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  • Vendetta
  • Written by Chris Humphreys
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375849565
  • Our Price: $8.99
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Vendetta

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

eBook

List Price: $8.99

eBook

On Sale: May 13, 2008
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-375-84956-5
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Book I of the Runestone Saga ends with a terrifying reversal. The grandfather who showed Sky how to use the power of the runes to travel back in time, revealed his secret plans—which turn out to involve murder and possession. Sky must now find a way to fight his powerful teacher—for his cousin's very soul.

And so he travels to Corsica, home of his other forbearers, hoping to find some knowledge, some power. The blood feud of vendetta still runs hot in Sky's family, as does the supernatural power of the MazzeriÑthe Corsican dream hunters of death. Sky must again travel back through time, inhabiting the life of Tza, a fierce girl from the 1500s. As he sinks into Tza's mind, Sky wondersÑare all of his ancestors murderers?

Vendetta is a heady, exciting blend of supernatural possibility and historical truth that will leave readers gasping for the final installment of the trilogy.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

He’d been dreaming of hands. Of his own hands. The right one with the four slashes across its back, still livid, purple, barely scabbed over. His left, the very tip of the forefinger gone, sliced off. Sacrificed. Both of them stretched out before him, reaching, reaching . . .

For what? Mist obscured it, terrifying him as he continued to push into the gray, into whatever was within.

His fingertips slipped into softness. It felt like . . . fur. Then something growled.

A hand grabbed him. Sound came, but not from an animal. A man was shouting, unintelligible things.

Sky woke gasping, his hands instinctively grappling with the one that held him. His eyes shot open, and at first he thought he did see fur, a thick pelt of it right above him. Then he focused, realized that the fur was a beard, that the hand he clutched belonged to a man, and that both stank of cigarettes.

The bus driver jerked his hand free. “Descendez! Descendez! Nous sommes arrivés!”

“Sartène?”

“Oui. Oui. Sartène. ’Ow you say? ‘Zee end of zee line.’ ” The driver grunted this last in English, then jerked his thumb. “Allez-y!”

Sky’s backpack was already on the ground beside the bus. The driver followed him out, began slamming the luggage holds shut.

“Uh, monsieur, s’il vous plait? Ou est le . . . ’ostel?” Sky’s French, which he’d been trying to improve all summer with language tapes at the library, seemed to fail him at two-thirty a.m. But he’d found that as long as you dropped the “h” and looked like you were sulking when you spoke, you could get by.

“Pour l’auberge? Là-bas! Mais a cette heure, c’est fermé, je crois.” He pointed with his nicotine-stained beard and then was gone. The bus, sputtering into life, lurched off.

Yeah, I bet it’s closed now, thought Sky. And whose fault is that? A breakdown on the road, a lot of shrugging and pointing into the engine. Finally, three hours later, a replacement bus arrived, dropping him in a strange town in the middle of the night. Sky looked around him, at the narrow stone houses of the square. No lights showed in the grayness, their windows shuttered like closed eyes.

WITHAIN, he thought, shivering. It was a shorthand he’d come up with at various points on the journey from England. WITHAIN, or Where-in-the-hell-am-I-now? He’d thought it often in the small hotel in Toulon where he’d had to hole up for over a week with a raging flu before he could catch the ferry. He thought it now. He knew the name of the town—Sartène. He knew that town was in southern Corsica. But at two-thirty in the morning, having slept for maybe two hours in two days, he struggled to remember why he was there.

“Sleep,” he grunted. But where? There was a bench beside the bus stop, and he nearly collapsed onto it. But it looked hard and likely offered only a couple of hours of sleep, followed by some policeman moving him on. . . .

He shook his head. He’d try to wake someone at the hostel. They’d be pissed off. But he didn’t really care as long as he got a bunk for the night—and all the next day. Shouldering his pack, he began to stagger in the direction the bus driver had indicated.

The streets were steep, as the town was built on hills, and the night air was still warm. Within a few hundred yards he was sweating. He paused to catch his breath, look around. There was not a soul about, no one to ask for better directions.

Then, glancing up, he saw it—a metal arrow mounted just below the first-story window. It pointed to the right, and written on it was L’Auberge de Jeunesse. Two stick figures with backpacks leaned into a slope. Great, Sky thought, hoisting his own pack again. He took a few steps, stopped. There weren’t many lights in the town, but the street he was being directed down—more an alley, really—seemed to have none. Then suddenly he saw the faintest glimmer. It came and went, as if someone had opened a shutter, closed it again. This sign of life was, strangely, the opposite of comforting. He glanced back down the hill to the square where he’d arrived. There was the bench, beneath a lamppost. It was starting to look more comfortable.

Bollocks, he thought. After all the things he’d seen and done in England, in Norway, in the past as well as the present, how scary could a dark alley be?

He stepped into that dark—and instantly it felt like he’d crossed some threshold. It wasn’t just the lack of light; it was colder and he shivered for the first time since he’d got to Corsica. There was noise too—a scraping? Or was that a whisper behind him?

“Hullo?” He turned back. To nothing.

With a grunt, he pushed on. The alley curved and he passed from the little light to none at all. Then, slowing almost to a stop, he noticed a glow slipping from what had to be doorways, throwing faint patches out onto the cobbles. He moved from one to the next, pausing briefly, moving on. This stuttering progress took him to another bend, round it . . .

And then there was light. Just a single bulb above a doorway but it seemed like the midday sun to Sky. He squinted, stepped forward eagerly. There was a brass plate to the side of the door, but the lightbulb wasn’t bright enough to let him read what was written on it. Reaching back into the side pocket of his pack, he pulled out his lighter. He needed to know if the brass plate said Youth Hostel so he could begin hammering upon the wooden door.

But the words disappointed. “ ‘Lucien Bellagi,’ ” he read. “ ‘Avocat.’ ”

Well, I don’t need a lawyer. I need a bed, he thought. He looked down into the burning yellow, its blue core, savoring even such a little light. Then he flicked the lighter’s arm down, took another step forward.


From the Hardcover edition.
Chris Humphreys

About Chris Humphreys

Chris Humphreys - Vendetta
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!

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