Today on the site we’re revealing another cover for a Kevin Craig YA, and this time it’s Book of Dreams, a horror/thriller releasing from Interlude Press on May 24, 2022! Here’s the story:
Gaige’s curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers a bookstore on an abandoned street where no bookstore should be. He steps inside and is immediately enthralled by its antiquarian sights and smells. But one book in particular calls to him. It isn’t long before he gets a bad feeling about it, but it’s already too late. The store’s aged bookseller gives him no alternative: once he touches the book, it’s his—whether he wants it or not.
The book leads Gaige on a horrific descent into the unknown. As he falls into the depths of its pages, he loses blocks of time, and his friends become trapped inside ancient cellars with seemingly no means of escape.
Gaige soon learns that the ancient bookseller is a notorious serial killer from previous century, and fears that he has fallen into a predicament from which he may not escape. When all seems lost, he finds the one person he can turn to for help—Mael, a sweet boy also trapped inside the book who didn’t fall for the bookseller’s tricks. Together, they race against time to protect Gaige from joining a long string of boys who vanished without a trace inside the Book of Dreams.
And here’s the cover, designed by C.B. Messer!
But wait, there’s more! Here’s the excerpt from Chapter 1 of Book of Dreams!
I’m a book addict. There. I said it. It will one day be my downfall. And, the older the better. Give me an old book and I’m in nirvana. Mr. Clancy says I’m a dying breed. I may be seventeen and stupid, but even I know books will be around long after the apocalypse hits. Yep, books and cockroaches. And that old relic guy from the ancient band with the big lips, Keith Richards.
I walk inside and the first thing I see is an all-white cat sprawled on the hardwood floor. He stretches inside a thin shaft of the last bit of sunlight coming in through the front window. Spreading away from—or drifting toward—the dirty old thing is a line of dust motes. It looks like both the cat and the motes are fighting for the dying light.
The cat lifts an eye in my direction long enough to telepathically say, ‘Don’t screw with me, I’m busy here.’
There are eight rows of thick wooden shelves, all filled with books that look older than Great-Gram Imogene. If that’s even possible. She’s like ninety or something.
I go right to the first shelf and start to look at all the books, caress their spines.
I get this spooked-out feeling as I peruse the shelf, though. What bookstore isn’t jam-packed with color? Everywhere I look there are various tones of only two colors: brown and black. And with all the dust motes floating around wherever the dying sunlight hits, it looks like there’s this low-lying fog throughout the store.
On those rare occasions when I’m forced into fishing outings with Dad, low-lying fog is apparently a good thing. Brings the fish out for a feeding frenzy, or something like that. What do I know? I’m so not a sporto. While shopping in a bookstore, low-lying fog? Not so much a good thing.
I have my hand on an old smacked-down mud-dragged copy of a Russian classic—The Brothers Karamazov—when I hear a rumbling throat clearing that sounds like stones in a washing machine or a cat stuck up in a car engine when the ignition turns over. I’ve never heard a death-rattle, but Dad has joked about them and I’m pretty sure something behind me just made one.
“That’d be a good pick right there, son.”
The hairs on my arms reach away and I clench my head into my neck like a turtle, only I can’t make my head disappear down inside my shell. His voice is way worse than his throat-clearing. The cat agrees. It snarls and hisses at the old man like he isn’t its friggin’ owner.
Just as I’m about to tell him I already read everything by Dostoevsky, my eye catches something shiny. In a store as dull as this one it’s almost a eureka moment to discover something that stands out so much.
The old man, who’s not yet in my sightline, scurries toward me. I can see him move up the aisle in my peripheral vision. As my hand reaches out to grab the book’s spine—anything shiny in the dull dark ocean of books, dust and derelicts—he steps between me and it.
“You don’t want that one, son,” he says, already objecting to my choice before I even have a chance to touch it. His voice comes out in a hiss this time.
Who tells a kid that? Of course it automatically becomes the only thing within a twelve block radius that I do want. And I still haven’t even seen the title.
I deke around him and make a grab for the shiny-shiny.
“Ooh! The Book of Dreams! Sounds awesome. Is this like the Tibetan one?”
“Young man,” he says. “I’m going to have to ask you not to touch that particular book.”
My hand lingers by the gold spine. As I move to haul it out of its slot on the shelf, though, the old man’s hand engulfs mine. My first visual, a disembodied hand as white as bone and, well, also extremely bony. And cold. And covered with those age spots that all old people have. The hair already standing up on my arms now electrically stands up. Ice courses through my veins, as though his touch actually lowers my body temperature.
Who the hell is this old coot to tell me what books I can or cannot touch? It’s for sale, dude. If it’s on the shelf in plain view—in a bookstore—it’s for sale. End of story.
I wrench myself away from his skeletal grip and step back from the shelf, finally with the book in hand.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Gaige,” the old man says as he turns and heads back to the front of the store. I think I hear him tsk. “Just know, son, some books opened can’t be unopened.”
“What the hell does that even mean?” I ask. Now I feel brave. I won the standoff. I have the book in my hand. Dude is too weird, though. I watch his back as he moves up the thin aisle toward the counter, He’s impossibly tall and skinny. Like a basketball player who has just returned from a ten-year stay on a deserted island where he lived off insects and water. Like, he-should-be-dead skinny.
His all black suit is three sizes too big for him and covered in dust. His aura itself is dust. It mingles with the motes that fill up all the empty sun-lit spaces in the store. And what is with the long greasy hair? Dude totally creeps me out.
I turn my back on him and make to crack open the gold book cover. My heart races, and I’m desperate to see what’s inside.
“You read the title wrong too, son. Take another look. It’s MY Book of Dreams.”
I stop what I’m doing and return my gaze to the cover. MY Book of Dreams. Huh? Don’t know how I read it wrong. I’m certain it read THE Book of Dreams. I’m positive, even.
What was it Shakespeare said? “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” I think he also said, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” Thankfully, my thumbs have not yet been pricked. Between scary giant, his pissed-off cat, the dust motes, the fog, and the book, my Spidey senses are telling me to get the hell out.
But I’m also intrigued. Too intrigued. Like I said, I’m a bibliophile. And this book is so calling my name. There’s something about it. It’s a four-car pileup and I’m a rubbernecker.
I spot a chair at the end of the aisle and take my prize over to it. I sit down to open the book.
He just called me Gaige.
“Hey wait,” I say. “How did you know my name? You just called me Gaige.”
“If you haven’t looked inside that book yet, you can still leave it be and pick another. The Russians are fine reads, if you ask me. You still have prerogative on your side, Gaige. You can even leave empty-handed if you wish. It’s not too late. Choose wisely.”
Talk about creeping the hell out of a kid. What the hell is even wrong with this dude?
“How the hell do you know my name?”
But I don’t wait for an answer. None of the alarm bells that should ring in my head are doing their job. At least not properly. They’re ringing, I’m just not listening, I guess. He has suggested a forbidden-ness about the book and I have never been one to take to that kind of shit very gently. I dive into it.
After I turn the first couple pages, though, I turn away. They’re empty and a rotten smell emanates from them. It’s like the book hasn’t been opened for decades and all the badness that has ever lived in this ancient bookstore has come to rest within this one book’s yellowed pages.
“It stinks,” I say more to myself than to the man, who now seems too far away to carry on an actual conversation with. Like I would want to. He totally gives the creeps a bad name. “Why does it smell so bad?”
Apparently, he’s listening. From the front of the store, he says, “That’s a question you really have to ask yourself, young man. You have things to hide in that little head of yours? You have things to be ashamed of? You sure that smell ain’t coming from the inside of yourself? Skunk smells his own stink first, Gaige.”
I stand and walk toward him, book in hand.
“Stop saying my name. How do you know who I am, anyway?”
“I’m just saying that book knows you better than I do. I’m a silly old man who tried to warn you not to dance with the devil. Now you’re dancing, young fella. Now you’re dancing.”
Kevin Craig is the author of several young adult novels. Their most recent title, The Camino Club, was the 2021 Silver Winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award. Kevin is a five-time recipient of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. As a playwright, Kevin has had twelve plays produced for the stage. Kevin lives in Toronto, Canada. As an avid explorer, they can also be found traveling the world with their significant other, Michael.