I’ll be counting down to the November 10th release of Red Right Hand by sharing sample chapters, advance reviews, content warnings, and whatever else seems fun. Today, we’ll start at the beginning! Here is Red Right Hand: Chapter 1.
If you have not yet read See These Bones, please be aware that these sample chapters do include spoilers, and read at your own risk. Also? Expletives abound.
My father murdered my mom when I was five.
Thirteen years later, I quit superhero school to return the favor.
I’d say that’s when everything went to hell, but that would be a lie. Hell is seeing your mom’s blood spread across the kitchen floor. Everything that comes after is just life. You either survive it or you don’t.
I’m a survivor.
Survived Mom’s murder. Survived more than a decade at Mama Rawlins’ House for Unwanted Brats. Survived a year at the Academy as the school’s only necromancer student. Even survived that mess out at the Hole, where a lot of other people died. Better people, mostly. If life’s taught me anything, it’s that you scrap and claw for every moment you can get. And if you’re a Crow like me, you don’t let a little thing like dying get in your way.
My name is Damian, but most people call me Walker.
In Los Angeles, cold is something that happens to other people… to the sad sacks who live up north or inland. Bakersfield, where I was born, abandoned, and sort of raised, has its own brand of winter—fog, fog, and more fog—but it’s not until you get into the Badlands, to the scattering of tiny towns disappearing by the year, that you learn what real cold is; ice and snow, limbs turning blue, and pieces of you dropping off like you’re a mindless walker some asshole Crow raised.
In L.A., the land of sunshine and balmy ocean breezes, Winter is just the name of one of my more annoying classmates.
I was sitting on a stone bench in the clearing on the west side of campus, watching ghosts flicker in and out of existence around me. After a year of school, I still didn’t understand what ghosts really were. Fragments of people, maybe. Echoes of what was, pulled into the orbit of my power. Most of them silent, most unaware I was even there.
There were exceptions, of course.
A few months back, Mom’s ghost had hit me with a vision of her own death, revealing that I’d been my dad’s intended target. And then she’d gone right back to humming her silent song, a mindless specter in a yellow sundress, smiling blankly into space. No explanation. No words. Not even a shared glance.
Dad’s ghost was newer. Not even a month old and clear as daylight, shuffling aimlessly through the trees around me. I hadn’t been the one who killed him, but he’d followed me back to the Academy just the same. Part of me hoped he had his own vision to share—something to explain why he’d wanted to kill me and murdered Mom instead—but most of me just wanted his translucent ass gone for good.
He’d been a Crow, back when he was alive. One of too damn many things we had in common. Everyone assumed that’s why he’d gone bad—just another necromancer succumbing to madness—but before his death at the Hole, he’d told me otherwise. Told me Sally Cemetery, herself long dead, had come and made him remember.
No fucking clue. Sally was as infamous a Crow and Black Hat as there’d ever been, and somehow, death hadn’t kept her from appearing to my dad and destroying my life. It also hadn’t kept her from showing up on the Academy grounds thirteen years later and saving that same life, right when I was on the precipice of madness.
Damned if I could understand why she’d done either.
If all that wasn’t enough of a mindfuck, I’d stumbled across another shocker while awaiting the results of my expulsion hearing. The Finder who’d come to Bakersfield just before my eighteenth birthday, who’d somehow gotten me enrolled in the prestigious Academy of Heroes? The mysterious Mr. Grey, who was as bland as his name except for two eyes that shined like copper pennies? He was number nine on the Security Council’s most wanted list, a Black Hat known to the Free States as Tyrant.
I’d been sent to hero school by one of the worst villains in the country, and I had no idea why.
Shit on the left of me, shit on the right, and a whole mess of dead bodies behind. The only path was forward. Another year at the Academy. One last chance to prove I could be a Cape. If I flamed out a second time, I was fucked.
But that’s life too, isn’t it?
We’re all survivors right up until the day we aren’t.
Thursday, I’ll be back with Chapter 2. See you then!