Welcome to the book tour for the spine-chilling new novel by Rachel Leigh! Read on for more!
What Lies West of the River
Publication Date: June 17th, 2022
Genre: YA Suspense
In the wake of a local teenage boy’s mysterious death, the town of Guillane, Connecticut, has been plunged into chaos. A dark, malignant force is rising within the murky waters of the East River, an ancient presence so evil it threatens to devour the very soul of the small town in its wake. Thrown together by circumstance, it is up to an unlikely group—a girl haunted by tragedy, her seemingly perfect older brother, Guillane high’s resident know-it-all, and a weary English teacher—to battle its forces and rid Guillane of its terrible influence. Together, they must struggle to overcome their own fears, come to terms with grief, and understand the nightmarish entity that threatens them at every turn. Their love for one another and their will to survive is powerful, but will it be enough to battle the darkness that is closing in from all sides? The water is rising, and it might just drown the whole world.
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The moon hung low over Guilford on Wednesday night, three days after the funeral of Miles Sullivan. It hung so low, that the top of the church steeple seemed to pierce it as it rose up into the sky. By two o’clock in the morning, most of the frosted windows in the little houses were dark, and the town grew still. Candles were blown out, doors had been locked, and chimneys were barren.
If someone had been standing in the middle of Great Hill Road, and had been asked to describe what they heard that night, they would likely have named the following sounds: the whisper of the wind, the occasional snapping of twigs, and the faint chirping of crickets. However, a very different series of sounds could be heard beneath, but only if one was quiet enough and focused enough to pick them out.
The boy held the freshly lit cigarette up to his mouth and took a drag. He let the smoke escape his lips and watched it with satisfaction. He leaned his skinny body against the railing of the back porch and thought about his hatred of his father, something he often thought about. If he had been slightly smarter and slightly more self-aware, he might have realized that he didn't truly enjoy smoking, and only did so out of spite for his father, who he knew wouldn't approve. He did a lot of things out of spite.
The boy’s name was Ryan Gardener. He didn't have the capacity to analyze himself, and so he was usually as puzzled by his own actions as anyone else was. He seemed to simply roll through his days, collecting up into himself more spite and resentment as he went. At 18 years of age, the only thing he really aspired to was making everyone he disliked admire him. He pictured himself ten years in the future, wealthy and successful, waltzing back through the doors of Guilford High for his class reunion. He could almost see the aged and jealous faces of his classmates. He could practically hear his father’s pathetic voice, begging him for money or support, and Ryan practically shuddered with delight at the thought of what the old man’s face would look like when he was denied. He didn't care very much to think about how he would obtain such wealth and success, considering he didn't have any talents or interests whatsoever. Nonetheless, his dream was more real to him than anything else in his life.
He lowered the cigarette from his mouth and turned it over in his slender fingers, studying it. Briefly, only briefly, he wondered if he was a good person, though he didn't really care what the answer was. He turned his attention back to the darkened yard before him.
If he hadn't already been looking out in the direction of the woods behind his house as he smoked, he might not have caught the first sign. Straining his eyes, he thought he could pick out two specks of light coming from the darkness between the trees. At first, he thought they might be the headlights of a car, though he wondered how it would be possible to drive through the dense woods. It was only when they grew in size that he realized that they were not lights from something far away, but rather something quite close. They were eyes—big, yellow, and inhuman. They shone from in between the trees that made up the borderline of the woods, and they were advancing.
It was precisely when the terrible realization of being watched by something unknown sunk in, that he noticed the second sign. Music. It started quietly, as if the shrill cry of the violin grew out of the whistle of the wind itself like a mutation. The music floated through the air and wove its way into his mind, and it was because of it that Ryan Gardener found himself frozen. Yes, he was sure he couldn't move one bit. His own eyes were glued to the advancing pair of yellow eyes, and he desperately wanted to race back through the door he had emerged from and lock it. But he couldn't.
Two sensations rose in him quite quickly. The first was fear, of course, when he became aware that he could not escape whatever was drawing nearer to him. The other was an inexplicable feeling of calm, which quickly smothered the fear and replaced it entirely.
And there he stood, a cigarette in hand, staring into the approaching eyes of fate.
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About the Author
Rachel Leigh was born and raised in California. She cultivated her love of writing at an early age, and began working on her first novel What Lies West of the River as a high school student. She is currently living in New York, and attending New York University as a part of the Tisch School of Acting. She has been a lover of stories all her life. Visit her on Instagram at @rachelgleigh.
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