After an archeology expedition gone wrong, Lis Santiago is assigned a desk job at The Library, an underground archive dedicated to the history and study of supernatural creatures. Run by humans, the joke about The Library is that it’s operated by people who know everything about magic… except how to use it. Lis is no exception, and after three years, she’s finally accepted her new, albeit lackluster, career.Then a request is made: Supernatural creatures in the area have gone missing, and the Alpha from the local werewolf pack wants a Librarian to aid in the investigation. But he doesn’t want just any Librarian, he wants Lis. Accepting means time away from her desk, but it also means having to be paired up with old partner Jonas Highet, who left her waiting for him in Italy five years ago. This isn’t the reunion she had in mind, but when the Alpha calls, it’s hard to say no. Lis quickly wishes she had. The Alpha already has a suspect, he just needs Lis to convict him… even if there’s no proof he’s guilty. But the Alpha’s sister thinks her brother’s scapegoat- a wolf named Mickey Kaiser- is innocent, and she wants Lis to prove it. Caught between a pair of siblings known for their cunning ways, Lis is going to have to find out what’s so special about Mickey Kaiser, while simultaneously keeping Jonas from killing the man. And just when Lis starts dreaming about her desk job, the first body is found. It’s unlike anything Lis has seen before.
A twig snapped and Lis looked to the left, her eye catching a dark figure looming in the shadows. She aimed her flashlight in their general direction, hoping to catch a better look.
They stood upright, like a human, and reason said no supernatural creature would be running through the woods with the entire pack out unless they were an idiot. Odds were this sucker was human.
Yeah, if it was Halloween and they were dressed as the Grim Reaper, Lis thought, eyeing the strange dark robes the person was wearing with a cautious eye.
“Hey!” she called. The figure turned, almost gliding across the ground and she hoped it wasn’t a vampire because pepper spray wouldn’t work on one. Then again, no vampire would have made it this far into the forest with so many wolves about.
“Hey!” she said again when the figure began to move away. She followed, watching the person’s head swivel around as if they were lost.
Her foot snagged on a tree root and she stumbled, hopping on one foot as she tried to dislodge her other foot and remain upright. She laughed at her own clumsiness as she almost stumbled into the person.
“Hey.” The word came out like a pant and she smiled, ready to endear herself incase a vampire had somehow managed to make it into the forest on a night like tonight. Unfortunately, when Lis looked up, she wasn’t greeted by an eerily pale face or fangs, but rather a dark void where a face should have been.
“What the hell?” she said as she stumbled backwards, colliding with a tree as the figure fell upon her. She threw out an arm and rammed her elbow into the figure’s face, but it felt like hitting air. Two red orbs flared to life where eyes should have been and a clawed hand snaked around Lis’ throat before she could duck away. She felt herself being lifted off the ground as if she were weightless. A warm, tired feeling washed over her, her energy seeping from her body as her head began to spin. What was happening?
The void in front of her swirled, the red mixing with the shadows as her brain began to shut down. Images raced through her mind, memories that weren’t her own flashing like a strobe light. Nothing was clear enough to grasp onto, though. It was like water running over a painting, smearing the colors and blurring the image. She caught only glimpses of the person’s inner psyche, but there wasn’t anything she could work with. The only clear impression she could get was that this person was going to kill her.
It occurred to her then that she was going to die. She was aware of her body shutting down, just as she was aware of the fact Shaz and Jonas weren’t going to save her in time. She hadn’t even had time to scream.
Just as she accepted her fate, a vicious snarl rent the air and then Lis was falling, a blur of white and gray filling her vision as she hit the ground. The void was struggling against a massive wolf, inhuman sounds being ripped from it as the wolf tore into the black figure. There was a burst of dark light and the wolf yelped, stumbling backwards as the figure turned and ran deeper into the forest. The wolf readied itself to pursue, but then stopped at the last second and turned to stare at Lis. Her oxygen deprived brain told her the wolf had saved her life, but instinct said not to trust an unknown wolf.
Her savior seemed to have no reservations about her, though, trotting over and crowding into her space, completely unfazed by her rush of panic or feeble attempt to scoot away. He snuffed her, fur tickling her neck and cheek, and then he was brutally ripped away by another wolf. This new wolf was smaller, but every bit as vicious as he snarled at the white wolf. Lis managed to recognize Jonas as he stepped into the beam of her flashlight, which had rolled away from her. He had the fur of a timber, but was built like an Iranian wolf, like his uncle and no doubt his mother.
She struggled up onto her elbow, but was immediately pushed back onto the ground by Shaz, the dingo snarling as Jonas faced off with Lis’ rescuer. Lis tried to push Shaz off her, but she was too weak and the she-wolf kept her pinned to the ground, standing over her like some sort of shield. All Liz could do was turn her head to the side and watch Jonas attack the much larger wolf who didn’t appear to be fighting back. There were only two kinds of wolves who would do that. Omegas and mutts.
“Mick!” Lis shouted and then the forest erupted in chaos as wolves upon wolves came into sight, many of them snarling and barking in encouragement as they watched Jonas and Mick fight. Others shifted into their human forms and with a feeling of dread, Lis noticed the marks on their bodies that proclaimed them sentinels. Members of the Alpha’s personal guard. Wolves given permission to kill at their own discretion.
With a mighty shove, Lis managed to dislodge Shaz and rolled to her knees, staggering as she stood and then falling back to the ground. Her body protested any movement, having no energy or strength to support her, but she had to stop what was no doubt about to happen. The sentinels reached Mick and Jonas before she could, the latter falling to the side as a pair of sentinels caught Mick around the neck and torso, giving him a terrible squeeze that no doubt cracked a few ribs. The pain sent Mick turning back to human, his body streaked with sweat and dirt and his breath coming in hurried, frantic gasps. A call was made for shackles and as Mick waited to be restrained, his eyes met Lis’. She could have cried at what she saw, the wolf in Mick struggling to be free, to fight, while the human gave up.
“Stop!” she cried as Mick’s hands were bound behind his back. She stumbled forward, barely managing to stay upright, but the flash of hope in Mick’s eyes made her grit her teeth and remain standing.
“He didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “He was trying to help me.” Her pleas fell on deaf ears as she knew they would long before she opened her mouth. She wasn’t a wolf and she certainly wasn’t pack; she had no say in this arena.
“Shaz,” she said, turning to her friend for help, but the she-wolf shook her head and stepped back, pulling her dress from Lis’ backpack and slipping it over her head. She turned back and saw Jonas had returned to his human form as well and moved towards him. He caught her as she fell and she buried her nails into his arm.
“He was helping me,” she said. “You can’t let them-”
“Quiet,” Jonas snapped, his eyes blazing with barely restrained fury. He nodded to the sentinels who dragged Mick away. Lis would have followed, but Jonas caught her in a vice grip and refused to let her go.
“He doesn’t belong here,” he hissed in her ear as the rest of the pack went their own way. “Him showing up on a run is a punishable offense on its own. Attacking you makes his punishment even worse.”
“But he didn’t attack me!” She struggled against his hold until he had no choice but to release her lest she hurt herself. As soon as she was free, Lis hit the ground again, rolling onto her back and staring up at the canopy above them. She could barely see the moon shining through the leaves.
“We weren’t alone,” she said. “You didn’t see it, but someone else was out here and they almost killed me.” She managed to lift her head just enough that she could glare at Jonas. “He saved my life.” Then, softer, “Please don’t let them kill him.”
Jonas looked between Lis and Shaz, duty and his own morals warring against each other. Finally, he relented.
“Look after her,” he said to Shaz and then cast Lis one last glance before racing after the sentinels.
There was no guarantee Mick’s life would be spared, but at least Jonas would try.
#1: Gold • Sir Sly
#2: Do It Like A Dude • Jessie J
#3: Tessellate • alt-J
#4: My Body Is A Cage • Arcade Fire
#5: Crazy In Love (Beyoncé Cover) • Sofia Karlberg
#6: Jungle • X Ambassadors & Jamie N Commons
#7: Wake Me Up (Avicii Cover) • Madilyn Bailey
• Howl’s main character was originally Kieran Roden, a young Irish girl who’d never worked outside the Library before. But then she became Lis, a Puerto Rican woman based on a real life friend, and the whole story changed.
• In the original version of Howl, Alpha Kazarian had a daughter. The daughter was replaced by Kazarian’s sister, Inez, and her son, Jonas.
• Like many books nowadays, the premise of Howl was inspired by a bizarre dream and I’m never eating cheese before bed again.
• Kit was originally human, but was made into a fox as a nod to a friend’s love of foxes.
• Mick’s name comes from Mick Rawson, a character on Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, because attractive Welshmen are a weakness of mine.
Brittney Dussault is the author of over a dozen titles, including Howl and The Banewood Chronicles. When she’s not churning out a new book every 2-3 months, she’s helping others realize their dreams of being published authors. Cupcakes keep her going and she’s determined to put herself on a Best Sellers list one day.
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