From the author of Edgar Award finalist Grit and The Lies They Tell comes a tense, atmospheric novel for fans of E. Lockhart and Marieke Nijkamp, about friendship, truth, and the creeping fears that can’t be outrun.Whenever another kid goes missing in October, the kids in the old factory town of Pender know what is really behind it: a monster out in the marshes that they call the Mumbler.That’s what Clara’s new crew tells her when she moves to town. Bree and Sage, who take her under their wing. Spirited Trace, who has taken the lead on this year’s Halloween prank war. And magnetic Kincaid, whose devil-may-care attitude and air of mystery are impossible for Clara to resist.Clara doesn’t actually believe in the Mumbler–not like Kinkaid does. But as Halloween gets closer and tensions build in the town, it’s hard to shake the feeling that there really is something dark and dangerous in Pender. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting to bring the stories to life.
takes me in, his smile fading. “Now you’ve got no chance.”No chance. Like he read it in my tea
leaves or the lines of my palm. “Why?”
“Because he only takes Pender kids. Likes
our taste, I guess.” Kincaid drops his board, glides backward on one foot,
never breaking eye contact. “Like . . . hopelessness.”
“And Steak-umms from the caf,” somebody
says, making people snicker.
“Liver.” Trace shows his teeth. “God, I
love that shit.”
“What about Gavin Cotswold?” Sage says.
“Have they figured out how he died yet?”
“Mumbler got him.” Trace.
“He OD’d.” Bree gives Trace a withering
look. “He went out in the woods, got fucked up, and died. His own mom thinks
“I heard the animals didn’t leave enough
of him behind to be sure.” Trace says. Then, to Kincaid, “Tell her about the
first boy. Ricky Whoever.”
“Sartain. Ricky Sartain.” Behind
Kincaid, most of the activity has stopped, everybody pulling up some concrete
to listen. He’s holding court, a storyteller who knows his audience. “It all
started, like, twenty years ago. Kid went missing two days before they found
him on the banks of the marsh, way out by the railroad bridge.” Kincaid nods
slowly, easing into it. “Somebody put their hands all over him.”
More covert laughter, Trace’s whisper:
“Loved to death.”
Kincaid entwines his fingers, working
his palms together in sinuous rhythm. “Squeezed him, crushed him. Mashed his
spine, smashed his belly.”
A voice speaks up: “My mom said that kid
got hit by the train.”
“Of course she did.” Kincaid doesn’t
turn. “She also told you that Santa Claus is real and honesty is the best
policy and if you’re good, you’ll get into heaven, right?”
Snorts. Somebody mimics, “But my mommy
said,” whacking the boy who interrupted with a baseball cap.
“He was folded in half.” Sage grips
Trace’s forearm. “That’s what I heard.”
“No.” Kincaid’s hands are tai chi slow.
“Stop.” Bree says it under her breath;
I’m the only one who hears.
“Ricky disappeared right around
Halloween. That’s the pattern.” Kincaid skates a circuit around us, dismounts,
and slaps the tail of the board so it pops into his hand again, all one smooth
movement that I wish I could watch again frame by frame. “Truth. After, Ricky’s
friends told everybody how they’d all gone out to the railroad bridge to smash
pumpkins one night, and there was somebody hiding under there. Too dark to see,
but they heard him, mumbling and yammering away.”
Yip, yip, yip! I look up to see audience
participation, lumbering shapes aping around the others, sounding like a zoo
after hours—Ahhh-ah-ah-ah! Mwaaa-hoohoo!
“Next time anybody saw Ricky, he was red
guacamole.” Kincaid pauses, smiling faintly, but he’s not really seeing me now.
“Ever since, Mumbler’s been around. Takes a bad kid every few years, always in
October. Grown-ups have some bullshit excuse for what happened to them, but we
Nods pass around the circle. I watch for
inside looks—they’ll drop the act when they see I’m not taken in—but the quiet
drags on. “What’s the Mumbler look like?” I hold
Kincaid’s gaze, willing him to let me in
on this, let me prove I don’t scare easy. “So I’ll know him if I see him.”
Kincaid looks to Trace, again with the
smile that creases his eyes into merry slits, a kid showing his little sister
where Mom hides the Christmas presents. “We can take you to him.”
I’m a ridiculous, sometimes cranky, often hungry, frequently writing flibbertigibbet who really hopes she can keep doing this for a living.My debut novel, GRIT (HarperTeen), was an Indie Next List pick, a Junior Library Guild Selection, received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and ALA Booklist, was an Edgar Award Finalist, a South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Finalist, and received both a 2018 Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association and a 2018 Maine Literary Award from the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.My other novels include THE DOOR TO JANUARY (Islandport Press; Bram Stoker Award Finalist), THE LIES THEY TELL (HarperTeen; 2019 International Thriller Award Finalist, 2019 Maine Literary Award Finalist, 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection), and THE MISSING SEASON (HarperTeen, coming 5/21/2019; preorder giveaway happening now). My short fiction has placed in Writer’s Digest and Zoetrope: All Story contests, as well as appearing in such publications as Weirdbook and Creepy Campfire Stories for Grownups.I hold a BA in English from the University of Maine, and I’m a member of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. Currently, I still live in my native state of Maine–shocker, I know–with my husband and sons, where I’m perpetually agonizing over my next novel (in the best possible way, of course!)
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