Special preview of HORSEMAN!

September has arrived, and that means that my latest book HORSEMAN: A TALE OF SLEEPY HOLLOW is nearly here! It will be out on September 28th, 2021, just in time for your spooky season reading. I’ve got a sneak peek at the first chapter for you below, followed by the U.S. and UK covers and preorder links galore. I hope you join me in Sleepy Hollow on September 28th!

CHAPTER ONE

Of course I knew about the Horseman, no matter how much Katrina tried to keep it from me. If ever anyone brought up the subject within my hearing, Katrina would shush that person immediately, her eyes slanting in my direction as if to say, “Don’t speak of it in front of the child.”

I found out everything I wanted to know about the Horseman anyway, because children always hear and see more than adults think they do. Besides, the story of the Headless Horseman was a favorite in Sleepy Hollow, one that had been told and retold almost since the village was established. It was practically nothing to ask Sander to tell me about it. I already knew the part about the Horseman looking for a head because he didn’t have one. Then Sander told me all about the schoolmaster who looked like a crane and how he tried to court Katrina and how one night the Horseman took the schoolmaster away, never to be seen again.

I always thought of my grandparents as Katrina and Brom though they were my grandmother and grandfather, because the legend of the Horseman and the crane and Katrina and Brom were part of the fabric of the Hollow, something woven into our hearts and minds. I never called them by their names, of course—Brom wouldn’t have minded, but Katrina would have been very annoyed had I referred to her as anything except “Oma.”

Whenever someone mentioned the Horseman, Brom would get a funny glint in his eye and sometimes chuckle to himself, and this made Katrina even more annoyed about the subject. I always had the feeling that Brom knew more about the Horseman than he was letting on. Later I discovered that, like so many things, this was both true and not true.

On the day that Cristoffel van den Berg was found in the woods without his head, Sander and I were playing Sleepy Hollow Boys by the creek. This was a game that we played often. It would have been better if there were a large group but no one ever wanted to play with us.

“All right, I’ll be Brom Bones chasing the pig and you be Markus Baas and climb that tree when the pig gets close,” I said, pointing to a maple with low branches that Sander could easily reach.

He was still shorter than me, a fact that never failed to irritate him. We were both fourteen and he thought that he should have started shooting up like some of the other boys in the Hollow.

“Why are you always Brom Bones?” Sander asked, scrunching up his face. “I’m always the one getting chased up a tree or having ale dumped on my head.”

“He’s my opa,” I said. “Why shouldn’t I play him?”

Sander kicked a rock off the bank and it tumbled into the stream, startling a small frog lurking just under the surface.

“It’s boring if I never get to be the hero,” Sander said.

I realized that he was always the one getting kicked around (because my opa could be a bit of a bully—I knew this even though I loved him more than anyone in the world—and our games were always about young Brom Bones and his gang). Since Sander was my only friend and I didn’t want to lose him, I decided to let him have his way—at least just this once. However, it was important that I maintain the upper hand (“a Van Brunt never bows his head for anyone,” as Brom always said), so I made a show of great reluctance.

“Well, I suppose,” I said. “But it’s a lot harder, you know. You have to run very fast and laugh at the same time and also pretend that you’re chasing a pig and you have to make the pig noises properly. And you have to laugh like my opa—that great big laugh that he has. Can you really do all that?”

Sander’s blue eyes lit up. “I can, I really can!”

“All right,” I said, making a great show of not believing him. “I’ll stand over here and you go a little ways in that direction and then come back, driving the pig.”

Sander obediently trotted in the direction of the village and turned around, puffing himself up so that he appeared larger.

Sander ran toward me, laughing as loud as he could. It was all right but he didn’t really sound like my opa. Nobody sounded like Brom, if truth be told. Brom’s laugh was a rumble of thunder that rolled closer and closer until it broke over you.

“Don’t forget to make the pig noises, too,” I said.

“Stop worrying about what I’m doing,” he said. “You’re supposed to be Markus Baas walking along without a clue, carrying all the meat for dinner in a basket for Arabella Visser.”

I turned my back on Sander and pretended to be carrying a basket, a simpering look on my face even though Sander couldn’t see my expression. Men courting women always looked like sheep to me, their dignity drifting away as they bowed and scraped. Markus Baas looked like a sheep anyway, with his broad blank face and no chin to speak of. Whenever he saw Brom he’d frown and try to look fierce. Brom always laughed at him, though, because Brom laughed at everything, and the idea of Markus Baas being fierce was too silly to contemplate.

Sander began to snort, but since his voice wasn’t too deep he didn’t really sound like a pig—more like a small dog whining in the parlor.

I turned around, ready to tell Sander off and demonstrate proper pig-snorting noises. That’s when I heard them.

Horses. Several of them, by the sound of it, and hurrying in our direction.

Sander obviously hadn’t heard them yet, for he was still galloping toward me, waving his arms before him and making his bad pig noises.

“Stop!” I said, holding my hands up.

He halted, looking dejected. “I wasn’t that bad, Ben.”

“That’s not it,” I said, indicating he should come closer. “Listen.”

“Horses,” he said. “Moving fast.”

“I wonder where they’re going in such a hurry,” I said. “Come on. Let’s get down onto the bank so they won’t see us from the trail.”

“Why?” Sander asked.

“So that they don’t see us, like I said.”

“But why don’t we want them to see us?”

“Because,” I said, impatiently waving at Sander to follow my lead. “If they see us they might tell us off for being in the woods. You know most of the villagers think the woods are haunted.”

“That’s stupid,” Sander said. “We’re out here all the time and we’ve never found anything haunted.”

“Exactly,” I said, though that wasn’t precisely true. I had heard something, once, and sometimes I felt someone watching us while we played. The watching someone never felt menacing, though.

“Though the Horseman lives in the forest, he doesn’t live anywhere near here,” Sander continued. “And of course there are witches and goblins, even though we’ve never seen them.”

“Yes, yes,” I said. “But not here, right? We’re perfectly safe here. So just get down on the bank unless you want our game ruined by some spoiling adult telling us off.”

I told Sander that we were hiding because we didn’t want to get in trouble, but really I wanted to know where the riders were going in such a hurry. I’d never find out if they caught sight of us. Adults had an annoying tendency to tell children to stay out of their business.

We hunkered into the place where the bank sloped down toward the stream. I had to keep my legs tucked up under me or else my shoes would end up in the water, and Katrina would twist my ear if I came home with wet socks.

The stream where we liked to play ran roughly along the same path as the main track through the woods. The track was mostly used by hunters, and even on horseback they never went past a certain point where the trees got very thick. Beyond that place was the home of the witches and the goblins and the Horseman, so no one dared go farther. I knew that wherever the riders were headed couldn’t be much beyond a mile past where Sander and I peeked over the top of the bank.

A few moments after we slipped into place, the group of horses galloped past. There were about half a dozen men—among them, to my great surprise, Brom. Brom had so many duties around the farm that he generally left the daily business of the village to other men. Whatever was happening must be serious to take him away during harvest time.

Not one of them glanced left or right, so they didn’t notice the tops of our heads. They didn’t seem to notice anything. They all appeared grim, especially my opa, who never looked grim for anything.

“Let’s go,” I said, scrambling up over the top of the bank. I noticed then that there was mud all down the front of my jacket. Katrina would twist my ear for sure. “If we run we can catch up to them.”

“What for?” Sander asked. Sander was a little heavier than me and he didn’t like to run if he could help it.

“Didn’t you see them?” I said. “Something’s happened. That’s not a hunting party.”

“So?” Sander said, looking up at the sky. “It’s nearly dinnertime. We should go back.”

I could tell that now that his chance to play Brom Bones had been ruined, he was thinking about his midday meal and didn’t give a fig for what might be happening in the woods. I, on the other hand, was deeply curious about what might set a party of men off in such a hurry. It wasn’t as if exciting things happened in the Hollow every day. Most days the town was just as sleepy as its name. Despite this—or perhaps because of it—I was always curious about everything, and Katrina often reminded me that it wasn’t a virtue.

“Let’s just follow for a bit,” I said. “If they go too far we can turn back.”

Sander sighed. He really didn’t want to go, but I was his only friend the same as he was mine.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll go a short way with you. But I’m getting hungry, and if nothing interesting happens soon I’m going home.”

“Very well,” I said, knowing that he wouldn’t go home until I did, and I didn’t plan on turning around until I’d discovered what the party of horsemen was chasing.

We stayed close to the stream, keeping our ears pricked for the sounds of men or horses. Whatever the adults were about, they surely wouldn’t want children nearby—it was always that way whenever anything interesting occurred—and so we’d have to keep our presence a secret.

“If you hear anyone approaching, just hide behind a tree,” I said.

“I know,” Sander said. He had mud all down the front of his jacket, too, and he hadn’t noticed it yet. His mother would tell him off over it for hours. Her temper was the stuff of legends in the Hollow.

We had only walked for about fifteen minutes when we heard the horses. They were snorting and whinnying low, and their hooves clopped on the ground like they were pawing and trying to get away from their masters.

“The horses are upset,” I whispered to Sander. We couldn’t see anything yet. I wondered what had bothered the animals so much.

“Shh,” Sander said. “They’ll hear us.”

“They won’t hear us over that noise,” I said.

“I thought you wanted to sneak up on them so they wouldn’t send us away?” he said.

I pressed my lips together and didn’t respond, which was what I always did when Sander was right about something.

The trees were huddled close together, chestnut and sugar maple and ash, their leaves just starting to curl at the edges and shift from their summer green to their autumn colors. The sky was covered in a patchwork of clouds shifting over the sun, casting strange shadows. Sander and I crept side by side, our shoulders touching, staying close to the tree trunks so we could hide behind them if we saw anyone ahead. Our steps were silent from long practice at sneaking about where we were not supposed to be.

I heard the murmur of men’s voices before I saw them, followed immediately by a smell that was something like a butchered deer, only worse. I covered my mouth and nose with my hand, breathing in the scent of earth instead of whatever half-rotten thing the men had discovered. My palms were covered in drying mud from the riverbank.

The men were standing on the track in a half circle, their backs to us. Brom was taller than any of them, and even though he was the oldest, his shoulders were the broadest, too. He still wore his hair in a queue like he had when he was young, and the only way to tell he wasn’t a young man were the streaks of gray in the black. I couldn’t make out the other five men with their faces turned away from us—they all wore green or brown wool coats and breeches and high leather boots, the same style as twenty years before. There were miniatures and sketches of Katrina and Brom in the house from when they were younger, and while their faces had changed, their fashions had not. Many things never changed in the Hollow, and clothing was one of them.

“I want to see what they’re looking at, ” I whispered close to Sander’s ear and he batted at me like I was an annoying fly.

His nose was crumpled and he looked a little green. “I don’t. It smells terrible.”

“Fine,” I said, annoyed. Sander was my only friend but sometimes he lacked a sense of adventure. “You stay here.”

“Wait,” he said in low whisper as I crept ahead of him. “Don’t go so close.”

I turned back and flapped my hand at him, indicating he should stay. Then I pointed up at one of the maples nearby. It was a big one, with a broad base and long branches that protruded almost over the track. I hooked my legs around the trunk and shimmied up until I could grab a nearby branch, then quickly climbed until I could see the tops of the men’s heads through the leaves. I still couldn’t quite see what they were looking at, though, so I draped over one of the branches and scooted along until I had a better look.

As soon as I saw it, I wished I’d stayed on the ground with Sander.

Just beyond the circle of men was a boy—or rather, what was left of a boy. He lay on his side, like a rag doll that’s been tossed in a corner by a careless child, one leg half-folded. A deep sadness welled up in me at the sight of him lying there, forgotten rubbish instead of a boy.

Something about this sight sent a shadow flitting through the back of my mind, the ghost of a thought, almost a memory. Then it disappeared before I could catch it.

He was dressed in simple homespun pants and shirt, a brown wool jacket much like my own over it. On his feet were leather moccasins, and that was how I knew it was Cristoffel van den Berg, because his family was too poor to afford shoe leather and cobbled soles, and all of the Van den Bergs wore soft hide shoes like the Lenape people. If it weren’t for the moccasins I wouldn’t have known him at all, because his head was missing. So were his hands.

Both the head and hands seemed to have been removed inexpertly. There were ragged bits of flesh and muscle at the wrist, and I saw a protruding bit of broken spine dangling where Cristoffel’s head used to be.

I hadn’t liked Cristoffel very much. He was poor, and Katrina always said we should be compassionate to those in need, but Cristoffel had been quite the bully, always looking for a chance to take out his pique on someone. He ran in a little gang with Justus Smit and a few other boys who had no personality to speak of.

Cristoffel had tried it out on me once and I’d bloodied his nose for him, which earned me a lecture from Katrina on proper behavior (I was subjected to these endlessly, so I never bothered to listen) and a clap on the shoulder from Brom, which had warmed my heart despite Katrina’s shouting.

I hadn’t like Cristoffel, but he didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t deserve to die in such an awful way. I was glad Sander couldn’t see. He had a delicate stomach and he’d have given us away by getting sick on top of the group below.

There were splashes of blood all around on the track. The men didn’t seem to want to get any closer to the body, though whether this was out of respect or fear I could not tell. They were murmuring softly, too softly for me to make out the words at first. All of the horses pulled on their reins except for Brom’s horse, Donar, a great black stallion three hands taller than all the others. He stood still, the wide flare of his nostrils the only indication that he was troubled.

Finally Brom gave a great sigh and said, loud enough for me to hear, “We’ll have to take him back to his mother.”

“What are we supposed to tell her?” I recognized this voice as Sem Bakker, the town justice. His shoulders were curled forward, as if he were trying to hide from what he was seeing.

I didn’t have much use for Sem Bakker, who was always too hearty when he saw me and thought it was a fine thing to pinch my cheeks and comment on how much I’d grown. He had no children of his own and clearly had no notion of how children like to be treated. I did not like to have my cheeks pinched by anyone, much less the town magistrate with his dirty fingernails.

Brom didn’t have much use for Sem Bakker either, whom he considered as lacking in basic common sense, something that ought to have been a requirement to be a justice. But then most people who lived in the Hollow were farmers or tradesmen, and had no desire to meddle in affairs of the law. Not that there were so many crimes in the Hollow, really—it generally amounted to little more than breaking up fights at the tavern and sending the offending parties home to have their ears burned by their angry wives—though now and then something more serious occurred.

All in all, though, the Hollow was a peaceful place to live, and was lived in by the descendants of the same people who’d founded the village. Strangers rarely visited, and almost never stayed. The Hollow was, in many ways, like a diorama in a box—never changing and eternal.

“We’ll tell his mother what we know,” Brom said, and I recognized the trace of impatience in his voice. “We found him in the woods like this.”

“He’s got no head, Brom,” Sem Bakker said. “How do we explain about the lack of head?”

“The Horseman,” one of the other men said, and I recognized the gruff tones of Abbe de Jong, the butcher.

“Tch, don’t start with the Horseman nonsense,” Brom said. “You know it isn’t real.”

“Something killed that boy and took his head,” Abbe said, pointing at the corpse. “Why couldn’t it be the Horseman?”

“Could be the damned natives,” said another man.

I couldn’t see his face because of his hat, and couldn’t pinpoint his voice, either, though I knew everybody in the Hollow just as they all knew me.

“Don’t start with that nonsense, either,” Brom said, and there was a hard warning in his tone that would have made any man with sense back down. Brom was friends with some of the native people who lived nearby, though no one else in the village dared. Mostly we left them alone and they left us alone, and that seemed to be the best plan for everyone.

“Why not? They lurk around in these woods, taking any animals they want—”

“The animals are wild, Smit, anyone can have them,” Brom said, and now I knew who Brom was arguing with—Diederick Smit, the blacksmith.

“—and we all know they’ve stolen sheep—”

“There’s no proof of that, and since you’re not a sheep farmer, I hardly see what it has to do with you,” Brom said. “I’m the only sheep farmer for miles around.”

“I don’t want to hear your defense of those savages,” Smit said. “The proof is right here, before our eyes. One of them killed this poor boy and took away his head and his hands for one of their pagan rituals.”

“Now you listen here,” Brom said, and I could see him swelling with anger, his shoulders seeming to grow broader, his fists curling. “I won’t have you spreading any of that around the Hollow, you hear me? Those people have done nothing to us and you have no proof.”

“You can’t stop me from speaking,” Smit said, and though his words were brave and his arms were nearly as muscled as Brom’s, I heard a little quaver in his voice. “Just because you’re the biggest landowner in the Hollow doesn’t give you the right to run everyone’s lives.”

“If I hear one word accusing the natives of this murder I’ll know who started the rumor,” Brom said, stepping closer to Smit. “Just remember that.”

Brom towered over the blacksmith, as he towered over every man in the Hollow. He was built on a scale almost inhuman. I saw Smit’s shoulders move, as if he considered a retort and then decided better of it.

“If it’s not the natives that only leaves the Horseman,” De Jong said. “I know you don’t like it, Brom, but it’s true. And you know, too, that as soon as word gets out about the boy’s circumstances, everyone else in the Hollow will think the same.”

“The Horseman,” Brom muttered. “Why will none of you say what’s probably true—that someone from the Hollow did it?”

“One of us?” De Jong said. “People from the Hollow don’t kill children and cut off their heads.”

“It’s a good deal more likely than the mythical Headless Horseman.” Brom didn’t believe in a lot of the things people in the Hollow believed in. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard him refer to someone else’s ideas as nonsense.

Even though everyone in the village attended church on Sunday there was a good deal of what the pastor called “folk beliefs”—and he shared some of those beliefs himself, which was unusual for a man of God, or so Katrina told me. It was something about the Hollow itself that encouraged this, some sense that there was lingering magic in the air, or that the haunts in the far woods reached their hands out for us.

Once, a long time ago, I’d stepped off the track close to the deep part of the forest. I remembered Sander going mad with anxiety, calling for me to come back, but I only wanted to know why nobody in the Hollow went any farther than that point.

I hadn’t seen any witches, or goblins, or the Horseman. But I had heard someone, someone whispering my name, and I’d felt a touch on my shoulder, something cold as the wind that came in autumn. I’d wanted to run then, to sprint terrified back to the farm, but Sander was watching, so I’d quietly turned and stepped back on the track and the cold touch moved away from me. If Brom had known about it he would have been proud of my bravery, I think—that is, if he didn’t box my ears for going where I wasn’t supposed to. Not that he did that very often. Katrina was the one who meted out discipline.

“If you don’t think it’s the Horseman then it’s not someone from the Hollow,” De Jong insisted. “It must have been some outsider.”

“No one’s reported strangers passing through,” Sem Bakker said.

“That doesn’t mean they haven’t passed through, only that no one was aware of them,” Brom said, with that tone he always saved just for Sem—the tone that said he thought the other man was an idiot. “A man could cross these woods and none of us would ever know, unless a hunter happened upon him.”

Sem flushed. He knew what Brom was doing, knew full well that Brom Bones thought he was a fool. He opened his mouth, ready to argue more, but one of the other men cut him off.

“Let’s just return the boy to his mother,” Henrik Janssen said. He was a farmer, like Brom, and his lands bordered ours. Some quality in Henrik Janssen always made me feel uneasy around him. “There isn’t much that can be done right now. If it was the Horseman, then that is part of life here, isn’t it? It’s the risk we take by living so close to the edge of the world.”

There was a general murmur of assent. This would seem callous in other places, other villages, but in Sleepy Hollow strange things were true, and sometimes those strange things reached out their claws. It wasn’t that people didn’t care; it was that they accepted horror in exchange for wonder.

“The boy’s father will be a problem,” Sem Bakker said.

This was a sideways reference to Thijs van den Berg’s habit of drinking until he’d spent all his pay and left nothing for his family. He was the most volatile man in the village when he was in that state, and if he couldn’t find a man to pick a fight with in the tavern, then he’d go home and pick a fight with his wife—a fight she always lost, being small and unable to stand up to his fists.

Every woman in Sleepy Hollow pitied his wife, but they never dared show it to her. A prouder woman than Alida van den Berg didn’t exist in the village. I often heard Katrina and other ladies clucking over what they ought to do to help the family, before deciding that Alida wouldn’t accept their help in any case.

These conversations always left Katrina with sad eyes, and me with an unaccountable need to comfort her—unaccountable because we were at odds over every other thing.

“In the meantime, the family has a right to mourn and bury him,” Janssen said.

There were nods all around the circle from everyone except Brom, who scrubbed his face with his hands, a gesture that meant he was irritated, and doubly irritated on top of it because he wasn’t allowed to express that feeling.

I felt my grasp slipping and gasped before quickly recentering myself, pushing my knees into the branch to keep steady. I was worried that the men might have heard me, but at that moment Brom unbuckled his saddlebag and pulled out a blanket for Cristoffel’s remains. All the men’s attention was focused there, and none of them looked around at me.

Brom knelt beside Cristoffel and carefully rolled the boy’s body onto the blanket before tucking the edges so that none of Cristoffel was actually visible. All that was left of him—that boy who bullied other children and who was so poor that he couldn’t afford shoes—was a sad little lump wrapped in cloth. None of the other men spoke, or moved to help him, and I felt an unreasoning anger at that moment. Whatever Cristoffel’s failings, he’d been a person, and only Brom was bothering to treat him like one. Every other man only thought of Cristoffel as a problem to be solved or explained.

I wondered why most of them had bothered coming along. Then I wondered why the men had rushed out to this spot in the forest to begin with. Someone else must have discovered the body and reported it—but who? I assumed it was one of the men in the party, who would have been on horseback. Why wouldn’t that person have done just as Brom had and wrapped the body up to return to the Hollow? Why had that person left Cristoffel on the trail?

A few moments later Brom mounted his horse, Cristoffel’s body cradled in one arm. The other men followed suit and they slowly filed away, their horses walking at a respectfully slow pace.

Only Diederick Smit lingered, his gaze fixed on the place where Cristoffel’s body had lain. He stood staring so long that it seemed like he’d fallen into a trance. Finally, he turned his horse and followed the others.

My hands were cramped from holding on to the branch for so long and my back was covered in sweat, even though I’d been very still.

“Ben!” Sander said. He spoke in a whisper, as if he were still afraid of being heard by someone. His face was a pale blotch against the fallen leaves.

“I’m coming,” I said, easing backward until I reached the trunk of the tree. Then I carefully swung down, my hands clinging to the branch, and grabbed the trunk with my knees so I could shimmy down. I dusted the bark off my breeches.

“Cristoffel van den Berg was killed by the Horseman!” Sander said, his eyes the size of Katrina’s teacups.

“No, he wasn’t,” I said, trying to summon up the same contempt that Brom had used on the other men. “Didn’t you hear what they were saying? Opa said it was nonsense.”

Sander gave me a doubtful look. “Just because Mynheer Van Brunt says it doesn’t mean it’s true. I mean, everyone in the Hollow knows about the Headless Horseman, and what else could have killed that boy? It’s not as if there are people roaming around taking heads for no particular reason. Only the Horseman does that.”

I would not admit to Sander that what he said made sense. It was the first thought that had occurred to me, too, when I saw Cristoffel’s body without a head. But if Brom said it wasn’t true, then it wasn’t true.


HORSEMAN: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow is published by Berkley Books in the United States

Add HORSEMAN to your Goodreads list here

Grab the U.S. edition from your favorite bookseller or one of these retailers:

Anderson’s Bookshops

Barnes & Noble

The Book Cellar

Bookmarks

Books-a-Million

Bookshop

Bucket O’Blood Books and Records

Indiebound

Kobo

Mysterious Galaxy

RoscoeBooks

Unabridged

Volumes

Women & Children First

Audible

Amazon

U.K. edition is published by Titan Books

Signed hardcover edition available from Forbidden Planet

Signed exclusive edition available from Waterstones

The Beckenham Bookshop

Big Green Bookshop

The Book Shop

Five Leaves Bookshop

Forum Books

Foyles

Mr. B’s Emporium

Hive

Literally Productions

The Mainstreet Trading Company

Max Minerva’s

The Portobello Bookshop

Topping & Company Booksellers

Transreal Fiction

WriteBlend

2021 releases – NEAR THE BONE and HORSEMAN

Happy new year! I know 2020 was a tough one for everyone but we made it through. Unfortunately the pandemic stopped all appearances after March so I wasn’t able to see as many of you as I would have liked. I’m particularly sorry that my UK tour didn’t go off as planned but I hope to try again when it’s safe for everyone to gather and travel.

I had two books out last year – Looking Glass, a collection of novellas set in the world of The Chronicles of Alice, and The Ghost Tree, a stand-alone coming-of-age horror novel. If you missed either book you can find more information and order links here for Looking Glass and here for The Ghost Tree.

I’m very excited about my upcoming 2021 releases, Near the Bone and Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow. You can find more information, covers for Near the Bone (covers for Horseman to come) and preorder links where available below.

I hope that 2021 will be a good year for all of us, and I wish you health and happy reading.

A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of monster, in a dread-inducing horror novel from the national bestselling author Christina Henry.

“Mattie can’t remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they’re not alone after all.

There’s something in the woods that wasn’t there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws.

When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry.”

U.S. edition published by Berkley Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Random House

To add NEAR THE BONE to your Goodreads lists click here

Grab the U.S. edition from your favorite bookseller or one of these retailers:

Anderson’s Bookshops

Barnes & Noble

The Book Cellar

Bookmarks

Books-A-Million

Bookshop

Bucket O’Blood Books and Records

Indiebound

Kobo

Mysterious Galaxy

RoscoeBooks

Unabridged Bookstore

Volumes

Women and Children First

Audible

Amazon

U.K. edition is published by Titan Books

Exclusive Signed Winter Edition hardcover with blue sprayed edges available only at Forbidden Planet

Waterstones

The Beckenham Bookshop

Big Green Bookshop

The Book Shop

Five Leaves Bookshop

Forum Books

Foyles

Mr. B’s Emporium

Hive

Literally Productions

The Mainstreet Trading Company

Max Minerva’s

The Portobello Bookshop

Topping & Company Booksellers

Transreal Fiction

WriteBlend

Covers and preorder links for HORSEMAN are not yet widely available – so far there is just this Amazon link, but I will add more information as it goes up on various sites. You can check out the back cover copy below:

In this atmospheric, terrifying novel that draws strongly from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the author of Alice and The Girl in Red works her trademark magic, spinning an engaging and frightening new story from a classic tale. 

Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows about the Horseman, but no one really believes in him. Not even Ben Van Brunt’s grandfather, Brom Bones, who was there when it was said the Horseman chased the upstart Crane out of town. Brom says that’s just legend, the village gossips talking. 

Twenty years after those storied events, the village is a quiet place. Fourteen-year-old Ben loves to play “Sleepy Hollow boys,” reenacting the events Brom once lived through. But then Ben and a friend stumble across the headless body of a child in the woods near the village, and the sinister discovery makes Ben question everything the adults in Sleepy Hollow have ever said.

Could the Horseman be real after all? Or does something even more sinister stalk the woods?

THE GHOST TREE preview

Summer is flying by, and there are just five short weeks until THE GHOST TREE is released. This book is an homage to all the coming-of-age horror novels I read when I was younger – except all those books featured boys as the protagonists when I longed for more stories about girls.

Just to clarify, though – this is not a young adult novel; it’s intended for an adult audience (like all of my work). Additionally, if you’ve read ALICE or LOST BOY you may be expecting a reimagining of an existing story – THE GHOST TREE is not a reimagining of any kind.

I really loved writing this book, and I hope that you love reading it, too!

Read on for the back cover description, a sample of the first chapter, book covers, preorder info and more!

Quick side note: I’m often asked by readers “What’s the best way for me to buy your book?” The absolute best way is to buy a physical copy of the book from a locally owned bookstore. This supports not only the author but keeps your dollars in your community by supporting local business owners.

Additionally, buying a physical copy of the book in a store indicates interest to the bookstore owners, which means they’ll order an extra copy or two for their shelves. This means the book has more potential to reach more readers, who might spot it while browsing.

If you haven’t been able to get out to your local bookstore because of shelter-in-place orders, now is a great time to browse your local shop and pick up a few books. They can preorder a copy of THE GHOST TREE for you!

Many local businesses have been hard hit by COVID-related lockdowns and bookstores need your support more than ever.

If you don’t have a local shop in your area a great alternative is Bookshop.org. Books ship directly from the distributor and the profits are distributed to local bookstores. You can check out their mission statement here.

If you only have a big bookstore chain nearby (like Barnes and Noble) or pick up your books while shopping at Target or Wal-Mart – don’t despair! Buying a book from these places has the same effect – it indicates interest in the title, meaning they’ll order more copies which can potentially reach more readers.

If you prefer e-reading or just don’t have a shop nearby and must order online, leaving a review on the online retailer site helps the book get in front of new readers as well.

I don’t want to leave out libraries! Borrowing a book from your library (or asking your local librarian to order a copy for their shelves) and telling your friends about it is just as great as buying a copy yourself. Libraries buy books, which financially supports authors, and positive word-of-mouth is incredibly valuable to writers.

However you choose to read THE GHOST TREE, I appreciate your support!

When people go missing in the sleepy town of Smith’s Hollow, the only clue to their fate comes when a teenager starts having terrifying visions, in a chilling horror novel from national bestselling author Christina Henry.

When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in the town of Smiths Hollow, Lauren is surprised, but she also expects that the police won’t find the killer. After all, the year before her father’s body was found with his heart missing, and since then everyone has moved on. Even her best friend, Miranda, has become more interested in boys than in spending time at the old ghost tree, the way they used to when they were kids.

So when Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging the remains of the girls through the woods, she knows she can’t just do nothing. Not like the rest of her town. But as she draws closer to answers, she realizes that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the center. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will.

June 1985

Wednesday

Lauren glanced down at her feet as she pedaled her bike toward the woods. She wore brand-new turquoise high-tops; they looked sort of like the Chuck Taylors she’d wanted, but they were off-brand from Kmart. They didn’t have the Chuck label in the back but they were still pretty cool. She thought so, anyway.

They would have to be cool because her mom had told her repeatedly they couldn’t afford the name-brand ones. At least no one else at school had turquoise. They were so bright they practically glowed in the summer sun, but by the time she went back to school in the fall they would be properly beaten up and she wouldn’t look like a dork.

By the time she went back to school she would be almost fifteen (the end of November—five months away still ), which meant she would be one of the older kids in the freshman class but still younger than Miranda, whose birthday had been the week before. Miranda never failed to remind her that this meant she would get her driver’s license before Lauren did, but Lauren didn’t care as long as she was riding to school in a car (even if it was not her own) instead of on her bike.

Lauren knew Mom didn’t want her and Miranda meeting in the woods. Especially after last year. Especially after Lauren’s dad was found near that old cabin. Mom thought Lauren was macabre for going anywhere near the place where her father was murdered.

But Lauren was about as interested in her mother’s opinion as her mother was in Lauren’s—that is to say, not at all. Mom never loved Dad as much as Lauren did. Her mom didn’t understand that when Lauren was in the woods it meant she was in the place he was last alive.

She and Miranda always met under the ghost tree. They’d done so since they were very small, for so long that Lauren couldn’t remember who’d thought of the idea first. One of them would call the other on the telephone and say, “Meet me by the old ghost tree,” and they would both go.

In the secret shadows of the woods, they could have adventures. They built forts and ran through streams and climbed trees and made rope swings. They made a secret base near the cabin that was tucked away in the woods. This was long before Lauren’s dad was found there, and it had been some time since they used it as a base.

In the last year or so things had changed. Miranda didn’t like to get dirty anymore, so she didn’t want to swing over the trickling little creek that ran through the forest or roll in the dead leaves. Mostly she wanted to do things Lauren was not interested in, like paint their nails or braid each other’s hair or talk about boys that Miranda thought were cute—older boys, always, boys that would not be the least bit interested in little freshman girls.

Despite this they still preferred to meet by the ghost tree. It was their special place.

Lauren raced past the Imperial drive- in on the outskirts of town. They were showing a double feature— The Goonies and Cocoon. The wide lot was littered with rubbish from the night before— empty popcorn cups, candy wrappers, cigarette butts. Sometimes Lauren helped Mr. Harper, the owner, clean up the lot in exchange for $10 and a free ticket for her and Miranda to that night’s show, but she’d already seen The Goonies twice and Miranda said Cocoon was about old people so they never stayed for the second feature.

The back of the movie screen pressed against the woods that brushed against the town. Smiths Hollow was the name of her town, and Lauren had always liked the name because it reminded her of Sleepy Hollow.

She and her dad used to watch that cartoon every year on Halloween, Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Even though Ichabod’s name came first in the title, the Sleepy Hollow story was actually second in the film and Lauren liked that better. She liked anticipating the moment when the Headless Horseman would appear on screen, laughing his insane laugh and swinging a giant sword.

When she was little she used to snuggle close into her dad’s arm when that part came on and her heart would beat so fast, but there was nothing to worry about really because she was with her daddy. Of course it had been years since it scared her, but every year she snuggled up next to him. He always smelled a little bit of grease and oil, even after a shower, and also of the Old Spice Soap- on- a- Rope that she gave him every year for Father’s Day.

Lauren wondered if, when Halloween came, she would be able to turn on the cartoon again and watch it with her little brother, David. He’d been too small to watch it the year before.Miranda had wanted Lauren to sleep over last Halloween, so they could watch “real” scary movies on her VCR. Lauren’s family didn’t have a VCR, and Miranda definitely viewed this as a drawback to sleeping over at Lauren’s house.

They always trick- or – treated together every year, but after their candy bags were full they went their separate ways. Last year Miranda didn’t want to trick- or- treat at all, but Lauren persuaded her to go out so Miranda had thrown together a costume of old clothes at the last second and went as a hobo. She’d complained about how lame and babyish collecting candy was the whole time and then got annoyed when Lauren told her that she had to go home after.

“I thought you were going to watch Halloween with me,” Miranda said. “It’s the perfect night for it!”

Lauren shook her head. “We can do it another night. I have something I have to do with my dad.”

“It won’t be the same on another night,” Miranda said. “I can’t believe you dragged me all over town to get a bunch of stupid little candy bars and we’re not even going to watch a scary movie now.”

“I’ll take your candy if you don’t want it,” Lauren said, holding her bag open.

Miranda’s mouth twisted up. “No way. I walked for it, so I’m eating it.”

She’d gone home in a huff, but the next time Lauren slept over they did watch Halloween. Or rather, Miranda watched it, laughing hysterically every time someone was slaughtered by the killer, and Lauren peered through her fingers and hoped she would be able to sleep without nightmares. She didn’t like scary movies. Miranda seemed inured to them.

Anyway, Lauren was glad she’d gone home that night, because it was the last time she’d watch Ichabod and Mr. Toad with her dad. Less than a month later he was dead.

He was dead and nobody would talk about it. Nobody would talk about why it happened or how. The police chief told Lauren’s mom it must have been some drifter, some sicko who went from town to town. But that didn’t make a bit of sense to Lauren. Why would some sicko come to Smiths Hollow just to kill her dad?

And nobody ever told her what her dad was doing out that late at night in the woods, either. Every time Lauren mentioned it her mother’s lips would go flat and pull tight at the edges and she would say, “We are not discussing this, Lauren.”

Lauren reached the scrubby edge of the woods and pulled the brakes on her bike. It was a ten-speed, a grown- up gift for her last birthday even though she wasn’t very tall yet and probably never would be. Miranda told her that girls stopped growing like a year after they got their periods, and Lauren hadn’t gotten hers yet so she hoped she wouldn’t top out at five foot three.

Miranda had gotten her period almost a year before, but both her parents were tall so Miranda towered over Lauren by about half a foot. She also had long, long legs that always looked good in whatever she wore, and Lauren had to squelch the flare of jealousy that bubbled up whenever she saw Miranda looking so cool and beautiful and grown- up.

Lauren hopped off her bike and wheeled it into the forest, following a path worn by her own feet and Miranda’s. The bike bumped over the tree roots and kicked up tiny rocks that bit into Lauren’s shins.

Some people didn’t like the woods near Smiths Hollow. Well, if Lauren was honest, almost everyone didn’t like the woods. She’d heard more than one person say they were “spooky” and “uncanny” and “scary,” but Lauren didn’t think so.

She liked the trees and their secretive natures, and all the little creatures that scurried into the brush when they heard her approach. And there were lots of places to sit and think and be alone and listen to the wind in the leaves. There were many days when Miranda went home and Lauren stayed in the forest by herself, curled into the notch of a tree while she read a book.

Even Lauren’s dad had said that the woods made him uncomfortable.

“I always feel like I’m being spied on whenever I walk near there,” he confessed to her one day. They were both at the kitchen sink scrubbing their hands— Lauren’s were covered in mud, and her father’s had the usual contingent of grease from his work at the garage.

“ ‘I always feel like somebody’s watching me,’ ” Lauren sang as she walked, although she didn’t really. If anyone was watching she felt that it was a benign somebody.

She liked that song a lot, although Miranda didn’t think much of it. Miranda had listened to Def Leppard’s Pyromania album nonstop since she discovered it the previous year, and whenever Lauren came over she would put it on. Lauren was pretty sure she could live the rest of her life without ever hearing “Rock of Ages” again.

The ghost tree was about a ten- minute walk from the place where Lauren dismounted her bike. Miranda was already there, arms crossed and leaning against the tree with her eyes closed. Lauren wondered what Miranda was thinking about.

She wore a white sleeveless shirt that buttoned down the front, and Lauren could see her training bra through it. Lauren had started wearing a training bra too even though she really didn’t need it yet. By the time she actually needed the trainer Miranda would be wearing women’s bras, probably.

The shirt was tucked into her jeans—Jordache, naturally, and their ankles brushed against her white Adidas shoes with the black stripes on the side. Miranda always had name-brand everything, because her parents were both managers at the canned chili factory and they would take her to the next town over to go to the mall for her clothes.

She was also an only child, which meant her parents didn’t have to worry about having money for the next kid’s stuff. Lauren had heard her mother sighing many times that the trouble with having a girl and then a boy was that you couldn’t reuse anything.

Not that there had been so much stuff around for reusing by the time David was born—he was ten years younger than Lauren, a “surprise package,” as Lauren’s dad called him. Lauren’s parents had thought their late nights with a colicky baby were long gone.

“What took you so long?” Miranda said, straightening when she heard the rattle of Lauren’s bike chain. “And what are you wearing?”

What are you wearing was what Lauren wanted to ask, but instead she looked down at her Cubs shirt and cutoff jeans and said, “Clothes for playing in the woods.”

Miranda shook her hair, an elaborately teased and sprayed mass that had been wrestled into a high ponytail. “We’re not playing in the woods. What are we, nine? We’re going to the Dream Machine.”

“Why didn’t you just say we were going to the Dream Machine?” Lauren asked.

Lauren didn’t really care about arcade games except maybe pinball, and she especially didn’t like going to the Dream Machine because lately it meant that she and Miranda would stand around watching boys that Miranda thought were cute.

“Tad asked me to meet him there,” Miranda said excitedly, ignoring Lauren’s question. “He actually called me today.”

So why do I have to go? Lauren thought. If she’d known what Miranda had planned she would have brought a book to read. There was nothing more boring than watching some guy playing Pac-Man. Also, what kind of stupid name was Tad? Lauren wasn’t sure she remembered who exactly Tad was, either. It was hard to keep track of which boy was at the top of Miranda’s scrolling list of interests.

“And he said he’s going to bring some of his friends, so there will be someone for you, too,” Miranda finished. She said this last bit like she had gotten a really amazing present for Lauren and couldn’t wait to hear how much she loved it.

“Oh,” Lauren said.

“Let’s go,” Miranda said. “Leave your bike here. We can cut through the woods and come out behind Frank’s.”Frank’s Deli was directly across the street from the Dream Machine.

Lauren didn’t like coming out of the woods there because there were always rats running around behind Frank’s. She always told her mother not to buy lunch meat there because of that.

“Don’t be silly, Lauren,” Mom would say. “Of course there are rats outside. They’re attracted to garbage. That doesn’t mean there are rats inside.”

“It doesn’t mean there aren’t, either,” Lauren said darkly, and refused to eat so much as a slice of roast beef from Frank’s. It meant a lot of peanut butter sandwiches because her mom would almost always go to Frank’s unless she went shopping at the big super grocery store in the next town and got deli meat while she was there.

“Which one is Tad again?” Lauren asked as she leaned her bike against the tree. There was no worry that anything would happen to it. No one ever stole anything that belonged to the ghost tree.

Miranda hit Lauren’s shoulder with the back of her hand. “He works at Wagon Wheel, remember? We just went there to see him last week.”

Lauren dredged up the memory of a greasy- haired guy throwing two slices of pizza in front of them as they’d sat on the tall chairs at the counter, feet dangling. He’d barely acknowledged Miranda’s existence.

“That guy?” Lauren asked.

“He looks just like Matt Dillon in The Outsiders,” Miranda said with a little sigh.

“No, he doesn’t,” Lauren said.

Usually she let Miranda’s statements pass by without an argument, but she couldn’t let that one go. Lauren had the poster with the cast of The Outsiders on it hanging on the back of her bedroom door, and she got a good look at Matt Dillon every morning. Tad did not look a thing like him.

“He totally does!” Miranda insisted.

“No way,” Lauren said.

“Well, he’s going to be a junior and he has a Camaro,” Miranda said, as if this settled everything.

When Miranda said things like that, Lauren could feel the strings that had bound them together their whole life unknotting one by one. Lauren really didn’t care if he had a Camaro, and the old Miranda wouldn’t have either. The old Miranda would have wanted to stay in the woods instead of going to the Dream Machine. But the old Miranda had disappeared in the last year, leaving Lauren to wonder why she still came when Miranda called.

Maybe it’s just hard to let your best friend go, even if you have nothing in common anymore, Lauren thought, and sighed a little.

They emerged from the woods behind Frank’s Deli. Two rats, a very large one and a little tiny one, abandoned the bread crust they were chewing and ran behind the three large metal garbage cans lined up next to the back door.

“Gross,” Miranda said as Lauren flinched and made a little squeaking sound.

They heard the sound of soft laughter. Lauren saw Jake Hanson, the son of one of her neighbors, smoking a cigarette behind the electronics shop next door. He was three or four years older than Lauren, so their paths had rarely crossed since she’d been very small. She remembered that once, when she was maybe seven or eight, he’d shown her how to throw a baseball and had spent a half hour patiently catching her wild pitches.

Miranda went straight for the narrow walkway between Frank’s and the electronics shop, ignoring Jake entirely.

Lauren paused, because it really went against the grain for her to pretend someone didn’t exist.

“Hey, Jake.”

He was very tall now, at least a foot taller than Lauren, but his jeans barely hung onto his waist with a belt hooked all the way to the last hole. He had on a black uniform polo with the words Best Electronics embroidered on the upper left side.

“Hey, Lauren,” he said, blowing smoke out of his nose.

She wondered when his voice had started to sound so grown- up. He didn’t really sound like a boy anymore—but then, she supposed that he wasn’t. He was probably eighteen years old now, or close to it—old enough to have real stubble on his cheeks and not just the stringy fuzz most high school boys sported.

His blue eyes looked her up and down, assessing. Assessing what, Lauren wasn’t sure. She’d always liked his eyes, how his blue eyes contrasted with his dark hair, but now something in the way they looked at her made the blood rise in her cheeks.

“Nice shoes,” he said, and she couldn’t tell if he meant it or he was making fun of her.

“Lau-ren,” Miranda called impatiently.

“Better hurry,” Jake said conversationally. He dropped the end of his cigarette on the ground and stubbed it out with the sole of his black boots. “See you around, Lauren.”

“Yeah,” she said, jogging after Miranda. She didn’t really know why but she felt flustered, and when she felt flustered she got annoyed.

“What were you doing?” Miranda said.

“Saying hi,” Lauren said, even more annoyed now because Miranda had clearly heard the conversation.

“You shouldn’t say hi to losers like him,” Miranda said.

“He’s my neighbor,” Lauren said. Her face still felt hot she knew from long experience that it would take a while for her cheeks to return to their normal color.

Miranda leaned in close to Lauren, stealing a quick glance over her shoulder to ensure that nobody was nearby and listening.

“He deals drugs,” Miranda whispered.

Lauren frowned. “Give me a break. Drugs? In Smiths Hollow? Where would he even get them from?”

“There are drugs even in Smiths Hollow,” Miranda said mysteriously.

The only thing Lauren really knew about drugs came from movies where a character would occasionally smoke a joint. Miranda had seen Scarface, though Lauren hadn’t, and had acted like an authority on all things cocaine- related since then.

They emerged from between the storefronts of the deli and the electronics shop. The Dream Machine was directly across the street. All the windows were open. The sound of loud music combined with the persistent bleep of electronics and the occasional whoop of a player was easily heard over the car engines on Main Street.

Lauren looked both ways so they could cross, but Miranda grabbed her arm and pointed toward the Sweet Shoppe a few doors away.

“I need some Tic Tacs,” she said. “I ate a tuna fish sandwich for lunch before Tad called. If I’d known he was going to call I wouldn’t have eaten anything. I don’t want to look bloated in front of him.”

She patted her paper- flat stomach as she said this and glanced at Lauren as if she expected her to say You’re not bloated.

But Lauren was only half paying attention to Miranda. Going to the Sweet Shoppe meant that they had to cross in front of the large glass windows of Best Electronics. Jake Hanson was back behind the counter, cigarette break over, and was hunched over what looked like a pile of black plastic and wires.

She quickly looked away, first because she didn’t want to get caught staring, and second because if he did look up she didn’t know if she should wave or pretend not to see him. Her gaze shot out into the road and the passing cars.

A maroon station wagon was coming down Main Street and Lauren pretended to be absorbed in Miranda’s face as it went by. The one person Lauren never had any trouble pretending not to see was her mother.

U.S. edition published by Berkley Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

To add THE GHOST TREE to your Goodreads list click here

Grab the U.S. edition from your favorite bookseller or one of these retailers:

57th Street Books

Andersons Bookshop

Barnes & Noble

The Book Cellar

Bookmarks

Books-A-Million

Bookshop

Bucket O’Blood Books and Records

Indiebound

Kobo

Mysterious Galaxy

RoscoeBooks

Unabridged Bookstore

Volumes Bookcafe

Women and Children First

Audible

Amazon


U.K. edition is published by Titan Books

Grab the U.K. edition from your favorite bookseller:

EXCLUSIVE SIGNED EDITION available from Waterstones

Amazon U.K.

The Beckenham Bookshop

Big Green Bookshop

The Book Shop

Five Leaves Bookshop

Forum Books

Foyles

Mr. B’s Emporium

Hive

Literally Productions

The Mainstreet Trading Company

Max Minerva’s

The Portobello Bookshop

Topping & Company Booksellers

Transreal Fiction

WriteBlend


News and new releases

Some quick release news for all of you – LOOKING GLASS, the final volume in The Chronicles of Alice, is now available! If you haven’t been able to get out to your local bookstore because of shelter-in-place orders, now is a great time to browse your local shop and pick up a few books. If they don’t have a copy of LOOKING GLASS in stock they can always order it for you.

Many local businesses have been hard hit by COVID-related lockdowns and bookstores need your support more than ever.

If you don’t have a local shop in your area a great alternative is Bookshop.org. Books ship directly from the distributor and the profits are distributed to local bookstores. You can check out their mission statement here.

In other news, the release date for THE GHOST TREE has been moved up to September 8, 2020. I’m so excited for all of you to read this book, which is very close to my heart. More information about THE GHOST TREE can be found here.

I’m extremely sorry that my U.K. tour for LOOKING GLASS with Tim Lebbon was cancelled due to the COVID epidemic. I hope to see all of you in the future.

Be safe, stay healthy and happy reading.

U.S. edition published by Berkley Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Random House

To add LOOKING GLASS to your Goodreads list click here

Grab the U.S. edition from your favorite bookseller:

57th Street BooksA

Anderson’s Bookshops

Barnes & Noble

The Book Cellar

Bookmarks

Books-A-Million

Bookshop

Bucket o’Blood Books and Records

Indiebound

Kobo

Mysterious Galaxy

RoscoeBooks

Unabridged Books

Volumes Bookcafe

Women and Children First

U.K. edition is published by Titan Books

Grab the U.K. edition from your favorite bookseller:

Amazon U.K.

The Beckenham Bookshop

Big Green Bookshop

The Book Shop

Five Leaves Bookshop

Forum Books

Foyles

Mr. B’s Emporium

Hive

Literally Productions

The Mainstreet Trading Company

Max Minerva’s

The Portobello Bookshop

Topping & Company Booksellers

Transreal Fiction

Waterstones

WriteBlend


C2E2 schedule, Australian book tour and U.K. book tour!

I’ve gathered all the information for my upcoming appearances in this post, so read on!

I’ll be a literary guest at C2E2 in Chicago on February 29th and March 1st! There’s an amazing lineup of authors this year and I’m so excited to be participating. My publisher has generously provided a limited number of LOOKING GLASS arcs to Anderson’s Bookshop, the retailer at the autographing area. The arcs will be given as a bonus to anyone who purchases one of my titles, so it’s two books for one and you get an early copy! Panel and signing information below:

Saturday, February 29 12:30 pm- 1:30 pm Room S405a

AUTHORS ON THE BEST ADVICE I EVER GOT – Join authors Terry Brooks (The Shannara Chronicles), Rae Carson (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), Christina Henry (The Chronicles of Alice), Zack Jordan (The Last Human), Josh Malerman (Bird Box), and Sam Sykes (Seven Blades in Black,) as they talk about the best writing advice they ever got, and what advice they would give to an aspiring writer.

Saturday, February 29 1:45 pm- 2:45 pm Autographing at Autograph Table 4

Come meet Terry Brooks, Rae Carson, Christina Henry, Zack Jordan, Josh Malerman, and Sam Sykes (all at Table 4)!
Items will not be provided, but books will be available for purchase at the signing from Andersons, the official bookseller of C2E2. Author signings are free and first come first served.

Sunday, March 1 1:45 pm- 2:45 pm Room S504

TODAY’S VOICES IN CONTEMPORARY HORROR WRITING: Join Josh Malerman (Bird Box), Joe Hill (Horns, Heart-Shaped Box), Daniel Kraus (The Shape of Water, Bent Heavens), and Christina Henry (The Chronicles of Alice) as they discuss how to build terror and deliver expertly crafted chills and thrills in horror fiction.

Sunday, March 1 3:00 pm- 4:00 pm Autographing

Come meet Joe Hill (Table 1), Josh Malerman (Table 2), Christina Henry and Daniel Kraus (Table 4)!
Items will not be provided, but books will be available for purchase at the signing from Andersons, the official bookseller of C2E2. Author signings are free and first come first served.

I’m also extremely excited to announce all the details for my upcoming Australian tour from March 6-March 14. I’ll be a guest at Supanova in Melbourne and the Gold Coast, and in between I’ll have several bookstore appearances in and around Sydney. For more information on Supanova panels and signings, check here. For bookstore stops, please check out the graphic below. Further information can be found by contacting the bookshops.

And last but not least, I’ll be appearing at StokerCon UK in Scarborough from April 16th – April 19th, 2020. More information plus weekend memberships and single-day tickets can be found here.

I’ll be doing a short bookshop tour of the UK following StokerCon with the wonderful Tim Lebbon. Tickets and more information can be found on the Waterstones event page here. For all of our tour stops, see below!

I hope to see you out there!

New books, new gig and upcoming appearances!

I’ve got lots of news to share this week, so read on for info about new books, upcoming appearances and my brand-new gig as a podcast host.

The news is now official so I can announce that I’ll be writing two more books for Berkley – NEAR THE BONE, a horror novel about a woman who lives on a mountain with her abusive husband and discovers there’s more than one kind of monster in the woods, and HORSEMAN, a dark reimagining of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Release dates, covers and more info to come!

In the meantime I’ve got a novella collection, a novel and a short story coming out this year, so there’s plenty to keep you busy until NEAR THE BONE and HORSEMAN are released.

First up is my short story “As Red As Blood, As White As Snow” in the CURSED anthology, edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane. There’s a fantastic lineup of authors in this anthology, including M.R. Carey, Neil Gaiman, Charlie Jane Anders, Jane Yolen, Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon and more. If you love dark fairy tales you won’t want to miss this! CURSED will be released on March 3rd, 2020 and you can preorder now at any bookstore.

LOOKING GLASS, a collection of four novellas set in the ALICE universe, releases April 21, 2020. For more info you can read an excerpt here.

Finally, THE GHOST TREE, a horror novel about a Midwestern town under a curse, releases October 6th, 2020. I’m so excited for all of you to read this one – this book is really close to my heart. Here’s the back cover copy:

“When people go missing in the sleepy town of Smith’s Hollow, the only clue to their fate comes when a teenager starts having terrifying visions, in a chilling horror novel from national bestselling author Christina Henry.

When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in the town of Smiths Hollow, Lauren is surprised, but she also expects that the police won’t find the killer. After all, the year before her father’s body was found with his heart missing, and since then everyone has moved on. Even her best friend, Miranda, has become more interested in boys than in spending time at the old ghost tree, the way they used to when they were kids.

So when Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging the remains of the girls through the woods, she knows she can’t just do nothing. Not like the rest of her town. But as she draws closer to answers, she realizes that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the center. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will.”

One of my favorite hobbies is to watch movies and talk about movies, and my pals Jeff and Jim gave me a chance to do this for a wider audience on their podcast T.M.I. – Confessionals of the Nerd Kind by making me an official member of T.M.I.! If you love movies as much as we do give us a listen on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Last week we had a very impassioned episode discussing PARASITE and THE HOST, two masterpieces by Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho. You can listen here or on your favorite podcast app.

If you enjoy that episode and are looking for more Korean films to try, check out my list of Five More Korean Films For Fans of PARASITE.

I’m so pleased to announce that I’ll be a literary guest at C2E2 in Chicago on February 29th & March 1 2020. For more information about the convention and my panels and signings you can click here.

I’ve got some really exciting news for my U.K. fans – I’ll be attending StokerCon in Scarborough from April 16th to April 19th, and I’ll be touring the U.K. the following week! My publisher is still finalizing dates and locations (and that information will be announced here when I have it), but I look forward to seeing you all at bookstores around the U.K. in April!

LOOKING GLASS sneak peek!

Are you ready to return to the world of ALICE in LOOKING GLASS? Read on for a sneak peek of the first novella in the collection, more information on the stories, U.S. and UK covers and preorder links. I hope you love falling down the rabbit hole again with me.

LOVELY CREATURE

Elizabeth Violet Hargreaves trotted down the stairs in her new blue dress, her blond hair neatly done up in curls and ribbons.
She couldn’t wait to show Mama and Papa how pretty she looked. Elizabeth had spent several moments admiring her appearance from all angles in her looking glass, until her maid Dinah had told her enough was enough and that she should get downstairs else she would miss breakfast.
Elizabeth did not want to miss breakfast. She was a hearty eater, somewhat to her mother’s dismay, and breakfast was her favorite meal. There were always pots of jam with breakfast, and a sugar bowl for the tea, and Elizabeth never missed a chance to add an extra dollop of jam to her toast or sneak another lump of sugar.
If her mother caught her she would make that hissing snake noise between her teeth and tell Elizabeth if she kept eating like that she would become rounder than she was already. Elizabeth didn’t mind much that she was round. She thought it made her look soft and sweet, and she’d rather be soft and sweet than hard and clipped, like her mother.
Of course, Elizabeth thought Mama was beautiful—or rather, she was beautiful underneath all her planes and angles. She had the same blond hair as Elizabeth, long and thick. When she took it down at night it would fall in rippling waves to her waist. Some of those waves had turned silvery grey, though Elizabeth didn’t think Mama was that old, really, and the silver was sort of pretty when it caught the light.
Elizabeth had her mother’s eyes, too, clear and blue. But Mama used to laugh more, and her eyes used to crinkle up in the corners when she did. Now there was always a furrow between her brows, and Elizabeth couldn’t remember the last time she laughed.
No, that isn’t true, she thought to herself. She could remember the last time Mama laughed. It was before That Day.
“That Day” was how Elizabeth always referred to it in her mind, the day that she came downstairs for breakfast to find her father at the table looking like he’d aged twenty years in a minute, his face the color of old ash in the fireplace. In front of him was the morning newspaper, freshly ironed.
“Papa?” she’d asked, but he hadn’t heard her.
Elizabeth had crept closer, and seen the paper’s headline.


FIRE IN CITY ASYLUM
No Survivors—
Tales from Terrified Onlookers


Underneath these interesting bits was a photograph that showed the asylum before and after the fire. Elizabeth stared at the “before” picture. The building seemed like it was staring back at her, like something was rippling under the walls, something that wanted to reach out and grab her and drag her inside.
“Elizabeth,” Papa had said, and folded the paper hurriedly, pushing it to one side. “What is it, my darling?”
She indicated the food spread out on the table before him. “It’s breakfast. Did Mama eat already?”
“N-no,” Papa said. “Mama isn’t feeling well. She’s still asleep.”
That was strange, because Elizabeth was certain she’d heard Mama’s voice downstairs earlier. But Papa seemed to have something on his mind at the moment (that was what Mama always said, that Papa had Something on His Mind and Elizabeth Wasn’t to Bother Him) so perhaps he’d forgotten that Mama had been here already.
Elizabeth climbed into her seat and laid her napkin on her lap as she was supposed to do and waited for Hobson to serve.
The butler came forward and Elizabeth said, “Eggs and toast, please, Hobson.”
He nodded, and lifted the cover off the eggs, and Elizabeth noticed his hand trembled as he scooped the eggs onto her plate with a large silver spoon. He plucked two pieces off the toast rack with tongs and placed them next to the eggs.
“Jam, Miss Alice?” Hobson said, offering Elizabeth the jam pot.
Not Alice,” Papa hissed through his teeth, and his voice was so harsh it made Elizabeth jump in her seat. “Elizabeth.”
Hobson brought one of his shaking hands to his face, and Elizabeth saw with surprise that he wiped away a tear.
“Hobson, are you all right?” she asked. She liked the old butler quite a bit. He always saved extra sugar lumps for her in a handkerchief and passed them illicitly at dinner.

“Yes, Miss Al—Elizabeth,” he said firmly. “I’m quite all
right.”
He placed the jam pot near Elizabeth’s teacup and went to stand against the wall behind Papa. Elizabeth watched him, frowning.
“Papa, who’s Alice?” she asked.
“No one,” Papa said in his No Arguments voice. “I think Hobson must have been thinking of something else.”
Elizabeth ignored the No Arguments warning. “But then why did you get so angry when he said ‘Alice’?”
Papa’s face looked strange then, a kind of cross between chalky and mottled, and he seemed to be swallowing words trying to escape out of his mouth.
“It’s nothing for you to worry about, Elizabeth,” Papa said finally. “Enjoy your breakfast. You can have extra jam if you like.”
Elizabeth returned her attention to her breakfast plate, pleased to have permission for all the jam she liked but not so silly that she didn’t realize Papa was trying to distract her. Still, she supposed she could let herself be distracted for the moment.
And in truth, she had nearly forgotten the Incident at Breakfast until later, when she climbed the stairs to get a book and heard Mama making muffled noises in her bedroom. Elizabeth had put her ear close to the keyhole and listened.

“Alice, Alice,” Mama said, and it sounded like she was sobbing.
“Alice,” Elizabeth said to herself, and tucked the name away. It meant something. No one wanted her to know what it meant, but it certainly meant something.

Elizabeth didn’t know why she was now thinking of That Day as she tripped down the stairs in her lovely dress. That Day had been strange and confusing, all the adults in the house speaking in hushed voices.
Her older sister Margaret had even come from across the City in a carriage to confer with their parents in the parlor and Elizabeth had been told in no uncertain terms to go to her room and stay there while this interesting conference occurred.
Margaret was quite a lot older than Elizabeth— twenty years older, in fact, and had two little girls of her own. These girls were ten and nine years old to Elizabeth’s eight but had to call her “Aunt Elizabeth” and she did rather enjoy exerting the authority that came with being the aunt. It meant that when she said that they had to play a certain game they had to listen or else she could tell them off without getting in trouble for it.
They would see Margaret and her husband Daniel (who always called her “Sister Elizabeth” and made her laugh by tickling her cheeks with his mustache) and the girls today at Giving Day. All of the families of the City gathered in the Great Square for their children to receive their gifts from the City Fathers.
Elizabeth had noticed last year that some families— her own papa, even— also gave something to the City Fathers in return. She couldn’t tell what it was, though, because it was a sealed envelope.
She paused outside the door of the breakfast room, to make certain that Papa and Mama were both in there so she could make her grand entrance and hear both of them ooh and aah at how pretty she looked. The two of them were murmuring quietly to each other as they passed the jam and the butter.
Elizabeth swept into the room and paused just inside the door, holding the hem of her new dress in both hands. Mama hadn’t even seen the dress because Dinah had gone with her to the shop to choose it. Elizabeth wanted it to be a surprise for everyone, and of course her hair had never looked quite so nice as it did just then. Dinah had taken extra care on it that morning.
“Ta‑da!”
Elizabeth said, and waited for the applause.
Instead her mother gasped and said, “Alice!”
Papa’s face went from ruddy to white in a moment, and he looked at Mama and said, in a warning voice, “Althea!”
Mama covered her mouth with her hand, and Elizabeth heard little coughing sobs leaking out from behind her fingers.
Alice again, Elizabeth thought. This time she was not curious about the name so much as annoyed. Who was this Alice to steal Elizabeth’s thunder? Where were her “oohs” and “aahs”?
“What’s the matter, Mama?” Elizabeth asked. “Don’t you think I’m pretty in my new dress?”
Papa took a very long draught from his teacup and put the cup back on the saucer with a clatter. Then he held his arms out to Elizabeth, who went to her father and climbed into his lap.
“Of course you look pretty, my sweetheart. I’ve never seen a
creature so lovely as you.” He winked at her. “Except your mother, of course. And you are just the image of her.”
Elizabeth smiled proudly across the table at Mama, who seemed to be struggling to get herself under control. She stared at Elizabeth as if she were a ghost instead of her own daughter.
“You look very pretty, too, Mama,” Elizabeth offered.
Mama did look pretty in her white gown, the same one that she always wore to Giving Day. It was her nicest one and it never was taken out except for this special day once a year. Mama usually wore it with a pink sash around her waist but that sash had been replaced by a blue one that was a little darker than the blue of Elizabeth’s dress. Elizabeth wondered what happened to the other sash.
“Elizabeth said you look pretty, Althea,” Papa said.
The way he said it was like he was talking to a child that needed to be reminded of her manners. Elizabeth had never heard Papa talk to Mama this way before.
Mama closed her eyes, gave a shuddering breath and then opened them again. When she did the ghost hadn’t left her face entirely but she looked more like Mama again.
“Thank you very much, Elizabeth,” Mama said. “You look charming in that dress.”
If Mama had said this the way that she usually said it Elizabeth would have wriggled with pride but it didn’t sound the way Mama usually said it. It was stiff and hard and Mama didn’t mean it. Elizabeth could tell.
“Why don’t you have some breakfast?” Papa asked, kissing the top of her head. This was the signal for her to hop off his lap and go to her own chair.
She did, though a lot of the joy of the day had been drained out already. Well, perhaps Daniel and Margaret would compliment her dress when they arrived.
Still, Elizabeth thought as she put an extra- generous dollop of marmalade on her toast, I must discover who this Alice is.
Elizabeth was tired of Alice spoiling her days.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NOVELLAS:

In four new novellas, Christina Henry returns to the world of Alice and Red Queen, where magic runs as freely as secrets and blood.

Lovely Creature
In the New City lives a girl with a secret: Elizabeth can do magic. But someone knows her secret–someone who has a secret of his own. That secret is a butterfly that lives in a jar, a butterfly that was supposed to be gone forever, a butterfly that used to be called the Jabberwock…

Girl in Amber
Alice and Hatcher are just looking for a place to rest. Alice has been dreaming of a cottage by a lake and a field of wildflowers, but while walking blind in a snowstorm she stumbles into a house that only seems empty and abandoned…

When I First Came to Town
Hatcher wasn’t always Hatcher. Once, he was a boy called Nicholas, and Nicholas fancied himself the best fighter in the Old City. No matter who fought him he always won. Then his boss tells him he’s going to battle the fearsome Grinder, a man who never leaves his opponents alive…

The Mercy Seat
There is a place hidden in the mountains, where all the people hate and fear magic and Magicians. It is the Village of the Pure, and though Alice and Hatcher would do anything to avoid it, it lies directly in their path…

U.S. edition published by Berkley Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Random House

To add LOOKING GLASS to your Goodreads list click here

Preorder the U.S. edition from your favorite bookseller:

57th Street Books

Amazon

Anderson’s Bookshops

Barnes & Noble

The Book Cellar

Bookmarks

Books-A-Million

Bucket o’Blood Books and Records

Indiebound

Kobo

Mysterious Galaxy

RoscoeBooks

Unabridged Books

Volumes Bookcafe

Women and Children First

U.K. edition is published by Titan Books

Preoder the U.K. edition from your favorite bookseller:

Amazon U.K.

The Beckenham Bookshop

Big Green Bookshop

The Book Shop

Five Leaves Bookshop

Forum Books

Foyles

Mr. B’s Emporium

Hive

Literally Productions

The Mainstreet Trading Company

Max Minerva’s

The Portobello Bookshop

Topping & Company Booksellers

Transreal Fiction

Waterstones

WriteBlend





Returning to the world of ALICE in LOOKING GLASS!

When I completed the writing of RED QUEEN in 2015 I thought I was finished with Alice and Hatcher’s story. Alice and Hatcher would go on into the wilds of your imagination. Their story would continue but it would remain unwritten.

Then, last year, I heard a strange voice in my head, someone crying out – “Don’t do that, sister of Alice!”

Sister of Alice, I thought. Who on earth is this sister of Alice?

Most of my stories begin with a question that I want to answer, so I wrote a story so I could find out about this sister of Alice.  And that got me wondering about what Alice and Hatcher were doing, so I wrote two stories about their continuing adventures. Writing about Hatcher prompted me to wonder about young Hatcher and his life before Alice, so I wrote a story about that, too.

This collection was a labor of love, a last visit with two characters that have meant so much to me. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve loved writing it.

You can find more information on each story below, as well as the GORGEOUS U.S. and U.K. covers and preorder links.

In four new novellas, Christina Henry returns to the world of Alice and Red Queen, where magic runs as freely as secrets and blood.

Lovely Creature
In the New City lives a girl with a secret: Elizabeth can do magic. But someone knows her secret–someone who has a secret of his own. That secret is a butterfly that lives in a jar, a butterfly that was supposed to be gone forever, a butterfly that used to be called the Jabberwock…

Girl in Amber
Alice and Hatcher are just looking for a place to rest. Alice has been dreaming of a cottage by a lake and a field of wildflowers, but while walking blind in a snowstorm she stumbles into a house that only seems empty and abandoned…

When I First Came to Town
Hatcher wasn’t always Hatcher. Once, he was a boy called Nicholas, and Nicholas fancied himself the best fighter in the Old City. No matter who fought him he always won. Then his boss tells him he’s going to battle the fearsome Grinder, a man who never leaves his opponents alive…

The Mercy Seat
There is a place hidden in the mountains, where all the people hate and fear magic and Magicians. It is the Village of the Pure, and though Alice and Hatcher would do anything to avoid it, it lies directly in their path…

U.S. edition published by Berkley Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Random House

To add LOOKING GLASS to your Goodreads list click here

Preorder the U.S. edition from your favorite bookseller:

57th Street Books

Amazon

Anderson’s Bookshops

Barnes & Noble

The Book Cellar

Bookmarks

Books-A-Million

Bucket o’Blood Books and Records

Indiebound

Kobo

Mysterious Galaxy

RoscoeBooks

Unabridged Books

Volumes Bookcafe

Women and Children First

The U.K. edition is published by Titan Books

Preoder the U.K. edition from your favorite bookseller:

Amazon U.K.

The Beckenham Bookshop

Big Green Bookshop

The Book Shop

Five Leaves Bookshop

Forum Books

Foyles

Mr. B’s Emporium

Hive

Literally Productions

The Mainstreet Trading Company

Max Minerva’s

The Portobello Bookshop

Topping & Company Booksellers

Transreal Fiction

Waterstones

WriteBlend

Summer update

I’ve had some questions from readers regarding my upcoming work, so here’s a quick update:
1) First up is LOOKING GLASS. It will be released in April of 2020.
What it is not: A full-length novel about Alice and Hatcher.
What it is: Four novellas (about 40-50 pages each) set in the Chronicles of Alice universe. Two stories are about Alice and Hatcher post-RED QUEEN, one story is about young Hatcher in the Old City, and one story is about a young girl in the New City with a connection to Alice.
Preorders are available from most bookstores now for LOOKING GLASS; I’ll be posting links on this page soon. I also hope to have some cover art for you to see pretty soon as well.
2) I have another book coming out in October of next year called THE GHOST TREE.
What it is not: A retelling of any kind.
What it is: A stand-alone horror novel about a midwestern town under a curse. I am really excited about this book and I hope that all of you love it as much as I do.
3) Finally, several people have asked if there will be a sequel to THE GIRL IN RED. There is no sequel planned at this time. Thank you so much to everyone who loved Red.

The Girl in Red!

THE GIRL IN RED is out today, and I’m so excited for all of you to read it! It was selected as one of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of June by Barnes and Noble as well as one of Amazon’s Best Book of the Month: Science Fiction and Fantasy. Kirkus included it in their June roundup of SFF and said, “With The Girl in Red, Christina Henry once again proves that retellings don’t necessarily lack originality.” Publishers Weekly gave it a great review and said “Satisfyingly upends the familiar tale of a clever girl, a dangerous wolf, and a brave savior, and folklore fans will enjoy this bloody near-future variation on a familiar theme.” Booklist says, “The versatile Henry has reimagined another classic fairy tale, this time with a fascinating narrative about surviving the apocalypse.” It was also included on The Verge’s 11 New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Check out in Late June list.

If you’re in Chicago, I’m having a book launch party at Bucket O’Blood Books and Records on Sunday, June 23rd at 4pm. There will be books and conversation and fun! I hope you can join me there.

U.S. edition published by Berkley Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Random House

To add THE GIRL IN RED to your Goodreads list click here

Grab the U.S. edition of THE GIRL IN RED from your favorite bookseller:

Amazon

Anderson’s Bookshops

Audible

Barnes & Noble

The Book Cellar

Bookmarks

Books-A-Million

Indiebound

Kobo

Mysterious Galaxy

Powells

Unabridged Bookstore

Volumes

Women and Children First

The U.K. edition of THE GIRL IN RED is published by Titan Books

Pick it up from your favorite bookseller:

Amazon U.K.

Waterstones

Foyles

Forbidden Planet