All Your Twisted Secrets won’t hit shelves until March 2020, but we’ve got your exclusive cover reveal right here on Hypable, as well as the thrilling first chapter.
If you’ve been looking for more nail-biting, heart-stopping, thrilling YA, with a mystery at its center that holds the lives of the central characters in the balance, look no further than All Your Twisted Secrets.
Likened to novels like One of Us Is Lying and Agatha Christie’s detective stories, Diana Urban’s fast-paced debut from HarperTeen will leave you unable to put it down. And, if you’re eagerly anticipating its arrival like us, then we’ve got you covered with the exclusive cover reveal and an excerpt of the first chapter.
The cover was illustrated by artist Evgeni Koroliov, with design direction by Corina Lupp and Alison Klapthor at HarperCollins, based on images by Shutterstock/mentatdgt, Shutterstock/Ollyy, Shutterstock/ShotPrime Studio, Getty/Ariel Skelley, Getty/CoffeeAndMilk, Getty/Robin Skjoldborg. It features all of the central characters of the book, sketched in pencil, with a splash of blood red crossing out each of their faces, leaving you guessing as to which of them — if any — will leave the pages alive.
Read an exclusive excerpt from ‘All Your Twisted Secrets’
Dear Amber Prescott,
Congratulations! It is our pleasure to inform you that you have been selected as a recipient of the Brewster Town Hall Scholarship in the amount of $20,000. We commend you for your musical talents and contributions to the community.
To celebrate your achievements, we invite you to dine with Mayor Timothy Meinot and the other five scholarship recipients on Tuesday, February 4th, at 7 p.m. at the Chesterfield.
Again, congratulations, and we look forward to meeting you at the Chesterfield.
Brewster Town Hall Scholarship Committee
I spent the last hour wondering if I would die tonight.
You can drop dead from a heart attack at seventeen, right? The prospect of tonight’s dinner party made my heart ricochet off my rib cage so fiercely I was convinced my days were numbered.
What’s so bad about a dinner party? Let’s start with the fact that my boyfriend, Robbie, was also invited to this little shindig, and we were on shaky ground. Our post-graduation plans were at odds, to say the least—and as senior year dwindled, the tension mounted. It didn’t help that soon-to-be-valedictorian Diego scored an invite, too. Our friendship had recently morphed into something else—something that made my cheeks flush, my nerves tingle, and my heart swell like a submerged sponge.
Putting the three of us in the same room could be catastrophic. If Robbie suspected I liked the class nerd, he’d introduce Diego to his fist in front of everyone. I had bigger issues with Robbie than another boy. But strike a match in a room doused with lighter fluid, and you’re bound to get burned. If I were even slightly capable of hiding my emotions, I might get through the night unscathed. Unfortunately, I’m a crap liar, so splitsville with a side of bruising was basically inevitable.
Yep. A heart attack was imminent. I just had to get tonight over with, and everything would work out.
I cranked up the Harry Potter score in an attempt to quell my nerves and ransacked my wardrobe, quickly determining that everything I owned looked hideous. I could either go ultra-casual or concert black (or funeral chic, as Sasha liked to call it) and either option was downright depressing.
After most of my clothes were heaped into a pile on the floor—much to the delight of my cat, Mittens, who swiftly nestled in—I discovered an old emerald sequined number I wore to a piano recital years ago. The dress now ended well above my knees, but it was the only garment within reach that wasn’t a complete waste of space.
“Amber, you look great!” Mom said as I raced up the stairs from my basement bedroom, tugging at the dress’s hem.
“You’re only saying that because you’re my mom.”
“Don’t get all self-deprecating on me.” She scrunched one of my red curls, which already threatened to go limp. Her own red, stick-straight hair was cut in a typical mom-bob. “You look sophisticated. Though that dress could stand to be a little longer—”
“Is Robbie here yet?” He was already ten minutes late. I peered out the front door’s stained-glass window, searching for his black SUV while fidgeting with my amethyst bracelet. Mittens rubbed against my ankles, getting his white fur all over my black velvet peep-toe shoes.
“You’re not allowed to date ’til you’re forty-seven,” Dad shouted from his office down the hall.
“Is this a bad time to point out we’ve been dating for like a year?” I said. Even Mom mirrored my exaggerated eye roll.
Just as I rattled off a text to Robbie, his headlights flooded the driveway. I dropped my phone into my purse, and Mom handed me a jacket and kissed my cheek before I could bolt out the door.
“Text me when you get there.”
“God, Mom.” I wiggled into the coat. “In a few months, I’ll be in college. Should I text you whenever I go anywhere then, too?”
“That’d be great, thanks for offering!” Her eyes twinkled mischievously, though with the flicker of sadness that never really left them. “Love you.”
“Bye!” I called over my shoulder as I raced into the unseasonably muggy night and down the front walk, my unzipped coat flapping behind me. Mom wasn’t exactly overprotective. She let me do whatever, as long as I constantly let her know I was still alive.
I couldn’t say she didn’t have a good reason.
Robbie tossed his baseball mitt into the backseat. “Hey, babe—”
“Fifteen minutes late, Robbie? Really?” I slammed the passenger door and clicked on my seat belt in one fluid motion. I wasn’t usually one to pick a fight, but my nerves had me on edge.
“Amber. Chill. Practice went a little late.” His go-to excuse. Robbie leaned over and kissed me, the sweet scent of soap and hair gel flooding my senses. He gripped the back of my headrest and backed down the driveway. Mom gave a little wave from the living room window, and the curtains fluttered shut as Robbie floored the gas. “Besides, I had to stop at home to grab your present.” He reached behind my seat without taking his eyes from the road, grabbed a small box, and tossed it onto my lap.
“My . . . present? For what?”
“Open it.” He grinned, the corners of his gray eyes crinkling as dimples creased his cheeks. Curious, I plucked open the red ribbon securing the small white box and found a charm bracelet inside. Several tiny silver music notes dangled from an amethyst-beaded band. “I thought it’d go with your other bracelet.” He motioned to my grandmother’s amethyst bracelet on my right wrist.
My anger dissipated, replaced by a confusing mix of joy and dread. “But what’s this for?”
“What, I can’t get something nice for my girl for no reason?” His smile widened—that infectious grin that always made me feel like I was somehow the brightest star in his sky. It seemed genuine. Everything about Robbie was genuine. He wore his heart on his sleeve, which was a blessing and a curse—I never had to wonder how much he loved me . . . or how annoyed he was with me, especially recently. But the musical theme of his gift caught me off guard.
My music had been a sore point for us lately. Robbie wanted me to follow him and his baseball scholarship to Georgia Tech, as if ditching my dreams of studying music at USC or Berklee wasn’t that big a sacrifice. “But you can play music anywhere,” he’d insisted. A couple of months ago we had a huge fight about it, and he convinced me to apply to Georgia Tech, suggesting we put off the discussion until I heard back from them.
Then I got my acceptance letter. That’s when I knew we were going to break up.
I might’ve fallen in love with Robbie, but I’d been in love with music for as long as I could remember. I couldn’t let him tempt me into abandoning my dreams. Despite my resolve, I hadn’t figured out how to break the news.
But this was a shocking turn of events. I ran my fingers over the music note charms. It was such a thoughtful gift. Did he finally see my point of view? Was he willing to compromise?
As if on cue, he said, “I know we haven’t talked about school and stuff in a while.” School and stuff. How neatly all of my musical ambitions could be packed into one word. Stuff. He smoothed back his short dirty-blond hair. “Have you heard from Georgia Tech yet?”
My shoulders tensed. “No. Not yet.” Fortunately, the darkness obscured my flushed cheeks. I was so pale, my own blood always ratted me out: Liar.
“Well, it has to be soon. I want to be with you.” Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, he entwined his fingers with mine. “We can figure this out together. I love you, Amber.”
“I . . . me, too.” Oh, God. What should I do? He kissed my hand and released it, and I fumbled with the clasp on my new bracelet, securing it on my left wrist. I leaned against the window, watching identical two-story colonials whip by. We drove the rest of the way in silence until fat raindrops pelted the car, drowning out my thoughts.
“Ah, crap.” I zipped my jacket under the seat belt. Just like washing a car, using a curling iron on my hair pretty much guaranteed rain. If we moved to California, I could singlehandedly resolve the drought crisis.
The corner of Robbie’s mouth quirked up. “It’s only water.”
“Explain that to my hair, would you?” I brushed aside my bangs.
Robbie glanced at me as he slowed in front of the Chesterfield. “Hey. You look beautiful. Hair included.”
My cheeks flushed again. “Thanks.” I shook away my anxiety and scanned the street for a parking spot. The Chesterfield was an upscale restaurant in the basement of an old warehouse converted into high-end retail space. On the weekends, locals bustled around this area pretending they lived in a vibrant city, when in reality, three square blocks constituted our entire “downtown.”
There was no fooling anyone. We were lame suburbanites, through and through.
Fortunately, it was a Tuesday, and there were plenty of spots around the corner. Once Robbie parked, I unclipped my seat belt and bolted out the door. I held my hood over my head as I rounded the corner, careful to avoid any puddles. The sidewalk was deserted except for two middle-aged women dashing to a nearby car under huge black umbrellas. I hustled down the steep steps to the Chesterfield’s front entrance without waiting for Robbie to catch up.
God forbid he rush to anything besides home plate.
I shook the water from my jacket in front of the host podium. Beyond, crimson velvet booths lined either side of the dimly lit room, and a bar stretched across the opposite wall. A pyramid of wine and liquor bottles towered behind the bar, light streaming out between them to create a halo effect. Classical music flitted from speakers dotting the ceiling above the tables.
The room was deserted.
“Are you sure this thing’s at the Chesterfield?” Robbie asked from behind me.
“Yeah. Look.” I pointed to a sign taped to the host podium. Brewster Town Hall Scholarship Event in the Winona Room. An arrow pointed to the right. “This way.”
“Where the hell is everyone?”
My heart fluttered as I stepped further into the room. “Probably in the Winona Room, where they’re supposed to be.”
“No, I mean everyone else—”
“Come on, let’s go.” Let’s get this over with. I grabbed Robbie’s calloused hand and led him across the empty dining room. A familiar throaty laugh floated through an open doorway next to the bar.
I walked in to find a smaller but equally elegant room. A long mahogany dining table stood over an intricate red Oriental rug, which covered most of the gleaming, almost black hardwood floor. Since most of the room was underground, there were only two small windows nestled close to the ceiling. Matching mahogany sideboards spanned the walls under the windows and next to the door. Two china cabinets filled with glasses and trinkets sandwiched a red brick fireplace on the left, reflected in a giant brass mirror hanging on the opposite wall. Faux candles flickered in a brass chandelier hanging low from the center of the ceiling. The room felt medieval, and positively claustrophobic.
Sasha Harris and Diego Martin were already seated, laughing over some joke that must have had nothing to do with her perpetual need to one-up him. Robbie coughed, and Sasha paused mid-chuckle, peeking around the back of her chair. Spotting me, her eyes lit up. “Hey, lady!” She zipped around her chair and stretched out her cheek, kissing the air on either side of my face. “Thank God you guys won this, too. Otherwise tonight would be such a drag,” she said under her breath.
Sasha was everything everyone else wanted to be—cheer captain, drama club director, class president, and potential valedictorian. “Sleep” wasn’t exactly in her vocabulary. In a bizarre twist of fate, she also happened to be my best friend at the moment. Tonight she wore a form-fitting strapless red dress, and her shining chestnut hair flowed in loose waves over her bare shoulders, not a single strand out of place.
“Getting to meet the mayor is kind of cool, though,” I said. “Is he here yet?”
She released Robbie from a hug. “Nope, not yet. But he’s the opposite of cool, just FYI. I mean, come on. Who grows up wanting to be mayor of Podunk?”
I shrugged off my damp jacket, hung it on the ornate coatrack next to the door, and smoothed back my bangs. The curls I’d coaxed into my hair already fell limp. Damn rain. “Ick. It’s like an oven in here.”
“Ugh, I know.” Sasha flapped her hand like a fan. “C’mon, you’re next to me.” She pointed to the seat closest to the door. Eight high-backed chairs surrounded the table—three on each side, and one on either end. On my empty gold-rimmed plate sat a place card for Ms. Prescott. Hers had one for Ms. Harris. Fancy. I pulled out my tall chair and glanced across the table, locking eyes with Diego.
Oh, here we go.
Strands of black hair fell over his forehead, and as he held my gaze with his intense copper eyes, a smile slid onto his lips. “Hi, Amber.” My mind flashed back to a few weeks ago, when those eyes were mere inches from mine. Let’s face it—you could pretty much fry an egg on my face.
“Hi.” The word came out like a breathy wisp of wind. I set my purse on the floor and sat, silently cursing myself for being so obvious. After all, nothing ever happened between us. It almost did a few weeks ago. But almost doesn’t count.
“Congratulations,” he said. “Let me guess . . . you won because of your music?”
I laughed nervously, fidgeting with the music note charms on my new bracelet. “Yeah. Mr. Torrente must’ve nominated me. I mean, I’ve basically been teaching his orchestra class for the last four years,” I rambled.
Oh, God. If Robbie caught wind of the weirdness between me and Diego, tonight would be a nightmare. I faked a cough and covered my mouth, trying to hide my flaming cheeks. Thankfully, Robbie was oblivious as he fiddled with his phone next to the coatrack, shaking his head.
“Can you believe they’d give Diego one of the scholarships?” Sasha whispered when Diego pulled out his phone. “Twenty thousand dollars must be chump change to him now.”
As if being ridiculously smart wasn’t enough, Diego was sort of a celebrity in our school. He’d invented a weird sponge that changed colors when it got wet, and was on the show Bid or Bust—a reality TV show where inventors try to win funding from wealthy entrepreneurs—the summer before our freshman year. After getting bids from all of the investors and securing a deal, he and his dad sold millions of SpongeClowns.
“Well, he’s probably
going to be valedictorian,” I whispered back.
Sasha tilted her head and grinned, though there was fire in her eyes. “Not if I have anything to say about it.”
“I can’t get a signal in here.” Robbie took his seat next to me, unbuttoning the top button of his plaid shirt. “Is it just me, or is it like ninety degrees in here?”
I reached for my water and took a small sip. “Yeah, it’s hot.”
“Ugh,” Sasha groaned, and I followed her gaze over my shoulder—Priya Gupta walked in, scanned the room, and visibly cringed. Saying that Priya used to be my best friend was an understatement. She’d been like a sister to me. She avoided my gaze now, casting her doe eyes to the floor as she hung her jacket and tugged down the loose sleeves of her white boho dress. When Robbie greeted her, she merely grunted in reply. Grief settled on my chest like a pile of stones, but I remained silent as Priya took her seat next to Diego. They muttered their hellos, and she busied herself examining her fingernails.
“Hi, Priya,” Sasha said in a singsong voice.
Priya’s jaw set in a rigid line. “Hi.” I smiled at her, but she wouldn’t look at me. My throat constricted. Would she ever talk to me again? Didn’t she know how much I missed her?
“Congratulations! I had no idea you qualified for a scholarship,” said Sasha. Priya was no valedictorian, but her grades were stellar.
Priya quirked her eyebrow. “Oh, you mean you cared who else would win?”
Sasha’s smile faltered. “What’s that supposed—”
I elbowed Sasha. “Leave it.” She scrunched her eyebrows at me. “You don’t want the scholarship people to hear you fighting.” Sasha nodded, and Priya made a psh noise and went back to scrutinizing her fingernails.
Diego met my gaze again, and my insides pooled into a puddle around my feet. Just then, Robbie reached for my hand under the table, and I jolted. He laughed. “Didn’t mean to scare you.” His hand was cool despite the warmth of the room, and he kissed my cheek as Diego watched. Oh, God. How was I going to get through this night?
“I’m starving,” said Priya, fishing through her purse. “Ugh, I forgot to bring a granola bar.”
Diego grabbed his backpack from the floor. “I have a candy bar somewhere in here. Want it?”
She waved him off. “No, no, it’s fine. Thanks, though.” As she eyed the ornate silver platters dotting the table, Scott Coleman—stoner extraordinaire—loped into the room. He wore his standard outfit—a black leather jacket over a black T-shirt and torn jeans, topped off with a black beanie.
Sasha gaped. “What are you doing here?”
“Same as the rest of you, methinks,” said Scott. He grinned at Priya, who offered a shy smile in return.
“No way, man.” Robbie scrunched his nose. Scott reeked of cigarette smoke. “You won a scholarship?”
Scott tugged at the collar of his leather jacket. “Seems so.”
“Bullshit,” said Robbie, and Sasha clucked her tongue.
Wow. Nobody was going to get along tonight, were they? “Guys. Be nice,” I said, trying to lighten the mood. “Maybe he’s a closet genius.”
Scott winked at me. “Hey, Red. What’s shakin’?”
“Bacon.” This had been our customary greeting ever since we used to play together as kids, before we realized how little we had in common.
He nodded approvingly as he extracted a folded letter from his pocket. “I got this letter. It said to come here. So here I am.”
“But how’d you qualify?” said Sasha, smiling sweetly. “Do you have some secret talent you’ve been hiding from us?”
“Nope.” Scott shrugged and moseyed along the table. “But who the hell cares?” He plopped in the empty seat next to Priya and unwrapped a stick of gum. “Twenty kay is twenty kay. Besides, I had no plans tonight, and I like free food, so no rind off my orange.”
Sasha cringed. “That’s not an expression—”
The massive oak door behind me slammed shut with such force it reverberated through my chest, and the glasses in the china cabinets rattled. Everyone jumped, and a few people gasped.
“Wind tunnel?” I scooted my chair back and stood to open the door as thunder clapped outside.
“Oh, right.” Robbie’s shoulders relaxed. “The storm.”
As I squeezed past Sasha, she tossed her hair back and focused on Scott again. “Anyway, they don’t just arbitrarily hand out twenty thousand dollars.” Leaning on her armrest, she perched her chin on her fist, like the mere concept of Scott winning anything was utterly fascinating. “Like, Robbie has baseball, Amber’s a music prodigy, and I’m the director of the drama club. There has to be some reason you won.”
“Yeah?” Scott’s lips slapped with each chew. “Well, I’m director of the give-zero-fucks club. Maybe that counts for something.”
“Uh . . . guys?” I jiggled the doorknob. It turned in my grip, but the door wouldn’t budge. “I think the door’s stuck.”
“Seriously?” Priya glared at me, like being trapped in a room together was her version of hell.
“You’re just a little weakling.” Robbie strutted over and gave me a playful shove.
“I am not,” I muttered, returning to my seat. I fished my cell phone from my purse. No signal.
As Robbie fought with the door, I scanned the table. Diego was the only one not looking at his phone. He stared at one of the windows as lightning brightened the alley outside. Robbie cursed and gave the doorknob a final shake. “Dammit. It really is stuck.”
I rolled my eyes. “Told you.”
“Shit.” Sasha waved her phone above her head. “I have no signal.”
“Me neither,” I said.
“I haven’t had one since we got here.” Robbie took out his phone and shook it, like that would help.
“Same here,” Priya chimed in.
“Well, the mayor’s going to show up at some point, right?” asked Diego.
“Yep.” I nodded. “He’ll be able to let us out, or get help, or whatever.”
“Shouldn’t he be here by now?” Sasha checked her watch.
“He’s probably just running late,” said Diego.
Sasha eyed Robbie, who slammed his fist against the lock and jiggled the doorknob again. “But what if he had to cancel?” Her voice quavered. “What if he tried calling to let us know, but couldn’t get through? What if no one’s coming—”
“Sasha, chill out,” I said. Diego trained his eyes along the table with a frown.
“If he couldn’t get through,” said Scott, “his office would send some secretary here to tell us, right?”
“Huh, weird,” said Diego. “The table’s set for six.” Priya pointed at each place setting as she silently counted. Diego was right—there were eight chairs, but the ones on either end had no place settings, plates, or glasses laid out.
“Yeah? So?” said Scott.
Diego and I exchanged a look. “That’s bizarre,” I said. “If the mayor’s having dinner with us, why is the table only set for six?”
“Are you saying nobody’s coming to let us out?” Sasha said, an octave too high.
“Someone’ll be here to serve food and stuff,” said Scott. “A waiter or something?”
“It looks like they already did.” Diego motioned to the covered trays lining the table. “But why would they serve dinner before we got here?”
Scott lifted the lid on the tray closest to him, revealing a whole roasted chicken and steamed veggies. “Is it just me, or is this kinda weird?”
“For once, it’s not just you,” Robbie muttered, uncovering a salad platter.
“Well . . .” Priya licked her lips, eyeing a bowl of roasted yams. “We might as well eat, right?”
“I guess so . . .” I bit my lip.
Robbie dropped the lid on the floor behind him. “Whatever. Let’s get this party started, shall we?” He uncovered another chicken platter. “They got any booze in this joint?”
“Yeah, but it’s all at the bar out there,” said Sasha, uncovering a platter of deviled eggs. “Gross. How long have those been sitting out?”
I stood and lifted the lid from the biggest platter in the center of the table.
Sasha and Priya both shrieked, making me almost drop the lid. My heart fell into my stomach as everyone gaped at the contents of the tray.
And something that looked an awful lot like a bomb.
“What the actual fuck?” said Robbie. A shiver coasted down my spine as I stared at the syringe. It was filled with a pale beige liquid, and the needle was uncapped, glinting from the chandelier lights overhead.
“What the hell is that . . . that thing?” Sasha cried.
A couple of plastic canisters the size of milk cartons were strapped to half a dozen brown logs wired to a small digital clock and stack of batteries. Each canister was half full of some sort of yellow liquid. The clock faced the ceiling, its red numbers counting down from fifty-nine forty-five. Fifty-nine forty-four. Fifty-nine forty-three. Fifty-nine forty-two.
“Looks like a bomb,” said Robbie, clenching his jaw.
“I started the timer . . .” I said to no one in particular, gripping the lid in both hands. “When I lifted the lid, I must have started the timer.”
“That can’t be real,” said Priya. “Can it?”
“And what’s with the syringe?” asked Sasha.
“It’s labeled.” Diego leaned over to read, “‘Botulinum toxin’—holy shit.” He blanched.
“What’s butool—what’s that?” asked Priya. She clutched his arm so hard her knuckles turned white.
Diego kept reading. “It says, ‘Warning: Avoid contact with skin. A single drop can be fatal. Full injection causes immediate death.’”
We all exchanged baffled expressions. “What’s in the envelope?” asked Robbie. Nobody moved.
Fifty-nine thirty. Fifty-nine twenty-nine.
I set the lid under the table and plucked the envelope from the tray, opened the flap, and pulled out a sheet of paper. Unfolding it, I cleared my throat and read aloud.
“Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting. Within the hour, you must choose someone in this room to die. If you don’t, everyone dies.”
About ‘All Your Twisted Secrets’
What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.
Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?
All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban is set to hit shelves on March 17, 2020. You can preorder your copy now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound. Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “to read” shelf!