When Matt Archer was fourteen, he discovered monsters are real. As if that wasn’t enough to go on for a few decades, Matt also found out that he’d been chosen to hunt those monsters--with a sentient, supernatural knife. Now fifteen, Matt has spent the last year working with a clandestine military unit, trying to rid the world of monsters, demons and other vicious creatures, all while keeping it a secret from nearly everyone he knows back home in Billings.
Including his mom.
Add in a new girlfriend, family secrets, sibling drama and enough homework to sink an aircraft carrier, and Matt’s life has become more complicated than he ever imagined. Worse, the knife has developed some very definite opinions about Matt’s personal life and it interferes in his business whenever it wants. More and more, Matt’s coming to realize that sharing brain-space with a spirit kind of sucks.
When stories of decimated towns and hordes of zombies start pouring into the Pentagon from Afghanistan, Matt knows he’ll be called up soon. Between the new mission and the knife’s increasing control over his mind, Matt wonders if he’ll survive long enough to take his driver’s exam.
5 of 5 Blade's Edge
First I have to say that I loved the first book in this series so I was excited to get the second one. Kendra has developed such an awesome character in Matt and telling his story. In book one Matt learns what he is and what he is expected to do and at first he had a hard time but by the end of the book he was fighting monsters and trying to go to school and live a normal or as close to normal life as he could.
In Blade's Edge Matt and his blade are getting into some serious stuff. Matt has only been a monster hunter for a year but boy oh boy what he went through and what he saw has made him stronger as a person. For a whole year he has been fighting monsters and learning to live with his new found world. His family and friends have no idea what he has gone through and that is the way he wants to keep it. Matt has a new girlfriend and is trying to enjoy school but family secrets will be uncovered and will set some things in motion. If that could not be worse he has sibling issues and way to much homework. Who has time for homework when your fighting monsters?
Then Matt hears towns are being torn up and there has been zombie sightings. Soon he is jumping out of military helicopters and fighting these evil monsters. He is fighting alongside some awesome people trying to save the world from these nasty monsters. Matt is also fighting with his spirit because it is getting a lot stronger. If that wasn't the worse thing Matt is wondering when he will get his drivers license. Hahaha that is the least of his worries for now because if he does not defeat the monsters there will be no cars to drive!
When I was fourteen, a supernatural knife chose me as its wielder. Now I’m fifteen, and I’ve spent the last year working with the Army to save the world from monsters, demons and other vicious creatures—while keeping it a secret from nearly everyone I know.
Including my mom.
My name is Matt Archer. And I’m a soldier.
* * *
Eleven Green Berets lined the benches on either side of the C-130 transport plane. The team sat shoulder to shoulder, each loaded down with a large pack carrying both a chute and supplies. I had a pack too, weighing me down in my seat as the plane bumped along in turbulence caused by the mountains.
Two knife wielders and ten support staff, ready to go.
The middle of the aircraft was empty except for the chute-line track running down the center of the fuselage’s ceiling. A grim-faced Air Force jumpmaster watched us from the front of the cargo hold, scowling like he was worried we’d break something. The interior of the plane looked just as grouchy. Its parts were painted black, army green, or gun-metal gray, including the diamond-plate metal floor.
Uncle Mike stared intently at me from across the cargo bay, absentmindedly twisting his wedding ring around his finger. I couldn’t believe he hadn’t taken it off and zipped it into his jumpsuit. Sure he’d only been married four months, but this was ridiculous.
“You know, Badass Aunt Julie’s gonna kill you if you lose that ring somewhere over the Himalayas,” I shouted over the roar of the engines.
“Probably,” Mike said. “But I won’t lose it—good luck charm.”
Good point. I took a quick inventory of my own talismans against evil. Magic knife strapped into the custom-made sheath sewn into the right thigh pocket of my high-altitude jumpsuit. In my left breast pocket, an LED flashlight, a souvenir from my first solo hunt. My right breast pocket held two things: an arrowhead and my sister’s lucky exam pencil. Mamie was a brain, so giving me her lucky pencil in the midst of SAT prep was a big deal. The arrowhead came from the Peruvian medicine man who made my knife. I never went anywhere without it.
Yep, I had everything.
The knife buzzed, vibrating against the zipper that held its pocket closed and an alien voice murmured in my head, We fight today.
I took a long, deep breath as an irresistible hum filled my mind. My pulse sped up; it always did when the knife’s spirit latched onto my consciousness. I was still getting used to sharing brain-space with a supernatural being, though, and hearing a strange voice in my head was freaky at best. Part killing machine, part external conscience, the knife-spirit’s hold on me was hard to explain. I was one of only five men who could wield a spirit-blade, and the knives were necessary to our mission. Why else would a sophomore be spending Christmas break running around India with Army Special Forces?
“Gentlemen, we’re going to be departing the aircraft shortly, so everyone get set,” Colonel Black hollered.
My breakfast rose in my throat. The colonel must’ve seen the look on my face because he chuckled as he drew a black watch-cap over his salt-and-pepper hair. From the look of things, he wasn’t the least bit concerned about jumping out of the plane, which made me feel like a wuss. That feeling wasn’t helped by the fact that Colonel Black was six-five, every bit of it solid muscle. Sure, I’d grown nearly a foot in the last year and put on some muscle of my own, but I had nothing on the colonel.
“Oxygen on,” the jumpmaster barked. “Eight-thousand feet.”
I sighed and put on a mask like the ones you see in hospitals. We were jumping from high enough up that we had to breathe pure oxygen from the plane’s air system until we switched to the tanks we’d wear on the way down. Uncle Mike explained this was to keep us from getting the bends from the altitude drop.
“So,” Colonel Black called to me, his voice muffled by his plastic breathing mask, “where are you this week?”
“Greece. Field trip for that ‘gifted and talented’ program General Richardson cooked up as my cover,” I said. “So far, so good. If my mom knew I was really jumping out of airplanes at high altitudes to hunt monsters, I think my number would be up.”
“Speaking of jumping…” Mike nodded at me. “You got that thing strapped on tight enough?”
My hand flew to the buckles and clasps holding my parachute pack to my back. “God, I hope so. Does it look loose?”
On my right, Lieutenant Johnson said, “Kid, the major’s just yanking your chain. You tighten those straps any more and you’ll cut off your own arm.” His laugh rumbled louder than the engine. “Stop worrying so much. You’re ready for this.”
“I’ve only done practice jumps, not combat.” I settled back against the wall and glared at Uncle Mike. “Just because you’ve jumped out of a perfectly good airplane onto mountains doesn’t mean I have. I’m allowed to be extra careful.”
Mike’s brown eyes crinkled up at the corners. Mine did the same thing when I was laughing at someone else. “Chief, what did you think being part of the 10th Airborne meant? The word ‘Airborne’ kind of gives it away.”
Schmitz, my hunting instructor, piled on. “Hooah, Major Tannen. We live to jump, sir!”
“That mean you’re going second today, Master Sergeant?” Mike yelled.
“Amen to that, sir!” Schmitz danced in his seat a little. The smallest member of our squad, Schmitz was wiry and less than medium height, his hair a five-o’clock shadow barely hiding his skull. He also practically buzzed with energy. “You hear that, ladies? I get to go second.”
“Not sure that’s a good idea, man. You’re so short, we won’t be able to spot you in the snow and one of us is bound to land on you,” Lieutenant Johnson said.
Schmitz made a face but his retort was cut off because the jumpmaster stood to start the ready protocol. Using a special set of hand signals, he motioned for us to prepare. The roar of the engines changed pitch and I felt the plane jerk as the pilots slowed so they could kick us out.
The jumpmaster gestured for us to stand and hook our parachutes to the anchor cable, shouting, “Green in ninety seconds.”
“You heard the man. Last check on equipment,” Colonel Black yelled.
My stomach did flips. “When do I go?”
“I’ll go first, then Schmitz, then you,” Uncle Mike said. He wasn’t kidding around anymore—his voice was tight and sharp. “Johnson will come behind you. Then the rest of the team.”
We took off our oxygen masks, lined up and clipped our chute lines to the wire suspended from the side of the plane. Schmitz stood in front of me with his head bowed.
“Our Lady, bless us and keep us,” he murmured. “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” He did the sign of the cross then let loose a bloodcurdling “Hooooo-aaaahhhh!”
The praying didn’t calm me down much. Too late to back out now, though, because the ramps at the rear of the aircraft opened. The sky yawned through the wide-open hatch and sunlight glinted off the metal around the edges of the ramps.
The jumpmaster signaled “stand by.”
Oh, man, this was it.
Mike turned around, his face totally intense. “Yellow light. Masks on.”
I slapped my mask into place on my helmet and a plastic smell invaded my nostrils as the oxygen started to flow from my reserve tank. Shouts of “Hooah” came from every which way, while my heart slammed around like a marlin caught in a net.
“Countdown!” the jumpmaster shouted. “In five…four…three…two…one. Green light. Go, go, go!”
Mike ran down the ramp, dragging his chute line, then leapt from the airplane with hands folded over his reserve chute’s ripcord. By the book. Seconds later, his chute opened.
Schmitz followed, screaming “Geronimo, you mother…!”
The last of whatever he had to say got drowned out in the howling wind.
Johnson gave me a shove. “Go, kid!”
I drew a huge breath and held it, ran, jumped, soared off the ramp just like I’d been taught in jump school. I braced myself for the pull of the chute as it slowed me down.
The tug never came.
My parachute didn’t open.
Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.
Oh, you want the long version? Okay…
I was born in Oklahoma City and went to Putnam City North High School, where I met my husband. We were band geeks, and met at a football game (ironically, we are now band parents…circle of life, y’all). I spent my college years at the University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner), and after graduating with a B.A. in English Literature (what I wanted to do) and an M.B.A. (how I’d pay the bills), my husband and I moved to Texas for work and have lived in the Dallas area since. We have two great children, both of whom love to read, which makes me very proud. In my spare time–what little I have–I love to write, of course, bake, do time at the gym, watch Big Bang Theory, Fringe and Firefly, and read. I’ve been drawn to YA fiction most of my life, devouring Judy Blume and Cynthia Voigt novels in my middle grade years, but I moved on to adult fiction in high school (there weren’t as many YA options back then). When my son was born, I rediscovered YA, because the adult fiction I’d been reading was too harsh. (PSA: Don’t read hardcore thrillers when you have a newborn nestled in your arms–they’ll make you scared to take the baby out of the house.) I fell in love with the creativity, emotional resonance and great characterization you find in many YA novels. One thing led to another and after writing casually for most of my life, I decided to get serious about my craft. It’s been one of the most fulfilling challenges I’ve ever experienced. Writing is hard, but so worth it when you hold a finished book in your hands.
Thanks for reading! And watch out for monsters…