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  • Token of Darkness
  • Written by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780385737517
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  • Token of Darkness
  • Written by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375895975
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Token of Darkness

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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: $8.99

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On Sale: February 09, 2010
Pages: 208 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89597-5
Published by : Delacorte Press RH Childrens Books
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Cooper Blake has everything going for him—until he wakes from a car accident with his football career in ruins and a mysterious, attractive girl by his side. Cooper doesn’t know how Samantha got there or why he can see her; all he knows is that she’s a ghost, and the shadows that surround her seem intent on destroying her.

No one from Cooper’s old life would understand what he can barely grasp himself. . . . But Delilah, the captain of the cheerleading squad, has secrets of her own, like her ability to see beyond the physical world, and her tangled history with Brent, a loner from a neighboring school who can hear strangers’ most intimate thoughts. Delilah and Brent know that Cooper is in more trouble than he realizes, and that Samantha may not be as innocent as she has led Cooper to believe. But the only way to figure out where Samantha came from will put them all in more danger than they ever dreamed possible.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

1    

"Necromantic golem."  

Cooper gave a start. He had been lost in reverie, the content of which had fled his mind the moment Samantha had spoken.  

"What?"  

"Necromantic golem," she repeated. "I'm just saying. It's an option."   Cooper looked down, and realized he had nicked himself with the knife when she startled him. The cut wasn't bad, but he pulled his hand and the knife away from the counter and the compulsively neat apple slices sitting there.  

"You're going to have to clarify for me," he said as he washed the cut and reached for a bandage. "And get off the counter."  

"I'm not technically on the counter," she objected, "and I should think it would be the natural answer to our situation."  

Cooper shook his head and studied Samantha as he carefully cleaned up after his mishap.  

She was petite, standing only a little over five feet tall. She had straight blond hair with silver highlights that looked natural, along with a few streaks of teal that didn't. She was cute, actually, bordering on sexy, a fact that did not seem to be lost on her. Today she was wearing a short, pleated skirt--black with neon pink splotches--and a green and orange striped peasant-style blouse. Beneath the skirt, she wore gray paisley stockings, torn at the bottom to expose most of her bare feet.   Her eyes were . . . well, it was hard to tell. They were prismatic. Looking in them almost gave Cooper as much of a headache as today's outfit did.  

Cooper had asked Samantha about her clothes at some point over the summer. She had told him she didn't decide what to "wear"--her clothes were no more solid than she was--but admitted that she "liked bright colors." Very bright, apparently.  

She certainly looked like she was sitting on the counter, but of course it didn't matter. She could as easily have been standing in the counter, or on the wall or the ceiling. She did things like that sometimes, defying the laws of physics without seeming to notice or care.  

If she had been alive, it probably would have been considered a health hazard when she walked through the food, but since she was a ghost and not dripping ectoplasm, it was only annoying. And only to Cooper, because no one but him seemed able to see her. Even when she lay in the middle of the pastries display case as if it were Snow White's glass coffin, everyone else was oblivious to her presence, including Cooper's father, who owned the shop.  

"Seriously," she insisted now, apparently not ready to let this idea drop. "Golem."  

He rolled his eyes. "I assume you mean for you."  

"Uh-huh."  

"And I assume you mean I should make one, so you can . . . take it over, or whatever."  

"It's not possession if it's a golem, since they don't have souls, right?" she said, making him wince at the way her voice echoed when she got excited. "And it's not a zombie or anything since you'd be making it and not using a dead person."  

"You wouldn't be able to sit on the ceiling anymore if you actually had a body," he pointed out.  

She paused, chewing her lip, then shrugged, and fell halfway through the counter before finding her feet on the floor. "I wouldn't be able to sit on the ceiling, but I'd be able to . . . to curl up on a cold night, wrapped in a blanket, with a mug of raspberryhot cocoa. So, what do you say?"  

"I say I don't know how to make a golem, necromantic or otherwise."  

"You use clay, duh!"  

"Where do you get this stuff?" he asked. "Clay. Okay. And then . . . ?"  

"Then . . . then . . . I want a body! I'm sick of this non-corporeal crap. Check out the library's occult section. Check out Harry Potter. I don't care!"  

With the last outburst, Samantha flickered like a candle flame going out and disappeared. Cooper shrugged and turned back to see if the apples were salvageable. He wasn't worried about Samantha. She often disappeared, and always came back.   Maybe he should have been concerned about himself since he was the only person who could see her, but he wasn't. He knew better than to tell anyone else about her, though; they would probably lock him away in a padded room somewhere. Could he really blame them?  

The fact of the matter was, he was being haunted by the color-coordination-challenged ghost of a teenage girl. She had appeared by his bedside when he had woken in a hospital last July, and neither of them knew why.  

He finished cutting the apples and started laying them into tarts. The work was soothing, mechanical. His father was in the next room, kneading bread dough; occasionally, his soft humming reached as far as this room, but mostly it was quiet, the way Cooper liked it. He appreciated the routine of waking up at four in the morning, getting to the shop by four-thirty to bake bread and pastries and brew the coffee before they opened at seven. Then--at least on weekdays, like today--he hung up his apron as his father spoke to the first of the morning's customers, rolled down his sleeves, and trudged fifteen minutes to school.  

Before this summer, he would have laughed at the guy he was now: quiet, reserved, and living very much in his own head, instead of constantly surrounded by outgoing friends who only managed by sheer luck not to get kicked out of every public place they entered.  

It was only the fourth day of his senior year of high school. It was going to be a long year, and not because the day started when he had already been awake for more than three hours . . . often longer. . . .  

The problem was, he couldn't find it in him to care about this year. He used to care about things, people. His room, his stuff. His friends, especially the other guys on the Lenmark Ocelots football team, including John, who had been his best friend since sixth grade. He had barely seen any of them since the end of the previous school year. Then there was his car, a 1993 Dodge Colt hatchback--more than a decade old with more than a hundred thousand miles on it, but it rode like a dream, like his dream, like freedom.

Cooper didn't have that anymore, either, and he didn't miss it, even yesterday, when he had walked from his father's coffee shop to school in a fine drizzle. His father had offered to let him take the family car, but he hadn't minded the cold or the rain or the way it made Samantha sparkle as it fell through her.  


From the Hardcover edition.
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

About Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes - Token of Darkness

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.”

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