YA paranormal romance has largely become a very soft take on what goes bump in the night, but Meg Kassel is bringing back the dark, edgy feel in her debut novel Black Bird Of The Gallows.
The novel follows Angie Dovage, a teen with a dark history who grows curious about her strange new neighbors, the Fernandez family– especially their teen son, Reece. When Angie is attacked by a creepy paranormal force, she discovers that the Fernandez clan are harbingers of death who follow otherworldly threats and their appearance spells doom for her small town.
We’re thrilled to present an exclusive excerpt from the novel below. It focuses on the dangers Angie faces and gives us a look at the downright frightening villains of the novel. Beware, your skin will be crawling for days!
I dart across the four deserted lanes. The whip-whip-whip of helicopters is constant, but they are too far away to see me. They come and go, circling the epicenter of the landslide. The only thought in my head is to get away and get to higher ground, but my options are pitiful.
Rafette stands in the open window of the apartment I just came from. I throw myself behind a shrub and try to be still. It’s a good distance, but I can’t be sure he didn’t see me. Probably watched me the whole way. My stomach drops like a stone, and the thought invades: he’s stronger, faster than you. You stand no chance.
Rafette spreads his arms and tilts his head back. He looks like he’s worshipping a god, but then, all of a sudden, his body bursts apart in what looks like a cloud. I stare, mouth gaping, and wondering what the hell just happened, when that little dark cloud writhes in a weird way and begins moving toward me.
Wait. This isn’t a cloud. It’s a swarm of bees. Rafette just turned into a swarm of bees, and he’s coming for me. Just when I thought I’d seen it all. I cover my head with a whimper and hope the pain isn’t too bad. There’s no escaping this.
Suddenly, a chorus of caws fills the air. I look up to see several dark shapes diving toward the bees. The swarm breaks up as the crows swoop at them. They’re creating confusion.
They’re giving me a chance.
I look up at Franklin and steel myself. People hike this mountain. The view’s amazing, from what I hear, but they do it from the other side—where there’s a managed trail, a gentler slope. Here, it’s just loose rock layered on a slippery incline, but I don’t have time to trek a couple miles around to find the trailhead. I need to go up. Now.
I scrabble over a section of mud and stones and attack the steep slope. Behind me, the crows still battle the bees. The crows’ calls have grown desperate. Slivers of wet shale slide out beneath my feet, and my knees crash on the rocks for the umpteenth time. I land on my belly, panting. Again. I don’t have the footwear for this, or the strength. My arms shake with fatigue, and my stomach lets out an empty howl.
Then, for the second time, the sound of thunder cracks through the valley.
The crows go silent. The buzzing quiets to a dull hum. It’s as if they are waiting…
A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.
What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.