Soulshifter by Barbara Pietron
Genre: Young Adult
Publication: November 24th, 2015
Sixteen-year-old Jack Ironwood knew exactly what he wanted. Until he got it.Jack was content to stay unnoticed by pretty and popular track-star, Natalie Segetich, until he overhears her claim that something took her friend Emma. As a soulshifter who can cross into the underworld, Jack knows the human-stealing Enuuki—hell's messengers—are real and that a successful rescue mission would secure a future otherwise out of his reach. Working together, Jack and Natalie devise a plan to outwit the ruler of the underworld. Then on the eve of the quest, as Jack stands on the verge of seeing his dreams come true, he realizes he's no longer sure what he wants. But it's too late to back out. Pursued by the dark lord's henchmen and ghastly mutant creatures, Jack and Natalie struggle to come out ahead in a battle and barter for souls. In the end, Jack will have to decide his own fate, because nothing short of a deal with the devil will get all three of them out of hell alive.
"I asked you to see me first because I laid the ground work in the quest to save living souls," the sect elder said as he reached forward and shifted an ottoman so he could rest his feet on it. "The first thing I had to learn was not to die." He laughed. "Because I did die. More than once, actually."
Jack raised his eyebrows.
"The dark lord has sentries everywhere. They kill on sight. Lucky for me, I simply returned to my body."
Arlen's wife disagreed. "Nothing simple about it." She crossed the room with a steaming mug and set it on the table next to Arlen's chair. "It took him days to recover."
The man's gaze followed his wife out of the room then settled back on Jack. "She's right. None of this was fun. But it was necessary." He sipped his coffee. "Eventually I made it onto the grounds of the underworld god's citadel and found the boy I was looking for. He was in a deep pit. By the time I reached him, he was lost. Mentally. He'd forgotten who he was and I couldn't bring him back."
"He'd been missing at least a month."
The elapsed time since Emma's disappearance worried Jack. She'd been gone five days already. "Did you ever try again?"
Arlen's face went slack. "Yes." He paused a moment, staring into his coffee. "A girl this time. She'd only been gone ten days when I got to her. I helped her regain her memory of life in this world. Got her out of the pit." He put the coffee down and closed his eyes. "But I couldn't get her back here."
"I was spirit, she was flesh." Arlen suddenly looked very old. He swiped his hand down his face. "She was recaptured. All I did was succeed in making her relive the horror for a second time."
Jack blew out a breath and his chin sank to his chest. He wished he'd learned more before approaching Natalie.
Arlen read Jack's posture. "Don’t lose hope. There's more, Jack."
Jack lifted his head and met the older man's eyes. "More?"
"We didn't give up on saving souls. I just learned the first lesson: a living soul cannot be rescued during a spirit-walk."
"But that's what we—"
Arlen held up a hand to cut Jack off. "That's not all we do, Jack. We're soulshifters. We have the ability to descend."
Jack looked at the man blankly for a moment, then his mouth fell open. "That's right," Arlen said, staring directly into Jack's eyes. "If you want to retrieve a living soul, you must enter the underworld in the flesh."
About the Author
After years in the corporate world, Barbara found herself with a second chance to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her lifetime love of books and the written word returned one answer: writer. Drawing from her experience with technical writing, she began by writing non-fiction magazine pieces and achieved both regional and national publication. Her success encouraged her to complete a novel. She learned much from her first manuscript, critiques, books, contests, and blogs. In 2012, her novel Thunderstone, was a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and won a critique by Publisher's Weekly. A few months later, she was offered publication by Scribe Publishing Company.
Barbara has a few other novels in the works, including a Thunderstone sequel. If she's not reading or writing, Barbara likes to walk, garden, and sew. She works in a library and lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with her husband, daughter, and their cat – who often acts like a dog.
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