With his seemingly mundane act of taking one step forward, he effectively walked from myth to reality.
A mysterious friend reappears in the lives of cousins Hannah Mitchell and Jenna Warnke. His return causes a haunted past to be revived and a search for answers about ancient myths in the Snoqualmie Valley of Washington State is born. Could modern science hold the key, or does the truth lie in something supernatural?
An unlikely romance is encouraged by hope but threatened by heartbreak. Tragic loss and prejudice loom over the friends, drawing out the darkness of unexpected enemies. Is love strong enough to endure, or will worlds be destroyed?
Come discover what lurks in the shadows but desires the light!
From J.M. Northup
“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
– Dr. Carl Sagan
“Stop it!” Jenna blurted. Her rich brown eyes widened with fear, adding a new depth to their slightly haunted appearance.
“Relax,” Hannah replied casually. “I got this.”
The speeding car glided steadily toward the side of the road and bumped noisily over the rumble strips. When Jenna glared, Hannah casually adjusted the steering wheel. The vehicle moved back into its proper lane without incident.
“No, you don’t ‘got this,’” Jenna gasped. “Please, put your phone down.”
“What are you so worked up about? You text in the car all the time,” Hannah said, rolling her eyes.
“Not while I’m driving!” Jenna shouted.
“Ugh,” Hannah groaned. “You’re so uptight.”
Jenna knew it was futile to argue with her cousin. Hannah was genuinely spontaneous – a free spirit from birth, who’d never see things the way she did. That left Jenna with the self-imposed responsibility of keeping Hannah grounded. Often, that proved to be a daunting task.
“I’m not uptight,” Jenna countered with a pout, her chestnut-colored hair spilling over her face as she sat back with a huff.
“Whatever,” Hannah replied, unaffected.
Hannah was always recklessly embarking on what she liked to call adventures. Of course, Jenna considered them to be misadventures and often dreaded the potential for trouble they created. Still, she couldn’t help loving Hannah; everybody loved Hannah.
She’s exhausting, Jenna thought to herself, but she’s just so… lovable. She kicked the floor mat idly, trying to reposition it as she struggled with her emotions. Argh! She’s just so scatter-brained and careless. Unable to achieve the desired result, she leaned forward to adjust the floor map by hand. To be fair, Hannah’s, also, intelligent and exciting.
Jenna sighed deeply, knowing her irritation would be fleeting, as it always was. I wish I could be as relaxed and easy-going as she is. It’s no wonder people are drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Her quick wit and boundless energy are beacons. That’s why she’s so popular – Hannah’s the epitome of fun.
Hannah shook her cell. “See, not only did I text Jason – without killing us, I might add – but I got a response already.”
“Stop giving me that smug look and hand me your phone,” Jenna ordered with a scowl. I swear, we might look like twins, but I’m most definitely the voice of reason!
“Why?” Even as she asked the question, Hannah passed her mobile over without hesitation.
Jenna knew her cousin’s question was born from curiosity and not acrimony. This helped to dissipate her remaining spark of annoyance. “Because I want you to focus on the road while I read the message.”
“Okay.” Hannah gave an indifferent shrug, tucking her thick, wavy hair behind her ear absently. “Whatever.”
Jenna read the text message from Jason out loud. It read: Can’t meet you. Babysitting folks – Dad already set the yard on fire.
Hannah burst into laughter upon hearing what her brother had written. “Typical. I should’ve known there’d be drama. Dad plus flames equal crisis.”
“Why doesn’t Uncle Jim just hire someone to cater his parties?”
“You know Dad – he thinks he’s a ‘master griller.’” Hannah smiled with fondness at the thought of her father’s erroneous self-assessment.
“He’s got to know he sucks,” Jenna replied. “I mean, Jason always ends up taking over the grill while Uncle Jim just stands around bullshitting with his friends… and before Jason, my dad always ended up doing it.”
“He drinks,” Hannah remarked casually.
“So, he drinks enough to where he doesn’t care at that moment, and then he can’t remember the next day.” Hannah giggled. “Parents; what can you do?”
Jenna chuckled softly at the notion. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Mom sure loved her Malbec.”
“I always thought it was funny how much your mom loved wine, especially considering Uncle Butch never drank alcohol,” Hannah remarked.
“Well, probably because she and Uncle Jim grew up around Grandma’s and Grandpa’s winery,” Jenna offered. “They loved wine, too, remember?”
“Whenever Aunt Hillary and Dad uncorked a bottle together, you knew the karaoke machine was coming out. They got that from Granny and Gramps, too!”
The cousins chuckled, their hearts warmed by the shared memories. As their laughter subsided, the sorrow seeped in. It had been just over five years since Jenna’s parents, Hillary and Butch Warnke, were killed, but the loss still felt fresh.
“I miss them,” Hannah whispered, her voice tight with emotion.
She’s probably worried, Jenna realized. Hannah’s not the most empathetic person, but when it comes to me… and this… Her concern for me and the potential impact being home could have on my psyche is clear enough. “I do, too,” Jenna replied with teary eyes. “Every day.”
“Has it gotten any easier?” Hannah sounded hopeful, but her own sorrow colored her undeniable heartache. Obviously, it still thrived as much as Jenna’s did.
“No, not really, but I don’t suspect it ever will,” Jenna answered as they pulled onto the inconspicuous gravel road that would bring them to their destination. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Uncle Jim and Auntie Sam, and I’m so thankful they took me in after the accident. It’s just, I’m always going to miss my parents, you know?”
Hannah nodded, but she stayed focused on the unpaved lane. It wound through the overgrowth of foliage, where the forest promised to reclaim possession of the road. “I don’t even want to think about losing my mom and dad. I mean, yeah, they can’t live forever, but I expect them to be around for a very long time, yet.”
“I know,” Jenna said with notable anguish. “You expect them to be there to teach you how to drive or to see you get married.” She paused for a moment, unsure whether she ought to admit to the rest of her feelings or not, but in the end, she decided she would. After all, this was Hannah; if anyone could understand how she felt, it was her. “Sometimes, I forget.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, like… I’ll get excited about something and I can’t wait to tell Mom about it. I’ll race into the house, and then…” Her gaze fell away as she shook her head.
Hannah turned into the clearing where the house sat. She threw the car into park and turned to face her cousin. “I’m sorry. I wish there was something I could do, but I’m not even sure what to say.”
Jenna sniffled before she cleared her throat. “It’s not your fault; shit just happens, sometimes. Besides, you’ve done more for me than anyone else in the world.”
Hannah snorted. “Yeah, right.”
“I’m not joking.” Jenna regarded her with a serious expression. “I don’t think I’d have made it through without you.”
“I love you,” Hannah said in a strained voice. Tears welled in her eyes as she reached out and hug Jenna. “You’re more like my sister than my cousin.”
“Ditto,” Jenna replied with a humorless smile, absorbing the comfort her doppelganger offered.
“Wow,” Hannah replied in a sarcastic voice, drawing back from the embrace. “That was so heartfelt.”
Jenna looked chagrined. “You know how I am with all that…” She waved her hands in lieu of saying the words.
“Emotion?” Hannah offered. “Or is that too strong a term? I bet you’d prefer the word ‘feelings’ instead, right? Considering it’s less intense and all.”
Jenna rolled her eyes, causing her cousin to giggle at her discomfort. “Mushy-gushy is more like it. You’re such a girl.”
Flinging her door open and sliding out of the vehicle, Hannah good-naturedly stated, “That’s because I am a girl. I have boobs and everything.”
“Having boobs isn’t a trait exclusive to females,” Jenna countered as she exited the car.
“Ew, gross.” Hannah pretended to vomit.
Then, silence pervaded, and the melancholy of the moment overtook the duo once more. It encompassed the girls as they shut their car doors and joined each other at the front of the vehicle. Standing beside one another, they shared a look of support before clasping their hands together and proceeding forward.
An owl screeched in the night. As though in response, something rustled in the unkempt bushes growing along the wooden steps that led to the deck of the single-wide trailer. The ‘something’ was identified when a rabbit jumped from the greenery and scampered into the shadows.
Hoping to mask the fright she’d felt from the appearance of the darting animal, Jenna turned her attention toward her old home, and noted, “It could use a little TLC. Otherwise, it looks just the same.”
“I guess no one’s really come out here in while, huh?”
“Why would they? And, if they did, I doubt adjusting the skirting would be a priority.”
Hannah bit her lip and gave a little shrug. She kept her attention focused on Jenna as her cousin looked around, taking in the homestead she’d once shared with her parents.
Feeling a bit overwrought, Jenna inhaled the cool night air, seeking its cleansing essence. “It still smells like Mom,” she commented.
“Yeah, Aunt Hillary always did smell like dirt and sunshine,” Hannah remembered. Then, smiling, she added, “Or wine.”
Jenna chortled as she turned to regard Hannah. “What does sunshine smell like?”
She gave her cousin a look of exasperation. “You know what I mean. Aunt Hillary always… It’s like… I don’t know, outside?”
“Sounds about right,” Jenna conceded. “And, Dad carried the pungent aroma of fish and Old Spice.”
Hannah couldn’t help grinning at the memory of her Uncle Butch. “Uh-huh. That was hard to miss. He sure did love fishing, though, didn’t he?”
“Yeah,” Jenna confirmed, walking toward the front door. As she inserted the key and turned it, she added, “Let’s go inside, shall we?”
“Are you sure you want to? I mean, even though Mom has Jillian come clean it periodically, everything’s been left just as it was.”
Jenna knew Sandra and James kept everything that belonged to her family. They had remained opened and direct about wanting her to decide what to do with it all. This was, especially, important to them since she was the sole heir and a portion of the items were hers, to begin with. The anxious teen was fully aware she’d be stepping into a painful reminder of her past.
Steeling herself with a deep breath, Jenna nodded. “No time like the present, right?”
Without further delay, the young women made their way through the door, directly into the living room. There were large windows on both outer walls, located on the sides of the trailer. The one next to the main entry gave a lovely view of the deck with the yard beyond it. The other revealed the forest, which dominated the hilly landscape behind the home.
Everything from the open concept of the layout to the neutral colors of the interior burned Jenna. Her chest tightened painfully, and her eyes stung as she tried to keep her tears in check. Though she had anticipated the experience to be a difficult one, she hadn’t expected the depth of its impact. Everywhere she looked contained vivid memories.
As she took a tentative step further inside, Hannah hung back at the entryway, giving Jenna a moment to take it all in. Glancing over her shoulder, she gave a weak smile of gratitude toward her cousin. I’m glad she’s here. I don’t think I could’ve done this without her.
Moving into the kitchen, Jenna let her hand trail across the small breakfast bar that helped to define the outline of the rooms. As she neared the dining table, she grasped the back of a chair, using it for support.
“I spent so much time in here with Mom,” Jenna recalled. “The only thing she loved more than gardening was cooking.”
Hannah quietly appeared at her side. “Yeah, she’d always say ‘good food begins with quality ingredients.’”
“Oh, and Mom could cook,” Jenna reminisced.
“Right?” Hannah agreed enthusiastically. “It’s no wonder she was an acclaimed food critic. I mean, Aunt Hillary knew her stuff.”
“Yep, and she was so passionate about it. I think her love of gardening and for the culinary arts is what made her such a good writer.”
“Oh, I loved her columns! I can’t cook worth a lick, but whenever I read her articles, they always inspired me to try,” Hannah beamed.
“I think my favorite dish she made was the simple, pan-fried trout she’d batter in a flour coating, seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper. She’d always serve it with fresh vegetables from our garden.”
“I’m sure it helped that your dad was the one who caught the fish.”
“Probably,” Jenna confirmed. “We all harvested the ingredients together and it was like… I don’t know.” She shook her head, overcome with emotions, again.
“I get it,” Hannah told her as she laid a supportive hand on her shoulder. “It was something you did as a family.”
“Yeah,” she replied almost inaudibly.
After a moment, Jenna slowly made her way toward the back of the trailer, where the master bedroom and en suite bathroom were located. This had been her parents’ room, and their presence still dominated. Looking inside it, she hesitated at the door as her hand covered her mouth.
“Are you okay?” Hannah asked with concern.
Jenna looked at her with sad, calm eyes. “Yes.”
“When was the last time you were here?”
“Um, I believe the last time I was here was… right after the funerals,” Jenna replied. “I had just turned twelve.”
“If you’re okay talking about it, can I ask why you didn’t come sooner?”
“I guess I just wasn’t ready.”
Hannah nodded in understanding. “Yeah. I get that.”
“How about you; when were you last here?” Jenna inquired.
Even though the girls were practically attached at the hip, the topic of Butch and Hillary was usually taboo. It had been too painful a subject to visit, and then, as time passed, neither girl knew how to broach the topic. Jenna realized Hannah’s delay in response was probably due to this unspoken fact.
Finally, she said, “When it happened. I came with Mom when she…”
“I remember.” Jenna patted her cousin’s arm reassuringly as she sniffled. “She told me… she told me about the accident and said you were taking me home to live with you.”
“Yeah, that was the night you became more than my cousin and best friend. That was when you became my sister.”
Jenna sniffled, again. Trying to mask her movement, she ran her sleeve across her eyes and removed the tears that defied containment. Then, she turned to look at the queen-sized bed. The linens adorning it were the ones her parents had been gifted for their wedding.
How many nights did I spend curled up with my parents, wrapped in the security of those very bed covers? How many times did they ease my nightmare-induced fears? The corners of her mouth pulled up into a grimace. Whenever they went away on one of their frequent business trips, and I couldn’t sleep, I’d crawl into this bed for comfort. She ran her hand lovingly along the comforter. It always helped.
Glancing toward her cousin, Jenna said, “I expected it to be musty. I mean, I know Jillian occasionally cleans and launders the linens, but I still expected it to smell… I don’t know – different, I guess.”
Hannah responded, “I know my parents come to work in the yard, now and again, maintaining the garden during summer, but I don’t think they’ve been able to come inside. Still, they didn’t want it to be neglected. Mom said they wanted it to be ready whenever you were.”
“That’s really nice of them.” Jenna was moved by the thoughtfulness of her surrogate parents. The love she felt for her aunt and uncle was only rivaled by the affection she had for her own mother and father… and Hannah.
“Do you really think you’ll be able to live here, again?” Hannah wondered aloud as she led the way back to the living room.
“If you’ll live with me, too,” Jenna answered nervously.
Hannah stood still for a moment, just letting the words seep in.
Jenna continued past, afraid to look at her, unsure whether she wanted to see her cousin’s reaction or not. She tried to move in a casual way while she headed toward the two smaller bedrooms at the front of the trailer, but she felt stiff and tense. She was sure her cousin could easily read it in her body language as they entered the slim hallway.
Reaching the first of the two additional rooms, Jenna instantly became distracted. This had been her father’s office. Having been a columnist for a popular hunting and fishing magazine, Butch had been able to work from home, and his spirit still permeated the space.
“It’s eerie how it’s…” Jenna couldn’t seem to finish her sentence, but Hannah finished for her, as she often could.
“Exactly the same.”
“Hmmm,” was all Jenna could muster as she peered in through the doorway.
Her eyes traveled over the mounted fish, various awards, and displayed photos of her dad, either hunting or fishing, with numerous people. The presence of her father was too strong for her to enter the room. Instead, she quickly moved past it, stepping into the space that had been her childhood bedroom.
Hannah lingered near the door and watched as Jenna saw into her previous life.
Gesturing toward the single bed with its matching nightstand and dresser, Jenna said fondly, “I remember when we went shopping for these.”
“You were so excited,” Hannah recalled.
“I know we lived with Grandma and Grandpa when I was a baby, but obviously, I can’t remember that far back. My earliest memories are from living in that wretched travel trailer.” Jenna frowned. “I was so excited to finally have a real home; a room of my own with space to play in.”
“I didn’t think it was wretched. I always liked staying overnight in the RV,” Hannah commented. “I thought your life was so cool, and you had the best room ever.”
“That’s only because you never had to stay long,” Jenna pointed out. “It was an adventurous camp out to you, but it was everyday life for me.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Hannah acknowledged. “I mean, you only had enough room to move between the curtain that partitioned off your room, the built-in bunk beds, and the back exit of the camper.”
“There was barely enough room for me to open my clothes cupboard.”
“It’s weird,” Hannah reflected, “you never really had toys to play with, at least, not until you moved into the single-wide, but I just remember having so much fun with you.”
“We always found a way to have fun together. It never mattered where we were or what we did,” Jenna remarked, her lips turned slightly upward. “I think that’s because of you, though. You have a talent for bringing enjoyment to any situation, which is probably why everyone loves you so much.”
“Whatever,” Hannah said dismissively.
“I’m serious,” Jenna insisted.
“Are you serious about my living here with you?”
Jenna looked at Hannah, and answered, “Yes. I am.”
Hannah’s expression made Jenna freeze for a moment, forcing her to reassess what she thought she already knew. The facts were, upon turning eighteen years old, she’d receive her inheritance. When she did, she’d move back to the trailer because she felt like her family had already done enough for her. It would be time for her to take care of herself, especially since she’d have the means to do so.
The unknown factor, which had her second-guessing herself, was the belief she held about Hannah. Jenna had assumed her cousin would move, too. That she’d stay with her, as she always had. She never imagined any other scenario. It was apparent from Hannah’s hesitation that she’d been mistaken.
“I don’t want you to feel pressured, and I know it isn’t fancy, like where we live, now, but I, honestly, don’t know if I could stay here without you.”
“There’s still time for you to get used to being here, again. After all, you don’t turn eighteen for another nine months,” Hannah noted. “You might feel different by then.”
“Hannah,” Jenna said with a sigh, “I know. I can’t see how a few months will make a difference.” I can’t stay here alone, especially with all the memories lingering. It’s too painful to face it by myself.
Jenna wanted to embrace the gifts she’d inherit from her parents. However, she still needed Hannah beside her, to give her courage, as she always had. She needed her cousin to help stave off the anguish threatening to break her.
Hannah acquiesced with a nod. Her agreement caused Jenna to visibly relaxed. She exhaled in relief as the young women smiled at one another, communicating without words. Their ability to connect in ways that exceeded normal human understanding was another oddity about the almost identical cousins.
“If you change your mind, I’ll still be here for you. Even if I’m not living with you, anymore,” Hannah promised.
Jenna smiled shyly. “I know. Thanks.”
When they finally locked up the trailer and meandered down the front stairs, walking back to where their car was parked, Hannah felt a moment of inspiration. “Hey, do you remember my imaginary friend?”
“How could I forget?” Jenna replied with a slight chuckle. “Adam, right? Ugh, you had me seeing him everywhere I looked, including right outside my bedroom window.”
Hannah laughed. “It’s been years since I thought about him.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. It’s been years since we were here, and you were convinced he lived in the woods over there.” Jenna pointed toward the dense, dark forest beyond. “You never played with him anywhere else; only here.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” Hannah smiled at Jenna over the roof of the car as they opened their respective doors.
“I remember feeling so jealous of him,” Jenna confessed, a pensive look on her face.
“What?” Hannah snorted in surprise. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No, it’s true. One time, I think I was about five years old, I cried when Mom told me you were coming over. Naturally, she was baffled by my reaction and asked what was wrong. When I told her that I thought you only liked having sleepovers at our house to see him, not me, she looked flabbergasted.”
“Of course, she did! I mean, that’s ridiculous, Jenna!” Hannah looked genuinely shocked to hear her cousin profess such a thing. “You’re my best friend – no, you’re more than that – and you know it.”
“Yeah, but I was little. I know better, now, especially after living with Jason.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t get me wrong, I love him to death, but I never understood your desire to get away from your older brother until he became my brother, too.”
“I told you,” Hannah said, pointing over the roof of the car as though she’d caught her cousin in a truth she’d been reluctant to admit. “He’s great when he’s not being an ass, but yeah, I told you.”
“I know,” Jenna conceded, holding her hands up in surrender. “I’m sorry, but as I said, I was little. I didn’t know.”
Hannah looked over to where she believed her imaginary friend had actually lived. After a moment of brief contemplation, she finally said, “It’s just… odd. He seemed so real to me.”
“Oh, I know. You were so adamant that you made him real for me, as well,” Jenna replied with a smirk. “I was convinced he was following me around when I’d play in the woods. Hell, I would’ve sworn he was watching me, at times, even when I was inside the house.”
“That’s the real reason you want me to come live here with you, huh? You’re scared he’ll return,” Hannah joked.
Jenna gave her cousin a sardonic look. “I hadn’t thought about it – until now. So, thank you… for that.”
“Now, it’s all you’ll be thinking about,” Hannah teased lightheartedly, a gleeful grin on her face.
“Shut up,” Jenna snapped as she climbed into the passenger seat and slammed the door shut.
Hannah took one last look around before she crawled into the driver’s seat.
“You know, there’s nothing in the world more terrifying than your driving,” Jenna asserted grumpily.
Hannah couldn’t help smiling at her cousin’s quip. Closing the door and slowly turning the ignition on, she brought the car to life. As she did, her expression grew pensive.
The change made Jenna curious. “What are you thinking about?” she asked. “You suddenly look far away.”
“I was just thinking about Adam,” Hannah answered.
“What about him?”
“For the life of me, I can’t remember why I thought he was real.”
“I know why,” Jenna remarked with a mischievous grin and twinkling eyes.
“I’m almost afraid to ask, but… why?”
“Because, you’ve watched way too many horror movies with Jason,” Jenna ribbed. “I told you that garbage would rot your mind.”
Hannah chortled loudly and threw the car into drive and headed for home.
Without another thought, the young women left all the old memories behind them, including the shadow that watched from just inside the tree line, hidden by darkness.
kudos to the author for using a scientific explanation for the physical appearance of what might look like a 'Sasquatch'
Gary P. Starta
Issues that are very important to teens – fairness, acceptance and love, justice, courage, standing up to bullying, feelings of being different from everyone else – are integrated into the story very naturally and honestly. Adam’s obvious differences clearly bring to light all the ways that teens can feel set apart from others. Accepting Adam allows Jenna and Hannah to accept themselves.
There are also some wonderful, evocative turns of phrase in the book: “He walked from myth to reality,” “to stay in the face of ridicule,” “almost immediately, the shrieks, gasps, and whispers began,” “ghosted into the shadows…“
“Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch) is the name given to the mythological hominoid creature said to inhabit the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Hoax or reality, it is the source of many tales and legends (and now a TV show!). In REVIVED, author J.M. Northup cleverly taps into the myth in this brilliantly written YA tale of love and the supernatural.
The author begins with a familiar YA premise (the new kid in school), and lulls us into thinking this will be just another realistic young adult novel. What she achieves is quite a feat by making this scenario completely human and believable. Adam, a once-imaginary-friend, appears in real life to Hannah and Jenna, two cousins who reside in the Snoqualmie Valley of Washington State. With him come some surprising revelations from the past. Also, the attraction between Adam and Jenna becomes the kind of forbidden romance that dreams are made of. The two lovers become supremely star-struck. And what’s the connection between Adam, the deaths of Jenna’s parents, and the mystical Sasquatch? It’s for the lucky reader to find out.
This is an exquisite adventure fantasy that will surely find you lost within the first few pages of chapter one. I think both teens and young adults will love this book. It’s a perfect start to a series as it introduces characters that are alive and believable, and it engulfs the reader in the kind of suspense and anticipation that make books the treasure they are.“