The Waking Dark

The Waking Dark

by Robin Wasserman


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The Waking Dark is “a horror story worthy of Stephen King” (Booklist) and “a book you won’t soon forget” (Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series)—perfect for readers of Gillian Flynn and Rick Yancey.
They called it the killing day. Twelve people murdered, in the space of a few hours, their killers also all dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town.
Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of its upstanding citizens. As the town begins a descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself.
They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

“Suspense, chills, gasps—all that and a gem-like writing style that will make you shiver with beauty and horror. A book you won’t soon forget.” —Cassandra Clare, author of the bestselling Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices trilogy

“Twisted, pulse-pounding, shocking, and very, very scary. With The Waking Dark, Robin Wasserman conjures vintage Stephen King as she peers into the dark heart of a nightmare America, where violence and evil lurk behind the golden glow of small-town life, and new terrors arrive by the hour. A superb horror story that is by turns visceral and lyrical, heartrending and heart-stopping.” —Libba Bray, bestselling author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy and the Diviners series
“This book has the combination of mystery and fright that I love. So many twists and shocks, I nearly jumped out of my chair several times! Trust me—this is a true chiller. Not to be missed!” —R. L. Stine
“A thriller dark and beautiful and—yes—achingly romantic at every unexpected twist and turn. Astounding.” —Lauren Myracle, New York Times bestselling author of The Infinite Moment of Us and Bliss
“Wild, nihilistic madness that will get true horror fans raising their pitchforks and torches in frenzied glee. Wasserman writes as if hooked up to IVs of Stephen King and John Carpenter's spiked blood.” —Daniel Kraus, author of Rotters and Scowler

"Great dialogue and intriguing subplots add to the action-packed story . . . the suspense doesn’t let up until the final pages." —School Library Journal, Starred Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375868771
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/10/2013
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 1,292,774
Product dimensions: 6.04(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

ROBIN WASSERMAN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Seven Deadly Sins series, Hacking Harvard, the Skinned trilogy, and The Book of Blood and Shadow. She lives in Brooklyn.

Read an Excerpt

Later, after he'd trashed his bloody clothes, and stood under the cold shower long enough that the water circling the drain had gone from red to pink to clear, Daniel Ghent would wonder if some part of him had known what was to come—or should have. If there had been something false, something crafty, in Gathers' crookedly welcoming smile, or some too-still quality in the air, like the pressure drop before a storm. He would wonder if there was some reason he had walked into the store on exactly that day, at precisely that time, if despite all previous indications to the contrary, he had been meant to be a hero and save the day. He would wonder whether, if he had seen it coming, he could have done something to stop it, or whether he would simply have backed out of the store and run away. But that was later.

That afternoon, that sticky, sweaty Tuesday in the dog days of summer, he'd seen nothing but heat waves shimmering from pockmarked concrete and a long walk home. He'd known only that it was hot, and that Gathers Drugs on the corner of Ashton and Main was the closest place to buy a Coke or maybe, because there was something about the sun and the sweat and the smell of scorched cement that made him feel like a kid again, one of the sodden ice cream sandwiches Mr. Gathers kept in a tank behind the register.

So he went inside.

The door chimed with his entrance and Gathers took the time to grin a hello before turning back to filling a prescription for Eugenia Wooden. The self-described spinster lived down the street from Daniel and spent half her life in the doctor's office cheerfully complaining of coughs and wheezes and stomach pains and all manner of imagined infirmity until the doctor wrote her a scrip for something or other just to get her to leave. She was nice enough, at least now that Daniel was too old to trample her flower garden with his bicycle or break her windows with an errant baseball. She believed in the healing powers of chamomile tea, strict rules about wearing white after Labor Day, the Republican Party ("after they booted the criminals out" and "before the kooks took over"), civil rights ("within reason"), the wisdom of the Lord and the foolishness of His self-assigned deputies, and, on occasion, a stiff shot of whiskey.

She had approximately ten minutes left to live.

They all did: Sally, the waitress at D'Angelo's who gave free breadsticks to anyone who knew enough to flirt with her. Kathleen Hanrahan, who had babysat for Daniel's little brother until the night Daniel's father stumbled home drunk enough to mistake her for his dead wife. Happy Jerry, a thirty-year-old who couldn't read past a third-grade level but loved comic books and spent every afternoon browsing through the drugstore racks. All of them, dead in ten minutes, except Old Winston, who'd been kicked out of the bar next door and had slumped down by the ladies' hosiery shelf rather than go home and face his wife. He survived for nearly half an hour—though if his desperate prayers to Please, God, just let me die already were any indication, he didn't exactly welcome the delay.

They all—except a snoring Winston—greeted Daniel by name, exchanging the standard pleasantries about the weather (too hot), the day (too long), and the town (waning). There were no polite inquiries about his father; there was no need. Anyone interested in Daniel Ghent Sr.'s well-being could take a field trip down to the church square, where the Preacher, as he preferred to be called, had set up camp. He'd fester in the plaza for a few weeks, shoving his wrinkled End of Days pamphlets at passersby until the spirit—or the Jack Daniel's—moved him to try somewhere new. Daniel, who'd overdosed on humiliation back in grade school, when the whistled chorus of "Son of a Preacher Man" followed him everywhere, was officially no longer bothered by his father's extracurricular activities. But he still kept track of the wandering ministry—if only to ensure he stayed, at all times, on the opposite side of town.

"You bringing someone pretty to the church picnic this weekend?" Gathers asked. Daniel didn't bother to wonder at the glaze in the old man's eyes or the perfunctory note in his voice. Nor did he spot anything unusual about the way Gathers kept fiddling with something beneath the counter, sneaking quick, nervous glances at whatever lay below. "Supposed to be a fine, fine day."

"Not going to the picnic," Daniel mumbled. Daniel never went to the picnics. Or the ice cream socials or the potlucks or the bingo nights or the theme dances that featured Reverend Willet dressing up as a pirate or a biblical forefather or, on one memorable occasion, a feather-headed, war-painted Navajo brave.

A damp, meaty hand landed on his shoulder. Every muscle went on alert. His fingers, of their own accord, twitched and balled themselves into a ready fist.

But it was only Happy Jerry, smiling and defenseless and meaning no harm.

"For Milo," Jerry said, shoving a sticky comic book into Daniel's hand.

"Thanks, Jerry—he'll love it." Daniel flipped through the wrinkled pages, past caped heroes who never arrived too late and punches that never left a bruise. He couldn't remember ever being young enough to believe in that kind of world; he didn't want to imagine his little brother ever being old enough to stop.

He was thinking about Milo as he picked out the least squashed of the ice cream sandwiches and dropped a wad of crumpled bills on Gathers' counter. About the things he'd overheard the kids screaming on the playground, the claims that Milo stank, that he was dirty and unwashed and probably diseased. He was thinking about the foot-thick layer of worn and reworn clothing that covered both their bedroom floors, and the broken washing machine and the empty refrigerator and the housekeeper, paid for by his father's disability checks, who had quit two weeks before.

But that was well-worn mental territory, and, as if his life were the scene of an accident, replete with mangled bodies and gasoline fires, he forced himself to look away. By the time he stuffed his wallet back into his jeans, cracked open his Coke, and murmured agreement with Eugenia Wooden that, yes, it was an excellent thing that flu-shot distribution had begun so early this year, you could never be too careful, he was instead thinking about her. Cassandra Porter, again, still, always, Cass Porter and those damn short skirts that tended to ride up on her long, tan legs when she bent to adjust her strappy sandals or with self-conscious whimsy pluck a dandelion for her hair. Cass Porter, who'd spent the first eight years of her life at his side—and barely looked at him in the nine years since. Any illusions he nurtured that they could pick up where they left off—if with a little less playing alien explorer in the backyard and a little more groping in the dark—were swiftly dispatched every time he set eyes on the real thing. There was only room in the family for one delusional Ghent, and his father had already laid claim to the role.

His father. There Daniel's thoughts finally landed, just before Gathers, with a bland smile, drew the secret thing from beneath the counter and the secret thing revealed itself to be a shotgun. Whether his father was getting worse. Whether Daniel would care if his father left one morning and never came back. Whether somewhere, in the deep recesses of Daniel's brain, rested a time bomb that would eventually explode and launch him into a dream world as bad as his father's, or worse. Whether he could, for one more day and then one more day after that, stop himself from leaving his father and his house and his brother behind, in hopes that even the nowhere he had to go would be better than the somewhere he longed to escape.

The first blast screamed past his shoulder. Behind him, a wall of ketchup exploded and showered him with a gush of sugary red. He didn't think. He dropped. Face down, arms sprawled, eyes closed. Playing possum. Playing dead. He tried not to move.

He tried not to hear the screams.

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The Waking Dark 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Kendra_Helene More than 1 year ago
There is a proper way to prepare for reading The Waking Dark. You should wait until it’s half-past eleven and the sky is as dark as you’ve ever seen it. The rain should be pummeling against your windows, threatening to shatter the glass. The faint sound of thunder should be whispering in the distance. All but one light, just enough for you to read, should be turned off. Your furniture should be casting odd shadows onto the walls, ones that look like they may be moving. A cup of tea should be by your side. And finally, you should be curled into a ball on the comfiest chair in your house. You should be relaxed, expecting an enjoyable, calming story. In no way should you be afraid. Not yet.   It’s hard for me to describe my emotions while reading The Waking Dark without revealing anything crucial to the plot. And trust me, everything in this book is crucial to the plot. It is so well thought out and put together; it left me breathless. The cyclical pattern of human nature is so enthralling that you don’t even mind the violence.  I can’t say the characters were good people. I can’t say that I’d want to be their friend or that I have a literary crush on any of them. But, damn, they may have been some of the best characters that I have ever gotten to read. It’s hard to separate the heroes from the villains, but that is an intentional aspect. It’s the same in life. Telling the good people from the bad people has never been as easy as comic books would like to pretend.  The best part of this book though is the writing. All of the details that Wasserman goes into mesh brilliantly together, forming scenes of horror that could rival any movie you’d watch on Halloween. But just as great as all the details were the ones left unsaid. Those, truthfully, were the most painful, since it was always clear what had happened in the missing words. Wasserman has a talent for writing suspense that will be hard for anyone else to rival.  Now, this book is on shelves TODAY. If you’re not reading it, you’re missing out. 
Anonymous 11 months ago
Different plot
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
When I found out I would get to read The Waking Dark by author Robin Wasserman I was excited. And I mean really excited. I only read the description of the novel and that was all it took for me to be ready to kill somebody if it meant getting to experience this book. S I admit, I did not expect The Waking Dark to be remotely how it was. I expected a novel that would be a bit crazy. I didn’t expect an actual asylum, you know? Regardless of what I expected and wanted, The Waking Dark was still fantastic, terrifying and unforgettable. (I am just going to say now that The Waking Dark is definitely not a novel for people who have a hard time dealing with violence, anarchy and a lot of graphic murders). After a night that leaves twelve people dead—all the killers except one left dead from their own hand—the small town Oleander, Kansas is changed forever. In the aftermath of ‘the Killing Day’ a tornado strikes Oleander and takes things from bad to worse. Suddenly there are armed soldiers surrounding the town, quarantining it and keeping Oleander completely blocked off from the rest of the nsane. Completely mental. I’ll never be able to emphasize just how insane this novel gets. It starts with the killing day and everybody pretty much being murdered. I honestly didn’t expect the killings to be described as graphically as they did, but it didn’t take too long to figure out that in this novel everything was darker and more graphic than I originally assumed. It was disturbing, psychotic and at the end of the day it really enhanced the experience by a lot. Readers with a weak stomach (I’m talking, in the first chapter a baby is smothered and killed) may not enjoy The Waking Dark to the fullest… it does have some extremely dark content. The Waking Dark has an amazing writing style. Wasserman drags readers into the story and doesn’t let go of their attention. Just when things can’t seem like they can get any more intense bam it gets more intense. What I didn’t expect from The Waking Dark was the series of plot twists and unexpected tones the novel would take. I think that readers who are looking for a read that will keep them on their toes are definitely going to have to check out the Waking Dark because it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters introduced in The Waking Dark are all very unique and unforgettable. None of them are identical and out of them all there must be one out of the main characters introduced that readers will be able to relate to and call their favorite character. I know that out of them all my favorite character would have to be Jule. She’s badass, takes initiative and has to go through some terrible situations in the novel that in the end make her come out of the novel way differently than she did when she came in. I would recommend The Waking Dark to readers who are looking for a terrifying read, fans of thrillers and horror will definitely need to check out this novel. Anybody who wants to just be thrown into a totally new type of fright-inducing read need to read The Waking Dark.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'The Waking Dark' is an fantastically intense young adult mystery/thriller novel that tells the story of the small town of Oleander, Kansas. Everything is predictable, boring - normal - in Oleander. That is, until what they refer to as The Killing Day. The day when 12 people were murdered in a matter of hours. Not long after The Killing Day, a strong storm hits the town and leaves it broken and upside down. Soon the roads leading out of town are blocked off by soldiers with guns, barbed wire fences and they have no access to the outside world at all. Stranger yet are the people of Oleander. The once quiet and peaceful citizens are turning on one another and committing crimes nobody thought possible in their small town. Just what is happening to Oleander and the people inside it? Why won't the soldiers answer their questions or let them leave? A group of teens - Daniel, West, Jule, Cass, and Ellie - band together to try to find out the truth of what's happening and to find a way out. Although they have known each other since they were little, it is soon evident that everyone has secrets. Will they be able to stop whatever is happening in Oleander before it's too late? Will they find a way out to get help? Or will they suffer the same fate as everyone else and lose themselves to the darkness enveloping the town? I am a huge fan of mysteries and thriller/suspense novels, so I was immediately intrigued when I read the description of this book. It gave a great idea of what it would be about without revealing too much. I have to admit that I was definitely not disappointed and the book far exceeded any expectations I may have had. The plot was really unique and captivating - there's so many strange things happening to different characters at the same time. It definitely kept me on my toes, but didn't confuse or overwhelm me. The writing was fantastic with an effortless flow and a really quick pace that had me eagerly reading as fast as I could to try to find out what was happening to the people an the town and how it would all end. I tried to come up with theories and ideas about what could be going on, but then the author would slip in a huge twist or turn and I would be back at the beginning. The characters were all very well written, especially the group of teens that band together. We get to see each of their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, and their secrets - which only made them more realistic in my eyes. There are several genres blended together in the book - action, horror, adventure, suspense, mystery, romance. It will definitely appeal to fans of all types of fiction. This book had me instantly hooked from the first paragraph and refused to let go until well after I had finished reading. Very highly recommended for fans of YA mysteries and thriller/suspense novels. You don't want to miss out on this one! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Kevin_Young More than 1 year ago
This is a coming of age story depicting the diversity of today's teenagers.  It's sort of like the Breakfast Club meets the Walking Dead. It's an apocalyptic thrill ride filled with shocking plot twists that will leave you in awe.   Overall it's a very well-written story with intriguing characters that the reader will grow attached too while there are others that  you'll feel apathetic about.   An interesting narrative style by telling it from the points of views from 5 different protagonist who each have their own agendas. What would have made this novel better would to further develop the characters. I would have loved to see more character interactions between all of the protagonists as an ensemble.  
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gramabam More than 1 year ago
The story is somewhat slow to develope and hops from one charater to the next. However, it is an interesting plot and may give the reader a few things to think about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's okay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago