Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for ONE GIRL IN ALL THE WORLD by Kendare Blake! I’m so excited because today I have an excerpt of the book to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so excited to for you to find out more about it, PLUS enter for a chance to win a print copy!
Series: In Every Generation #2
Published on January 31, 2023 by Disney-Hyperion
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, YA
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Author Links: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram
Frankie Rosenberg is coming to terms with the fact that she’s the newest slayer, but that doesn’t mean she has it all figured out just yet. She and her friends are still reeling from the deadly attack on the annual slayer retreat—and the new revelation that some slayers may still be alive. She’s got her own Scooby Gang, but sometimes feels more on the outside than ever. She throws herself into training with her mom, the great witch Willow, and her new Watcher, Spike, but they’ve got demons of their own to contend with (both of the real and metaphorical variety). Buffy made it look easy, but being a slayer is hard—and lonely.
But Frankie doesn’t have time to wander through Sunnydale Cemetery singing about her new responsibilities. With news of Buffy’s possible demise, Demons are making their way back to Sunnydale in droves, called by a Hellmouth that is starting to reawaken. And then an oracle brings news of a new Evil brewing…something called The Darkness. Could this be what attacked the slayers? And is it coming for Frankie?
The woman cut a slim silhouette against the sunset as she walked along the deserted highway. It was a long walk on the way to nowhere: this particular road had been bypassed and blocked-off— she’d slipped past two very broken down ‘road closed’ signs—and ended on the edge of what was briefly the great Sunnydale sinkhole. Of course that sinkhole didn’t last; it was quickly shored up with dirt to become the shiny New Sunnydale with a much lower elevation.
It was a long walk but she wasn’t tired, she was a slayer, after all, it took a lot more than cooling desert and flat asphalt to wear her out—but she was weary. Weary in her bones, weary in her soul. She adjusted the bag on her shoulders and kept going, until she reached the spot where their bus had stopped after they’d defeated the First. Where Buffy had gotten out and looked over the destruction. Where she had started making plans for all of their futures.
The woman kicked pebbles and watched them roll down the hill, now a nice, sloping incline rather than a sheer dropoff into hell, and frowned at New Sunnydale glittering below. All of those people, living like nothing had happened. Sinkhole? What sinkhole? I’m sure that collapse was just a one time thing. No reason to waste all this prime California real estate.
She scowled down from beneath her hood. They were idiots, all of them. Optimistic idiots. The entire place was cursed; she felt it the moment she portaled in. The wrongness. The wicked current, pulsing through the soil. The . . . hellmouth residue, getting all over everything. She knew she had a slayer’s senses, but there was no way that regular people didn’t feel it. That much seeping evil left a mark. It weaved through a person. It became a part of them, so much so that the whole damn citizenry had evacuated before it all went down, without having to be told. They just knew.
But people were people, and they’d rebuilt it anyway. Just like people had rebuilt the Overlook Hotel. Or the ones who kept on building houses on top of old cemeteries without moving the bodies first. Those were just movies, sure, but the rebuilding was realistic. When it came to their own destruction, humans were predictably industrious. So New Sunnydale had risen from the ashes. And then the red witch had returned to watch over it, and give birth to her little abomination.
The woman swallowed. It felt foolish to even set one foot on that unstable ground, but she did it, one foot after the other, down and down and down, through shrubs and young trees, past silent bull dozers and construction equipment—because even after eighteen years the city was still a work-in-progress—until she reached the street. From there she let her slayer sense guide her, but even if she hadn’t had it she would have known the way to the hellmouth by following the school signs. In grand Sunnydale tradition, the idiots had built the high school again, right on top.
When she reached it she stood outside, staring down the brick and the stark white walls, the flowering vines with their blossoms closed for the night. New Sunnydale High School was clean and crisp, lit by so many streetlights that it was a challenge to find shadows to slip into. I am not evil at all, it declared. But it was lying. She broke in through a back door near the sports field—and by ‘broke in’ she meant opened an unlocked door without permission— and made her way to the basement.
And to the hellmouth.
Being so close to it sent goosebumps up and down the backs of her arms. It made her want to run away. It made her want to scream. And even though there was no definitive marking, no X-marks-the hellmouth, she knew just where it was. And it felt like it knew just where she was, too.
Before she could hesitate, she walked to it and took off her pack, then reached inside to pull out a large, glowing orb. It was bright and almost pretty, the green swirled through with flecks of blue like bits of glitter on a sea of thick paint. It looked a little like a bowling ball, if bowling balls could throb, and it cast the entire space in a strange, ethereal green. Not terribly stealthy. After a moment of deliberation, she grabbed a fire blanket off of a shelf, and used it to cover the orb before setting it down on top of the hellmouth.
She let go of it gently, expecting it to roll. But it stuck. So firmly and so fast she wondered if she’d have been able to pick it up again, not that she bothered to try. That’s where it belonged, after all. A nice, welcome back present for the hellmouth. Something to draw its favorite demons, like a demon magnet, or a demon beacon.
It would give the new slayer something to do, anyway. The woman stood.
“Phase one, commenced,” she said, before tugging her hood down lower and slipping out of the school the same way she came in.
The Vampire Welcoming Committee
New Sunnydale Cemetery was a pretty nice meeting place. Green. Spacious. Bordered and dotted with leafy trees that whispered in the dark. White stone pavilions had been erected here and there, to serve as a housing for flowering vines, and the hedges were full and well-groomed, planted in rows and groves so as to create corners and private spaces. For mourning, or picnics—concealing crouching demons or what have you. The point is, some landscape designer had an absolute field day with the place, and the end result was more akin to a park than a resting place for the dead.
It didn’t suit the vampire at all. He sniffed, and caught the faint perfume of roses. He narrowed his yellow eyes but the white marble benches only stood out brighter beneath the light of the waxing crescent moon. He’d only just arrived in town after catching the number twenty-nine bus up from Phoenix, long hours of being a sun-fearing lump underneath a fire blanket, of bored kids running up and down the aisles, of bathroom stops and the sound of plastic wrappers being torn off of gas station snack foods. Gas station snack foods made the blood nice and greasy. Once the sun went down he’d considered popping up and eating the whole bus. But then he’d have had to drive the rest of the way, and he was still better on a horse than a stick shift. Besides, he wanted to save his appetite for Sunnydale.
Sunnydale, California. Mother of the hellmouth. Cradle of monsters. A town that had seen more carnage than a stack of scary movies. It had been dormant for decades, languishing under the protection of the slayers, and the red-haired witch who broke the world. But lately Sunnydale—or more accurately, the hellmouth that dwelled beneath it—had started to pulse, and the ears and snouts of demons everywhere turned again toward the heartbeat. The hellmouth was calling. Begging its children to tear away the facade of the city: the palm trees and street fairs, the coffee shops on every corner—and let it show its true, wicked face.
The slayers were gone, whisked away, right off the earth; killed in an explosion said some, or by a massive spell, said others. No fewer than five demon doomsday cults had tried to take credit, but the vampire didn’t care one way or another who was responsible. He only cared that they were dead, and Sunnydale was his for the taking.
He paused at a fresh grave and placed his hand against the loosely packed soil, listening for another vampire waking below. He could use a local to show him the ins and outs. In all his hundred years of afterlife he’d never been to Sunnydale. He preferred to spend his time in the southwest where he’d been turned. He liked to lure tour groups out to the ghost towns. Then he would set the corpses up in the ruins of an old saloon, like mannequins, to con fuse whatever poor sap eventually found them. By his count, he’d killed four thousand, two hundred and nineteen people. More than that, actually, because it had taken him a few years to start counting, marking each with a notch in the holster of his six-shooter, which gradually became notches in a belt: first brown leather, then black, now some clever new leather made from the skins of cactuses. He’d buried belts filled with notches all over the territories of Nevada, and Arizona, down into western Texas. But the cactus belt was new. Notch-free. And he planned to fill it with notches for Sunnydale townsfolk.
But the legendary city of the hellmouth was falling short of the stories. The streets he’d walked through on the way from the bus station were too clean, marked by engraved paving stones and made bright by solar lights. And now the cemetery—with its new, straight headstones and demure, marble grave markers. From somewhere not far off he heard the soft gurgling of a fountain, and frowned.
Where were the rowdy demon bars? The demon gambling that went on until near dawn, bloodthirsty creatures around a card table racking up huge debts of kittens? Where were the cracked, spider filled crypts? Where were the foolish teenagers, making out in cars, begging for their throats to be ripped out?
And then, as if she’d heard his wish, there came a voice through the darkness. A girl’s voice, from several rows of graves over. A soft glow emanated from that direction, too, as if from candles, and he licked his fangs. The little idiot was in the graveyard holding a seance. Humans were a useless lot—useless in his time, and in the century between it seemed they’d only gotten worse—but he did appreciate their constant fascination with the great beyond.
He crept through the graves, savoring the increasing nearness of the kill, the glimpses of her in the space between the headstones. Oh but she was a pretty thing. Long, black hair, straight as a horse’s tail. Big, brown eyes made warm by the candlelight. And dark, red lips. She wore a collar, too, the kind a mean dog might wear, with silver studs and a buckle. That struck him as odd, but he didn’t waste much time considering the fashion choices of his dinner. And she wasn’t alone! His mouth watered as his second course came into view: a fine-looking Black lad sitting across from her in the grass, holding a candle and trying not to get burned by the wax. They didn’t look like they belonged much together; his buttoned shirt was pressed like a good mama would have done it, and his eyes behind the lenses of his glasses were focused and calm while the girl’s were restless and narrowed.
He would eat the girl first. He saw her first, after all, and it would be kind of fun watching the calm leave the boy’s carefully composed expression. He wondered if the boy would run. Or if he would try to fight back. He would probably freeze like a frightened deer, and simply wait for his turn.
The vampire crouched, ready to spring. He was so focused on his meal that he failed to notice the other girl running swiftly toward him through the cemetery. She leapt up onto the headstone beside him, and caught him totally by surprise with a flying back kick.
“Hi!” Frankie said, trying to keep her voice perky and semi welcoming as the vamp rolled upright in the grass. “Where ya from?”
His only response was a growl, and he got to his feet in one smooth motion, a twist as graceful as a gymnast off a mat. So graceful that Frankie made a mental note to practice it later with Spike. The vampire brushed imagined dirt off of his finely cut black suit, and the moonlight caught on the silver of his rather large and intricately designed belt buckle. It looked like a snake, intertwined with a . . . what did they call those western ropes? A lariat. It looked like a snake entwined with a lariat.
“That is a really nice belt buckle,” Frankie said, and pointed with the tip of her stake.
“Thank you, darlin’,” he said, and she wrinkled her nose at his accent. “You’ll be adorning the belt it’s attached to momentarily. The first notch, right about here—” he tapped the space just left of the buckle.
“Seems like a waste of good leather. Marking it up like that,” she said, and to her surprise he straightened and looked down at it with a shrug.
“You know, I actually don’t know whether it’ll suit for notching. It’s some newfangled kind of leather, made from cactus skins.” Frankie lowered her stake. “Really?” Her eyes widened. It looked just like high quality leather. “That is such a cool eco-alternative!” “Frankie.”
The vampire looked over the headstones at Hailey and Sigmund, who had stood, still holding their candles.
“Get that stake back up,” Hailey said. “Eco-friendly or not, the vamp must be dusted.”
“I know,” said Frankie. “But it seems like such a waste, to let the belt go poof with the rest of him. Think I can wrestle it off him first? Or maybe I can steal it with magic.”
“I don’t think your telekinesis is fine-tuned enough to unbuckle a belt and tug it through several belt loops,” said Sigmund. “And it’s an unnecessary risk.”
“I agree,” said Hailey, “But if you can, I wouldn’t mind having that belt buckle. It’s kind of badass.”
“What is happening here?” the vampire asked. The girl with the messy red bun on the top of her head carried a stake. And she kicked harder than his old pistol.
“I’m sorry,” said Frankie. “You’re right. This is supposed to be about you. So as I was saying, where ya from?”
“Did you come by bus or by car?” Sigmund asked, setting down his candle and picking up his cloth-bound journal. “By train? By cargo plane perhaps?”
The vampire looked from Frankie to Sigmund and back again. Then he reached out and grabbed Frankie by the shoulders, and threw her over three rows of graves. She landed in the grass, but not before bouncing off the headstone of one Michael Truman, 1958–2021.
“Ow,” she groaned. “Why don’t they make headstones softer?” “Padded headstones,” said Hailey. “Definitely something to consider. Watch out on your right!”
The vampire pulled her up by the arm and she tried to smile as she looked into his fangy face, buying herself a moment to remember their next survey question. But before it came to her, he backhanded her across the jaw and sent her sailing. At least this time she missed the graves when she landed. The vamp leapt on her again and she thought she heard him mutter something about a little lady with no manners before she rolled backward and drove her heels into his chin, throwing him in a backward flip. He got up with a snarl—much less gracefully this time—and just as she was about to jump in with a fast kick-punch-spinning kick combination that Spike had demonstrated on her last week, the vampire was tackled by a blur of muscle and Sunnydale Razorbacks letter jacket. “Dammit, Jake!”
“I got him!” Jake cried, as the vampire twisted free. “Er, I don’t got him. But I’ll get him!” He threw a punch. The vampire ducked it, and sniffed.
“You smell like a werewolf,” he said. “What are you doing, fighting with these people?”
“Werewolves are people, too, bro,” Jake replied, and landed his punch this time, sending the vampire reeling.
“Jake,” Sigmund called. “The census!”
“Oh right.” Jake turned back to the vamp. “So, where’s that accent from? El Paso?” The vampire sprang, and Jake went down underneath the weight. “He’s surprisingly strong,” Jake groaned. “So he must be old . . . I’d say at least fifty, maybe over a hundred!” Sigmund jotted it down in his notebook just as Frankie drove her stake through the vampire’s back, and into the heart. He reared up in surprise and she had just enough time to gaze at the cactus-leather belt longingly before he, and it, exploded in a cloud of dust.
“Sorry,” she said as Jake coughed through the cloud. “I just, saw my opening.”
“He didn’t seem the talkative type anyway,” said Hailey. “I doubt you would have gotten much info even if you’d parried for an hour.” She prodded Sigmund fondly in the chest. “So much for tonight’s entry in the Sunnydale Vampire Census.”
“Perhaps this is a waste of time.” Sigmund adjusted his glasses on his nose, and even though he insisted that he had no demon powers from the Sage demon side of his family tree, Frankie thought she heard a snarl behind his sigh.
“No way, babe, this is a really good idea.” Hailey slipped her arm around his shoulder. “Gathering data on where the demons are coming from will be totally useful in determining the reach of the hellmouth.” They’d started tracking demons at the first of the year, and so far, the farthest came from western Montana. Most were coming up from LA and Las Vegas. Nothing really from the Midwest, which had made Sigmund postulate that perhaps the hellmouth in Sunnydale was respecting the territory of the hellmouth in Ohio, though Frankie couldn’t imagine that hell mouths had a code of ethics.
Frankie wiped the point of her stake clean against the leg of her jeans and tucked it into the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt. “Well, he definitely had an accent. And I think I heard him call me, ‘little lady’.”
“What a condescending pig,” Hailey joked. “But no seriously, what a condescending pig.”
“I really wish I could’ve gotten that cactus belt. I mean, how cool is that? Plant belts.” She eyed Hailey’s black studded choker. Maybe she could get her a cactus-leather choker for her birthday! If Hailey ever told her when her birthday was. Getting personal details from Hailey was like pulling teeth sometimes.
“I was trying to hold him up so you could steal it,” said Jake. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Frankie clapped a bit of vampire dust off the chest of his jacket and he smiled. He was tired though, she could tell; he’d met up with them in the cemetery after lacrosse practice. And he was rusty: more lacrosse practice meant fewer patrols and less training. They hadn’t seen much of him since the start of February, when the season started. He might be scarce until at least May, longer if they made the playoffs, which was highly unlikely given their badness. Frankie had never been so grateful for the Sunnydale Razorback’s lack of sports ability. She missed Jake. She needed him around.
“Can we go home now?” Jake asked, yawning. “I have an early captain’s meeting before school.”
“And you have an early Scooby meeting after that,” said Frankie. Jake groaned. “Can we move it to our free period? Isn’t that why your mom mojoed our schedules to match?”
“Fine, whiner, I’ll text Spike.” Hailey slipped her arm through Sigmund’s and kissed him on the cheek. “I’m so glad you decided not to go out for lacrosse. At least one of our demons has his priori ties straight.”
Sigmund smiled happily. “Jake has to have a sports-slay balance. He did warn us.”
“I did.” Jake gave Sigmund a nod, like he was touched that Sigmund remembered.
“Well, what should we mark this vampire down as?” Sigmund asked. He reopened his journal. “If we had to guess. Even a region, might be helpful.”
“Arizona,” Hailey said after a moment of contemplation. “Tombstone, Arizona.”
“That’s a pretty specific guess,” said Sigmund, writing it down. “Well, he just seemed like such a cowboy. And in that black suit? Like a gentleman cowboy. Like Doc Holliday.” Her eyes widened. “You don’t think he WAS Doc Holliday?”
“I hope not,” Frankie said as she led them out of the cemetery. “If he was, he was too easy to take down.”
Sigmund chuckled, and she tugged down the edge of his notepad to read what he had written:
February 9-the night Frankie the vampire slayer slayed Doc Holliday.
“Sigmund,” she mock-scolded. “You know that’s how rumors get started.”
But Hailey only laughed. “You mean that’s how legends get started.”
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What do you think about One Girl in All the World? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!