Happy Sunday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE by James Patterson! 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!
Published on September 19, 2022 by Jimmy Patterson
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, YA
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My name is Hannah Dory and I need you to believe me
NOW: Hannah is brought to Belman Psych, told she is suffering from hallucinations and delusions. Hannah knows the truth: she must return to the past and save her sister. Could Jordan, the abnormal psych student who seems to truly care, be the answer she’s looking for?
1347: Hannah and her village are starving to death in a brutal winter. Hannah seeks out food and salvation in the baron’s castle. If she is caught stealing, she will surely hang. But if she and her friends succeed, she’ll save everyone she holds dear.
NOW: Jordan isn’t sure what to believe, and Hannah has even bigger problems: if she doesn’t make it back, her sister will die, but if she keeps going back, she might never escape.
It starts with a girl, half naked and screaming.
Even though it’s midtown Manhattan, in January, the girl is wearing only a thin white T-shirt over a black lace bra. She slaps at the air like she’s fighting an enemy only she can see.
A gangly teen, halfway through his first-ever shift at the Gap, watches her nervously through the window. Every other New Yorker just clutches their phone or their Starbucks cup and pretends not to see her.
Maybe they really don’t.
She lets out a tortured cry that strangles in her throat, and then she crumples to her knees. “How do we get out of the castle?” she wails. “They’re going to kill us all!”
A police car speeds up to the curb and two officers step out. “Are you hurt?” the first asks. DUNTHORPE, his name tag reads.
The girl’s answer is more wordless screaming.
“We need you to calm down, miss,” his partner, Haines, says.
“Are you hurt?” Dunthorpe asks again. He thinks he’s seen this girl around the neighborhood. Maybe she’s one of the shoplifters or the dopeheads—or maybe she’s just some scared, crazy kid. Either way, he can’t just let her stand here and scream bloody murder.
When Dunthorpe moves toward her, she drops to her hands and knees and starts crawling away. Haines tries to grab her, but the minute he touches her back, she spins around at the same time her right foot flies out, smashing into his chest. Haines loses his balance and falls backward, cursing. The girl stands up and tries to run, but she stumbles over her backpack and goes down on all fours again.
“Help me!” she screams. “Don’t let them take me! Call off the guards! They’ll kill me!”
As Dunthorpe moves toward her with one hand on his Taser, she launches herself forward and hits him in the face with a closed fist. He reels backward, roaring in surprise, as Haines springs into action and gets her into a headlock.
Dunthorpe rubs his cheekbone and says, “Call the ambulance.”
“But the little bitch hit you.”
Dunthorpe’s cheek smarts. “That’ll be our secret.”
“You sure you don’t want to book her?” Haines’s arm tightens around the girl’s neck and her knees buckle. Quick as a snake, Haines gets behind her, grabs her hands, and cuffs them behind her back.
“I’m sure,” Dunthorpe says.
The girl keeps quiet until the ambulance comes, and then she starts screaming again. “Don’t let them take me!” she yells to the passersby as the two cops and an EMT wrestle her onto the gurney. “I have to save Mary. Oh, my sweet Mary!”
Strapped down, the girl wails over the sound of the ambulance siren.
“You can’t take me! I need to save Mary! No, no, you can’t take me!”
But of course, they can take her wherever they want to.
Half an hour later, the ambulance pulls up to the hospital, where a small but powerfully built nurse stands with her hands on her hips, waiting.
Arriving at the exact same time—but on foot, and voluntarily—is a handsome young man of nineteen or so. “Excuse me,” he says, peering at the nurse’s badge, “are you Amy Navarre? My name’s Jordan Hassan, and I think I’m supposed to shadow you—”
“You’ll have to wait,” Nurse Amy says curtly as the ambulance doors open.
Jordan Hassan shuts his mouth quick. He takes a step to the side as the EMTs slide a metal gurney out of the back. Strapped onto it is a girl, probably right about his age, with a dirty, tear-streaked face. She’s wearing a T-shirt and pair of boots but little else.
The nurse, who he’s pretty sure is supposed to be his supervisor for his class-credit internship this semester, walks toward the girl. “You can take the straps away,” she says to the EMT.
“I wouldn’t—” he begins.
The nurse looks at the girl. “It’s okay,” she says.
Jordan’s not sure if she’s reassuring the EMT or the girl. In any case, the EMT removes the restraints, and the nurse gently helps the girl off the stretcher. Jordan watches as the girl shuffles toward the entrance.
As the doors slide open automatically, she feints left and bolts right.
She’s coming straight for him.
Acting on reflex, Jordan catches her around the waist. She strains against his arms, surprisingly strong. Then she twists her head around and pleads, “Please—please—let me go! My sister needs me!”
“Keep hold of her!” Nurse Amy shouts.
Jordan has no idea what to do or who to listen to.
“I’m begging you,” the girl says, even as Amy advances, radioing security. Even as one of the girl’s sharp elbows jams into his solar plexus. Jordan gasps as air shoots out of his lungs.
“Just let me go,” the girl says, quieter now. “Please. I need your help.”
Jordan’s grip loosens—he can’t hold her much longer, and he doesn’t want to, either. But then two uniformed men come running outside, and they grab the girl’s arms and drag her into the hospital, and all the while she’s fighting.
Nurse Amy and Jordan follow them into a small room off the lobby. The guards get the girl into a geri chair and strap her down, and Jordan watches as Nurse Amy prepares a syringe.
“Your first day, huh?” she says to Jordan, her face looking suddenly worn. “Well, welcome to Belman Psych. We call this a B-52. It’s five milligrams of Haldol and two milligrams of Ativan, and we don’t use it unless it’s necessary for the safety of patient and staff.” She injects it intramuscularly, then follows it up with an injection of diphenhydramine. “Don’t worry. It’ll quiet her down.”
But it’s not like in the movies, when the patient just slumps forward, drooling and unconscious. The girl’s still yelling and pulling against her restraints. It looks like she’s being tortured.
“Give it a few minutes,” Amy says to Jordan.
Then she touches the patient’s hair, carefully brushing it away from her gnashing teeth. “You’re home, sweet Hannah. You’re home.”
DELIA F. BELMAN MEMORIAL PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL INTAKE & EVALUATION
Name: Hannah Doe
Date of Birth: 1/14/2005
Date Service Provided: 1/17/23
FUNCTIONING ON ADMISSION
ORIENTATION: Confusion w/r/t to time, place, identity; pt believes herself to be in a castle, possibly as a captive
APPEARANCE/PERSONAL HYGIENE: Pt presents disheveled, dirty, with clothing missing. Underweight. Superficial contusions and excoriations on legs and arms
PSYCHOSIS: Pt experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations
MOOD: Angry, upset, incoherent, uncooperative
LABORATORY RESULTS: Lab evaluation within normal limits. Toxicology report negative, and pt does not have history of substance abuse.
NOTES: After a breakdown on 44th St., pt was brought by ambulance at 9:34 a.m., mildly hypothermic from cold exposure. She attempted escape before being admitted. She was unable to answer orienting questions and insisted security staff wanted to kill her and her sister. Tried to attack security guard. We were unable to complete intake interview due to her delusional state; we will conduct further evaluation tomorrow if she is coherent.
My name is Hannah Dory. I am eighteen in the year of our Lord 1347, and God forgive me, I am about to do something extraordinarily stupid.
I crossed myself, stood up, and threw a heavy cape over my shoulders.
“Hannah!” cried my sister, Mary. “Where are you going? Mother won’t like—”
I didn’t wait to hear the rest of the sentence. I marched down the narrow, frozen lane toward the village square, my jaw clenched and my hands balled into fists.
It was deepest winter, and there was misery everywhere I looked. A boy with hollow cheeks sat crying in a doorway of a thatch-roofed hovel, while a thin, mangy dog nosed in a nearby refuse heap for scraps. Another child—a filthy little girl—watched the dog with desperate eyes, waiting to steal whatever it scavenged.
I had nothing to give them. Our own food was all but gone. We’d killed and cooked our last hen weeks ago, eating every bit of her but the feathers.
My hands clutched over my stomach. There was nothing in it now—nothing, that is, but grief and rage. Just last night, I’d watched my little brother Belin die.
Mother hadn’t known I was awake, but I was. I saw him take his last awful, gasping breath in her arms. He’d been only seven, and now his tiny, emaciated body lay under a moth-eaten blanket in the back of a gravedigger’s cart. Soon he’d be put in the ground next to his twin, Borin, the first of them to come into the world and the first one to leave it.
My name is Hannah Dory. I have lost two brothers to hunger, and I will not lose anyone else. I am going to fight.
Have you ever felt a beloved hand grow cold in yours? If not, then I don’t expect you to understand.
“Blackbird, Blackbird,” crazy old Zenna said as she saw me hurrying by. She winked her one remaining eye at me. “Stop and give us a song.”
She called me Blackbird for my midnight hair and my habit of singing through a day’s work. She didn’t know that my brothers had died—that I’d rather scream than sing. I bowed to her quickly, then hastened on.
“Another day, then,” she called after me.
If we live another one, I thought bitterly.
Mary caught up with me a moment later, breathless and flushed. “Mother wants you at the spindle—I keep over-twisting the yarn.”
“What use is spinning when we’re starving?” I practically hissed. “We’d do better to eat the bloody wool.”
Mary’s face crumpled, and I instantly regretted my harsh tone. “I’m sorry, my sweet,” I said, pulling her against my chest in a quick embrace. “I know Mother wants us to keep our hands busy. But I have… an errand.”
“Can I come?” Her bright blue eyes were suddenly hopeful.
My Mary, my shadow: she was four years younger than me and four times as sweet, and I loved her more than anyone else in the world.
“Not today. Go back home,” I said gently. “And take care of Mother and little Conn.” The last brother we have.
I could tell she didn’t want to. But unlike me, Mary was a good girl, and she did what she was told.
Down the hill, past the cobbler’s and the bakehouse and the weaver’s hut I went. I didn’t stop until I came to the heavy wooden doors of the village church. They were shut tight, but I yanked them open and stumbled inside. It was no warmer in the nave, but at least there was no wind to run its cold fingers down my neck. A rat skittered into the corner of the bell tower as I grabbed the frayed rope and pulled.
The church bell rang out across our village, once, twice—ten times. I pulled until my arms screamed with effort, and then I turned and went back outside.
Summoned by the sound of the bell, the people of my village stood shivering in the churchyard.
“Only the priest rings the bell, Hannah,” scolded Maraulf, the weaver.
“Father Alderton’s been dead a week now,” I said. “So I don’t think he’ll be complaining.”
“God rest his soul,” said pretty Ryia, bowing her head and folding her hands over her large belly. She’d have a baby in her arms soon, God willing.
Father Alderton had been a good man, and at my father’s request, he’d even given me a bit of schooling and taught me to read. He’d never beaten me or told me I was going to hell for my stubbornness, the way the priest before him had.
Now I just hoped God was taking better care of Father Alderton’s soul than He had the priest’s earthly remains. Wolves had dug up the old man’s body from the graveyard and dragged it into the woods. Thomas the swineherd, searching the forest floor for kindling, had found the old man’s bloody, severed foot.
Do you see what I mean? This winter, even the predators are starving.
“What’s the ringing for?” said Merrick, Maraulf’s red-cheeked, oafish grown son. “Why did you call us here?”
I brushed my tangled hair from my forehead and stood up as tall as I could.
My name is Hannah Dory, and I am about to save us—or get us all killed.
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What do you think about The Girl in the Castle? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!