Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Newhaven Tour and Giveaway

 



Newhaven
The Reaper Trilogy Book 2
by Elizabeth J. Rekab
Genre: YA Paranormal



New town, new rules... Same evil.


After discovering that everything they believed in was a lie, the survivors of Everhaven struggle to adapt to life in the harsh Outside world. Abigail, her mother, and her boyfriend, Preston have settled into a town noted for psychics—a role Abbie quickly adapts to thanks to her continued ability to communicate with the Dead. She can't help but wonder why ghosts disappear when they touch her, but she doesn't have time to contemplate that when she has a vision of a new town, like Everhaven. Abbie realizes with horror that it's happening all over again.


Now, she must locate the town and figure out a way back inside the Beneath to free her father and best friend. Secrets revealed along the way threaten to derail Abbie's plans, but she can't let them. She's determined to defeat the terrible underworld ruler Ivan once and for all; the fate of thousands of souls depends on it.


Goodreads * Amazon

THE CALLING


The Dead always ring three times.

Those words bounce around inside my head like an echo in

the forest. They chip away at my brain like a creek wearing at the

soil. When I close my eyes, the phrase floats there, suspended

behind my eyelids. My mind pokes it, prods it, turns it upside down,

considers its implications.

As I step out of the kitchen into the living room and look

across to my front door, I don’t even realize my mouth is moving,

whispering the words over and over again like a mantra.

“The Dead always ring three times.”

In Everhaven, the Dead don’t always stay still. Sometimes,

they have unfinished business. In fact, they usually do. It could be a

message for a husband, or a wife, or child; a need to find something

that was lost or return something to where it belonged; or even just a

desire to see the stars and walk the earth and just talk with someone

once more. In those cases, not even advanced decomposition and a

closed coffin lid will stop them. Every resident knows this, but we all

go about our lives as though we don’t. It’s a gift from our Provider,

after all. One of the more morbid ones, but still a gift. Nonetheless,

the Dead generally stay out of sight and thus—somewhat—out of the

mind of the usual townsfolk. Unless you’re the Rester.

The Dead won’t follow you on the street, or track you down at

school, or do their stiff-legged saunter into Henry’s Diner. But if

you’re the Rester, they will come straight to your front porch at night.

They won’t knock, or jiggle your doorknob, or throw stones at your

window. No, they ring the doorbell three times for reasons I can’t

pretend to comprehend. How can I decipher the behavior of the

Dead when the town’s former Rester, Rodney Brown, didn’t even

fully understand?

His words are what churn through my mind tonight as I stare

at the front door; more importantly, at the figure standing just outside

on my porch—a distorted shadow, visible through the door’s frosted

glass pane.

My home suddenly feels ten degrees cooler. The tiny hairs on

the back of my neck begin to prickle. Every follicle on my body zaps

to attention, as though I’ve been rolling around in wool for hours and

built a static charge to epic proportions, sending strange tingling

sensations skittering up and down my spine.

“The Dead always ring three times,” Rodney Brown had said.

He’d spoken those words less than a month before his death.

He wasn’t talking to me, wasn’t even sitting at the same table as me,

but I heard it like he was speaking right into my ear. Like somehow it

had been said with me in mind. I’d watched as he wiped a bead of

sweat from his gray, caterpillar-sized eyebrows. The little droplet fell

square into the steaming chowder he was hunched over, but he

didn’t seem to notice.

“Don’t know why, but it’s always three, one right after the

other. Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong,” he continued between

noisy slurps of sweat-infused soup. He made wide gestures with his

free arm, as though acting out a campfire story. “And if you don’t

answer, they won’t leave. Oh, no. They’ll stand on your porch, still as

a lamp post until you open that door. It’s a gift—and praise our

Provider for that—but them Ringers are stubborn.”

My mother would’ve chastised me if she’d known I was

eavesdropping. So, while she finished her black tea, I shoveled a

spoonful of blueberry pie into my mouth and kept what I’d heard to

myself. But not even my favorite dessert in honor of my fourteenth

birthday could erase it from memory. The Rester’s gruff voice

continued to fill my head long after he’d left Henry’s Diner.

Until his death two days ago, Rodney Brown answered when

the Dead came to his door for sixty long years. It was his duty to

finish their business and get them back into their graves. Anyone in

town can see the Dead, but only the Rester can hear their voice.

Everhaven needs a new Rester now.

“Not me,” I whisper to no one in particular as my gaze

remains fixated on the blurred shadow outside my door. The

implications of what this will mean for me, for my already-outcast

status, and the duties I’ll have to perform . . . none of it seems

desirable. Not one bit. “Please, not me.”

My fingers loosen their hold on the large wooden spoon I’m

clutching, which I’d been using to stir the spaghetti sauce simmering

on the stove when the doorbell rang and made me forget all about

dinner. The spoon slides from my hand and hits the plush, white

living room carpet, staining it marinara-red. Somewhere in the back

of my mind, my mother’s voice screams that I’m like some sort of

barnyard animal and scolds me for making a mess. Right now, I can’t

bring myself to care.

Legs trembling, I step over the fallen spoon and creep across

the rest of the living room toward the door. The shadow through the

glass pane doesn’t move. I can make out a head and hunched

shoulders, still as a statue.

Still as a lamp post.

My mouth opens to say something, to yell for whoever it is to

go away. Anything. But my voice lodges in my throat like a chunk of

barely chewed steak, and I’m unable to force even a strangled

squeak from my vocal cords. I want to shout for my mother, but even

if I could, I know she’s out trying to nudge her way into the town’s

social committee and not due back for an hour. Which means I’m

alone except for whatever stands on my porch. Still, my stubborn

feet continue to shuffle forward. I’m terrified to see what’s out there,

but I want to know. I need to.

My stomach tightens, feeling like an almond getting crushed

in a nutcracker, because somehow, I already know the truth in my

bones.

As I reach the foyer, the shiny white tiles are an unexpected

contrast to the cushy carpeting. The sudden, stiff coldness under my

toes shocks me into a moment’s hesitation. Just a moment. Then I

move again. I’m inches from the door now. Breath hitches in my

chest and wheezes out through clenched teeth. My shaking fingers

close around the brass doorknob, but my hand is so clammy that

they keep slipping off. After several unsuccessful attempts, I finally

turn the knob, hearing the soft click as the lock pops out of place.

Just do it, I tell myself. Now.

Without further hesitation, I yank the door wide open.

A brick wall of stench greets me first. It’s so pungent that I

slap my open palm over my mouth and nose, and bile stings the

back of my throat. So overpowering that I momentarily forget about

the Ringer standing on my front porch, muddying up the tan

welcome mat.

I almost don’t recognize him. His once-dark skin is paler,

ashen. The face is somehow bloated yet sagging at the same time,

eyes sunken and glazed over like cellophane wrap has been

stretched over the brown irises. The whites of his eyes are peppered

with broken lines of black veins. Silver hair caked with dirt and

decay.

Despite his appearance, I know who it is; I’d known the

moment the doorbell rang the telltale three times. The bile climbs

higher up my throat and suddenly I’m biting my lips together to hold it

in. The Ringer’s dead eyes lock on mine as the swollen mouth

begins to move. A raspy voice grates my ears as it speaks the words

I’ve been dreading to hear.

“I’m sorry, Abigail,” Rodney Brown says. “It’s you.”




PART ONE – WAKE


CHAPTER ONE


20 Days to Return

My name is Abigail Walters, and I am Everhaven’s one and only

Rester. Rodney Brown’s corpse delivered the news of my calling a

month after my fourteenth birthday. Three long years ago, now.

My life hasn’t been the same since.

It’s my job to get the Dead back where they belong with minimal

incident. They can’t find their way back without me. Death has a

way of fogging the mind like that, it seems. The Dead only walk at

night, and only seem to know the path between the cemetery and my

house. Like deranged homing pigeons, they come straight to my

front porch, leaving their muddy footprints on the white-washed wood

my mother always has to scrub clean.

“Hello up there! I’m ready to sleep now!”

The voice pulls me from my thoughts, and I look down into Jesse

Douglass’ open grave. He’s peering up from his coffin, staring at me

impatiently with arms crossed over his chest.

“I’m sorry.”

“You should be,” he scoffs. “You can’t let your mind wander like

that when you’re supposed to be performing my slumber ritual.”

Some Ringers are awfully testy. This one in particular has been

a nonstop barrel of fun since he came to my door. Even in life, Jesse

Douglass wasn’t known around town for his pleasantness. He spent

most of his later days perched in a rocking chair on his porch and

yelling at children that ventured too close, “Get off my lawn, it don’t

pretty itself!”

The fetid stench of decay floats up to me from six feet down. It’s

more than enough to make a normal person gag, but when you’ve

been doing what I have for three solid years, you get used to it.

Mr. Douglass’ silver eyebrows inch upward. “Well?”

“I’m starting now. Lay back and relax, please.”

“About time.” He lets his head fall back to the casket’s pillow and

his eyelids slide closed.

“May the Provider catch you with opens arms,” I begin, and Mr.

Douglass draws an unnecessary yet satisfied-sounding breath. A

lingering reflex from being alive, no doubt.

Walking over to my bicycle that rests near the Ringer’s

headstone, I grab the backpack and spade I’d brought. I rest both on

the ground near the base of the stone, then kneel and unzip the bag,

the noise sharp and biting in the otherwise silent graveyard. My

hands emerge from inside the bag clutching a silver lighter, two tall

white candles wrapped in wax paper, a small bottle of cleansing oil, a

pocket-sized prayer book, and a flashlight.

I unwrap the candles and place them at either side of the

headstone, making sure I grind them into the grass so they don’t fall

over. Carefully, I light them, and reach for the bottle of cleansing oil

before standing and brushing off my knees. Pulling the cork from the

bottle, I tip it over the grave and allow some of the liquid to dribble

down onto Mr. Douglass’ forehead.

The Ringer’s eyes fly open, and he huffs through his nostrils.

“Excuse me, do you keep your oil in the gosh dang freezer, child?”

“Sorry, Mr. Douglass.” I’m getting tired of apologizing. “You can

close your casket now.” I wait for Mr. Douglass to reach up and grab

the handle all Everhaven caskets are equipped with. He pulls the lid

shut with a loud THUNK. Too loud. No doubt trying to make one last

point as he slams his final door.

Bending, I recork the oil bottle, set it aside, and grab the leatherbound

prayer book and flashlight. The beam of the flashlight scans

the worn, delicate pages. I have the prayer memorized, of course,

but tradition dictates that I read directly from the book.

Going through the motions, I clear my throat to recite the

Provider’s prayer. Because this is the way it’s always been done,

always will be done. Still, the words seem empty to me, which makes

me at odds with just about everyone else in this town. Sometimes, I

envy them and find myself wishing I shared their faith, which would

make life easier. Simpler. At least the devout feel something,

whereas all I feel is hollow. Ever since five words changed my life,

there’s been a void within me that keeps on growing. Feeding on

itself and festering, its infection spreading more nothingness within

me. Those words weren’t, “I’m sorry, Abigail. It’s you.”

The words that changed me the most were, “I’m sorry, Abigail.

He’s gone.”

Still the worst words I’ve ever heard in my life.

Once again lost in the past, my voice shakes with emotion as the

Provider’s prayer leaves my lips just above a whisper.

From darkness comes light,

Hope incarnate.

Once every hundred and fifty years, He will return.

He will gather the souls of the dearly departed and guide them to

paradise.

He will bestow great kindness upon those who believe,

For his glory knows no bounds.

I finish reciting the prayer and shut the book, which also contains

a brief history of Everhaven. I know that, too, by heart. It explains

how, nearly 150 years ago, our town founders signed a contract with

the Provider, promising our unwavering devotion in exchange for

good fortune. That every 150 years, He will return to collect the souls

of Everhaven’s Dead and take them to His home in Paradise.

The details of the contract have always been hazy to me.

Though it boils down to this: the souls of all those born in Everhaven

are entrusted to Him, and because of this, no resident can ever

leave town. We are physically unable to move past its borders, just

as our souls are unable to leave our bodies until He comes for them.

It’s the reason a Rester is needed here. Why Ringers walk the earth.

I may not be an expert on the outside world, but I’m pretty sure

this makes our town unique. At any rate, if there are corpses

wandering around in other towns, my father would’ve told me. He

knew so much more about the outside than anyone else in town and

he was always keen to share it with me.

There I go, obsessing over the past again. Once again wistful, I

draw a deep breath, attempting to clear my mind like I always do

when performing the rituals. Then I speak to the closed casket

beneath me one more time.

“Rest well, Mr. Douglass, until the Provider returns for you.”

With my final line recited, I reach for my spade, scoop up some

dirt, and pour it on top of the coffin. Then I do it twice more. Always

three scoops of dirt.

This town loves the number three.

Once finished, I drop the spade and fish inside my backpack for

the finishing touch; a traditional Everhaven wreath made of white

roses and sage. I leave it beside the grave to indicate to the

Gravedigger—a quiet, stoic man named Louis Locke—that the body

is back in its coffin and ready for final reburial.

My work is done for the night.

I shine the flashlight onto my wristwatch.

It’s ten fifteen.

Exactly twenty days, one hour, and forty-five minutes until the

Provider returns.

Quickly, I blow out the ceremonial candles, wrap them back up in

the wax paper, and place them along with the rest of my Rester

toolkit items inside the backpack before zipping it shut and sliding

the straps around my shoulders. Then, I walk my bicycle over toward

the place in the cemetery I’m most familiar with.

The grave I’m seeking is toward the middle; another gray

marble slab etched with heartbreaking words. My hands drift toward

them and I kneel down in the grass, soft blades cool against my

shins while my fingers trace the familiar letters. I’ve lost count of how

many times I’ve visited this grave, but I have to do it before I leave

the cemetery as part of my own personal ritual.

Alexander Walters.

Beloved father and husband.

“Hey, Dad,” I whisper, the pain still raw even five years later.

Another pang catches me off guard, and a sigh hitches in my

throat. I miss him. I miss the way we were together. Until the freak

accident happened when I was just twelve-years-old.

My father’s job was to keep the town’s electricity functioning.

One night during a routine check, one of the generators caught fire,

and my father was trapped. By the time the flames died down, the

town was left in darkness for a week. All that remained of my father

was a few charred bones and teeth, everything that he was reduced

to nothing more than a pile of ash. The remains were buried; with his

soul, I’m told. In such a rare and extreme case, the body can’t wake

back up. A funeral is given and the casket stays closed, where the

spirit lingers in a state of stasis. Until His return.

My fingers drift to the metal piece I always wear around my

neck, and I remember the day I found it. I’d snuck out of the house a

few days after my father’s death, waited until my mother was asleep

and rode my bicycle to the scene of the explosion. It was a long ride,

to the far reaches of town, but I made it. I stopped at the top of the

low hill maybe fifty yards away from the wreckage, frozen. Though

some of the building’s right side was missing, the brick charred a

dark coal color, the cleanup crews had already removed all the

rubble. For a long time, I just stood at the top of the hill staring,

unable to tear my gaze away from the place my father lost his life,

until something glinting near my foot caught my eye. Nestled in the

grass was a piece of metal about the size of a quarter. Somehow,

the metal had fused itself together into an almost perfect circle,

smooth and scarred black from the fire. I took it home, put it on a

chain, and it’s been with me ever since. A daily reminder of what was

lost.

Of what the Provider failed to protect.

It’s why I wear the charred metal piece in place of the

Provider’s symbol. My mother used to question that a lot, but she

gave up long ago when she realized I was never taking it off. Not for

anything. My mother, however, takes comfort in knowing that her

husband will be with the Provider soon.

I wish I could feel the same comfort.

After kneeling in the grass for a while, I look to my watch

again. It’s something else I always wear. The worn leather band is

much too large for my arm. I had to poke an extra hole just to keep it

from sliding down my wrist. But it belonged to my father, and that’s

good enough reason for me to not care what it looks like.

Its silver hands indicate that it’s now ten thirty.

Exactly five years, five months, three hours, and eleven

minutes since I found out about my father’s death.

But who’s counting? Surely only me. My father has been

forgotten. Only the infamy of his crimes lives on in everyone’s

treatment of my mother and me.

Standing on shaky legs, I brush the grass off my knees. When

I begin to head toward the front of the cemetery, I notice a figure

standing off to the side.

The gravedigger, Louis Locke. He’s known around town as

the “Cemetery Fairy” because he doesn’t talk much, and no one ever

really sees him do his job, yet the graves are always dug when they

need to be dug and his hands are perpetually covered in dirt.

The impassive gaze of his dark eyes is locked on me, and I’m

suddenly frozen in its beam, my cheeks flushing as though I’ve been

caught doing something I’m not supposed to be doing. But that’s just

silly. I haven’t done anything wrong. He cocks his head to one side

as though observing a science experiment, and it’s becoming

unsettling. Desperate to break the tension, I offer a quick wave.

There’s a long pause, and then he lifts his right arm and gives

a single wave in return, followed by a nod of the head. Then he turns

away from me and passes through the graveyard’s wrought iron

gate, heading out onto the street at a brisk, smooth pace, his strides

so fluid it’s almost as though he floats out. My gaze follows him as

he turns the corner. I wonder briefly where he’s going, but I know

he’ll be back.

He has a grave to fill in.

Just as he disappears from view, something rustles from

deeper inside the cemetery behind me. An odd sound, like many

heavy limbs shuffling through grass. I peer over my shoulder.

Nothing there. Just a sea of headstones, as silent and

unmoving as the occupants beneath them.

Still, the hairs on the back of my neck begin to prickle,

sounding a little alarm bell in my head. Suddenly, I can’t get out of

that graveyard quickly enough.

Nothing to be afraid of in Everhaven, I remind myself. No

predators here, no crime. Walking corpses, sure, but they’re

harmless. Annoying sometimes, but harmless.

All my internal assurances don’t stop me from walking my

bicycle faster.

I exit the cemetery’s gates and turn onto the street, quiet now

because of curfew. We’ve always had an unspoken curfew—

excluding those in jobs that require late night hours, like myself and

Louis Locke—though no one has ever explained why. It’s just the

way things have always been. We’re just supposed to accept things

at face value here, though my father never did. "That was his

problem," my mother would say. But I refuse to accept that.

I’ve just swung my leg over my bicycle when I hear a voice

next to me.

“Rester duties, again?”

Jumping, I spin as a figure steps into the light of the nearby

lamp post. It’s just Marcie Chambers, my best friend. More like an

older sister, really.

She has flawless skin, almond-shaped eyes the color of

melted caramel, and delicate features. Pretty, in my opinion. As the

baker of the best cupcakes in town, I’m more used to seeing her with

an apron around her waist and a smattering of white flour in her dark

hair. But tonight she’s more cleaned up, wearing a vibrant, capsleeved

yellow dress that hugs her curves just right and makes the

gold flecks in her eyes stand out even more. How I wish I looked like

her. I’m all gangly limbs and impossible hair, with skin so pale I could

almost pass for a Ringer.

Marcie gives a little wave of greeting. “Didn’t mean to startle

you.” Her voice is a contradiction to her appearance; where she’s

feminine and petite, her tone is low and coarse.

“How did you know I’d be out tonight?”

“Well, I knew Mr. Douglass had just passed, and he seemed

the restless type so, I did the math.”

“It’s after curfew,” I point out. It’s a dumb thing to point out.

Most people in town just quietly shuffle back to their homes by 10pm,

though it’s never been strictly enforced as of yet, and Marcie has

never been one to follow the crowd, anyway.

“It is, but I needed to clear my head after my date with James

today.”

“You mean, you actually said yes?”

She shrugs. “Options are pretty limited in this town, and he

wouldn’t take no for an answer. I figured it couldn’t hurt, but boy was

I wrong. That date was painful, and James certainly isn’t getting any

more charming. Or handsome, for that matter.”

James Marsh is the epitome of awkward, and coming from

me, that’s saying something. I could never picture him with Marcie,

but there may come a time when she has no choice. She’s twentyyears-

old, three years my senior. By law, every resident is required

to be married by the age of twenty-one, and if you can’t make the

decision on your own, a suitor is picked for you. James Marsh is

nineteen-years-old with a massive overbite and a face that’s more

freckles than skin, and he’s been after Marcie for ages. He also

happens to be the son of Deputy Marsh, who himself isn’t the most

pleasant man. I shudder at the thought of being forced to marry

anyone, but it will be my reality someday far too soon. Although, my

father and mother had been an arranged marriage and, to their

credit, they seemed to make things work pretty well. That is, until my

father’s crimes created tension between them.

“You were visiting your father’s grave again, after the ritual.

Weren’t you?” Marcie places a hand on my shoulder. “You know I

loved your father, too. Like he was my own.”

“I know.”

Marcie examines me closer then, taking in my visibly shaken

appearance. “Are you all right? You seemed a little jumpy when you

first saw me, like you were expecting someone else.”

I hold up my hands. “I’m fine, I swear.”

Her eyes narrow a bit, but she doesn’t press further. “Okay.

Take care, Abbie. I’ll see you soon.” With a knowing nod, Marcie

gives my shoulder one last squeeze, offers a sad smile, and turns to

walk home. It’s just then that I realize Marcie never told me why she

came to find me in the cemetery. Was she checking up on me or

something?

Still somewhat rattled, I place my feet on the bicycle pedals

and ride towards home, appealing to the void inside me to quell all

thoughts of arranged marriages and hidden dangers.




Everhaven
The Reaper Trilogy Book 1



A town not even the Dead can escape. A teen who dreams of freedom. Can Abbie save her loved ones before Everhaven claims their souls forever?


"As someone who loves my YA books, this is a great read that kept me intrigued and invested in the story until the very end! Truly one of a kind." - Early Reviewer


"Think Pleasantville written by Stephen King... An absolute winner... Elizabeth J. Rekab [is a] fictional writing magician." - Goodreads Reviewer


17-year-old Abigail Walters knows that after an Everhaven resident dies, they will come to her, just as she knows she will always be an outcast due to her late father’s crimes. What's more, she can't leave Everhaven no matter how badly she may want to escape. No resident can cross its border into the outside world.

When a string of random deaths and missing corpses plagues the town, Abigail begins to wonder whether her own father’s death was accidental, or if he was punished for seeking something he was never meant to find. Unable to trust the authorities, Abigail embarks on a mission to finish what her father started; uncover the truth of a terrifying town conspiracy that threatens a fate far worse than becoming a restless corpse.


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Elizabeth J. Rekab is the author of Young Adult novels Everhaven and Hawnt. Her specialty is teen angst with a paranormal twist. She loves all fiction from comedic to romantic but gravitates towards fantasy, the supernatural, and the macabre. Her favorite thing to do is write chilling short stories and Young Adult paranormal thrillers with no shortage of her trademark wise-cracking characters.
When she's not creating an immersive page-turner, she's either searching for her next travel destination or hanging out with her Yorkipoo, three cats, and Senegal parrot in her home in Florida.


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