Thursday, July 14, 2016

THE TELLING by Alexandra Sirowy: Excerpt and Giveaway

Thanks for joining me for the blog tour for Alexandra Sirowy's new novel THE TELLING hosted by Irish Banana Tours 

THE TELLING sounds super creepy and scary and today I get to share an excerpt. You can visit each blog tour stop and read the first three chapters of THE TELLING. THEN enter for a chance to win a copy!  

by Alexandra Sirowy
Publication date: August 2, 2016
Published by SimonTEEN
387 pages


A chilling new novel about a girl who must delve into her past if she wants to live long enough to have a future when a series of murders that are eerily similar to the dark stories her brother used to tell start happening in her hometown.

Lana used to know what was real. That was before, when her life was small and quiet. Her golden stepbrother, Ben was alive. She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars. Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten. Love, blood, and murder.

Read an  Excerpt

from Chapter 3 

It was June 8, half past eleven. Ben’s and my movie night had been interrupted. We’d eaten lobster tacos and I drank two beers, which was two more beers than I’d ever had before. Then a pissy Maggie arrived.
She and Ben started fighting—a blustery, name-calling argument. He’d broken up with her five days earlier. She wasn’t supposed to show up at our house anymore. She had to accept they were over. For good. Although I didn’t pick up on it as it played out, it was suspicious that she had a friend drop her off, only to demand a ride home. No, she wouldn’t let Ben call her a car when he offered. No, she wouldn’t sleep off her buzz in the downstairs guest room.
I’d given Ben a sleepy and inebriated frown as we stood in the hallway while she used the bathroom. “Please.” He bent nearer, the light in his eyes diminishing until his forehead touched mine. He was all I could see. “I don’t want to be alone with her. Come. Save me.”
The three of us braced ourselves against the early summer breeze as we filed along the path to where Ben’s SUV waited in our driveway. I was pouting, letting my flip-flops spray pebbles at Maggie’s heels. She scowled at me before she climbed into the front passenger seat—without even bothering to call shotgun. I sat in the back, pulled my knees to my chest, leaned against the window. “Turn the heater on,” I whined. I stuck my earbuds in and was listening to the kind of angry, screeching punk I don’t even like just to tune her voice out. And here’s the second worst thing I’ve ever done.
I fell asleep, and I couldn’t tell the police what happened next.
Two hours later my ears buzzed with the sharp, stuttered ding of car doors left ajar as the police tried to make sense of the blood splatter in the interior. The engine had been left running. My earbuds dangled out of the rear door, where I’d thrown them after yanking my cell free to dial 911. Each time the breeze picked up they swung, grating against the road. I’d never use them again.
The wind hissed through the pines behind Maggie and me. The police had set up perimeter lights; they stretched our shadows and threw them back at sharp angles. Mine was trying to detach from my feet; it wanted to run and hide. A police officer, his finger on the trigger of a camera, blinded me in intervals. The light flashed in my peripheral vision as a second officer captured the splatter on Maggie’s face, arms, and torso. Ben’s blood had gotten in my mouth; it was all I could taste as we waited for the detective Gant PD had called in from Seattle to direct the investigation.
Detective Sweeny started a mile down the highway, with another group of officers examining the crime scene where Maggie and I had left Ben to his attacker. Sweeny was small and wiry, cutting through the blockish male cops in uniform. She sized us up with close-set eyes as she approached. Unlike every other officer, her gaze stayed steady, ticking over the details of us like Willa absorbing a study guide before an exam. Sweeny didn’t flinch away from all that blood. We’ll be okay now, I thought.
Sweeny introduced herself. She was a homicide detective. Then she held up her hand when my expression went runny and frantic and added, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The detective part is why I’m here.” She asked me if I’d been able to reach my parents. They were in Seattle overnight and their phones were off, and she measured her words even more carefully when I told her there was no one else to call. Ben hadn’t been found; the police were searching; the coast guard had been mobilized.
I wanted to help them look. Sweeny put her firm grip on my shoulder. “The best way for you to help is to tell me exactly what transpired. Leave nothing out.”
Only Maggie knew the first half. She could lie and I wouldn’t be able to contradict her. We were a couple of miles before the narrow bridge that connects Gant Island with the Olympic Peninsula. It was the only route to take Maggie to where she lived, off the island. Maggie told the police that Ben and she were arguing. The car slowed. Maggie looked up to see why. To the right there were rocky bluffs that plunged to the island’s heaving waters. To the left there was a dark, meadowy slope that ran until a distant wall of pines.
“A man appeared in the middle of the highway,” Maggie whispered.
“Where did he appear from?” Sweeny asked. “The trees aren’t close to the road. Was he hiding behind something?”
“No. He wasn’t there and then he was. He appeared,” Maggie insisted, her voice rising. “Ben stopped the car. Rolled down the window and asked if the man needed help. Um, I think he offered his cell or asked if the guy’s car had broken down.”
“Did you see another vehicle?” Sweeny asked.
“Don’t think so.”
“Then why would Ben ask about car trouble?”
Maggie shrugged.
“He stopped the car, rolled down his window, and offered help. Seems strange that Ben would have been so friendly if the man just ‘appeared,’” Sweeny pressed.
Maggie said, “Ben is charitable and shit. How do I know what he was thinking? He is always helping.” She rolled her eyes. “But the guy was in front of the car one second and the next he was right at Ben. And I started screaming.”
Sweeny’s eyebrows shot up. “Did he have a weapon?”
“I didn’t see it.”
“Why were you screaming, then?” Sweeny said like she’d caught Maggie in a lie.
“Because his face was red. Painted,” Maggie said. The clouds were disintegrating in the sky as she spoke, and the stars that were revealed began orbiting us. I had to work to keep my feet stationary on the road, which started buckling under me like the black, netted skin of a trampoline.
“What kind of paint?”
“How would I know?” Maggie snapped.
Maggie said that she hadn’t recognized the man on the road.
“Is it possible you knew him and you just didn’t recognize him because of the paint obscuring his features?” Sweeny asked her that night—and probably every time she questioned Maggie over the course of the week after.
“No, I saw him clearly,” Maggie insisted. “He was a stranger. The paint was frightening, but I’m positive I don’t know him.”
Maggie was asked how the attack started. She was vague and confused—traumatized, I thought initially. “He reached through the window for Ben. To get to him, to stab, I mean. Blood squirted on my face and Ben was shouting. Then the door was open and Ben was out of the car and dragged across the road. The stranger’s hand kept coming up and down, stabbing Ben.”
“What was he stabbing him with? A knife?” Sweeny asked.
I lurched around and vomited onto the gravelly shoulder as Maggie answered, “I couldn’t make the object out. . . . It was sharp.” She added hoarsely, “I heard it cutting skin.” I thought we were both in shock. I didn’t notice the oddness of her story until I was out of the fog of that night.
Sweeny asked us both what happened next. I couldn’t say why I woke up when I did. I’d been pouting, and then I was lulled to sleep for the first few miles. I wasn’t dreaming exactly as much as thinking nonsense things dreamily. Somehow between watching the Cheshire smile of a tiger I’d seen on TV earlier drift through my head and sensing that I was in our dinghy on the harbor, I was struck with the conviction that something bad was happening. My eyes snapped open. I tugged the earbuds from my ears before I was fully alert. Maggie was screaming. Shrieking. The car wasn’t moving. We were on the highway. The driver’s-side door was open.
“Where’s Ben?” I asked.
Maggie screamed more shrilly.
I jolted awake completely. Everything rushed in at once. The windows were tinted and it was night and there wasn’t a moon. Unexceptional. This is Washington. Clouds always fill the sky. The car interior light was on and moths were fluttering inside the cab. I saw past the yellow papery wings to a figure. A shadow man, I told the police. He was lumbering, or limping, or dragging a clubbed foot. He passed through the SUV’s high beams. He was dragging some living thing. He was immense, a part of the dark, darkness personified. He moved across the highway toward the rocky bluff that swung out above the tide pools.
It was the strangest thing. Surreal as flipping through TV channels and landing on a horror movie. You haven’t been watching. Your pulse isn’t racing. The gruesome scene is almost lost on you. But then I heard a broken grunt, and I put it together. The shadow man had Ben.
My hands shook. They were slick and slipped from the rear passenger-side door lever. When I finally got a grip, I yanked and nothing happened. The child lock was on—although I only realized this in hindsight. I was shouting at Maggie to go after them. To get out of the fucking car and to help Ben. She scrambled over the emergency brake to the driver’s seat, and I thought, Maybe her door isn’t working either? She had stopped screaming.
She pulled the driver’s door closed. It didn’t latch all the way, and the interior glow of the car stayed on. There was blood everywhere. Red graffiti sprayed across the black roof and smattering the leather seats. I looked to my hands and saw that it wasn’t sweat but blood making my fingers slippery. Maggie hit the accelerator, the car swerving before righting itself on the road. I was sitting sideways, pushing against the door, and with the force, I shot back, my temple crunched against the window. My ears rang. Maggie wasn’t rescuing Ben. She was leaving him. We were leaving him. I pressed my face to the window, trying to see. My eyes weren’t working. Everything was fuzzy. The phantom man was stooped over Ben. Ben was a heap at his feet on the bluff above the sound. Neither of them were more than shadowy outlines.
The good and bad are indistinguishable in the dark.

photo credit Vivian Sachs

About the Author: 
Alexandra Sirowy is the author of The Creeping and The Telling. She was born and raised in Northern California, where she attended a women’s college as an undergraduate and received her MA at the University of San Francisco. She is a voracious reader, the oldest of three children, an avid traveler, a record-holding high school long jumper, a gourmet cook, a feminist, and forever grateful to her parents for reading to her as a child. Alexandra lives in Northern California with her husband.

Find Alexandra Online

Tour Schedule:
Read a new chapter excerpt at each stop


Prize: 1 copy of THE TELLING
Must be 16 years old or older to enter
US Addresses Only

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