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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

they told her she isn’t special - The Abyss Trilogy by A.C. Ward

"I'm a sucker for love stories and this story has a bit of it all: teenage crushes, identity angst and otherworldy talents. It's an action packed story of a conflicted daughter trying to understand her destiny." Alana, Goodreads

Description:

Release Date: November 19th, 2019

Avoiding the Abyss (#1)

Aubrey has always been told she isn’t special.
If only that had remained true. 

Aubrey grew up as part of the rebel movement, protected but lonely. All she wants is her mother’s love, but without an ability she’s worthless in her mother’s eyes. 

When she’s captured by the government, Aubrey sees an opportunity to prove her worth. Instead, she realizes that her mother has been withholding many truths. Aubrey experiences an acceptance outside of the rebels that her heart has yearned for, and a discovery. She has an immunity that has never been seen before.

But Aubrey isn’t immune, she’s absorbing powers as the key to the Abyss—a portal into the demon realm. Her mother finally sees purpose in her daughter and hopes to use it for her cause. Aubrey isn’t as certain. If she doesn’t gain control of her ability, she’ll open the gateway to hell and destroy everyone she’s come to care about. Including herself.

The first installment in the Abyss trilogy, a coming of age YA dystopian fantasy. Perfect for fans of dystopian worlds, apocalyptic prophesies, and demon lore. 

Download now to find out if Aubrey will succeed in Avoiding the Abyss.

EXCERPT

It wasn’t the first time her mother had punched her in the face, and Aubrey doubted it would be the last. The most frustrating part was that she saw the punch coming. Not because it was slow—her mother, the paragon of the rebels, didn’t do slow—but because it was her typical move. Aubrey had fallen for the same thing in prior training sessions. She had learned tactics to avoid it, blocking the punch or turning to the side or even ducking, but indecision led to her freezing up. 

Her mother’s controlled swing hit Aubrey in the jaw. She tasted blood. Trying her best to ignore it, Aubrey kept her feet moving, managing to pull back in time to evade the second swing. She had never been able to keep up with her mother but wanted to put up a good enough fight to avoid being a complete disappointment. Again. 

Sparring matches were one of the few times Aubrey interacted with her mother. It had become a form of communication between them. The way her mother’s green eyes hardened to stone, the deep crease that formed between her brows, the firming of her lips as they turned down in displeasure, Aubrey could read them all. Her mother treated only her that way. A ball of tension twisted in her stomach, the pain of it worse than a connected blow could ever be. 

Aubrey swung out at her mother, the punch a surprise even to herself, and sloppy. Her mother caught it in her own fist, the crease between her brows deepening. She used Aubrey’s own momentum against her, pulling her into the next blow. Aubrey tried in vain to turn it into a glancing blow, but the force of the impact snapped her head back. Dots danced in front of her eyes as Aubrey fell. Her mother released her grip to let her. 

There were ways to fall to keep in the fight. Aubrey tried to get her body to do it, to roll back to her feet, but she flopped onto the rock ground instead with a sickening thud. She blinked, and the dots whirled, creating arcs of white light. Her mother stepped forward into the glow, pressing her advantage, and behind her an image formed. 

Aubrey blinked but the figure remained. It was a man, and it was not. The scowl on his face was even fiercer than her mother’s. When he crossed his arms, Aubrey thought she saw three pairs of limbs folding over his bare ridged chest. He towered above her mother at an impossible height. 

Aubrey lost her breath even before her mother’s kick connected with her side. What little air was left whooshed out of her lungs and she squeezed her eyes shut, giving in to the pain. The next kick popped them open wide again. Behind her mother, the figure was gone, burst like the figment of imagination he must have been. 

The third kick had her body screaming in protest. Aubrey tried to roll away, to not just sit there and be beaten. Her mother was intent on her prey. The next blow to Aubrey’s side drained the last of her resistance. She curled in on herself, covered her head as best she could, and waited for the punishment to be over. 

“Myra,” a voice interjected, warm and unhurried like the man it had come from. 

Aubrey’s arms tightened even further around herself, wondering just how much of her shame he had witnessed. 

Her mother paused, looking back over her shoulder to where he stood. 

“They are asking for you, mi alma,” Tony said, the smile on his face one he reserved for Aubrey’s mother. 

Myra frowned at him, her typical response to the pet name. “I’ve told you not to call me that.” She turned back to her daughter, her stance rigid. “Not good enough.” 

Aubrey let the words pierce her, forcing her grip on herself to loosen. “I know.” 

“You’re already at a disadvantage with no powers. You should be putting every effort into becoming useful in the one area where you have any chance.” Her mother stepped back and picked up a towel to wipe her face, though it wasn’t needed. Myra hadn’t even broken a sweat. 

Aubrey’s own sweat ran in rivulets through her short-cropped hair. She used her trembling arms to push herself to a sitting position. 

Myra tossed the towel, streaked with red dirt, into her lap. “This performance was even worse than last time.” 

Aubrey tensed as her mother stepped toward her, half expecting another kick. 

Myra crouched, forcing her daughter to meet her sharp eyes. “You’re becoming even more of a waste of time. If it gets any worse, we’ll end these sessions.” She stood again, turning her back on Aubrey. 

Tony moved to the side of the entrance as she passed through, staring after her silently. When she was out of sight, he let out a heavy sigh and glanced at Aubrey where she was still frozen in place. “Happy fifteenth birthday, nena,” he said. Then he left to chase after her mother. 

Aubrey stared at the rocky ground beneath her. Her hands curled into fists, the urge to hit something coming too late. She slammed them down hard enough to raise the dirt in plumes of red dust. 

Approaching the Abyss (#2)

A new prophesy.
Demons on the loose.
Then the angels come to kill them all.

After her mother abandons her, Aubrey doubts her abilities more than ever. She failed to close the Abyss. Desperate to prove herself, Aubrey enters the demon realm only to trigger a new disaster. She releases the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These angels are uncompromising in their purpose; to massacre humanity.

Aubrey alone has an immunity to match the angels, but it isn’t enough. She is faced with making a pact with a demon, or worse, her own mother. Aubrey must decide or lose those she care about. Will her choices prevent the apocalypse, or are they actually the steps leading to the end?

The second installment in the Abyss trilogy, a coming of age YA dystopian fantasy. Perfect for fans of dystopian worlds, apocalyptic prophesies, and angel lore. 

Download today to find out if Aubrey will avoid Approaching the Abyss.

EXCERPT

Darion watched the three girls walk farther down the corridor, Sage in the lead. With each step, he wanted to grab Izzy and force her to return to her room. 

It was difficult to keep their footsteps quiet along the slick marble floors. The walls made of processed rock gleamed, nothing like the towns or schools he’d been in. Paintings hung every few feet, all depicting places from Earth That Was, a glimpse of an unreachable past. 

Izzy reached out for Sage, releasing her when the other girl spun around with a glare. 

“There’re a couple guards.” Izzy gestured to the next corner. 

“I’ll take care of them.” A spark of flame glimmered on Sage’s palm, but Aubrey’s grip caused the flame to die. “These aren’t demons. We wait.” 

“Spoilsport.” Sage shrugged her off, but the fire didn’t reappear. 

They stood in silence until Izzy, no longer able to hear the guards’ thoughts, waved them on. 

“This must be hard for you,” Neil murmured. 

Darion sighed. “It’s fine.” 

“It used to be you.” Neil shifted his gaze to Aubrey. “You used me for transportation, but you took care of the missions.” 

“It’s not like I enjoyed it. That was part of my deal with Maxwell.” 

“My deal would be more pleasurable for you,” Lilith said, though she didn’t look back. Darion decided that meant he could ignore her. 

“How are you handling not having powers?” Neil asked. 

“Don’t worry about me.” Resentment did fester in his head, especially since his sister had proved helpful already. He’d be lying to himself if he didn’t admit that he wanted to bundle her off to safety as soon as possible, but she was holding her own, even if he wished she wasn’t. He preferred to be the one to take care of everything again. 

“That’s what most of us have been doing for the last few months. Worrying about you.” Neil stared at Aubrey. “She acted like she was furious with you, but I don’t think anger was driving her.” 

Aubrey stopped next to a statue, gazing up at it with a perplexed expression. The other girls walked on without her. She pulled her attention away and jogged to catch up. 

The statue was the figure of a woman, eyes empty and searching. Her arms had been severed. Darion found it compelling and disturbing all at once. 

“She slapped me, you know,” he said as he moved past. “Her feelings were clear.” 

Neil shook his head. “For all your ability, you still don’t understand women, do you?” 

“He is correct,” Lilith said. “You lack much knowledge.” 

Darion refused to rise to the bait. 

“It wasn’t all the ability, you know.” Neil cleared his throat. A blush tinted his cheeks. “Some people’s feelings were real, and those didn’t fade when your powers did.” 

Darion focused on the long, red ponytail bouncing in front of them. “I’m not oblivious. I’ll figure out how to talk to Sage, let her down easy.” 

“You’re an idiot.” Neil increased his pace to catch up to the girls. 

Lilith slowed to walk beside Darion. “He’s not wrong.” 

“I don’t need this from you.” He stared at the back of Neil’s head and wondered what he’d missed. 

“He likes you,” Lilith said. She laughed at his expression. “It is not unheard of, a boy liking a boy.” 

The girls paused on the threshold of a larger room, allowing Darion to catch up and avoid answering. On exhibit were artifacts of the Maker. There were painted bowls, chipped tiles, crosses of all shapes and sizes, and many images of the Maker’s Son carrying His burden. 

Lilith moved forward, drawn to a painting of a mother holding a baby, A halo hovered above the mother. The demon’s fingers traced the head of the baby. Her expression was one Darion had not seen before, neither coy nor teasing, but with an intensity that he couldn’t place. “Beautiful,” she said. 

Sage snorted. “You don’t seem like the mothering type.” 

Lilith turned to her. “Why, because I’m sensual?” Her other hand traced her hip as she let out a throaty chuckle. “You know how babies are made. Sensuality is an integral part of the process.” 

Sage looked away, flushing. 

Darion studied Lilith, a spark of dread churning in his gut. A smile lingered on her lips as she gazed at the baby. 

Neil stared around at the other artifacts. “This is supposed to be the room.” 

“You’d think a flaming sword would be obvious.” Sage reached out to touch the plate displayed in front of her. It wobbled and fell to the floor, shattering into pieces. “Oops.” 

Aubrey stared at the shards. Darion knew what she was thinking; broken urns had started the whole mess. 

“Do you know how ancient that was?” Izzy hissed. She bent to brush the broken shards and let out a soft cry, pulling her hand back. 

Darion strode over. “Let me see it.” 

Izzy stuck her bleeding finger in her mouth. “It’s fine. Barely a scratch.” 

“Just be careful,” he said. 

“I—” Izzy stopped and tilted her head. “The guards heard. They’re coming this way.” 

Two balls of fire flickered to life above Sage’s hands. “That’s okay. I’ve got this.” 

Aubrey grabbed her. “No, you don’t. These are civilians, remember?” She looked over at Neil. “Can you move us over a room? We’ll lie low until they pass.” 

“Your wish is my command.” He waved a hand at the opposite wall, opening a pathway through. 

“Come on.” Aubrey dragged Sage with her. 

“I understand, you know.” Sage tried to pull free from her hold. “I won’t do anything.” 

Aubrey held tight. “No, you won’t. Now, quiet, and everyone hurry.” 

A lump built in Darion’s throat. There had been no reason for him to tag along. Sage was useful, Neil more so, even Izzy had a place with her ability. Hell, Lilith would probably provide uncanny insight soon. He tried to swallow past the constriction and followed the others. 

It didn’t take long for them to pile into the next room. It was about as large as the one they had left but held a lot less. The only thing present, in the middle on a pedestal, was a locked crate. 

Lilith licked her lips and stepped toward it. “There’s something tantalizing in there.” She sniffed the air, closing her eyes as her smile spread. 

Sage frowned at the metal crate. “It doesn’t look like much.” She reached out, but a spark zapped her hand. “Ouch! There’s a force field.” 

Darion couldn’t see any blinking lights, and no sound blared around them. “You’re lucky you didn’t set off an alarm.” 

“Whatever. This spy stuff, slinking and hiding, isn’t my thing.” 

Aubrey moved past her, careful not to get too close to the crate. “Neil, can you help again?” 

His smile widened as he approached. “I’m proving useful, aren’t I?” 

“I never said you weren’t useful.” Aubrey continued to study the crate. “It’s your judgment I question.” 

“Because I wanted to save you?” he asked. His smile faded. “Do you think you’re not worth it?” 

Darion saw the flicker in her eyes she tried hard to control. He clenched his teeth, regretting again that he hadn’t gone with her to see her mother. 

Aubrey held up her hands. “Immune, remember? I don’t need to be saved.” 

Neil crossed his arms. “Then why don’t you reach out to open the crate?” 

Aubrey shook her head. “I’m immune to abilities. Man-made electronics still stump me. Not much of that in the tunnels where I grew up.” 

“Save the discussion for later.” Lilith bounced on her feet. “I want to see inside.” 

Neil formed the portal. It wasn’t very wide, but spread deep, opening all the way inside the crate. An orange glow flooded his and Aubrey’s faces. 

“The sword of flame,” Izzy murmured. 

Aubrey hesitated and then reached in. She withdrew her hand, and her grip smothered the burning hilt. The fire flared along the blade, licking up to the tip. 

“No effect on you?” Darion asked, caution edging his voice. 

“Doesn’t seem to.” She stared at the burning edge. She raised and lowered the sword, testing the weight. “It’s not the lightest, but it’s manageable.” She pointed the tip at the floor. “Though I prefer a knife.” 

Lilith moved closer but was careful not to touch. “It’s stunning.” 

“Will it get the job done?” Aubrey glanced over at Izzy. “Did your research really say this killed angels?” 

Izzy winced, her hands flying to her head. “There’s something…” She paused, and her eyes flew open. “We should leave. Now.” 

Three figures shimmered into the room. Darion stepped forward as Aubrey stiffened. 

“Hello, nena,” Tony said, glancing from Aubrey to the figure beside him. He released Camren’s hand. 

“You shouldn’t have come here.” Aubrey’s grip tightened on the sword. 

Myra Vale inclined her head toward the flaming weapon. “You have something of mine, and I intend to take it.”

Accepting the Abyss (#3)

The angels and demons are defeated.
Aubrey knows true happiness.
Then the Devil comes to destroy it all.

Aubrey had never dreamed that life could bring such joy. She has a family, friends, and is falling in love. She’s even mended her relationship with her mother. Together they’re working to change the way abilities are viewed.

But a final prophecy looms, one that threatens to destroy the world. The Devil offers her a deal; to choose her own happiness over the life of an innocent. Lucifer is charming, compelling, but not to be trusted. Neither are many of those Aubrey has grown to care about. 

Aubrey has more to lose than ever before. Will she find a path to save humanity, or do all choices lead to the end?

The third installment in the Abyss trilogy, a coming of age YA dystopian fantasy. Perfect for fans of dystopian worlds, apocalyptic prophesies, and devil lore. 

Download now to find out if Aubrey will end up Accepting the Abyss.

EXCERPT

Their fighting styles were equal. Aubrey had been taught by the best. Soon it was Myra struggling to catch up. Her mother fell for her feint. Aubrey’s elbow connected with her stomach. Myra grunted, bending at the waist. Aubrey followed up with a blow to her back. Her mother collapsed to the sand. 

She pulled in a breath, slow and calm. It was an odd feeling, standing above her mother. “Are we done?” 

Myra lifted her head. “Not even close.” Her gaze shifted, looking past her daughter. 

Aubrey grabbed her mother’s arm. Her headache pounded as energy flowed in. She shook her. “What are you doing? Do you want the Abyss to reopen?” 

Myra lowered her eyes. “You don’t understand. I’m trying to save you.” 

Aubrey’s heart thumped at the words. “Don’t pretend this is about me. You have your own agenda. Let’s talk things through instead of fighting. Maybe there’s another way.” 

“No, Myra,” Ethan said. He huddled against a nearby wall, his eyes wide. “The future is changing. You can’t stop. What I see—” 

“How can you see anything if I’m in it?” Aubrey’s fingers tightened on her mother’s wrist. “Besides, the future isn’t set. The decisions we make impact it.” 

“Exactly.” Myra pulled free and jumped to her feet. 

And then froze. She wasn’t the only one. Ethan didn’t blink or twitch behind her. The clouds above held steady, not shifting on the air currents. 

Aubrey sighed, turning to where the devil stood. “Do you mind? I’m a little busy.” 

Lucifer smiled at her. He was in the same form as before, but his dark hair was highlighted white-blonde, and his skin was lighter. Familiar blue eyes twinkled at her. “You make it sound like you didn’t miss me.” 

She folded her arms. “Because I didn’t.” 

He chuckled, strolling past a frozen Tony holding Matías. “There’s no need to pretend.” 

“I don’t have the baby. I couldn’t give it to you if I wanted.” 

The devil shook his head. “You’ve already declined that offer. I try not to be tedious.” He reached out, tucking a strand of hair back into her ponytail. 

Aubrey jerked away. “This isn’t a deal like Lilith’s, is it?” 

“Do not compare me to that creature.” Lucifer took a breath. His smile spread. “I do enjoy mutual pleasure, but you are too young to desire that. No, I would offer something else.” 

“Well, say whatever it is so I can get back to things.” Aubrey studied her mother behind his shoulder. “I was getting through to her.” 

“And if I told you you’re not? You, better than anyone, understand your mother. Do you believe she would change her mind?” 

Aubrey lifted an eyebrow. “I’m supposed to trust you instead?” 

“So cautious! Do not dismiss me out of hand. Decisions made can impact the future.” 

“Don’t throw my words in my face.” Aubrey straightened. “You should change things if it’s that easy.” 

He spread his hands. “What do you believe I am attempting to do?” 

Aubrey scanned the courtyard. Lilith’s frozen smile was fierce as he had paused her mid-punch. Rebels lay around her. Even as they ganged up on her, she was too much for them. “Why don’t you join with us?” she asked. “Become partners with Lilith instead of enemies. Or do you like feeding into the prophecy?” 

His smile faded. “You do not understand the history between Lilith and I, or you would not suggest such a thing.” 

She shuddered. “And I don’t want to.” 

“You were present when she murdered Abaddon. It was simple for her. You cannot say that didn’t give you pause.” 

The swiftness of his death had been terrifying. Aubrey could still picture the nails extending, slashing through bone. “I wouldn’t call it murder. He came through to attack us.” 

“I know a non-answer when I hear one, but I appreciate the game.” He held out a hand. “Come. I wish to show you something.” 

“You expect me to hold hands with the devil?” 

“I told you, I prefer being called Morning Star. But I will not force a lady.” He gestured in front of him. “After you.” 

Aubrey hesitated, her gaze returning to her mother. 

“I release nothing until you deny my offer,” Lucifer reassured her. 

Aubrey moved in the direction he indicated, sighing. “Fine.” 

They walked together to the entrance of the market. The little girl hovered just inside. Scattered throughout were women and children, huddled beneath the stalls, eyes wide with fear. 

Fear at her group. 

Lucifer bent to her ear. “You have specific people prevalent in your mind. You protect them, and I admire that. But in doing so, you are forgetting the others in need of your protection.” He straightened away from her. 

Aubrey turned from the rebels, forcing the guilt down. “And I’m supposed to believe choosing you saves them?” 

“All I require is for you to ask me to intervene. I will do the rest, and we will thwart this prophecy together.” 

“The Maker never makes things that easy.” 

“Don’t pretend. You have no love for the Maker,” Lucifer said. “Like me, He has tossed you aside again and again.” 

“So now you’re comparing me to you in order to convince me? That reeks of desperation. No deal.” 

The blue of his eyes darkened. “Be very careful. You are likely to lose that which cannot be replaced. Do you still deny me?” 

“I won’t accept your help, no matter how hard you push.” 

“Very well. But don’t say that I did not provide fair warning.” His smile held a new knowledge, something dark hiding in the edges. “Remember, my offer is available until you leave this courtyard.” He waved his hand and disappeared. 

The world unfroze. Aubrey was on the opposite side of the courtyard from her mother. Myra closed her eyes in concentration. 

“No!” Aubrey screamed, sprinting toward them. 

About the author:
Amanda Ward is a little worried that her internet search history is on some sort of watch list. For Death Daydreams, she researched serial killers, hidden rooms, death, suicide, and third-story falls. Her next work in process is only making it worse.

Amanda lives with her husband, daughter, and various pets - dog, cat, gecko, fish, and tarantula. When she's not writing she's watching Netflix or rereading her favorite manga. She'd love to hear from her fans. You can contact her at wardabooks@gmail.com.

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11 comments:

Debbie P said...

This sounds like a great read.

Kate Sarsfield said...

Wow! That's one hell of a trilogy!

katieoscarlet said...

I enjoyed the excerpt. This sounds like a good read.

Stephanie LaPlante said...

Sounds like an awesome book. The cover looks really cool.

lildevilgirl22 said...

this book sounds good

Amy Woolard said...

The excerpt was great! This will be a good series in my opinion!!

Adik Miftakhur said...

Sounds good

Nancy Payette said...

Interesting cover

Debra Branigan said...

Covers are great and the series sounds like a very interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

Bridgett Wilbur said...

Great cover.

Anna Josefin Bergman said...

Sounds good.