Title: Daughter of the Fallen
Author: Madeline Wynn
Publisher: Book Baby
Genre: YA paranormal
Author: Madeline Wynn
Publisher: Book Baby
Genre: YA paranormal
Most sixteen-year olds aren't worried about the fate of their immortal souls. May Krieg should be.
Typically, honor student May's biggest problems have revolved around her super-hot arch-rival, Jack. But when a school project takes them ghost-hunting in a local cemetery, she discovers that an ominous force roams in the darkness around her.
And it follows her home.
It claws its way into her life, burning messages into her wall and imprinting them onto her body. Even worse, she can't tell if it's trying to possess her... or protect her.
May's thoughts soon become actions, causing the target of her anger severe physical pain and giving her a rush the likes of which she has never experienced. She quickly realizes that she needs to find a way to reign in this power before she kills someone. May hates the pleasure it gives her, hates herself for hurting others, but she can't stop.
As her entire world shatters around her, she is forced to ask what her soul is worth-- and who would she risk losing her soul to save?
This is New England. And in New England, a town without a good witch hanging or ghost story just, well, isn’t considered to be a real town. So when I walk past the iron gate of the cemetery and feel the urge to bolt riding up my legs like a herd of football players bum-rushing the food counter on taco day, I set my shoulders and do my best to cowboy up.
Set between imposing stone walls and punctured by large granite fists, Hillside Cemetery definitely looks like it deserves its sinister reputation, making my attempt at bravery rather brief. “This place sucks. Maybe we should just go.”
“Here, watch your step,” Cay says and holds out his hand to help me over the uneven cobbles just on the other side of the entry. Once we make it over the stones, he drops my hand and pulls the recording equipment out of the duffle.
We’ve been friends ever since kindergarten, when some boy taunted me for living in a “little troll house.” Cay, the kickball king, told him that it was actually a gingerbread house, and everybody knows that only fairy princesses live in gingerbread houses.
He was wrong, of course; it was witches who lived in the gingerbread houses, a fact I pointed out to him later, but I gave him props for the effort. We’ve been “Cay and May” ever since, but the whole dating thing still feels… awkward.
“Is this all from school or is Jack bringing some of his dad’s?” I swipe an errant curl of hair out of my face and cringe at my surroundings as I reach for the big videocamera. Why does it have to be so dark? Why can’t people ghost hunt in the daylight? You can still supposed get sound bites and whatever in the daytime, right? It’s not like ghosts go anywhere or sleep or, you know, whatever.
“Well, the big stuff is the professional gear with night vision from school. And then we have my stuff.” Cay stops in front of a wide tomb, laying his multiple cameras and his mini video recorder along the top like they are the most precious things in the world. “Weird that Mr. Dowd put both you and Jack on my team.”
“Yeah, weird.” And a nightmare. If it wasn’t for Jack, I’d be ranked first in our year, and, unlike Jack, if I don’t earn a ton of scholarship money for college, then I can’t go.
Cay fumbles with the equipment, his breath rising in great grey puffs of frost, lingering in his dark bob of curls. I shiver.
A BMW pulls up in front of the entry gate, looking sleek and new and out of place.
I run an unsteady hand through my untamable hair…right…Jack.
He gets out of the car and strides towards us, stepping out into the camera’s lights: short blond hair, high cheekbones, and a long neck leading to strong shoulders. Everyone at school, except for me, that is, adores him because he’s rich, intelligent and supposedly lost his virginity to a Victoria’s Secret model.
Watching the god-like way he strides across the cemetery, you can almost believe the hype. He lifts his eyes to meet mine as he nods a greeting. My heart flips.
Of course, it would be easier to dislike him if he wasn’t so damn… hot. I shake my head. I hate that about him, too.
“You’re late.” I grab the sound gear from Cay and hand it to him, eyeing the orange-clad harpy of a girl trailing after him.
“I had to pick up Alicia.” He indicates the thing as he straps on the professional sound gear. “And respond to your post on the AP History board about gun control.”
I huff. “You think we should arm everyone with a credit card?”
“What I think is irrelevant, Mason.” Jack’s the only one in the universe who calls me by my full name. “It’s what the Founding Fathers wanted that matters.” He holds out his hand to help me navigate my way over a broken tomb. I ignore it. He smirks, “Or do you not support the Bill Of Rights?”
God, please keep me from throttling him tonight. Cay clears his throat.
“WTF, losers? A graveyard?” Alicia Impestio. Wearing her designer hoodie unzipped so that she reveals way more skin than she has to, her straight brown hair is bleached at the tips and held off of her over-tanned face by some rhinestone-studded catastrophe. I grit my teeth.
“Hey Alicia, glad you could make it.” Cay holds the minicam out towards her and helps her onto the cobbled path of the graveyard.
“Whatever.” Alicia grabs the mini and swats at Cay’s hand as she struggles to gain a foothold. A challenging endeavor, I’m sure, for someone wearing flip-flops in November.
She gives me the once-over, lips curling.
“You really wore that?” She asks, mouth open with disdain.
“Alicia…” Jack’s voice is low, menacing.
“I mean” –she gives me the once-over and sneers- “Aren’t the Kardashians some of you people? They at least know how to dress. But, then again, they also know who their daddy is.”
That’s Alicia: hitting where it hurts. I blink through the stinging at my eyes as my mind races to find something snarky to say...something to…
“Alicia,” Jack snaps. “Stop.”
“Fine, but tell Clay Aiken over there to hurry it. I’m cold.”
Jack makes a motion with his head to indicate that Cay should ignore her as he adjusts the weight of the portable boom on his back.
“Okay, I’m filming.” I say and catch the low-hanging harvest moon before panning down to Cay. “In three, two, one…”
“This is Cayden Robison of Chase Hills High Broadcasting reporting on site at Hillside Cemetery. In 1734, three witches were reportedly hung just up the road, on the town green and buried, here, in this cemetery, in unmarked graves.”
“Then, in 1864, three men were arrested for grave digging, and ever since, people have reported strange things not only here, but especially out behind the burial grounds, in the woods.” Cay runs his hand along the top of a worn tombstone.
“Reports of paranormal activity really began to pick up in the past thirty years.” He pauses, and I pan the camera over to the creepy oak and the broken bench beneath it, hands a little unsteady. “Some people claim to hear voices, others see full-body apparitions, but most convincingly, in the 1980s, some kids back here partying say that they found satanists performing rituals in the woods. They watched as the group made a make-shift temple of one of the half-buried barite mines in the woods, and claim that the men actually raised a demon.”
He stops, looking intently into the lens of my camera. I flex my fingers, my breath rushed, like I’ve been running.
“Tonight, we’re going to dig for the truth and see if Hillside Cemetery is actually haunted.” Cays smiles.
Deep breath, May. It’s just a story. Fairytales. There’s no such thing as demons, or ghosts.