Knights Of The Borrowed Dark by Dave RuddenKnights Of The Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

Knights Of The Borrowed Dark

byDave Rudden

Paperback | August 8, 2017

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This imaginative fantasy about the monsters that lurk in the dark will thrill fans of Ranger’s Apprentice and Rick Riordan.
 
Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is, well, normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesied king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought...
 
On a particularly dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive?
Dave Rudden enjoys cats, adventure, and being cruel to fictional children. Knights of the Borrowed Dark is his first novel. Find him at daverudden.com and on Twitter at @d_ruddenwrites.
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Title:Knights Of The Borrowed DarkFormat:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 7.69 × 5.25 × 0.87 inPublished:August 8, 2017Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553523007

ISBN - 13:9780553523003

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1   Absentee Aunts  Four months later--October 2   “I don’t have an aunt.” Denizen Hardwick stared down skeptically at the note in his hand. That was the way he looked at most things, and he had a face built for it--thin cheeks, a long nose, eyes the color and sharpness of a nail. The note, left on his bed in Dormitory E that morning, was the object of a special amount of skepticism, so much so that he was surprised it hadn’t started to char at the edges.  Your aunt has been in contact. She is taking you away for a few days. You will be collected at 6 p.m. Pack a bag. Director Ackerby  “I don’t have an aunt,” Denizen said again. It didn’t sound any less stupid the second time round. “Well, that’s not exactly true,” said his best friend, Simon Hayes, also staring at the note. “You just don’t have any aunts you’re aware of.” Dormitory E was a long room with a high ceiling built for spiderwebs. Massive windows invited the weak October sunlight in to die, their frames rattling occasionally with the wind. There were twelve beds, and at this particular lunchtime ten of them were empty. Most of Cross-caper’s orphans were outside because sunlight in October was a rare gift and they hadn’t been given a mysterious note to stare at. Denizen ran a hand through his shaggy red hair. He was small for his age, and barring a late growth spurt, he would be small for every other age as well. The freckles that swarmed his cheeks and nose in summer had now faded in winter to lost and lonely things, all but the one on his lip. He hadn’t been aware you could have a freckle on your lip. Maybe Denizen was the only person a lip freckle had ever happened to. Maybe it was a mark of destiny, singling him out for great things . . . ​but he doubted it. Denizen Hardwick wasn’t the kind of person to believe in special circumstances--in distinguishing freckles or meaningful birthmarks or fortuitous aunts. Denizen Hardwick was a skeptic. “I don’t have a— Look, if I do have an aunt, where has she been for the last eleven years?” “Can you get any clues from the paper?” Simon asked. The new library had a collection of detective novels, and Simon was very interested in what one could learn from the smallest details. Gamely, Denizen inspected the note. Unfortunately, all he could see was that it was on yellow paper, which meant it had come straight from the director’s desk and was therefore not to be argued with, in the same way you didn’t argue with gravity. Apart from that, it was inconsiderately devoid of clues. “No,” he said. “Sorry.” Simon’s and Denizen’s beds were beside each other and had been since they were both three years old in Dormitory A downstairs. That had started their friendship. Furtive book trades at night, an inquisitive nature in common, and a shared dislike of sports had continued it. There were a lot of things Denizen liked about Simon, but first and foremost was how he radiated calm the way the sun radiated heat. It was impossible to be annoyed at Simon. It was impossible to be annoyed around Simon. A conversation with Simon had the soothing effect of the cool side of the pillow. Through either blind luck or best-friend osmosis, Simon had snagged all the height Denizen lacked. His giant winter coat did little to bulk out his slender frame, and splayed as he was across his bed, he looked like a crow in a scarf. “But why now?” Denizen said. “Why is she getting in contact now?” “Maybe it took her ages to find you,” Simon said. “Or she was waiting for you to be older?” He thought for a moment. “Maybe she travels a lot and you have to be old enough to travel with her. Or to be left on your own in her giant house.” “Giant house?” “You never know.” “I doubt she has a giant house.” “It’s not impossible. She could be a super-rich spy. It would explain where she’s been all this time. Or maybe she’s a chocolatier.” Denizen rolled his eyes. “A spy-chocolatier,” Simon insisted, grinning. “Solving international crises through the subtle application of nougat.” Part of Denizen knew that he should probably be more excited. A relative appearing out of nowhere to take him away? Most of the other children and teen-agers in Crosscaper had spent their entire lives dreaming of something like this. That was what worried Denizen. Dreams were tricky things. He’d only ever really had the one, at least until the past couple of months. Since the summer, his sleep had been haunted by Crosscaper’s dark corridors, a figure in white drifting down them like a moth made of glass. In the dream, the figure had lingered, its milk-skinned hands caressing the door of each dormitory in turn before finding his and slipping in. . . . He shook his head. Definitely not a dream he wanted spilling over into real life. Maybe Simon was right. Maybe his aunt was a chocolate-spy. Maybe Denizen’s life was about to change. Less skepticism. More weaponized hazelnut creams. His bed creaked as he sat down heavily on it. Like everything in Crosscaper, it was falling apart. The orphans relied on castoffs and donations, and since neither Simon nor Denizen fell into the realm of average height, they had the worst of it--more hold-me-togethers than hand-me-downs, skewered with a fortune of safety pins so that when the boys moved, they clicked like ants. The creaking of his bed didn’t worry Denizen--there were too many books underneath it to let him fall. One of Simon’s fictional detectives had commented that you could tell a lot about a person from the contents of his bookshelf, but an inspection of Denizen’s collection would simply tell you he loved words. Love on the High Seas sat next to The Politics of Renaissance Italy. (Crosscaper’s books were all donations, and it had bothered Denizen for years wondering who donated books on ancient politics to an orphanage.) And while some volumes were more well-thumbed than others, each one had been read until the covers frayed. My aunt might have books, Denizen thought, and immediately quashed the idea before it had a chance to grow. He was not going to a new family. He was not going to a new life. He was being brought out so a stranger could have a look at him. If afterward this mysterious aunt decided she wanted to meet him again, fine, but he was not getting his hopes up just to be disappointed. And the first thing she was going to do was answer his questions. Simon hadn’t brought it up. He hadn’t needed to--he knew Denizen too well. Denizen was one of only a few children in Crosscaper who didn’t know anything about their parents. Oh, he knew their last name. He knew that they were . . . Well, he knew he was in an orphanage for a reason, but he had no idea what that reason was. Simon did. His parents had been killed in a car crash. Mr. Colford, their English teacher, drove Simon to their grave on the anniversary of their deaths every year. Michael Flannigan, two beds down from Simon on the left, had lost his parents in a fire. Samantha -Hastings’s mum had died of . . . Well, she wouldn’t say, and the unspoken rule of Crosscaper was that if you didn’t want to share, nobody had a right to pry. But Denizen simply didn’t know. It was the only other dream he’d ever had. A woman--small like him, though it was hard to tell because he was looking up at her. Her arms were around him. She smelled of strawberries. Her song . . . something about the dark . . . Denizen didn’t remember his father at all. Simon flashed him a faint, sympathetic smile. He knew exactly where Denizen’s thoughts were. “Listen,” he said as the bell announced the end of lunch, “I should get down to class. I’ll tell Ms. Hynes you can’t make it because you have to pack.” “That’ll take like ten minutes. I don’t need to--” “You’re right,” Simon said. “I’ll tell her you’ll be along shortly. Maybe you could ask for some extra homework to take with you.” “Ah,” Denizen said, grinning. “Cool.” They stared at each other awkwardly. “It’s just a day or two,” Denizen said. “I’ll probably be home tomorrow.” “Sure,” Simon said. “Yeah. Look. Enjoy yourself, all right? Have a chat with her. Try not to overthink things. Let her spoil you if she feels guilty about not being around. See what you can find--yeah? Best of luck.” Denizen loved words, but that didn’t mean he could always find the ones he needed. Instead, he wrapped his arms round Simon in a tight, quick hug. And then he was alone, note crumpled in his hand. Outside, the courtyard quieted. Denizen sighed. As nice as it was to take a few hours off class--he wouldn’t have been able to concentrate anyway, the words absentee aunt bouncing round his skull like a bee in a jar--he wouldn’t have minded some company. Now he was alone with his thoughts, and he couldn’t help turning them over and over in his head. Denizen Hardwick had an aunt. So where had she been all this time? Maybe she hadn’t known he existed. Families fell out all the time--that had been the main theme in both Love on the High Seas and The Politics of Renaissance Italy--so maybe she was only tracking him down now. Was she his mother’s sister or his father’s? What had happened that had made them lose touch? His stomach knotted. There was so much he wanted to ask her. Would she cry? He wasn’t going to cry--that would be terrible. But she might. Were there going to be hugs? Would that be weird? Denizen tried to imagine what it would be like. The woman would be . . . small, he supposed, maybe with his eyes and hair. His imagination had very little to go on. A hazy image formed in his mind of a chubby woman with red hair, her features a strange mix of his and those of Crosscaper’s cook, Mrs. Mollins--the most auntish woman he knew. In his imagination, the hybrid Mollins-aunt fell to her knees and started sobbing when she saw him. Denizen squirmed. That image just made him uncomfortable. Then again, if awkward aunt-hugging led to answers about his past . . . As far as Denizen was concerned, six p.m. couldn’t come quick enough.   2   Nonfiction   The sun dipped below the horizon, taking the day with it as it went. It was 5:45 p.m., and Denizen stood in Crosscaper’s great courtyard with a bag at his feet. It had taken him longer to pack than he’d thought. What do you bring to meet a surprise aunt? In the end, he had settled for a few changes of clothes and a winter coat. He couldn’t be expected to plan any better, not when he had no idea where he was going. If that inconvenienced his aunt at all, well, that was what you got for going around being mysterious. Occasionally, Denizen would glance back at Crosscaper’s front doors as if reassuring himself that the orphanage was still there. Which was silly. He was only going away for a day or two. He’d have to come back--his books were here. All his aunt wanted to do was take him to dinner and salve her conscience for being absent for most of his life. That worked for him--Denizen had done fine by himself for years. He didn’t need someone showing up now and trying to help him. He’d cooperate, though, just as long as she answered every question he could think of about his parents. Eye color, hair color, favorite food--he’d been tempted to make a list, before deciding that it might come across as crazy. Or maybe not. There probably wasn’t a standard on what was crazy or not. I mean, how often has this situation come up? He looked back at Crosscaper again. It hadn’t always been an orphanage; the classrooms were of new, bright stone, whereas the dormitories with their peaks, towers, and scowling buttresses looked much older. Also, why the high stone walls? It struck Denizen as a bit excessive. Orphanages had to have walls for runaways, he supposed, but these walls had definitely been designed for another purpose, unless orphans used to be a lot bigger and breathe fire. There was something castlelike about the gates as well--monstrosities of black oak and iron, their surfaces pitted and scarred from centuries of wind and rain. When he was younger, Denizen had run his fingers over every notch in the wood, imagining ancient battles, the furious pounding of enemy swords. Those gates marked the borders of his childhood, the beginning and end of what he knew. Without a word, Director Ackerby strode past Denizen and unfolded one long arm, pointing a black remote at the gates. Whirring, they parted on massive electronic hinges--bright and shiny against the age-darkened wood--to reveal the bay and a great sweep of sea. Crosscaper Orphanage was the westernmost building in Ireland. Denizen’s geography teacher, Mr. Flynn, had always been quite proud of that for some reason, as if the world wasn’t a globe and westernmost didn’t just mean “until you got to the next bit.” Farther up the hill were the cliffs of Benmore and the hooked finger of Moyteoge Point (cursed by generations of bad spellers), and west of that was just ocean--half a gray world of it, all the way to the east coast of America. Their class had scaled the cliffs once to look out at the iron cast of the sea, the breeze tasting like salt and emptiness. Most of the students had preferred to face east toward the fat little pocket of Keem Bay, the villages and the bridge to the mainland--Ireland laid out in fading shades of green--but Denizen had been transfixed by the sea. It was hypnotic. All that space, that desolation. A birthplace for storms. He stole a glance at Ackerby. That was how everybody looked at the director--it was like dealing with a gorgon. Meeting his eyes meant he was meeting yours. Now the director just stared out into the evening, a frown on his long face. Carefully, Denizen allowed himself a proper look. It was odd, staring fully at someone you’d only ever seen from the corner of your eye. It made Ackerby . . . smaller somehow. Without the mystery of an averted gaze, the director looked like a heron rescued from an oil-slicked beach--hunched and slow and miserable. Up until a month ago, one of his arms had even been bound up winglike in a sling. With any other member of the staff, Denizen might have asked what had happened, but not Ackerby. Ackerby didn’t speak to children. On the rare occasions he did, they were referred to as boy or girl as if he were struggling with the Latin name of some exotic insect. He’d barely been seen outside his office recently. All sorts of rumors had been flying about as to why.

Editorial Reviews

“Scary and funny—my two favorites. Dave Rudden is more than a rising star; he is a shooting star.” —Eoin Colfer, New York Times bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series   “Like the Percy Jackson series, the Hunger Games, or the Shiver trilogy, Knights of the Borrowed Dark is dark and compelling, and builds an addictive universe of characters, high stakes, and evocative imagery.” —Jeffrey Cranor, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Welcome to Night Vale   “Dave Rudden has a way with words, a way with story, and a way with characters. Clear some time in your schedule before you read this, because once you start, it is very difficult to stop.” —Joseph Fink, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Welcome to Night Vale