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Tagline: Nobody ever said death would be easy
From the streets of Melbourne to the bowels of Westminster, the delicate balance between life and death that is so painstakingly maintained by the Reapers of The Order of Dark and Light is being tested by the return of an ancient threat. Tensions are rising within the hidden world of The Shadowlands and if this threat is not contained war will be inevitable. And the destruction of the human world is bound to follow in its wake.
Amidst this tension, eighteen year-old Sachi Manning is struggling to cope with the grief and guilt that has plagued her ever since her best friend was murdered six months earlier—that is, until she spots him seemingly alive and well and being held at scythe point by a hooded figure who looks more like a GQ model than the Grim Reaper.
Sachi shouldn’t be able to see through the glamours that shield Shadowlanders from the human world, so the Reaper in question wants some answers. And so begins the craziest couple of weeks of Sachi’s life as she is drawn into a world of mysteries, magic, monsters, and mayhem, encountering dragons, Faeries, soul-sucking Demons, not-so-grim Reapers, and even the Horseman of Death.
With a mix of heart, humour and hair-raising action, Out of the Shadows is the adventure of an after-lifetime, perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Kresley Cole.
As Julian studied the mangled remains of the boy who had once been Campbell Locke, it was easy to see how the humans could have mistaken the death for a homicide. The latest in a string of vicious murders by the now infamous “Melbourne Slasher”, who had plagued the streets of this city for near on three months now—or so the papers said.
The teenager’s throat had been slashed with what, to human eyes, looked like a knife. But Julian knew better—that wound was the result of an incredibly sharp claw.
Julian had positioned himself on a first floor window ledge not ten metres away from the crime scene. It was the perfect vantage point, or would have been had his legs not been cramping from the awkward crouching position he’d been forced to assume in order to balance his tall frame on the narrow ledge. The preternatural eyesight bestowed upon him almost a century and a half ago allowed Julian to make out every detail of the narrow alleyway: the ground a peculiar patchwork of cobbles, concrete, and bitumen; walls the brick exterior of low rise buildings whose original colour could not be determined through the layers of graffiti—some of which, Julian had to admit, was quite remarkable. There was a blue industrial rubbish bin set up against the wall of the nightclub that backed on to the alley, overflowing with black bags and glass bottles. Julian could feel the vibration of the heavy bass from the club’s music thrumming through the walls around him. The song was something modern, with a powerful female voice interweaving through a thumping dance beat. He couldn’t say what it was called—it all sounded so similar to him.
At the mouth of the alley, a row of uniformed police officers stood guard over the crime scene, sending any curious onlookers on their way. Julian was tempted to move closer. To walk right up to the crime scene and stand amongst the mingling investigators. After all, with his invisibility glamour in place no one would be able to see him.
But it was a risk he could not afford. He was well aware of how far crime scene technology had progressed since his time amongst humans. They had something called “forensics” now, where scientists could track a killer using the smallest piece of evidence: a drop of blood, a strand of hair, even the tread of dirt from a foreign location. Julian frowned as he glanced at his boots, the soles of which were crusted with the remains of the Faery he’d disposed of three hours earlier. These humans would be baffled enough as it were with the lack of evidence to be found at this scene, he didn’t think it wise to confuse them further with the presence of an otherworldly substance. Not to mention that the invisibility glamour was somehow affected by flash photography—he was not in the mood to explain to Lord Mortem why there had been a “ghost” sighting at the most recent “murder” scene.
An awareness brushed across Julian’s mind and he immediately looked up, scanning the rooftop opposite. It didn’t take long to spot Moss; he had his hood down and even without Julian’s superior vision, it would have been difficult for him to miss that mop of bleached dreadlocks contrasting starkly against the midnight sky.
Julian swept his gaze over the crime scene one last time before letting the ledge fall away from him. It was a split second of dark emptiness as he passed through the shadows, and then he was standing on the roof next to Moss.
‘Crazy night, dude,’ Moss said in his Floridian surfer drawl.
Julian ran his eyes over his friend. They had gone their separate ways tonight, and it was clear by the smears of blood over Moss’s face and the tear in his sleeve he’d had almost as interesting a night as Julian. Moss always looked slightly rumpled, though; unlike Julian, who, even after killing the Banshee that had been about to take centre stage in front of twenty thousand humans under the guise of a popular musician, a passionate kiss of gratitude from said musician (whose memory Julian had, most unfortunately, been obligated to alter moments later), and crouching on the window ledge for a good two hours, was still as tidy and well-pressed as usual, not a hair out of place.
‘You could say that,’ Julian said. Though a hundred and forty years had passed, he still spoke with the same accent and manner he had cultivated during his life as the son of an English peer. He would have liked to believe there was little else from that life that remained, though he knew this was not the case.
‘So, this one makes three.’ An uncharacteristically sombre expression crossed Moss’s face. ‘Any ideas?’
Julian shook his head. ‘Something with claws—which narrows it down to at least a thousand Shadowlanders.’
‘It’s hot.’ Moss emphasised the statement by rubbing the back of his forearm over his sweat-streaked brow. It was indeed. The Australian summer was only a week away, and Melbourne had been hit with a blast of the kind of humidity usually reserved for the northern parts of the country. ‘That should rule out an Infernal creature, yeah?’
Julian frowned. ‘I think it would be foolish to rule anything out at this stage.’
About The Author:
Ashlee Nicole Bye is a self-confessed bibliophile, sports fan and music lover. She also writes sometimes—when she’s not busy mastering the art of procrastination, that is. She writes mainly Fantasy, mainly Young Adult, although some of her current works in progress have seen her step firmly outside her comfort zone.
Her first novel is OUT OF THE SHADOWS, a mature young adult contemporary fantasy set in her beloved home town of Melbourne. It is the first installment in the five-book series, SHADOWLANDS, and will be released on Kindle on April 11, with paperback to follow shortly after.