World of Ash (Ash and Ruin #1)
Release Date: 12/02/13
Summary from Goodreads:
There are two inherent truths in the world: life as we know it is over, and monsters are real.
The Pestas came in the night, spreading their pox, a deadly plague that decimated the population. Kat, one of the unlucky few who survived, is determined to get to her last living relative and find shelter from the pox that continues to devastate the world. When it mutates and becomes airborne, Kat is desperate to avoid people because staying alone might be her only chance to stay alive.
That is, until she meets Dylan. Dylan, with his easy smile and dark, curly hair, has nowhere to go and no one to live for. He convinces Kat there can be safety in numbers, that they can watch out for each other. So the unlikely couple set off together through the barren wasteland to find a new life – if they can survive the roaming Pestas, bands of wild, gun-toting children, and piles of burning, pox-ridden bodies.
Swallowing useless words, I cram the box of matches into my pocket and turn to walk back to the house. It was stupid of me to come out here with this guy, and I hate myself for putting myself in danger. Not to mention the supplies I left at the house. What if someone had followed them? Idiot. I want to run, but the exertion of carrying a dead body so far has taken a lot out of me.
Just as I see the gate of the property forming out of the darkness, I hear a voice call out behind me. My stomach lurches, and unable to help myself, I glance over my shoulder to see the boy hurrying to catch up. Blue growls, stopping in his tracks. He barks three times in quick succession, warning him off. The boy has the good sense to pause, holding his hands up in surrender.
“C’mon, Blue,” I say, touching his head before I turn back for the house. This time, I do run. I run in spite of the pain in my side and the pounding in my head that lets me know I haven’t eaten nearly enough. His footsteps spur me on.
“Hey! Please wait!” he calls. His voice sounds scared and a little desperate, not at all threatening, but I can’t let it get to me. I don’t know him or what he’s capable of. My mother’s warning not to trust anyone in this new world echoes in my mind. The house looms ahead of me, a white and grey mass in the distance. I remember, belatedly, that the front door is still locked and barred from the inside. I veer to the left to run around to the back of the house.
Blue keeps up easily, even skirting around the corner of the house ahead of me, barking excitedly to get me to hurry up. My feet feel as if they’re encased in cement, and I can’t lift them fast enough. The muscles in my legs are seizing, and I’m terrified I’m going to get a cramp and fall. The terror of what he might do if he catches me pushes me to run faster, like a hand shoving me forward. I skid around the side of the house, almost falling, but my hand on the ground keeps me upright. I just manage to snatch up my sickle from where I’d left it earlier.
I burst forward, hurling myself at the back door. I strike it with my shoulder and a shock of pain crashes into me. I stumble inside and fling the door shut just as I see the boy coming around the house, his eyes wide and scared. I throw the first lock and slam the hasp lock simultaneously. As I turn the deadbolt, I hear him reach the door, grabbing the doorknob and shaking it.
“Please, please open the door!” he calls, his voice muffled.
My lungs are on fire, and each breath I manage to suck down burns. I collapse as my chest heaves and my stomach threatens to give up what little food I’d managed to eat today. I pull my mask off, letting it hang loose around my neck, to make it easier to breathe. Blue barks at the door, the sharp noise cutting into my pounding head. I squeeze my eyes shut as I cover my ears.
“Shush, Blue,” I hiss, patting his head to calm him. The boy keeps pounding on the door until I’m sure his hand must be throbbing in pain.
Time of Ruin (Ash and Ruin #2)
Release Date: 07/22/14
Summary from Goodreads:
The world has ended, and hope is the most dangerous thing left.
Battered and bruised after barely escaping San Francisco with their lives, Kat, Dylan, and Blue press north – desperate to reach the possibility of a new home.
But strange, monstrous ravens are tracking the remaining survivors, food is becoming scarce, gasoline is running short, and people are becoming suicidal, making survival almost impossible.
And the Pestas are growing bolder. Somehow, their numbers are growing.
The further north they go, the harder it becomes to ignore the signs that they’ve made a fatal mistake. Kat must face the impossible truth that there is no escape, there is no safe haven, and their worst nightmares don’t come close to their new reality.
Sitting on the bumper again, my jagged nails scratch at the plastic as I fight the urge to tell Dylan to hurry. Blue looks up at me and whines. I shake my head at him and pet him with the toe of my boot. His eyes are dark blue in the evening light. Blue drops his head and looks at Dylan, his ears perked up into two triangles. I follow his gaze. Dylan’s still standing, holding his instruments of destruction, and staring at the raging fire.
Blue pushes to his feet and barks one sharp, loud yelp. My hand drifts over to the rifle by my leg as I let my eyes slide from Dylan’s back to search for the source of Blue’s panic.
“Dylan.” I mean to call to him, but my voice comes out in a strangled whisper.
I swallow as I stand and pull the rifle with me. Across the street, the shadows between the houses are taking shape. They’re no longer the snapping, twisting formless shadows from the fire, but something more, something substantial. Dylan lifts the can of fluid and squirts more onto the fire, making it spike and lick the air.
“Dylan,” I try again, my voice a little louder. The rifle is in my hands now. The stock is pressed into my shoulder as I aim at the shadows peeling away from the deeper black.
Still Dylan doesn’t hear me, or is ignoring me.
Blue barks repeatedly, backing up until he hits the car. I find my voice and scream his name loud enough that it hurts my throat. Finally he looks at me, his face cast in shadows with the light behind him. I can’t make out his features, but I can make out the horde of Pestas behind him.
“Run!” I aim the gun as I walk backward around the car.
Instead of listening to me, he looks back to see what has terrified me so. They shuffle forward, lines of them spilling out into the cul-de-sac. Dylan takes two steps backward, nearly tripping over his feet and making me scream again. I rip the rear door open for Blue to get in the car. Slamming the door behind Blue, I lift the rifle and fire a shot, aiming well away from Dylan. The Pestas cringe in unison, as though they are all puppets controlled by the same set of strings.
“Run, dammit!” I scream.
Age of Blood (Ash and Ruin #3)
Release Date: 05/05/15
Summary from Goodreads:
Hope is a dangerous thing, but powerful. Hope keeps you going. Hope can keep you alive.
But hope can shatter your world.
Kat and Dylan have found a home, but the monsters are still out there. The pox and plague still ravage the world. They have hope of finding a vaccine, but their encampment isn't equipped to develop it.
Dylan is still too weak from the pox to leave the encampment, so Kat must decide between staying by his side and protecting her last remaining family member as he leaves to find supplies. Separated for the first time since they came together, Kat and Dylan will have to fight their own battles to save what is left of their bloody world.
Kat will have to hold on to hope that she has anything left to save and someone to come home to. If she can survive.
His words slip inside of me, rekindling the guilt that my anger had burned away. I bury my face into his chest and tighten my arms around him. The last few hours slam into me…and I struggle to keep from collapsing. A sob hiccups out of me as I squeeze my eyes as tight as possible to keep from crying.
“Hey,” Dylan whispers. He tries to pull away so he can look at me, but in his weakened state, I’m strong enough to stop him. “What is it?”
“I’m just so glad I found you,” I whisper against his soft flannel shirt.
“I found you,” he teases.
Instead of making me stop crying, that just makes it worse. I laugh weakly, a sob bursting out of me with it, and the first tears hit my cheeks. Dylan’s hand touches my chin, and I lift my face to look at him. He lowers his face, lips parted. My eyes close before his lips brush mine, and I give myself over to the moment. My body is weak and weary, but I’m strong enough for this.
Dylan leads me back to the car and opens the rear hatch with his good arm. He tells Blue to stay, and then we crawl inside. It’s cramped, smaller than the back of the Jeep, but in our rush, we don’t think to fold down the rear seats. It doesn’t matter; we’re so consumed in the moment that we could have been in a king-sized bed in a five-star hotel.
About the Author:
Like so many other writers, Shauna grew up as an avid reader, but it was in high school that she realized she wanted to be a writer. Five years ago, Shauna started work on her Elemental Series. She released the first installment, Earth, on May 1, 2011 and has since released four sequels, with the series coming to an end with Spirit. She is currently hard at work on a new Urban Fantasy series, staring a spunky witch with a smush-faced cat named Artemis.
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