Read An Excerpt

by Veronica Wolff

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

 | Read Book Review

“My name is Claude Fournier, but you shall call me Headmaster Fournier.” He strolled along the length of the platform. “We use many formal terms of address. Tradition, you see, is the cornerstone on our isle, and though many of you might find our manners…passé”—he gave a little flourish with his hand—“if you embrace the old ways, you will soon find yourself a much improved young lady.”

Young lady? Something was wrong here.

“Our old ways, you see, are quite old.” He gave us a wicked pouting smile that made my instincts jangle in warning. “We live by a code. Only those who abide by our principles, succeed. Our standards are high, our expectations, higher. But a few will exceed expectations. They are the girls who shall flourish.”

What sort of school was this? All this talk of manners and traditions—something was definitely amiss.

“You see”—he paused dramatically—“we are Vampire.”

Some primal instinct in the back of my mind warned me to be very, very careful. I held still, expectantly, and I watched.

The chatter exploded again, but this time a broad laugh pealed above the din. It was Mimi.

Headmaster Fournier grew still as stone. His eyes swept the crowd—dancing over me for one chilling moment—and then rested on Mimi. “Do I amuse you?”

“Yeah,” she said, sounding bored.

“Then please”—he stretched out his hand—“come join me…” He raised his eyebrows, waiting for her name.

“Mimi.” She held her mouth open on the word as though too annoyed even to shut it.

“Girls, make way for your fellow student.” His indulgent tone of voice scared me more than the word vampire had. It was the sound of an adult ready to give someone a lesson.

Fournier took her hand, guiding her onto the stage. When he spoke again, it was gently, and only to her. It felt like we were spying on an intimate moment. “As I was saying, we are Vampire.”

She pulled her hand from his, shaking her head in disgust. “I seen some effed-up shit in Miami, pero esta casa de putas? Count me out, man.”

The next part happened so fast, at first my brain didn’t register what my eyes were seeing. And even when I got what I saw, it took me a few heartbeats to get it get it. I stared, frozen, from the inside out.

Mimi hung limply in Headmaster’s arms. Because he’d just shredded her belly up the middle.

He grinned at us with bloody lips, and I spotted one inhumanly long, razor-sharp tooth as it caught on the corner of his mouth.

A few heartbeats of silence, and then the girls began to scream.

Not me, though. I’d weathered casual cruelty before. It was random and merciless, and I knew not to court it. I forced my breath to draw in, then out. I imagined myself as inconspicuous as possible.

Eyja næturinnar. It was an island of darkness. I would fit in here.

Because if I didn’t, I’d die.