The bonds of family go well beyond blood. But can those bonds hold when the blood itself carries a devastating secret?
Welcome to one of the many stops on the book blitz for Child of Etherclaw by Matty Roberts with XPresso Book Tours. Look for others participating in this blitz across social media and on your favourite bookish blogs August 2-6, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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About the Book
Child of Etherclaw
by Matty Roberts
Published 2 August 2022
Twilight Fox LLC
Genre: YA Dystopian Science Fiction
Page Count: 350
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
The bonds of family go well beyond blood.
But can those bonds hold when the blood itself carries a devastating secret?
Fenlee’s opal necklace had always radiated a certain warmth since her mother’s death. But now, at sixteen, her world begins to unravel as the stone sparks to life, revealing itself to be an otherworldly artifact of untold power.
Between her mechatronics studies at the academy and scavenging expeditions beneath the sprawling city of New Cascadia, Fenlee and her adopted brother, Elliot, try to decipher the mysteries of her necklace and its link to events in Fenlee’s past.
But they’re not alone in their search.
Strange undercity dwellers offer cryptic warnings, drones track their movements, and deadly corporate agents lurk in the shadows. When tragedy rips Fenlee’s family apart, she must learn to use the artifact’s power to save those who are deeply precious to her. But nothing can prepare her for the dark truths that she will uncover on that journey…
“Lee,” Elliot mumbled. “I’m not who you think I am.”
As they turned to walk back to the street, Elliot sucked in a sharp breath and stopped. Three silhouettes appeared, blocking their path. It was hard to be sure, but Fenlee thought they were wearing the uniforms of the Cascadian Authority Security Forces. They’d blown the curfew. Hopefully the SecForce officers hadn’t been around long enough to see her drop Cipher into the vent.
Fenlee glanced behind her to verify what she already knew: they were cornered. There was no way out, and even the ventilation sha wouldn’t work—the grate was securely bolted with no way to remove it in the next couple of seconds.
The armored figure on the right addressed the shorter middle figure. “What do we do with the other one?” he asked, his voice muffled behind a mask.
“We take them both. I don’t know who the other is, but there can be no witnesses,” she replied.
Nothing about “no witnesses” sounded good to Fenlee. “Elliot,” she whispered, “get behind me.” She had no idea what to do, but this group had another thing coming if they thought they were going to harm her brother, SecForce or not.
“You two will come quietly,” the woman in the middle said. “Resist and suffer incapacitation.”
Fenlee was shaking as she grabbed a flimsy, broken piece of flex-conduit from the ground. “I’m going to charge ‘em. When I do, you run to the right, and don’t stop running until you’re home.”
Elliot tightened his grip on his backpack straps. “What? No, you can’t just—”
Fenlee crouched and barreled toward the woman, swinging the piece of conduit like a whip. The woman sidestepped just as Fenlee tripped over a piece of broken pavement. As she fell forward, the man on the le hit her between the shoulder blades with the butt of his weapon. The injury would have been severe if she hadn’t already been on her way down. She hit the ground, her ears filled with static, light exploding in her eyes.
“Lee!” Her brother’s call sounded distant and pained.
She quickly regained her senses, but was too dazed to react as the man bound her wrists behind her back. She strained to see her brother rooted to the same spot, petrified. You idiot. Why didn’t you run? You stupid, stupid idiot.
The woman grabbed a wad of Fenlee’s hair and yanked her head up from the rough pavement. “That was foolish, but inconsequential,” she said, and let Fenlee’s head slam back down. More explosions, and everything went blurry.
This was no curfew citation. Fenlee had heard of kidnappers disguised as SecForce taking children and teens alone at night and selling them to high-tier types with too much money. The lucky ones were live-in slaves while others served as toys for the sadistic until the fun ran out. That was the most likely explanation. Icy fear gripped her as she struggled against the bonds. These three may have had the uniforms, but nothing about this was standard procedure.
“Elliot, go! Just run, please!” Fenlee breathed the words through clenched teeth. She could only make out her brother’s outline as he backed himself further into the narrow V-shaped corner.
Fenlee tried to swim through the mud in her brain and come up with anything at all she could do. She was bound, lying face-down on the ground. Even if she could reach her pockets or pouches, nothing she was carrying would be useful.
This was the second time she’d put Elliot in danger. She was so selfish. I’m so sorry.
“Please run. Please, Elliot.” She mouthed the words, but nothing came out. Her brother had backed himself against a wall and wasn’t moving.
She felt a subtle warmth on her chest—small, but comforting and radiant. Etherclaw?
The three had le her and were slowly closing in on Elliot like a pack of wolves—hungry, but cautious. Were they afraid of him, or was the world just slowing? If this etherclaw thing was real, if it truly required an emotional trigger, it would work now or never. Fenlee closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. She visualized the SecForce trio and…and what? What could she do? Rip them apart like the Guardian drone? She couldn’t kill. No way. Maybe…DROP!
The man on the right lost his footing but quickly regained control, barely breaking stride. Fenlee didn’t know what was real—he could have easily tripped the same way she had.
The two men had their weapons trained on Elliot, and the woman’s hand was on her sidearm. “All right, kid,” she said. “You’re going to lie down on your stomach and stretch your arms out like wings. Now.”
Everything was sluggish. Fenlee wondered if her perception hadn’t slowed whether she would have missed the sleek figure moving at an impossible speed toward the SecForce trio. The silhouette was rim-lit, the light cutting a sharp outline of what Fenlee decided a human killing machine might look like.
The figure’s leg came up with blinding velocity and caught the man on the right in a crushing hook kick to the head. He slammed into the SecForce woman, knocking her flat as he continued to fly past, directly into the wall with enough force to shatter both his helmet and skull. A dark stain remained as his body dropped.
About the Author
Matty Roberts began their career in journalism where they earned an Emmy and had the privilege of working on several other award-winning projects. They hold an MS from Johns Hopkins University and are now an engineer in renewable energy in Denver, Colorado where they live with their wonderful partner, two extraordinary kids, and the best doggie ever.
In addition to writing, engineering, and parenting, Matty is a vegan enby nerd who is in love with this world and will forever be doing all they can to make it a better place. And they may be known to occasionally play in a punk band here or there.
For more information about Matty and their upcoming books, visit www.mattyroberts.io.
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)
$50 Amazon gift card + signed copy of Child of Etherclaw
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