Storms and sailors and swoon-worthy moments, oh my! If this exclusive excerpt from Emily R. King’s upcoming YA novel Before the Broken Star is any indication, we’re in for a treat come June 1.
That’s right, the author of the Hundredth Queen series (which we here at Hypable loved by the way), is back with a brand new fantasy romance series and we couldn’t be more excited!
Seriously, though. If you’re looking for your next book obsession, we have a feeling you’ll want to look no further than Before the Broken Star. The excerpt below may just make it one of your must-reads for this summer.
Here’s your sneak peek at ‘Before the Broken Star,’ the first book in The Evermore Chronicles!
Our silence amplifies the tempest’s howls and the savage pitching of the ship. We hang on to each other as the storm rampages. Exhaustion eventually wears Quinn down and she slackens into sleep. After tucking pillows around her to stop the swaying ship from throwing her off the bed, I sit at the edge and wait for the storm to stomp away or for Jamison to return.
The door barrels open, and a drenched sailor lets in cold gusts. “Sorry to disturb you, Lady Callahan. The mainsail has broken away from the ropes. We need all hands on deck to tie it down before we blow off course.”
I tie on my cloak so my front is layered several times and slip into my boots. Quinn is still asleep as I step out.
Rainy gales lash at me, soaking my back and head in seconds. The thick wool at my front protects my clock heart. I follow the crewman through rushing waves that flow out again, emptying through the scuttles. We grip anything we can for security. The chill of the driving tempest numbs my bare fingers. I long for my gloves.
Shadows slide across the ship from the lanterns swinging wildly. Captain Dabney mans the helm on the quarterdeck, navigating our path through the starless light. Without my uncle’s chronometer, we would surely be lost.
Ahead, men and women are tugging at a snared sail. Orders are shouted from above, half eaten by the wind. I peer up the main mast into the deluge. Dangling in the lines, high above near the yardarm, Jamison works to tie down the mainsail.
The canvas snaps and strikes the workers. I grab a rope slithering about and hang on. The blasting cold blisters. Crewmen untangle the mass of ropes, wary of the swinging boom. We each stretch out the rigging shrouds to prevent further knots.
Jamison loses his grasp and slips down the mast. He grabs the yardarm and pulls himself back up to the high corner of the mainsail. He ties it down, his progress slow. The abrasive rope drags through my palms. At last, when the rope has nearly burned from my grasp, he finishes.
“Release!” he yells.
We all let go. The rigging snaps straight, locking the sail in place. Though my hands and feet are numb, my heart beats on task. Soaked from the knees down, I stumble across the slick deck for the cabin. A wave surges over the rail, catching my legs and sweeping me sideways. Someone grabs me before I hit the gunwale.
Jamison has hold of my forearm. We skid across the planking, steadying each other. Passengers flee the racing waves to the decks below.
“Dorcha!” the captain shouts from the helm.
Jamison and I halt near the rail. A great gray hump has risen in the choppy sea—and swims right for us. We brace against each other as we collide with the whale. The ship creaks and howls. The monstrous whale rams us again.
Sailors clamber to arm the harpoon cannon with a dry powder sack, an almost impossible task in the storm. Water drips down my front. The ship pitches portside. Jamison holds on to a line. I slip from his grasp and ride the downslope. I hit the end of the deck and hug the rail. The mega whale thrashes beneath me. Dorcha is almost as long as the ship and half as wide. Except for his ugly white scars from harpoon wounds, he is as gray as the sea.
A series of sweeping waves rights the ship. I find my footing while Jamison and others fire their flintlock pistols at the monster. The Terrible Dorcha swipes its tail, sending a monumental splash over the sailors and throwing them down. The cannon crew aims the harpoon at our assailant. They stock the cannon barrel with a spear, light the fuse—and fire.
I cover my ears to the blast. The spear impales the whale’s side, a shallow strike. Dorcha groans and rolls free of the harpoon. The cannon crew reloads, but Dorcha dives and disappears under the waves.
Jamison lurches across the deck to me. I duck behind him as a wall of water crashes over us. My front comes away damp, my back drenched. The cannon crew finish reloading the harpoon and watch for Dorcha’s return.
Even more speedily than the tempest came, the gales and swells level. The captain faithfully guides his battered ship to safety. We climb out of the storm, and the clouds part to a glittering midnight reigned by a pearl moon.
If I was superstitious, I might blame Dorcha for the vicious squall.
Everyone but the cannon crew and captain clear the deck. Jamison and I shut ourselves inside our cabin. I lean against the wall, winded and shivering. He strips off my cloak. He lost his hat, his hair strewn wildly about his cross face.
“Of all the asinine things,” he says.
“You needed help.”
“Help be damned. You were nearly swept away!”
“Shh.” I cast a glance to where Quinn is sleeping.
He took all the layers he could off me without risking my immodesty and proceeds to undress himself. Closing my eyes, I listen to my heart ticking sharply inside my skull. I reopen them and discover he’s shirtless.
“Is Dorcha gone?” I ask, teeth chattering.
“For now. Good sin, you’re frozen.” Jamison drapes a quilt over my shoulders and rubs my arms briskly. I cover my chest with my arms, protecting my heart, and lean into his warmth. I stay against him as my shivers decline and the numbness relents. Though he touches me little, his warmth awakens the sensation of his nearness.
“You aren’t like him.”
Jamison’s fingers tense. I assumed he was like Markham, but Jamison is not a monster.
“I don’t know who hurt you, but you don’t have to relive it.” He bends down, compelling me to heed his gaze. “After my mother passed away, my father drank night and day. The whisky helped him forget his sorrow, but it also loosened his temper. The last time he beat me, he tore through my knee with a riding crop. I tolerated his anger for the good of Tarah, but after that, I couldn’t stay. I enlisted in the navy as soon as I was recovered enough to walk out. Sometimes when my knee aches, the memories of that time return, so I think of something else.”
“What do you think of?”
“Daisies. My mother picked them and put them in vases around our home.” Jamison strokes my arms. “What do you think of when you want to forget?”
“I don’t think of anything.” I break the chain of his arms.
He watches me in confusion as I shift away and then extends his gentle voice to me. “Who hurt you, Everley?”
He waits for my answer, my honest answer. I could regale him with the story of my past and deepen his sympathy, unload my secrets and let myself be seen. I won’t. He may not be a monster, but he still works for one.
“Good night, Jamison.”
He mashes his lips together. I turn down the lantern and slip into bed beside Quinn. Jamison does not move. A long moment later, he releases a profound sigh and lies down on the floor. I tunnel in the blankets and stare at the ceiling, my mind ripe for nightmares.
On the morrow, we will set foot on Dagger Island.
About ‘Before the Broken Star’ by Emily R. King
With Before the Broken Star, the first book in her new YA series The Evermore Chronicles, Emily R. King returns with a captivating new fierce female lead who seeks adventure and revenge in a magical dark world, while remaining a slave to time and her makeshift heart.
Everley Donovan is living on borrowed time. The lone survivor of her family’s unexplained assassination, she was saved by an ingeniously crafted clockwork heart. But the time she was given won’t last forever. Now, every tick-tock reminds her how fragile her existence is and hastens her quest to expose Killian Markham, the navy admiral who shattered her world and left her for dead. But Everley’s hunt for justice will be a long and hard-won voyage.
Her journey takes her to a penal colony on a cursed isle, where she will be married off and charged to build the new world. It is here, and beyond, that hidden realms hide, treasures are unearthed, her family secrets are buried, and young love will test the strength of her mechanical heart. When Everley discovers Markham may not be who he seems, her pursuit for truth is bound to his redemption, her tragic history, and her astonishing destiny.
A perfect beginning to a new fantasy saga, Before the Broken Star is a mesmerizing and swoon-worthy adventure tale full of magical creatures, heartache, friendship, loyalty, and a quest for redemption at all costs.