Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Travelers by Brett Riley

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot
on the TRAVELERS by Brett Riley Blog Tour hosted by 
Rockstar Book Tours. Check out
my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About The Book:

Title: TRAVELERS
(Freaks #2)

Author: 

Pub. Date:

Publisher: 

Formats:

Pages:

Find it:

Falling in love. Evading the
authorities. Chasing the rabbits.

Now high school sophomores, the self-styled “Freaks” are back in class in quiet
Quapaw City, Arkansas. They grapple with the ordinary challenges of everyday
teen life: cliques, cars, and crushes. While everything appears normal on the
surface, looks have rarely been more deceiving. A secret government task
force—fully aware of the unusual powers the Freaks have acquired—is determined
to capture them. Even as the mysterious Baltar Sterne shares ancient wisdom and
offers hope, a new menace silently emerges in the woods outside of town.
Clever, inexorable, and far more lethal than the Freaks’ first superhuman foe,
this traveler from another world possesses powers that can only be described as
godlike. The Freaks and their town will be tested in horrific ways they are
powerless to predict or even imagine. 

Reviews:

“Riley
weaves explorations of anger issues and budding romance as well as forthrightly
confronted themes of racial, religious, and class conflict.”
Kirkus Book
Review

“Riley
possesses a rare, writerly ability to remain in the moment once the action
heats up. In this installment, the Freaks face their most dangerous enemy yet,
and the menace fairly leaps off the page.”
PaulEberly.com

“The
book is riveting. Compelling and totally different. I read it one sitting and
was seriously bummed it had to end. His writing is remarkable and had me
wanting more. I devoured 
Travelers and his ones before
this.”
—Rubie Clark, @RubieReads

“Brett Riley
has done it again, as he continues his story of teenage supers battling
monsters – fantasy beasts and Government agents alike. An enthralling, fast
paced, fantasy horror.”
—Peter Thorburn, UK educator

“A great
spin on the superhero story, told with genuine depth.”
—Mark Waid,
best-selling author of 
History of the Marvel Universe, Doctor
Strange,
 and Superman Birthright.

“A fun and
fresh twist on the superhero story!”
—Jennifer Brody/Vera Strange, author
of 
The 13th Continuum Trilogy, Spectre Deep 6, and
the 
Disney Chills series.

 

Grab book 1, FREAKS now!

 

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE 

I was the last to travel through the hole between worlds, and when I arrived, I filled it in behind me. The children who opened the aperture  believe they undid their night’s work by closing their book of magic, as  if something begun with an ancient dance and a song could be stopped  so easily. They were wrong.  

On that night, I had been sitting on my green hill by the river of  time, feasting on the meat of a deer older than white man’s language.  A ripping sound, like some shredded heavy cloth, and then the hole  burst into being, glowing like a star. I shielded my eyes. The children’s  song floated through, faint at first, then louder, like the approach of  war parties. Shadows danced in circles, spirits perhaps, and then the  starlight flared, and the opening churned and swirled—a nexus. Beasts  from other worlds appeared and vanished, leaping or being sucked into  the land where the children sang. I had encountered these creatures or  their kin on my journeys across the omniverse. Some were gentle, some  dangerous. Some could devour a civilization, a world, a whole plane.  Many, many more were drawn to the light as fire lures certain insects. I  knew that, in moments, those beings would reach the nexus and cross  over. But still I sat, for this event concerned me not at all. Hardly the  first time some brash fool had doomed its fellows.  

Then the song’s words grew louder, and I recognized the language.  Not mine or that of the humans I once walked among, but the tongue  of that people’s great enemy. The singers came from my native land, or  one very like it on the sidereal chain. A pup from an infinite litter that  was itself only one of a limitless species. The omniverse was deep and  wide and always growing. Even such as I could never see it all. 

But that world. Its people. Maybe even my world and not one of its  reflections.  

I would not let them die in the mouths of monsters and mad gods.  Some other way, yes, as all things must die. But not that way.  And so I hurled myself through, knocking aside the horrors that  had not yet passed over. I landed in a tiny lodge filled with trinkets  and tools—bladed weapons white people used to tame the land, boxes  full of memories. On the ground lay children dressed in long, coarse  garments. Two slept. The rest stared into the starlight they had summoned, shielding their eyes. Their terror struck me like a demon wind.  In the middle of the lodge, their book lay open, a line of sheer power  connecting its pages to the bottomless gap in the fabric of being.  I opened my mouth and spat out half my heart. As the children  struggled, I threw it into their aperture, where it grew and grew until it  squeezed the killing light out of this reality, diverting that world-crushing power to the end of the sky.  

Then, darkness. 

One of the lodge’s walls had been destroyed from the inside.  Splinters and dust lay everywhere. A great force had burst through.  One of my fellow travelers.  

The children still lay at my feet, dazzled and sluggish. Their raiment  was strange, as if they had cut holes in blankets and wore them like  skins. Even then, the smallest coals of power glowed inside them. They  had taken their first steps down a hard trail from which they would  likely not return. Though their book had closed when I destroyed the  nexus, it emanated dark power in gusts both intermittent and rank.  Where had children found such a tome? And how had no one taught  them the sly ways written language can steal your life and send your  tribe west into the sunset?  

I stepped outside, each movement a war with myself. I had walked  the paths between universes, but now, if I had brought a horse, I would have ridden even those few steps. Vomiting out your heart leaves you  weary, diminished.  

The night air kissed my fur. The grass was cool under my feet. On  the wind, an odor like burning hair, the scent of anger mixed with  confusion—my fellow travelers.  

I needed to see them. I became a falcon and soared high above the  trees.  

Riding the winds, I found another scent, like that of the kill a  bear leaves half buried to season itself with decay. But where was the  corpse? Those winds spoke of smoke-choked skies and melting ice, of  herds and flocks hunted and butchered until not even the ghosts of  their footprints remained, of fouled rivers and misshapen fish and thick  forests cut down to the roots.  

This was my homeland, where I had walked for centuries, tricking  the First Peoples and fattening myself on the forest’s plenty. But it was  not the world as I had left it.  

I flew higher, watching those that did not belong here. Each had  already gone its own way, as if the presence of the others repelled it. My eyes grew heavy. Sleep would come soon.  

As the travelers moved beyond the borders of the village, I marked  them. Down in the stone waterway beneath the city fled a Go’kan, a  four-armed blood-drinker bigger than any bear. I knew him. A prince  of his people, his name was Na’ul, which, in the Go’kan tongue, means  Breaker of Bones. I once spent a few winters in his world, watching his  race feed. He even tried to eat me, to his sorrow. Now I wished I had  killed him instead of driving him away and moving on. Unchecked,  he would purge his humiliation through inflicting destruction on my  home world.  

I could have tracked him and, even in my weakened state, killed  him. But if I did that, I would have lost the other travelers. Who knew  if I could find them again? 

So weary. Perhaps I had given more than half my heart. Even for  me, such matters leave much to chance. 

Six trails led far away. Two rode the air, two the water, two the  forest paths. As long as they did not threaten the land I once loved, I  cared nothing for them.  

Besides Na’ul’s, two other sets of tracks ended nearby. One being  had scurried through the human village and splashed into the river  beyond its borders, nestling somewhere deep in the muddy bottom, its  life force strong and steady like sleeper’s breath. Perhaps it felt as I did.  Or maybe this was its way. I had not seen its form, so I could not be sure,  but evil dripped along the path it traveled like blood from a wounded  deer. Hopefully, it would sleep forever. But I marked it anyway—its  scent, its dread energy.  

The other creature had risen from the children’s lodge, growing  as it flew. It came to rest deep in the woods between villages. I knew  its form, its tribe. Once they roamed this world, this sky, like scaled  hawks. Their breath laid waste to whole forests. Their claws could rend  a horse or a bear to pieces with one slash. A more dangerous creature  had seldom walked the earth. Still, she would likely keep to herself,  if allowed. And, like me, she would soon need a long sleep. Her kind  dreamed away the colder months.  

Three travelers who seemed intent on dwelling here, at least for now.  One certain threat, two more possibilities. Na’ul would wake first. His  force seemed most vital that night, though he was by far the least of us.  

I hoped he would keep. Sleep called to me, gentle but insistent.  I landed in the woods, far from every human village I could sense,  and changed back to myself. Then I dug my burrow, crawled inside,  and curled up, dreaming of the old days, of scampering amid trees  and thickets and fields of sweet clover. Perhaps, before I left this world  again, I might play tricks, as I was born to do, as I did for ages here in  the place where people still told my stories. 

They called me Rabbit. It was not the name I was born with, but it  had always seemed as good as any.  

Something woke me early—power rippling through the land like  water from a dropped stone. Power that burned. The woods’ inhabitants  felt it, too, as they sense the storm before the lightning strikes. Their  paws and hooves struck the ground above me, squirrel and deer and  rabbit, a bobcat, boar. Wings beat the air. Insects scurried past. Even  the worms fled in their slow, slow manner.  

My heart was not yet whole, but another traveler had awakened.  Or returned.  

I crawled from my burrow and stood, the pulses from the west  lapping against me. I closed my eyes and sniffed the air.  

Na’ul. Of course.  

But not only him. I sensed others, their essences as red as blood  where Na’ul’s was bright blue, like his skin. The children had discovered  their powers, though those energies were still aborning, the merest  spark that might grow into an unimaginable fire, power to rend the  heavens, to raze the earth.  

My eyes can see far along the curve of the land, through the spaces  between worlds, but too many objects lay between me and the others.  My ears hear more than I sometimes wish—from that battle, roars like a  great cat’s, splashes, shouts in the odd blunt language of the white men  who drove my people west. The odor of burning flesh filled the night.  

Against the flow of fleeing animals, I scampered to the village, fol lowing the power surges until I found those young warriors charging  their adversary, circling him in a death dance of their own making.  

Na’ul, prince of the Go’kan, even larger than I remembered.  The children felt unlike any beings I had encountered in my ageless  life. Their human selves had mixed with something strange, like the smokes from burning hickory and a cookfire fueled by dung. They  likely believed themselves no different at the root, the same people they  had always been. But I knew better. No mortal wields power like that  without its forging them anew.  

Who had they been before they used the book? And who were  they now?  

One of the males gestured, and Na’ul caught fire. A trail of ice  stretched from the child’s other hand and bound the prince’s feet.  One of the females shot lines of sheer white force out of her hands  and drove the prince into the nearby pond.  

Another male flew without wings. Such had seldom been possible  in this world.  

Grown men followed the shoreline and watched the battle. They  carried weapons like those their ancestors had brought to these woods:  guns and arrogance and a desire to conquer. All but two wore uniforms  like the armies of old, and only those two were not afraid. Hatred  wafted from them like sweat. The uniformed men trembled, their terror  acrid like Na’ul’s burning flesh, yet they did not retreat. I admired their  bravery, their dedication, if not their intelligence. What could they do  against beings like those now battling to the death on that beach?  

The two who stank of hate seemed to be the chiefs, and they kept  the others back in the trees, probably hoping the battle would weaken  the winners. A crafty strategy, if not an honorable one. Strong beings  who follow weaker ones have always saddened me. The omniverse  would benefit if those servants overthrew their masters, for masters  ride servants like beasts until their legs collapse and their hearts burst.  

Prince Na’ul emerged from the waters where the children had  driven him. He swung his mighty arms as a second female ran faster  than any creature I had ever seen. She circled the Go’kan, surrounding  him all by herself.  

Something about her—I concentrated my senses, sending part of  my own spirit to commune with hers. She moved so fast that I could barely touch her, yet even a glancing connection served. Now I could  see it, smell it—a faint, diluted echo in her blood.  

Before I could ponder what this meant, the last boy, bigger than  the others, fought Na’ul hand to hand. How strong the child must have  been, to stand before such a force and acquit himself honorably.  

The battle splintered trees and churned the waters. Weak as I was,  I planned to enter the fight. None of these beings could be trusted, not  with power such as I witnessed on that shore. If I have learned one  lesson, it is this: power always destroys, and power without conscience  or experience destroys indiscriminately. A wildfire cares not whether it  eats a family’s lodge or a rabbit’s warren, a forest or a prairie stretching  beyond the horizon. It feeds itself and starves the world.  

The strong boy drove the prince to the ground. The girl with the  force blasts brought a sharpened stake. The fast girl, moving so quickly  I could barely track her, drove it deep into Na’ul’s heart. The prince  shrieked in pain and outrage. And when he died, his deepest energies  burst forth in one great wave that saturated his enemies. They did not  know it, could not feel it, but I sensed those coals of terrible power  inside them grow brighter, hotter. Some of Na’ul’s energy entered me,  and the night grew clearer, the forest’s sounds crisper. Every leaf the  humans treaded on whispered to me.  

If only I could have absorbed everything the Go’kan lost, much  that happened later might have transpired differently. Perhaps better,  perhaps worse. Such truths are hidden from me.  

Before I could engage them, the children vanished. The flying boy  took one girl in his arms and soared away. The fast girl carried the  others to safety.  

I sat in the forest, thinking of what I had seen.  

The adults searched the grounds. Their anger and frustration could  have boiled all the water in the pond, but as the leaders began to shout  at the others, I lost interest. Their power lay in their malicious wit and their weapons, but the armaments they had brought to the pond posed  little threat to the children, none at all to me.  

I slipped past them and bounded through the woods. The breeze  wafted through my fur and brought to me the new scents of the young  ones, like smoldering oak. I could have followed them to the edges of  the earth. Instead, I stopped for a moment and turned, looking past  distance and obstruction to see where they burrowed.  

The flying boy took his girl to one lodge and then soared to another  alone. So they came from different families.  

The other girl ran too fast for me to follow in my weakened state, but  it seemed likely that she and the other two boys dwelled in this village.  Humans of this era seldom took what they owned and moved. They  lived only feet away from dozens of others, whether they loved each  other or not. I knew all this, having sometimes watched this world’s  progress from the other lands I walked. Most of white people’s progress  had seemed more like destruction to me. For every lodge they built, for  every life they nurtured, a hundred winked out of existence.  

I had never intervened. After all, I had seen whole planes rot. But  beings like Na’ul did not belong in this world. Nor did these children  anymore. They had to be removed. 

I needed more sleep. The sliver of Na’ul’s power would help my  recovery, but only if I returned to my warren soon.  

What to do?  

In the end, weariness stole over me. My limbs grew heavy, my  breath slow. I crawled back into my burrow and slept, hoping the earth  would still be turning when I awoke. The last image in my waking  mind: Prince Na’ul on his back, the stake deep in his heart, his mouth  open and screaming.  

Almost thirteen moons had passed by the time I awoke. So had most of my weakness. I crawled to the surface and shook the dirt from  my fur and stretched my limbs. Nearby, a buck watched me. It would  make a good meal.  

From five separate points in the village, the children’s coals glowed  and pulsed. After so much time, how hot might their fires burn? Still  not at my full strength, my heart not quite whole, I needed to watch  and listen and think. Then I could truly hunt.

 

About Brett Riley:

BRETT
RILEY
 is a
professor of English at the College of Southern Nevada. He grew up in
southeastern Arkansas and earned his Ph.D. in contemporary American fiction and
film at Louisiana State University. His short fiction has appeared in numerous
publications including 
Folio, The Wisconsin Review, and The
Baltimore Review
. Riley’s debut novel, Comanche, was
released in September 2020 and 
Lord of Order was published in
April 2021. 
Freaks, a superhero thriller featuring dangerous
aliens and badass high school kids was published in March 2022. The second
novel in the Freaks series, 
Travelers, will be in bookstores in
August 2022. 
Rubicons, the third novel in the Freaks series will be
released in 2023. Riley lives in Henderson, Nevada.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner
will receive a finished copy of TRAVELERS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

7/11/2022

beersbooksandboos

Excerpt/IG Post

7/12/2022

Better_0ff_Read

IG Post

7/13/2022

BookHounds YA

Excerpt/IG Post

7/14/2022

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG Post

7/15/2022

The Chatty

Bookworm

TikTok Review/IG Post

Week Two:

7/18/2022

Books and

Zebras

IG Review

7/19/2022

Two Points of

Interest

Review

7/20/2022

A Bookish

Dream

Review/IG Post

7/21/2022

GryffindorBookishNerd

IG Review

7/22/2022

@ReadsReaders

YouTube Review/IG Post

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