GENRE: YA Magical Realism
Ma’s dead. The burning nightmare’s back. Weird creatures stalk Thea at night. And now a guy emerges from her rowan tree. Is he her protector from the Shee that hunted her? Or will Thea end by saving him?
Ma always closed Thea’s bedroom window at night. But on the night Garrett proposed to her, Ma forgot.
Thea was eight then and lay awake on her bed. Her room faced the Wisconsin lake at the bottom of the big yard behind the house. Water lapped against its ragged shore. Night herons cackled. Northern pike coiled through submerged tree roots and rose to the lake’s surface with heavy plops. The cool April wind blew a mineral-y, fishy scent through the second-story window. Occasional soft laughs punctuated the murmur of Ma and Garrett’s conversation downstairs. Thea’s eyelids drooped.
Trees groaned outside as the wind picked up. Half asleep, Thea imagined the wind blew along a companion. Something—or someone?—Other.
She stiffened. Deep inside, she sensed Other descend from a lakeshore tree. Her skin crêped with fear as Other winged across the lawn, up the wall of the house, and into her room. Other settled on the quilt Ma had made, a darker shadow in the darkness of Thea’s room.
It sang a snatch of mocking song. Thea strained to catch the words but couldn’t make them out. The tune stole inside her, made her whimper. Her legs thrashed beneath the quilt. The bed creaked. Her hands flew up to guard against—
Hot fingers touched her neck. The mocking tune, a hint of laughter. Two words—her name. “Thea. Thea.” The smell of rotten eggs. Something crackled. Smoke. Pain.
The meaty odor of burning flesh—Thea’s flesh.
She began to scream.