The Dark Cycle
Rachel A. Marks
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: July 1st, 2015
Number of pages: 422
Word Count: 120,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Neilson
Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.
In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. In their company, Aidan believes he’s finally found a haven for Ava. But when he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, he awakens powers he didn’t know he had―and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.
With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness at bay and accept his brilliant, terrifying destiny?
I let the pulse of the music coat me and mute my surroundings. A mass of people crowd the dance floor of the club, and I sit on an abandoned couch in the corner. The lights beat at the air in blues and greens, and bodies twist and merge to the thunder. I lean back, close my eyes, and try to get lost in it, the smells and sounds of people and their collective high.
Something moves next to me. I look over to find a girl sprawled on the seat beside me, trying to catch her breath. She’s not dressed in the usual club gear, more like a girl who got lost on her way to a beach party: Hurley T-shirt, jean skirt, and red Converse. Her cheeks are flushed pink; her throat and forehead glitter with sweat. She glances at me like she didn’t know I was there. She licks her upper lip, her eyes not leaving mine. Then she says something I can’t hear.
I point to my ear and shake my head.
She smiles and laughs, lighting up the space around her. She rests her hand on my arm, like we’re friends and I just told her the most hilarious joke, and then she gets up and disappears into the mass of bodies again.
My arm tingles, my body reacting to the moment of contact in a sudden and disconcerting way. I think I’ve had my fill of watching people indulge their baser instincts. I need to get out of here.
The beat of the music speeds up, vibrating faster as I move through the crowd. I try not to touch anyone, which is nearly impossible. All the emotions and appetites are overwhelming, as if the rising rhythm of the music makes their yearnings rise, too. Lust buzzes in the air. A hunger stirs in me, a gaping hole, needing to be filled. With touch.
The touch of female fingers. A hand on my arm, taking my wrist, pulling me into the fray, into the pressing bodies. And I don’t try to escape. I let her take me.
Because I’m tired.
Because I’m a dumbass.
A girl moves in front of me—not the Hurley girl, not the one I was hoping for. She presses closer, so close I can almost taste the salty perspiration on her skin. She has thin, birdlike shoulders, a swan neck, a heart-shaped face, and black hair, long and tangled, turning blue and green with the light. Her hands slide up my chest. She wraps her arms around my neck and tilts her head to look up at me.
Her lips are full and painted dark purple. There’s a dimple in her left cheek that gets deeper with her growing smile. And her eyes . . .
Fog fills my head for a second, interrupting my thoughts.
“Hi,” she mouths, calling attention to her lips again.
And then she’s rising up on her toes, pulling me down to her, twisting her fingers in my hair, her lips smashing against mine.
My body buzzes from her touch, and my hands react, drawing her into me. I drink her in. She tastes like the air around me, hunger and urgency, and—
Green apple Jolly Ranchers?
I grip her sides, her ribs so delicate beneath my fingers. The sweet tang of her teases me, the hunger becoming a monster deep inside. I have to press her closer, tighter, try to feed it, as I feel the fire of her need link with mine.
She pulls back a little and looks at me with wide eyes, like she’s shocked. That’s when I see the mark, a glowing, blue-inked line of what looks like Chinese symbols, trailing down the nape of her neck to her shoulder blade. Symbols that I’m suddenly sure mean: touch this girl at your own risk.
It’s the only thing I see for a second: Beware. Beware.
Until her energy reaches for me, wispy tendrils of blue light wrapping their way around my wrists and snaking up my chest.
I jerk away, into the guy behind me, stepping on his girlfriend’s toes. I get shoved— thankfully farther from the hypnotic girl—through a space in the crowd, saying a hundred excuse-me’s even though I know no one can hear them. I find my way out of the press of bodies to the edge of the room again where it’s safe.
It’s time to leave. I should’ve left an hour ago.
The Dark Cycle
Rachel A. Marks
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: 2/1/16
Number of pages: 335
Cover Artist: Cliff Neilson
Against the backdrop of an ancient battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness, Aidan struggles to control the newly awakened powers that seem to be his only hope for rescuing Ava, his little sister, trapped somewhere beyond the Veil. As he gravitates to Kara, the beguiling and dangerously unstable girl who helped him realize his abilities, a terrible mistake of fate is revealed that points him back toward Rebecca, whose role is becoming more critical to the battle. And no matter what his heart wants, it might be too late to stop the pieces already in motion.
Without knowing the sacrifices that will be required of them, Aidan and his motley crew of friends—each with their own role to play—must face the demon threat head-on. They’re the only ones keeping the growing army of Darkness at bay, and if they fail, the future of humanity could be lost.
About the Author:
Rachel A. Marks is an award-winning author and professional artist, a SoCal girl, cancer survivor, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. She was voted: Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory. Her debut series The Dark Cycle, described as Dickens' Oliver Twist meets TV's Supernatural, is now out through Skyscape, beginning with DARKNESS BRUTAL.
Where are you from? I'm a proud SoCal native, born in Los Angeles, California. I've lived hear all my life and I can't imagine living anywhere else.
Tell us your latest news? Something fun about to happen is the upcoming release of the third book in The Dark Cycle series, DARKNESS SAVAGE. I'm super excited to see how readers react to the grand finale of Aidan's crazy story.
When and why did you begin writing? I began my writing journey as a lover (read: obsessed human) of books, and a girl with an extremely vivid imagination. I made up creatures and stories since I can remember. But I didn't start to write them down until high school. Unfortunately my breed of entertainment didn't sit well with my very conservative private school teachers and a lot of discouragement was sent my way. Which made me think I just wasn't any good at writing. So, I stopped creating and just read. It was as an adult with four tiny kids that I suddenly wanted to try again. I realized that I had something to say. And I haven't stopped spilling out words since.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? I think the realization came after I started my second novel. It dawned on me that I wouldn't be able to stop writing at that point. There were just too many stories/characters inside me. Published or not, I wanted to give them life in some form or another.
What inspired you to write your first book? My first book was inspired by the teens in the youth group my husband and I had begun pasturing. A lot of the teens were avid readers and I saw the joy they were finding in the stories and I decided I wanted to write a story my teen self would have loved. Nothing ever came of that novel over the twelve years I kept writing, until recently—I've re-imagined the world a little and am currently rewriting it. Which is a lesson on how nothing is a waste, really.
Do you have a specific writing style? I think my style could be seen as gritty and visual. I'm an artist so how I write is bent in the tactile direction.
How did you come up with the title? The title for Darkness Brutal as well as Darkness Fair came to me from the poem that inspired the story. "Darkness brutal, darkness fair...at last payment for my sin." The poem came to me as I imagined a girl mired in guilt over a horrible thing she'd done. From that came my vision of the main character—Aidan's—mother. She's the first one I saw when the story came to me.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? If there is a message in my books—and truthfully, I try to just write character and let the reality of our humanity speak for itself—but if there is a message, I think it's that you, as a member of this creation, are valuable, whatever you've been through, whatever you've done.
How much of the book is realistic? The cool thing about setting a fantasy story in modern day places is that I could use local legends and mythos. I took most of my "hauntings" from true accounts I'd read. Also, I think I can say that I did pull from my own experiences with the supernatural as a child, as well. I've always been a very spiritual person and these books were a very fun (though, sometimes terrifying) way to explore those things.
What books have influenced your life the most? Oh, there've been so many! I feel like books were my friends for so long, and really, they shape so much of my history because I hid in them and lived through them. Stephen King's IT set a spark in my writer brain as a teen. I loved obscure poetry and classics like Lady In White or Phantom of the Opera. Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire, was a huge favorite of mine all through high school and I read Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth twice in tenth grade, as well as Robert McCammon's Swan Song—OMG, that book is amazing (I actually read it five times). The Giver by Lois Lowry became the book to spark my urge to write as an adult. I wanted so badly to make readers discover and feel the way she did to me.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? I'm actually very blessed to have had several amazing face-to-face mentors on the road to my publishing journey. James Scott Bell has been very encouraging and inspiring to me, Randy Ingermanson (King of The Snowflake Method) was also a great teacher in my early years learning to write. And Orson Scott Card, and his guidance and wisdom, has also been a huge beacon along the way.
What book are you reading now? Umm...at this moment, I'm reading a book called Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw. He's a new self published author and the book is really amazing so far! The writing is superb!
What are your current projects? At the moment I'm actually working on a high fantasy, called THE RAVEN CALLS. It's going to be dark and intricate, with a very large twist of fate, and I really can't wait to see if it's any good! ;) It's so much fun to write so far! You can see a Pinterest board here: https://www.pinterest.com/rachelannemarks/the-raven-calls-book-one-of-the-bone-tree-saga/
Tour giveaway $20 Amazon giftcard and chosen paperback or audio in the series
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