(The Secret Archives Trilogy, #2)
Publication date: October 1st 2020
Genres: Dystopian, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
There is nowhere to hide when danger closes in from all sides.
Jennie left the security of her walled community to join Ethan in search of answers about his troubled past. Braving the threats lurking in the forest, their journey to Arborville leads to startling revelations… some that could prove fatal.
Back at the Commune, the delicate society Jennie’s people have built is crumbling. The number of flesh-eating lemerons attacking their wall continues to grow, and two factions are vying for control of the tattered hierarchy of the community.
With both the Commune and Arborville at risk of destruction, it will take Jennie and all her friends to stand together and protect their communities. Failure will bring a swift and certain death to all the residents hunkered inside.
The chairs in the grand chamber slowly filled. It seemed to take hours for everyone to arrive. Belle shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
When the doors slammed shut, she whipped her head around to see who closed them. She frowned.
A man strode up the length of the central aisle. His face and eyes were battered with purplish-green bruises. There was something about him that looked familiar.
Where have I seen him before?
The Commune was small enough that most people knew each other, but this man wasn’t someone she knew. But she had seen him. And recently, too.
She shifted again. There was something wrong about him.
The man’s footsteps echoed as he climbed the platform at the front of the room.
“My fellow citizens, thank you for coming,” he said.
His voice was gruff but Belle didn’t recognize it. He scanned the room through his bruised eyes. One of them was swollen half shut.
“Some of you may know me, for those of you who don’t, I’m Isaac Fenske.”
Now Belle had a name to go with the face, but the name wasn’t familiar to her.
“We’ve been living together our entire lives, but recently the balance of our society was thrown into chaos. Marlene abandoned us, and Victor betrayed us.”
That’s not right. Belle frowned. Marlene went to get help. She didn’t abandon us.
“We are afraid of each other when we should be afraid of the lemerons at the wall. Our friends and neighbors aren’t a threat. Those monsters at our gates are. We must rise up together and fight for our survival.”
A few people in the crowd murmured their agreement. Belle wanted to agree too, but something about him was off.
“We don’t have anyone to lead us through this nightmare. This situation is unprecedented. That’s why I humbly ask your approval to let me stand in as an interim Elder until two new Elders are selected. If you consent, say ‘aye.’”
Two new Elders? Marlene was coming back. What was he playing at? Only Victor needed replacing.
The room was silent. Belle scanned the crowd, wondering if anyone would answer his plea for power. Nearby, a few people were conversing with each other. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, but they were both nodding.
One of them looked up and shouted, “aye.”
The other one echoed him with an “aye.”
Throughout the room, more people were adding their “ayes” to the chorus. The people in the room came alive with new hope.
That’s when it hit her. Belle’s eyes grew wide, and she felt the color drain from her face. She remembered where she saw him.
This man, Isaac Fenske, was lying unconscious and bloody on a table in Goggles’s lab. She remembered seeing him before the fight with Sash. She hadn’t been sure if he was alive or dead when they left him behind during their escape.
He was very much alive now. How did he manage to escape?
There was something about him, and this sudden grab for power which made Belle think of Victor. This was a move someone from the Order would make. But what could she do without proof? She only had her suspicions.
Jennie’s parting words echoed in her mind: do what you can to keep the Order out of power.
A smile tugged at the corners of Isaac’s mouth.
“Anyone opposed to my proposition, say ‘nay.’”
Belle whispered so only she could hear. “Nay.”
Valerie Puri is an author of Paranormal, Fantasy, and Young Adult.
As an author of both short stories and novels, she enjoys the flexibility of writing tales of any length. Her favorite aspect of writing is the ability to create something out of nothing. She loves building worlds readers can visualize and filling those worlds with complex characters and storylines. Valerie believes that the experiences we have in life are just stories waiting to be written.
In 2016, she published her debut novel, The Crimson Tree, a thrilling paranormal tale inspired by true events. The main source of inspiration for this story was a number of experiences her sister encountered in her home. She went on to publish The Dociles, book one of The Secret Archives Trilogy, her young adult dystopian series. Valerie’s work can be found in anthologies such as Demonic Anthologies, Thrill of the Hunt, and We Know the Truth, Do You? Readers can look forward to future novels and short stories with paranormal and urban fantasy aspects in the near future, including a trilogy she is co-authoring in the Dark Projects world.
When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, or listening to audio books. She is a Florida transplant, but part of her will always call the Midwest home.