The Castaways by Jessika Fleck. Release Date: April 3, 2017, YA Contemporary Fantasy
The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous. Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it. When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing. Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers. Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home. But victory may require more betrayal, sacrifice, and heartbreak than she’s ready for.
But everything’s clear. I do know where to go. “I’m going to find that boulder—” I suck in shallow breath. “The…hhh…maze.”
“It’s no use. We’ve tried everything. It doesn’t work! Wait!”
But I’m not listening because it has to work. It’s the only way. If it got me in, it’ll get me back out.
I run until my body, my mind, and, mostly, my lungs give up. Because, problem is, Will’s right. I don’t know how to find it.
Bent at the waist, hands on my knees, I cough and spew, trying to catch my breath. The hyperventilation has passed, but my insistence on sprinting like I’m a track star when my
lungs and legs have no business running, has taken its toll.
I look up.
Will isn’t fazed. At some point he took off his shirt and now stands with his hands on his hips, chest rising and falling, barely winded. His abs flex with each effortless breath. “Get
it out of your system?”
It’s when my stomach springs that I realize I’m staring at his body. I quickly glance away and completely ignore his question. “Take me there.”
“I told you. It’s no use.”
“Please,” I whimper. Tears race down my face.
Tucking his T-shirt into the back of his pants, Will walks in another direction.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m taking you. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
With Will now leading the way, I watch his suntanned back, the sweat beading at his shoulders and slowly, one by one, how the beads roll down the center crease. I’m in a daze
or a haze or a trance because all I see is his back, his muscles contracting and tightening with each step, and, like magic, we’re there.
The mossy boulder stands before us and, I swear, it mocks me in all its ordinary, commonplace glory.
Jessika Fleck is an author, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens. Her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. She is a regular contributor to the fantastic kidlit blog, Kidliterati, and is represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
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