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  • Midnight Predator
  • Written by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
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  • Midnight Predator
  • Written by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375890192
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Written by Amelia Atwater-RhodesAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

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List Price: $6.99

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On Sale: May 14, 2002
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-375-89019-2
Published by : Delacorte Press RH Childrens Books
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Tags for this book (powered by Library Thing)
vampires (57) fantasy (34) fiction (29) young adult (21) ya (18)
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Though she was once a happy teenager with a wonderful family and a full life, Turquoise Draka is now a hunter. In a deadly world of vampires, shapeshifters, and mercenaries, she’ll track any prey if the price is right. Her current assignment: to assassinate Jeshikah, one of the cruelest vampires in history. Her employer: an unknown contact who wants the job done fast. Her major obstacle: she’ll have to hide her strength and enter Midnight, a fabled vampire realm, as a human slave. . . .

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Some people use things; they destroy. You're a creator, a builder. The words came unbidden to her mind, completely inappropriate at the moment.

Distracted by the memory, Turquoise missed a block. She hissed in pain as the knife cut deep into the meaty underside of her arm. She caught her attacker's wrist and twisted, sending the young woman attached sprawling to the ground, as her father's words faded from her mind. Once, they might have been right, but now, they could not have been further from the truth.

The woman Turquoise was fighting wasn't clumsy for long. In a near-blur of burgundy hair and black leather, Ravyn Aniketos sprang to her feet.

Turquoise rolled her shoulders, trying to work out the kinks in them, and blinked quickly to clear her tired eyes. This match had been going on for too long. She was bleeding from where Ravyn's knife had sliced through her arm, and she could feel the warm, sticky drip of blood down her back from a second wound on her left shoulder. Ravyn's black leather pants had been slit open in the thigh, and she had a shallow wound low on her jaw, which would probably heal without scarring.

Earlier, there had been other combatants; most slunk out the back door, defeated, within the first few minutes.

The fight was a competition of stealth and hunting ability. In near darkness, the competitors found and marked one another--a quick knife slice, just enough to draw blood. If a hunter was marked three times, he or she was out of the running. Turquoise was pleased to have lasted so long, but only victory would satisfy her pride. Ravyn likely felt the same. The next one of them to land a blow would win, becoming the leader of Crimson, the most elite unit of the Bruja guilds.

Somewhere in the building, a clock struck, once, twice . . .

Turquoise lost track of the clock's tones as she struck again. Ravyn cursed as the blade narrowly missed her stomach, and Turquoise barely managed to evade an answering strike to her cheek.

They were both getting tired, and tired quickly became clumsy. Only the fact that they had both been fighting for hours kept them evenly matched.

The clock finished its song, and left the room in eerie silence, broken only by the ragged, heavy breathing as the two fought.

"Ravyn. Turquoise."

Turquoise slid a fraction of her attention to the voice but did not allow her gaze to leave Ravyn.

"Sheathe your weapons," Bruja's leader, Sarta, instructed. Someone flipped the switch and both fighters blinked against the sudden light. "I have a feeling that this competition could go on for days if I let it," she announced, "but Bruja law does call for a limit."

Ravyn licked the blade of her knife clean, her cranberry-colored gaze resting on Turquoise all the while, as if daring her to react. Ravyn had no fetish for blood, and she professed to hate vampires, but she did love to give a show.

"Well, Sarta, if you're going to call a halt to our fun, do you also plan to name a winner?" Ravyn was still panting slightly, but not enough to affect the smooth drawl in her voice.

Turquoise wiped her own blade on the leg of her ruined jeans. She didn't speak yet, preferring to catch her breath. If it was ten now, then she and Ravyn had been sparring for almost five hours. This fight had begun at sunrise.

Five hours, and they were left in a draw. Turquoise's muscles ached with fatigue, but she would rather have finished this than stopped now. She wanted the title.

Crimson. It was the most elite of the three Bruja guilds. Cold-blooded as snakes and vicious as hyenas, members of Bruja were the best predators in existence. To be recognized as the guild's leader would fulfill the promise Turquoise had once made. She had sworn that no one would ever mistake her for prey again. If that meant abandoning a few of the social mores of the daylight world, as Bruja members so frequently did, so be it.

The leader of Crimson was second only to Sarta, the leader of all three Bruja guilds. Turquoise had trained and fought and competed for the position. She knew she was the best Crimson had. She could out-stalk and out-fight any vampire and had, many times. She would win this title, whatever it took.

"Rematch," Sarta said simply. "Onyx and Frost still need to compete today. You two are obviously matched evenly with daggers, but a Bruja member needs to be able to use any weapon at his or her command." She paused for dramatic effect. "A tie is decided in a private duel, one month after Challenge, witnessed only by the other leaders. The weapon is decided by the member who has been in the guild the longest--in this case, Ravyn--and the bout goes to third blood."

Ravyn sighed, looking at Turquoise past burgundy lashes. "In one month, and I choose the weapon. In that case . . ." She walked around the room, examining the walls, which were decorated with weapons of all sizes, all shapes, and all designs.

She paused to run a finger down the blade of a broadsword, but then shook her head and moved on. She glanced at the crossbows, but they were the traditional weapon of Crimson's sister guild, Onyx--not appropriate for a Crimson duel. She passed foils, epees and sabers, and did not even pause to glance at the thick wooden staves.

Finally, she pulled down two leather whips, and cracked one expertly. "I choose these."

Ravyn tossed one of them to Turquoise with a sly grin, and Turquoise almost let it fall to the ground before reflex made her catch the handle. Of the entire selection of weapons in the Bruja hall, the whip was the only one she hated. Ravyn could not have made a better choice.

"Turquoise, do you accept the challenge?" Sarta asked.

"I accept." She was grateful that her voice stayed even. She hated whips. She could use one if she needed to, but not with any precision.

"Then get out of here," Sarta ordered. "Come back the day of the next full moon. The match will begin at sunrise."

Turquoise nodded, then turned her back to Sarta and Ravyn, and stalked as gracefully as she could from the fighting floor.


From the Hardcover edition.
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

About Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes - Midnight Predator

Photo © Jean Renard

Have you ever run into a teacher at the movie theater? It seems odd, surreal. You know perfectly well your teacher has an existence outside the classroom, but at the same time, it’s so far beyond your ken that experiencing it is almost unreal. Now imagine being the teacher. It’s like being an imaginary person, who has just accidentally walked into the room.

One of the strangest results of having your name on a book jacket is the proliferation of people who know one narrow aspect of your life, and are suddenly surprised to learn there’s more.

For example, last spring, I dressed up as an evil mushroom for a day while attending Anime Boston with my writing group. The day before that, I was Zexion; I still have a short video of myself and my friends, dressed in those costumes, performing the kitty-cat dance in the Prudential lobby. The day before that, I was some character whose name I can’t pronounce with pink hair. It had something to do with bread. I don’t really know, despite my friends’ attempts to prepare me. I hugged a lot of random strangers that day, because apparently when you’re dressed as a beloved character with pink hair, people like to hug you. Thankfully, I’m less Goth than my sometimes-reputation would predict, so I can be Zen about these things.

I was asked to write about “something people don't know about you,” and there it is in a nutshell: I get lumped in with dark fiction, but I have a great capacity for the absurd. I love to laugh.

When I was fourteen, I was one of those kids who wore all black because it matched everything. Seriously. We all say that, but for me it was true; my older sister made such fun of my color-coordination I was paranoid to even wear blue jeans with a colored top for a long time. We're all crazy in middle school, right? Well, I picked up a reputation as a Goth at that point, but it was never a very accurate image.

The truth is, I like to engage with life fully. Given an opportunity to do something I don’t often get a chance to do, I feel the need to try it, even if I suspect I’ll make a fool out of myself. I have swung on a flying trapeze, explored a glacier, and been hit in the face by a shark's tail while scuba diving. I like to throw myself fully into projects and adventures, which is probably how I managed to publish a book in the first place.

At the end of the day, I have this whole life, but what I’ve given to my readers is a name on a book jacket, a paragraph-long author biography, and a story to read that I hope will inspire or at least entertain. This is why I like to introduce myself to my readers, and say to them, “Hey, I’m a real person. I’m not some mythological writing creature. I’m just like you. I don’t have anything you don’t have. Anything I can do, you can do.”
Praise | Awards

Praise

“As in her other popular titles, Atwater-Rhodes builds a convincing world with its own laws, history, and culture. . . . Her fans will be thrilled by this latest addition.”—Booklist

“The plot and characters are so skillfully intertwined that each one moves the story to its thoughtful ending. . . . Readers [will be] engaged from first page to last. . . . A must-read.”—School Library Journal

Awards

WINNER 2003 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Reluctant Readers

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