John Kerry‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:
Description of Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes):
The Vara of Yima, the original Garden of Eden, sealed from the rest of the world and populated with the fittest of men and women. A secret paradise that 150 years ago became ravaged by smog that choked out the skies.
Now the Vara exists in a permanent state of darkness and its people need a champion, a chosen one to save them from the smog that threatens to fill the realm and poison its inhabitants.
That’s what they needed. They got Sammy Ellis instead. She isn’t important enough for her dad to stick around for, never mind saving a realm or junk like that. Her only responsibility was to help the chosen one open the gateway into the Vara, but not only has she entered the realm in their place, she’s also locked them out in the process.
Stuck in a twilight land of giant mushrooms, pursued by dark forces and still in her pyjamas, being unimportant back in the real world is starting to seem way more attractive.
“Eden at the Edge of Midnight is by and large the best book I’ve received from the First Reads Program thus far. It features an incredibly complex and vibrant universe reminiscent of Howls Moving Castle, Game of Thrones, Labyrinth and The Neverending Story, which the blurb on the back doesn’t begin to do justice. The writing is slick and polished, as if this were a bestseller I plucked off the shelf at a major bookstore franchise.” – Janelle – Goodreads.com
“Kerry has created a lush, rich and amazing universe that rivals all the likes; Oz, Wonderland, Labyrinth, etc. It was both beautiful and scary and had that touch of humor to the world, that silliness that provides the perfect blend to attract both adults and a younger audience” – Valen – Amazon.com
“OMG I love this book!!! One of the best books I’ve read in a long time…was a long read, but I couldn’t put it down” – k&r.w – Amazon.com
Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes) currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.4 stars from 18 reviews. Read the reviews here.
An excerpt from Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes):
Few sixteen-year-olds could claim to have a stalker. Typically they were reserved for celebrities, rock stars, maybe even reality TV rejects, and conventionally, ‘popularity’ was a prerequisite. A commodity not in abundance in Sammy Ellis’s existence. Not that she really cared. She was cool with it. But if she had to have a stalker, did it really have to be a crusty old woman? As opposed to, say, a buff Sheffield University student?
In the margin of her maths book she absent-mindedly doodled an odd-looking terminator blasting an old woman in the face with a twelve gauge auto-loader. Boom! Headshot!!! she scrawled over the top, underlining it several times.
Rat-a-tat-tat. A fist rapped on the corner of her desk. It was Miss Armatage.
“The square root of X does not equal death by machine gun,” she said with a straight face. It was a bored, depressed face that had seen a thousand students come and go. An assembly line of kids that she regurgitated the same information to before pushing them back out the door. She was a desiccated husk of a woman, probably in her fifties, but she could’ve easily been a few centuries old.
“It’s not a machine gun, Miss. It’s…”
“I don’t care, Miss Ellis. You’re a tick in my register, a GCSE mathematics grade. A grade B is what I expect from you. And I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get it.”
Sammy wondered whether it was possible for Miss Armatage to look more disappointed with life than she already did. A bloodhound that had been neutered on his birthday would look happier.
Miss Armatage drifted out of focus, replaced by the clock above the whiteboard. 3.15pm. Sammy raised her hand.
“I’m right here, Samantha.”
“Right. Can I be excused, Miss?”
“There’s only half an hour before the bell. Can’t you hold on?”
“Not really. I was dehydrated after PE, so I drank loads of water. Maybe I drank too much, but I was so thirsty I kept drinking…”
Miss Armatage held up her hand to stop her. “Look at my face.”
“Do I have to?”
Miss Armatage stared back, devoid of emotion. “Just go.” She turned and walked back towards the whiteboard, then as Sammy reached the door, added, “Hurry back, my little statistic.”
Sammy ran for the gates, zigzagging across the uneven tarmac outside the science block, dodging puddles while clutching her backpack to the top of her head to stop the icy rain stinging her face. She’d gone straight to the staff room after leaving class, as she had done every night so far this week. Thankfully, this time the room had been empty, so she’d phoned the police and sacked off the last fifteen minutes of school. Tonight she wouldn’t be creeping across the football pitch and over the fence.
She slowed as she approached the school gates. A glimpse of powder blue shimmered through the grey sheets of rain. The old woman stood in front of the houses across the street, the same spot she stood every night, wearing the same pale blue headscarf and dressed in bedraggled brown clothes that resembled a heap of threadbare carpets. Her clothes were heavy, waterlogged and probably freezing. But there she waited, soaking up the rainwater. She must have picked Sammy out as a loner because no one ever came to pick her up. So, then, why hadn’t she made her move yet? This had been going on for weeks and the old woman always stood outside, in plain view.
The dark eyes fixed on Sammy’s. The woman smiled. Then her head snapped to the side and she tensed. Sammy smiled this time. She couldn’t see past the school wall, but she knew what was coming.
The old woman raised her palms as two men in black trench coats came into view. The school gates framed a picture-perfect movie scene of two cops picking up a criminal. One carried an umbrella above both their heads, the other held out a badge. End of the line, old bag.
Voices clamoured behind Sammy. The lower school cloakrooms were emptying. A river of slate-grey bodies accented by flapping red ties came sweeping towards her. She sidestepped, but not quickly enough, and an errant satchel caught her in the face, knocking her down. She landed on all fours and pain spiked in her knees. She sucked in air through her teeth and closed her eyes while the other kids trampled past, kicking her satchel as they jostled to get to their parents’ cars.
Sammy remained where she was, facing the floor, the water streaming from her blonde hair. No one stopped to help. Typical. No one had noticed her since she’d started at this new school, and no one noticed her now, even though they had to run round her to get out of the gate. She was invisible. Only the satchel that tugged at her arm as it got booted around served as a reminder that she still existed in their world.
She waited until the traffic became lighter and flicked her sopping hair back from her face. The two policemen and the old woman had gone.
She had sore knees, sleeves saturated with puddle water, and she’d missed the action. That was probably the most – maybe even the only – exciting thing that was going to happen this term, possibly all year. And it was over.
Miss Armatage stood at the corner of the science block monitoring the stragglers. She peered at Sammy with an expression of exaggerated indifference and motioned for her to get up. She should get up. Her tights were soaking up rainwater and the longer she stayed down, the heavier and colder they’d get. But then, if she got up, she’d have to start walking and she’d have damp, heavy fabric chafing back and forth across her skin and sucking in cold air at the edges.
As she considered her options a hand grabbed her under the arm and jerked her to her feet. She came face to face with a boy sporting a black eye and his tie knotted round his forehead like a Rambo headband. Wayne Grubby. They had maths and science together. He was less unpleasant than most of the other boys in her year, but that wasn’t saying much.
“You all right?” he asked.
Sammy stared down at the wet patches around her knees. “Yeah,” she said.
“You should be careful,” he said. “The playground is proper lumpy, you know. You new?”
“I joined at the start of the year. So… no, not really.”
“Yeah. Well, I haven’t seen you before, but whatever. Bye.” And he ran off.
They had maths and science together! She sat between him and the whiteboard. How could he not know her? Maybe he should spend more time paying attention and less time setting his mates’ books on fire with Bunsen burners. She didn’t care anyway. He was a moron.
She watched him go. Cars crawled along the street outside the gates, their windows fogged with warm breath, smiling faces drawn in the condensation. Perhaps she’d stand where she was one more minute. If she kept perfectly still with her legs spread and her arms out then she could minimise the amount of wet cloth in contact with her body. Miss Armatage had gone, so there was no one left to shoo her away, and if she waited long enough the rain would stop and her body temperature would dry her clothes enough to stop them chafing.
On the street the last car pulled away. The rain wasn’t going to let up and her clothes weren’t going to get any drier. She should start on the long walk home. She took a step towards the gates and stopped.
The old woman was there, barring the way.
Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes) is available for purchase at:
Connect with John Kerry: