Title: We, Kraken
Series: Volcano Chronicles, Book Two
Author: Eule Grey
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 10/11/2022
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Genre: Fantasy, YA, alternate universe/fantasy, lesbian, intercultural, culture and inclusion, student, artist, wartime trauma, PTSD, anxiety, othering, child abuse/endangerment, human rights, equality, voice and representation, redemption, creativity as a vehicle of change, atonement, family, identity, folklore, sea creatures, restorative justice
Kraken monsters come from the sea. Don’t they?
Devora Kraken seems to have everything under control and all she could ask for. Like the neighbourhood tunnels, where she can hang out with monsters and mermaids both. If sometimes it’s not clear which is which, that’s only normal—right? Anyway, Devi has plenty else to keep her busy, including a good cop, bad cop set of family members. And if all of that isn’t enough, there’s even a cute girl at the new school across town trying to get Devi’s attention!
From the deep waters of the past, something wakes up and marches through Mainland. One terrible night, blood is spilt, and gangs gather in the woods. Devi’s cousin, Jon, leaves for the speak-and-listen trials, and nothing will be the same again.
Devi sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her from her home in Exer City across Mainland and into Craw. It won’t be easy—her brother Korl refuses to talk about the past, or why Jon left. He won’t speak of the gun under the bed or the pile of mermaid figurines. Korl refuses to talk about anything!
What’s a monster anyway? Who better than Devora Kraken to find out?
Eule Grey © 2022
All Rights Reserved
The night I called my brother a murderer was the worst of my life. It was early summer, with heat bristling and people noising until dawn. Even the birds didn’t sleep. But I’d been sent to bed at ten, like always. Grumbling and defiant. Sick of the status quo. My brother was a stickler for rules. Although I was fifteen, he treated me as if I were a little kid.
School tomorrow, Devi!
Don’t forget to clean your teeth.
No wandering the flat during the night.
The usual Kraken rubbish. I went to bed and somehow nodded off. Just after midnight, I crashed awake to an unsettling dream about a stone bridge.
I called in vain for my cousin. “Jon?”
Then got up and padded into the kitchen, half asleep, with ultra-raw senses. A single light bulb stung my sensitive eyes. A high-pitched electrical scream emanated from our battered fridge.
It took a few minutes to make sense of the midnight scene. Except for my cousin, Jon, every member of the Kraken gang was present. Farlo, who paced the kitchen. Bersha and Tomi, scrubbing blood from their hands. My brother, Korl, and his girlfriend, Anees, talking in a corner.
A gun lay on the edge of the table. Black, metallic, and menacing.
I should have asked where it came from and why it was in our kitchen. Rumours of guns and knives were rife throughout Exer City, but I’d never thought my family were involved. As far as I knew, the Kraken gang avoided trouble.
“What’s going on? Has anyone seen Jon? I did knock,” I said stupidly. Obliviously. Trying to avoid being told off. My brother was a rule dictator, and I didn’t want to be grounded again.
Korl stopped whispering. For a really long minute, he didn’t say anything, only looked across at me where I huddled in striped nightie and cat-print socks.
It was then I realised and acknowledged something was very wrong. Korl’s face was vacant, glassy-eyed, and lacking in expression. It upset me. I wanted him to shout the safety of our normal boundaries: Get back to bed! You don’t wander the flat at night alone.
But he didn’t. Nobody said a word. The only sounds were of frenzied scrubbing and the screaming electric wire. Minutes went by. I didn’t think of the significance of the gun.
Absent-mindedly, I picked up a cloth and started wiping the table. “Blood. Urgh.”
Anees leapt into action and shook my brother’s arm until he rattled. “Devi!” she hissed violently. “Put the gun down. Go to bed and lock the door. Now!”
The moments of excruciating weirdness came to an abrupt end when Korl thumped the fridge hard enough to break open the universe. “Get that thing out of here! Why have you people brought a gun into my home?”
His voice was strained and wild. I thought he was about to cry and considered going back to bed. Although I often ignored my brother, it was usually obvious when it was time to bolt.
He blinked, looked from Tomi to Anees, and then finally at me. His eyes went from glazed to heated. When he spoke, he’d regained control.
“Go to bed, Devi. Everyone get out except Anees.”
I finished cleaning the weapon but didn’t let it go.
Right then, Jon walked in and saw me holding the gun. I swear, every normal sound in the flat—screaming fridge wire, dripping tap, Korl’s alarm clock—stopped. My kind-hearted cousin disintegrated. His hands trembled and tears started in his eyes. Normally, I’d have run to help.
“Jon,” Korl said. “Mate! It’s not what you think. Nobody’s seriously hurt. It was just a scrape.”
A huge sob ripped through my cousin’s body, and he uttered a horrible sound of pain. It transported me from numbness into a different reality.
I hallucinated a soldier; lying in a heap on the ground. Our flat became a large hall, and somehow, I knew the visage was a memory.
“He’s dead!” I threw the gun. It skittered, rolled, and landed in a corner.
Next thing, I was locked in my bedroom with no memory of the journey there. I was resentful and angry, but not scared. Jon would be around in the morning to hug me and listen to my childish rants. He’d sort it out, like always—explain what was going on and make me feel better.
I fell asleep hugging my knees by the door and was woken sometime later by Korl.
“What are you doing down there?” he said. “Get into bed.”
I did as he demanded despite being stiff from cold. It didn’t matter Breen was hot during the day. Once the sun went down, the temperature plummeted. “At last! You can’t ignore me forever.” My voice shook from lack of sleep and delayed shock at the events from earlier.
He switched on the lamp. “You’re so dramatic. Who’s ignoring you?” He felt my ice-cold arm and groaned. “Devi Bee, you’re shivering.”
I didn’t feel well. What had happened in the kitchen didn’t seem real. Nothing made sense. It was as if the whole night had happened years before.
“Did you see the soldier, Korl? What—what happened? Where’s Jon? Is he all right?”
From the way my brother’s shoulders stiffened, it was obvious he’d heard and knew to what I referred. “You’re freezing.”
“What do you expect? You abandoned me like dirt.”
It was easy to be defiant. After all, Jon was in the next room and would stop anything bad from happening to me. In the morning, he’d make us hot chocolate and pancakes and laugh about what had happened; he would.
My thoughts led back to the gun. “Whose blood was it? What’s going on? I’m scared.”
Korl flinched. “No need to be. You could do with an extra layer. It’s sub-zero in here.”
He left and carelessly dragged back a blanket from Jon’s room. It was the blue one with pictures of horses, my cousin’s favourite. I bought it for him last winter when it seemed the snow would never stop falling. We’d talked about where we wanted to ride on horseback. Because we didn’t have much money, every gift was precious. My cousin wouldn’t like Korl taking the blanket or dragging it across the floor.
“Won’t Jon need that? Put it back,” I said.
“He won’t need it. He won’t mind.”
Korl thoughtfully tucked me in and made jokes. He was indifferent to the events of a few hours before and even sang a stupid song about how to bath a cow. It incensed me, but I wasn’t ready to broach the subject of the gun or why my cousin had been so upset when I held it.