Tuesday, October 25, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!) Midnight Hour Blog Tour (Excerpt)

“Ms. Hunter handles this series with such deftness, crafting a wonderful tale. I highly recommend this series filled with
darkness and light, hope and danger, friendship and romance.”

—Night Owl Reviews (Top Pick) on the Shadow Falls series

“Jam-packed with action and romance . . . Hunter’s lifelike characters and paranormal creatures populate a plot that will
keep you guessing till the very end. A perfect mesh of mystery, thriller, and romance. Vampires, weres and fae, oh my!”

—Romantic Times on the Shadow Falls series

“The newest in the super-popular teen paranormal genre, this book is one of the best. This one is going on the keeper

—Fresh Fiction on the Shadow Falls series

Over one million readers have already fallen in love with CC Hunter’s Camp Shadow Falls between the Shadow Falls series and the After Dark series. Now comes the conclusion of Hunter’s massive saga MIDNIGHT HOUR (St. Martin’s Griffin; October 25, 2016), a thrilling finale involving a missing sister, a heart in quandary, and a growing tattoo no one understands. Whether you are discovering Shadow Falls for the first time or have been following the series all along, this young adult novel will draw you into its otherworldly plot.

Being a dyslexic witch is a curse in itself, but Miranda Kane’s time at Shadow Falls has helped her harness her magical powers. Now, just as she’s finally mastered them and is preparing to graduate with her friends, a near-death experience threatens to ruin it all.

Miranda awakens in the hospital with a mysterious tattoo that no one can explain. As she 
struggles to make sense of it – and questions her feelings for a certain irresistible shape-shifter and a hot new guy – the strange markings begin to spread all over her body, leaving her desperate to find answers. But before she can solve that problem, a new one arises: her sister is missing. Has her sister been kidnapped? Miranda will risk her life to find out. Will she live to share the day she’s worked so hard for with her friends? When the clock strikes midnight, will Miranda make it to her graduation at Shadow Falls?

MIDNIGHT HOUR can be read as a standalone novel or as the satisfying ending to a fan favorite series. A coming of age and sister story, Hunter’s conclusion will captivate the young adult audience.

About the Author

C.C. HUNTER is the author of the New York Times bestselling Shadow Falls series. She lives in Spring, Texas where she's at work on her next novel.


A Shadow Falls Novel

By C.C. Hunter

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

**On Sale October 25, 2016**

Trade Paperback | $10.99

ISBN: 9781250035882| Ebook ISBN: 9781250035875


Hit the Jump for the Exclusive Excerpt

Chapter One

No sooner than the heavy door closedcla-thumpdid the world go vacant and black. No light. No color. No sound.
No shit! I dont like this, Miranda Kane whispered to her sister, Tabitha, who clutched her hand. She took one small step back. But youre here because you love me. And you were just going
to be studying.
Tabitha said it as if studying wasnt all that important. Easy for her to say. Shed already scored high enough on the SAT and she wasnt the one who was dyslexic . . .
“Please, Tabitha whispered. Id do this for you.
So true. I do love you, but I—”
Shh, she might hear you. Tabithas shaky voice came out so low it faded into the shadows. She took a step, drawing Miranda closer. I think we go this way.
“Think? Mirandas heart slowed down to the eerie beat of music in a scary movie. I thought youd done this before?”
I did. But for some reason its darker in here this time. Tabithas grip tightened with confidence, but her palm, slick with fear, told a different story. Still, she pulled Miranda into a tomb-like obscu- rity, a hallway perhaps, leading her to the place where an old fortune- teller waited.

Tabitha must have stopped walking, because Miranda bumped right into her. Lets just leave. She gave Tabithas hand a come- on tug.
Her sister tugged back. No. I really need this.
Those words brushed against the side of Mirandas cheek. They stood that close, but her eyes hadnt adjusted and only blackness filled her vision. She blinked and finally made out her sisters sil- houette. They stood at the same height. Same weight. Looked enough alike to be twins, but Tabitha, five months older, was only her half sister.
Yup, that meant their father had been a bad boy. The dirty little secret had remained buried until nine months ago. Growing up an only child had been lonely for both of them. Neither Miranda nor Tabitha had stopped resenting the missed time.
There. Tabithas one word tiptoed through the darkness.
Miranda blinked and saw the fire-like radiance that called them forward.
Okay, we do this and leave. Fast. Her last word came out laced with determination. Being here felt like a bad idea. And it wasnt because they were going to be late to their dinner date.
The soft clip clop of their footsteps was swallowed by blackness as they inched down the hall. Soon they moved through a door- way into a glow. The air thickened with the scent of burnt herbs. Through flickering light Miranda saw the old woman, sitting at a scarred wooden table that held eight candles and one crystal ball.
She didnt move. Didnt breathe.
Did her heart even beat?
Miranda held what little oxygen she had in her lungs. Unfocus- ing her gaze, she studied the womans forehead, where patterns told ones species but were readable only by other supernaturals. Was the woman even Wiccan? Her scroll-like markings labeled her as a witch like Miranda and Tabitha. The lack of color in that design

characterized her as one with questionable morals. And her overall appearance portrayed her as battier than bat shit.
Her thick gray hair stood up in knots, as if a rat had taken up residence in the unkempt mess. Her clothes, all black, hung loose and ragged as if shed not only stopped caring, but stopped eating. Her skin, a map of wrinkles, clung to her skull.
She looked . . . older than dirt. Dirty. Dead tired. Ready to leave this world that apparently hadnt been kind to her. The question was: was she a victim or a culprit in her own demise?
You . . . The witchs scratchy voice clawed at the air. You go first. Her faded gray gaze eased away from her crystal ball and stalled on Miranda.
Stalled. Stared.
Stayed on her in a way that made Mirandas breath catch. Warning chills slithered up and down her spine and she cupped her hand to keep from sending the woman the finger. Not the middle one, where insults arose, but her pinky, from where magic and fore- warnings ensued.
“First? Why?”
She almost choked on the smoky air as the shadows in the room inched closer, ready to pounce.
Miranda moved a cautionary gaze left then right. Everything felt haunted—possessed.
Heavy drapes, blood-red in color, clung to the entire back wall as if a living, breathing entity. The thick claustrophobic fabric blocked the sunlight from entering while trapping the shadowy darkness within. The room felt like a . . .
No, not just the room—the entire housefelt like a prison. But whose?
The ambience and sinister cor was not the norm for a witch

who followed the do-no-harm policy. Then again, all of this could simply be for show to entertain her human clients—clients who without eerie ambience didnt believe in magic. Still, the woman could have at least combed her hair.
Maybe even used a little moisturizer on her face.
Why in Hades had Miranda allowed Tabitha to talk her into this?
It was nuts. Crazy. Absurd.
Why not you?” the old witch taunted.
Miranda stiffened her spine with false bravado. My sisters the high priestess. She should go first. She gave Tabitha a nudge. And as soon as the fortune spilled from the old womans lips, Miranda planned to get the hell out of here. Shed agreed to accompany her sister, not to participate.
I know who she is, the old witch said. I do not know who you are. And your fear feeds my curiosity.She cocked her head and continued to stare. It isnt me you fear, is it? Are you frightened of what you will learn? Afraid my words will break your heart?”
Afraid? Hell yeah! Was Miranda the only one who understood the ol adage: ignorance is bliss? Especially when it comes to love. And that was this witchs specialty. Supposedly humans paid big bucks for her to forecast their love lives and expose unfaithful lovers. For her fellow witches, she gave discounts. She was dubbed the reader of love, lust, and longings.
Right now, all Miranda longed to do was to get the hell out of here.
Should I be afraid?” Miranda asked, hoping the fear rattling her soul didnt sound in her voice. But right then Miranda felt it. A new kind of fear. Her skin began to crawl, her heart felt overly heavy. This was not just fear, but a forewarning of impending doom. Was the witch causing it? This place? Or something altogether different?

Maybe the latter, since this feeling had hit yesterday as well. Impending doom didnt always mean immediate.
Miranda glanced at Tabitha. Was she feeling it, too? Was something terrible about to happen? In spite of being only half sisters, they shared the talent of premonition. Not of good things to come, mind you, just crappy stuff.
To Mirandas relief, Tabitha didnt look concerned. Which could mean that the foreboding might just be an overreaction on Miran- das part. Or was her sister not reacting because her heart remained preoccupied with Anthony Bastin?
“This was a silly idea, Miranda spoke up. They were witches for Goddess sake. They sure as heck didnt need another witch, one who mostly did theatrical tricks for humans, to give them a look- see into their so-called love lives. Besides, she had Ernie, her real magic eight ball, to offer advice. Not that he was always reliable, but again, maybe she didnt need to know everything.
Not silly, Tabitha said. If she wants you to go first, just do it. Pleeeease. The last word came out soft and pulled on Mirandas heartstrings. And with that tug, the foreboding faded.
Shifting her focus away from her sisters imploring expression, Miranda caught two gold eyes staring at herwith the same lookfrom the shadows in the corner of the room. She wasnt sure, but those piercing eyes appeared to belong to an armadillo. Did the scaly creature live here? Was it the womans pet? Or worse? Her pris- oner? Maybe even a human turned into a rodent-like beast?
And if the latter, that could be bad. Good witches knew the penalties for imprisoning a soul. To not heed the rules could lead to dire consequences.
The animal shifted back and the slightest sound of metal on metal rattled. Blinking, Miranda spotted the small chain around the ugly creatures leg. Her breath caught. This was so not good.
She cut her eyes to her sister. I really think we should just—” NoJust  few  more  minutes. Tabitha  grabbeMirandas

hand. I need to know what she says about Anthony. And I dont want to do it alone.
Anthony was a French vampire she and her sister had met while in Paris. Hed come to Texas about three weeks ago and he and Tabitha had been dating secretly behind her mothers back, because her mom insisted she only date warlocks. While Mirandas mom didnt apply quite the same pressure, she often reminded Miranda how pleased she was to have her now dating someone of her own kind. Its just easier to make a relationship work when there are no culture issues, her mom had said.
Just because something was easier, didnt mean it was right.
Nevertheless, her moms unappreciated words of wisdom were just enough to make Miranda worry. Worry that if things didnt work out between her and Shawn shed be disappointing her mom once again. And that seemed to be something Miranda excelled at lately.
You promised, Tabitha pleaded.
Yeah, Miranda had promised, and letting Tabitha down felt wrong, too. They were sisters after all.
Fine. But were going to be late meeting Shawn and Anthony.Miranda glanced back at the witch. Go ahead. She pushed her feelings aside, determined not to believe a damn thing the witch said.
Rising on skinny legs, the old woman reached out. Before Miranda knew her intent, her deed was done.
Ouch! She glared at the woman and rubbed her scalp where the old witch had yanked out her hair. The witch dropped Mirandas strawberry blond strands into an old stone bowl that looked black- ened from fire.
The old sorceress slowly raised her arms. Her creaky and almost crippled body danced as if that could add power to her spell. Com- plete theatrics. Every witch knew all she really needed to move was her pinky.
Yet, Miranda took advantage of the womans dog and pony show

and pointed her own pinky toward the hidden animal in the shad- ows. The light clink of the chain falling away was barely audible but told Miranda shed accomplished her objective.
Now to figure out how to accomplish her other objective— getting the hell out of here.
The witch stopped dancing and started to chant. Two strands of a fair maidens hair, a tip of a ravens feather. She picked up a feather and used the sharpened edge of a long fingernail to cut off the very end of the feather. The tiny ink-black clippings floated down, disappearing into the bowl.
She raised her gaze and her voice up, as if speaking to a greater power. A scraping of a cats claw, the breath of pure magic, and the fire from the devil himself!
Okay. That last ingredient gave Mirandas nerves another hit. Was the witch well acquainted with the devil? Did she partner with evil to accomplish her magic? Or was this just part of a well- practiced act?
Pushing back the urge to panic, Miranda noted that the woman didnt look as evil as she did demented. Not that both couldnt be dangerous.
Then the witch used another fingernail, talon-like in appear- ance, to scratch away a few tiny particles from the feline claw. The mere specks of dust cascaded down to the bowl as if they knew their path and dared not detour. She lifted her face, pursed her lips, and breathed into the air. A plume of fire burst forth and she reached up. Catching one of the red embers between her gnarled fingers, she dropped it into the bowl.
Flames rose from the brew and the recognizable stench of burnt hair filled the room.
Miranda put her hand over her nose and cut her eyes to the door. Okay, now it looked a little more like black magic than an act. Would it be cowardly of her to run? Probably.
Did she care?
No. Not about appearing like a cowardbravery wasnt her

fortethat was Kylie and Dellas cup of tea. Her roommates were badass. But Miranda did care . . . about Tabitha.
As if reading her mind, Tabithas hand came out and gripped Mirandas arm.
Inhaling a deep gulp of singed air, she resigned herself to carry through. After all, this wasnt the first time shed come face-to-face with black magic.
Chin held high, she turned to the woman again, the flames from the bowl flickered in the witchs eyes and made their gray color brighten to a cold hue of silver.
Can we get this show on the road? Weve got a double date to be at in fifteen minutes. Miranda forced a calm in her voice that she didnt feel.
Are you afraid of what you will learn? Afraid my words will tear your soul apart?
The witchs questions echoed inside Mirandas head and regis- tered as truth. Her heart admitted it wasnt just the possibility of black magic that sent her pulse dancing. She was afraid of hearing shed made a mistake. That she shouldnt have turned her back on Perry, a shape-shifter shed loved, to turn her sights on Shawn Han- son, a hot warlock FRU agent. Maybe her heart wasnt ready.
And that next weekend might be the biggest mistake of all. Going away a few days with Shawn pretty much said they were taking the relationship up a notch. A notch that meant getting naked, getting naughty, and knocking out her whole still-a-virgin- at-almost-eighteen issue.
Not that she was ashamed of that. Face it, she couldve found a volunteer to help change her status. But call her old-fashioned, she believed sex should be special, and with someone special.
Shawn was special.
She cared about him. He was . . . wonderful, kind, and patient. He had the looks that had girls staringkisses as sweet as cotton candy. He had the attributes that not only made him hot boyfriend material, but life-mate material.

But it wasnt what he was or had that made her question her decision. It was what he wasnt and didnt have.
He didnt have that sneak-up-on-you effect that made her stop paying attention in class just to write his name over and over again. His smile, while sweet as soft rain, didnt have that melt-me quality that made her feel shaky, silly, and slightly dizzy. His presence, as fulfilling as it was when he was there, wasnt making her feel devas- tatingly empty when he wasnt. While his qualities were perfect life- mate material, her heart wasnt screaming soul mate.
He wasnt making her feel what a certain shape-shifter had made her feel not so long ago.
Was it because it was new? Did her feelings for Shawn just need time to grow? Was it because she was older and adult love felt less consuming? Or was she just scared to let herself care that deeply again?
She had a thousand reasons why this relationship building with Shawn would feel different from what shed had with Perryeven more reasons to put her trust in Shawn. And that was what she had to remember.
The witch waved the smoky fumes up into her face and inhaled, then she put her hand over the bowl and smothered the flames.
Hand me your palm. The witchs gnarled hand reached for Mirandas wrist.
Why?” Mirandas one-word question hung in the air.
Just do it, Tabitha said. It wont hurt, Ive had it done nu- merous times. This is how I knew Brady was cheating on me.
Shawn wasnt cheating on her. Miranda knew that with all her heart. He was the most loyal guy shed ever met.
The witch looked up at Tabitha and frowned. And if youd come to me before you got with him, I would have warned you of him and the death of that relationship before it ever started. The guy was a weasel.
I wanted to trust my heart, Tabitha said.

Her sisters words gave Mirandas own reservations more merit. Wasnt that what Miranda wanted? She didnt need an old witchs answer to confuse her. Her heart was confused enough.
“Never trust that fickle organ, the witch said. It beats merely to lead you wrong, just so you feel it break and know its there.” The witch looked back at Miranda. “Now, give me your hand!
Feeling optionless, Miranda did as ordered. The witch placed Mirandas hand on top of the bowl then turned it over. The warm ashes fell against her skin but didnt burn. Quite the opposite actu- ally. A cold unnatural shiver ran up her arm and down her spine, leaving footprints on her very soul.
The witch continued to hold Mirandas wrist, but removed the bowl. Miranda felt it then. The power, the undeniable sensation of magic. Whatever the woman said would be the truth. Black magic or not. This womans words would not be a lie.
And then what? Her heart thumped out the question. Would she walk away from Shawn? Would she completely give up on Perry? Was she really ready to hear this?
She glanced down. The ashes had created a pattern on her palm, almost like a henna tattoo. She watched as it spread up her wrist and midway to her forearm.
The armadillo rushed across the witchs feet, his tiny paws and overgrown claws tapping against the old wood floor. Miranda heard the old witch gasp. She dropped Mirandas hand and lurched back.
Tabitha reached for Mirandas arm. Why did her marks spread like that and mine never have?”
The witch stumbled a few more steps back and looked first at the freed creature, then back to Mirandas arm. The white of her eyes grew larger. But from what? Fear? Shock? Anger that her ar- madillo was free? What was she thinking?
You should go! Her gravelly voice rang in the dark, followed by a sound of distant thunder.
Go? Tabitha asked, the single-word question punctuated with a low back-of-the-throat sound of disapproval. “Not until you read

me. I need to know about Anthony. My mom hates him, but I think he might be my life mate.
Go. Now! The witchs gaze shot back to Miranda. Fear and something else flickered in her eyes.
Was she pissed because Miranda had freed the animal, or were . . . were Mirandas markings making the witch panic?
Before Miranda could decide which it was, encroaching thun- der shattered the silence. The walls, the drapes, the table, everything in the room started trembling. The approaching storm drew closer as if something in this very room called it.
The candles on the table shook, their flames reaching up higher and higher. Miranda held out her pinky to calm the chaos, but no magic came out.
Oh, crap!
She saw Tabitha attempt and fail with the same calming spell. The armadillo made a hissing noise. It scurried closer to the door, stopping at the threshhold. Its glowing golden eyes seemed
to suggest they follow. Smart armadillo.
The sensation of a premonition restarted low in her gut and began to grow.
And grow.
Everyone should leave. Miranda looked at the witch and knew it was true. The heart and pulse of the storm was aimed right for them. Thunder shook the foundation of the house. The smell and sting of its power filled the air.
Devastation hung seconds away. Out everyone! Miranda waved for the witch to move.
She didnt move. Could she not feel this? Hear this? Or was she the one causing it?
The roar of impending calamity rang louder in Mirandas ears. Lightning hit the table and the crystal ball exploded. The sizzle and crack of it sent shards of glass through the air.
Several of those shards pricked Mirandas skin. Blood trickled down her arm, streaking the marks the witch had put on her.

Weve gotta go! Come on, Miranda screamed, but the witch remained frozen in an odd kind of stillness. A few rivulets of blood snaked down the old ladys face, getting trapped in her deep wrin- kles. Miranda reached for her but she jerked back as if Miranda was the evil one.
The sound of the storm screamed louder. Miranda grabbed her sisters arm and pulled her out of the room, down the dark hall, and hurried in the direction of the door. Hitting a wall, she brushed her hand around searching for . . . Finding the doorknob, she swung it open.
Sunlight blasted inside, but left her blind. She kept moving. Her clasp tightened on her sisters hand.
Theyd barely escaped to the porch when the loud ka-boom sounded behind them. Mother crackers! Miranda screamed as the force of the explosion threw both her and her sister across the yard. The last thing registering in Mirandas brain was her sisters fingers sliding from her grip.
She tried to hang on.
She tried with all her heart. With all her strength. But her sister was gone. Nothing but charcoal-colored smoke filled Mirandas vision.
Everything went black.

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