Revealing The Name of All Things, the Next Verse of Jenn Lyons’ A Chorus of Dragons

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Last month saw the release of The Ruin of Kings, the debut novel from Jenn Lyons, and the first volume of an ambitious five-book fantasy series known as A Chorus of Dragons. With an inventive narrative structure and ample use of footnotes, it more than satisfied our expectations, built sky high by advance buzz that likened it to A Song of Ice and Fire and The Kingkiller Chronicle.

While Lynons’ series promises to be as epic as either of those lauded sagas, she is definitely doing her own thing—and the books differ in another way as well: Tor is committed to cranking then out on an accelerated schedule, one every nine months or so. Which means that volume two, The Name of All Things, lands before the end of the year—and today, were giving you your first taste of the sequel, via a cover reveal and excerpt.

Find both below the official summary. The Name of All Things arrives October 29.

You can have everything you want if you sacrifice everything you believe. 

Kihrin D’Mon is a wanted man.

Since he destroyed the Stone of Shackles and set demons free across Quur, he has been on the run from the wrath of an entire empire. His attempt to escape brings him into the path of Janel Theranon, a mysterious Joratese woman who claims to know Kihrin. 

Janel’s plea for help pits Kihrin against all manner of dangers: a secret rebellion, a dragon capable of destroying an entire city, and Kihrin’s old enemy, the wizard Relos Var.

Janel believes that Relos Var possesses one of the most powerful artifacts in the world—the Cornerstone called the Name of All Things. And if Janel is right, then there may be nothing in the world that can stop Relos Var from getting what he wants. 

And what he wants is Kihrin D’Mon.

Art by Lars Grant-West

An excerpt from The Name of All Things follows…

“Fine. You’ve gone through a lot of effort to find me.” He looked Janel in the eyes. “Why?”

She answered, “We need your help to slay a dragon.”

Kihrin blinked at her.

“A dragon? A dragon?

Janel blushed. “Please lower your voice.”

“A dragon,” Kihrin repeated a third time. “Do you have any clue—? No, wait. Look, I applaud your ambition or greed or whatever reason you have for thinking this is a good idea. Let me assure you—this is a terrible idea.”

“It matters not if it is or it isn’t—”

“No. I’m sorry. ‘Let’s go kill a dragon’ ranks among the worst of ideas. It’s right above invading the Manol in summer and right below freeing Vol Karoth ‘just for a little while.’ Do you know why parents don’t warn their children not to attack dragons? Because no parent wants to think their kids are that stupid. A dragon would annihilate me before I got close enough to hurt its feelings, let alone do any real damage to it.”

Janel raised an eyebrow at Kihrin. “Are you quite finished?”

“No,” Kihrin said. “I want to know who told you to enlist me into this ludicrous scheme, so I can find that person and shove my—”

“A quarter million people are currently in Atrine,” Janel interrupted. “And they have no idea they’re about to be attacked by the largest dragon ever known.”

That stopped him cold. He ignored the bartender—doing double duty as waitstaff—as she shoved another mug of cider onto the table. She followed that with a bowl of rice and vegetables covered in a thick paste. Without asking if anyone needed anything else, she retreated to the bar.

Kihrin pushed aside the food. “What?”

Musicians and storytellers in the Capital loved to talk about Atrine. What wasn’t to love? Atrine was a literally magical city, crafted of poetry and marble, built by Emperor Atrin Kandor in a single day. Ironically, Kihrin had never met anyone who’d actually been there; it was everyone’s favorite city from a distance.

“You heard me quite well,” Janel said, no longer smiling. “Now, as decided to recruit you for this plan, just what, pray tell, are you planning to shove, and where? Would you care to elaborate?”

Kihrin turned red. He exhaled and turned to the priest. “How are you involved in this?”

“Oh, I’m uh . . .” Qown floundered. “I used to be . . . that is to say . . .” He scowled, flustered. “It’s complicated,” he finished.

“As Qown mentioned earlier, he’s a votary of the Vishai Mysteries,” Janel said. “He’s also a qualified physicker and my best friend.”

Qown looked uncomfortable. Kihrin wondered what part of Janel’s description had upset the priest—his religion or his status as a Royal House licensed healer. Being called dearest friend hadn’t bothered him earlier.

“And you’re fine with this ‘Let’s go kill a dragon’ plan? Because you don’t strike me as the type to throw away your life.”

“With all respect,” Qown replied, “my approval or disapproval is irrelevant. Once Morios surfaces from underneath Lake Jorat, he’ll attack Atrine. Thousands will die. Normally, the Emperor would handle the problem, or the Eight Immortals themselves, but Emperor Sandus is dead, and the gods . . .” He held out his hands.

“The gods are busy battling demons,” Janel finished.

Preorder The Name of All Things, available October 29, 2019.

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The Next Verse in the Earthsinger Chronicles: Revealing Whispers of Shadow & Flame by L. Penelope

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Last year, L. Penelope’s debut novel Song of Blood & Stone became another self-publishing success story. Originally self-published by the author in 2016 to acclaim and awards—including the 2016 Self-Publishing eBook Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association—it went on to be acquired by a major publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and became one of the year’s buzziest “first novels,” earning a coveted starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and kudos from authors the likes of Ilona Andrews, Rebecca Roanhorse, and K. Arnesault Rivera.

Today, we’re pleased to share with you the cover of the next book in the Earthsinger Chronicles, Whispers of Shadow & Flame—featuring artwork by veteran SFF cover illustrator Jamie Jones, who also provided revised art for the cover of the forthcoming paperback edition of book one—as well as an exclusive excerpt. Find both below the official summary, and place your preorders now. The book arrives this fall.

The Mantle that separates the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall. And life will drastically change for both kingdoms.

Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame in the kingdom of Lagrimar, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the legendary rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.

Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.

Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies—all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, they must beat the odds to save both kingdoms.

TWO AND A HALF WEEKS BEFORE THE FALL OF THE MANTLE

“I-I’m sure we can come to some kind of understanding.”

The man before Kyara ul-Lagrimar scrambled backward, slamming his back against the wall, shaking the tapestry hanging next to him. The scent of his fear was rancid, filling the room. The stench overpowered the savory aroma of the freshly roasted goat laid out on the table behind her. His whimpers drowned out the weeping of the woman cowering across the room.

Kyara judged the distance between them and determined the wife was far enough away to remain safe but only if Kyara stood very close to her target. Close enough to feel his sour breath on her skin.

Her stomach clenched at the thought, however, she forced herself forward, erasing the few paces between them. The finely woven rug swallowed the sound of her boots. Now added to the room’s collection of odors: the scent of piss. The dark stain spreading across the front of his trousers proof enough that the fellow knew who she was and why she was here.

“W-we can negotiate. I’m sure there must be something you want.” Beads of sweat punctured his forehead, and the thick vein at his neck jumped with his rapid pulse. “I have money, enough grams to make you a wealthy woman. And jewels, trunks full of them. The finest s-silks.” He spread a shaking hand pointing to the wealth on display in his home.

Delicate crystal and china graced the polished table, ornate tapestries hung from the walls, and electric lamps brightened the space. Kyara had noticed it all in one sweep of the room when she’d first burst in the front door, brushing past the weary maid. The house: three levels of sandstone within view of the glass castle, spoke for itself. This man—a payroller most would call him—had been very useful to the True Father for some time. And had been paid well for his trouble. But now his usefulness, and his trouble, were at an end.

“I am not here to negotiate with you.” Kyara’s voice was paper thin.

“Whatever transgression His Majesty believes I’ve made, I will redress, threefold. I am but a simple man. A husband and father.” He waved a pudgy hand at the shaking woman in the corner. “I give tribute for all I collect, I pay on time and—” His pleas became a drone in her ears, mingling with those of a hundred other men who had begged for their lives over the years. Other men in other homes like this, flaunting their wealth while so many starved.

Rugs and tapestries and real glass in the windows. The enticing fragrance of meat, fresh vegetables, and butter tickled her nose. Some unidentifiable spice hung in the air. All this, while most of the city found ways to make their meager rations last far longer and feed more mouths than intended. And those in the Midcountry scraped by with even less.

Kyara’s mouth watered at the dinner she’d interrupted, but she never ate the food of the dead.

The heat in the room became oppressive. She wasn’t sure if it was the fear or the piss or the meal, but nausea overwhelmed her. If she didn’t end this quickly and get out, she would be sick, right here on this beautiful rug.

Her warped Song prowled inside her, restless. It wanted to launch itself into the maelstrom of source energy, to ride the brutal currents of the force like a kite in a violent wind. She shuddered and reined in her power. Instead of giving in to the despised urge, she opened her mind’s eye. The world fell away, leaving only a field of black. She spread her senses, shutting out the energies of the overcrowded city and focused on this home, this room. Moving arcs of white light burst across her vision, like the undulating waves of brightness produced by a fire dancer swinging a torch.

This was Nethersong. Her gift and her curse.

<>

Just as all life carried energy—Earthsong—so did death. And while an Earthsinger may grow crops from seeds or feel the pulse of life moving in the plants and animals around them, Kyara did the opposite.

In her vision, the light of the man before her pulsed brightly. His death energy was a cyclone spinning out of control. Judging by the strength of Nethersong within him, he had not been kind to his body—a feat much easier when you were on the True Father’s payroll and could afford an abundance of rich food and drink. If the immortal king were a patient man, Kyara wouldn’t be needed at all. This payroller would die from his dissipation sooner rather than later.

In the corner of the room, the wife’s light was dimmer. She was younger and healthier than her husband. A barely there glow several paces away from the wife indicated a faint trace of Nethersong which surprised Kyara. There was a child hiding under the table. She had been careless not to notice.

“You two. Out.” She didn’t turn from the payroller, merely pointed behind her ignoring the shuffling and desperate whispering which ensued. There were others in the house as well, but all were far enough away to be safe.

The mangled skin on her chest began to ache. She must act soon or the pain would intensify. Her orders were clear, and she would have no peace until they were carried out.

She shuttered her extra sight, bringing the man’s jowly face back into focus. A silent apology cramped her heart. Yes, this payroller had sinned, had contributed to his people’s poverty and strife, but no judge or jury had convicted him. He had merely chosen to align himself with a mad, immortal king who was as capricious as he was powerful. And the payroller’s time had run out.

The executioner had been sent for him.

Preorder Whispers of Shadow & Flame, available October 1, 2019.

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Meet a Space Princess on the Run in Polaris Rising

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Polaris Rising is the debut novel of Jessie Mahilik, a rip-roaring, romantic sci-fi adventure starring a rebellious princess with attitude to spare.

Today, we’re pleased to share a brief excerpt with you, courtesy of Harper Voyager. Check it out below the back cover summary, and pick up a copy today!

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

We wound through shabbier and shabbier neighborhoods until the plastech buildings were more boards and mud than plastech.

We circled the same block twice before Loch stopped behind the middle house on the block. He checked his com. “This is it,” he said. The house was dark, as were the two beside it. Either luck was with us or the occupants knew better than to let light escape.

I peered into the twilight while Loch opened the door. Nothing moved, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.

“I think we should abort,” I whispered as soon as we were inside. Loch was a dark shape against the deeper darkness of the room.

“Why?” he asked.

“Just a feeling.”

To his credit, Loch didn’t scoff. “Five minutes?” he asked.

I nodded reluctantly. If someone was watching us, I doubted five minutes would make a ton of difference. But for us it could mean the difference between finding guns or going home empty-handed.

We moved quickly through the house. I set my com flashlight to the lowest setting and turned it on. It was hard to tell if the house had already been ransacked or if the people living here were just slobs.

Once we checked the house for occupants, Loch and I split up. I searched one bedroom while he searched the other. I found two well-used blaster pistols in the top of the closet, as well as a small cache of energy cells. No holsters, though, so I shoved one gun in my pocket and left the other out for Loch.

I was shoving energy cells into my other pockets when Loch entered the room. “Trouble,” he said. “You were right.”

I handed him the gun and ammo. “How bad?”

“Rockhurst’s men, at least a squad of six. We’ll have to split their attention. You should take your hood down.”

“They’ll never leave me alone if they know who I am.” I pulled out the pistol and loaded it. I had a feeling I was going to need it before the night was over. I tucked it back in my pocket. It wasn’t the safest way to carry it, but a better option didn’t present itself, so I went with what I had.

“But they also won’t shoot you in the back,” Loch said. It was hard to argue with that logic. “We’ll make it seem like you escaped from me. If they capture you, I’ll come for you,” he said. “You still owe me. Don’t do anything stupid.”

“You should’ve taken the money and run,” I said. “I tried to warn you.”

“Why? This is the most fun I’ve had in years,” Loch said. His eyes gleamed in the dark and I almost believed him. “We both go left then split at the next corner. You go right. You’re not going to be able to lose them in the crowd. Run hard and fast.”

“Be careful,” I said. “Your bounty doesn’t specify that they need to keep you alive.”

“But they will,” Loch said arrogantly. “Rockhurst won’t be able to resist parading me in front of the Consortium before he kills me. Ready?”

I wasn’t, not even close, but giving Richard time to move more men over here was not going to improve matters, so I nodded.

“Look like you’re fighting me without actually slowing us down,” Loch said. “Remember: left then right. Run like hell.”

“I got it. I’ll meet you back at the house or nearby.” I left my hood down and followed Loch when he grabbed my wrist and pulled me through the door.

Two men were in the alley across the street. One on the roof. Probably more I couldn’t spot. Two pistol blasts slammed into the side of our building close enough to heat the air before I heard my name shouted. The blasts stopped.

The men across the street moved to intercept, but Loch was already sprinting. I tugged on my arm and did my best to appear terrified. It wasn’t too difficult.

At the corner I realized that if I split from him, Loch would lose his human shield. I tried to follow him, but he hissed “Right!” at me and then darted left before the soldiers knew we were separating.

I swiped my left hand across the cuff around my right wrist, first inside to outside, then the opposite. I held my hand over the cuff for two seconds. It buzzed once.

My lungs burned and the cold air stabbed at my throat. The cuff pulsed and a wall to my left danced with a shower of electric sparks. These men hadn’t forgotten their stun pistols. And the cuff could only repel two more shots.

At the next corner, I pulled the gun from my pocket and spun. The man behind me was nearly a block away. I aimed and fired in one motion. The energy bolt went clean through his thigh. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to hit, but he went down, so good enough.

I ducked behind the corner just before the second man could hit me with a stun pulse. I had to put distance between us then go to ground. I didn’t know how many men Richard had on-planet, but it couldn’t be enough to sweep an entire section of city or even the oblivious mercs living here would know something was up.

I kept my turns erratic so they couldn’t radio ahead for men to intercept me. These soldiers weren’t encumbered with heavy armor and they were in excellent physical shape. Outrunning them proved difficult.

Picking them off one at a time worked, but every time I stopped to aim at one, the others surged closer and I risked getting stunned. Since I’d surprised the first, I’d had a much more difficult time with the other three. I wounded one enough that he dropped back, but the final two were persistent as hell.

I hoped Loch was having better results.

Polaris Rising is available now. The sequel, Aurora Blazing, arrives in October.

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A Grave Robber Is in Grave Danger in The Resurrectionist of Caligo

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

The Resurrectionist of Caligo is one of those books that sells itself on a single sentence: a grave robber finds himself on the run after being accused of murdering one of the corpses he’s dug up. Genius—especially once you add in a hint of macabre magic in the form of a princess schooled in blood magic.

It’s a combination that landed Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga’s co-written novel on our list of 25 debuts we can’t wait to read in 2019—and now that we’ve seen the gorgeous cover (from artist John Coulthart) and read an excerpt the first chapter, we’re even more confident this is going to be as fun as it sounds.

What’s that? You’d like to see the cover and read an excerpt too? Well, then keep scrolling! Below the official summary you’ll find both! The Resurrectionist of Caligo arrives September 10, and you can preorder the book now.

With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

Chapter One

Dolorous Avenue, where Caligo’s most venerable families were interred, descended trench-like into the ground, a sliver of sky visible through the encroaching flora. The ivy-sheathed family crypts stood in rows like townhouses. Flagstone paths lead to wrought-iron porticoes that shielded crypt doors from the weather. Tiny glowing ghostcandle mushrooms sprouted from chinks between the stones, and the statue of some long-dead queen clawed the air with marble fingers. Decades of rain had streaked sooty tears down her face.

Roger drew the garlic from his pocket. He tore off a clove, peeled it, and popped it in his mouth. Chewing slowly, he knelt before the metal door of the Smith crypt, then tossed another garlic clove at the statue for good measure. A decorative iron curlicue blocked the keyhole, meant to deter amateurs. Roger gave the obstruction a practiced twist and slid it aside.

“May the foul Caligo mists blacken my lungs long afore the were-beasts get me.” The sound of his voice banished fear – a little.

He glanced over his shoulder at the marble queen. Had she moved? Roger stood and approached her, watching her stone fingers as if they might conjure sparks, or fountains of ink, or whatever illusory faerie-rubbish the royals waved about as proof of their superiority.

“Poor jammy tartlet.” Roger passed a hand over her marble cheek. “Having to witness my transgressions. You won’t sell me out, will you, your highness?”

He gave a mock bow and retreated to the crypt door. Lifting a surgeon’s charm from beneath his shirt, he kissed the shard of skull embedded in pewter for luck. He selected a tension wrench and, working by feel, torqued the lock’s internal cylinder, then manipulated the tumbler pins with a diamond pick.

“May Reason drive out the hags and warlocks who sell their unicorn paste on Mouthstreet to the unschooled masses,” he whispered. The internal mechanism clicked. Close. So close. And then…

Pang. Pang. Pang.

Roger froze. Metal struck metal – three times, then silence.

“I refuse,” he whispered as cold sweat dribbled down his forehead, “as a man of science to acknowledge witchcraft, spirits, vampyres, polterghosts, goblins, fae, volcanic subdragons, saint-sprites, mermaids, miracles–”

Pang. Pang. Pang.

The sound came from Roger’s right. Shadows enveloped the portico. Behind him, he could make out the gray, rain-washed cobbles of Dolorous Avenue and the silhouette of the stone queen.

A faint blue light floated in the dark before his eyes. His stomach twisted.

Wary of watchmen, Roger hadn’t bothered with a light. Now, arrest by a flesh-and-blood man seemed almost… welcoming. Roger fumbled in his pocket for a candle. He struck frantically with his flint and iron, struggling to light the damp tinder, then the wick. At last the flame flared up.

With a shaking hand, Roger raised the candle toward the shadows. He nearly fainted at the sight. A child swayed in the far corner, a pale girl-like thing in a puff of white nightdress. Her hands clasped a bouquet of glowing mushrooms – the hovering light. Her white sliver of neck ended in a blob of darkness. No head, no face.

The candle rolled from Roger’s fingers. “By the Lady’s nethers!” He couldn’t rise from his knees, nor unclasp his hands.

Whaaaaaatddddiiiiidyouuuuuubringmeeeeeeee???

Roger pressed his palms to his face. Garlic oil coated his fingertips. He pulled the second bulb from his pocket, lobbed it at where the girl-thing’s head should have been, then grabbed the candle. It hadn’t gone out.

The being crouched and caught the garlic bulb when it bounced off the wall. A face like a half moon appeared above her neck, as if she’d swung back a mop of dark hair. Her mouth made a thin line. No eyes, just black holes.

Hottttttttcroossssssssbuuuuuunssssss

She tore at the garlic, defying all that superstitious nonsense of its protective qualities. A clove hit his shoulder. His chin. His eye. He heard a shriek. Her? Or himself?

Roger lurched to his feet. His head smacked a curl of wrought-iron lattice. The holes in the being’s face filled his vision. All went dark.

 

Garlic – strong and fresh – tickled his nose. He felt ill.

“You ain’t dead.” A voice. A girl’s voice, lit with annoyance but otherwise normal. “If your legs work now, then run. Afore I fetch someone bigger.”

Roger lay on his back. He struggled to sit up. A girl crouched over him holding the candle. He wiped crushed garlic from his upper lip, blinking. She was a normal-looking girl with a soaked, otherwise normal-looking face.

“See?” she said. “I washed off the flour an’ the coal. You ain’t being hauled off to hell just yet.”

“That were… you?”

“I like scaring scoundrels, not killing ’em. But breaking locks, grave robbing and such, you near deserve it. Besides, I saw the prison brand on your neck. Get nabbed again, and you’ll hang.”

Roger Weathersby, man of science, faced with this more-or-less logical explanation for his paranormal experience, laughed. It hurt. His head throbbed. Self-consciously he retied his neckcloth to cover the black, crenellated wall tattoo that marked him as an ex-convict. Warm blood plastered his hair to his forehead. “So what,” he said at last. “You the caretaker’s lass or some such?”

The girl thrust the candle flame at Roger’s nose. “A minute ago you was begging for mercy. I won’t let you forget it. Who am I? My mother is a night-walking pixie and Queen of Crumpets. I work in a laundry during the day while she sleeps, and at night she turns into a faerie. She brings me hot cross buns.”

She paused. “What’s that look for? You think I’m mad?”

“You mean your mother is a street-walking doxy and Queen of Strumpets, right? She lets the dead watch you while her room is busy, eh? Got a cozy nest in a hollowed-out crypt somewhere? Smart lady, your mother.” Roger had apprenticed for an undertaker and seen what could befall a nine year-old girl fending for herself on the streets.

Preorder The Resurrectionist of Caligo, available September 10, 2019.

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Next Summer, Terror Blooms in Paul Tremblay’s Growing Things

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

What kinds of horrors keep Stephen King up nights? If you’ve got the guts to find out, read the work of Paul Tremblay.

Tremblay’s novel A Head Full of Ghosts “scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare,” King said. That goes a long way toward explaining why Tremblay has been anointed one of the new masters of horror, and why his work has picked up Bram Stoker and British Fantasy awards, among others. His stories and novels deal in subtle terrors that grow less so as the world cracks at their point of intrusion. They eat at you for weeks and months after reading, stuck into your memory like a barbed needle.

Though perhaps best-known for recent novels like Disappearance at Devil’s Rock and The Cabin at the End of the World (“Tremblay’s personal best,” per King), Tremblay has also won acclaim for his short fiction, republished in numerous “year’s best” anthologies. Next summer, fans and new converts alike can experience the sustained tension of Tremblay in short form in his next book, the collection Growing Things and Other Stories.

Around here, we’re big fans of the bad feelings the author has given us over the years (he’s appeared more than once on our annual lists of the best horror novels of the year), so we’re pleased to share with you today more details on the book, as well as an exclusive excerpt, taken from the story “The Thirteenth Tower.” Find it below the cover image and official summary, and prepare for a chilling summer: the book releases in July 2019 in hardcover from William Morrow.

The critically acclaimed author of The Cabin at the End of the World—which Stephen King heralded as “Tremblay’s personal best”—returns with Growing Things, a collection of short fiction showcasing his signature blend of psychological suspense, literary fiction, and horror.

In “The Teacher,” a Bram Stoker Award nominee for best short story, a student is forced to watch a disturbing video of a terrible event within a day care, only for the video to torment the lives of her and her classmates. Four men rob a pawn shop at gunpoint in “The Getaway,” but start to vanish, one-by-one, as they speed away from the crime scene. In “Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks,” a meth addict kidnaps her own daughter from her estranged mother as a giant monster may or may not be terrorizing the town.

Growing Things also features stories with ties to Tremblay’s previous novels. In the metafictional novella “Notes from the Dog Walkers,” the blogger Karen Brissette (last seen in A Head Full of Ghosts) deconstructs the horror genre while also telling a story that serves as a prequel to Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. “The Thirteenth Tower” follows Merry from A Head Full of Ghosts, who has published a tell-all memoir years after the events of the novel. And the title story, “Growing Things,” loosely related by one character to another in A Head Full of Ghosts, is told here in full for the first time.

Growing Things is an exciting glimpse into Paul Tremblay’s fantastically fertile imagination–a nerve-rending collection with much to offer Tremblay fans new and old.

An excerpt from “The Thirteenth Tower” follows.

To state the obvious, you look different. It’s no surprise twenty years later you’re no longer the precocious eight-year-old we all watched and rewatched in your six episodes of The Possession, the refurbished, extended twentieth-anniversary edition now streaming. Still, it’s shocking to see what you look like now as an adult. When the tell-all was announced only three weeks before the book could be purchased, we pored over the publicity shots of the adult you: Your super dark hair! No curls! And, gasp, you are not wearing glasses! Some of us have had a difficult time with the no-glasses thing. We read your horror blogs and columns and we discussed and dissected your pseudonym Karen Brissette and what it means and how you’ve changed and who you’ve become.

The new images won’t erase the old, Merry. They never will. You have to know that.

This morning I waited in line for ten hours to be one of the first into Hall C for your Q&A. The stage was huge and too far away from our seats so none of it seemed real. Could you even see any of us? Being on a stage is still a filter between you and your audience, between you and reality. That not-real vibe wasn’t helped by you and the Entertainment Weekly reporter (he of the big white teeth and handsome hair) being projected onto the jumbotron. I tried not to watch but it was distracting and insulting, frankly, like we could only understand or consume your message if you were on another fucking screen. I was so disappointed in the setup and it’s part of the reason why I’m in your hotel room now.

Many people have ascribed scurrilous motives for publishing a book that is ostensibly about the exploitation of your sister (including, obviously, the attempted exorcism) and the particulars of your unwitting role in the gruesome death of your family, and then making these glad-handing promotional appearances, but I’m not one of them. I trust your judgment and I truly care about you, Merry, and simply want to know more about you.

I thought it a savvy move on your part to begin the interview by announcing you’d donated your Comic Con appearance fee to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We were yours pre-announcement and then we were really yours, not solely because of the generous gesture, but because you were so visibly uncomfortable and ill at ease. I don’t know if you’re aware, but when you mumbled through saying that the donation would be in your sister’s name, you literally squirmed in your chair, shifting your sitting position, folding and unfolding your legs. In that moment you were our Merry again.

Is that weird of me to say? Well, I know it’s weird of me to say, but how does hearing it make you feel?

You don’t answer me. We’re not in Hall C now and we’re standing across the hotel room from each other.

Preorder Growing Things and Other Stories, available July 2, 2019.

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