Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski: read an excerpt |


BEA Buzz: Read an exclusive excerpt from 'Nightfall' by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

Every year at Book Expo of America (BEA), a select group of outstanding upcoming books are chosen as “Buzz Books”—ones to watch out for because they’re going to be huge. EW presents a series of exclusive excerpts to preview some of these awesome books. 

Nightfall takes place on Marin Island, a place where the sun only rises every 28 years—meaning 14 years of daylight are followed by 14 years of night. The townspeople flee south at sunset, but when three teens are left behind, they learn about the strange others who take over the island at night—the ones their parents would never tell them about.

Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

Sometime much later, Marin woke to a piercing sound. She thought then of the knives below, and of the sharpeners. Marin cursed. The knives. We should have taken all of them out of the mantel.

Slow, heavy footsteps came up the stairs. They sounded much louder than last time.

“It’s back!” she shouted. She didn’t dare voice her other thought—it sounded like there were more than just one.

In a heartbeat, Marin, Line, and Kana were on their feet. Together they braced themselves against the armoire and dressers that barricaded the entranceway. Then the pound­ing began—huge, powerful blows. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! There was no doubt about it. There were several bodies trying to force their way in. If it weren’t for the barricade, the door would have blown open. Still, the furniture shuddered omi­nously. The ferocity of the blows was unmistakable—the things on the other side of the door were determined to get in this time.

“Hold!” screamed Line, who was pushing madly against the armoire. “HOLD!”

They all focused their efforts on the massive armoire. If it slid away, the dressers behind it wouldn’t be strong enough to keep the door closed. They lined up against the armoire, dug their heels into the ground, and pushed with all the ferocity of those whose lives hung in the balance. The armoire slid for­ward an inch, and then backward an inch, again and again.

The hinge that fastened the top of the door to the wall started coming loose. The screws were being yanked out—it wouldn’t be long before the top of the door separated from the wall entirely. But there was nothing they could do about it.

The battering at the door continued for several minutes until, suddenly, Kana slipped at the same time that the door bulged inward from a series of ferocious blows. The force of this new attack jettisoned Kana backward. He sprawled across the floor and the armoire slid forward several inches. The door creaked open. Marin screamed. Grunting erupted from the hallway, and the door was under such pressure that it seemed to bend. Kana threw himself against the armoire with tremendous force. His effort seemed almost superhuman and, amazingly, the armoire slid forward by a half a foot and—once again—the door to the room closed.

Shortly after this, the battering stopped. One of the crea­tures bellowed and they heard a splintering, cracking sound. Marin’s heart sank. It was over. The door was breaking.

“It’s just a knife—the door is holding,” gasped Kana, seem­ingly reading her thoughts. Then came the sound of squeak­ing floorboards as the things made their way back down the stairs. Then silence. A long, eerie silence. A minute passed. Then another. Kana, Line, and Marin slumped to the floor, out of breath. More time passed. Finally, they rose to their feet and began to clear the barricade. When the furniture was moved away, they stood at the door and listened.


Line tensed and put his hand on the doorknob. “Ready?” he whispered.

“Do it,” replied Marin.

Line opened the door in a fluid motion. Kana, out first, con­firmed that the hallway was empty. He looked at the door. It was cracked in several places. Directly above each of the three hash marks was a knife stuck into the wood. Line reached up and tried to extract one of the daggers. It wouldn’t budge.

Marin stood at the top of the stairs and listened. Kana joined her.

“They’re gone,” Kana said. “Or at least they’re not in the house anymore.”

“They’ll be back,” said Marin. She looked around, taking in the pervasive gloom, polished banisters, walls, floors, and ceil­ing. A feeling of clarity descended upon her. “Don’t you see? They built this house.” Then she extended both arms and ges­tured all around. “They built all of this.”

“She’s right,” said Kana softly.

“Do you think the mayor knew?” asked Line, eyes trained on the floor.

“Doesn’t matter at this point,” said Marin. She reached down and began to tighten the laces on her boots. “What mat­ters is, this town is theirs—and they want it back.”