CRUEL PRINCE with Scandinavian vampires
Astrid Skarsgård never believed the frozen woods were as monstrous as everyone said–until her grandmother disappeared in them. To find her, Astrid must team up with the bloodthirsty beast her grandmother warned her about. But as she unravels her family’s grim legacy, Astrid discovers the actual monsters were never in the woods.
People don’t just disappear. Not anymore.
But that’s the reason we’re heading home for the first time in nine years. Dad drives down the winding road and the seat belt cuts across my throat as I lean closer to the cold window. Tiveden presses against our car, ragged pine needles reaching for us like thousands of outstretched hands.
I lean closer, half-looking for the creatures my grandmother used to warn lived here. Anytime something goes wrong in Unden, Amma blames the Hidden Folk. Birds dropping out of the sky like stones. Cattle collapsing, bones snapping like branches. Bloodless bodies lying face down in the forest.
My chronic illness.
“Almost there,” Dad says, gripping the steering wheel so tight his knuckles blanch.
He despises his mother’s stories. The word he uses for them is nonsense, or if he’s feeling less generous, bullshit. After moving, I’m inclined to agree with Dad. It wasn’t Amma’s superstitions or magical staves that helped me. It was the doctors in Stockholm with their antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
A lot has gone wrong lately, but as I search the shivering trees, there are no monsters to blame. Only Dad and some shit luck. I sigh. I’m sure Amma would say what she always said about the Hidden Folk: just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Except now she isn’t here, either.