Remember last week when I posted a 4* Review for Skeletal by Emma Pullar? This week marks the release of book 2 in the duology, Avian!!! If you wanted to find out more about book one, you can find my review here, and obviously more about Avian further down this post. There’s the blurb, an exciting extract and all the links you’ll ever need 🙂 Avian is available at Amazon through Bloodhound Books and is currently 99p on Kindle and free for kindle unlimited subscribers.
CENTRAL IS LOSING ITS GRIP ON THE CITIZENS OF GALE CITY.
Megan Skyla, who refused to play by Central’s rules and become a surrogate for her masters, has thrown the city into chaos. Corrupting those around her, she and her friends are forced into hiding – hunted by Central, the evil rulers of Gale City. Skyla’s desperate attempts to keep everyone alive ends when they’re kidnapped by feuding gangs.
Skyla cuts a deal and then betrays both gangs. Now there is nowhere left to run. It’s the desert or die. Her best friend, Crow, thinks she still wants to find a way to cure the Morbian masters of their obesity and finish what she started.
But Skyla has other plans. She’s sure there are settlements in the desert, there must be something out there … and there is. Something terrible.
Skyla is about to find out there’s more than one way to bring about change but one truth remains … Central must be destroyed in order to ensure her survival. There is no other way.
Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and Children’s books. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley, was a national bestseller and named best opening lines by NZ Post. Emma has also written several winning short horror/Sci-fi stories which have been published in four different anthologies. Emma’s latest picture book, Kitty Stuck, has been hugely popular and her novel, Skeletal, and the sequel, Avian, have been described as disturbing and not for the faint-hearted. She also writes articles for an online advice site called Bang2write and dabbles in screenwriting.
With the clouds swept away, wind gone with them, the absence of both pushes the temperature up. The sun is an angry fireball in the azure sky, at its highest point before it makes its descent, which tells me it’s already midday. Visor firmly over my eyes, the rays are diluted, but still harsh enough to warrant tilting my head downwards to avoid the full glare. Like Andia, I’m worried the sand monster might burst up between my legs and drag me under.
Sweat pours down my temples and beneath the hood my hair is damp. If the weather keeps fluctuating from freezing winds to boiling sunshine, even while wearing the temperature regulating suit, which doesn’t work all that well, we’re sure to get sick. Sick and slow equals dead and buried. None of us can afford so much as a sniffle.
Hours drag by; the rock is further than I thought. It’s as if it’s moving away from us and we’re never going to reach it, but what makes the trek more of a chore is listening to Andia nervously chatter about what she might do with her life when we get back, I can’t bring myself to tell her I have no intension of going back, that is if we don’t starve to death out here. The others have fanned out to get away from her self-comforting, like me, I suspect they can’t bear to give her a reality check; she hasn’t noticed she’s muttering to herself.
Andia is delusional – Central don’t reward law breakers, ever! They obviously don’t care what the gangs are doing out here and may even be enabling them. These suits are Morb engineered, I’m sure of it. Though, I can’t believe a gang would be able to steal them. The only logical explanation for Dra’Cave having the suits is that Central gave them to him. Why? Keep the underclass in a perpetual glory-induced coma so they don’t rise up and overthrow them?
I stop trudging every few minutes to rub my aching calf muscles and catch my breath, the thin air doesn’t seem to be bothering my lungs any more, I don’t know why, perhaps my body has already adapted to its surroundings but the heat is an issue, even with the suit regulating the temperature I still feel like I’m boiling in a bag. I’m relieved when the rocky mound before us finally looks bigger while behind us the wall gets smaller and smaller. The desert stretches out for miles either side of the black island we’re heading for. I was always told the desert means death and maybe it will be the end of me, but right now, even though hot and uncomfortable, legs aching and there’s a beast under the sand that could come up and snatch us at any time, I appreciate the beauty of the world, a beauty I couldn’t see through my self-serving eyes.
I gaze at the purple hue rippling in the heat at the base of burnt-orange mountains. The landscape looks disjointed, like layers of a painting, the paint thicker at the bottom. A calmness washes over me and I feel my frown disappear, as if the invisible rock I’ve been carrying around on my head has been lifted.
A cloud passes over the sun and the cool shadowy relief is instant. Crow traipses confidently up front, followed by Cara and Andia, who’s no longer talking; she’s realised none of us have been listening to her. The two girls’ stamina matches that of the guard but Dove staggers along behind me. For someone used to being worked to the bone in the city prison, his endurance is low. It was often hot and stuffy in the prison, with the exception of the butchery, so why is the heat getting to Dove? Maybe it’s something to do with his pasty skin? Being albino, he is whiter than any Morb. I feel a little sorry for him. A white Skel. It’s too weird. Then again, maybe it’s his mental health; your body won’t function if your brain isn’t and none of us know what Dra’Cave subjected him to. He was naked when I found him. Someone oiling and force feeding you is unpleasant but I wonder if Dra’Cave sexually abused him too.
‘Dove.’ He turns his head to signal he’s heard me, his pink eyes barely visible behind the tinted visor. ‘You okay?’
He pulls down his mask. His lips are ruby red, his skin ruddy. ‘I feel like …’ he takes a breath ‘… my organs are stewing in my own blood.’
His breathing is laboured, like a man on the brink of death.
‘Hang in there.’