Violet Holt has already met Death once.
After a failed suicide attempt, she finds herself dumped by her callous mother on the doorstep of her family’s desolate oceanside estate. With only the company of her estranged grandmother, comatose grandfather, and the monsters in her head, at least there was no one to interfere with her plans to try again on her eighteenth birthday.
No one, except maybe Jack: a skeleton of a boy who says he’s there to rake her grandmother’s leaves, yet seems more experienced at stalking than grounds-keeping. She knows he’s keeping a secret behind his gentle smiles and aloofness, but it’s difficult for Violet to be put off by his untimely thin-air appearances when figuring out the mystery of his true identity makes for such a good distraction.
Violet’s trauma is deeper than the wound on her wrist though, and it cannot be simply whisked away in a whirlwind of guessing games and pleasant gestures. She struggles to reconnect with her grandmother, find forgiveness for her mother, and closure with her grandfather’s dire condition, all while battling the strain of it all on her family. Even with a flicker of something hopeful blossoming within herself, Violet knows her birthday plans must be inevitable.
Death wouldn’t be there for her if it wasn’t.
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When I was young, the rolling acres seemed never-ending against the forget-me-not horizon, and the modest, victorian-style manor felt stately and royal, like a palace. I recalled playing in the technicolor garden, violets in the air and grass stains on my tights. Feeding the sheep and goats, their fuzzy lips tickled my palm. Going on horseback rides along the ocean with my grandfather, salt tangled in my ashy hair.
I spent many summers there as a child. Whenever my mother felt stifled by my incessant needs, I visited my grandparents for a few weeks. As I grew older and became more capable of taking care of myself, the trips waned to once in a blue moon. It had been eight years since my last stay.
Returning was underwhelming.
Unlike the warm, dewy summers, fall in Newport was desaturated and still, making my grandparents’ oceanside residence appear foreboding. The white fence surrounding the property had faded to a cinder gray. The house’s exterior, once a vibrant yellow, was now sun-bleached and dulled with dirt and grime. Maple trees lined straight and neat on either side of the dusty road leading to the house, their old age showing with patchy autumn leaves and skeletal silhouettes. I was akin to them, spindly fingers gripping tight onto the last of their beauty as the winter threatened to strip them bare.
I’d once remembered this place having so much life, but Death had touched it since then. Fitting that I was spending my next few months here, as I’d also recently been touched by Death.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danielle Koste is a born and raised Canadian, but currently lives with her significant other in the equally snowy and cold Stockholm, Sweden. While working a day job and learning the language of the locals, she spends her free time honing the craft she’s always had a passion for.
When procrastinating, Danielle likes to enjoy other forms of rich story-telling, besides the obvious abundance of novels filling up her apartment and Kindle. Movies, music, and video games are among her favorite time-wasters.