Dez is a good girl who does as she's told and tries not to be noticed. Then she rescues a boy from a cage, and he tells her secrets about herself. Now inside her burns a darkness that will transform her.
Everything is about to change--and neither Caleb, nor the Otherkin, nor those who hunt them, are prepared for what Dez will unleash.
"Be prepared to lose some sleep. Otherkin is full of non-stop action and suspense, and you're not going to be able to put it down!" --Brigid Kemmerer, author of the Elemental series
"Get caught up in a dangerous world of shadow magic, shifters, and secrets." --New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Estep
"Berry's debut offers just the right combination of high-stakes exploits and steamy love scenes to keep readers up until the wee hours. . .ripe with issues that will resonate with readers. From body image to friendship, first love and betrayal, [OTHERKIN] explores the truth that no matter who or what you are, there's no escaping the politics of high school." – Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Inspired by novels she loved as a teen, she sold her debut YA paranormal novel OTHERKIN to KTeen in 2011. When not writing, Nina loves to travel, read, and tweet links about saving big cats in the wild. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Read an Excerpt
By NINA BERRY
K TEEN BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Nina Berry
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Freak." I tore off the back brace and threw it on the floor. "Why'd you let him touch you?"
I stared at the brace, anger curling in my gut. It sat tilted on the floor like an ancient broken statue with no head, no arms, no legs.
Oh God, it had happened. A cute boy had asked me out. And not just any cute boy, but Jake fricking Peters, hottest senior in school, who could have any girl he wanted. He'd not only invited me to the lame-ass dance this weekend, he'd put his hands on my waist as he did it. Only to feel my rock-hard robot contours. I pressed my hands to my heated cheeks. Shame had seared the scene into my memory.
"What's that?" Jake had asked as his fingers grazed my hip. His eyes lit with surprise.
"Nothing." I backed away from him, avoiding his gaze. I'd known this would happen. I knew getting close to anyone was a mistake. "I ... I've got to get home. See you later." The words rattled out of me, and I had scuttled away.
Now I breathed deep, trying to squash my rising frustration. At least I was home where nothing could touch me. Safe in my own room. With Mom and Richard out at work, I was alone, where no one would laugh at me, or pity me, or call me a mutant.
I peeled off the sweaty undershirt I had to wear under the thing and hurled it into the laundry. God, I hate those stupid shirts. I slid my hand around my own waist, the waist no boy could ever put his arm around.
I wasn't that goddamn brace, not anymore. To hell with the brace! I looked around for something to hit it with, something to break it, so I'd never have to wear it again.
But there was nothing. Nothing but my bare hands.
Even as I yanked it off the floor, a small part of my brain knew this wasn't like me. I never flew into rages or whined about the brace. I was a good girl, a nice girl, and tantrums were for people with no self-control.
But I'd worn the damned thing twenty-three hours a day for two years to prevent my spine from curving further, donning baggy clothes to hide it, unable to bend, enduring the agony as it fought against my body, unable to swim or climb trees, avoiding any proximity to boys.
Something had snapped. I pulled and scraped at it with my bare hands, trying to tear it apart, fingernails splintering. But the plastic wouldn't give. The surface didn't even scratch.
Rage blazed through me, so hot I thought I'd explode. I screamed. A convulsive thrust of power shot from the center of my chest along my spine, down my limbs, and out of every pore. The scream became a full-throated roar. I dropped my hands to the ground. Only they weren't hands anymore, but huge paws, orange on top, white around the claws, striped brownish black. I whipped around, trying to see myself.
What? A long, thickly furred tail knocked the lamp off my nightstand. This can't be happening.
The crash of the lamp sounded like an explosion. I crouched, tail tucked between my back legs, and looked up to see my reflection in the mirror on my closet door. Had I gone insane? Great golden eyes blinked back at me. I flinched. The tiger in the mirror winced too, ears back, white whiskers bristling.
I barely had time to take in my orange coat, white underbelly, and wide pattern of dark stripes when a loud thwack sounded from my bedroom window. Something stabbed into my side. A growl of pain and surprise escaped me. A dart lodged in the pale fur beneath my right front leg. Pain ran up my body, too real to be a dream.
I looked up to see a young man, almost angelically blond, dressed all in white, standing outside my window with a rifle. The screen was torn. He'd broken a couple of stakes Mom and I used to get the tomatoes to climb. We stared at each other. His face was alive and hot with anticipation. Burning pain spread through my veins from the dart. Instinctively, I gathered my new body to leap at him. He fired again. Another barb speared my shoulder, and I reeled back.
I snarled at him and tried to stand. But a painful lethargy took over. I shook my head, trying to clear it. Air whipped across my whiskers, a strange sensation.
An older man, also in white, joined the first to observe me through the window. He clapped a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Good job, son," he said.
"It's taking two," his son said. "She's strong for one so young."
The older man had a head of thick silver hair. His even teeth flashed almost blue white as he smiled. "We'll see about that," he said.
And everything went black.
Chapter TwoI forced my eyes open and stared up at the shiny bars above me. Bars? Turning my head sent spikes of agony into my skull. The pain blotted out my tumbling confusion.
Where was I? I caught a whiff of a burlap pallet beneath me, lumpy as an overused futon. Old animal odors drifted up from it. I looked down. The last thing I remembered couldn't have happened. A surge of relief ran through me as I saw that my hands were my hands. My arms were long, thin, and pale. Human arms.
The floor beneath the pallet was as shiny as the bars. A strange, high-pitched hum buzzed up from it. I focused on staying calm. Go slow. First things first. Where am I?
A polished cage squatted around me like a silver spider, less than five feet high and not much longer than my body. Every inch of my skin recoiled from it as if from a hot stove. All my life I'd had a rare allergy to silver. Now I was trapped in a pen made of it.
"You weren't out long." A male voice, young, came at me from beyond my cage.
My heart pounded against my ribs as I pushed myself up to sit. "I ..." Speaking set off a bout of coughing. My body throbbed with pain. I curled into a seated fetal position, careful to stay on the straw pallet and not touch the silver floor. Something about the position felt wrong.
The brace! I wasn't wearing it. Someone had put me in a thin cotton hospital gown that barely covered my bruised knees. Without that shield of plastic and metal around me I felt utterly vulnerable. A deep trembling began in my shoulders and hips and spread out to shake my fingers and toes.
"Take it easy," said the voice. Something in its tone smoothed out the jagged edges of my fear. "Breathe. You'll be okay."
"Oh, sure, I'm great," I said hoarsely.
The half gloom of the world around me was completely unfamiliar. A single floodlight set into a wall beyond my cage cut a white swath of light across my prison and sent the long shadows of the bars stabbing into the space beyond. My eyes adjusted, and the gaps of darkness opened to me.
About thirty feet from me lay another cage, also shiny, equipped with a cot, and inhabited by a tall boy about my own age in a long black coat, dark pants, and a white shirt smeared with grime. He stood almost touching the bars, staring out at me, hands plunged into his pockets. Eyes black as onyx considered me. His dark hair curled back from his tan forehead in short unruly waves, framing the bold line of his nose, his strong jaw, and a full but severe mouth. He stood with a dangerous sort of grace, as if a coiled strength waited beneath the surface, ready to cause havoc. Even in the shadows I could see an indigo bruise forming around his right eye. His intense stare plus no brace or normal clothes made me feel naked. I looked away from him. If only I could disappear.
"My name's Caleb," he said. I was struck by the harmony woven into his voice. "What's yours?"
"Desdemona," I said. "Dez. Where are we?" Trying to remain calm, I looked around and spotted a pile of something in the darkest corner of my cage. "My clothes. Thank God."
"It's a shame to cover up those legs of yours," he said with a small smile.
I startled, flushing.
"But you are looking kind of blue, literally," he went on. "And you'll feel better facing them if you've got something on."
I jerked my gaze up from my legs, which were indeed splotched blue and purple from the cold. "Them—who?"
"The ones your parents warned you about," he said. "Lazar's their best shot. Was he the one who got you? Tall guy, around my age, blond hair?"
The guy in white with the rifle.
None of it made sense—the striped paws, the crash of the lamp, the tiger in the mirror. I rubbed the spot on my shoulder where the first dart had hit. "He did. But nobody ever warned me. He shot me right after ..." I couldn't say it. The cute boy in the neighboring cage would think I was crazy. Neighboring cage? How was this now my life?
"After you shifted?" He looked me up and down. "You've got the grace of one of the big cats. Let me guess. Mountain lion?"
"Tiger," I said faintly.
"Really?" His black eyes sparked. "What are you doing here? Your English is very good."
"Thanks, I've been speaking it my whole life," I said. It came out angrier than I thought it would. Nothing he said made sense, and that didn't help the rising tide of panic in my chest. "I grew up in fricking Burbank, California. Is this some weird cult or something? God, they must've shot me up with hallucinogens." I pulled the pile of clothes toward me. It contained my undershirt, my billowy dress, and sandals, all lying on top of the back brace. Its familiar boxy shape gave me a weird rush of relief.
"More likely a fast-acting tranquilizer spiked with silver nitrate," he said. "Are you saying you don't know what you are?"
"I'm not a what," I said, willing myself to believe it. "I'm a who, and I want to be left alone."
"Too late for that," he said.
My imagination was on serious overdrive. I could've sworn the silver in the cage wanted to bite me. Caleb was circling the edges of his cage, staring at the bars with a hatred that made me almost feel sorry for them. I said, "So what are you, Captain Blackcoat? A panther?"
He brushed his long black coat with the back of his hand to acknowledge my reference to it. "No, I'm something else."
"You're something else, all right. Would you mind ..." I twirled my finger, asking him to turn around while I dressed.
"Of course." He smirked, but bowed at the waist, like one of those elegant men in a Jane Austen movie, then turned away.
I pulled open my hospital gown, relieved to find myself wearing my ordinary white bra and underwear. Deep purple bruises grooved along my waist and down in front of my hip bones, but those were normal. Years of wearing the brace had left me with these imprints. The encircling plastic also acted like a corset, squishing my waistline and hips so relentlessly that they'd permanently shrunk by a couple of inches.
I hated the damned thing with every cell in my body. But I had to wear it. Just before I turned fourteen I'd been diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, fancy talk for curvature of the spine with an unknown cause. Every three months I went in for X-rays and got a big fat reminder from Dr. Mwesi. He'd lean back in his chair, peering over his glasses at me, and tell horrible stories of girls who'd had iron rods placed in their spines because they hadn't worn their brace.
I slipped on the undershirt, then opened the back of the brace. I sat up on my knees to clamp it around my torso. Thick plastic pads inside corresponded with the bruising at my waist. One rigid arch of plastic came up high under my left arm, then dipped under my breasts, cut low at the waist on my right side, and circled around me to come up high again at my spine. Industrial strength Styrofoam pads pressed up against my vertebrae, shoving them into place. I reached behind and tugged on the first strap, shoving it into the buckle as I did so.
The solid plastic tightened around me, and I felt like an ancient knight, donning his armor before a fight. In the brace I was back to normal, barricaded. But as I tightened the other strap, contrary wings of wrath fanned against my ribs. I tugged at the bottom edge of the brace, trying to find a more comfortable fit. Stubborn body. Stupid spine.
I took a deep breath to squash the anger. If I let it escape it might never stop. My torso expanded as I inhaled. I imagined it swelling until it burst the straps and tore off the buckles.
"I sense shadow," said Caleb, beginning to turn toward me. "Shouldn't be possible with all this silver ..."
"Don't look at me!" I barked at him, shoving my arms into my dress and pulling it over my head. I couldn't stand it if he saw me in that thing. Better to be invisible.
"Sorry," he said, turning away again. "I wish I could help you. It's just very odd. The silver should keep it from manifesting."
"Keep what from manifesting?" I awkwardly stretched my arms out and shoved my feet into my sandals. Being unable to bend at the waist made shoes a challenge. "What is it about the silver?" I said. "It's like ..." I was ashamed to say it. "Like I can hear it singing. And it makes my head hurt."
He turned back around, his dark eyes intent. "It does sing, but usually only to a caller like me. I've never heard a shifter say they heard it too."
"What the hell ..." I tried to stand and slammed my head into the top of the cage. I sat down hard. Part of the brace cut up into the soft flesh of my underarm. "What are you talking about?" I rubbed the crown of my head.
"You really don't know, do you?" He crossed his arms and looked down at me. "It doesn't make any sense. No shifter would ever let their child grow up without knowing their heritage."
I took a deep breath. Stay calm. "What the hell are you talking about? What is this place? And why is my goddamn cage so much smaller than yours?"
Caleb resumed pacing. "The Tribunal is more afraid of you than they are of me," he said. "Your cage is smaller because they need to get the silver as close to you as possible, to keep you from shifting."
"What's the Tribunal?"
"The ones who captured us. They hate people like you and me, and they'll do whatever they can to strip away everything we are." He looked more like a wild animal than I did, pacing like that. "You and I are otherkin," he said. "We're human, yes, but we are also other. The silver suppresses your shifting abilities and prevents me from seeing your shadow self. I felt shadow vibrating from you a moment ago. But that shouldn't be possible. All the silver around us should keep me from sensing anything, and render you barely conscious, let alone able to shift."
"Shift," I said. "You mean, into ..."
"Abomination." A different voice echoed off the bare walls. "Demon."
"Fiend," said another, female. "Filth. Perhaps we can wash you clean."
The young man who'd shot me walked toward my cage, his gold hair catching the light. He had perfect cheekbones, thick brows, and deep-set brown eyes straight out of a Romantic painting of some implacable archangel. A large gold cross over a snowy white shirt completed the picture of vengeful purity. He didn't look older than eighteen, but he carried an authority that seemed more man than boy. Something jingled slightly as he walked. Then I saw a ring of keys, half tucked into his right pants pocket.
Behind him a girl about my age glided in a long white gown that covered her modestly from neck to toes. But it couldn't hide the luscious curves beneath it. I felt a stab of envy. I could never wear a dress like that. It would show every contour of the brace. Her hair lay stick straight and pale over her shoulders. She had the same deep-set, brown eyes as the boy with her. They had to be brother and sister, bright as morning in a meadow, or the harsh glare of a flashlight in the face.
"Desdemona," said Caleb. "Meet our hosts, Lazar and Amaris, acolytes of the Tribunal."
The girl, Amaris, glanced over at him, her face shuttered. He gazed back at her, blank. "Does he have to be here?" she asked. "Couldn't we ..."
"When Father gets back he'll decide what to do with him," said Lazar. He also had a musical voice, but harsher than Caleb's. "Until then, he stays in the cage."
I saw a flash of defiance as Amaris opened her mouth to argue. But in a heartbeat she crushed it down. I felt an instant of kinship; I knew how it felt to squash down your feelings.
She came close to my cage, hunkering down gracefully. Her gaze traveled over me as if I were a curious specimen. "The demon is remarkably awake," she said of me. "Are you sure she can't shift?"
So much for kinship. "I'm right here," I said. "And I can talk."
They looked at me as if the couch had spoken. "The silver makes it impossible for her to shift now, just as it keeps Caleb from calling to shadow." Lazar squatted down next to her, scrutinizing me. "We may have to drug her again before we remove her though. Her system purified itself more quickly than we anticipated."
Excerpted from Otherkin by NINA BERRY Copyright © 2012 by Nina Berry. Excerpted by permission of K TEEN 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.
What People are Saying About This
"Be prepared to lose some sleep. Otherkin is full of non-stop action and suspense, and you're not going to be able to put it down!
—Brigid Kemmerer (author of the Elemental series)
Get caught up in a dangerous world of shadow magic, shifters, and secrets.
—New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Estep
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm 32 and really really enjoyed this book. Finished it in one sitting. Can't wait to read the next book.
OMG what a roller coaster. I can say for sure I was never once bored on this trip. What drew me to Otherkin was the amazing cover. Yeah it is cover love again. But dang could that cover be any better, I think not! Just perfect. Otherkin has a good strong plot and lots of action to keep anyone entertained. The writing is good, and flows nicely. I found myself drug into Dez's life with her personality and honest reactions. I would have to say I relate more to her than I have to many other heroines. Sometimes there is that one MC that just stands out, and Dez is it. Dez is a girl who has been restricted by health issues. She doesn't feel comfortable around boys or really anyone for that matter. She is angry and frustrated as most people would be. Dez is literally caged in, waiting to break free. And boy does she ever! When Dez breaks free of her confines she turns into one powerhouse of a girl. With the restrictions removed, it's like a whole new Dez emerges from the ashes. The thing I loved best about Dez is when push came to shove she had no problem biting back. There were several times I found myself thinking "Oh yeah, now that's girl power" and "you tell him Dez" You know what I am talking about. When the leading guy Caleb starts to draw away from her, Dez doesn't do the whole OMG he doesn't like me anymore and cry. Heck no, she tells him the hell off and makes him feel the way she does. I have to admire her for this, now to me this is an honest reaction! Dez, you rock! Caleb is a very mysterious guy who Dez meets in a cell next to hers. I found him both protective and sweet. Sure he has his moments of pigheadedness, but hey once you find out why you will understand. I love that he is both protective of Dez but he doesn't try to push her into doing things she doesn't want to. He lets her make her own decisions even if there's a chance she will get hurt, not saying he won't be there to try to stop it though ;) I found Caleb to be level headed, he didn't let things get in the way of what he had to do, even if it was Dez herself. I respect him for that. Bottom line, Caleb = swoon. He has won me over. Otherkin is a great book. If you are looking for a book to take you away from the everyday, this is it. The author has an original plot filled with tons of action and an equal amount of romance. I loved to concept of Callers, very unique. I can't wait to find out more about them. I also can't wait to find out more about Dez and her abilities. I will definitely have my calendar marked when part 2 comes out. Take a chance on Otherkin, you won't regret it.
I clicked on the reviews to see what people thougt of the book not to get the whole story and background. Please just write what you thought of the book
I have not got very far but its good.
I would absolutely recommend this book to others. I found it to be both different and captivating. I read this book so fast that I bought the second book within the same day and finished both books the same day. I found it to be an amazing read and I would read it again and again. I applaud the author and I am anxiously awaiting the next book.
Not even done reading this one yet and felt compelled to shout my 'Yes!' on this one! Even though this is a 'Young Adult/Teen' book, the Otherkin has captured me in Shadow and has yet to release its hold. I am 39 and cannot seem to put this book down. I have stayed up late, been late for work (thank goodness I will finish it tonight...lol). The characters of Dez and Caleb have a great chemistry that seems to be spot on with teens these days. Does not run to cheesy. Without boring details, you still get a sense of the other characters as well. Glimpsing their backgrounds and general history of Otherkin. I cannot wait to FB this post or Pin it! I hope she has more books, I think I may be adding another fav to my author list! Another reason this book intrigued me was that I was tired of vampires, wolves, shifters, wizards witches, callers, faes...etc , but the cover intrigued me, so I bought it. SO glad I did!
Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyOTHERKIN, the first book in Nina Berry¿s new paranormal YA series of the same name, hurls its protagonist into a long fought war between the five remaining shifter species and the magic users¿called conjurers¿who are determined to destroy them. Magic, or shadow as it¿s called, comes from another world and can be called into ours by certain people. Berry provides fresh and interesting details surrounding this idea and hints at even more revelations in the books to come.The pacing in OTHERKIN feels a bit rushed initially, which didn¿t immediately endear me to Dez. She was forced through a lot of emotions in a very short period of time learning that she¿s a shifter, that she¿s being hunted, and that she must leave her family behind and train at a secret school for shifters. There isn¿t a lot of processing time for any of this. Even Dez¿s mother pretty much goes with the flow with very few questions or concerns. I appreciated the idea behind condensing the reactions, but found it too unrealistic.The other part of OTHERKIN that felt rushed was the romance. This is an action packed book with lots of cool fights and escape scenes. It also takes place over a very short period of time. Dez and Caleb do have intense, adrenaline filled encounters, but I had a hard time believing that anything beyond attraction could have developed between them given these circumstances. Hearing the L-word thrown around was a real stretch. I do see potential for them. Dez develops a good amount of maturity and bravery throughout the book, which makes Caleb¿s interest in her very believable. And Caleb brings just the right amount of mystery and impulsiveness to make him a great love interest.The next book in the Otherkin series is titled OTHERMOON and will be published in February 2013. Fans of shifter YA series like Kelley Armstrong¿s Darkness Rising series and Andrea Cremer¿s Nightshade series will find plenty to like here.Sexual Content:Kissing
Not worth it. Great idea but poorly written.
Although this was a little young for me it nevertheless was a very enjoyable read.
I loved this book lots of action and love
Reviewed by Valerie Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Oh yeah! This one is different and hooked me from the beginning. What made it even more appealing is that the main character, Dez, has no clue what’s going on in her life and as she finds out, so does the reader…what’s going on you want to know? Plenty! Adopted as an infant with loving parents, for the past two years, Desdemona, aka Dez, has been wearing a stifling back brace fighting the curving of her spine. Then, one night she goes to a school dance and a boy puts his arms around her, but she’s horrified he might touch her brace and rushes home. At home, she fights the anger inside of her at the unfairness of having to wear a brace 23 hours a day and bigger clothes to hide it, besides the bruises on her hips. During this moment of anger, she shifts. Yes, you read that right…shifts…into a tiger, no less. The moment changes her life as she is soon captured and introduced to the world of “other.” The world that Nina Berry has created is fascinating with teens that shift into animal shapes, others that can conjure shadows, as well as being chased by the Tribunal trying to cleanse the world of all shifters. Enter boy crush, Caleb, and the story was flowing with all sorts of twists and turns! As Dez fights to protect her parents, figure out her relationship with Caleb, and become comfortable with who and what she is, she strengthens her skills at a make-shift school for teens like her. However, as she learns more and more, she has even more questions and unusual things happening to her, just her. Read on to see what happens to Dez, Caleb, and her friends! Othermoon, the sequel, will be released in February, 2013. Favorite Quote:What are you when the moon shall rise? -Sir Henry Wotton, 1620
Is this book one or two?
'Otherkin' is a fantastic start to what promises to be an amazing YA fantasy/paranormal series. I haven't read any shifter books in quite awhile, so I was really interested when I picked these up for review. Let me tell you - I was NOT disappointed! This book went far beyond any hopes or expectations I may have had for it. The characters were well formed with distinct personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. I loved the main character of Dez. She's down to earth, smart, and a girl who doesn't get into trouble - she's realistic. We definitely get to see her character grow throughout the book as she begins to change into her "real" self and as she learns who - and what - she really is. I absolutely loved the background and history of the Otherkin. I wanted to know as much about them as I could, and I'm really hoping the author shares more of it in the next book. The plot was intriguing with a solid backstory and tons of action, adventure, fantasy and even some romance mixed in. There's something for every genre fan in this book, which really makes it appeal to a wide audience. The writing was incredible with a natural but fast pace and vivid details that made me feel like I was experiencing everything right alongside Dez. Definitely highly recommended for fans of the genre as well as those who want something fresh and different. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I am not even half way done with his book, and already love love love it!!!!Best book ever!!!!!!!! If you like this book,then I recomend that you read Starters.
Awesome start to the series. If you love animals you'll love this book. It's got action, adventure, romance and supspense. I loved reading it and you will too.
AT first I didnt want to read this book. I had picked it up by chance at my library. Im so glad I did. There was action in the first chapter that held you until the last page. Nowadays, supernatural romances are really just mushy chick-flick worthy stuff. But not this. Granted, the moments inwhich passion sparked could have been placed better and at times seemed random and out of place, but the writing was still there. Better yet, this book had a plot! An compelling, original, thoughtout, crazy-good plot tgat was worth writing about! (Avoiding spoilers here) All in all, this book was top knotch and I cant wait for more. Amd if you get this book, neither will you.
I bought this as a special of the day book. Im so glad i did. I frequently read paranormal books, but not many about shape shifters. This book has a great and active story plot behind it that continues until the very end. I cant wait to read the second one.
forgot to rate this in my previos review
I enjoyed this book - it was a very easy read, but interesting enough to keep the pages turning. The story, I think, was geared to the youth to mid-teen audience so made for a light read. This is the first of three, so it will be interesting to see the continuation of the story line.
Non-stop right from the start, you will love all the different characters.