Happy Monday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for STUFFED INTO DARKNESS! 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 so excited to for you to find out more about it, PLUS enter for a chance to win a print copy!
Into Darkness by Liz Braswell
Series: Stuffed #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 4, 2021
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
No Stuffy has ever gone into the Darkness and returned....
Clark can’t wait to go away to camp this year. For the first time ever, he has actual friends to hang out with. Catherine-Lucille and D. A. will both be at Camp I Can with Clark, and C. L. has already promised to induct him into her exclusive camp club—the one for campers who know everything there is to know about the world of Monsters and how Stuffies protect kids from them. And now that he knows (or suspects . . . very strongly) that his grandma-made Stuffy, Foon, heroically saved his own father from a horrible fate, Clark is obviously bringing Foon to camp along with him.
But once Clark gets to camp, he and his friends discover things are off. There are strange, gooey findings in some of the bunks, the adults are acting weird, and, worst of all, their Stuffies and dolls go missing right at the moment they need them the most—when they go on the intersession camping trip and end up trapped in a creepy old cabin. What Clark and his friends don’t know, and what the mighty Foon soon discovers, is that the Monsters have launched a revenge campaign against Foon—a campaign that entails sucking the very life out of Clark. Now it’s up to Foon to enter the World of Darkness and take on the Monster in charge in order to stop the plot and save Clark’s life.
In the long tradition of Stuffies vs. Monsters, this one’s a battle for the ages—one that will certainly go down in Stuffy history.
“All right, sorry to rush this along, but we have dire things to discuss,” Catherine-Lucille said briskly. “Namely, how camp sucks this year.”
“It just isn’t the same,” D.A. agreed. “The food is terrible-er.”
“Yeah, I’ve been coming here for eight years,” James said. “I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything as bad as that shepherd pie tonight. For real.”
“Everything’s off ‘cause they’re missing, like, half the people who work here,” Saneema said, making a face. “My parents will totally not send me here next year if this keeps up. Especially if it’s mono or the flu or noro virus or something that everyone’s getting.”
“At least Miz Shirley is still here,” Scooter said. “I know she’s just a secretary but she’s the one who really holds the camp together. Plus she’s so nice. She’s the one who always hides the Purple Platypus,” she added in a whisper to Clark. “It’s supposed to be a secret, but it’s totally her.”
“And what about all the slime?” D.A. asked.
“There’s been a third slime sighting,” Catherine-Lucille said. “In Sunfish.”
“My old cabin!” Clark squeaked.
“So far the administration has said it’s an unusual fungal bloom, or bat vomit, or, my favorite: a prank.”
“A prank that smells like butt and ruins your stuff? Seems a little hardcore,” Saneema said with a frown.
“Ok, like, this should have been part of old business, I guess, but I think it’s relevant,” Scooter said. “Last session I found my Funko Pop Astrid and my stuffed anomalacaris canadiensis on the floor near my bunk near a pile of—man, I don’t know what it was. It wasn’t slime, exactly, but it was weird. Dirt and little bits of things—none of it made sense. Sharp and ugly and gross and springy. And it smelled bad.”
“Yours sounds like one of the lesser Monsters,” Catherine-Lucille said. “A crowd of them, maybe. Like Fegs. Did you see the photo I sent you guys from the Mo-fank forum? You can almost see the shine of their eyeballs from the flash. Usually their remains disappear, but not if, like, there were a ton of them. Your guys must have really taken an army out.”
“Also? Scooter?” Saneema said. “You are really freaking weird. Why can’t you just have a bear or a doll like everyone else?”
“Clark had a bunch of eyeballs fall on him,” D.A. said. “That’s pretty weird.”
“What Monster does that?” Scooter asked.
“So we are all thinking it’s Monsters, right?” James asked. “The slime, at least? I mean, the real slime. Not the food they’ve been serving.”
“Unless you’ve got a better idea than bat vomit,” Catherine-Lucille said.
“Ok, but if…if it is Monsters,” Clark said slowly, trying to work out something that didn’t feel right. “Why would they choose cabins, and campers, with Stuffies? Which they did, for at least two of them. You would think they would stay away from kids who were protected by Stuffies. And attack someone else. Someone undefended.”
“Hmm,” Catherine-Lucille narrowed her eyes and tapped her tooth in thought. “That’s an extremely good point.”
“Maybe their methods and motives are changing. Like, I heard that some of the Monsters are evolving,” James said. “Like, they’re figuring out how to get through phones and stuff. To travel to the other side.”
“Nope,” Saneema shook her head, refusing to believe.
Catherine-Lucille shrugged. “Kinda makes sense. Kids don’t play with toys as much as they used to cause of video games. What a great place for Monsters to slip in, to take up the space left behind.”
“Nothing wrong with video games,” Scooter said. “There’s room for both them and Stuffies.”
“Amen,” D.A. said with feeling. They tapped knuckles.
“Ok but there’s no video games here,” Saneema pointed out. “What does that even have to do with anything?”
“I’m just saying,” James said, “maybe the whole Monster situation is changing. How much do we really know know, anyway?”
“We know that Monsters attack kids, and Stuffies keep them away.” Catherine-Lucille said. “I mean, that’s pretty basic. So why aren’t these Stuffies keeping them away? Why are they…attracting them?”
“Well, what if their targets weren’t the kids?” Clark asked. “What if…it’s the Stuffies themselves?”
Silence fell. Everyone looked at him.
“Why?” Catherine-Lucille asked. She wasn’t saying it meanly or disagreeing: she was grim, but curious.
“I don’t know,” Clark said, shrugging. “But no campers have gotten sick as far as we know, right? Or started acting weird? Just all those counselors and …adults.”
“Right! So the Monsters aren’t succeeding in whatever it is they’re trying to do,” Saneema said. “Because the Stuffies killed them, right? Isn’t all that slime dead Monster stuff?”
“Not necessarily; some Monsters always leave traces, they shed stuff from their world. That’s how you can track them sometimes,” Catherine-Lucille said. “But let’s say Monsters were killed by the Stuffies…The Stuffies were then found and taken away. No more Stuffies to guard that kid, or that cabin.”
“So in a sense, the Monsters did accomplish something. If they were targeting Stuffies, I mean. They got them removed.”
“Great,” Saneema said, picking up a twig and throwing it down in disgust. “Camp is being invaded by Monsters. Clever ones.”
“All right, all right, look, this is exactly what we’re here for, soldiers,” Catherine-Lucille said, seeing the looks of fear and defeat on their faces. “Sure we help protect the occasional vulnerable Stuffy-less camper by making Stuffies for them. And sometimes we lend a hand to complicated problems like Clark’s last year…. But this is the real deal. Camp is being invaded, or Haunted.”
“Worse yet, some of us are going home this Friday and some of us are going on the camping trip. Camp will be completely abandoned and even more vulnerable over the weekend. When we get back, it will be a total disaster—a total Monster fest. And totally unsafe.”
“Don’t the counselors stay here?” Clark asked.
James laughed. “Heck no. Everyone spends their paychecks in town, or goes to the movies, or the pizza place—some even go home, although that’s frowned on. This place is like a ghost town. Even Miz Shirley disappears to take care of her gardens and birdfeeders.”
“So how do we stop the Monsters?” Saneema asked. “Especially if none of us are here on Saturday and Sunday?”
“Well, we can start by figuring out how they’re getting into camp,” Catherine-Lucille said. “We’re in the middle of nowhere. Monsters usually hate that. They like being around people they can torture and feed on. There’s no scary bedrooms here, and we keep all our stuff under the bunks. There’s no basements or attics for them to hide in. So where are they, and how are they getting here?
“We need to keep our eyes and ears open, listen at doors when the counselors are talking. We need to make sure every weird incident is reported to us. First. So we can see if there’s a pattern or something. We need to find every potentially scary location at the camp. Dark, deserted, dismal—Monster spots. We need to ID them and set up guards.
“And we need. To make. More. Stuffies.”
Copyright © 2021 by Liz Braswell
|Kait Plus Books||Excerpt|
|The Momma Spot||Review|
|For the Love of KidLit||Interview|
|Two Points of interest||Review|
|5/4/2021||Books a Plenty Book Reviews||
|Eli to the nth||Review|
|5/5/2021||The Book Nut : A Book Lovers Guide||
|Little Red Reads||Review|
|Lifestyle of Me||
|5/7/2021||A Dream Within A Dream||
What do you think about Stuffed: Into Darkness? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!