Beware the Night
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: March 12th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
On the island of Bellona, they worship the sun. Seventeen-year-old Veda understands that keeping the sun content ensures plentiful crops, peace and harmony, and a thriving economy. But as a member of the Basso class, she never reaps those benefits.
Life as a Basso is one fraught with back-breaking work and imposing rules. Her close friendship with Nico is Veda’s one saving grace in a cruel world where the division between her people and the ruling Dogio is as wide and winding as the canals that snake through their island.
But when Veda’s grandfather is chosen as the next sacrificial offering to keep the sun’s favor, Veda is forced to see the injustice of her world. Turning away from the sun means she must join the night—and an underground revolution she’s been taught to fear all her life.
“The icy hand of early morning slaps my face the instant I step outside. I gasp and then force an exhale that leaves gray clouds hovering on the other side of my lips. It’s dark. It’s freezing. I’m breaking the law.
Quickly, quietly, I make my way from shadow to shadow toward the woods. My face stings with numbness, my nose already tingling, but I ignore it. I’ve gotten used to that, ignoring discomfort, because there’s always something more important. This morning, it’s bait.
The one bait I’ll ever admit trumps the worms I sell at the market. The worms do fine, but the fish are tired of them, fewer and fewer biting with each passing day. And who are they to be so picky? It’s a free meal after all. But Poppy and I need to eat too. And right now, our hunger trumps stinkin’ finicky fish. It also trumps the law.
Not only am I out before the Sun, but I’m headed to the Hill, the Dogio side of the island. The side Basso folk like me aren’t supposed to wander. If we’re found near the Hill it can only mean one of two things in the eyes of the law. We’re either stealing or looking to steal. No one gets lost on this island; it’s too small. No one walks around after dark; it’s too dangerous. If I’m caught by an Imperi guard, I have no excuse. If I’m caught by the Night, I die.
A branch snaps in the distance and I skid to a stop, hiding behind a tree. For a moment I question everything. Can Poppy and I continue living on scraps if I don’t catch any fish today? The cellar is emptier than ever. Even the mice have moved on. But is this truly worth it? My stomach grumbles in answer.
A plump mud beetle will assure me at least one decent catch.
As I keep to the edge of the woods, steering clear of any lamplight or main walkways, I can’t ignore the crudely posted signs. Paint on parchment. Some of it still fresh and sticky.
Names . . . Photos . . . More and more Basso have gone missing. Taken by the Night. Snatched from their beds or from tunnels or while sneaking around after sunset, forced into illegal deeds to stay alive. A gust of wind blasts from nowhere right through the trees above me, casting leaves down like heavy raindrops. I startle when they hit me, but as fast as they’ve fallen, I brush them away, silently cursing the cold breeze for scaring me. For reminding me of childhood bedtime stories.
When evening’s wind laps through the trees, the Night’s light footsteps hide ’neath the breeze.
I force away the shiver.
Fear is a luxury I can’t afford at the moment.”
Jessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her YA debut, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled TEEN), is now available. Her next YA novel, BEWARE THE NIGHT (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) releases March 12, 2019. More at www.jessikafleck.com