Sunday, 9 July 2017

Chapter Reveal: Monarch by Laura Pritchard (Dystopian, Young Adult)

 April 2017, 233 pages, Ebook,

Book summary
In the times after the reformation, the leaders of the new world have created the perfect society. There is no exaggerated wealth or famishing poverty. There is no starvation or crime or disease. The citizens of the sectors are secure and well nourished, forever protected by the life the Monarchy have so gracefully afforded.

No one mentions the things that are lacking. Constance thinks about it often.

At the age of sixteen, Constance is taken from her family in a twisted ceremony called ‘Removal.’ Forced to reside in the Citadel, the fortress of the Monarchy, she faces a brutal induction to evolve into a soldier of the Brigade; sworn peace keepers of the sectors. While she grapples with the feelings of revolution that rage in her mind, Constance is trained by Calloway, the guard with an elusive past who shadows her every move.  

Remaining peaceful, however, is the last thing on the minds of the inhabitants of sector six. Uprisings and rebellions are common place with her own kinsfolk being injured and killed as a consequence. When the time comes, Constance must decide which side she will choose in a battle that will determine her future. It is a choice that she should never have to face, weighing her own life against the lives of those that she loves.

Nayu's thoughts
I'm very much not into dystopians right now (too dark and depressing), but since Monarchy sounds like books I've read in the past I'm pleased to do this small feature so you can find out about it and hopefully enjoy it too! Thanks to Laura for being extremely patient for the delay in posting this feature, and for letting me do a chapter reveal! 

Be sure to check out more on Laura's website!

Novel extract Chapter 13 of Monarchy by Laura Pritchard

I am on the brink of somewhere between consciousness and sleep, that light area of night when your mind drifts away from your motionless body.
I stand at the edge of the pool. The room is unlit but the ripple of the water creates the illusion of lightness and dark. I wear only my underwear, the pinched uniform forms a trail from where I entered to where I stand now. My toes curl the edge and I can foretell the temperature of the water before any part of my body has touched it. My breath is a cloud. My heartbeat, a thunderclap.
A solitary figure stands alone at the other side. He is shrouded in white, his mouth silenced by cloth. The blue eyes stand out, piercing and welcoming all at once. He raises his right hand and points and I lower my eyes to my body. There, on my hip. The handprint is black like ink, stained onto my flesh. I use my hand to fill the space, the fingers found wanting, the palm not quite wide enough.
The pointing continues. It’s frantic, the finger gestures towards me and I can’t see why. My eyes reflect in the water, black as firewood. My hair swirls, a fiery veil around my head. A finger breaks the surface, then another, then a palm. The water reflects the movement, rippling away from the emerging shapes. The arm rises and curls, seizing my ankle like a vice.
And without knowing how, I’m in the water and it’s colder than frost and Susanna is beneath me, dragging me further into the dark. I fight and pull but the depth gets blacker and the air burns in my lungs until finally, I’m gone.

I fall quickly over the edge into consciousness, and I’m dragging the sheets and blankets away as if they are drowning me. When I’m finally free, the night air is cold on my face in the dark cell and my breaths come hastily and loud.
I can’t tell the time as there are no windows in our block. The stillness makes me think it’s late but without the moon, the night has become a timeless nightmare. I lie back on the pillow that feels like a rock and try and calm my breathing. The beating slows as I regain my senses. I can make out heavy breaths through the gap in the door. I should close it fully now that I know that the Monarchy pursue us closer than I’d have ever thought, but I can’t. I need the reassurance that the other inductees provide.
The purpose of Lex’s questioning took a while to sink in. It wasn’t until he locked me into the cellblock after we had all been interrogated that I made the connection; we are being watched. Always watched. And clearly, our actions do not meet with his approval.
I think of my Brigadier, his face in the darkened corridor, watching my receding form as I moved towards my interrogation. I wonder if he would have warned me if he had the opportunity. I’d like to think that he would have, even if my speculation serves only to reassure me that he means me no harm. I miss looking into those bottomless eyes, a blue the likes of which I have never seen. It feels like an age since we last looked at each other.    
A whimper echoes through the corridor. Yesterday, my instincts would have jumped straight to Annabeth but now I find myself analysing the noise, like I find myself analysing her. The sound is deeper than Annabeth’s high tone. I hope it’s not Theo.
The sound is underscored by a mechanic click and the screech of the heavy metal door opening inwards. I recheck my earlier assessment. I must have been wrong about the time, any minute now the siren will sound and wake everyone from their slumber.
But the sound doesn’t come. I feel a draft as my door is pushed inwards, catch a glimpse of white before it’s gone and the door is left swinging on its hinges. Doors are being opened up and down the hall. I can hear the squeaky footsteps as the guard moves stealthily along. I should move, I want to move, but I feel like I’m tied down.
A tell-tale whistle breaks the silence and I know what’s about to happen. The smoke comes quicker than I thought it would. It seeps under the door like oil. I outran it last time, that stiflingly close day at the green, but now, I can’t escape. It glasses my vision and I can taste it, bitter, in my throat.
I instinctively roll off the bed and onto the floor, and stay low. I could keep rolling but the pain on in my ribs is like hot coals. Instead, I rise onto my hands and knees and make towards the grey light that fills the doorway. I can hear the panicked breathing of people trying to navigate through the haze.
I grab at a passing ankle and the involuntary scream lets me know that it’s Annabeth.
“Get down! On your hands and knees!”
She drops quickly and I can make out the pale frame of her face through the smog. It clings to her skin, making her look grubby.
“Yes, we’ve got to move Annabeth. Take hold of my ankle so we don’t separate.”
I move away without waiting for a response.
“Annabeth, is that you?”
“Yes, we’re here. Over here!”
“Constance? Jack?”
“Yes, get on your hands and knees. The smoke isn’t as thick nearer the floor.”
As we find others, our strange number increases and we move along the floor like dust. Me leading, the position that scares and honours me all at once, and the group who are relying on my guidance, behind. I head in the direction that I think the door is and I doubt myself as the time under the white cloud increases. The smoke is thinning but the panic is not. Then, I collide with it, opened wide like the cells. I’m terrified about what will happen when we exit the cell block. It’s the middle of the night, what could these sadists possibly want us to do in the middle of the night?
And then, we are out and the air is like water, cool and welcoming.
Lex and our guard are assembled at the exit, and as I am the leader of the convoy, I am the first to meet him. I stand and take in the defined contours of his face. It’s hard, now, to picture that face ever breaking a smile as it day on the day in the wooden lined gymnasium. I expected things to be easier now; somehow I managed to delude myself that the worst would somehow be over. It isn’t, of course, and I know that as soon as I see Lex’s face.
The Brigadier steps forward, my guard. I find it strange how nothing else here is mine; the bed, the clothes, the food, my guard. The two words fit together easily. He slots in effortlessly, his feet almost touching mine. I hated his presence before, the intruder to my inner circle. But now, after having him absent as I faced Lex, I need the intimacy.
The Atrium is silent so I know it’s late. Our footsteps echo through the empty space like rainwater. It’s eerie to see it empty of people, like the world has been taken away while we were sleeping. They take us down, and then down further and until the door of the gymnasium is visible. Open, but not inviting. When we continue moving, I know that something horrific is facing us.
Lex stands alone at the front of the space, a loaded gun clasped in his well-trained hands. As we are lined up against the back wall, I realise that the gaps between us are so insignificant that I know he cannot miss. This time, I will be shot. I’ve been there before. I’ve stood in that space in the target room. Susanna, she stood there and fell there. Theo fell too. I try and imagine what the pain will be like but I can’t. My ribs, the cut on my forehead, the sting from the needle as my head was stitched, they all pale in comparison to the force of that rubber bullet. I’ve never found rubber threatening, more protective. This bullet, however, brings with it the prospect of death.
The last thing I see as my guard raises a strip of black material to my face is the steady hand of Lex with a gun, weighing it, adjusting his grip. These should be my last thoughts and instead of remembering my life, Mother and Father and Prior, the enjoyable days under the sunshine on mid-year day when my parents were united and happy, I can only think of how gentle my guards’ hands were as he tied the blindfold.


No comments: