First excerpt from RISING DARKNESS and cover flat contest!

Hi, folks!  January through March, I’ll be posting an excerpt each month from my upcoming release RISING DARKNESS (Berkley, April 2).

RISING DARKNESS is the first of two Game of Shadows novels.  The second one is entitled FALLING LIGHT, and it has a scheduled release date of February 2014.  These stories are very different from my Elder Races series.  They have a strong urban fantasy feeling to them.  (In fact RT Book Reviews will be posting their review in the Urban Fantasy section of their magazine.)  They are based on an alternative Earth, and they have four points of view, including the antagonist.  Also unlike the Elder Races series RISING DARKNESS does have a cliff hanger–the storyline will be concluded in the second novel FALLING LIGHT.

For January’s excerpt, I want to introduce you to the hero Michael.

Be sure to check below the excerpt for details of the cover flat contest!

*    *    *

Chapter Two

Michael had been in a rage for as long as he could remember, long before he understood the reasons for it.

As a small boy, over thirty years ago, he had been prone to screaming fits and spells of inconsolable sobbing that had lasted hours. Once it had lasted days. In his memory of that time, his parents were vague, ineffectual shadows, pantomiming concern and alarm. That one time had involved doctors, along with a hypodermic needle.

He hadn’t liked shots. Five adults had been needed to hold him pinned down. After that he had gone through a period of medication and therapy. The medicine taught him a valuable lesson. It made him feel odd and fuzzy. He realized he would have to curb his behavior if he wanted to be free of it, so he learned how to be cunning.

He colored a lot of pictures and studied the therapist as much as she studied him. As soon as he figured her out, he told her everything she wanted to hear. Eventually the sessions stopped, and so did the medication.

Still, he remained a stormy, headstrong, brilliant child. Despite all of their early literacy efforts, his parents could not interest him in reading until he saw an evening news segment on the First Persian Gulf War. Rapt, he watched unblinking until the news program was over, and then he demanded that his father read every article in the newspaper on the subject. Within a few years, his reading comprehension approached the college level.

School was pastel. It didn’t make much of an impression on him. The other children were pastel too. He didn’t have friends. He had followers. By observation and raw gut instinct he knew what the teachers thought of him, that they were both intrigued by him and also worried about his future.

He didn’t care. They were pastel. Nothing external was ever quite as real as what shouted inside of him.

He was well on his way to developing into an adult sociopath. His dreams of release from pastel rules were as yet unformed but increasingly dangerous. He had already been in several fights with other children, and he had discovered that he liked violence.

And he was good at it.

One day when he was eight, an old woman appeared at the fence of his schoolyard playground.

Michael was as aware of her presence as he was aware of everything else around him, but he ignored her while he organized his group of followers for a strenuous bout of playground mischief.

Then the most extraordinary thing happened.

Boy, the old woman said.

That was all. But she said it INSIDE HIS HEAD.

He turned to stare at her.

The old bat looked exceedingly pastel. She looked like just a nondescript woman with a cheerful apple-dumpling face who had paused to watch children run and play during a school break.

His eyes narrowing, he walked toward her, school, stranger-danger, followers and mischief, all else forgotten. Several of the other kids called his name, and some kind of missile thumped him on the shoulder. He ignored everything else and stopped about fifteen yards away from the six-foot chain-link fence. All the while, the old woman watched him with bright, black raisin eyes.

“How did you do that?” he asked.

Shrieking children ran between them, playing a game of tag, but she still heard him in spite of the noise. Her face crinkled into a friendly smile. It’s a secret, she said. I know a lot of secrets.

His breath left him. He stared at her in wonder. She might be old and wrinkled, but she was definitely not pastel. He took another quick, impetuous step toward her. “Teach me!”

Her smile wrinkles deepened although she never stopped watching him. Those bright eyes of hers were alight with amusement and something sharper. I might, she said, her mental voice casual. Or I might not. It all depends.

Never before in his short, pampered life had he been stared at as if he had been weighed and found wanting, but that was how the old woman stared at him now. He scowled, not liking the sensation. “It depends on what?”

On whether or not you know any manners, young man, she told him. And whether or not you’re still salvageable.

He had never seen eyes as old as hers. He was too young and ignorant to understand how deadly they were. All he knew was that this strange conversation was more real than anything else that he could remember.

He ran to the fence, clutched metal links in both hands and looked up at her. “I’m sorry,” he said. The unaccustomed words stuck in his throat, but he forced them out anyway. “I’m sorry I was rude. Please, would you teach me how you did that?”

Her face softened and she touched his clenched fists with gnarled fingers as she spoke aloud for the first time. “Well said. And I might teach you, but it still depends on one more thing.”

He shook his head in confusion. It was so odd. From a distance she had seemed so small, barely taller than he was. Now that he was right up next to her she seemed to tower over him.

“Anything,” he promised. He had been so young.

She bent forward and locked gazes with him. He realized that he had been wrong about her eyes too. They weren’t like friendly little raisins. They were hot and full of burning power like black suns.

“You must keep it a secret,” she whispered. “Or I will have to kill you.”

Terror thrilled him. Never, in reality or his wildest imagination, had an adult spoken to him like that. And she might even mean it.

(Whereas the man he had grown into knew very well that she had.)

He pushed against the fence. “I promise. I won’t tell anyone.”

“Ever,” said the old woman.

He nodded. “Ever.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Cross your heart and hope to die.”

Those words. She meant them. Wow, this was so cool. He held her gaze and grinned. He crossed his heart and hoped to die.

The old woman smiled her approval. “Atta boy.”

She told him to be quiet and wait, and he did, though it was one of the hardest things he’d ever done.

He was rewarded for his patience two weeks later. Walking home from school, he saw a U-Haul van parked in front of a small house located a couple of doors down from where he lived.

Curious, he wandered over to watch half a dozen men unloading furniture, appliances and boxes. There were no toys, no bikes, nothing weird or spooky, just ordinary furniture. Pastel. He had started to turn away when he heard a thin, elderly female voice from within the house call out to the men.

A sharp, delicious shiver, like the flat of a cold blade, ran over his skin.

He hadn’t heard that voice for very long, but he would recognize it anywhere.

He knocked on her door. She gave him a cookie. To the hired movers they looked like a pleasant, ordinary old woman making friends with a well-mannered, curious neighborhood boy.

A week later the old woman met his parents. Soon after that he was taking piano lessons from her on Tuesdays and Thursdays. His family didn’t own a piano, so he also went over to her house on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so he could practice on hers.

His parents were amazed and delighted at the strength of his artistic dedication. It seemed to be just the key they needed to settle him down. When his mentor invited him for summer vacations, they agreed with a poorly concealed relief.

In the meantime, Michael grew from a troubled little boy with messy, uncontrollable emotions into something quiet, controlled, and infinitely more deadly.

He learned who he was.

More importantly, he learned why he was the way he was.

“You lost the other half of yourself,” his mentor told him. “It happened a very long time ago. So long ago, in fact, that I am surprised there is any sanity left in you at all. You must remember who you are. You must remember everything you can, and rediscover your skills and your purpose. I can help you do that.”

As he learned meditation and discipline, he grew to understand what his mentor meant. He felt that raging part of him like a beast that was too lightly restrained. He harnessed that energy as he grew older, turning all of his focus onto it, and scarlet threads of memory began to unfurl into the past.

Past before his birth in this lifetime.

Past into distant history, so very long ago.

And he began to remember what he had lost. Who he had lost.

The other half of himself.

An unshakable determination settled into him. If she still existed in any way, he would find her again.

He would find her.

*     *     *


Comment below for a chance to win one of two signed cover flats–DRAGON BOUND or RISING DARKNESS!  (Unfortunately WordPress isn’t letting me upload a photo of them at the moment, so I will post the photo separately on Twitter and Facebook.)  I’ll pick the two winners on Friday January 11th at 3 PM Mountain Daylight Time (5 pm EST).  This contest is international!

50 Responses

  1. Grace S says:

    Color me intrigued!

  2. Jessica Markert says:

    I would love to win either of them! Oh my gosh, I’m so excited for Rising Darkness!

  3. Mihaela says:

    Sounds great,Thea!! Can’t wait to read this new novels!!
    Hugs!! xoxo

  4. Marci says:

    Oh boy!!! Interesting!

  5. Christian Chandler says:

    Wow, just that quick I want to know more about Michael, the old woman. And especially who his other half is.

  6. Julie Rowe says:

    Looking forward to Rising Darkness!

  7. Elizabeth Z says:

    I love your books! I’m setting a reminder in my calendar now to pre-order Rising Darkness.

  8. Rising Darkness sounds really interesting. And I totally love the Elder Races series! Thanks for the great reads (and great contest!)

  9. Myranda says:

    I would love to win a cover flat! Thanks for the excerpt! I’m really looking forward to this series.

  10. Irene Jackson says:

    Lookin good for Rising Darkness, it’s going straight to my want list. Would love one of those cover flats!

  11. Cinzia says:

    I can’t wait to read Michael’s story 🙂 your stories are amazing!

  12. Viki S. says:

    They are both so lovely I’d be happy with either one. Thank you.

  13. Jane-Ann says:

    Totally tantalizing. Can’t wait for more!

  14. Stephanie says:

    I can’t wait to read them!

  15. Karen Alonzi says:

    Sounds great — always eager for your next novel!

  16. Teresa says:

    Really looking forward to book, love your work!

  17. Alison King says:

    Cant wait for this new and different story. So loved the Elders, finished Lord’s Fall, quite a while ago. Need my Thea fix soon. You cant write quick enough, but I enjoy every word.

  18. Can’t wait for the new series!

  19. wordgirl says:

    I am hooked! I can’t wait to read these books!

  20. Veronika says:

    Oh, this sounds very, very interesting. Can’t wait, already pre-ordered! 🙂

  21. Valerie Ralands says:

    my first thought after reading excert was Thea Baby you have done it again!!!!!

  22. Want to win pick me cant wait for both your novels.

  23. Tracy C says:

    Can’t wait for the new novel!

  24. Alaina says:

    Cannot Wait to get this book!! thanks for the chance to win!

  25. Michelle Tan says:

    i can’t wait for it to be out to read it! thanks for the giveaway!

  26. Nicole Nobles says:

    This excerpt was really good..very interested in reading the book.

  27. Amanda Grinstead says:

    I’m so excited for this new series! I’d love a chance to read Darkness Rising.

  28. bn100 says:

    Nice excerpt.

  29. Shannon says:

    I picked up Dragon Bound last friday and am half way through the third book,now. I really enjoy your books.

  30. Jennifer says:

    Light up my life!! Dragon Bound and the Elder Races are my favorites!! I am de-light-ed to have a new series from Thea! Cannot wait!

  31. shannonB. says:

    Oooh Rising Darkness sounds awesome! I just finished Lord’s Fall over the holidays and I loved it!

  32. Susan says:

    Wow!! The best authors make their characters very 3 dimensional. Michael leaps of the page and from this tiny sample. I love how she takes characters that COULD be so evil, she adds layers of pain, and gives them the capacity of love that is completely redeeming. I am disappointed that this will be an urban fantasy rather than a paranormal romance. This reads as a strong paranormal romance with the last bit. Some of her books are my absolute favorites…I will absolutely be buying this. You are one of my favorite authors.

  33. Yessica Gonzalez says:

    I can’t wait for this book to come out, I hope I win! I pick Rising Darkness as a must read for this year!

  34. Michelle Sanders says:

    I just read the teaser on Goodreads and commented there as well. Rising Darkness is now officially at the top of my TBR pile. I’m going to be thinking about Michael and all of his potential good and evil sides until April. Way too much time in between to speculate … my hamster is back on the wheel and running in hyper speed now. Thanks, Thea for always keeping me on my toes!

  35. Dana says:

    Can’t wait! Love, love, love the Elder Races but happy as a wyr-duck can be that you’re creating another new series!!!! Winning flats would be icing on my lemon “wedding” cake!

  36. Ellen says:

    All I can say is WOW. I can’t wait to read this.

  37. Marcia McGinley says:

    I finished Lord’s Fall after work tonight, including the excerpt from Rising Dark at the end. I came onto your webite looking for more – how lovely to find a different excerpt – thank you!

  38. Stephanie says:

    Excellent teaser. I love both UF and PR so anything in either genre is fantastic and I absolutely adore your Elder series so I can’t with for this book.

  39. Samantha says:

    I can’t wait to read The rest of the story, and the one after that!

  40. TiDubb says:

    Wow! Can’t wait for Rising Darkness!!

  41. mandy says:

    OMG!!! Thea!!! I want more! I have read this blurb ten times and keep coming back to it… the premise? Thank you for your imagination. It is soooo on my pre-order list!

  42. Stephanie Petersen says:

    You know I adore you, and I expect nothing less from this new venture! I am intimidated by 4 povs, not gonna lie, and a cliffie is going to be hard to wait through… but I am still so stoked!! WOOT WOOT

  43. Gloria Bidmead says:

    I love your books and can’t wait to read anything you write! Very excited 🙂

  44. Nellie says:

    Oooo, this sounds really interesting.

  45. Wendy says:

    Ive read all the elder race novels and novellas. If this series is anything like that, it’s bound to be great!

  46. Christine Hirsch says:

    Can’t wait!!!!!

  47. Katie says:

    Can’t wait for the new book. I already have it ordered 🙂

  48. kah_cherub says:

    Both look pretty good! I looked for the covers and they are gorgeous! thanks for the chance!

  49. Katie Steffen says:

    That excerpt was amazing. I have all the books for Elder Races and love them all so I pre-ordered Rising Darkness from Amazon as soon as I saw it and now look forward to it more than ever! 🙂

  50. […] Harrison has posted an excerpt from her new novel, Rising Darkness, which […]