Barnes & Noble
Series: The Impetus Rising Trilogy
Published by: Clean Reads
Release Date: March 2, 2016
The Impetus Rising Book 1
It isn't a laughing matter when Diana starts to see things in the mist which other people don’t: monsters, gods, and deadly shadows. Yet now she sees another thing, the world of the Impetus, a reality where humans are enslaved and the once-beautiful gods are actually tyrants. Diana must find a way to escape before the exiled king Fear, a vengeful murderer, hunts Diana down to get back something she's stolen from him. But will her growing feelings for the Prince Isak, the oddly sullen god of comedy, draw her into an all-out war?
Review originally posted on Tea in the Treetops in April 2016: If you’re looking for a quick read with a cracking story and interesting world building, grab a copy of The Funnyman. I’ll certainly be looking out for Sophia’s next project!
The inspiration for The Funnyman came while walking from school my sophomore year of high school. There was ice on the grass and the sky was a startling shade of frosted blue. Suddenly, a prince who had a Peter-Pan-complex popped inside my head. He floated somewhere beneath the rafters of the exit to my school building as I stated off into space and closed the door behind me. But his eyes were sad, hiding some sort of dark secret. And I felt very alone and emotionally wanting at the time. I’d read a lot about Greek and Roman mythology when I was a little kid. (They were the first few books on the lowest shelf, the only shelf I could reach when I was so small.) I wondered what would happen if gods could specifically alter human emotions without feeling any emotions themselves, how lonely that would make them. Isak helped me through that. I just had to find out more about his fantastical, epic story.
I actually called this novel “The Funnyman” based on a superstition I had. A girl told me the first novel I ever got published would start with the letter F. She told me that her grandmother could see the future and she could too. Therefore, I wrote all my other to-be-novels and granted them titles with the letter F (no, not that word) in them. Who knows, maybe I made the prophecy come true all on my own…or maybe it really was magic.
I didn’t read the newspapers. I didn’t watch the news. But the moment Samantha Winters disappeared, something snapped inside of me.
I felt it in my body, in the thrumming of my heart. I could see her whenever I closed my eyes. I could feel her whenever I opened them.
But that was impossible.
I did not know Samantha Winters.
I only knew her name.
But all the same, I had visions of her terrified face peering through the darkness. I saw her open her lips and call out to me. Yet, as soon as I woke up, the visions would just go away. I’d hardly remember a thing. But every time I let my guard down, every time I blinked, I saw her terrified eyes. I couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing, but as soon as I fell asleep, it made sense again. The memories, shattered, fell back inside my head.
The mist came soon after the girl disappeared. I could see it forming in both my dreams and in the real world. I could feel the mist even if no one else saw it. I could feel the crystals dancing along my skin, cold and yet burning to the touch. I could see what no one else saw.
They didn’t understand.
After all, Samantha Winters was a girl, just like me. And that terrified me.
She was normal until one day, on her way home from a party, she just disappeared. The most noticeable thing about it — in the real world and the visions — was the mist. It had suddenly materialized all over her when she had gone.
A girl disappeared, and cold, dark fog had taken her place. Someone’s little girl, somebody’s sister or girlfriend, had disappeared in exchange for a horrible thundercloud.
It was a mystery, a case the police couldn’t even see, let alone solve. One minute, the girl was there, and the next, she had just vanished.
The police couldn’t find a single hair on Samantha’s head that hadn’t vanished with her. I learned later that her own parents could barely recall a detail about her from that day. Perhaps it was some malignant toxin in the air, causing their minds to fail them. Perhaps it was something far more sinister.
Maybe it was magic…
I didn’t get the chance to see Samantha; I never looked into her eyes and saw what was hidden there. I never even knew her, not in real life. Our only connection was a cold, formless dream world. I only ever seemed to hear about her in my head. And I listened and listened, to all those endless reports and warnings I saw every day, from people who didn’t know what was going on. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t approach white vans. I tired so much of those warnings that, one day, I just tuned them out completely. I buried my nose in a book or turned off the TV. I ignored the visions completely. I was so focused on ignoring the bad signs that I was blinding myself to the real truth.
I should have paid more attention to those visions, those signs.
Maybe then I would have been prepared when they came for me.
But, despite it all, the trouble didn’t start with Samantha. It started with the mist and the strange boy it brought with it.
In the dark of night, Fear reigned.
Amongst all that slithered, crawled, or hunted, Fear thrived. It fed off all the evils and melancholia in the world simply because it could. Fear recognized that true power didn’t come from the gods. Fear was a god, and he remained nameless. Fear had no name simply because he was called thousands of them per day, on the lips of all mankind. To men, women, and children, Fear had his own, personal name.
Fear did not have the physique of a god; he was sickly, as fear tended to be, yet he stood at the height of three men. He remained in his own personal tomb. Denied the ranks of the Impetus, he stayed here forever. "Exile…" Fear whispered, so quiet that his lips did not even move. "The Impetus have seen fit to exile their own brother…"
Fear tensed, his imposing figure collapsing internally as his alabaster skin gave off a pale glow resembling that of moonlight in the darkness. His thin blonde hair hung down his back, his bare skin covered in scars that the mortals inflicted on him every day they called his name. Nobody wanted Fear. Everybody denied him a place at their table. Fear was written in the hearts of men, yet they denied him like he never existed.
Yet — in the hearts of those that slithered, crawled, or prowled the streets at night — Fear existed and multiplied. He just had to remind them of it, the mortals over whom he and the Impetus fought for governance. This hunt of his was meant to prove to them that Fear was the strongest of them all, to intimidate them whether he was a true Impetus or no.
He would reign over the mortal world once and for all.
The nameless one stretched his arms out to the sky, calling his shadows to him. The darkness coiled around him, settling over his bare skin and creating a web of serpents. He smiled with his lips still not moving, his black eyes unblinking as they took in the beauty of the darkness. His split tongue ran over his teeth and wiped the remaining flesh of his dinner from them.
"My children," he sang to them, "Did you find the girl?"
The serpents brought in a terrified young woman, dressed in nothing but a thin party dress and sandals. Fear gave a scream so loud that the earth beneath him shook in terror. "No, no, no, she’s all wrong!” The young girl’s eyes rolled back in her head as she trembled so hard that she slipped into unconsciousness. Fear, in an odd moment of almost maternal care, cradled the young girl’s head to the ground, setting her to sleep amongst the silken, thrumming shadows. On the hemline of her dress was a shimmering, delicate name in gold thread: Samantha Winters.
"She is not her." Fear whispered to his shadows, "Find her…find the abomination."
The darkness fled to do its master’s bidding, and only silence descended. In the void, all that remained was Fear and the other girl.
The victim was alone with only Fear for company.
“I’ve already eaten my dinner. From you, my dear, I think I’ll have to pick something else to sample, something like your soul.” The girl wouldn’t prove much of a challenge for his teeth, the teeth so sharp, so cruel. “Then I’ll wash that down with your blood.”
She didn’t stand a chance. He relished putting his lips to her forehead, tasting her pure, unblemished skin. He held the girl upwards as her knees gave out beneath her. She shivered beneath his touch, her heart pumping faster with the thrill of the hunted. The light in her eyes faded slowly, like the light of a candle fighting to remain lit in a thunderstorm. It was so beautiful, watching her struggle. Fear had to take a breath. She was beautiful in the quiet, muted way of a mortal woman. But her death… It was indescribable. Watching her die was like art to him. And the taste of her essence, her mortal soul…it was the most intoxicating thing Fear had ever stolen. Her pulse quickened, her blood draining outwards through her lips and toward Fear’s own…
And then, all too soon, it was finished. He all but devoured her, from the inside and out, until all that was left of her was a shimmering silver S. He was satisfied in knowing that, somewhere out in the universe, a little light was dying. He was the cause of all that. Fear had another wonderful taste of what true power felt like, of revenge against the Impetus king and queen. And oh, what fools those Impetus had been, to exile him for offending the Impetus queen. They couldn’t tell him what to do. They couldn't keep him from hunting these girls in order to find the one he was really after, to find the girl that would free him from his unjust exile. Every girl he killed was a just a means to an end, an end to Fear’s ultimate freedom.
“I will be free. I will kill every girl in the mortal world if I have to. Anything to be free.”
He lowered the girl to the ground, her purpose finally complete. The shadows writhed over her unblemished skin, dragging her body down to melt within the darkness. Fear laughed, his shining, white teeth lighting his whole face with a gruesome glow.
He had just killed a mortal being. Fear had terrified mortals before, but he had always pulled back before he could do any irreparable damage to their souls. Killing their bodies was not the same as killing their souls. It was so much more permanent, more deafening. He had been a good little Impetus, but now he had been banished and he didn’t have to play by their rules any longer. Fear smiled, exposing his red, gaping maw.
Somewhere, out there, was the real girl he was looking for. And this time, it would not be as it was with the last one. He would not let her leave him so easily...
Even he would have something to be afraid of.
I shook my head, willing that strange, taunting voice to go away long enough for me to get some sleep. I was being stupid. I’d be thinking more clearly in the morning.
I grinned wryly at myself. You’re hearing voices in your head. Sleep must be way overdue.
I turned to shut off the lamp on my bedside table. The lamp’s warm, yellow light went out all at once as darkness descended in its place. I took Basel’s rose and dropped it to the ground, its innocent, white petals crushed as the stem snapped in two. I smiled. Forget Basel; he was just another source of unnecessary boy drama.
For now, I just wanted to sleep. I wanted to forget. No more voices.