Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis
Ethan Makkai thought that seeing ghosts was the worst of his problems. Between his ethereal gift and life with a single mother hell-bent on watching his every move, he feels imprisoned. When Ethan sees a chance to escape, to leave the house by himself for the first time in his life, he seizes it, unaware that this first taste of freedom will cost him everything.
Ethan is thrown into a strange and eerie world, like nothing he's ever seen. He's assaulted by dive-bombing birds and rescued by a stranger who claims to be his bodyguard. His apartment is trashed, and his mother is kidnapped to a place Ethan never knew existed—a hidden continent called Tara.
Traveling to Tara in search of his mother, Ethan discovers that everything he knows about his life is a lie. His mother is royalty. His father is not dead. His destiny is likely to get him killed.
Confronted by a vicious sorcerer determined to destroy the Makkai family, Ethan must garner strength from his gift and embrace his destiny if he’s going to save his mother and all the people of Tara, including the beautiful girl he’s fallen for.
Praise for GAME OF SHADOWS
“A fantastical journey that I didn’t want to end!” ―Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“It’s impossible to put this riveting page-turner down!” ―Stan Lee, author, editor, actor, and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics
“This book’s got heart . . . a wonderful adventure.” ―R. A. Salvatore, New York Times bestselling author of The Hunters Blades novels
“One of those thrilling tales you can’t put down . . . the perfect blend of imaginative world-building and nonstop action wrapped up in a compelling mystery.” ―D.J. MacHale, New York Times bestselling author of Pendragon and The SYLO Chronicles
“We were hooked. This is an adventure story for the ages.” -- John Barrowman & Carole Barrowman, authors of the Hollow Earth trilogy & Conjuror
“Riveting from the start.” ―Steven Gould, author of Jumper
“Lewis has created a whole new world that is at once exciting and affecting. . . . She weaves a web of mythology that is both reminiscent of the Celtic world and redolent of the unique creation of a rich and fertile imagination.”―Dara Hellman, Lecturer, Celtic Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley
Bartlett’s whistle broke through the sonic cries of the crows. They flitted in all directions, desperate to get away. Bartlett helped him to his feet, and they started running again. Dazed, every inch of Ethan’s visible skin was marked with long, blood-soaked, stinging scratches. He looked like he’d been in a fight with a lawnmower and lost. He was a disaster. His mother was going to freak out when she saw him.
Once inside the hallway to Ethan’s apartment, he could see the door was ajar.
“Mom,” Ethan called, panting heavily. He rammed the door with his shoulder, stepped into the apartment, and immediately tripped over a piece of torn-up pillow from his couch-bed. The apartment had been trashed. Slashed, sofa stuffing was everywhere, the only window, shattered. Broken dishes littered the countertops. The kitchen cabinet doors lay on the floor, ripped from their hinges. The worst part was that someone had shredded his mother’s wall of sketches. They were completely destroyed.
“Mom!” Ethan called again. But there was no answer. No sign of her anywhere.
“Caitríona?” Bartlett bellowed, then rushed to the busted window, his shoes crunching on the broken glass.
Ethan stared at the few torn pieces of her beautiful drawings that still hung on the wall, and realized his favorite was missing. When his eyes fell to the closed bathroom door, her furious tone ordering him to wait for her echoed in his ears. The bathroom. His heart skipped a beat as he ran to the door and threw it open.
“Mom?” he said, the word sounding like a prayer.
It was empty. Distraught, his eyes fell to the blue tile floor. There it was, the missing picture, still in one piece and weighted down by his mother’s necklace. Ethan’s hands trembled as he reached for them. There was blood on the top of the unicorn’s horn and the chain was broken in the middle, as if it had been dug into her skin and ripped off her neck.
A lump grew in his throat, making it impossible to breathe. He folded up the picture and grasped the necklace in his hand, then slipped both into his pocket for safekeeping. If he’d only been here . . . or she with him . . .
Ethan had barely taken a step into the living room when Bartlett turned on him. “This is your bloody fault. You two were not supposed to separate! I can’t be in two places at once!”
“What are you talking about?”
“You left without her this morning. When I showed up she sent me after you, to protect you. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Let’s go. We’ve got to get you out of here.”
Bartlett moved toward him and tried to grab his arm, but Ethan spun out of reach and held his hands out. “Don’t touch me. I’m not going anywhere with you.” Ethan pulled his phone out of his pocket to call the police, and saw his mother had left a message.
His hands shaking, Ethan kept his eyes on the old man as he listened. “‘Ethan, they’ve found us. Go with Captain Bartlett. You have to get away! Please,’” she pleaded. “‘Whatever you do—’” The message abruptly cut off.
Ethan hung up, and immediately called her back, praying she would pick up, only to have it go straight to voicemail. He tried again, but it was useless. Her phone was either off or dead.
Without hesitation, Ethan started for the door. Bartlett blocked his exit.
“Move!” Ethan shoved him, but it had no effect.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“After my mom.”
The old man stared down at him. “Can’t do that. At the speed Ravens travel, we won’t catch them, not here. And the longer we sit, the more likely it is that others will come for you.”
Unsure of what to do, Ethan looked back at their destroyed home. Keep it together. His mother needed him. He sucked in a deep breath to steady his nerves then took a large step backward, away from Bartlett. “Who exactly are you?”
“I told you. Bartlett.” He paused and then added, “Your grandfather, your legal guardian now, so you have to go with me.”
Ethan shook his head. “Bullshit.”
Bartlett closed the distance between them, backing Ethan up against the wall. “Don’t curse at me, or I’ll give you the beating your mother should be giving you right now.” The tone in the old guy’s voice was clear. It wasn’t a threat. It was a promise.
“If you really know my mother then you would know that that’s something she would never do.”
Bartlett leaned over Ethan in an obvious attempt to intimidate him. “I said should, not would.”
Unnerved, Ethan gripped his phone. It was the only lifeline he had. “I don’t have a grandfather.”
Bartlett stood tall and groaned. “Your mother never told you about having a grandfather who was going to show up in case of an emergency?”
Ethan folded his arms over his chest. “Nope. Never mentioned it.”
“Of course, she didn’t.” Bartlett rolled his eye. “This just isn’t my day.” He ran his fingers through his hair, causing his sleeve to slip, once again revealing the familiar markings.
“My mother has a tattoo like that. What is it?”
“It’s not a what, it’s a where. Tara. Which is where those bloody birds have taken her.” Bartlett picked up a long black feather from the carpet under the window and thrust it at him.
Ethan let out a stunted laugh. “You honestly believe crows trashed our apartment and kidnapped my mom?” And they called Ethan a nutbag. He started to call the police when Bartlett ripped the phone out of his hand.
“Give me that,” Ethan hissed. He reached for it, but Bartlett raised it over his head, out of his grasp.
Ethan swung at Bartlett’s gut. Somehow, the old guy slid the phone in his jacket pocket with one hand, and pinned Ethan’s wrists together above his head with the other in a move so fast Ethan hadn’t even seen it coming.
“Get off!” He kicked and flailed, but Bartlett held fast.
“Hear me out. If you don’t believe me, then I’ll give you the phone back, and you can call whoever you think it is that can come and save you.”
What choice did he have? With a calm Ethan didn’t feel, he slowly nodded. “Fine.”
Bartlett released Ethan’s hands and took a step back. “They aren’t crows, they’re Ravens.”
“Ravens. Crows. Same difference. Ravens are just bigger crows. And they’re not dangerous. They just don’t seem to like you.”
Bartlett chuckled. “I’m not talking about the birds on the street. They were clearly sent to stall us.”
“Clearly,” Ethan said, his tone dripping with sarcasm.
“I’m talking about a very different kind of Raven. You don’t know what a Raven is?” The way he intonated the word “Raven” triggered a long-forgotten memory of an Irish fable his mother told him. Something about enchanted women trapped on a lonely island.
“Are you talking about mythical creatures? Shape-shifters that transform into women?”
Bartlett walked over to the window and peered out. “Very good. But there is nothing mythical about them. And I wouldn’t call them women. They’re purveyors of evil, and by the age of five have the strength of three men combined.”
As much as Ethan hated to believe it, the guy could be telling the truth. It certainly would explain his mother’s irrational fear of the ones nesting above their window.
Ethan joined the captain, who was gaping out the casement, and looked up. The birds had gone. Their nest lay in pieces on the ground below. As much as Ethan hated to admit it, he was starting to believe what Bartlett was saying. He stared at the broken, empty nest and his heart sank. With their mission accomplished, they weren’t coming back.
“You two were never supposed to separate. Of all mornings for you to pull the stunt you did . . .” Bartlett’s words trailed off and hung like an albatross around Ethan’s neck.
“You were watching us.” It came out as an accusation.
“Guarding you both. Since the day your mother came to Los Angeles almost fifteen long years ago.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erika Lewis graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Math. And what do you do with a degree in Math? You become a writer of course… eventually…
She moved to the west coast following her dream to work in television. And after fifteen glorious years developing and producing for truly awesome places, like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fireworks Television, 20th Television, that’s a division of Fox if you didn’t know that, and then at G4, where she could finally be free to be the nerd she had always been. She had more collectible toys in her office than even the famed executive producers of ATTACK OF THE SHOW and XPLAY. At least that’s the way she remembers it.
So how did this circle back to the beginning of this bio? A Math major becoming a writer? Because she’d actually always been a writer, she just never told anyone. She would write and write, edit and edit, then realize that it wasn’t good enough and go back in for yet another pass. And when she finally had several projects she really loved, that’s when she knew it was time to unleash them to the world.
Her first project, a graphic novel, THE 49TH KEY, is currently being featured in Heavy Metal Magazine, and will be released in trade in summer, 2017. Along with her amazing partner, Jessica Chobot, she’s currently working with LINE Webtoon and Legendary Comics on FIREBRAND, an ongoing comic series. Her first novel, GAME OF SHADOWS hits the bookstore shelves from TOR/Forge Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.
There are several other really exciting projects that you will be hearing much more about soon, but if she leaked them now, she’d get in big, big, big trouble. She resides in the sunshine state of California. When she’s not chained to her laptop, she’s usually playing with her big fluffy Golden Retriever, or running, or at one of the bookstores or comic shops by her house. And always drinking coffee.