by Holly Bennett
Published: January 2017
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
The Cover Story
One minute Jack's in math class. The next, he's on a dark, cobblestoned, empty street. Empty, that is, except for a skinny girl wrapped in a threadbare shawl. "Matches, mister?" she asks, and just like that, Jack's life collides with one of Hans Christian Andersen's grimmest tales. And just when he has almost convinced himself it was just a weird dream, it happens again.
Suddenly, Jack's ideas about what is "real" or "possible" no longer apply. While he and his new girlfriend, Lucy, struggle to understand who or what the Match Girl is, they come to realize they must also find a way to keep Jack away from her. The Match Girl is not just a sad, lonely soul; she's dangerous. And each time Jack is drawn into her gray, solitary world, she becomes stronger, more alive...and more attached to Jack.
She wants to keep Jack for her very own, even if that means he will die.
Read an Excerpt from Drawn Away
THE STREET IS COMPLETELY deserted, except for the girl. And it’s dark, darker than it should be given the light that remains in the sky. Everything is gray and brown, as though the buildings, the cobblestones, the air itself have been tinged with soot.
I don’t know where I am or how I got here. Strangely, I am not terrified by this fact. I gaze down the street with a kind of calm curiosity, like you do sometimes in dreams. I am dreaming, I guess, but I know it’s a dream.
It’s hard to tell how long the street is. It fades away into shadow and mist when I try to see the end. I have a sudden conviction that there is nothing beyond the mist, just as I am somehow sure that there are no people behind the grimy windows of the buildings.
Hard to tell how old the girl is from here. She’s small, her little stick legs poking out of a bulky skirt.
I nearly jump out of my skin when she calls out. Her voice shatters the still air, and I realize how utterly silent it’s been until now.
“Matches…who’ll buy my matches?” It’s a quavery reed of a voice, but it carries through the silence.
I hitch a breath and walk toward her. Even in my Nikes I can hear every footstep.
She stares at me like she’s, well, seen a ghost. Wide blue eyes too big for her pinched little face. Scrawny shoulders hunched under a thin shawl tied in the front. She’s small, all right, but maybe not as young as I thought. There’s a hint of breast swelling against the press of the shawl.
I’m embarrassed to have noticed this and wrench my eyes away. She’s looking at me kind of wildly, like the last thing she expected was an actual customer. Still, she squares her shoulders and asks, “Matches, Mister?”
“Um, no thanks.”
She nods, resigned, like she expected no more.
“What’s your name?” I ask. I can’t really think of any small talk that would be suitable— Come here often? Where the hell are we?
“I’m the match girl.” She’s polite but can’t quite hide the “well, duh” tone.
“Yes, but what’s your name? I’m Jack.” I’m not sure if I should offer to shake hands or something. She just looks at me blankly with those big eyes. I try again. “Where is everybody?”
Her thin shoulders lift in the sketchy suggestion of a shrug.
“Gone. Everyone’s gone. There’s only me left.” A puzzled glance. “And you.”
“Where did they go?” I ask.
Again the vague shrug. Then her gaze strays to the nearest alleyway. I can’t really see into it because of the gray light and the mist seeping out of its entrance. She sidles toward me. “I think it’s the mist,” she whispers. “It swallowed them up.”
I want to tell her that’s ridiculous, that mist doesn’t eat people, but I look again at the mouth of the alleyway—the mouth of the alleyway—and I can’t suppress the shudder that runs up my back. I glance away quickly so that it doesn’t—what? Notice me? There’s just something damn spooky about the way that mist oozes out and creeps along the pavement.
A sound snags my ears—very faint, but in the silence of this street I can hear it clearly enough. It’s music, music being played somewhere far away…