Urbantasm Book Three The Darkest Road by Connor Coyne #YA #MagicalRealism #TeenNoir

An excerpt from Urbantasm, Book Three: The Darkest Road:

I didn’t have a lot of time to put a costume together, but I dressed in black, combed my hair down as flat and straight as it would go, put on a dark pair of my tea shades, and some old lady rings my Grandmother Richter had given my mother. I wrote “OZZY” across the knuckles of both hands.
“That’s your costume?” my mother asked.
“The taste of bats is really salty!” I barked. “Really salty!”
When I hopped into Chris’ minivan, Shannon gave a snort at my costume. He had dyed his hair green and was wearing green plastic gloves. He held a huge coil of chicken-wire, wrapped in green ribbon across his lap.
I said, “What’s –”
“Sea serpent,” he said.
Chris had gone for a minimalist costume: a knife thrust into one side of his head and out the other, with blood dripping down his scalp and from the corners of his mouth. Nova wore a skeleton costume. Majenta, sitting in the way back, seemed to be dressed no differently than usual.
“What’s your costume?” I asked her.
“I’m a bat,” she said.
We talked strategy on our way north, and Chillout Chris weirded me out with his ice-cold battle tactics.
“There’ll be a lot of little kids,” he was saying, “but they’re slow. They’ll be like in packs with their parents, and they’ll stick to the sidewalks. So, what we do is we cut across the lawns. That way, we can get up on the porch before they do, even if they’re ahead of us.”
“Brutal, man,” said Nova.
“I’m going to get so much fucking candy tonight,” said Chris. “And I’m gonna eat it all before tomorrow.”
Majenta didn’t say much. I couldn’t tell whether she was just her usual sullen self or if she objected to my presence on Omara’s behalf. It was hard for me to believe Chris that nobody cared about the break-up.
“Hey,” I said, “you invited Omara, right?”
I imagined Majenta rolling her eyes behind me.
“Yeah, we invited her!” said Chris. “‘I’m too old for that!’ she said.” Chris’ derision of Omara’s derision came through in his high-pitched imitation of her voice. “Ken would’ve come, but his dad needs his help at some event their family is hosting in Detroit or something.”
“What about Justin?”
“I haven’t seen Justin lately.”
When we started, the sun was still shining through the tattered hems of the clouds, casting its weak light upon the last of the leaves. Silver maples. Street after broad street had already filled with kids in costumes – Power Rangers, Batman and Robin, Will Smith and Carlton Banks, the Penguin and Catwoman, the occasional Barney – and they waddled just ahead of their parents from house to house. I expected to catch some dirty looks, but I didn’t. Yeah, we were old for trick-or-treaters, but at least we were wearing costumes. At least we weren’t pushing the little kids around. At least we didn’t trample the parkway beds of cabbage, pansies, and mums. Some of the kids trick-or-treating were older than we were. Some of them were stubble-chinned adults, plastic Hefty sacks stretched wide, cigarettes dangling from the fingers.
“Trick-or-treat!” they growled.
And they received their candy and moved on. There was an unspoken truth in the air. Anderson Park was a money neighborhood, and none of our neighborhoods were money neighborhoods. So Anderson Park got its snow plowed, its trash picked up on time, and life was good enough there that they were able to worry about things like which trees the city cut down, and whether feral cats were murdering baby bunnies. Not whether live electrical wires dangled through the trees, or whether you’d get chased down the street by murderous dogs, or whether the vacant house next door would explode in the middle of the night because nobody had turned off the gas after the last eviction. And so, on one night of the year, Halloween Night, the rest of Akawe went knocking door to door and collected its poverty tax in Snickers and KitKats. Anderson Park paid up, and didn’t fuss about it too much.
The longer we were out, the more people packed into the neighborhood, with lines of kids running from the porches to the sidewalks. We saw Wednesdays and Pugsleys, Leonardos, Michelangelos, Donatellos, and Raphaels, sometimes sporting shells made from green-painted trash can lids, Splinters and Quailmen, plenty of devils, an angel or two, Vito Corleone and Marlon Brando, Woody Harrelson and Buzz Lightyear, a Sufi and some Indian princesses, a lich holding his demilich buddy in his hand as he went, swinging it like a lantern, the usual motley of vampires, ghosts, clowns, witches, and Frankenstein monsters, a band of dancing zombies, a Cher Sarkisian, and a Cher Horowitz.
While a few sullen houses greeted us with lightless windows and drawn curtains, most of the porches glowed with pumpkins, candles, Tiki torches, faux cemeteries with cheeky epitaphs – “Izzy Dead” and “Barry D. Live” – and scarecrows planted among the gourds and cornstalks, and manic spectres with flickering eyes running from second-story windows down to the lawn, and howling demons, rattling bones, broomsticks, and evil trees.
My friends and I ranged up and down the fanciest streets. On Red Arrow, at an angular mansion of raw stones and slate shingles, with a copper conservatory at the back like the house from Clue, we got the hugest Butterfingers and 3 Musketeers bars. 
In front of a more ordinary house on Peterson, an Evil Dead shack that Quanla would have admired had been erected in the front yard, while a man revved a (chainless) chainsaw and roared dismembering threats at the local kids while his wife dropped handfuls of candies in their sacks and pillowcases.
Across the street, an experimental Christian congregation had set up a pavilion where they gave away popcorn and hot cider to the kids, and beer to the adults, and tiny stapled tracts for everybody. 
“I’m gonna try for a beer!” said Nova.
“Don’t waste our time,” snapped Chris. “It’s getting late. There’s still candy to get got, but we’ve only got a half-hour left!”
The neighborhood got wild in the last minutes of trick-or-treating.
The sun went down and the temperature dropped. Sharp and gusting wind became rain, then sleet, then snow. A lot of parents, not wanting to get out of their cars in this mess, idled down the streets alongside their kids going door to door. It all turned into a traffic jam amid the narrow streets. A few parents got fed up with waiting and drove over the curbs and across lawns as the last of the trick-or-treaters dove out of their way.
“This shit’s getting nuts,” said Nova. “Wanna head back? My bag’s full, and people are running out of candy anyway.”
Everyone agreed except Chris. Chris would’ve kept on trick-or-treating until November 1st if he could have.
“It’s good to be high on life,” he said. “It’s better to be high on sugar.”
But we’d gotten turned around. The streets of Anderson Park twisted around parks, streams, and parkways. It didn’t help that the porch lights were all out, now that almost every house had exhausted its cache of candy. Nearly all of the remaining light came from the taillights of angry cars trying to escape from the neighborhood.
We thought we were making our way back toward South Street and Chris’ minivan, but we must have gone the wrong way because we found ourselves away from the crowds and approaching the expressway.
“I want to go this way,” said Majenta.
She was standing at the mouth of a slim drive – barely a road – that turned and vanished between tall, skeletal trees.
“That is not going to get us back to the car,” said Shannon.
“Is it even safe?” asked Chris.
Majenta scoffed.
“It’s Anderson Park,” she said.
Nova laughed.
“Vote?” said Majenta.
“No way,” said Chris. 
Shannon shook his head.
“I’m cold,” he said. “That’s two of us, Maj.”
“Okay. All in favor? Come on, who wants to?” asked Majenta.
I was cold. I was tired. But I also wanted to score some easy points with Majenta. Maybe she’d tell Omara how dope I’d been during trick-or-treating.
I raised my hand.
Nova imitated me, straining for heaven like a first-grader who just aced his spelling quiz and knows all the shit in the world.
Majenta flashed a rare smile.
“The Salty Allard Brothers vs. the Rest of Us. We’re going.”
The asphalt track cut between the overhanging trees and vines, all of them leaf naked, before dumping us in a frosted parking lot. Anderson Park was one of Akawe’s “rich” neighborhoods. And this was a country club. But now it was, like seemingly everything else, abandoned. The stripped tennis courts had been riven by wide cracks packed with gray weeds. The old clubhouse had been incinerated, nothing left but a Stonehenge of blackened columns. Someone had dumped an old couch at the end of the parking lot, and it was rapidly being covered with a coat of rimey snow. Beyond all of this stretched a golf course, all of it waist-deep in dead grass and studded with yearning cottonwoods, and watched over by the ever-blinking red lights of distant radio towers.
“I know where we are, yo,” said Nova. “My uncle used to go golfing down here. This is Ruth Golf Course. I didn’t know it was shut down, though.”
“Looks like it’s been shut down a while,” said Shannon.
“It’s beautiful,” said Majenta.
All I could think was that – yes – this was beautiful, and here I was on another – accidental – nightwalk, but Omara wasn’t here, and why isn’t Omara here? Then I remembered. She’s at home studying. She’s too old for trick-or-treating. And also, she dumped me.
I kicked a mound of snow. Majenta looked at me.
“It is beautiful,” I said.
She blessed me with another smile, but I knew that her mere smiles wouldn’t put me back together with Omara.
I swallowed some snot and my throat hurt. I could feel myself getting sick as we walked. It was time to come in out of the cold.

Urbantasm Book Three
The Darkest Road
Connor Coyne

Genre: General Fiction / Young Adult
Subgenres: Magical Realism, Teen Noir, Edgy YA
Publisher: Gothic Funk Press
Date of Publication: 9/22/2021
ISBN: 978-0989920292 (Print)
Page Count 639
Word Count: About 230,000
Cover Artist: Sam Perkins-Harbin

Urbantasm: The Empty Room is the third book in the magical teen noir serial novel inspired by the author’s experiences growing up in and around Flint, Michigan. It will be published in September, 2021.

Junior high was hard. John Bridge has made and lost friends, experienced and forsaken love, and discovered his true passions. But after his harrowing experience on the roof of St. Christopher’s hospital, John has decided to turn the page of his own life and plan for his future. Now he has new friends, a new girlfriend, and a powerful new goal: to get into Chicago and leave Akawe forever.

But Akawe might not want to let John go. The city is full of memories and ghosts — urbantasms, according his former friend Selby — and they leave traces of questions that John cannot easily escape: What happened to his abducted classmate Cora Braille? How does the Chalks street gang keep replenishing its stock of O-Sugar, a drug with seemingly magical properties? And why is Selby suddenly hanging out with a notorious drug dealer? Does it have anything to do with a man with a knife or some mysterious blue sunglasses?

John has a feeling that the dreadful answers to these questions might take him to a place that he does not want to go: a dark road in a forgotten corner of his dying city. Possibly the darkest road of all.

As a serial novel, Urbantasm has to be read in order. 
New readers will want to start with Book One The Dying City.
Urbantasm Book Two
The Empty Room
Connor Coyne

Publisher: Gothic Funk Press
Date of Publication: September 2019      
Number of pages:
Word Count: 175,000      
Cover Artist: Sam Perkins-Harbin, Forge22 Design

Book Description:  

Urbantasm: The Empty Room is the second book in the magical teen noir serial novel inspired by the author’s experiences growing up in and around Flint, Michigan.

John Bridge is only two months into junior high and his previously boring life has already been turned upside-down. His best friend has gone missing, his father has been laid-off from the factory, and John keeps looking over his shoulder for a mysterious adversary: a man with a knife and some perfect blue sunglasses.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, John must now confront his complicated feelings for a classmate who has helped him out of one scrape after another, although he knows little about who she is and what she wants. What does it mean to want somebody? How can you want them if you don’t understand them? Does anybody understand anyone, ever? These are hard questions made harder in the struggling city of Akawe, where the factories are closing, the schools are closing, the schools are crumbling, and even the streetlights can’t be kept on all night.

John and his friends are only thirteen, but they are fighting for their lives and futures. Will they save Akawe, will they escape, or are they doomed? They might find their answers in an empty room… in a city with ten thousand abandoned houses, there will be plenty to choose from.

Urbantasm Book One
The Dying City
Connor Coyne
Genre: YA, Magical Realism, New Adult, Teen Noir, Lit Fic
Publisher: Gothic Funk Press
Date of Publication: September 6, 2018
ISBN: 978-0989920230
ASIN: 0989920232
Number of pages: 450 pages
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: Sam Perkins-Harbin,
Forge22 Design

Book Description:

Urbantasm is a magical teen noir serial novel inspired by the author’s experiences growing up in and around Flint, Michigan.

Thirteen-year-old John Bridge’s plans include hooking up with an eighth-grade girl and becoming one of the most popular kids at Radcliffe Junior High, but when he steals a pair of strange blue sunglasses from a homeless person, it drops him into the middle of a gang war overwhelming the once-great Rust Belt town of Akawe.

John doesn’t understand why the sunglasses are such a big deal, but everything, it seems, is on the table. Perhaps he accidentally offended the Chalks, a white supremacist gang trying to expand across the city. Maybe the feud involves his friend Selby, whose father died under mysterious circumstances. It could even have something to do with O-Sugar, a homegrown drug with the seeming ability to distort space. On the night before school began, a group of teenagers took O-Sugar and leapt to their deaths from an abandoned hospital.

John struggles to untangle these mysteries while adjusting to his new school, even as his parents confront looming unemployment and as his city fractures and burns.

 “A novel of wonder and horror.”— William Shunn, author of The Accidental Terrorist

About the Author:

Connor Coyne is a writer living and working in Flint, Michigan.

His serial novel Urbantasm is winner of numerous awards. Hugo- and Nebula-nominee William Shunn has praised Urbantasm as “a novel of wonder and horror.”
Connor has also authored two other celebrated novels, Hungry Rats and Shattering Glass, as well as Atlas, a collection of short stories.

Connor’s essay “Bathtime” was included in the Picador anthology Voices from the Rust Belt. His work has been published by Vox.comBelt MagazineSanta Clara Review, and elsewhere. 

Connor is Director of Gothic Funk Press.  He has served on the planning committee for the Flint Festival of Writers and represented Flint’s 7th Ward as its artist-in-residence for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town grant. In 2007, he earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the New School.

Connor lives in Flint, Michigan less than a mile from the house where he grew up.

Urbantasm: http://urbantasm.com

Author Website: http://connorcoyne.com

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Blog: http://connorcoyne.com/blog

Twitter: https://twitter.com/connorcoyne

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@blueskiesfalling

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/connorcoyne

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/connorryancoyne

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/connorcoyne

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4218298.Connor_Coyne

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  1. Thanks, Nancy. It was designed by Sam Perkins-Harbin of Forge22.com. He does brilliant work!