Hunter Miller has a secret.
He can read and manipulate the auras that surround everyone.
Having used his talent to dethrone the reigning school bully, thirteen-year old Hunter finds himself thrust into a new quest after hearing screams in the aura of a teacher. Unable to resist this powerful siren song, he investigates—despite warnings from his family and friends. It nearly costs him everything.
When he discovers the truth, Hunter seeks help stopping his formidable adversary. As the situation escalates, the adolescent hero realizes that despite the risks, he must fight this battle alone.
In this second installment of The Master of Perceptions series, can Hunter use his extraordinary powers to rescue an innocent woman without losing himself in the process?
Read an Excerpt
TOMMY LACHANCE'S naked body drew all eyes toward the center of my school's playground. A beacon in a sea of humanity, students and adults alike gazed open-mouthed at the struggling boy attached to the flagpole.
"What on earth ..." sputtered Mr. Lajoie, my teacher.
"It's Tommy!" whispered several of the closer girls, who tittered with embarrassed laughter.
"Serves you right!" yelled a small boy from the third grade section.
"Ha! Who's the tough guy now?"
The shouts and jeers escalated as over two hundred souls craned their necks and jostled for position to witness the biggest bully of the school, now rendered helpless. The tone turned celebratory, with back-slapping, high-fives, and raucous laughter. No one came to Tommy's defense, not even the teachers — at least for the moment.
"My goodness," said the principal, Mrs. Frechette. "How in heaven's name did he get up there?" She seemed more curious than upset by the situation.
Tommy wriggled in vain against the restraints. He tried to scream, but the gag I'd stuffed halfway down his throat muffled the sound. The other kids didn't know — and probably didn't care — how he got there, and that was fine by me. I wanted no credit, but I was proud of our work. After enduring months of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Tommy and his minions, my friends and I were finally liberated from the rule of the 33rd Street Gang. So were the other students who couldn't fight for themselves.
The gang's power was gone, vanishing in an instant.
While reveling in the recollection of my success, another unbidden memory took its place — my battle with Trigger. I could still feel the burning in my throat where his giant hand had obstructed my breathing. Why hadn't his body fallen limply to the ground? I'd pulled Trigger into the void, the place where consciousness wasn't possible, by removing all sensation and color from his aura. I'd done this to myself hundreds of times in the past, and I'd practiced on kids from the bus. Why hadn't it worked?
I knew the answer now — I'd inadvertently turned his aura totally black instead of removing it. Trigger's aura was mostly black at baseline, a color I associated with menace or trouble. Without the other colors and sensations, I'd turned him into someone even more dangerous. I'd felt panic as the second fist, the mate of the one constricting my airway, reared back to strike.
The murderous intent in his eyes held me spellbound.
"Hunter! It's time to go!" a voice said.
My life flashed before my eyes. Then suddenly, Trigger's grip relaxed, and his other fist fell harmlessly away as ten thousand volts shocked us both.
Allan's open palm struck my shoulder and wrenched my mind forward thirty minutes to the present.
"Hunter!" he repeated. "The buses aren't going to wait!"
I shook my head to clear away the troubling vision. The mural on the side of Madrona Elementary, the school I'd attended since 3rd grade, came into focus. I'd progressed on so many levels at this wonderful new place. My gift had been a curse when I was younger, rendering me non-communicative. I'd spent a miserable few months at the University of Washington Autism Center, where I'd made no progress at all. Since the transfer over two years ago, I'd learned to speak fluently, demonstrated my remarkable talent for mathematics, and collected a small group of friends.
"I still can't believe we pulled it off!" Allan said.
Yes. We'd certainly pulled it off. But how close to dying had I been? If not for the policeman's Taser, I'd be in a body bag. "Yeah," I muttered.
"You have to tell me what you did!" he said. "How on earth did you knock Tommy out like that?"
As my mental faculties fully returned, I realized I couldn't tell him the truth. I needed to distract him. I checked my watch and waved it in his direction. "Man, you're right! It's almost time for the buses to leave! Let's go!"
I ran toward the dwindling line of students boarding the buses, with Allan on my heels.
"Wait," he said, catching me easily. "Aren't you coming over to my house? I have karate later, but Mom said it would be OK if you came over for dinner. You've got to tell me what you did!"
I'd forgotten about my plans for dinner at Allan's.
We sat down next to each other on the bus and talked all the way home about the biggest coup in school history, taking down the 33rd Street Gang. My scheme for dividing and conquering would never have worked without Allan and our other friends, Bob, Davis, Brady, Don and Mickey, all of whom executed their tasks perfectly.
"What happened with Trigger?" he asked.
"That was pretty scary. You know how we planned to rile him up and then have Miss Tilton catch him punching me?"
"Yeah, and then he'd get suspended. But what really happened?"
"It started out OK. I called him Maurice, which set him on edge."
"Ha! I know he hates that!"
"But instead of just punching me and Mrs. Tilton catching him, he bashed the picture window in her office into a million pieces. Then he went bat-crazy and grabbed me by the throat. I thought I was dead. Fortunately, the police guy was right there, and he used his Taser to knock Trigger out."
"Wait, I thought you said he was grabbing you by the neck? Weren't you Tasered too?"
In fact, I was, but my gift allowed me to heal quickly enough to walk away. Good thing, too, or the rest of the plan would've failed.
"I got away just in time," I lied. I felt the waves emanate from my aura and ignored them. My lie-detecting capability was extremely useful, but not right now.
"Then Davis and Bob tricked Fat Louie into eating a dozen candy bars, and he passed out from too much sugar?" Allan asked.
"Exactly. My grandfather taught me about diabetes."
"He would know. Nice to have a doctor in the family!"
I really loved Grandpa. He'd helped me discover the basis of my talents, and I couldn't wait to see him again this summer. I had so much more to learn! He was the only one who knew what I could do, and he'd cautioned me not to tell anyone else.
"And then Simon. How'd you know he'd confess and take the blame for Tommy smashing the school spirit panthers?"
I knew because of the orange aura — but I couldn't say that to Allan. Instead I said, "You know how he was always doing Tommy's bidding? He'd get his food at lunch, or do whatever Tommy asked? I was sure he'd cover for Tommy, no matter what the cost. It's just the way Simon is. Can't be the leader, so he's the best possible follower."
"You nailed it. But Tommy himself, I gotta know. What did you do? How'd you knock him out so we could tie him to the flagpole like that?"
"Wait until we get to your house," I said, still having no idea what I was going to say.CHAPTER 2
ALLAN SAT next to me all year in our 6th grade class. On day 1, he made a joke that kept me from being horribly embarrassed for not being able to speak in front of my classmates, and we became instant friends. It was his idea to display Tommy Lachance naked in front of the entire student body.
Who could blame him for wanting revenge? Tommy and his gang had picked on Allan for years. Allan's father, a prominent member of the school board, pressured Tommy's father into making Tommy apologize. However, the gang retaliated by beating Allan so badly that he ended up in the hospital. He required plastic surgery because of the damage. Without proof other than Allan's word, the crime went unpunished.
As for me, the same group tricked me into climbing a tree and falling, breaking my leg in the process. My mother was so angry, she sent me to live with my grandfather. That turned out to be a blessing, because Grandpa taught me about my gift. Like many autism-spectrum children, I had abilities other people couldn't imagine. Mine was seeing and manipulating auras.
Because I wanted revenge as much as Allan, I pulled Tommy into the void so that we could strip him and attach him to the pole for all to see. A small part of me felt guilty, but mostly I felt proud of exacting our payback in such a spectacular fashion.
When we arrived at his house, we went to his room, and he asked me again.
"What gives?" Allan's eyes were searching mine for the story.
I thought briefly about telling the truth, but Grandpa's words of warning stung me. Instead, I watched my blue aura pulse wildly with deceit as I made up a plausible story. '
"You know how the guys in the jujitsu class do these strangle holds and knock people out?" I said.
"Yeah, but they're expert fighters, and they practice those holds for weeks before they can make them work!"
"I learned how to do it."
"Yes way," I assured.
"No way," he said again.
"I totally can!"
"No, you can't, you're BS-ing me."
"Have I got to do it to you for you to believe me?"
"Yes. Knock me out. Right now. Otherwise I know you're full of crap."
I paused. I didn't want to do this, but it was either tell the truth or knock him out.
"Remember," I said, "I was already behind him, and he didn't know I was there."
"So you want me to turn around?"
"Yeah. And you have to pretend that you don't know it's coming."
"Sure, fine. Whatever. You won't be able to knock me out." He turned around.
"If I do, will you just drop it?"
"If you knock me out right now, I'll —"
I put my arms around his neck for show and yanked him into the void. He thumped to the ground. I recalled the years I'd spent running from the demons, always to the safety of the void — that empty place where no aura could find me. Now that I understood their meaning, I no longer feared the auras. Instead of a defense mechanism, I learned to employ the abyss as a weapon against my greatest foe.
"Everything all right up there, Allan?" his mother yelled from downstairs. I didn't answer. Panicking, I slapped Allan's face to wake him up. That didn't work, but I realized I knew a better way. I replaced his familiar blue, pink and white aura that I had mercilessly removed. Almost instantly, he woke up and looked up at me from the floor.
"Holy cow!" he said, his voice still a bit weak from being dragged into and out of the void.
"Allan?" his mother yelled again from below.
"Yeah, Mom," Allan said, loudly enough for her to hear.
"Don't forget, you have karate tonight, so we need to eat dinner soon!"
"OK, we'll be right down," he said, opening the door. He turned to me. "Wow! That's an awesome move. I can't believe you learned all that just to take out that prick. Nice work!"
He held up his hand, and I slapped him five. There was no malice in his aura — nothing red or black. If anything, there was some green which was either jealousy or surprise, I couldn't tell which.
"Hey, you should come to karate. I bet you'd like it. Plus, we'd get to hang out over the summer. You could show me how to do that."
That sounded like a good idea, but I wasn't sure my mother would go for it. She still thought of me as a frail autistic child needing protection. "Let me ask. I bet it'd be fun," I said. We went down for dinner. Even though it was still early, I was starving.
Allan's mother intercepted us on the way to the table. Her clear white aura glowed with strong purple, just like my mother's.
"Hello, boys. Anything interesting happen in school on the last day of the year?"
I stared helplessly as my aura vibrated tart green. Allan's aura exploded — buzzing, vibrating, and emitting a green sweaty smell. As he answered, the sour pulsating waves created an impressive display.
"Not much. Some kid in the 8th grade got into a fight with his buddy, who left him tied up to the flagpole by the playground. It was kind of funny. The other kid got caught and punched the guidance office window and broke it. They took him away. I didn't see any of it because Hunter and I were at the assembly," he said, looking at me. "Right?"
I couldn't move or speak. How'd he just lie like that to his mother? Couldn't she see right through the deception? I'd never witnessed such a massive display of obvious dishonesty. His aura vibrated so furiously, I thought it was going to drag the skin off his bones. He tapped me on the top of the head.
"Yo, earth to Hunter!"
"Oh, yeah, right," I said.
His mother looked at me funny while bitter green turbulence blazed from her direction.
"Don't mind him, he used to be autistic," Allan said, his aura calming. That was a low blow. I smacked him hard on the arm, adding pain to the blow with my mind. He winced and smacked me back, hard enough to elicit spicy redness. I turned and started to go after him, until I realized that his aura was yellow. He was playing with me.
"BOYS, please!!" said Allan's mom.
"Sorry, Mrs. Marks," and "Sorry, Mom," we said, simultaneously.
"Enough of that. Now let's sit down. I made a roast."
"Wow, great!" I said, the thought of food eradicating everything else from my brain. I was famished.
"Hey, Mom, do you think Hunter could go with me to karate?" Allan asked. I'd already forgotten about that, too.
The subject change worked wonders. Mrs. Marks' aura calmed, warmed, and the green turned yellowish. "Well, wouldn't that be great," she said. After a pause, she added, "although, I don't think you'll be able to, Hunter. Allan couldn't start until I filled out a lot of paperwork and paid in advance. But there's no reason you can't sign up for summer classes."
We both protested vigorously, but our objections didn't change the facts, and I resigned to starting next week. They dropped me off at home, where I immediately asked Mom about it.
"Hi, Mom, can I do karate with Allan this summer?"
"Well, hello, how was your day?" she replied.
"Um, good." I remembered the lie that we'd told Allan's mother, and I hesitated to bring it up. Mom could sometimes read my mind, so I figured it was best not to think about it.
"So, karate? Mrs. Marks said there was a bunch of paperwork that we had to fill out before I went."
"OK, I'll look into it. How is Allan?" she persisted.
"He's good. He went tonight."
"Did you get your grades?"
Enough with irrelevant stuff. "Yes, Mom," I said, exasperated. "I did great. Top of the class in everything but French."
"Wow!" she said. She had a sweet yellow taste on top of the vibrant green that swirled around her usual purple color. "Well, I think karate classes might be a good reward. What do I have to do to sign you up?"
I asked her to call Mrs. Marks to get the details, and she did, promising to take care of it all before the next class on Monday.
Time dragged over the weekend, as I was looking forward to starting my new sport. Allan had family visiting, so I couldn't go over to his house to have him show me the basics like we'd hoped. However, Grandpa called me on Sunday to catch up.
"Hello, Hunter!" he said.
"How does it feel to be done with seventh grade?"
"I did finish with a bang," I said. "I'll tell you all about it next time I see you."
"Ah, I see!" he said. Grandpa understood. It was he who suggested avoiding all reference to my talents, even on the phone. I didn't comprehend precisely what he feared, but after years of being "different" in the autism center, I accepted his advice. I longed to tell him the story of Tommy, but at least I had other exciting news.
"You know my friend Allan?"
"Well, no, but I've heard you mention him."
"He's the one who sat next to me all year. He invited me to join his karate class."
"Well, that's fantastic! I used to run track in high school, and I loved it. I think you'll enjoy competing in a sport. Especially with your best friend."
"Can I come out to visit? Other than karate, I don't have anything going on during the summer."
"It's fine with me. I just don't know what your Mom will think about the idea."
We talked for a bit longer about mundane stuff like the weather, but I still enjoyed it. Although Allan was my best friend, I loved talking with Grandpa the most. I really wished I could see him in person to look at his aura. I realized long ago that auras were a "live only" process — I couldn't see them on TV, in recordings, on the phone, in the mirror, in pictures, or in videos. Grandpa suggested there might be a different wavelength to the energy I perceived, one not captured by recordings or transmitted across feeds. I supposed he was right, but I didn't know how any of it worked, and I couldn't ask anyone else. Grandpa's aura fascinated me, partly because it looked so much like my own. I also loved how he knew the answer to almost every question.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Sound of Suffering"
Copyright © 2019 Darin C. Brown.
Excerpted by permission of Darin C. Brown.
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
Hunter is a great protagonist and would make an excellent lead character in a transition to the bog screen. The Sound of Suffering is pretty cinematic the way it’s written so I would imagine this will be snapped up by some studio or other. I hadn’t heard of author Brown before but after reading the blurb decided to take a shot with this book. It turned out to be one of those rare finds that afterwards you couldn’t imagine having missed out on. There’s an interesting plot, exciting progression, compelling characters, all in all a lucky find for me.
“Oh, Hunter, you’re impossibly easy to read. You’re an open book. Of course you’d figure out who put the sign on your back, clever you, and then naturally you’d seek justice. It’s all over your face. Can’t just let sleeping dogs lie. Gotta save the world, even if it doesn’t need or want saving.” Hunter Miller has a secret...and in this, the second Master of Perception book, he’s learning even more about it. He has the ability to read and manipulate auras. And in trying to understand how he’s able to do that, he’s begun to hear them. Energy does make sounds, and the sounds he’s hearing tell him the person is being hurt; badly. So, what does he do? He scrambles to find something/someone to help. The question is, can he help them in time? I was overjoyed that Darin C. Brown’s second book was as inventive and interesting as the first was. As an elder, some of the basic information about alternative healing was a bit redundant but for a YA who may not know about it, it’s important foundational information. My problem was that I have to pace myself or I will read this series at too fast a speed and miss the nuances Brown presents; not only in Hunter’s understanding, but in his maturity as he grows up. Not every superhero wears a cape. Who knows? Maybe the kid next door might change your world. I cannot praise or recommend this series highly enough. 5/5 [disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher and voluntarily read and reviewed it]
Brown has honed in on YA writing, and has hit his stride with his second book in the series. Brown ensures that his style, prose, and pace are appropriate for young readers, as well as keeping a key message that can resonate through multiple generations of readers. The story is really pushed by the “everyone, no matter what, can make the world a better place and overcome seemingly impossible obstacles” idea that we see in lots of YA stories, especially coming of age/extraordinary youth stories. This story has a unique twist that really works well with the current social climate, Hunter (our main character here) is a new teen that struggles with living on the spectrum. Hunter is clearly a passionate character that wants to change things for the better, and he dishes out his agenda with a side helping of inspiration. Hunter struggles with being a young teen in ways that we can’t always identify with, but we can understand, and the story is written from Hunter’s perspective. This adds a unique voice to the story as we get to see our protagonist work his way through is relatively new powers. This is a great book to check out!
The Sound of Suffering (The Master of Perceptions # 2), by Darin C. Brown (author of The Sight of Demons (The Master of Perceptions # 1), published by Doc Squared Publishing, 1st edition, 2019. 326 pages (printed edition) Genre: Fiction / Superheroes / Coming of age. Hunter Miller, a 13-year-old boy diagnosed with autism, has managed to dismantle the gang of bullies in his school and defeat the ringleader, thanks to his peculiar ability to detect and manipulate the aura of living beings. Now, as he tries to understand and develop his exceptional abilities with the help of his only confidant, he discovers that a close adult is experiencing terrible suffering that puts her life at risk. Hunter will decide to launch a risky plan to save her and continue to punish the abusers. The language that C. Brown has chosen to tell this new Hunter adventure is direct, simple and innocent; perfect to personify a child whose life has been held back for years by mental gaps and whose history is just starting to take shape. The adventure, built around a boy with well-placed values who begins to discover life while trying not to succumb to the seizures that isolate him from the world, is exciting, fast and quite credible. The narrative is totally coherent with the circumstances that surround Hunter and it is very easy to empathize with him and be interested in his journey. Reading this story has been a pleasure. The rhythm is very good and the characters are very real. Although at some point in history the descriptions of the auras may seem exhaustive, I think they help to perfectly exemplify how a person trying to make sense of something that only he lives and no one else can explain can feel. I really liked that Hunter has his values strong and that at the same time he faces his child problems as a real child who does not have the tools of an adult to put his world to rights.
'The Sound of Suffering' is a follow up to Darin Brown's 'Gifted' and I must say he has really developed an inspiring hero with a difference with his teenage protagonist, Hunter. The young hero started his life struggling with his autism, feeling trapped in a world he could not control, but what emerged from the fog were some extraordinary powers. Hunter can control the auras that surround people, and through this remarkable ability, he has made his world and the world for those around him a better place. But, he is about to face a challenge, when he hears the aura of a teacher suffering terribly – she is being abused by her husband and Hunter may be the only person that can help her. However, this man is a cop and he is not going down without a fight. I love reading Hunter's adventures as he navigates a world that is relatively new to him, whilst also following the strong desire he has to help others. A great read and I really hope we see a lot more of Hunter in the future. 5 stars!
An Equally Interesting but Disturbing Continuation of the Adventures of “Gifted” Hunter Miller! This book starts off right where the first book left in which the lead character, the “gifted” Hunter Miller and his group of friends have landed their bullies in hot water where the leader is stripped naked while in a daze and left out in the open for the whole school (staff and students) to witness. This second book mirrors the elements of the first one in which Hunter is trying to classify the hues, auras, and smells he sees on other humans he comes in contact with by using a box of crayons and his own common sense. Since this book is narrated by Hunter himself, his thoughts sometimes are creepy maybe because he is autistic. I find them disturbing at some points, especially when the smells he gets from random people are described as dirty underwear or sweat and stuff. I think this book, even though it features a youngster, is primarily a work of adult fiction. Because the author does not give him the “typical speech” of young kids, and the major plot of this book involves a teacher whose police husband is abusive and visits brothels. That’s how I have come to conclude that this book is not for juvenile and children readers but for mature readers overall. I thought this book was interesting because of Hunter and his special gift. This is the first time I have come across a book that features someone who can experience the smells and colors and auras of those he comes in contact with. This is also the first book I’ve read where the main character relies on the wisdom of his grandfather who lives out of state and is having issues with his parents. This is also the first book in a long time for me where the main character gets his karate lessons and where a friend of his is mischievous and in comparison with those boy characters of movies such as Home Alone and National Lampoon, it’s hilarious to think about! I would recommend this book to teenage to mature readers because they would understand the situations that go on in this book. I also would recommend this book to be read by those who have some kind of mental disability because they will relate to Hunter. All in all, I believe you will enjoy this book very much if you are looking for a book that is unique and that has a character with autism. Have a great evening!
Can Hunter use his immense powers of reading and manipulating the auras to save this innocent woman and still avoid losing himself? Brown’s book is very engaging, and despite the supernatural elements, he structures characters that are relatable and realistic. The concept of aura manipulation is quite fascinating with the story told at a good pace without leaving any plot holes. By writing in the first-person view, Brown allows you to immerse yourself in the thought process of the main protagonist in a way that you almost feel like you know him. The thing I did not like about the book was the writing style due to the use of many karate terms and medical terminologies. Other than the initial explanations of karate as Hunter is being taught karate by his grandpa, the story could have been better developed with common terms once it began rolling, as these words can take you out of the story. The story did, however, me a new perspective on the challenges that autistic people may be undergoing.