Get ready, get set…it’s on!
I’m Leah Bobet, author of An Inheritance of Ashes and Above, and I’m your host for this stop of the YA Scavenger Hunt!
I’ve hidden my favorite number somewhere in the post below. If you collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up, you can hit the entry form at the YASH official site to qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
The contest is open internationally, but anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 3rd, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Now that that’s clear, on to the content: It’s my pleasure to host author Brynn Chapman!
Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman has dissected cadavers, toured asylums and is MENSA-eligible. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love–not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Brynn’s book, BONESEEKER, won the 2015 Young Adult Golden Leaf Award. Her new release, REQUIEM RED is due out on April 6, 2016.
“Exquisitely written! Requiem Red is a haunting tale of monsters, music, insanity, and the power of love where one least expects to find it. Brava, Ms. Chapman! This book will remain forever in my heart!” –NY Times Bestselling Author Darynda Jones
A monster roams the halls of Soothing Hills Asylum. Three girls dead. 29 is endowed with the curse…or gift of perception. She hears messages in music, sees lyrics in paintings. And the corn. A lifetime asylum resident, the orchestral corn music is the only constant in her life.
Mason, a new, kind orderly, sees 29 as a woman, not a lunatic. And as his belief in her grows, so does her self-confidence. That perhaps she might escape, might see the outside world.
But the monster has other plans. The missing girls share one common thread…each was twenty-nine’s cell mate.
Hi! Thank you so much for having me. I am in medicine by day, so I have an insatiable interest in the history of medicine.
While researching REQUIEM RED, I was horrified to learn of the standard 1800’s treatments of bloodletting, trepanning (drilling a hole in the skull), ablation (lobotomy) purging (enforced vomiting) and many, many others that make an appearance in the book.
Superstitions ran wild in these centuries, and if the physicks had no explanation for the illness, it was typically thought to be evil or supernatural. I toured Transallegheny Lunatic Asylum Twice—as there is no substitute for having walked in the setting in which you are writing.
It was all too easy to feel Jane’s depression, her laudanum addiction, her hopelessness. She has never known touch, compassion — nor been called by her name. Three girls missing — all were her roommates.
But all that is about to change…enter Mason, the new orderly — who sees Jane as a woman, not a patient. But will the asylum allow her to leave?
1894, SOOTHING HILLS SANATORIUM
PHILADELPHIA, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
“Jane! Jane, where are you? There has been an accident!”
Nurse Sally’s tremulous voice echoes down the sanatorium’s hallway, ricocheting off the walls like mad bats in flight. I close my eyes, press my lips tight, and keep silent.
I flinch at the use of my patient number and slide from the hidden window seat, snapping my book closed to bound down the corridor. The nurse’s cry came from the direction of my room.
“Twenty-niiiine…” a male, sing-song voice calls out through the bars. I swerve and dart out of his way, narrowly missing those yellowed, grasping fingernails. My heartbeat doubles as I spin and run faster.
What has she done now?
My roommate Lily is truly disturbed. I spend most of my time out of the room, out of her way, because of her howling, because of her—
I round the corner and skid to a halt, instantaneously shaking.
Lily’s long blond hair spreads out on her cot like a coquette’s fan. Her eyes are closed. Her chest appears…still.
“Jane, go for help. Now. Run to Ward 4 and fetch Dr. Grayjoy!”
I stand staring, blood frozen in my veins, feet frozen to the floor. Lily’s head gives a violent jerk, and I gasp.
“For the love of heaven, now, you imbecile!”
I run. But not before I see the wall. Not before I see the message scrawled above her bed.
Help me. I know not what I do.
SOOTHING HILLS ASYLUM VISITORS’ SALON
“Bravo! Bra-vo, Miss Frost!” Willis Graceling, my would-be-suitor, claps too loudly.
I wince, but curtsy all the same, deftly moving my cello behind me. I walk off the small stage and ease myself into the milling crowd.
Father claps as well, slow and deliberate. Everyone in the salon follows his lead, though truth be told, it is a distracted applause. These hospital patrons and philanthropists are more interested in donations and connections than what musical selection I have performed this eve.
The windows are fogged from the patrons’ breath and the too many bodies in this too-warm room, despite the chilled fall breezes that whisper at the panes, reminding us that winter is coming. My eyes roam as I try to calm myself—to prepare for the onslaught of attention. I am unused to such large gatherings due to my largely sequestered upbringing.
Crystal goblets of rose-red flash by on a silver tray, just beneath my nose, close enough to catch the fragrant bouquet. I snatch one and the waiter raises an eyebrow, but says nothing, hurrying back into the fray. I am used to the whispers of virtuoso, but the outright attention I do not prefer. I would rather wield the pen and music and have another perform it.
Colors now dance behind my eyes. I picture them weaving in and out of the wrinkles in my brain. Notes appear in color for me. The color-note correlation never alters, like my own multi-hued, musical alphabet. This ability allowed me to learn to play at a very, very young age. As a child, I merely wished to see the rainbow in my mind.
Papa strides toward me, black eyes narrowing as his substantial arm slides about my waist, shuffling me into the crowd.
He whispers, “That was very good, Jules.”
His eyes shift through the patrons, nodding and smiling, but out of the side of his mouth, he says, “But I have heard it played better. In your own chambers.”
Willis trails behind us like a bounding, oversized puppy. I can almost see the leash from his neck to my father’s belt. Or perhaps an invisible chain from his coin purse to my maidenhead.
I am to be sold, er, married within the year.
Father vacates my arm, and I sigh in relief, but he is quickly replaced by Willis’s eager face. “Shall I fetch you some punch, Jules?”
“Thank you, that would be lovely.”
I ghost to the window and wrap my shawl tighter about my shoulders to guard against the draft sliding beneath its frame. Outside, a vast cornfield dies a day at a time. Remnants of green poke through the blackened leaves—as if hazel-eyed fairies play hide-and-seek, peeking out of the gloom-colored stalks.
I turn to watch Willis’s retreating form, disappearing into the society crowd, and cannot stay the sigh.
It is not so very terrible. He is handsome…and kind. Better than many other prospects I have had forced upon me. If people were flavors, Willis Graceling would decidedly be vanilla. Though nothing is decidedly wrong with vanilla, it is predictable, and quite often a filler.
I bite my lip.
I always dreamed of sharing my life with more of a…curry.
A gaggle of what my mind has deemed society women descends. Women with whom I share no connection, no interests, but for the sake of reputation, I must politely endure their inane conversation.
“Jules, it was so lovely. Did you truly compose it yourself?”
“Yes.” My stomach contracts.
Despite the low din of their prattling voices, I hear it.
A trickle of fear erupts in a violent shiver as gooseflesh puckers my arms.
“Whatever is the matter, child?” Lady Bennington’s face pinches with concern.
I shake my head. “Nothing.”
But I hear it … louder. Growing louder every second. The music, wafting in with the draft, as if the dying corn laments its own demise.
I curtsy. “Please do excuse me. I am feeling a bit faint. Perhaps the night air will set me to rights.” And without waiting for their reply, I make my getaway to the back of the salon, toward the door.
I slip out to the darkened porch and lean the back of my head against the door, closing my eyes. A multitude of covered lanterns cast a yellow haze over the myriad of rocking chairs, which now move in time with the breeze. As if the hospitals past invisible inhabitants sit, waiting in other-worldly expectation. Listening. As I listen.
It has been so long since I heard this music. Childhood experience has taught me only I hear this music. It seems to live only in my mind.
Maeve, my governess, forbade me to speak of it.
When I was but three, I first told her of the music. Of the words I hear in the music. Not in every song…only very specific melodies. Not lyrics, precisely, but intonations…like a whispered message. The harmonious voice whispering promises between the notes. She made me promise never to mention it again. Especially not to Father. I heeded her warning, the terror in her round, dark eyes forever etched in my memory.
The notes now pull and tug at my chest, as if sawing through my sternum, managing to wrench my rib cage open, as the tones grasp my heart and squeeze. The music elicits unwelcome tears.
A single phrase repeats over and over, embedded in the sound, like a musical Morse code.
Save me. Save me. Save me.
I bite my lip, then whisper, “From where. Who are you?”
Visit Brynn on her website, www.brynnchapmanauthor.com
Add REQUIEM RED on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/
Creepy! You can almost hear the voices: Patient 33?
I’m running my own giveaway here:
But! Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Brynn, and more!
Keep On Hunting
Thanks for stopping by! Your next stop on the hunt is Vicki L. Weavil! Happy hunting!