Cover Reveal: NIGHTBREAKER by Coco Ma
Cover reveal! Get ready for Coco Ma’s exhilarating urban fantasy Nightbreaker, coming September 19!
Fifteen years ago, The Vanishing thrust Manhattan into darkness, forever changing the City That Never Sleeps. By day, resilient New Yorkers have adapted, clinging to the vestiges of their cosmopolitan lives. By night—well, you never go out at night unless you have a death wish.
Or unless you’re Rei Reynolds.
Rei attends an exclusive New York prep school, but unlike her classmates, she welcomes nightfall. That’s when she can secretly hunt Deathlings, the deadly creatures that have prowled Manhattan’s subway tunnels and blood-soaked streets since the Vanishing. After they brutally slaughtered her parents years ago, Rei is desperate for vengeance.
To get it, Rei must qualify for—and win—the Tournament, a competition to join the ranks of the city’s legendary Deathling hunters. Rei’s nightly pursuits should give her an advantage, but the other competitors are fierce, and in some cases familiar: enter Kieran Cross, Rei’s most infuriating rival . . . and ex-boyfriend.
As the Tournament progresses—and the cutthroat competition escalates—everything Rei believed about who she can trust is called into question. Soon enough, she’s caught in the crosshairs of the elite who want to keep the city’s ruling class in power, as well as those who will stop at nothing to bring it down. Because sometimes it’s not the monsters waiting in the dark you should fear . . . it’s the ones who dare to walk into the light.
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The sidewalks are totally deserted. Void of life. No traffic roars up Battery Place. No more cars crawl along Greenwich Street. The streetlights flicker from green to yellow to red, directing nothing and no one, but they, too, will soon go dark.
Rector Station is but a relic. The lampposts, the dark green railing, even the station placards are nothing but remnants from a past known only to the people who still remember this city for what it once was—like me. And those who fight to restore it. To put an end to the nights reigned by terror and scarlet-stained streets.
Like the Syndicate.
An aggressive barricade streaked with graffiti greets me at the top of the stairs. I duck underneath it without hesitation and head toward the steel doors sealing away the underground from civilization.
WARNING! CERTAIN DEATH AHEAD! TRESPASSING FORBIDDEN!
Even without the bold, black letters screaming in your face, no one in their right mind would actually ever try to break through these doors. No offense, but if a Deathling can’t break through them, neither can you.
I flip open the keypad and punch in a series of twelve digits. It flashes red. I frown and try again.
Frantically, I punch in a totally different code. Come on, come on, please work—
The keypad flashes green, and the door slides open. I tumble forward. As soon as the door shuts behind me, I slump against it, breathing hard.
I push myself onto my feet. The ceiling lights sputter, gleaming sickly white against the glazed tiles. Downtown. To South Ferry. I run my fingers along the cold railing as I skim down the stairs, my footfalls hushed. Like a clammy fist, the air settles against my skin, cool but muggy. Rector is one of the smaller stations near the southern tip of Manhattan, past the final express stop, so only two tracks run through the station for the local trains: one uptown, one downtown.
At the turnstile, I place the glossy white box on my skateboard and give it a nudge. It rolls under the bars. None of the turnstiles are operational, so I brace my hands on the scanners on either side of me and vault myself over. There’s no one at the booth to stop me.
With my gun in one hand and the box in the other, I step onto my board and cruise down the subway platform. My rubber wheels roll silently along the smooth floor tiles, carving a fresh trail through the blanket of dust.
Halfway down the platform, broken overhead lights plunge the station into darkness.
I dangle my right foot over the side of my board until the bottom of my boot grazes the floor. I come to a stop right where the shadows begin to flirt with the dwindling light.
I allow myself a moment to stand at the edge of the bright yellow do-not-cross strip. To remember the warm draft gusting my face as the trains careened through the tunnel. The din of the crowd, of millions of New Yorkers and tourists alike teeming along the platforms. The loudening roar of that metal beast, reverberating in my bones. The strap of Maura’s backpack clenched in my small fist as she covered my ears with her hands, barely muffling the earsplitting shriek of wheels sparking against the rails.
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.
But the last time anyone rode the subway was fifteen years ago. Before the Vanishing.
With a sigh, I prop my skateboard against the wall. I jump off the edge of the platform, landing in a crouch on the filthy tracks. I take care to avoid the pools of foul brown muck, as well as the third rail—the strip of steel running between the tracks that used to conduct electricity to the subway cars. The Transit Authority cranks up the amperage during the day to double what the trains used to run on—more than enough to fry me to a crisp. Or, more importantly, fry the Deathlings that roam the underbelly of New York City.
Carefully, I set down my precious cargo and pull the ribbon. As it tugs free, the box falls open, revealing a freshly baked strawberry shortcake. With surgical precision, I place the cake between the electrified rail and the track closest to me. Half in light, half in shadow. I check to make sure I didn’t get any frosting on my fingers. Then I boost myself back onto the platform and jog over to my stakeout spot—a barricade of three hulking, city-issued black trash cans that I pushed together last week.
Hunkering down, I triple-check my gun magazine. N.N. bullets are very hard to come by, and I used half the cartridge the day before yesterday. Specially manufactured by Syndicate weaponsmiths, a single bullet could make all the difference in the face of a hungry Deathling.
Now, the first thing to know about Deathlings is that they will eat you. But only at nightfall, when they come out to hunt after the sun’s gone down.
The second thing to know about Deathlings is to start running as soon as you smell their signature rotten-egg scent, because by the time one of them is close enough for you to see, rotten eggs will be the last thing you ever smell.
The third thing to know about Deathlings is that they love sweets. Anything sweet, really. Belgian waffles. Churros. Banana pudding. However, I’ve learned that there’s nothing a Deathling loves more than cake.
As the saying goes, Where cake dwells, here be Deathlings. Or something like that.
I keep my eyes glued on the pitch-black void at the end of the subway tunnel. Count the seconds between every breath, forcing my pulse steady and calm. Not even five minutes have passed when, sure enough, that unmistakable stench wafts into the air. My nose scrunches, but otherwise I remain stone-still.
Like a vulture to a stinking carcass, the Deathling arrives.