My good friend, the fabulous writer Veronica Wolff, with whom I often share very productive writing dates, is an accomplished author of Scottish historical romance (that’s Veronica above her wonderful husband Adam and me at my holiday party). But this month she has a new venture. A young adult novel, The Isle of Night, the first book in The Watchers series.

IS LIFE OFFERING FEWER AND FEWER OPTIONS? THEN JOIN THE DEAD.
When Annelise left for college, it meant good riddance to her abusive father and stepmother—until a bureaucratic screw-up left her without a diploma, flat broke, and facing an uncertain future Then she met Ronan—tall, dark, and way too seductive for her own good. He promised Annelise a new life, if she had the courage to chance the unknown. One look at him and she certainly had the desire. Sure enough, accepting rides from strangers does yield surprises.

Whisked away to a mysterious island in the North Sea, Annelise is pitted against other female recruits in tests of skill, smarts, and strength. To win is to become a member of the Watchers, an elite and unique partnership—with vampires—that dispatches its teams on the most dangerous missions imaginable. It’s not exactly what Annelise had in mind for a new beginning but it’s livelier than the alternative. Because on the Isle of Night, to lose the challenge doesn’t just mean dishonor. It means death.

Let the games begin.

In talking to Veronica, I was intrigued to learn that one of the inspirations for the Watchers was the television show Alias. It makes sense that Alias would inspire a story of a young woman thrust into a world of danger and adventure. With its intricate spy plots, multi-generational conspiracy, and couples frequently on opposite sides, Alias was also an inspiration for the Charles & Mélanie/Malcolm & Suzanne books. I love how the same inspiration can lead to very different sorts of books.

Isle of Night has been getting some fantastic advance praise:

“Isle of Awesome.” – Young Adult Books Central

“…one of the most dangerous, romantic, and exciting paranormal YA titles I’ve read all year.” – All Things Urban Fantasy

“Veronica Wolff’s world is a heady combo of terrifying and seductive… Annelise’s journey from brainy to fearsome is fantastic, and if you like your vampires old-school scary, fear not: Wolff’s have real bite.” – Rachel Caine, Internationally bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series

Here’s a brief taste of this fascinating story and world:

“My name is Claude Fournier, but you shall call me Headmaster Fournier.” He strolled along the length of the platform. “We use many formal terms of address. Tradition, you see, is the cornerstone on our isle, and though many of you might find our manners…passé”—he gave a little flourish with his hand—“if you embrace the old ways, you will soon find yourself a much improved young lady.”

Young lady? Something was wrong here.

“Our old ways, you see, are quite old.” He gave us a wicked pouting smile that made my instincts jangle in warning. “We live by a code. Only those who abide by our principles, succeed. Our standards are high, our expectations, higher. But a few will exceed expectations. They are the girls who shall flourish.”

What sort of school was this? All this talk of manners and traditions—something was definitely amiss.

“You see”—he paused dramatically—“we are Vampire.”

Some primal instinct in the back of my mind warned me to be very, very careful. I held still, expectantly, and I watched.

The chatter exploded again, but this time a broad laugh pealed above the din. It was Mimi.

Headmaster Fournier grew still as stone. His eyes swept the crowd—dancing over me for one chilling moment—and then rested on Mimi. “Do I amuse you?”

“Yeah,” she said, sounding bored.

“Then please”—he stretched out his hand—“come join me…” He raised his eyebrows, waiting for her name.

“Mimi.” She held her mouth open on the word as though too annoyed even to shut it.

“Girls, make way for your fellow student.” His indulgent tone of voice scared me more than the word vampire had. It was the sound of an adult ready to give someone a lesson.

Fournier took her hand, guiding her onto the stage. When he spoke again, it was gently, and only to her. It felt like we were spying on an intimate moment. “As I was saying, we are Vampire.”

She pulled her hand from his, shaking her head in disgust. “I seen some effed-up shit in Miami, pero esta casa de putas? Count me out, man.”

The next part happened so fast, at first my brain didn’t register what my eyes were seeing. And even when I got what I saw, it took me a few heartbeats to get it get it. I stared, frozen, from the inside out.

Mimi hung limply in Headmaster’s arms. Because he’d just shredded her belly up the middle.

He grinned at us with bloody lips, and I spotted one inhumanly long, razor-sharp tooth as it caught on the corner of his mouth.

A few heartbeats of silence, and then the girls began to scream.

Not me, though. I’d weathered casual cruelty before. It was random and merciless, and I knew not to court it. I forced my breath to draw in, then out. I imagined myself as inconspicuous as possible.

Eyja næturinnar. It was an island of darkness. I would fit in here.

Because if I didn’t, I’d die.

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You can see a fabulous trailer for Isle of Night here.

Veronica will be giving away a copy of Isle of Night to one of the commenters on this week’s blog. Do you have a favorite vampire story? Did you watch Alias? Can you see how it could have inspired both Veronica’s and my series?

By the way, this week’s Fraser Correspondence letter is Lady Frances’s response to Geoffrey Blackwell’s letter last week about his betrothal to Aline.