The intrigue of The Raven Boys and the "supernatural or not" question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.
Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?
Someone is lying.
For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Virgin Suicides, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.
|Publisher:||Lectorum Publications, Inc.|
|Edition description:||Spanish-language Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
April Genevieve Tucholke is the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Between the Spark and the Burn and curated the horror/thriller anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. April has lived in many places around the world and currently resides in Oregon with her husband.
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
The first time I slept with Poppy, I cried. We were both sixteen, and I’d been in love with her since I was a kid, since I was still reading monster comics and spending too much time practicing sleight-of-hand tricks because I wanted to be a magician.
People say you can’t feel real love that young, but I did. For Poppy.
She was the girl next door who fell off her bike and laughed at her bloody knees. She was the neighborhood hero who organized games of Burn the Witch and got everyone to play. She was the high school queen who reached forward one day during math class, grabbed Holly Trueblood’s thick, white-blond hair in her fist, and cut it off at the skull while Holly screamed and screamed. All because someone said Holly’s hair was prettier than her own.
She was Poppy.
After we slept together, I started crying. Just a little bit, just because my heart was so full, just a couple of small little tears. Poppy shoved me off, stood up, and laughed. It wasn’t a nice laugh. It wasn’t a We both lost IT together, how wicked of us, how fantastic, I will always love you because we did this One Big Thing for the first time together kind of laugh.
No, it was more of a Is that all it is? And you’re crying over it? kind of laugh.
Poppy slipped her long, white limbs into her pale yellow dress, like milk sliding into melted butter. She was bonier back then, and didn’t need to wear a bra. She stood in front of the lamp, facing me, and the ray of light shone right through her thin summer clothes, outlining her sweet girl parts in a way I would think of over and over again afterward, until it drove me insane.
“Midnight, you’re going to be the best-looking guy in school by senior year.” Poppy leaned her elbows on the window-sill and stared out at the dark. Our high mountain air was thin but clean, and it smelled even better at night. Pine and juniper and earth. The night smells mingled with the smell of jasmine—Poppy dabbed it from a tiny glass bottle in her pocket, each earlobe, each wrist.
“That’s why I let you have me first. I wanted to give it to him. He’s the only boy I’ll ever love. But you don’t know anything about him, and I’m not going to tell you anything about him.” My heart stopped. Started back up again.
“Poppy.” My voice was weak and whispery and I hated it.
She tapped her fingers on the sill and ignored me.
An owl hooted outside.
Poppy swept her blond hair back behind her shoulder in that gangly, awkward way she still had then. It was completely gone by the time school started up—she was nothing but smooth elegance and cold, precise movements.
“And now no one will be able to say I didn’t have taste, Midnight Hunt, even when I was young. You’re going to be so beautiful at eighteen that girls will melt just looking at you, your long black lashes, your glossy brown hair, your blue, blue eyes. But I had you first, and you had me first. And it was a good move, on my part. A brilliant move.”
And then came the year of me following Poppy around, my heart full of poetry and bursting with love, and never seeing how little she really cared, no matter how many times I had her in my arms and how many times she laughed at me afterward. No matter how many times she made fun of me in front of her friends. No matter how many times I told her I loved her and she never said it back. Not once. Not even close.
Every story needs a Hero.
Mim read it in my tea leaves the day Midnight moved in next door. She leaned over, pushed my hair out of the way, put her fingers on my chin, and said: “Your story is about to begin, and that boy moving boxes into the slanted old house across the road is the start of it.”
And I knew Mim was right about Midnight because the leaves also told her that the big rooster was going to die a bloody death in the night. And sure enough, a fox got him. We found him in the morning, his soft feathers stiff with blood, his body broken on the ground, right next to our red wheelbarrow, like in that one poem.
I fell in love with Leaf Bell the day he beat the shit out of DeeDee Ruffler.
She was the biggest bully in school and he was the first and only kid to take her down. I’m a bully too, so you might have thought I’d sympathize with her, but I didn’t.
DeeDee was a short, wrong-side-of-the-tracks nobody with a mile-high cruel streak. She had a strong, stupid body and a plain, round face and a mean, grating voice, and she’d tried to fight Leaf before, she’d called him all kinds of things—poor, ginger-haired, skinny, dirty, diseased— and he’d just laughed. But the day she called little seventh grader Fleet Park a slant-eyed boy-loving Chink, Fleet started crying , and Leaf snapped. He beat DeeDee into a coma, right there on the school’s cement steps, he pounded her head on the concrete, knees pinning her down by the chest, her boobs jiggling , his red hair flying around his lanky shoulders, the snow-capped mountains in the background.
My heart swelled three sizes that day.
DeeDee was never the same after Leaf smashed her head in. I’d read about lobotomies in my Modern Woman’s Science class, and that’s how she was now: detached, lethargic, use- less.
Leaf didn’t get into trouble for that fight, he never got in trouble, just like me. Besides, everyone was sick of DeeDee, even the teachers, especially the teachers. She was as mean to them as she was to everyone else.
There was an evil in me too, a cruel streak. I don’t know where it came from and I didn’t really want it, no more than I’d want big feet or mousy brown hair or a piggish nose.
But fuck it. If I’d been born with a piggish nose, then I would own it, like I own the cruel and the mean.
Leaf was the first to recognize me for what I was. I was gorgeous, even as a kid. I looked like an angel, cherub lips and blushing cheeks and elegant bones and blond halo hair. Everyone loved me and I loved myself and I got my way and did what I wanted and I still left people feeling like they were lucky to know me.
No one thinks they’re shallow, ask every last person you know, they’ll deny it, but I’m living proof, I get away with murder because I’m pretty.
But Leaf saw right through the pretty, saw straight through it. I was fourteen when Leaf Bell lobotomized DeeDee on the school steps, and I was fifteen when I followed Leaf home and tried to kiss him in the hayloft. He laughed in my face and told me I was ugly on the inside and left me sitting alone in the hay.
Every story needs a Villain.
The Villain is just as important as the Hero. More important, maybe. I’ve read a lot of books—some out loud to the Orphans, and some just to myself. And all the books had a Villain. The White Witch. The Wicked Witch. The Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair. Bill Sykes. Sauron. Mr. Hyde. Mrs. Danvers. Iago. Grendel.
I didn’t need Mim’s tea-reading to learn the Villain of my story. The Villain had blond hair and the Hero’s heart on her sleeve. She had teeth and claws and a silver tongue, like the smooth-talking devil in Ash and Grim.
I had an older brother. A half brother. His name was Alabama (to be explained later) and he lived with our mom in Lourmarin, France. My parents weren’t divorced. They just didn’t live together. My mom wrote historical mysteries, and two years ago, in the middle of a blizzard, she decided she would keep writing historical mysteries, but in France instead of here. My dad sighed, and shrugged, and off she went. And Alabama went with her. He’d always been her favorite any- way, probably because his father was my mother’s true love. Alabama’s dad was Muscogee and Choctaw. He ran back to Alabama—the state, not the brother—before my brother was even born. Then my dad came along, with his big heart and weakness for creatures in need. He married my pregnant mother, and the rest was history.
Until she gypsied herself and my brother off to a land of grapes and cheese last winter, that is.
So my dad sold the dull, spacious, three-bedroom, three- bathroom house I grew up in, and moved us into a five- bedroom, one-bath, crumbling, creaking old house in the country.
Five acres, apple orchard, sparkling, bubbling creek. Just in time for summer.
And I didn’t mind. Not a bit.
The house was two miles from town, two miles from Bro- ken Bridge, with its Victorian houses and cobblestone streets and expensive gourmet restaurants and hordes of skiing, snow-bunny tourists in the winter.
And it was two blessed, beautiful miles away from Poppy. No more soft taps on my window in the middle of the night from the girl three doors down. No more Poppy laughing as she crawled over my windowsill and into my bed. No more me not knowing whose cologne I smelled all over the front of her shirt.
I was done being a sucker. And this old house, nestled between apple trees and pine trees, in a shadowy, forgotten corner of the mountains . . . it was the first step to my freedom.
My freedom from Poppy.
I would have given it to Leaf the second he asked for it, except he never ever, ever did, so I gave it to Midnight instead.
Midnight and his big droopy eyes, his heart hanging out of his chest, the sighs, the softness, the kisses. I hated him for it, really, really hated him for it, hated hated.
Hated, hated, hated, hated.
My parents still thought I was a virgin. They never discussed sex in front of me, they refused to acknowledge that I’d grown up because they wanted me to be their stupid little angel baby forever, and it made me rage rage rage inside, all the time, all the time. I wore the shortest skirts I could find,
and the lowest-cut tops, oh, how they squirmed, their eyes scrambling to focus on some part of me that wasn’t sexual, so they could keep on thinking of me as they always had.
My parents still gave me dolls as presents, ones that looked like me, blond, with big eyes and puffy red lips. And when- ever I saw another box sitting on the kitchen table, wrapped in pink paper with my name on it, I knew I would find myself over at Midnight’s window later that night, tap-tap-tapping, wanting to be let in so I could prove to myself how un-angelic I was.
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Leaf said that a lot. It was some quote from a tree-hugging hippie who lived a boring life in the woods a million years ago, and Leaf probably thought it would open my eyes and make me wise up and get in touch with my inner deeps, but all it did was make me want to tear off all my clothes and run through the town screaming.
If I was going to lead a life of desperation, then it would be loud, not quiet.
I watched the Hero as he moved boxes into the old Lucy Rish house. I stood by an apple tree, and I was there a long time before he saw me. I was good at not being seen when I didn’t want to be. I’d learned how to be quiet and invisible from reading Sneaks and Shadows.
I hadn’t shown Sneaks and Shadows to my brothers and sisters. I didn’t want them learning how to hide in broad day- light. Not yet.
I hoped the Hero would like it in his new house. Lucy hadn’t liked it. She’d been a mean, superstitious old woman who called us witches and clutched her rosary whenever she saw us. And she threw apples at the Orphans if they played too close to her lawn. Her husband had been nice, he was always smiling at us from across the road, but he died three years ago. Felix thinks Lucy poisoned him, but I don’t know. Old people die all the time without the help of poison.
Excerpted from "Wink Poppy Midnight"
Copyright © 2016 April Genevieve Tucholke.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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