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  • The Fetch
  • Written by Chris Humphreys
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307484741
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The Fetch

Written by Chris HumphreysAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Chris Humphreys


List Price: $8.99


On Sale: January 16, 2009
Pages: 384 | ISBN: 978-0-307-48474-1
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
The Fetch Cover

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FETCH: The apparition, double, or wraith of a living person.

In the attic, in an old sea chest, secreted away, are a mysterious journal and a set of runes: 24 stones that will change Sky’s life forever.

When Sky and his cousin Kristin find their Norwegian grandfather’s runes, Sky feels like the wait is over, like he can now release the breath he wasn’t even aware he’d been holding. But when he lays out the stones in a runecast they find in Sigurd’s journal, he is catapulted into a world filled with more possibilities and more danger than he ever imagined.

This first entry in the Runestone Saga is an utterly unique blend of horror, supernatural possibility, and historical truth that will leave readers wrung out from tension and clamoring for more.

From the Hardcover edition.




“Who’s there?” he asked. Softly but out loud, he was sure. Almost sure.

No reply. Sky gave them five seconds. It was a reasonable question. If he’d woken up because someone had spoken, it was only fair that they speak again. Said who they were. Stated their business.

“Did you say something?” His tone was less polite now.

Silence still. He couldn’t hear breathing, but anyone could hold their breath. He could hold his for two minutes and twenty-two seconds.

“Look . . . ,” he started, quite angrily, then stopped. If someone was going to speak, they’d have spoken by now. Unless they had a reason not to. But there were other possibilities to consider. Number one . . . was he even awake? The fact that he was standing up didn’t prove it either way. Not when you were King of the Sleepwalkers.

He reached his hand forward and it almost disappeared, the room was so dark. Reached slowly, because if there was someone still holding their breath there, you really, really, didn’t want to be touching them. . . .

Nothing . . . nothing . . . nothing . . . uh! . . . hardness . . . wall! Two walls and inside, too, he could tell by the slight give of the wallpaper. One there, one . . . there. Joined. So, a corner. He was in the corner of a room. Probably his bedroom, but he couldn’t be certain of that yet. He’d woken up in lots of other rooms. He’d woken up in no rooms at all.

Still, a corner. A good place to get your bearings. You weren’t close to a light switch . . . but at least no one could creep up on you from behind.

He wedged his back into the join of walls, narrowed his eyes, tried to see anything in the black- ness . . . Aha! Light. Red light. His clock radio: 4:17.

Now that was strange. He’d woken up at 4:17 the previous three mornings. But he’d definitely woken up those mornings; so the odds were good that he was awake now. He’d also been alone; so he was almost certainly alone now.

This was better. Still, to be on the safe side, he needed to get his bearings.

With the clock there, his bed was beneath it and the window over . . . there! Yeah, there it was, a rectangle of slightly lighter gloom. Hadn’t one of his teachers, three schools back, said, “It’s always darkest before the dawn”? His parents hadn’t gotten round to putting curtains up yet, so the darkness wasn’t blocked by anything except itself. It had been raining quite heavily when he went to bed, and the clouds must still have been thick out there. Yet even as he looked, something silver shot through the intense dark. It came, went, as if someone had shone a flashlight, then snapped it off.

That needed checking out. Perhaps that was what had woken him.

He pushed himself away from the wall, took a step toward the window. A floorboard creaked, loudly. It was full of creaks, this old house they’d rented. With the wind blowing, as it was that night, it had taken him ages to fall asleep because of all the shiftings and settlings. They sounded like voices; and this creak had a definite cry to it, the word “Don’t!” So he didn’t. Didn’t take another step, just stopped, waited. The wind picked up outside, something moved against the window, a thump followed by a scratch, like a finger placed then dragged away. That was . . . not good. He almost turned, ran to where the door had to be. Then he remembered his father’s words from a few weeks back.

“That needs trimming or it’ll break the glass in a storm,” he’d said. They’d been standing in the little orchard-garden of their new house, and he was pointing at an oak whose branches pressed against the wall. “And you’d probably use it as a fire escape!” Henry had grabbed Sky around the shoulders, twisting him in a wrestling move. “Too tempting for you, my lad.”

Of course, Sky thought, that’s all it is!

Confident now, he stepped forward, the movements in the floor just creaks, the thump and scratch just a tree. Then, as he reached the window, the clouds shifted, allowing moonlight through again . . . which explained the on-off light. The garden, previously dark, was instantly full of contrasts, the sides of the trees facing the moon silvered by it, their backs streaming away in shadows. He pressed his cheek against a pane, sought the moon to the right of the house. It was low down, just above the treetops, nearly full.

And it was red. It looked like it was covered in blood.

He knew what that was. The sun had risen enough over the curved surface of the planet to bounce its rays off the departing moon. He knew this for a scientific fact; but it didn’t stop the shivering that came.

And that’s just the cold, he thought. So I’ll go back to bed, pull the duvet over my head, doze till the alarm goes off and the music starts or until sunlight—yellow, not red—moves into the room.

He took one step toward that sanctuary. Just the one before a sudden movement below halted him. Something had slid swiftly from moonbeams to shadow. It failed to blend there because it was wider than the tree it moved behind, and Sky saw a long cloak settle onto grass, saw bleached, white fingers wrap around the trunk, saw another hand reaching toward the house, a finger uncurl. Saw a black hood tipping back, up.

He shut his eyes so he would not have to see any more. But he could not shut his ears.

“They are here.” The words wheezed up from the darkness. “Bring them. Bring them to me!”

More than anything now, he wanted to believe he was still asleep. That this was one of his nightmares. However horrible, at least they were familiar. They ended when you woke up. You could be comforted after a nightmare.

This wasn’t a nightmare. He was awake. So this . . . thing was real; the skeleton hand, the black cloak, real. The empty hood that should contain a face, a face that should even now be reddened by moonlight, real.

His scream, though, when it finally came, could have come from a nightmare—squeezed out, dead slow, stuck for the longest time in his throat. While whisper slowly grew to wail, the hood stayed motionless, lifted up at him, that beckoning finger raised. At last, he heard his parents scrambling for dressing gowns; corridor light etched his doorframe, feet thumped toward his room. But only at the very moment that his door burst open did the finger lower, the hood drop. Only then did the shape move away, slipping out of the rectangle of sudden bedroom light, dissolving into shadow, vanishing down an alley of apple trees.

From the Hardcover edition.
Chris Humphreys

About Chris Humphreys

Chris Humphreys - The Fetch
The three novels of the Runestone Saga are my most personal books . . . which is strange considering they deal with headless walking corpses, soul stealing, murderers, and ritual sacrifice! But like my hero, Sky, I was a serious sleepwalker. (I once woke up outside my house . . . with a vacuum cleaner!) Like Sky, my grandfather nearly met his own Fetch (the Double) when he walked into an elevator and the operator went white. “Sir” the man said, shaking with fear, “I took you up five minutes ago!”

Strange stuff! No wonder I had to write about it. But I always tell would-be writers: don’t write what you know . . . write what you love. I am fascinated by–as Sigurd says in the books –“the secrets that whisper in the blood.” How much can I change my life, how much is set down, like the color of my eyes, by what I’ve inherited from my parents, my grandparents . . . even my remote ancestors. I love history, so I write about times when I would have liked to live, places where I would like to go, adventures I would like to have. There is a lot of fighting in my books. Not because I am violent. But I do like to imagine the thrill of battle as well as its terror. To dream that honor, glory, or perhaps the life of someone you love waits at the end of a sword.

I have always been a wanderer. More secrets in the blood from my Viking ancestors? Or because I was born in Toronto moved to Los Angeles when I was two, and to London when I was seven? I lived in America again, Canada for the last little while, and I have traveled on every continent in the world. I have stood at Macchu Picchu, on the pyramids of Egypt, watched a dawn from the lip of a volcano in Java. A father now, I am a little more settled . . . yet last year I still had Dracula’s ruined castle in Romania all to myself for five hours and, a few days later, walked the walls of Istanbul, the city that was once Constantinople. I go to these places to listen for stories. Sitting quietly, they come.

Life is a series of adventures, ones you live, ones you imagine. Both are great. A friend once asked me: are you ticking off all the boxes? Of course I am. I want to know what this random collection of blood cells and experience called Chris Humphreys can achieve. As an actor, I can be heroes and villains and everyone in between. I arrange stage fights in the theater to hear an audience gasp. And then, in my writing, I get to live, deeply, even more lives. All characters, however extreme, are parts of their creator. Mini-Me’s struggling, working for good or evil, failing, triumphing! Writing novels? Wow! I still pinch myself that I get paid to do it!


"Humphreys commands a fantastically dark tone. [The Fetch] ambitiously—and successfully—combines a runic puzzle with horror, fantasy, betrayal, and gripping historical fiction."—The Horn Book Magazine

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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