilapidated wooden structure maybe eight feet square. It’s empty inside except for a rickety chair near the wall. I pry up a loose floorboard and remove my gear. Spread my carpet. Pour a cup of water. Set aside my sleeping bag and lantern. Home sweet home.
I write up a lab experiment while the light is good. Then I go check my snares, the bow over my shoulder doubling my chance to add meat to my ramen noodles. I forage, too, but it’s the hunting that marks me as a girl who lives in a place like Reeve’s End, as I discovered when a scholarship sent me to science camp in Lexington. Some city girls must hunt, but you wouldn’t think so from my fellow students’ expressions when I told them how I got my ace dissection skills.
“Aren’t there supermarkets where you live?” one girl asked.
Well, no. Reeve’s End only has a grocery and a small one at that. But food costs money, and as much as possible, money is for my savings account. At least I know where my meat comes from, which is more than I can say for those kids.
I’m drawing near the second snare when I notice something white lying beside it. I inhale, hoping it’s not a skunk--polecat in these parts. But it’s just white. Shit. I hope I haven’t trapped someone’s cat.
I jog over to see . . . a sneaker?
I peer at the surrounding forest, expecting a prank. My snares are far from the trails, and even if someone stumbled on one, the trap is hardly life-threatening. Yet from the looks of the flattened ground cover, this person fought hard to get free.
I examine the shoe. If the mate were here, I’d take it. At size eleven, it wouldn’t fit me, but it’s a nearly new Air Jordan, which I could sell for at least fifty bucks. I turn the shoe over.
That’s when I see the blood. Then I spot a red handprint on a sapling, where he must have righted himself after the trap. I figure “he” given the size of the shoe. That shoe also means he’s not from Reeve’s End, where wearing three-hundred-dollar sneakers would be the equivalent of riding to school in a chauffeured Escalade.
I follow his trail for a bit. Mostly I’m just curious. But as I track him, I start to worry. He’s like an injured black bear, staggering and stumbling and mowing down everything in his path. Wounded and lost in what must have seemed endless wilderness.
I should try to find him. It’s inconvenient, but it’ll be a hell of a lot more inconvenient when some hunter finds his body and I suffer the guilt of knowing I might have been able to help.
I continue tracking him for close to a mile. That’s when I hear the distant growls of feral dogs.
Old-timers talk about back when we had wolves and mountain lions in these woods, and roll their eyes at hunters these days whining about a few stray dogs. The old-timers are full of shit. At least a wolf or a catamount would slink off if they heard me coming. These dogs know humans, and we don’t scare them.
I’m moving at a jog now, praying those aren’t the snarls and snaps of a feasting pack. I found a body out here once. I don’t want to ever do it again.
The light is fading fast. That’s one problem with being on the east side of the mountains. Once the sun drops behind them, it’s like snuffing a candle. I’ve learned to hunt in twilight because it’s the best time for game, but this is too dark for safety, so I clip on my headlamp. It’s modified from old mining equipment, which we have plenty of. For a weapon, I’m more comfortable with my bow, but when I’m moving at this rate, the hunting knife is more reliable.
There’s no doubt now that I’m hearing the dog pack. I slow and make sure I’m downwind so they won’t smell me. Then I exchange the knife for my bow and turn off my headlamp. Each step lands in silence as my eyes adjust to the twilight. I can smell the dogs now. They reek like an old cat that’s lost any interest in keeping itself clean.
I round a bush and spot Reject, the pack omega. She keeps to the edges, eating whatever the others leave. Last spring, she was pregnant, the dogs having apparently found a use for her. I never saw the pups. I suspect the alpha bitch killed them. These aren’t wolves or foxes or even coyotes--they’re half-mad beasts.
I pity Reject, but trying to tame her would be foolhardy--she’s as crazy as the rest of them. I keep an eye on her as I move closer, in case she notices me and sounds the alarm.
Reject stands at the edge of a clearing, watching the others. When I pass more bushes, I see them: Flea, Scar, Mange, One-Eye, and Alanna. I named Alanna after a girl at school. She’s the alpha bitch. The dog, that is. The girl is just a bitch.
The dogs are barking at something in a tree. When I see that, I exhale. I ease around the bushes for a better look, but even an unobstructed sight line doesn’t help much in the darkness. Whatever they’re barking at is just a shape in a shadow-enshrouded oak. Then I lean to the side and spot a white Air Jordan, dangling from a leg, at just the right height to convince the beasts that if they keep jumping they’ll eventually snag it.
Assuming the guy isn’t stupid enough to intentionally tease feral dogs, I’m guessing he’s unconscious. Or so I tell myself. He climbed up there and passed out. That’s all.
I could leave him and go for help. But there’s no guarantee those dogs can’t get his leg in a freakishly high jump. Nor any guarantee he won’t bolt awake and fall.
I survey my options, find a suitable oak, and shimmy up. Hunkering down on a wide branch, I notch an arrow and let it fly into the tree trunk, over the pack’s heads. That’s not a misfire. There’s no way in hell I can take down five dogs with a bow and a half dozen arrows.
The first arrow gets their attention. My second flies into the underbrush with a crackle and thump . . . and the dogs take off after this new threat. I jump down and race to the tree holding the one-sneakered stranger. I take a few precious seconds to fire another even more precious arrow. Three gone, and they’re good ones--carbon hybrids--a luxury I allow myself because they’re more effective. I’ll have to mentally map this spot and come back for them.
I climb past the stranger, well out of reach of the dogs. Then I look down. It’s a guy, not much older than me. Dark hair hangs as his head lolls. His eyes are closed, and he’s sprawled on the branch, as if he collapsed there. His shirt is bloodied and torn, as is one leg of his jeans.
I can’t tell if he’s alive. That’s the main thing right now--not his age or his hair color or the condition of his clothing.
Is he alive?
The dogs are back, yipping and yelping as they scent their old enemy. I barely hear them, too focused on answering that critical question.
Please be alive. Please.
I keep seeing flashes of that other body--the one I found two years ago--and I’m shaking as I lower myself onto the branch beside his. My boot touches down, and I catch a better view of his face, battered and bloodied, and I’m trying to see if he’s breathing and I lift my other boot, confident the first is securely planted. It isn’t.
My foot slips.
As I drop, I wildly grapple for a hold. Alanna lets out a crow of victory. She jumps and her fangs graze my leg. Then my arm snags a branch, awkwardly catching it in the crook of my elbow, my arm scissoring shut, pain ripping through my shoulder as my full weight slams down.
My free hand finds and grabs the branch as Alanna’s fangs sink into my leg. My yowl only whips the dogs into a frenzy. I pull my leg up as far as I can, but Alanna is hanging off it, her teeth digging in.
I gather all my strength and kick. She might be fierce and wiry, but she’s small, and I send her flying. There’s pit bull in that bitch, though, and her teeth rake down my calf, furrows splitting open as I howl in pain.
The damn dogs join in, howling along, and rage fills me--frustration and fury--and there’s a split second where I almost drop from the tree. Drop to face them, armed with my hunting knife, like some crazed action hero pushed one step too far. Finally facing off against my canine nemeses, blade flashing, blood spraying, taking down one, maybe two . . . before they rip me apart.
Here lies Winter Crane. So brave. So daring. Such a freaking idiot.
I resist the urge to go Lara Croft on their heads, and instead swing up my legs until I’m hanging off the branch like a sloth. I stay that way, catching my breath and ignoring the pain in my leg and the blood trickling down it. Then I clamber up and climb opposite the one-sneakered boy.
He’s dead. I’m sure of that now. With everything going on, he hasn’t even stirred.
Excerpted from "Missing"
Copyright © 2021 Kelley Armstrong.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Never have I read a kelley armstrong book I didn't love, and missing is no exception. It throws you into the thick of it early on and never lacks for excitement! Wishing for a sequel just to see more from these characters.
Keeps you guessing until the very end! Thrilling!
Loved every word, twist, and turn.
I will read just about anything Kelley Armstrong writes, although her paranormal and Nadia Stafford series are my favorites. In Missing, the author takes us to a small, poverty-stricken Kentucky town where there is little to no future. Winter’s family has ended up here, years after the death of her mother and the beginning of the downward spiral of her father. Her older sister left a year ago and hasn’t been heard from since, leaving Winter alone with her drunken, abusive father living in a rundown trailer park. Winter is a senior in high school; she is smart, focused on her goal of going to medical school and getting out of Reeve’s End. Townspeople see her as an outsider and resent her because she seems so different. She comes off as cold and clinical at times, but it is a survival method. She is left to survive on her own most of the time, earning money by working for a local physician and tutoring other students. She supplements her diet by hunting and retreats to a shack she built in the forest. Her life is turned upside down when she finds another teenager beaten up in the forest. Lennon is the son of a congressman and soon Lennon’s brother, Jude, is also in Winter’s life after Lennon goes missing. Someone seems to be hunting Winter, playing cat and mouse, building suspense. I like that Winter was such a strong, intelligent, independent young woman. I also liked the way Winter’s poverty was contrasted with the brothers’ wealth and the way the brothers were so judgment-free concerning Winter’s lifestyle. The brothers were so different but so close to each other; they were born ten months apart so are like twins in some ways. Once I started reading, it was hard to book down. I found Jude fascinating. What I didn’t like was the amount of the story that focused on the feral dogs and the ending seemed a little abrupt.
Great for any age!
If you're looking for a well written Young Adult thriller I would recommend this one. I usually stay away from this genre, but I did enjoy this one and the mystery surrounding who was after Winter. There were some gruesome scenes that made me a bit uncomfortable, including one involving animals sadly. The mystery and thriller aspect is a good one, I wanted to know who was behind this and why. Although without the final clue the mystery is basically impossible to solve yourself. I liked Winter as the main character, she was a smart and capable young women who wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery. I liked Jude even more, he was so itnerestign with the different layers of his personality. And the romance side plot line was great! It was one of my favorite parts of the book. The ending did feel a tad rushed to me and I would've liked a bit more wrap and answering of some remaining questions. But overall this was a great read.
I'm a sucker for these sorts of books, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to get to it. I really liked Winter. She's tough and smart and hard working. She has a crap home life, but doesn't let it rule her. I loved being in her head, seeing how she deals with everything that happens. There are some other interesting characters, but I don't want to spoil it. Plot wise, I was captivated from the start. This book is filled with twists and creepiness and it's all topped with a delicious layer of tension. Every time I thought I had things figured out, something would be revealed. In my mind, everyone was a suspect. The only bad thing I have to say is that there are several scenes with feral dogs and Winter needed to fight and stab the dogs to get away. I could almost forgive one scene, but not as many as I read. Overall, it was intriguing with small bits of humor and sweetness. I'm sure I'll still be thinking about this later. **Huge thanks to Crown BFYR for providing the arc free of charge**
I rarely read YA books that don't have a paranormal or dystopian type of story-line. But there are certain authors that I will read almost any book they write, no matter what genre, and Kelley Armstrong is one of those. This book is a perfect example of why she is on my YA author automatic read list. The story read just like I was sitting on the edge of my seat watching a suspense movie at the theater. It had so many twists and turns, and while I had a tiny inkling of who or what might be behind all of these threatening events, Armstrong still made it so that I really was guessing up until that final climactic scene at the end. All of the characters were so complex, and while you felt like you really got to know them, the whole story was used to unravel just who they really were. And I like that in a YA book, as that is how it really is for teenagers, not knowing just yet who they are. Winter is a character that you root for right away. She's a bit of an underdog in the small town, she comes from a trailer park, and lives alone with her father, who is verbally and emotionally abusive, if not also physically abusive at times. Her sister took off after high school, and Winter hasn't heard from her since. We are given small peeks into what the reasons for her sister leaving have to do with Winter, and the blanks are filled in all the way up until the end, again, keeping you reading and very involved with the story. Then there is Lennon, the boy she finds in a tree near her cabin in the woods. He's a charmer, and you can't help but like him. When he disappears though, it causes Winter even more distress, since his showing up also led her to believe that her best friend was in trouble. And then in comes Jude, Lennon's slightly older brother. He's different, not a charmer, but there's still something about him that you can't help but like. With Jude comes a whole new set of suspects and scenarios for Winter to wade through in order to try to help her best friend, her new friend Lennon, and possibly past teens who disappeared after high school. There really wasn't anything that I didn't like about this book. It kept me reading, to the point that after lunch breaks I did not want to stop reading to go back to work. It kept me guessing, not having completely figured it all out until the big reveal scene at the end, and even that had a twist in it. Once again Armstrong has blown me away with a great story. She'll continue to stay high on my list of must-read YA authors.