We here at YA Interrobang have a treat for you today – the opening to Ruins by Joshua Winning! We revealed the cover of the second book in the Sentinel trilogy a few weeks back, and now we have the prologue to share with you.
“I love writing prologues,” said Winning. “They’re short, snappy and they act as a teaser for what’s to come later in the book. This prologue for Ruins, book two in The Sentinel Trilogy, actually changed a fair bit from my first draft. I’d written something totally different that I loved, but after my beta readers took a look at it, I realized it had to change. I threw a few ideas around and eventually settled on this – an atmospheric, spooky introduction for a key new character. I wanted readers to ask, ‘Who IS that girl?’ I hope you enjoy it!”
In Ruins, Nicholas Hallow continues his quest for answers about the Sentinels, an ancient society of guardians that his parents belonged to. Now caught into a fight with terrifying monsters and sinister humans, Nicholas must trace down a mysterious girl to get the answers he needs.
Ruins releases on May 18th. For more, visit the Sentinel trilogy website.
Ten years ago
SIRENS WAILED IN THE NIGHT AND the sky was a blood-red inferno of fire and ash. People gathered in the street to stare. They huddled in slippers and dressing gowns, transfixed by the burning house. Some offered reassuring murmurs. Others scrutinised the shadows, fearful that whoever had done this was still nearby.
“It was her. She did it.”
“Keep your voice down.”
The girl hugged her knees, teetering on the edge of the kerb. She was only five years old, but her scowl made her look older. The fire danced in her eyes and her pink pyjamas were flecked with cinders.
Across the street, smoke belched from a house torn apart. The building had been bisected and the girl could see her bedroom through a smouldering fissure. It was blackened and burnt. A nest of broken memories.
Her foster parents stood with their backs to her, arm in arm, watching the blaze. Her foster mother glanced over her shoulder and the girl trembled, caught in the woman’s accusatory glare.
“What are we going to do?”
“Let’s wait for the authorities to arrive.”
“What are we going to do about her.”
The girl screwed up her fists and shuddered at the keening of the approaching sirens. Her heartbeat quickened. Nobody was watching her anymore. She got to her feet, her eyes trained on her foster parents’ backs.
As she turned to run, arms snapped around her and she was hoisted from the ground.
“Don’t go anywhere,” her foster father warned in her ear.
The girl thrashed and growled and angry energy flushed through her. The air shimmered with heat and her foster father dragged her into a neighbour’s garden.
“Stop it,” he said. “Breathe.”
He crouched down, holding her at arm’s length, his forehead creased with concern.
She couldn’t. Her insides churned. The garden wall trembled and the grass rustled as if disturbed by the wind. She’d dreamed the house was collapsing around her, and when she’d woken up, the dream hadn’t ended. She wanted to sob, but she didn’t. She bit the emotion down, clenched her fists until they hurt. And still the rage roiled inside, causing sweat to trickle down her temples.
Across the garden, a tree erupted in flames.
Her foster father jumped and squinted fearfully at her.
Through the dreadful churning in her belly, she heard the pad of determined footsteps behind her.
“Elizabeth, no–” her foster father began.
Something struck her in the back of the head and the girl felt the grass whisper against her cheek.
The last thing she saw was fire and ash in the night sky, and she knew it was all her fault.