The Darkest Corners, a new psychological thriller from YA author Kara Thomas, will arrive in April of 2016 — and when it does, it will have you questioning the lies young girls tell, and the ripple effects they can have. Below, EW reveals an exclusive excerpt from the book, along with a note from Thomas. And when the excerpt leaves you hungry for more, visit The Fayette Gazette for breaking news on the mysterious plot surrounding The Darkest Corners.
A NOTE FROM THE DARKEST CORNERS author Kara Thomas
“Greetings, EW.com readers! I’m so excited to share this first look at my new novel, The Darkest Corners.
Sometimes one lie can change everything. Tessa Lowell has tried to push that idea from her mind since she left Fayette, Pennsylvania. She hasn’t set foot there since she was eight and went to live with her grandmother, but now that she’s back to visit her dying father, she can’t escape what she left behind. Ten years ago, Tessa and her friend Callie testified against the infamous serial killer the Ohio River Monster and helped send him to death row—but now Tessa has questions about what really happened the night Callie’s cousin was brutally murdered. Tessa knows what she said on the stand, but was she the only one who lied? The one thing she knows for sure is that the deeper she digs for the truth, the darker it all gets.”
Excerpt from THE DARKEST CORNERS by Kara Thomas
Fayette, Pennsylvania, looks worse during the day. Worse than I remember. Maggie stops at the Quik Mart on Main Street to get gas. Half the businesses are boarded up, or are hiding behind Closed signs that are probably gathering dust.
A big part of Fayette died with the steel industry in the early nineties. Before I was born, my father worked at a mill in the next town over. Now Fayette looks as if it were clinging on for dear life. Probably because everyone here is so goddamn stubborn. No one will let Jim’s Deli or Paul the Tailor go out of business. The people who are left refuse to pack up and leave. But with any luck, their kids will.
It takes us half an hour to get to the county prison. I don’t realize my leg is jiggling until Maggie puts the car in park and sets her hand on my knee.
“Honey, are you sure you want to do this? ”
Of course I don’t. “It’s fine,” I say. “We won’t stay long.”
Maggie flips her mirror down and puts on a fresh coat of petal-pink lipstick. I return her tight smile, and we walk side by side to the security gate. She slips her arm around my back and doesn’t pull away when my muscles tense.
Gram isn’t touchy-feely. For years, every night I’d linger in the hall, watching her do her crossword puzzle in the den while muttering the answers to the questions on Jeopardy! under her breath. I’d wait right there, like some pathetic affection beggar, until she’d finally look up at me. She’d nod and say, “Well, good night, kiddo.” And that was it.
I kind of have a thing with people touching me now. Maggie doesn’t seem to notice that my reaching into my bag for my phone is really my way of trying to wriggle away from her.
“They’ll probably make you leave that up front.” She nods to my phone. “And hospice . . . they may not let me go in with you.” I swallow away the bitter taste the coffee has left in my mouth. I guess I should be getting sad right about now, weighed down with memories of my father. Instead, I’m curious. I wonder what he looks like, whether his skin is rice-paper thin and sunken around his high cheekbones. In my memory, he was always healthy. None of us ever went to the doctor; my mom never liked them, and my dad swore that there was no affliction a shot of whiskey couldn’t fix.
I don’t say anything as I follow Maggie to the security desk. A woman in a gray uniform watches us from behind a glass pane. “Are you on the approved list? ” she asks, without looking up from her computer.
“I spoke with the head of hospice yesterday.” Maggie’s voice is clipped.
“Who are you here to see? ”
“Glenn Lowell.” My voice comes out dry and raspy. The guard lifts her eyes. Takes me in.
“Glenn Lowell died this morning,” she says. Maggie’s jaw sets. “How is that possible? ”
“People get sick, and they die,” the guard deadpans. When her eyes lock on me, pity flashes in them. She sets her pen down. “He deteriorated overnight. I’m sorry.”
“Why the hell weren’t we notified? This is his daughter.” Maggie’s voice rises. The people waiting on the bench behind us look up from their newspapers. My finger finds the spot on the side of my jeans that’s fraying.
“His daughter deserves to see him,” Maggie says. “Who is your superior? ”
The guard folds her arms across her chest. Her badge says Wanda. “Ma’am, I understand your frustration, but Glenn Lowell’s daughter was here last night. I wasn’t aware that he had two.”
“Wait.” My legs have gone weak. “She was here? ”
I sense Maggie stiffen next to me. Without a word, the guard flips back a page on the ledger set before her. She passes it under the glass pane. My fingers tremble as I search for her name on the page.
“She’s not on here,” I say. I go to push the ledger back, but Wanda stops me.
“Six-thirty-five p.m. yesterday,” she says. “I signed her in.”
I slide my finger down the page until I find the time. Brandy Butler.
In my sister, Joslin’s, handwriting.
My toes clench in my sneakers. I know it’s hers—I used to make fun of the silly way she wrote her es, the exaggerated dip, as if it were trying to touch its toes.
Maggie puffs up, starts arguing with the guard about needing to speak with the warden.
“Glenn Lowell doesn’t have a daughter named Brandy Butler,” Maggie says.
Maggie turns to look at me. “That’s Jos’s handwriting,” I say.
Maggie’s lips part with disbelief. There’s something else in her expression—pity. I’m getting really goddamn tired of that today. “Let’s go,” I tell her. “He’s dead, and that’s that, so can we leave?”
Maggie hesitates. My leg is jiggling again. She casts a look at the guard, as if to say, Someone will be hearing from me about this. Then she grabs my hand.
The gate beyond the desk buzzes. A guard appears with a clip- board propped on his forearm. He doesn’t look up from it as he shouts out a name. “Edwards?”
A man in a suit stands up in the waiting area, sheepish, as if he’d just gotten called to the principal’s office in the middle of class.
“Your client’s ready for you,” the guard says. Edwards tucks a manila folder under his arm and walks past Maggie and me with a polite nod. He doesn’t know who we are.
Maggie’s hand tightens around mine, and I know she recognizes him too. Maybe from the documentary about the murders, Unmasking the Monster, if she brought herself to watch it. Or maybe she’s been following Stokes’s appeal, because her niece was the last of his victims and she feels like she has to.
Either way, Maggie’s nervous energy transfers to me, and I know she sees what I see: the defense attorney who has been trying for the past ten years to get a new trial for Wyatt Stokes.
Wyatt Stokes, the Ohio River Monster, who is on death row because Callie and I put him there