Unnatural (Archangel Academy Series #1)

Unnatural (Archangel Academy Series #1)

by Michael Griffo


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Unnatural (Archangel Academy Series #1) by Michael Griffo

In the town of Eden in northwestern England stands the exclusive boarding school known as Archangel Academy. Ancient and imposing, it's a place filled with secrets. Just like its students. . .

For Michael Howard, being plucked from his Nebraska hometown and sent thousands of miles away is as close as he's ever come to a miracle. In Weeping Water, he felt trapped, alone. At Archangel Academy, Michael belongs. And in Ciaran, Penry, and especially Ciaran's enigmatic half-brother Ronan, Michael finds friendship deeper than he's ever known.

But Michael's only beginning to understand what makes the Academy so special. Ronan is a vampire--part of a hybrid clan who are outcasts even among other vampires. Within the Academy's confines exists a ruthless world of deadly rivalries and shifting alliances, of clandestine love and forbidden temptations. And soon Michael will confront the destiny that brought him here--and a danger more powerful than he can imagine. . .

Michael Griffo is an award-winning writer and one of six playwrights whose career will be tracked by WritersInsight.com until 2010. He is a graduate of New York University, has studied at Playwrights Horizons and Gotham Writers Workshop, and has written several screenplays.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780758253385
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 03/01/2011
Series: Archangel Academy Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 646,111
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Michael Griffo is an award-winning writer and a graduate of New York University. He has studied at Playwrights Horizons and Gotham Writers Workshop, and has written several screenplays.

Read an Excerpt


By michael griffo


Copyright © 2011 Michael Griffo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-5338-5

Chapter One

Before the Beginning

Like a snake slithering out of the brush, a bead of sweat emerged from his wavy, unkempt brown hair. Alone, but determined, it slowly slid down the right side of his forehead, less than an inch from his hazel-colored eye, then gaining momentum, it glided over his sharp, tanned cheekbone. Now the bead grew into a streak, a line of perspiration, half the length of his face. He turned his head faintly to the left and the streak picked up more speed and raced toward his mouth, zigzagging slightly but effortlessly as it traveled over the stubble on his cheek and stopping only when it landed at the corner of his mouth. He didn't move. The streak grew into a bubble, a mixture of water and salt, and hung there nestled between his lips until his tongue, in one quick, fluid movement, flicked it away. Then it was gone. All that remained as proof that it had once existed was the wet stain of perspiration that ran from his forehead to his mouth. That and Michael's memory.

Sitting next to his grandpa in the front seat of his beat-up '98 Ford Ranger, Michael had been watching R.J. in the rearview mirror as he pumped gas. He was still watching him, actually; he couldn't help it. His viewing choices were his grandpa's unwelcoming face, the flat dirt road, the dilapidated Highway 50 gas station, the cloudless blue sky, or R.J. Without hesitation, his eyes had found the gas station attendant, as they always did when he accompanied his grandpa on Saturday mornings to fill up the tank on their way to the recycling center. Today, the last Saturday morning in August and a particularly hot one, found R.J. more languid than usual.

He pressed his lean body against the Ranger, his left arm raised overhead and resting on the side of the truck so that if Michael inched forward a bit in his seat, he could see the hairs of R.J.'s armpits jutting out from underneath his loose, well-worn T-shirt. Michael inhaled deeply, the smell of gasoline filling him, and his eyes followed that smell to the pump that R.J. held in his right hand. Michael's eyes moved from the pump to R.J.'s long index finger wrapped around the pump's trigger and then traveled along the vein that lay just underneath R.J.'s skin. The vein, large and pronounced, started at his knuckle, spread to his wrist, and then moved along the length of his arm until it ended at the crease of his elbow. His arm, flexed as he pumped the gas, looked strong, and Michael wondered what it would feel like. Would it feel like his own arm or like something completely different? Something much better.

Absentmindedly, Michael touched his forearm; it was smooth and hot. He traced his own much smaller vein with his finger and he could feel his pulse, rapid, restless, new, and he wondered if beneath R.J.'s lazy demeanor his pulse was just as quick. Or was Michael the only one who felt speed underneath his skin?

The click of the gas pump ended all speculation. Michael shot a quick glance to his grandpa, who was staring out at the land, busy smoking his third Camel in an hour, since his grandmother refused to allow him to smoke inside the house. As always his mind, like Michael's, was elsewhere.

Michael heard the snap as R.J. returned the nozzle to its cradle, the quick tick-tick-tick as he closed the gas cap, and the slam as he shut the cover of the gas lid. And just as he turned to look out his window, hoping to catch a whiff of R.J.'s scent as he walked around the car to collect the cash from his grandpa like he always did, R.J. decided to change the rules. He squatted down next to Michael's window and peered into the truck.

"That'll be twenty-seven fifty," R.J. said in his usual low hum.

This was a surprise. Underneath his skin he felt his pulse increase, but Michael had learned not to show the outside world what was happening inside him and so his expression remained calm. Just another bored teenager sitting in a truck with his grandpa on a hot August Saturday morning. But he was much more than bored; R.J.'s face ignited curiosity.

Unable to turn away, Michael soaked it all in. Up close, Michael could see that there were a few more beads of sweat on R.J.'s forehead, lingering there, not yet ready to take the trip down his face. While Michael's grandpa reached into his front pocket to pull out his cash, R.J. rested his chin on his forearm and closed his eyes. His eyelashes were like a girl's, long, delicate, with a beautiful upcurl to them. Michael had the urge to run his finger through them as if they were strings of a harp. Like most of his urges, he repressed it.

How many freckles were on his slender nose? Six, eight ... before Michael could finish counting, R.J. brushed his cheek against his arm, wiping away any telltale signs of perspiration that had remained, and looked up directly into Michael's eyes. His mouth formed a smile and then words, "Hot today, ain't it?"

Keep looking bored, Michael thought, uninterested, so no one will suspect. "Yeah," Michael said, nodding his head.

"Gonna be a scorcher today," Michael's grandpa said, "but ya can't trust those weathermen to know nothin'."

R.J.'s face retained its expression, no change whatsoever. Was R.J. suppressing what he really felt too, or did he agree with Michael's grandpa? "Can't really trust anybody," R.J. said. "Can ya, Mike?"

That sounded odd to Michael's ears; nobody called him Mike. He wasn't a Mike, it didn't fit, but maybe it could be the name that only R.J. used. That would be okay. Michael cleared his throat and then replied, "Guess not."

"Here." Michael's grandpa thrust some bills in front of Michael, and R.J. reached out to grab them. A beat later, Michael reached forward to grab the money and pass it along to R.J., but he was too late. Or maybe he was right on time? His fingers brushed against R.J.'s forearm and he discovered that R.J.'s skin was just as smooth as his, but much hotter and firmer than his own. Michael mumbled "sorry," but he was drowned out by his grandpa's command, "That's twenty-eight there, Rudolph; credit me fifty cents next time."

Rudolph. Michael's grandpa was the only one who called him by his real name. Sounded more inappropriate than calling Michael Mike. But Mike and Rudolph? That had an exciting sound to it. Michael didn't see R.J.'s patronizing smile; he kept his gaze down at the fingers that had recently touched his skin, but he did hear him. "Will do, sir." He didn't look back up until he heard the motor running and heard his grandpa shift the car into drive. He turned to catch one more glimpse of R.J.'s face, but he had stood up and all Michael could see was his hand stuffing the cash into the frayed pocket of his jeans. And then there was a breeze.

R.J.'s T-shirt lifted and for a moment his hip flank, sharply defined and smooth, was exposed. Michael thought it looked like a small hill on an otherwise flat plain where he could rest his head, maybe dream a little. As the truck pulled away, Michael looked through the rearview mirror, but the breeze had died and R.J.'s T-shirt covered that interesting piece of flesh. Later that night, Michael would remember it, though, because no matter how hard he tried, he just knew it was something he wouldn't be able to forget.

After Michael helped his grandpa bring the cans and bottles to the recycling center, there were other errands to run. Had to pick up a new fog light at Sears that he would later be forced to watch his grandpa install in his mother's car because she turned a corner too sharply and busted hers; then they had to drive over to the Home Depot to get a new toilet chain that Grandpa would watch Michael install in the downstairs bathroom; and of course it wouldn't be Saturday if his grandpa didn't play the Nebraska Lottery.

"Up to a hundred seventy million this week," the redheaded cashier informed them.

"If I win, you and me'll bust outta here," Grandpa said.

"My bags are already packed!" the redheaded cashier chortled. Even though the cashier was roughly forty years younger than his grandpa and still what locals would call fine-lookin', Michael had no doubt that if his grandpa came back next week waving a winning lottery ticket, she would hop in the Ranger to drive off with him to parts unknown. Weeping Water was not the kind of town that instilled loyalty in its residents, unless they had nowhere else to go.

But Michael did have some place he could go. He had started his life somewhere else, he was born someplace far, far from this town, where he could be living right now. But his mother had put an end to all of that. Why?! Why had she ruined everything? No. No sense blaming her now; the damage had already been done. He would just spend the rest of the day imagining how far from here he would travel if he were lucky enough to win the lottery.

When all the dinner dishes were washed and put away and his grandparents were sitting in their own separate chairs in front of the television, he finishing an after-dinner beer, she finishing yet another knitting project, Michael sat on his bed rereading A Separate Peace, one of his favorite novels, some music that he vaguely recognized filling the space of his room. Before he finished chapter one, his mother knocked on his door to ask the same question she'd been asking all summer long.

"Heya, honey, aren't ya going out tonight?"

Grace Howard had once been a beautiful woman. So beautiful that she won a series of beauty pageants culminating in Miss Nebraska, which meant that she could fly to Atlantic City to participate in the Miss America contest. Pretty big stuff for any town desperate for some notoriety, incredibly huge stuff for a town like Weeping Water. She didn't crack the top ten, but she did catch the eye of a young college student on vacation from England. Against the vehement protests of her parents, Grace nixed a return to Nebraska and instead flew to England with Vaughan. She had never done anything so spontaneous or rebellious in her entire life. Three months after the contest, she and Vaughan Howard got married on his family's estate in Canterbury, roughly an hour southeast of London. Vaughan was her winning lottery ticket. Until she decided to rip it up into little pieces and return home, dragging her crying toddler with her.

"No, I need to finish this before school on Monday," Michael lied with just a glance in his mother's direction.

"But it's the last weekend before school starts back up."

Don't remind me, Michael thought. "I know, that's why I have to finish."

His mother was in his room now, which meant that either she wanted to discuss something or she was incredibly bored and had exhausted all conversation with her parents. "Can't believe you're a sophomore already; my little guy's gettin' to be a man." She was standing in front of the oak bookshelf, looking at the spines of all the books Michael had read and would most likely read again. They were his escape. It didn't take a genius to figure that out. "I hated to read when I was your age; still can't concentrate long enough to get through a magazine article."

From behind, Michael's mother still looked youthful. Her brown hair was full and fell an inch or two below her shoulders, her arms were taut and hadn't yet gotten flabby, and her hips still held their curve. It's when she turned to face Michael that he saw age had crept into her face prematurely. Michael knew that a thirty-seven-year-old woman shouldn't look like that.

"You know Darlene's daughter?"


"Darlene Garrison. Michael, sometimes ..." Now she was fiddling with something on his desk. "Sometimes I don't think you pay attention to anything except these books of yours. Darlene owns the beauty parlor A Cut Above; she does my hair. Her daughter, Jeralyn, is in your grade."

Michael had no idea who Jeralyn Garrison was, so he lied again. "Oh yeah, I think so."

"Where'd you get this?" His mother held up a Union Jack bumper sticker.

"I found it at the Sears auto store when I was there with Grandpa. He told me I couldn't put the British flag on his Ranger. I told him I had no intention of doing that; I bought it 'cause I liked it."

Michael saw the familiar glaze come over his mother's eyes. He remained silent because he knew that if he kept on talking, if he asked her a direct question even, she wouldn't hear him. She was in the room, but her mind wasn't. Her heart might not be in the room either, but his mother rarely talked about what lay in her heart, so it was hard to tell about that. When she placed the bumper sticker gently back on his desk and turned to face him, he was compelled to speak despite knowing it might be futile.

"Do you ever miss London?"

Grace looked at her son. He doesn't look a thing like me, does he? I don't have blond hair, my skin isn't so pale, my eyes aren't green. If I hadn't been there when the doctor pulled him out from inside of me, I would never believe this person was my flesh and blood. But he was, he is, she thought. In some ways, he's all I'll ever be able to truly call my own.

"No," she lied. "I told you before, it's a crowded, loud city. Dirty, no space to breathe, no clean air. I can't believe you remember it; you were only three when we left."

"I don't really have memories, but impressions. I don't know, I just get the feeling that I would like it."

He doesn't even sound like me, Grace thought. He never does. He says things that just don't make sense, that make me question why I ever became a parent, why I ever wasted my life raising him. "You mean you just get the feeling that you'd like it better than here."

And the change had begun. Michael saw his mother's lips press against each other to form a smile that meant to convey anything but joy, her head tilt to the right, and her eyes fill with disbelief. Their roles had reversed. She was the emotionally reactive teenager and he was the insightful parent. Experience had taught him this conversation would not be any different from any other conversation he'd ever had with his mother about London or what their life was like before she brought him to this place, the place where she grew up, or what their life could be like if they moved back. Nothing important would be disclosed, nothing important would be shared between mother and son. And so he just went back to reading.

His mother paced the width of the room, once, twice. She hated when Michael asked about London. For her it was another lifetime ago, a mistake. No, not a mistake entirely. What should I call it? she thought. She couldn't come up with a word. As always, the mention of London and her past made her fidgety, confused. The only thing she was certain of was that it was part of her past and that's where it should remain. Yes, it should remain buried and silent. Because when she thought of London, all she thought of was him, Michael's father. The man she ran away with and the man she eventually ran from. The man she once loved and would always love. The man she never wanted to see again. "Do me one favor," Grace said before leaving her son alone. "When you get married, be a better husband than your father was."

A cold sensation of fear trickled down Michael's neck and found its resting place on his heart. It squeezed, it constricted, until Michael could hardly breathe and had to consciously put down his book and gasp, gasp for a breath that should have come easily. But his mother saw to it that it didn't. She had to mention marriage and becoming a husband, didn't she? If Michael didn't know better, he'd think his mother was punishing him for bringing up London. And maybe she was. Lately she had been acting so erratically he had no idea what she was thinking. All he knew was that whenever his mother, or anyone for that matter, insinuated that he should get married and become a husband, he panicked. It just felt wrong. The only thing that made him feel worse was that, to everyone else, it felt perfectly right.

Just as his breathing returned to normal, he heard the medicine cabinet open, which could mean only one thing: His mother needed some comfort. Maybe it was the white pill; perhaps tonight it would be the blue pill. It didn't matter. Michael didn't have to see into the bathroom to know that his mother was taking a pill to calm her nerves. A pill before bedtime was the only thing that seemed to help her these days. That and a nice glass of white wine.


Excerpted from Unnatural by michael griffo Copyright © 2011 by Michael Griffo. 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.

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Unnatural 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the insular town of Weeping Water in Nebraska, teenager Michael Howard feels alone and alienated. His peers taunt him about being gay while his mother keeps her distance from him and his grandfather, whose house he lives in, is always on his case. When his mother dies, his father Vaughn takes him back to his country England only to dump the lad at Archangel Academy in Eden. There he meets enigmatic Ronan, a gay teen. Each realizes they have met their soulmate, but wanting a strong foundation to their relationship, they take it slow. Michael has secrets he hides from his beloved, but Ronan conceals a humongous one that he is a hybrid vampire whose exiled clan is at war with the popular version of the vampire. Ronan worries about how his Michael will react when he tells him truth; he also knows the American is his Achilles' Heel. When the time comes, Michael will have to choose between hurting Ronan (and himself) or embracing their love. However, first they will have to outwit their enemies who look at Ronan's species as an abomination. Ironically titled Unnatural is a creative imaginative enthralling vampire thriller that targets young adults though readers should be aware there are graphic sex scenes. The strong story line focuses on the impact of a teen who is a part of a shammed minority group. Filled with action, Michael Griffo also cautions parents to be there for their children regardless of their sexual preference even when it differs from yours so that their offspring will not be like Michael ashamed of himself until he finally makes friends at the Academy. Everyone needs to feel they belong somewhere and with someone. Harriet Klausner
AmyELignor1 More than 1 year ago
Here we go.again. Another young adult series that is based on the world of the vampire with a love triangle worked into the plot for all readers to enjoy. What is different about this one, you ask? This.is actually a good story which offers all different kinds of mysteries, characters, and plots that will keep the reader engaged throughout the story. The author has dared to be different by writing about a young man named Michael who lives in the nowhere town of Weeping Water. This is the type of place where the only excitement available is to watch the leaves change and the cars rust, and the only thing for Michael to think about is how the heck he's going to get out of here. He lives with his grandparents and his mother - who is a woman with extreme mental issues who regrets what she's done in the past. Michael's father lives in London, England, yet he was pulled away from him by dear old Mom and brought to live in a town where he doesn't have a friend in the world. Michael has an even bigger issue than the fact that his own family treats him like a bit of an outcast; he actually has a true desire to be in love. Yet the desire he has and the images of his perfect soul mate are that of a male, and he has no idea how to make his family understand that he is, in fact, gay. The people at his school pick on him constantly, and he is completely ostracized because of his passionate nature and the need to be who he truly is instead of going along with the crowd. Almost at the beginning of the story, Michael's mother is placed in a hospital and ends her life, and Michael's British father appears on the scene to take him back to London. Once there, Michael goes straight to the Archangel Academy where, thankfully, he is bright enough to be one of the very best students, and the other boys attending accept him for the person he is, and not the person even his father wants him to be. His roommate, Ciaran, is a nice boy who quickly becomes Michael's friend. But, unfortunately for Ciaran who wants nothing more than to have a friend of his own and not feel so alone all the time, Michael falls in love with Ciaran's brother, Ronan. Ronan is Mr. Popular. Handsome, strong, with a secret that only some know about, Ronan feels himself falling just as hard for Michael and has no idea how to tell him the information that he needs to know.information that could save his life. As the author introduces some amazingly well-written characters including a young vampire by the name of Nakano, whose jealousy over losing Ronan is matched only by the powerful thirst that makes him take out students at the Academy. Not only that, but a girl by the name of Brania - who is an old acquaintance of Ronan's - steps into the scene. Brania is a woman of extreme power who has her own agenda where the Academy and Michael is concerned, and will stop at nothing to succeed in destroying the world around her. As the battle lines are drawn and the romance turns completely intense and truly moving, the plot thickens with each page and each new character that appears. Being the first book in this series, it is a wonderful introduction and set-up to the battle that's about to be fought. Yes, the vampire "chaos" is certainly a part of this new set of novels - but the concept is something that will appeal to many on a whole different level.
VmpChc1864 More than 1 year ago
I didn't know Michael until I bought it, stupid move. But even tho it was an amazing book based on secrets, love, and everything else in between. There are some graphic scenes but it's worth it. It was so..... good. I'm straight but I don't really care. It shows how people alienate gays when they did nothing wrong. Buy the book and see my point
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
So tons of people are comparing Unnatural to Twilight for reasons I don’t understand. Sure, I noticed a few similarities here and there, but you can find most of them in any YA Vampire romance. Just saying. I personally enjoyed the novel, when I first got the novel over the summer; I had really only picked it because of the pretty cover and because the plot sounded interesting. What I hadn’t expected was the gay romance part of the novel, it was very new to me and didn’t feel overdone and for that I applaud author Michael Griffo (yay!). Basically, for those of you who don’t know, Unnatural is about a teenage boy who discovers that he is homosexual and finds himself at a boarding school in England where he finds the love of his life who (surprise!!) just so happens to be a vampire hybrid. The novel actually did seem pretty unique, especially the vampire hybrid part of the novel which is something that I have never seen/read before. As well as all of the vampires seeming to want the main character Michael on their side for reasons that we don’t figure out until we are nearing the end. However, I did have a few issues with the novel. The major one being the way the novel was written in the third person. Believe me I have no problems with writing in the third person; I actually enjoy it. The real problem with Unnatural was that during the third person, it was constantly switching point of views and that just got confusing! One minute I was listening to Michael and suddenly I’m thrust into Ronan’s POV and then into some other character and back to Michael. Other than that the novel was actually very enjoyable, with a lot of romance between all of the characters and the supernatural portion of the novel as well as plenty of deaths I found it to be an entertaining mixture and I cannot wait to read the sequel and final novel. I would recommend this to anybody who has been wanting to read a new YA Vampire series or simply wanting to read a refreshing supernatural story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First of all I would like to say I did love the book enough to read the 2nd book,my only complaint was it was little slow it took well into the fifth maybe sixth chapter to really get engrossed in the book. Overall I thought it was a great book and I can't wait to start the second book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just amazing... speechless best book I've ever read by far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall I enjoyed then book. With a new look on vampires and an addition of secrecy and romance the book is filed with a series if riveting twists turns. Unable to stop reading - this book will command your undivided attention until the last page. And afterwards you'll be craving more of the sensuous, young heroes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the characters
lindanj More than 1 year ago
The twists and turns the crazy characters !! I was totally into this read. It had me from page 1!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has everything. Romamce, family drama, action, suspense, vampires, twists and turns. I loved it. My only complaint us thatthe authors.note inthe end had a couple of spoiler thaticoyld have gone without for the second book in the series. But other than that, i absolutly loved it.:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing. This series is near the top!!! This masterpeice is sure to delight fans of all things supernatural! ~ pokemon girl :)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What is the name of the guy who poses as Michael Howard on the cover. I hope someone helps me out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
starting was a little slow but everything was perfect and wonderful and can't wait to read the next one
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's always interesting to read different people's takes on vampires. This one is definitely a romance, with a bit of mystery put in as well.
Brennach More than 1 year ago
It seemed rushed in a couple of places but the storyline is very good and it's an enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I am not a fan of vampire books but this one turned out ok. maybe being in my 20's didn't help but I couldn't buy into the fact that the characters were supposed to be 16 years old, and finding true love at 16... I would still recommend this book to someone who enjoys vampire fiction and would like to have characters who are gay. I was also hugely excited for the fact that there was no major sex scenes in the book since that is so hard to find a book without overly descriptive sex scenes
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