Happy Thursday all! I have something fun for you all today. If you’ve been following me for a while you might have seen me talk about how much I love the North Series by Alexandria Warwick. I was absolutely blown away with Below when I read it in 2019 (review) and if possible loved the sequel Night more (review.) The latest book in the series ‘Hunt’ will be out later this year and in her latest newsletter Alexandria shared an exclusive excerpt that I just had to show to you all. Please note that the excerpt will contain spoilers for the first two books in the series.
About the Book
Deep within the frozen tundra, darkness is stirring. Nanuq, master of all polar bears, seeks a terrifying power that would grant him control over all who inhabit the North—both animal and man. Slowly, he builds his forces. Slowly, he moves his pawns.
Salvation lies with young Apaay. After being separated from her family, she finds herself deep in enemy territory, navigating a world of violence and cunning. But her quest for truth is only the beginning. The path laid before her will test her loyalties, beliefs, and even her own identity. For if Apaay is to live in a free world, she must embrace a destiny greater than anything she has ever known.
In this breathtaking third installment of the North series, Apaay discovers just how far she’ll go to protect those she loves, and to claim her place in a changing world.
“Tell me again why I’ve agreed to do this,” Apaay said, studying the sweeping grassland separating her from the behemoth gates in the distance. It was a plain, it was a sea, beaten down by fierce winds.
“Because you don’t want me to die.”
The voice, though weak, still managed to hold a note of allure.
“You’d be surprised,” she said dryly.
“I’m nice to look at.”
Apaay shifted her attention to the demon sitting by her side. Irritatingly, he was right. Even in his deteriorated state, the Face Stealer was painfully beautiful, sharp-edged, a cruel loveliness.
Pale violet eyes regarded her, glossy with fever. Seven weeks they had trekked, from the abandoned port city of Talguk, through the Atakana’s glacial peaks, to the one place that might stop the poison from reaching the demon’s now-returned heart: Nigun, winter capital of the Northern Territory.
The journey had been exhausting at best, downright harrowing at worst. Apaay could not count the times she had been reduced to tears, forced to take cover from Nanuq’s men, Yuki’s army, all while caring for an ailing traveling companion on little to no sleep. The Face Stealer was weak—too weak. Their time was nearly up.
She focused on the rich timbre of his voice, the threat that was never far off. “What if I get caught?” she asked.
“So don’t get caught.”
He would say something like that. “May I remind you that while you remain safe in the forest, I’ll be putting my neck on the line for you.”
“And what a lovely neck it is,” he purred.
Scowling, she slapped his hand aside as he reached for her. “It’s not like I can pretend to be someone else. We can’t all have the gift of deception.”
Numiak’s mouth drew flat. “Yes,” he said, a strange note to his voice.
Apaay studied the spreading grassland touched gold beneath the sun. Summer had come to the North. The ice coating the majority of the landmass was in full retreat, giving way to the mosses and lichens of the tundra, the flowering plants of the taiga. For the Analak, it was a time of rebirth. This was the season of the skin tent, the month of breaking ice. A time when the rivers rushed, full and swollen, toward the sea. It was too early to hunt caribou. A molting skin did not make ideal clothing. In another few weeks however, their hair would thicken, a perfect length to acquire skins for winter clothing. This season, Apaay would not join Papa on the summer hunt. It was a little difficult to do that when running for your life.
How quickly things had gone wrong. With Yuki’s—the Sea Mother’s, she amended—true face having been returned to her, and the Wood forfeit, Nanuq growing in power, Kenai’s betrayal . . . Nowhere was safe. She did not know what tomorrow would bring. And Ila . . . But no. She would not think of Ila.
“What?” said the Face Stealer.
Apaay blinked. She hadn’t realized she’d been staring at him.
“Do you regret what you did?” she asked, referring to the dark oath he had exchanged with the Raven. If he hadn’t agreed to it, the Face Stealer would still have his power. Who knew where the dark god was now.
He stared at a point beyond her shoulder. His black lashes were so thick they looked painted on. “I regret a lot of things. I’ve had this power for so long I had forgotten who I was without it.”
“And who were you before your power?” Apaay found she desperately wanted to know.
A slight tilt to his mouth. It did not look anything like a smile. “I was a boy who loved his brother more than anything, and was willing to go to any lengths to ensure his safety.”
The admission made her chest twinge. Even if he rarely spoke of it, she knew Kenai’s betrayal pained him.
Since there was no reason in putting off the inevitable, Apaay climbed to her feet, scanning the miles of swaying grass running from horizon to horizon. “I’ll be back once I locate the hot spring.”
The Face Stealer caught her hand in his. With the warmer weather, they had done away with their mittens. The scrape of his calluses puckered her skin. “Be safe.”
Apaay searched his gaze before pulling away. “I didn’t know you cared.”
His smile was sharp. “You don’t know a lot of things.”
Oh the drama! I can’t wait to get my hands on the third instalment in this brilliant fantasy series. You can purchase books one and two now here and they are both currently free on kindle unlimited!
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