Author : Stacey Rourke
Genre: YA Paranormal
Audience: 13 +
Formats: E-book and Print
Publisher: Anchor Group Publishing
Editor: Melissa Ringsted
Title: The Conduit
Date Published: November 2011 (rereleased November 13, 2013)
All 18-year-old Celeste Garrett wants is to head off to college and make those fun, yet ill-advised, choices college kids are known for. And maybe to spend some time with the hot cameraman she just met. Instead, because of a pact her ancestors made in the 17th century with a mythical creature, she has to save the world. While normal kids are slamming energy drinks and cramming for exams, Celeste will get her adrenaline rush fighting a fire breathing dragon. She wants to meet friends in the quad to exchange lecture notes, but first she must exchange blows with a shapeshifting demon on the rooftop. Life isn’t always fair for a superhero, but at least she doesn’t have to do it alone. With her brother and sister as sidekicks, they alternate between saving lives and getting on each others’ nerves. Together the trio encounters unspeakable odds, mystical forces and comes face-to-face with an image that will haunt them forever—their grandmother in a leopard print bikini.
Excerpt-At certain moments in life reflection is mandatory. I found being squeezed in the scaly claw of a three story dragon to be one of them. As he shook me like an uncooperative toy, my rattled brain wondered how life had led me here. Could I have done anything differently to maybe not die horribly at the hands of Mr. Big–Green–and–Ugly?
But as my constricted lungs burned and ached for even a whisper of a breath, I knew there was no way I could’ve avoided this. No matter where I went. No matter what I did. They would’ve found me. It was inevitable.
A searing pain in my side signaled that my recently mended rib had cracked again. I opened my mouth to scream but could manage no sound. My head wobbled so hard it felt like it might snap off my neck. Black spots danced before my eyes. With them came flashes from a life that wasn’t mine.
With tentative steps the girl walks through the smoldering, charred remains of her tiny village. Her bare feet are burned and blackened, but she doesn’t waver. She lays a delicate hand on the shoulder of the half–eagle/half–lion creature that saved them all. Well…most of them. Some of the blood spilled in this emerald Ireland valley had been fatal.
His rants turned into nothing more than a ringing in my ears. One by one, my senses gave up. They retreated into the dark abyss and waited for me to join them there.
A look of steely determination overcame the girl’s dainty features. “You didn’t let us stand alone, and I will not let you.”
The Gryphon snapped his beak and shook his enormous head. “No. This war will rage on long after your mortal life has ended. I have foreseen it.”
“Then my heirs shall take up the cause as well!” She lifted her soot–covered nightgown enough to allow herself the movement needed to go down on one knee. Her glorious, ivory wings stretched out wide behind her as she pressed her fist over her heart. “It is my pledge to you that the O’Garren family will join you in this crusade. My people will be your warriors until we find victory or death.”
The pain lessened. Peace replaced it. That pledge, made centuries ago, is what led me here. If the break–ins hadn’t happened. If I had stayed in Michigan. I’d still find myself here, losing my grip on whatever tied my spirit to this world. Of course, now I knew that those break–ins were them looking for me. And they followed me to Gainesboro. As the last of my strength and energy drained from my body, the thought of my new home made me smile.
Gainesboro, Tennessee. That’s where it all happened. That’s where I learned the truth. That’s where everything changed. That’s where my destiny found me. And now, it’s where I would die.
Date Published: March 2012, rereleased November 13, 2013
RONE Award Winner Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012
Whether she likes it or not, eighteen year old Celeste Garrett has come to terms with being the Chosen One. She knew having a “normal life” would be tricky, between intense training sessions and epic demonic battles, but she didn’t know at what cost it would come. That is, until a dear friend is harmed by the malicious forces hunting her. Now, she’d like nothing more than to retreat into a hermit lifestyle to prevent anyone else from getting hurt. But startling revelations, amazing new abilities, and mortifying moments in front of insanely hot guys won’t allow time for that. Soon, Celeste finds herself surrounded by darkness and wondering who she can trust—if anyone.
Excerpt- The next night’s patrol up into the mountains was all kinds of awkward due to how incredibly peeved Gabe still was despite my attempts to make amends. As we walked, he intentionally allowed a branch to snap back at my face. I caught it a split second before it impaled my eyeball. Kendall, with her sweet nature, easily forgave me and we hugged it out. Gabe told me where I could shove my apology. Maybe I had been somewhat out of line with the things I said, but he had been lying to me for months. Therefore, I’d had about all of his nasty attitude I could tolerate.
“Don’t worry about that branch, Gabe,” I snapped. “I got it. Thanks.”
Gabe halted. He kept his broad back to me as he let out a low, menacing growl.
I put my hand on my hip and shined my flashlight at him. “Oh, I don’t even think so! I don’t care how big and bad you think you are, you’re not gonna growl at me.”
His head whipped around. The light from my flashlight reflected off of his yellow cat eyes. That sight wasn’t new to me, yet it still gave me chills.
“Demon,” he rumbled, in a barely human tremor, then fell to the ground in a low crouch. His clawed hands dug into the dirt as his back arched in preparation for his change.
A rush of air behind me and Keni’s wings were deployed. She and I scanned the landscape in front of us with our flashlights. Trees. Light fog. Rocks. The occasional critter, but no demon. Then—not twenty feet in front of us—the brush rustled. A black shadow darted past us.
“Did you see that?” I followed it with the light, but it vanished before I could catch up.
Before either of them could answer, a shrill cackle echoed through the night. The shapeless form flew by in another pass. We spun to follow it but again failed to get a glimpse.
“Where’d it go?” Keni’s feathers tickled my shoulder as she curled her wing protectively around me. “I lost it.”
Pebbles kicked up as the demon skidded to a stop in front of us. Like matching spotlights our flashlight beams captured the creature.
Kendall giggled and put her wings away.
Gabe paused in the early stages of his transformation, stood up, and reverted back to human.
I screamed for all I was worth and dropped my flashlight.
Before us stood a gruesome, two-foot tall hobgoblin with green wart covered skin that hung off its tiny frame. Long, wiry black hair draped down passed the snarling, spitting creature’s itty, bitty shoulders. With beady little eyes, a snout for a nose, and a mouth full of shark-like teeth, this thing was straight out of my worst nightmares.
“Aww, it’s kinda cute!” Kendall gushed and bent down to extended her hand to it like it was a friendly pooch.
Then it charged. Its tiny legs blurred as it sped toward us with snapping jaws. I flew onto Gabe’s shoulders like a cat up a tree. Kendall released her wings just in time to lob the hobgoblin back where it started. That didn’t slow it down. It hopped right back up and ran at us again.
“Get off me!” Gabe ordered, but couldn’t shake my death grip from around his neck.
“NO! Not until you get rid of it!” I screamed. “Turn into a lion and eat it! Or shred it! I don’t care, just make it go away!”
Once again, Kendall hit it like a well-served tennis ball and sent it careening through the air.
“What do you need my help for?” Gabe asked, in what I considered to be an overly mocking tone, as he grappled to pry my arms and legs off of him. “You’re the “Chosen One” and I’m just your sidekick. Seems to me you should be able to handle this all on your own, oh-mighty one.”
“Gabe! Now is not the time to get into this!” I pleaded as I clung to him like a frightened koala bear. “Just kill it!”
“No.” While I couldn’t see his face, I could hear the smirk in his voice. “I think now is the perfect time to talk about this. You need to admit that you need both of us.”
The demon whizzed past Keni. I squealed and squeezed my eyes shut as Gabe casually punted it away from us. “I need you! I need you! Please! Get rid of that thing!”