Today we're super excited to present a sneak peek from L.J. Hatton's SING DOWN THE STARS, the first book in the Celestine Series released October 6, 2015 from Skyscape. The second book, CALL FORTH THE WAVES, released March 22, 2016. Below, you can read the sneak peek and enter the fabulous giveaway!
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The Show opened at twilight, when anything was possible.
It was the time of not quite day or night when the promise of something unexpected shimmered in the wonder light, and the mundane turned to magic, if wielded by a master’s hand. Magnus Roma was a master; The Show was his dominion. He was my father, and it was my home.
Forecasts had called for storms that night. We held our breath, but they never came.
My father said that people once danced in the rain, that they chased lightning and rode the wind, but not anymore. Not where others might see and suspect, and not since the Great Illusion made rain a bad omen. The only weather that crowds would tolerate now was the kind that came with the price of admission, and that we were happy to provide.
Lightning struck the apex of a fence around our circus grounds, brilliant against the darkening sky. Nothing but Tesla coils and a large-scale Faraday cage, but the effect was mesmerizing. Blue current swirled the lines, touching the earth as another bolt crackled off the fence peaks, illuminating our field with St. Elmo’s fire. So many people were used to looking up in fear of what they might find among the clouds that it took a while for them to do anything other than startle, but eventually, those who had crowded the gates forgot they were in a hurry. They shed their worries and watched, awe flickering in their eyes like candles lit with ideas they’d never dared dream.
The Show was a mad scientist’s paradise: Creatures long extinct zipped overhead, and wire-walkers lilted along live cables that should have electrocuted them. Jugglers tossed metal rods pulsing with energy, while swarms of mechanical sprites filled the air with bubbles and glitter and the scent of hope. High above it all rose our magnificent big top, an explosion of quilted color held aloft by suspension wires attached to balloons, rather than posts. The largest, at the center peak, caught the fading daylight so that sunset turned it rosy at the gathers, and metal bands forced the balloon into its shape. It drifted slightly with each change in the wind, clinking tiny bells along the bottom hem. A song of The Show that could only be heard if you were close enough to listen.
Pay attention, not merely admission, read a sign above the gate.
“Mommy, look!” a child squealed and pointed to a pair of hand-built unicorns milling between the props of a radiant tent maze inside the electric field. She ran forward, giving chase when the creatures shied away.
At The Show, fantasy and reality shared common ground, and technology served to dazzle and delight. Danger was as much an illusion as a magician’s card trick.
But then the warden came.
Most people didn’t recognize wardens on sight. The Commission wasn’t like the military; they weren’t even police with conventional uniforms. Theirs was a civilian operation, with offices in every capital of the industrialized world, plus outposts in places that didn’t have words to translate as “industry.” This warden wore his insignia—an ankh crafted from a splitting double helix—embroidered on the pocket of a black shirt, like a company logo. There was another on his ball cap, speared through with a clover-shaped pin that marked him as a survivor of the riots that engulfed Brick Street before I was born.
He was taking in the sights same as everyone else, smiling at the right things and meandering through the exhibitions. It was possible that he was there for nothing beyond the obvious, but, living in a circus, you get accustomed to not taking things at face value. Menace trailed him like cologne. His applause and smile were as fake as my Y chromosome. This man was both a warden and trouble, and I didn’t like the way he was looking at me. Of all the things meant to draw scrutiny and dare people to figure out their secrets, I wasn’t one of them. The Show had been built for me to hide behind.
An angry shout drew my attention from the warden to a star-encrusted tent belonging to Zavel the Mystic, our magician. The backmost corner began to twitch, and the tiny, dark-skinned face of Birdie Jesek wriggled out from under the muslin. She smiled brightly as she ran past me, a fresh pair of nicked sparklers in one hand. Close behind came Jermay, Zavel’s son and apprentice, determined to get them back.
He snatched at Birdie as she scampered, barefoot, up one side of a tall tent-prop and ran along the lantern strings to another, hopping sparks as she went. She crossed the entire tent village out of reach, snapping the ends off her sparkler wands to stick in her hair.
Watching Jermay was dangerous, because I was supposed to take precautions. Playing it safe meant keeping up the appearance of a boy who didn’t stare at other boys, or find their frustrated scowls endearing. But I wasn’t always cautious when it came to Jermay; I liked to watch him.
I had his features memorized—olive skin like mine, with the dark hair common to most who lived the traveler’s life. But unlike my sisters’ brown eyes, or my green ones, his were a startling blue that looked painted on. They were an anomaly so extreme that passing strangers stopped for a second look.
Jermay had been my best friend for as far back as I could remember. Long enough to say that if there was any real magic in the world, he was where it hid, pretending to be a sixteen-year-old boy who refused to accept that he couldn’t catch a little girl half his age.
Birdie was the youngest member of the Flying Jeseks, our acrobats, and even though she’d only been with them for two years, she’d taken to the high wire like she was born to it. Mother Jesek insisted that Birdie only stole Zavel’s sparklers because she wanted to shine.
My oldest sister, Evie, shined; it never did her any favors.
Beyond beautiful, Evie’s skin didn’t just reflect light—she glowed, like a lantern drawing moths. A young man had her cornered near the train, by the exterior paddocks used to house the exhibits that were too large to contain inside. He was the sort one might find handsome, but otherwise unremarkable, except for a tingling suspicion at the back of my head. He was too unremarkable. More than nondescript, he was literally unnoticeable. The harder I tried to get a look at him, the more out of focus and distant he appeared, like watercolors running in the rain.
He was one of them, and that was worse than a warden. He shouldn’t have been real, even at a circus, and especially not at The Show.
Unnoticeables, and the stories about them, were supposed to be urban legends. A fanciful fringe tacked on to the end of things said about the Medusae and the Great Illusion.
Maybe I should back up and start there—everything else did.
“Back then,” people are fond of saying, as though speaking vaguely is safer than saying it plain, but everyone knows they mean that year. One single year in which the world both ended and began again.
The clouds came first, pressing through the atmosphere on every continent, like a massive storm system had covered the planet. It rained—everywhere. Death Valley. The Sahara. The Gobi. Even Antarctica. Science called it atmospheric agitation; humanity called it a miracle. Soon, details came from the international space stations: hysterical screaming about things they called “space nettles” because there was no word for what had settled above us. They weren’t ships the way we’d been taught to think of flying saucers. They were organic. Alive. These nettles floated on solar currents like Portuguese men-o’-war on the tides, stretching their tentacles into a grid cast over the Earth.
They sealed us off. Their presence interfered with nearly every satellite in orbit, causing communications to go dark in 90 percent of the world.
Then our visitors showed themselves, imprinting their images on our atmosphere.
That’s all they ever did. They never communicated; they never attacked. They never even told us their names. Some newscaster started calling them Medusae because they looked like jellyfish, and it stuck. The Medusae hung in the sky while humanity went insane below. Riots and mass suicides, attempts to dislodge the ships with military force because the world was certain that silence equaled provocation. We almost choked ourselves with the aftermath of ordnance, and that was before the UN managed to coordinate a six-continent nuclear strike that included half the total payload of the United States, China, India, and the European Union. Russia, Pakistan, and a few countries that weren’t even supposed to be nuclear capable agreed to be the second wave, but we didn’t get that far.
Eerie, glowing tentacles dropped down and vaporized every warhead in midair, more than a mile from the Medusae themselves. That was the only move they ever made.
A year passed and the sky was never blue. It warped into pink and violet where the light passed through. No one understood how we survived without a “majority-species die-off” because of it, but the plants kept blooming, and the birds kept migrating. For that year, the Medusae watched, and then they left, leaving no evidence of their existence beyond the memories of those who lived through their time here. The news still broadcasts video of them on the anniversary. This is number twenty-four. I’ve heard next year, there’ll be a parade.
Things stabilized, and after a while, people began to question if it had happened at all. There were fingers pointed, and a lot of talk about coronal eruptions, high-altitude radiation clouds, and mass hysteria brought on by aerial chemical tides. It wasn’t a total denial, but most of the explanations left out any mention of off-worlders and gave people a pile of sand to hide their heads in. That year became the Great Illusion in our history books, but its legacy was very real, and despite their lack of willingness to speak the word aloud, most people still believed aliens had made contact.
Half the planet rebelled against technology, certain that satellites and space probes drew them to us in the first place. Like there’s an entire alien race out there tuning into reruns of old sitcoms and chowing down on space junk like potato chips. People sought solace in the old ways and hid behind a Luddite banner of inconvenience.
The aerial view of the world changed. While Paris stayed the City of Lights, and there were still a few other bright spots, major cities the world over cut power, rationing it to blackout conditions at night, eager to believe that doing so would cloak us from outside interest. D.C. and Moscow moved their essential facilities underground. London and New Delhi turned Neo-Victorian, starting a domino effect of backpedaling pop culture that swept the world and created The Show. People wanted the old world, or at least a sanitized version of it with medicine and plumbing.
The wardens were commissioned to great fanfare, tasked with investigating alien life and safeguarding Earth, and at first, it seemed like that’s what they had in mind. They started off with interviews, and tests on water and soil samples beneath the areas that’d had the highest concentration of alien presence. People slept better at night. But the thing about fanfare is that it’s Carnie 101—the easiest form of distraction. Once you understand that, you know to start looking at things from more obscure angles, away from the flash and the noise. That’s where you’ll find the truth behind the trick.
Stories of more sinister things popped up, but as soon as they did, they were silenced. Unnoticeable strangers that no witnesses could ever quite remember. People who now had peculiar abilities. Vagrants and transients who disappeared from their usual haunts and stopped showing up at clinics and shelters, like they’d been snatched straight off the street and hardly missed by anyone. Families swept out of their houses in the middle of the night, leaving nothing behind but empty rooms and confused neighbors.
It was all very efficient. Government efficient. The kind of thing no one risks talking about in company.
Rumors, my father said—bogeymen—but in his eyes I saw something to worry about. He was scared, and that meant they were real.
Now an unnoticeable had come to The Show.
I had always pictured these strange out-of-focus people as puppets wearing dark suits, with vulture eyes behind tinted sunglasses—not as someone young vying for the attention of a pretty girl who couldn’t be bothered. And I knew Evie would want me to keep my distance, but I crept closer while she pretended to listen to the man beside her, using our mechanical dragon, Bijou, as an excuse to ignore him.
She stroked Bijou’s nose, igniting the switch behind his top horn that made him stand on his haunches. The waning sun caught the underside of his wings, burning across rows of jewels set into titanium alloy between the joints. Shafts of light cast off Bijou’s jewels speared through the unnoticeable, so they came out on the other side of his body. He had no shadow.
I could see him, but he was no more than a whisper on the wind.
The unnoticeable ducked his head closer to my sister’s ear and said something that made her look away; that’s when she saw me. Our eyes met long enough for me to understand that I should leave, but without me she had no one to help her. If nothing else, I could claim Evie needed to get onto her mark before she was missed.
Another step closer, and I could hear Evie’s voice.
“This is neither the time nor the place.” She spoke with the rasp that developed when she was afraid.
“There are only a few minutes,” the unnoticeable said.
He stepped forward, and so did I. Evie’s eyes snapped back to mine as she arched her eyebrows. Another signal for me to move along, but this time he wanted to see what had taken her attention.
“Who—” he started, drawing himself up tall and straight, the way men do when they think they’re being intimidating. “Who are you?”
He wrapped his hand around her arm, now solid enough that his fingers dented her skin, and pulled her back—but he still had no shadow. I felt the first flush of panic burn behind my ears, smelled the crackling ozone in the air around me as small pebbles began to vibrate at my feet. How could someone without substance touch anything?
“That’s my brother being overprotective of the person who changed his diapers,” Evie said lightly.
Brother. Right. I had to keep control of myself, watch my manners and my voice. Penelope had to remain Penn’s secret.
“Off with you, Penn,” Evie ordered, freeing herself from the unnoticeable’s grasp. Annoyed, he pulled a cardboard pack from his jacket and took out a cigarette. “Keep your eyes on things that concern you.”
And make sure official eyes have no reason to find you.
I finished the rest of our father’s warning in my head. Silently, I asked his forgiveness for disobeying. I didn’t trust myself to move; I was too angry.
“I’m already running behind, and I haven’t even lit Bijou for the night,” Evie said.
“Do you need a light?” the unnoticeable asked.
He struck a match.
“I can manage.” Evie laughed nervously. She cupped her hand around the end and stole the flame, so it flourished in her open palm.
Using her gift outside our arena was dangerous for everyone who carried the Roma name. So long as our father was with us, we were protected, but he’d been gone for weeks, and without him . . .
I made her expose herself. To an unnoticeable.
The cigarette tumbled to the ground as he spluttered, “The rumors are true?”
I glanced down, to see if the cigarette was real, but it wasn’t there, either. The ground was smooth dirt, undisturbed. This man was here and not here at the same time. He was as impossible as Evie stealing a flame she couldn’t have touched.
“Never trust your eyes at The Show.” Evie smiled at him coyly, but didn’t quite pull it off. “They’re in on the act, and we’ve convinced them to lie to you.”
She blew across her fingers so the flame drifted off their tips into Bijou’s snout. It was blown back out as a fire spurt that brought nearby children running and cheering for more.
By the time the sparks had faded, I was gone.
Behind the big top, The Show’s train sat braked on the tracks, swirling with reflected lantern light. No plain engine would do for my father—he’d created a three-level city on rails to accommodate our numbers. And then he’d fixed it so that we could travel anywhere, whether there were railways in place or not. The Show carried its own, laying track and picking it up as the train rolled. It was the perfect mix of old school and new age.
These wheels have tasted the air of a thousand towns, my father said, in the same way he claimed to have seen sunrise from every angle. Never sunset, though. Beginnings were far more interesting than endings. One held promise, the other only darkness.
We have mapped this world across the skies. Its boundaries are marked by the ebb and flow of smoke from our stack. For Magnus Roma, there was no meeting of strangers, only reunions with friends he’d once passed and promised to revisit.
I let myself in through the last car and made my way down the corridor. Under my breath, I counted steps, recited rhymes, did all the things my father had taught me to keep myself in check, but still the chandeliers rattled overhead.
“Stop it!” I shouted, and they did, but frustration kept breaking surface in my thoughts—the first bubbles in a pot about to boil.
I brushed aside the curtains of beaded scarves to enter as always, ran my hands over the same carved wooden trunks, and threaded my fingers through the same meticulously crafted wigs, but there was no sense of “same.”
Just before my sixteenth birthday, when Papa disappeared, I thought he’d gone on one of his deliveries. He bought our safety with the tech he developed for the Wardens’ Commission, and several days a year were dedicated to demonstration and delivery, but this felt different. He’d been gone too long. Without him, the walls he’d built between our circus and the outside world would crumble. The cracks had already begun to show—the warden, and Evie’s unnoticeable. Soon we wouldn’t be able to pretend anymore. Everyone would know that my sisters’ abilities weren’t a matter of creative lighting and mechanics. They’d know that Penn was really Penelope. My family was touched—the kindest way of saying contaminated, though saying it wasn’t kindness at all. Since the Great Illusion, anything different was in danger of being called alien. To be touched was to be more than human, but somehow less than human, too.
Blue sparks crackled between my fingers. I made a fist to cage them, but fear had started a chain reaction, and I wasn’t sure I could stop it.
The official stories told us that the Medusae hadn’t done anything other than watch, but there were changes. Pockets of people all over the world were suddenly blessed or cursed with abilities that had never been seen outside children’s stories. The first gifted girl was born the day the Medusae disappeared. More followed, all girls. Always girls.
It began with fire, and crying infants who were inexplicably at the center of an inferno with no cause. Parents trying to save them would be burned by the flames, but the babies were not. There weren’t many in the first wave, and they were spread out over the globe, so no one put it together, but others were born, and with them, more fires.
In families that survived one touched girl, their next child was another kind of nightmare. Rather than spawning flames, she would cry over a dirty diaper, and sprinklers would go off; showerheads would burst. Families would wake to find bubbling fountains had erupted in the night, even in the desert.
By this point, neighbors were talking and the families considered moving to stop the gossip, but things didn’t get really strange until a few of them had their third daughter. This one, they would believe normal, or as the more desperate said, human, but that only lasted a few days. By then, the parents noticed that their floors were always dusty and their planters overflowing with earth. Lay the infant on the ground, and she’d soon be surrounded by rocks. Sometimes those rocks were diamonds. Her tantrums could shake the house, if not the block.
The Medusae had altered Earth’s children, but only some of them. Everyone else was left mundane and scared.
Of course no one ever met a gifted girl, or saw one use her power in person. They were always tales from other towns, overheard and passed along by friends and distant relatives. Try to find one, and you’d discover that the girl in question had moved, at night—leaving no trail, almost like she’d never existed in the first place. There would always be a helpful warden on hand to assure the neighborhood that there was nothing to worry about.
If my sisters were discovered, we’d disappear, too—only our father refused to run. He built The Show to hide his girls in plain sight and prove to everyone who ever saw them that there was no need to be afraid. The plan had worked so well that we couldn’t be blotted out of common memory. We had to be ruined. The Wardens’ Commission would make sure our fall was seen, maybe even fatal. That night, there could be no mistakes. I absolutely could not lose my temper.
I set about readying my sisters’ costumes.
Nieva—Evie—wore a heavy dress of glass and metal ribbon, gathered above her knees in the front. It had to be polished so her flames would make it shine.
Nim’s was made from the stuff they use to build weather balloons. A gown that flowed like water, light and cool, but she called it cold as dead skin.
Anise hated her dirt-laden dust coat and high leather boots. She hated being on display, period, but she bore her part, as they all did.
That left only Vesper. I always left her for last.
So many people were terrified of having touched children that it was rare to have a third daughter in the same family. Girls like Vesper, who came fourth, seemed impossible. She could play the winds like a harp. Her costume was beautiful, bright white silk that floated around her when she moved. I could smell the sunshine trapped in the fibers, and it nearly made me cry.
Vesper and I were two years apart, but we could have passed for twins, aside from the color of our eyes. For me, she was a reminder of the life I would always be denied.
Fourth daughters were rare, but fifth were unheard of. If the Commission even suspected that I wasn’t a boy, it wouldn’t matter what my father offered them in exchange. They would stop turning a blind eye to our unnaturalness; all of his inventions combined weren’t worth the oddity of me.
I lifted Vesper’s wig reverently, and set it on my head in front of the mirror. Piles of gold ringlets covered the short chestnut tragedy of my own hair, while longer bits curled around my face. She was scared of the wig, fearing it would catch on something and drag her down, but without it, we looked too similar. She wouldn’t risk me being mistaken for myself.
I slid my feet out of my boots and into her shining white heels, then slipped her dress from its hanger. Like this, I looked the way I was supposed to—like Penelope, youngest daughter of Magnus and Iva Roma, rather than Penn, the son who was never born. Maybe my hair wasn’t blonde, but I would let it grow as long as Vesper’s wig. I could walk beside Jermay, even hold his hand or steal a kiss, and no one would care.
Penelope hated Penn.
“You can’t do this, Penn. Not tonight,” Evie said from the door. She’d entered quietly, but I heard her. She snatched at the wig, pulling it from my head so fast that I fell off Vesper’s shoes.
“Can’t you use my name when there’s no one else here?” I asked.
When she reached down to help me up, there was another scent on her besides her apple shampoo. Bitter and sooty as a freshly doused campfire. Dealing with the unnoticeable had tried her temper, nearly to the point of flaming out.
“Penn is your name.” Evie put her fingers in my hair and tried to smooth down the bits that had caught in the wig, then unceremoniously whisked the dress off my shoulders.
“I’m tired of hiding—I don’t want to be a coward anymore!”
“Nim’s been whispering in your ear again, hasn’t she?”
“You walked away rather than doing something foolish, Chey-chey.” Evie’s voice softened. “If Papa doesn’t return—”
“Don’t say that!”
“I must say it.” The whites of her eyes turned red with tears. “We create illusions for others, but cannot afford to believe them ourselves. If they come for us, Nagendra will be lucky to see a prison cell. Birdie would be homeless again, and you—” Evie placed her hands on my face. “It’s too much to risk for a daydream. All right, little brother?”
I nodded, trying not to shiver in the chill air without Vesper’s costume.
“We’re leaving tomorrow, I swear. But for now, Penn Roma must prove himself to be his father’s son.”
The irony was that my parents had had a son. He was born the same night as I, only second rather than first. Had we been born in the opposite order, then he might still be alive and I might be Penelope proper—but I was impatient, and charged ahead. If there had been any doubt that I was touched, it died with my first cries, when my newborn temper shook the stars from the sky. Burning hail struck my brother dead.
No matter how important my father or his creations, my curse was something new. My mother christened it “singing down the stars” to make it sound like a gift, but what I could do was fearsome and dangerous and powerful, so my parents buried my brother nameless, claiming only one child had been born. For extra protection, they claimed that child was male. I became a ghost in my own body, hiding behind the boy I killed. They’d waited so long to have a son, and I stole him from them; the sorrow of it took my mother shortly after.
Evie opened a small case on the table and pulled out a roll of bandages to reinforce the ones I already wore.
“Arms up,” she ordered, but her voice was no longer angry. “You should have been born with Nim’s figure, then we wouldn’t need these.”
She winked at me, but I wasn’t in the mood for jokes.
“Me with her figure, and her in my place.”
“No.” Evie shook her head.
She wrapped the bandages around my chest, over layers that the day’s movement had loosened. She tugged them as tight as possible, until the pain of it made me forget how hard it was to breathe. When I was small, I thought getting to dress like my father made me special, but all that being special had ever won me was misery.
“We’re all fortunate that you’re our little sister, little brother,” Evie said. “Were it Nim in your place, this family would have known only darker days. Her temper wouldn’t stay so simply hidden.”
True. If Nim could have done it, she would have called the heavens down at the first flash of a Commission patch, and likely burned us all before she realized what she’d done.
“And that’s why you’re not going to mention any unusual guests to Nim or anyone else until we know there’s reason to worry. Say it, Penn.”
“I won’t tell anyone,” I promised. But a forced promise was the kind I’d never had a problem breaking, if I had to.
Evie snapped her fingers to brighten the room by the strength of the glow she hid among outsiders. It was a parlor trick that had enchanted me as a child, when I was foolish enough to ask if I’d shine when I was grown. She said I was born brighter than she could ever hope to be, but no one could see their own light.
Such a lovely lie.
Tears hit and ran down my cheeks, but I didn’t have the air to truly cry. Evie didn’t stop wrapping until she had covered my entire torso, changing my silhouette against the wall, and burying Penelope deeper inside Penn. She reached for the lime trousers I had discarded. I fumbled with the buttons of my shirt, finding she’d wrapped me tighter than usual. She knocked my hands aside and finished for me, snapping our father’s suspenders into place and straightening the ugly purple stripe on my trouser legs. My feet, which seemed so delicate inside Vesper’s heels, disappeared into grotesque, flat boots, while Evie hung a pinstriped coat over my shoulders.
Everything was cut thick and sharp, creating the illusion of lines that didn’t exist, and replacing the curves that belonged on a teenage girl with the straight planes of her twin. It didn’t seem fair. He only had to die once; Penelope was murdered every night before The Show.
“There,” Evie said, and tried to smile. “You look perfect.”
“I look like a boy.”
“Chey-chey . . .”
“I’m not a child! And I don’t want to be . . . this . . . anymore!” I was shouting. She had squeezed too tight, and the pressure forced the words free.
“You can last these few hours.” Evie plucked a scarf from its place draped over one of the wardrobe doors, used it to wipe my face dry, then folded it into my pocket. “Tonight, Penn will be so perfect a boy that the rich men and women will hide their daughters from him. Then we will get back on the train, and disappear. Once we’re moving, Penelope can cry or put on a pretty dress or use a wig to make her hair longer, and I won’t say a word. We’ll go home to the Hollow and see if Papa isn’t waiting as he promised.”
“What if I make a mistake? It’s more than the unnoticeable; there’s a warden out there, Evie. I doubt he’s here for entertainment.”
“Take this,” she said, reaching into the beaded bag slung across her chest to pull out a small jeweled lizard.
“You collapsed Bijou?”
The miniaturized dragon stretched himself out from snout to tail, shaking off the bits of string that had snagged on his scales inside the bag. Curls of smoke still wafted out of his nostrils, but he didn’t blow fire. He beat his hummingbird wings to lift himself toward my shoulders.
“You need him more than The Show does.”
Bijou tucked his wings against his body, curling his tail into a jeweled choker, which could barely be seen beneath my oversized cravat.
“If you feel yourself slipping, let Bijou’s weight remind you to pull back. You will be strong, Chey-chey, because you are a child of Magnus Roma, and there is no weakness in you.”
She held her palm up flat to mine, allowing hers to ignite against my skin. Fire never burned me when she held it.
“You have more strength than you know—enough to crush them. They don’t need to see it for it to be true. You are Celestine, and they cannot hurt you.”
But they could—they had—and there was no way to forget that. All I could do was nod and pretend to agree with her, adding one last lie to the pile of others balanced on my shoulders.
SING DOWN THE STARS
When they arrived, they spread across the sky like a sea of jellyfish—silent, unknown, alien. When they left, a year later, it seemed as if nothing had changed. But soon, certain girls were born with peculiar abilities—inhuman abilities. An international commission was formed to investigate…and fear began to spread. Families were swept from their homes and, one by one, any girl that was different disappeared.
Penn Roma’s four sisters were born with these dreaded powers: they control the elements of fire, water, earth, and wind.
Penn is the unimaginable fifth child, one with the power to call down the stars.
CALL FORTH THE WAVES
Earth, not so very long from now: the silent, inscrutable alien visitors who bathed the planet in transforming rains have moved on, leaving behind a world much changed.
Penn Roma, age sixteen, is blessed—or cursed—with supernatural talents she has always concealed. Her sisters, likewise afflicted, are prisoners of the Commission, the government agency tasked with controlling these strange children. Penn’s determination to save them only gains urgency when she learns of the horrifying plans the twisted Warden Dodge has for the peculiar charges.
But Penn herself must remain hidden, navigating a series of fantastical havens with her embattled allies, similarly enhanced teens also in the Commission’s crosshairs. Worse, her vast, half-understood powers have become unpredictable, failing at critical moments and activating outside of her control.
Can Penn trust a rogue warden, supposedly opposed to Dodge’s schemes, to help free her family…or has the Commission set its most nefarious trap yet?
About the Author
L.J. Hatton is a Texan, born and raised. She sometimes refers to the towns she's lived in by the movies filmed in them, and if she wasn't working as a professional pretender, she'd likely be holed up in a lab somewhere doing genetics research.
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