Soulshifter by Barbara Pietron
Genre: Young Adult
Publication: November 24th, 2015
Sixteen-year-old Jack Ironwood knew exactly what he wanted. Until he got it.Jack was content to stay unnoticed by pretty and popular track-star, Natalie Segetich, until he overhears her claim that something took her friend Emma. As a soulshifter who can cross into the underworld, Jack knows the human-stealing Enuuki—hell's messengers—are real and that a successful rescue mission would secure a future otherwise out of his reach. Working together, Jack and Natalie devise a plan to outwit the ruler of the underworld. Then on the eve of the quest, as Jack stands on the verge of seeing his dreams come true, he realizes he's no longer sure what he wants. But it's too late to back out. Pursued by the dark lord's henchmen and ghastly mutant creatures, Jack and Natalie struggle to come out ahead in a battle and barter for souls. In the end, Jack will have to decide his own fate, because nothing short of a deal with the devil will get all three of them out of hell alive.
Every sect member grew up hearing stories of the underworld god's throne built of human bones. But this structure, comprised of intricate work and delicate pieces, was unexpected. Jack gaped at the skulls which served as ornamentation, selectively placed at the top corners of the seat back as well as at the end of the arms. As he drew closer, revulsion churned in his stomach and threatened to climb up the back of his throat at the realization that the bones and skulls were too small to be adult.
"Welcome, Shifter." The voice issued from the black recess behind the throne. The underworld god's fiery red eyes materialized and the shadows seemed to coalesce until they fashioned the rough silhouette of a man. The crescent shape which composed the top of his angular head rose into peaks on either side, forming horns. The lord of the dead relaxed on his throne and watched Jack approach. When Jack stopped a respectable distance from the dais, Zalnic spoke again. "Jack Ironwood, I presume?" His voice rasped with the quality of gravel on cement.
That Zalnic knew who he was didn't surprise Jack, but the sound of his name coming from the lips of the underworld god made his blood run cold. All the things he'd planned to say turned to ash on his tongue.
Zalnic raised his eyebrows, causing his horns to twitch, an uncomfortable reminder of the specter's nature. "So… Jack—if I may call you Jack?" He didn't wait for an answer. "You realize you're quite late for the summer solstice?" He rose from his throne, disturbing the darkness from which he was made. Shadows trailed behind him like the train of a bridal gown as he stepped off the dais. "And for that matter, quite far from the artifact caves as well. If you're simply lost, perhaps I can direct you out?"
As the lord of souls approached, Jack's nose was assaulted with the odor of burnt ruins. Nothing like the familiar smell of summer campfires or smoldering autumn leaves, but the lingering odor after a house fire or a car crash—the stench of tragedy and loss. Repulsion inhibited his need to breathe and his hand rose unconsciously to his throat.
Yes. Yes, he wanted out.
About the Author
After years in the corporate world, Barbara found herself with a second chance to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her lifetime love of books and the written word returned one answer: writer. Drawing from her experience with technical writing, she began by writing non-fiction magazine pieces and achieved both regional and national publication. Her success encouraged her to complete a novel. She learned much from her first manuscript, critiques, books, contests, and blogs. In 2012, her novel Thunderstone, was a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and won a critique by Publisher's Weekly. A few months later, she was offered publication by Scribe Publishing Company.
Barbara has a few other novels in the works, including a Thunderstone sequel. If she's not reading or writing, Barbara likes to walk, garden, and sew. She works in a library and lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with her husband, daughter, and their cat – who often acts like a dog.
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