Revenge is a dish best served cold.
In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.
In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It's a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who--or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind.
About the Author
Ann Aguirre is the author of the New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling Razorland Trilogy (Enclave, Outpost, and Horde). She lives in Mexico with her family.
Read an Excerpt
I was supposed to die at 5:57 a.m.
At least, I had been planning it for months. First I read up on the best ways to do it, then I learned the warning signs and made sure not to reveal any of them. People who wanted to be saved gave away their possessions and said their good-byes. I’d passed so far beyond that point; I just wanted it all to stop.
There was no light at the end of this tunnel.
So two days after the school year ended, I left my house for what I intended to be the last time. I wrote no note of explanation. In my opinion, it never offered closure and it only made the survivors feel guilty. Better to let my parents think I suffered from some undiagnosed mental illness than to have them carry the knowledge that maybe they could’ve saved me; that burden could drive my parents to the ledge behind me, and I didn’t want that. I only wanted an ending.
Earlier I had walked toward the BU T station I used for other errands, like shopping and school. There was plenty of time for me to change my mind, but I’d done all the research, and it was meticulous. I’d considered all sorts of methods, but in the end, I preferred water because it would be tidy and quick. I hated the idea of leaving a mess at home for my parents to clean up. This early—or late, depending on your perspective—the city was relatively quiet. Just as well. I’d gotten off at North Station and trudged the last mile or so.
Jumpers loved this place, but if you picked the wrong time, somebody would notice, call the authorities, and then you’d have cars honking, lanes shutting down, police cars … pretty much the whole media circus. I was smart enough to choose my opportunity carefully; in fact, I’d studied the success stories and compared the times when the most deaths occurred. Constrained by public transport hours, I arrived a bit later than the majority of those who died here, but my leap would still be feasible.
At this hour, there wasn’t as much traffic. The bridge was a monster, but I didn’t have to go all the way to the other side. Predawn murk threw shadows over the metal pylons as I faced my fate. I felt nothing in particular. No joy, but no sadness either.
The last three years had been the worst. I’d seen the well-meant It Gets Better videos, but I wasn’t tough enough to make it through another year, when there was no assurance college would be better. The constant jokes, endless harrassment—if this was all I could look forward to, then I was ready to check out. I didn’t know why people at school hated me so much. To my knowledge, I’d never done anything except exist, but that was enough. At Blackbriar Academy—an expensive, private school that my parents thought guaranteed a bright future—it wasn’t okay to be ugly, weird, or different. I was all of the above. And not in the movie way, either, where the geek girl took down her hair and swapped her horn rims for contacts, then suddenly, she was a hottie.
When I was little, it didn’t bother me. But the older I got, the meaner the kids became, particularly the beautiful ones. To get in with their crowd, you needed a certain look, and money didn’t hurt. Teachers fell in with whatever the Teflon crew told them, and most adults had enough secret cruelty to believe somebody like me had it coming—that if I tried harder, I could stop stuttering, get a nose job, dye my hair, and join a gym. So clearly it was my fault that I’d rather read than try to bring myself up to the standards of people I hated.
Over the years, the pranks got worse and worse. They stole my clothes from my gym locker, so I had to go to class all stinky in my PE uniform. Not a day went by that they didn’t do something, even as simple as a kick or a shove or a word that dug deep as a knife. I used to tell myself I could survive it—I quoted Nietzsche in my head and I pretended I was a fearless heroine. But I was as strong as my tormentors could make me, and it wasn’t enough. Four months ago, the last day before winter break, they broke me.
I pushed the memory down like the bile I swallowed on a daily basis. The shame was the worst, as if I’d done something to deserve this. Being smart and ugly wasn’t reason enough for what they did to me. Nothing was. At that point, I implemented plan B. I had no friends. Nobody would miss me. At best, my parents—oblivious academic types—would see me as ruined potential. Sometimes I thought they had me as a sociology experiment. Afterward, they’d retrieve my body and mark my file with a big red FAIL stamp.
The sky was gray and pearly, mist hanging over the river. Drawing in a deep breath, I gathered my courage. To my amusement, I’d passed a sign that read, DEPRESSED? CALL US. Then it listed a number. I’d ignored that, along with a massive heap of pigeon shit, and continued across until I was far enough out that the water would drown me fast, provided the fall didn’t kill me on impact. Now I only had to climb over quietly and let go.
A jagged shard tore loose in my chest; tears burned in my eyes. Why didn’t anyone notice? Why didn’t anyone do anything? So, maybe I was like the other lost souls, after all. I wanted a hand on my shoulder, somebody to stop me. Shaking, I put my foot on the guardrail and swung my leg over. On the other side, metal at my back, the dark river spread before me as if it led to the underworld. For me, it did. My muscles coiled, but I didn’t need to jump. All I had to do was lean into space. There would be a few seconds of freefall, and then I’d hit the water. If the impact didn’t kill me, the stones in my pockets would.
I’d planned for all contingencies.
I stepped forward.
A hand on my shoulder stopped me. The touch radiated heat, shocking me nearly to death. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had touched me, except to hurt. My parents weren’t huggers. So long as I got straight As, they had little to do with me. They said they were rearing me to be self-sufficient. It felt more like they were raising me to self-destruct.
I turned, expecting a corporate drone jonesing to start his cubicle time early, and on target to screw up my careful plans. In that case, I’d have to talk fast to avoid police involvement and incarceration in a mental facility. They’d put me on death watch and stare at me for three days in case I relapsed with the urge to kill myself. The lie hovered on the tip of my tongue—how I was researching suicide to make a sociology essay more compelling—but the guy who’d interrupted my exit also stole my ability to form a coherent thought. His hand remained on my shoulder, steadying me, but he didn’t speak.
I didn’t either.
He had the kind of face you saw in magazines, sculpted and airbrushed to perfection. Sharp cheekbones eased into a strong jaw and a kissable mouth. His chin was just firm enough. He had a long, aquiline nose and jade eyes with a feline slant. His face was … haunting, unsettling, even. His layered mop of dark hair gained coppery streaks in the halo of passing headlights that limned us both. In a minute or two, somebody would see us. Though traffic was light, it wasn’t nonexistent, and eventually some concerned motorist would pull over or make a call. I saw my window of opportunity narrowing.
“What?” I managed to get the word out without stammering.
“You don’t have to do this. There are other options.”
I didn’t try to bullshit. His direct, gold-sparked gaze made me feel that would be a waste of time. Part of me thought I might have already jumped, and he was my afterlife. Or maybe I was on a ventilator after they fished me out of the river, which made this a coma dream. I’d read studies where doctors posited that people experienced incredibly vivid dreamscapes during catatonia.
“Yeah? Like what?”
I figured he’d mention therapy. Group sessions. Medication. Anything to get my butt off this bridge. Right then, only the strength of his biceps kept me from flinging myself backward. Well, that … and curiosity.
“You can let me help you.”
“I don’t see how that’s possible.” My tone sounded bleak, and it gave away more than I wanted.
I didn’t mean to tell a random stranger my problems, no matter how pretty he was. In fact, that appeal made me trust him less. Beautiful people treated me well only when they were setting me up for something worse. In hindsight, I should’ve been wary that day, but I was just so tired, and I wanted so bad to believe they intended to stop tormenting me. I was ready to accept the apology and move on. Everybody grows up, right?
“Here’s the deal. We’ll get something to drink, and I’ll make my proposal. If you don’t like what you hear, I’ll escort you back here and this time, I won’t stop you. I’ll even stand guard so nobody else does.”
“Why should I? You could be a murdering weirdo.”
“You intended to kill yourself anyway.”
“I was going to be quick. You might not be. Being suicidal doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”
He laughed. “See, this is why I didn’t bring my car. I knew you wouldn’t get in.”
Weird. That sounded like we were old friends, but I’d remember someone like him. “You got that right.”
“You can walk five feet behind me if it makes you feel better.”
I wasn’t sure it did, but with his help, I climbed back over the guardrail. His argument made sense, and I was curious. What did I have to lose? He might try to recruit me into a cult. Nervous and wary, I trudged behind him, my eyes on his back at all times. I was ready to end things on my terms, not wind up living in a hole in somebody’s basement. That would definitely be worse. I shivered, wondering if this was the best idea. Yet curiosity refused to let me back out.
He led the way off the bridge, quite a long walk the second time around; the rocks in my pockets gained weight with each step. Eventually, we reached the street, passing a number of closed restaurants, Italian places mostly. He stopped at a twenty-four-hour diner called Cuppa Joe. The place had a giant mug out front, outlined in red neon. Inside, the vinyl booths were cracked and sealed over with silver duct tape. On the wall, a neon blue-and-pink clock buzzed, a low drone just inside my range of hearing. According to the position of the hands, it was 6:05 a.m., and I’d missed my deadline.
A couple of waitresses wore the ultimate in polyester chic, while old women sat nursing coffee with lipstick imprints on chipped cups, makeup caked into their wrinkles. There were elderly couples as well; men in plaid trousers and white belts, ladies in shirtwaists. Everyone in the diner had an odd look, like they were players on a set, and some otherworldly director was saying, Now this is what a diner looked like in 1955. I also counted too many customers for this hour. Finally, there was an expectant air, as if they had all been awaiting our arrival. I dismissed the thought as symptomatic of how surreal the day had become.
The hot samaritan sat down next to the window, so that the red light from the giant coffee cup on the roof fell across the table in waves. I took a seat opposite him and folded my hands like I was at a college admissions interview. He smiled at me. Under fluorescent lights, he was even better looking than he’d appeared on the bridge.
It didn’t make me happy.
“So is this where you call the cops? You lured me in quietly. Good job.” To my astonishment, I got the words out without a hitch. In his company, I wasn’t nervous at all, mostly because I half suspected he was a figment of my imagination.
“No, this is where I introduce myself. I’m Kian.”
Okay, not what I expected. “Edie.”
Short for Edith, who had been my maternal great-aunt. No one used my nickname, except me—in my head. At school, they called me Eat-it.
“I know who you are.”
My breath caught. “What?”
“I didn’t find you by accident.” Before I could answer, Kian signaled the waitress and ordered coffee.
She glanced at me with an inquiring expression. What the hell. If I was dying after this conversation anyway—
“I’ll have a strawberry milk shake.”
“Hey, Hal,” the waitress called. “Shake one in the hay.”
An assenting noise came from the back and then the woman went behind the counter to pour Kian’s coffee. She served it with a flourish, along with a sugar bowl and a pitcher of cream. “That’s how you take it, right?”
He smiled up at her. “Good memory, Shirl.”
“That’s why I get the big bucks.” She winked and sauntered to her next table.
I picked up the thread as he stirred cream and sugar into his drink. “Explain how you know who I am and where to find me. It sounds stalker-y, and I’m inclined to bail as soon as I finish my shake.”
“Then I have time to make my case,” he said softly. “Misery leaves a mark on the world, Edie. All strong emotions do. Rage, terror, love, longing … they’re powerful forces.”
“Right. What does that have to do with me?”
“Your pain came to my attention months ago. I’m sorry it took me so long to act, but I’m constrained by certain rules. I had to wait until you reached the breaking point before I could offer you a deal.”
“If this is where you offer a fiddle of gold against my soul, I’m out.”
His smile flashed. A little shiver of warmth went through me because he seemed to appreciate my wit. “Nothing so permanent.”
“I’m all ears,” I said as the waitress delivered my shake, hand-dipped with whorls of fresh whipped cream and a bright red cherry on top—almost too pretty to drink. Deliberately, I stirred it with my straw, ruining the beauty, and sucked up a huge mouthful.
“When humans of exceptional potential reach the breaking point—what we call extremis—we can step in.”
I choked on my drink. “Humans. Which makes you what, exactly?”
Now I felt sure this was the lead-in to the most spectacular punk ever. I craned my neck, looking for Cameron, Brittany, Jen, Allison, or the cheer mascot, Davina. She had too much melanin for Blackbriar squad standards, so they kept her in a lion costume half the school year, and when she got out of it, she ran errands for the Teflon crew, who treated her more like a minion than a friend. I didn’t see anyone from school, but that didn’t mean they weren’t in somebody’s bedroom, laughing their asses off through this guy’s button cam. This would probably end up on YouTube.
Like the first video.
Kian shook his head. “I can’t answer that unless we come to an agreement.”
“Let’s cut to the chase,” I said tiredly. “I don’t know what they’re paying you, if you’re a struggling actor, or what, but I’m not interested. This isn’t even the meanest prank they’ve pulled. Are they watching right now?”
“Wait,” I cut in. “I bet you don’t get paid unless I play along. Fine. Tell me more about this awesome deal. Can I get it for four low payments of nine ninety-five?”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he leaned across the table and took my hand. Now that’s commitment to the bit, I thought.
Then the world vanished, a static skip in an old VCR tape. I remembered those from elementary school, the low-rent one I attended before my parents published, filed their first patent, and could afford a pricey prep school. That fast, the diner was just gone.
Brutal wind whipped my hair against my face. My glasses frosted over and my skin tightened with goose bumps in the icy air. A mountain stared back at me, rocky and wild. If I took four steps forward, I’d pitch off the edge. Vertigo spun my head, and I clung to Kian’s hand, unable to say a word. This looked like Tibet—or the pictures I’d seen anyway. Deep down, I’d always wanted to go … to kneel in a holy place with the silent monks. Could he know this about me? I glimpsed no civilization, just trees, rocks, and stars. The cold gnawed through me; I was dressed for late spring in Boston, not in Sherpa gear. Shock paralyzed me for a few seconds.
God, I had to be out of my damn mind. Hey, coma dream, how you doing? Let’s see where this takes you. But on the off chance it was real, I whispered, “Stop. Make it stop.”
Another shift, and we were back at Cuppa Joe. My hands felt like chips of ice. His, still wrapped around mine, radiated the same heat I’d noticed when he touched my shoulder. I glanced around wildly, wondering if anyone reacted to our disappearance. The other patrons showed no signs that anything was wrong, but people didn’t do that. Vanish and materialize, like somebody was beaming us in a transporter.
But maybe that was key. People didn’t. Kian had called me an exceptional human, implying he wasn’t. I’d been full of breezy skepticism before; it died on that mountaintop. I drew my hand away, took a couple of deep breaths, trying to calm my pounding heart.
“How come nobody even blinked? That was some straight-up Star Trek stuff.”
“This is our place,” he said. “Company owned. I can’t tell you more right now.”
“Well, that jaunt registers pretty high on the she’ll-take-me-seriously meter.”
“I don’t usually have to resort to it this early in the conversation,” he admitted.
My milk shake was still sitting on the table, melting into baby-pink goop. “Sorry I cut you off. You said something about extremis?”
He nodded. “That’s when a human is about to die.”
Oddly, that cheered me. “So I was going to succeed.”
Kian didn’t seem so pleased. “Yes. In a sense, you’re already gone, Edie. If your fate wasn’t currently in limbo, I wouldn’t be permitted to talk to you. There’s a pivotal moment just before death, when bargains can be made. I’m authorized to offer you three favors now in return for three favors later.”
“I don’t understand. What kind of … favors?”
“Anything you want,” he said.
“Anything?” By my tone, it had to be obvious I meant things bigger and more impossible than tickets to Tahiti.
“My ability to change your life is limited only by your imagination.”
“But then you can ask me for anything,” I pointed out. “Three times. What if it’s not something I can deliver?”
“The favors requested in return will always be within your power to grant. That’s the way it works.”
“But there are no parameters of what you might ask … or when. It might be terrible. Or illegal.” Too well, I remembered “The Monkey’s Paw,” the burden of being a reader. Somebody who spent less time lost in books might’ve already signed on the dotted line.
“You were ready to throw your life away,” Kian said. “But are you brave enough to change it?”
“You never answered me. What are you?”
“How would that help you decide? If I’m a demon, I’m unlikely to admit it, so I could say anything. How would you know if I’m telling the truth?”
He had me there. I scowled and sipped my shake, the possible dangers and consequences banging around my head. Since I’d accepted I didn’t have a future, it seemed less scary to consider everything that could go wrong down the line. If my life imploded twenty years later when the bill came due, wouldn’t it be worth it to be happy first? It had been so long since I laughed that I couldn’t remember what it felt like to walk around without this awful weight in my chest.
“In a theoretical sense, say I agree to your deal. Is there a time limit on when I have to use my favors?”
Appreciation sparked in his gaze. Kian inclined his head. “The first must be used within a year. The rest within five.”
“To prevent people from getting what they want with the first, then sitting on the others until they die, thus blocking you from asking anything in return.”
“Exactly. The return favors may be collected anytime after completion of our side of the bargain.”
“So repayment could be due anytime. Talk about living under the hammer.”
“Some people feel that way. Others live in the moment and don’t worry about what might come.”
I jammed the straw deep into my glass, chewing my bottom lip. “This sounds pretty diabolical. I hope you know that.”
“I’m aware.” Sorrow threaded his tone, making me wonder what could make someone like him sad.
“Can you tell me anything about the people you work for?”
“At the moment, no.”
I’d like to glean some more information before making a decision, but his response implied he could only answer questions after I agreed to the terms. That seemed shady; it couldn’t be good if my benefactors preferred to hide in the shadows. One thing could be said of this situation; curiosity had supplanted despair as my dominant emotion.
“You said you come to exceptional humans. Why me?” I was brainy, but not the kind of smart that cured cancer.
“If I told you why we want to save you, it could screw up your timeline.”
“You mean if I learn that I solve cold fusion, then I might not. I might decide to breed rabbits instead.”
“You hate rabbits,” Kian said gently.
“Yeah.” I did—since one bit me in the fourth grade—but how weird that he knew.
“The deal is on the table. Choose, Edie.”
From here, I sensed it was up to me. “Can I have some time to think about it?”
“No. I’m sorry.”
“It comes down to a leap then, either way. You can put me back on the bridge … only this time you don’t stop me. Will it be like we never came here or went to the mountain?”
I smiled. For someone like me, there could be only one reply.
Copyright © 2014 by Ann Aguirre
Table of Contents
The House Always Wins,
A Stitch in Time,
Home Is Where the Heartache Is,
Blood in the Water,
The Sharks Are Circling, Circling,
That Frying Pan Was Pretty Nice, Actually ...,
Ice, Ice, Baby,
All Good Things,
Another Saturday Night & I Saw a Monster,
The Art of Making Enemies,
Behold a Pale Horse,
A Grief Like Fear,
The Eye of a Little God,
The Sleep of Reason,
Your Friendship Is Killing Me,
Finding the Lost,
A Demon, Dreaming,
Normal Is Another Country,
The Dark Side Does Not Have Cookies,
For Every Action, There Is a Punch in the Face,
The Pawn in Play,
Anticipation of Evil,
What Is Gone Becomes Reality,
Damned If You Do,
A Sacrifice to Love,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was amazing. That's all I have to say! Just amazing!
Wishing and hoping for a sequel!
We've all thought about making the deal with the Devil to get something we want, being caught between two choices that could forever change our lives. Thought about it, however, is about as far as most of us consider; for Edie, she makes that choice and is soon caught up in a supernatural world she didn't expect. Caught between two worlds, one where is she is a 17 year old bully victim, and one where she is physically beautiful, Edie must decide what's truly important to her, all the while falling in love with Kian, the handsome, mysterious boy who offered her a deal she can't refuse. Dark, refreshing, and irresistibly smart.
This book was beautifly writen. The charecters were so determained but full of love at the same time. It wasnt cheesy but it wasnt bloody either. Hounestly this book kept my attintion from start to finish. The mix of love, mystery, crime and supernatral traits was mashed up into the most perfect book you will ever read. I recamend 15 and up. Belive me when i say you wont be able to put this book down.
Another great beginning to a series by Ann Aguirre! I wasn't sure when I picked this one up that I would like it, but I am glad I gave it a chance because it was soooo good! I am in LOVE with Kian! What more can I say? This was a very different concept than I have read before, and it is going to be a crazy ride! Cannot wait to read the rest of this series!
The captivating, fast-paced beginning of Mortal Danger hooked me immediately. On the brink of suicide, highly unpopular Edie, often mocked as Eat-it is offered a deal. A deal which offers her revenge on the popular Teflon crew at Blackbriar Academy. Unfortunately, in the heat and despair of the moment, she doesn't read the fine print, so to speak. That the guy who offered her the deal is stunningly handsome, does not make for clear thinking either. Deals with the devil or, in this case, a powerful, vaguely defined being, sounds cool. The act-in-haste-repent-at-leisure adage, however, would most certainly apply here. Not by nature a mean, vengeful person, Edie Kramer, the main character, is horrified when those who wronged her in the past start suffering in ways she would never have wished on them. I found the idea of beauty being the answer to popularity rather repulsive. Fortunately the newly beautified Edie does make some true friends. The sacrifices that she, as well as her handsome love interest, Kian Riley, makes in order to keep these friends safe redeems the beauty-is-everything factor a bit. Although the author employs several supernatural entities in this book, she is a bit vague as to who and what exactly they are. We have the two companies, Dwyer & Fell versus Wedderburn, Mawer and Graf, which sounds much like lawyers but are, in fact, quite a bit nastier than any lawyer could be. Tender and often rather poignant, the romance in this book fortunately does not dominate the story. With no real humor, numerous unhappy relationships, and a great deal of suffering and death, I found this book a bit depressing. Monsters of legend who carry off kids in bags, apparitions in mirrors, and a thin man who smell like death, bring a definite element of horror into this tale. A paranormal romance with a unique twist, a scary dash of horror, and a healthy dose of wisdom, Mortal Danger is most certainly a worthwhile read. (Ellen Fritz)
4.5 stars. Looking forward to next in series.
I loved the Enclave series!!! Now I have another series that I can't wait to see what happens!!! I loved Mortal Danger!!! Ugh I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. " Game On" I love those words <3 YOU ARE AMAZING Ann!!!!
i love this book!!!!
Rated at 4.5 stars Mild Spoilers A precarious beginning to this book - Edie’s suicide thwarted by a deal with the devil (or perhaps not) that makes her beautiful. Well, at least her best potential self, which redeemed Edie a bit in my eyes. But intelligent Edie chose beauty, sigh, to revenge herself on her tormentors. Her lack of fairness in form and face was her greatest pain, so her choice eliminated this destructive factor in her life. The premise was logical in relation to the story thus far, but I worried about the message the author, who has written strong female protagonists, would potentially send especially in context with the suicide portion. Edie’s choice was understandable, I suppose, and though the story mildly intrigued me, it seemed rather blasé and just wrong. Edie maneuvers her way into a summer school for smart students. Although physically metamorphosed, she still remains her sweet self she always has been (of course) and now has the capability to make BFF’s. Meh. But, once she returns home to Boston there is a bit of the Monkey’s Paw parable to the choice she makes to accept the Kian’s deal. Now the real intrigue begins. Edie is initiated into a world of unknowns. Arcane Kian, her love interest, is a variable. Can he be trusted and what is his story? Bizarre events happen at Blackbriar. Edie contemplates if it is she or another force orchestrating them. Inward, Edie questions her morality, gains perspective and empathy. Externally, she learns the rules of the twisted Game, who its macabre players are, and what role she plays in it. And she must learn the Game, in order to win….or even not to lose anyone else to it. I felt there were a couple of very minor glitches in this story. The silencer gel was far-fetched, and the two didn't use it all the time even when discussing what I thought were incriminating topics. Also the romance – which was respectful (highly approve) and sweet (minus Kian’s deception), but I felt they were just starting to get serious at the end and could begin feeling the sparks start to fly, instead of already in love, as they claimed. Overall, once Edie returned to Boston, the story had me hooked. Initially introvertly self-absorbed in her own teenage torment, she has periods of slight, self-congratulatory smugness, replaced by insight to other’s pain and shortcomings. But this knowledge comes too late in some instances. Add to that, a layer of inexperienced and somewhat awkward romance. Tack on eerie and ominous phantasmagoric beings seen in the mirror and pawing at the window. All this happens on a transcendental game board masterminded by....well, that is still a mystery. Edie’s moral compass spins round and round learning to navigate what is truly good from genuinely evil. There are chilling things lurking in the depths of her world or perhaps it is some other place or dimension, waiting to snatch her and her loved ones. Edie is tossed and thrown about in an abysmal ocean of folklore and fear, nightmares and nemesis, myth and manipulation. And THAT is what makes this book. I am dying to know who is the puppet master of the Game with its mythical beings, what strategy is planned for Edie and to what end. I can’t wait for the next book and this one hasn't even been published yet. One MUST, MUST, MUST read the Author’s Note at the end. My concerns at the beginning of the book regarding Edie’s attempt at suicide magically being fixed were also addressed by the author’s thoughtful and benevolent comments regarding suicide. I was sincerely touched by her confession and thank her for it. Disclosure: I read a free, advanced copy of the ebook in return for my candid review. Be assured, it is honest, and I do not owe or know the author/publisher.
Whew! This was a roller coaster of a ride, y'all. Not of the emotional variety, mind you. More along the lines of "I love this book!" to "Eh, I don't know. Maybe I don't?" to "Aguirre is a boss writer!". This started out strong for me, floundered a bit in the middle and ended strong. So strong, in fact, that I'm including myself in the group of people that say, "OMG I NEED THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT NOW!" First and foremost, this book is SMART. I think I gained 15 IQ points while reading it. (Thank goodness for the built in dictionary on my e-reader, lol.) If I were a writer, THIS is the kind of writing I would hope to achieve one day. Anyone who says YA books are nothing but fluff should be given a copy of this book and then be forced to write "I'm a liar, liar, liar and my pants are on fire" on the blackboard 270 times. (Wait. Does anyone even remember blackboards? Think whiteboard, only...black. And messy.) There are certain things I wasn't crazy about in MORTAL DANGER. Notably, the back and forth Edie goes through in her evolution. One minute she's hell bent on getting revenge on the Teflon group, and then she's second guessing herself. Same thing happens with her relationship with Kian. (Oh, Kian. I love you. More on that later.) One page she's pretty sure she loves him, the next she's pretty sure she can't trust him. But you know what? That's kind of how teenage girls operate, isn't it? So sure of something until...they're not. Keep that in mind if you feel that pang of frustration with her like I did. My new boyfriend, Kian, is a strong member in team good guy. He's smart, gorgeous, caring and selfless. Selfless to a fault, maybe. Kian is straddling that fine line in which selflessness becomes a detriment to one's self worth. (Look at me using these big words. Aguirre really did make me smarter, yo!) I'm hopeful and anxious to see where we find both Kian and Edie in the second installment of this series. MORTAL DANGER had it's moments of frustration, but in the end, the multiple positive messages it conveys (Girls! You don't need a hero!) and the intelligence won me over and turned this into a recommended read. BTW, there is short story in Kian's POV in a time pre-deal with Edie. It's a MUST READ and is available exclusively HERE. Heck, you should go read this even if you haven't picked up MORTAL DANGER yet. You'll get a good taste of what's to come.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre Book One of the Immortal Game series Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication Date: August 5, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Revenge is a dish best served cold. In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget. In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn't sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind. What I Liked: Um. In general? I don't think I was expecting this book to be what it turned out to be. At all. The summary isn't entirely indicative of the book, but in hindsight, this is a GOOD thing. I was a bit surprised when I reached some parts of the book, and discovered some things. Also, I didn't expect this book to be so... dark. Creepy. Not scary. But dark. Twisted. Edie is about to commit suicide when she is offered a bargain she can't refuse from a gorgeous boy who seems to know her pain better than she does: she'll grant her three favors, she can get her revenge, but once her favors are granted, she is tied to the company for which he works. Edie takes the deal. She asks to become beautiful, so that she can get revenge on the beautiful, self-absorbed peers at Blackbriar. But things start to occur at Blackbriar, to the people she despises... but it's not her. It's not Kian, the guy who offered her the deal. Something dark is at work, a world in which Edie must find her way. This book kind of has two parts: the first deals with Edie getting acquainted with Kian and her wishes and the whole bargain business. Also, it has to do with her going to Blackbriar, and feeling in control, for once in her life. The second part deals more with the dark occurrences at Blackbriar and surrounding Edie. Things she can't explain and doesn't understand start to unfold. To be honest, the first half of this book was boring. I totally understand that Aguirre needed to lay the groundwork for the rest of the book - she did an excellent job of introducing readers to Kian and his deal, his boss, his enslavement. We get to know all about Edie's difficult life at Blackbriar and at home. She had a really hard time at Blackbriar - the "Teflon" crew, as she calls them, are a horrible bunch. So I understand why the first half was slow, boring even, because the worldbuilding needed to be carefully constructed before the "real" stuff rolled around. And by "real", I mean DARK. The creepy, twisted stuff was more in the second half of the book, and that made things much more interesting. I was bored in the first half of the book, but I couldn't finish the second half/the book fast enough! I like Edie a lot. I'm not saying I'm terribly ugly (which apparently, Edie was, she was horrible to look at, before the first wish Kian granted her). But in terms of nerdiness... yeah, we're both so there. Talk about physics/science/math nerdiness at its finest. I'm totally like her, in that sense. So I definitely felt for her, in that aspect. My parents aren't physicists, but I definitely felt the slavedriver regime they had me on when I was in elementary, middle, and high school. Now that I'm at Johns Hopkins University studying engineering... well, I've proven myself to them. I think. Anyway. I liked Edie. I REALLY liked Kian. Kian comes off as perfect, but he isn't. He was also a kid on the verge of suicide, offered three wishes... and roped into the business. That explains his stunning good looks. It also explains why he isn't super arrogant or cocky, like many YA heroes. He's actually adorable and unsure of himself and cautious. I APPROVE. I already mentioned the plot... let me tell you about the dark side of this book. Without spoiling things, of course. I seriously thought this book was all about Edie getting revenge on her peers. WRONG. That's scratching the surface of it all. Edie's life and wishes don't necessarily matter, in the grand scheme of things. Greater "powers" are at work here, and it gets bloody. Fast. Literally bodies flying everywhere. That's all I'm saying. Despite my skepticism (after starting the book), I ended up really enjoying this book (as I seem to be doing with Aguirre's books in general). I definitely can't wait to read the next book! I feel like things are just getting started... like Aguirre is going to start blowing up things (figuratively and possibly literally as well). What I Did Not Like: I already mentioned this before, but the slow start to this book was a little painful, at times. But I understand why it was necessary. So maybe take this "dislike" in a positive light - if you're stuck in the first "half", in which it's all about Edie's makeover and her revenge, keep going. It gets better, more interesting, and creepier. Talk about dark. I don't want to say anything specific because the synopsis mentions nothing about the subject matter to which I'm referring, so I'll keep the "surprises" alive. Would I Recommend It: Definitely, if you're a fan of Aguirre's books. It seems like Aguirre is a natural storyteller, and this book is no exception to her talent. It's so great that she all but churns out so many books, and they're all really good (in my opinion)! I'll definitely be catching the sequel to this book, as soon as possible. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to be content with reading her other upcoming novels. What a hardship that is, LOL. Rating: 4 stars. An excellent start to a new series! This book doesn't just have an awesome cover, but also, an amazing story!
Read from July 07 to 08, 2014 Book Info Kindle Edition, 384 pages Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Feiwel & Friends ASIN B00IWUXVRY edition language English series Immortal Game #1 other editions (3) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links Amazon B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS Revenge is a dish best served cold. Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget. In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind.. My Thoughts In the normal course of life we experience many ups and downs, some pleasant some not but for those of us like Edie Kramer who do not fit a mold that certain members of society find to it’s liking life can be complete misery. Prior to her parents enrolling her in the prestigious institution of private school Blackbriar Academy Edie never considered the fact that she would rather spend her time in the company of books rather than with others of her own age to be out of the ordinary. Unfortunately add to the fact she is a bookworm who also needs thick glasses to see, does not wear fashionable attire or makeup, has unkempt hair rather than styled and is overweight as well and the bullies at Blackbriar target her unmercifully for three years until a final indignity before summer break of her senior year forces her to decide to commit suicide. It is hard to understand at times just how cruel human beings can be to one another, especially children. It is harder still to imagine having to live as a target for all the criticisms, foul pranks and hurtful words aimed your way simply because you do not look or act like everyone else around you. Edie Kramer’s story not only shows exactly how critical it is for our self worth not to be tied into how we look or how we dress or even how much money we have to spend but rather how we overcome these superficial measures by doing the best we can for ourselves as well as others no matter how many mentally damaging roadblocks are placed in our way. This is an excellent book in the respect that it really captures the way in which we can become a victim to those whose cruelty far outweighs their humanity, it also shows the other side of the coin by allowing Edie to get to the point where she is able to understand to a degree what motivated her classmates to perform such careless acts that drove her to decide death was preferable to her life. My only regret mirrors that of others who have stated that after Edie’s personal transformation her scheme for revenge became a secondary plot, taking a backseat to the power plays that were going on with Edie at the center of a game that she had no real hope of winning. To get the most impact for the kind of horrors that await Edie throughout the course of the tale it is best to not even give a hint as to what bargains were made and what lessons can be learned by both Edie and the reader as they are unveiled. This is indeed a tale of “darkness” but one that shows how we can find “light” in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times! [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
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