The Woods at the End of the World will be my second full-length novel. It explores the importance of owning your identity, platonic bonds, and finding meaning. It’s also about recognizing, but pushing through, anxiety. “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” —George Addair
It’s tentatively scheduled for a June 19th release date.
In the meantime, you can read the opening right now:
The Archive: Year 17, Day 141
To the girl who dreamed herself to death,
I know you aren’t coming back. I’ve known for a while, I think. I wonder if you miss me as much as I miss you. Maybe that’s just my own dream. Maybe there’s nothing left of you but a body decaying deep in the Woods. I don’t believe in other worlds—in this life or after—the way you did. Your mind, with all of those hopes and stories and songs is just gone. That mind that—I used to believe, at least—loved me. All of that is so incredibly sad. So sad that sometimes I think I might crumble into myself until I disappear, just like you. Other times I think it’s only my heart that will shatter—that one day I’ll wake up and never be able to feel anything again. I’d like that.
Since you’ll never actually read this, I’ll be honest: I hate you. I hate you for leaving me and Mama. When you rambled on about wanting to see the world beyond the Woods, I thought you were only making up stories. When you made up stories, I thought you were only trying to escape from Haven in your own safe way. When you stared past the fence, I thought you were only daydreaming. Even when you screamed…I told you it was only nightmares.
I’m sorry. I should have stopped you. The world that mattered was the world we shared together, not one that had long since ended. You were so much of my world once.
You ended that world, too.
I hate you, I really do. I can’t believe how much we lived through only so you could throw it all away on a fantasy. I don’t know that I’ll ever forgive you. I do hope you’ll forgive me for not saving you. Or rather, I wish there was still a you to forgive me. I wish you’d let me know how much you’d needed saving. Most of all, I wish you’d saved yourself.
I’d like to think there is a chance that you made it through the Woods. That a better world really did wait for you. That you’re alive and happy. That you made your dreams come true.
But then I’m the one dreaming. And if there’s one thing you taught me, dear sister, it’s the danger in dreaming.
With love and hatred too,
Note to the Archive’s eventual readers: forgive me for this display of emotion. I couldn’t tell my sister what I wanted to say, so I had to tell someone. I will return the Archive to its regular format with the next entry.
I’ve never heard my sister scream like this. I wasn’t even sure it was her at first—some poor animal, perhaps, torn apart by a predator in the Woods. But I’ve heard Moon’s voice every day of my life. I know the way her voice cracks on the high notes, the way her low notes ring like bells. I recognize the quiver in that cry—amplified by thunderous magnitudes in the stillness of Haven house tonight.
I fly through the hallway, past Mama’s locked door and the attic’s ladder and the empty closets. It all seems so different in the late night dark—too long, as if I’ll never reach her. My heart hammers as fast and loud as my footfalls. I wish she and I still shared a room—that she hadn’t moved to the old study on the far end of the second story, filled with books and dust and big windows that overlook the Woods at the end of the world. I swear I can hear the branches creaking outside even through the moans of the house and the pounding in my skull, as if Moon’s cries disturb them as much as they frighten me. Why did she—not want to stay with me?—have to pick the room the farthest away from mine?
“Moon!” I let out a cry of my own as I throw open her door.