Friday, 1 June 2018

We Other by Sue Bentley

Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.

Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.

When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.

Book extract:

Context – Odd things are happening to Jess Morgan, things she can’t explain. She’s been drawn into a tentative friendship with Lisa - an awkward, shy girl in her college class.The one thing they have in common is that they’re both unpopular miss-fits. But Zac, Lisa’s older brother, disapproves of the friendship. He knows that Jess’s mum’s boyfriend, has been prosecuted for dealing drugs. Assuming Jess’s unusual looks are drug related, he has warned her to stay away from his sister.

         ‘The last thing Lisa needs it to get messed up in any trouble. So, do me a favour?’
         Jess’s temper rose as she glared at Zac. ‘Or what?’ she said quietly.
         ‘Or you’ll bring down a severe sack of shit upon your head. That’s a promise.’ His light-blue eyes glinted, dangerously.
         ‘You arrogant…!’ Jess shouted, all constraint forgotten. ‘I’m not scared of you. You mean that to me!’ She snapped her fingers in his face.
         Zac grasped her wrist and jerked her towards him. She twisted so that her bony shoulder slammed into his collar bone. She heard him wince. Their faces were almost on a level.
         ‘Don’t test me, right? I’ve got friends.’
         Light-headed with fury, she yanked her hand free. ‘I don’t give jack, about you or your lame friends. And I wouldn’t hang around with your sister if you paid me! Why would I need a pathetic puppy trailing after me? Everyone takes the piss out of her…’ She stopped, the door which Zac had left ajar was moving.
         In the doorway stood Lisa. The stricken look on her face told Jess that she’d heard the conversation.
         She groaned inwardly. ‘Oh no! Lisa. I didn’t mean…’ Zac grabbed her by the shoulder and swung her back round to face him.
         He looked almost smug. ‘I think you should go.’ He poked her in the chest, with one hard fingertip. ‘Now!’
         Taken aback, Jess swayed. Heat flooded her veins. Fire and ice shot up her backbone. There was the sense of something building. She seemed to see the room through a flickering heat haze.
         There was a sudden bang, followed by a loud hissing sound. Blood spurted from under the bed and sprayed on to the carpet. Jess choked back a cry as more of it fountained up from behind the headboard, staining the wall. Lisa was screaming at the top of her voice.
         Red – shocking in its brightness, was everywhere. Zac was spattered and so was his PC, the contents of his desk and everything piled against the wall opposite. The pear-drop reek of cellulose filled the room, scouring Jess’s throat. Sourness rose from her belly. She convulsed in agony. Dimly, battling not to throw-up or black-out, she realised what was happening.
         Not blood. Paint. One of the pressurised spray-cans under his bed had exploded.
         Finally, the hissing stopped and silence fell. The room looked like an abattoir.
         ‘What the…’ Zac tore at his hair as he took in the devastation. ‘Christ! Look at my stuff! It’s all ruined…’
         A thin sound like a kitten mewling came from Lisa. She’d taken off her glasses. There were pale circles round her eyes on her otherwise scarlet face.
         Jess felt the urge to laugh hysterically. She staggered backwards, gagging on a sob and somehow fell out onto the landing, where she bent over, retching helplessly. She spat, coughed, spat again. Red-streaked snot dribbled down her nose. She cuffed it away with her sleeve. Finally, she was able to draw a pained, shaky breath.
         She stumbled down the stairs. Her fleece hung in the hall. Grabbing it from the hook, she flung it on as she dragged open the front door. Fresh air flooded in easing her agony.
         ‘Jess?’ Lisa called from the top of the stairs. ‘Wait!’
         She didn’t reply. What was there to say?
         Legging it away from Lisa and Zac’s house, she took the steps to the high-rise two at a time. She hurled herself into the flat and stood with her back pressed against the closed door. A bike with no saddle leaned against the crumbling plaster wall. Lashing out, she kicked it over.
         The hurt and betrayal on Lisa’s face haunted her. Zac had provoked her, but she had only herself to blame for what she’d said. The friendship with Lisa was over. She trembled, her thoughts in turmoil, taken by surprise by the depth of her feelings.
         Her life had always been unpredictable. Lately it was spiralling out of control and she wasn’t sure what to do about it. There was no one to confide in. No one she trusted.
         And that spray-can…

Author Bio:

Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age. She worked for Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing. She is the author of the worldwide bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years. She also writes for children and adults under various pen names. A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the everyday. Her books have been translated into around 20 languages. We Other is her first book for Young Adults.

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