Tor Books • Nov. 4, 2008
Dead World 1
Mass Market Paperback
Barnes and Noble
What if Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf turned out to be the same person?
In a near-future world, a blood war is brewing.
Elite Tactical Team member Gina Santiago has devoted her life to protecting the world by apprehending the most heinous criminals. On the trail of a murderer, the clues lead her to a tight-knit town, clinging to the fringes of society. Until Gina can prove otherwise, everyone’s a suspect. Even the sexy as sin sheriff, Morgan Hunter.
The closer Gina gets to discovering the secrets hidden by the sleepy town and its prickly sheriff, the more frightened she becomes…because they aren’t the only ones with a secret to keep. Gina has a secret, too. One that will change her life forever and make her the killer’s next prey.
The Dead World Series — The Story Behind the Story
This whole series started with one simple question: What if Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf turned out to be the same person?
At the time I asked the question, I had no idea the book would be set in a near-future, post-apocalyptic world. I just kept playing with the question in my mind and eventually Red appeared. I knew once I started writing her story that I wasn’t creating a typical shape-shifter book. The world I created isn’t based on magic or fantasy. It has its roots in science, while embracing the fairytale. On the outside, the world appears perfect, but upon deeper inspection cracks become visible. The cracks are dangerous enough to crumble the utopian society.
‘Nothing is at it appears’ is a theme that runs through many of my books. The Dead World series is no exception.
What people are saying about the book:
Jordan Summer’s RED is the best novel you’ll read this year! What can I say other than that from the moment I opened her novel I was completely absorbed in it. Her retelling of Little Red Riding Hood is nothing less than brilliant. Her characters and the world she’s designed will keep every reader anxiously glued to the page. No matter what you look for in a great book, you’ll find it in RED. I can’t possibly say enough great things about RED. What I can tell you is that if you read one novel this year make it RED!
Reviewer for Romance Junkies
Complex …world-building combine with a steamy and conflicted romance between a strong heroine and a literal alpha male hero, with plenty of chemistry to fuel future volumes.
The world as we know it has been destroyed in this post-apocalyptic thriller. The thirst for power never dies, but gutsy heroine Gina refuses to let that stop her. Summers does a good job laying out the backstory for her new world order, illustrating the dangerous times her protagonists live in. The first-person rantings from the deranged serial killer add a frightening layer to an already gritty thriller. Very good stuff, indeed!
Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times Booklover’s Magazine
It’s a shape-shifter book with a difference. Several differences, in fact. Not only is it set in a well-drawn futuristic post-apocalyptic world, the main narrative is interspersed with first-person sections from the shape-shifter killer’s POV. These passages were… disturbing. To put it mildly. Incredibly dark and visceral, I was fascinated to see how well Jordan Summers managed to get into the mind of an otherworldly killer. *shudders*
Karen Mahoney, YA urban fantasy author
In RED, Jordan Summers gives her readers an intense story with compelling characters who effortlessly endear themselves to the reader from page one. With a suspenseful plot as important to the story as the romance, the author has crafted a complex story that is easy to love.
I want to stress that there are indeed some very dark passages in the story. We are reading about a serial killer, after all. The parts of the story told from the murderer’s perspective are written in first person point of view, putting you inside his head, showing the reader in no uncertain terms how demented the villain is. I also need to point out for the squeamish that these scenes do include some sexual contact while in shape shifted form while the killer is attacking his victims. There is NO intercourse in these scenes, however, simply some contact designed to demonstrate the twisted way this man views his victims.
Reviewed by Jennifer for Wild on Books
Read an Excerpt (unedited)
Not many people can handle the pain of being ripped apart, of having your limbs twisted and morphed until you are convinced your mind will shatter into a thousand tiny shards.
I can. And I’m tired of hiding my true nature so that humans can sleep better at night, convinced they’re actually in control of this tiny blue-brown planet. They need to know the truth – – they need to realize that they’re not at the top of the food chain.
Far from it.
A permanent shift in power is necessary and I intend to bring about that change one body at a time.
Pain sears my flesh, flaying it from the bone. I scream, throwing my head back as blood sprays across the inside of the car, painting the dirty windshield crimson. Pressure explodes beneath my gums, ejecting my teeth to make room for a row of fangs. My arms and legs snap, breaking bone, tearing sinew, to reshape.
The change feels like it is taking an eternity as I drown in a flaming river of agony, but I know it’s only been seconds. One last cry rips from my raw throat, and then suddenly I am reborn.
Lungs heaving, I sit up and gaze around. The coppery odor of blood assails my senses, along with something feminine and delicate. Memory evades me. The once familiar vehicle appears alien in origin. The urge to escape its confines is great. A twig snaps in the distance and my ears perk. Naturally curious, I exit the car.
It only takes a moment to remember where I am and why I’m here. I raise my nose in the air and inhale deeply. The world comes alive around me as if blinders have been ripped from my eyes. I scent a distant rain wafting on the breeze, along with the sweet, musky aroma of a woman in the throes of heat. The latter draws my attention and holds it.
Ah, that’s right. I’d forgotten all about my guest. Where are my manners? I must remember to thank her for accepting my invitation…once I catch her.
I watch Lisa Solomon running up ahead, her curly auburn hair blowing in the wind, her long legs flailing beneath her short uniformed skirt. She’s entering the forest, a relic that once held significance in a green world that no longer exists. She hopes to escape me, find sanctuary amongst the dead trees, but it’s impossible. I give chase.
Branches moan and creak in the darkness, their voices sad and vacant. I can almost hear the ghosts of the leaves rustling in the quiet. I cock my head and listen, loping casually behind Lisa, not even winded. I feel as if I could run for miles, but she can’t. The sun-scorched ground is hard and cool beneath my rough pads, perfect for hiding my presence from those who wish to discover my kind.
“Get away from me! Please go away,” Lisa says, then screams.
The harmonious sound reaches my sensitive ears as the notes soar into the night, before abruptly cutting off as she labors for air. I yip excitedly, just so I can hear her cry out again. She doesn’t disappoint me.
And she’s all mine.
Lisa’s lithe form sways and stumbles as she trips over a stone imbedded deep in the ground, sending her crashing to her knees. She claws violently at the earth in order to regain her footage, leaving deep furrows behind. Clumps of red clay dirt fly up behind her, before raining down like arid teardrops. Her ripe ass lifts enticingly and then jiggles as she pushes off, scrambling forward, searching frantically for escape.
I love a woman who plays hard to get.
The urge to mate grows strong.
Whimpers of pain and fear tear from her throat. “Why are you doing this to me? I thought you invited me here because you liked me. We were friends for God’s sake.”
Friends? We were meant to be more than friends. Why would she think such a ridiculous thing? I shake my head. If I could laugh in my present form, I would, but I’m too turned on. She has to know what she’s doing to me. Perhaps her teasing is a form of human foreplay.
The skeletal remains of a bush lie in front of her. Lisa doesn’t even slow as she collides with the fragile limbs. They crackle under her weight, scattering all directions. By now, her heart must be pumping madly in her chest, painfully slamming into her ribcage, much like the fabled rabbit when confronted by a predator. Appropriate I suppose given what I am. If I close my eyes, I can almost hear her heart’s melodious cadence.
I imagine Lisa’s pert nipples are rock hard beneath her navy blue Quadrant Inspector’s uniform. It’s all I can do to keep from drooling. If I thought she’d appreciate the compliment, I would. I lick my lips and try to recall if she ever wore a bra during the times I’d seen her. Funny how those details slip from my mind’s grasp.
She’s taunted me for the last time.
My tongue lulls out of my mouth as I easily close the distance between us. The sweet warm air brushes over my face and down the length of my enhanced body as I catch a glimpse of her tantalizing flesh.
Lisa’s legs are long-limbed perfection, even with the red welts and scrapes forming macabre celestial designs on her skin. A work of sheer artistry. She glances back, her oval-shaped face ashen in the burgeoning moonlight.
I try to convey to her with my thoughtful expression that it won’t be long now and that she needs to ready herself. Too bad Lisa can’t see me. Her blue eyes widen as she frantically searches for my location in the darkness.
I might as well be a phantom.
I almost feel sorry for her visual inferiority. It’s not as if I’m hiding. There’s no cause, since we both know we’re destined to be together.
“Dear God. No!” She glances around frantically. “Someone please help me.”
My rampant cock grows hard as the waves of her fear lap over my lightly pelted skin like a lover’s tongue. It bobs and slaps against my body like a baton in a rhythmic beat as I increase my pace. My flesh burns in expectation of our joining.
Hear me coming, Lisa?
I can almost taste her essence and feel the slide of my engorged shaft as it splits Lisa’s flesh, knotting and swelling, locking deep inside of her molten feminine walls. Doesn’t she realize the beauty of this moment and the unmistakable honor I’m about to bestow upon her?
The distance between us diminishes as quickly as the last fragments of her hope. I know this because Lisa’s slowing. The wind howls, sending the sweet scent of her sweat-covered body to my nostrils. I inhale, momentarily drowning in the aroma, before expanding my chest to answer its call.
I’m close, I say.
Lisa darts frantically left and right, her hands out in front of her as she gropes for a weapon to defend herself. It’s a waste of time. I’m not easily killed.
Bark breaks off in her grip, crumbling like ash in her fingertips. She drops it with a frustrated cry and keeps running. I follow her movements with ease. The muscles of my body tense in anticipation.
Should I fuck her first or after?
I don’t have to decide this moment. I have until dawn, which leaves me plenty of time.
I swipe at her and hear something rip. Lisa screams and manages to dodge away from my taloned grasp. No matter. I allow the tatters from her navy blue shirt to fall to the ground.
Relishing the chase, I permit it to continue.
Lisa stumbles once more, her body making a soft thud as it hits the earth. It’s over. This time I have her. I crouch and leap, covering the ten feet that separates us with ease, landing on top of her as she attempts to jump to her feet.
My weight instantly throws her to the ground. Her head and back smack hard, causing blood to coat her beautiful auburn hair. I close my eyes and inhale.
It smells intoxicating. The vintage perfection.
“Get off me. Get off me.” Lisa struggles, scratching and clawing and biting at my skin like a wild cat fighting for its life. Her long nails break off as she attempts to penetrate my thick hide.
Doesn’t she realize her actions only excite me?
I rip Lisa’s useless skirt from her body and toss it aside, before wrenching her bleeding hands above her head. Holding her still, I bury my wet nose between her legs. She stiffens, then her body weeps.
For me only.
I’ve wondered what Lisa would smell like for months. It’s better than my wildest imaginings. The musky spice envelops my senses and my body trembles as I fight to maintain control. I give her folds, hidden by the slight wisp of silk panties, a quick swipe with my long tongue. Ambrosia. I rip them away, exposing her sex. My cock extends and swells as I debate where to part her succulent flesh, so little time, so many orifices to choose from.
With the flick of my jagged talons, I remove the remains of her tattered shirt. I need to see every inch of her fervent skin. The nipples I’d only been able to dream about until now stab skyward. Ripe berries on hills of creamy flesh, waiting to be plucked and harvested. I can’t resist one quick lick.
She quivers, then Lisa’s screams turn to terrified wails as her gaze shoots from my raging cock to my elongated face. It’s almost as if she doesn’t recognize me, her own mate. Impossible.
I see that play time is over.
It doesn’t matter for I cannot wait any longer.
My need is too great.
I move over her, allowing her to feel the weight of my body as I settle between her ample thighs, until we’re staring eye to eye, mate to mate. Tears spill down her cheeks, watering the parched ground beneath her. I lap at them, but they continue to flow like salty treats upon my tongue.
Don’t cry, I want to tell her, but I can’t. The words come out garbled, guttural like razors slashing over vocal cords.
“Please,” she says, shaking her head back and forth in denial, when I know she wants this as badly as I do.
Why does she continue to deny our love?
“I won’t tell anyone your secret. I promise. Just let me go and I’ll leave. You’ll never see me again.”
Let her go. Why would I want to do that? We’re made for each other. Doesn’t she understand that she’s perfect?
I peer into her tear-blotched face and watch as acceptance fills her blue eyes. Her full lips part in preparation for my embrace, while her tongue darts out to moisten them. It’s all the invitation I need.
I open my mouth and lower my head to taste her. Colors explode behind my eyelids, a kaleidoscope of emotions whirling in my mind. Disjointed nude images of sprawled limbs cloud my vision, erasing everything but the power gushing through my veins.
So this is love.
Lisa flinches and twists, arching her neck beneath my expert touch. I raise my head and she gasps. One taste is not enough…for either of us.
I delve in again.
Lisa’s cries stop, along with her struggles, and she goes limp beneath me.
I sit up to get a better look. Her expression seems odd, unnatural. Steam rises from the carotid opening in the darkness.
I nudge Lisa with my moist nose, but she doesn’t move. Sightless blue eyes continue to stare at the star-dappled sky, ignoring the approach of the three-quarter moon. Cocking my head, I wonder why as my mind struggles to understand.
Suddenly, comprehension dawns and I realize that she’s dead. I have to admit I am disappointed. I chose Lisa to be my one, my only. I had such divine plans for us and the future.
I dip my head again. There must be no mistake. Blood runs down my chin and onto my hairy chest, burning my throat in an ecstasy unlike any other. Hot, sweet, sticky, and delicious. I fight my instincts, but losing is inevitable.
Closing my eyes, I slowly release Lisa’s lifeless hands one claw at a time, and then proceed to gorge myself, taking care to relish each tender bite. My teeth rip and masticate with ease as I feast upon her glorious flesh.
This is how it should be.
How it will be again.
The savorous overload sends my body into an unexpected orgasm. My cock jerks. Once. Twice. I shudder. Relief floods through me as my essence spills out, mingling with that of my beloved Lisa’s.
I greedily lap them both, before cleaning my mouth and claws afterwards. Sated momentarily, I ponder the question that has been running through my mind for months. I finally have an answer.
Lisa does taste as good as she looks.
Gina Santiago jackknifed up in bed, her body drenched in sweat, her heartbeat thundering in her head. She gripped her laser pistol, her hand jerking wildly as she searched for an immediate threat in the darkness. Shadows leapt from the corners of the room, menacing her befuddled mind. It took a few seconds for her to focus and realize she was at home, in bed.
“Shit!” She dropped back onto her pillows, the sound of her ragged breathing echoing off the sterile white walls of her living quarters.
She set her gun back on her metal side table with a clank and shot a quick glance at the clock. Damn, it was three in the morning. She’d only been asleep a few hours. Gina punched her pillow and the top of the rest mat to try to get comfortable, then turned to face the wall. Her feet came together with a heavy thump. “What the—”
She glanced down.
“Lights on.” Artificial intelligence complied, bathing the dormitory room in a cadmium florescent glow. She looked around the space, taking in the two-seater gray couch, her clothes locker and personal food dispensing unit. A flat-panel blank screen blotted one wall like a blemish on a baby’s face. The viewer was off, just like she’d left it. The twenty by twenty area wasn’t big enough for anyone to hide.
Privacy assured, Gina pulled the covers up with trembling fingers until she could see her feet. Why was she wearing her combat boots in bed? She shifted to get a better look and sent red clay dirt onto the sheets. Confused, she whipped the blanket off.
When had she gotten dressed?
Gina gaped, staring down the length of her body in disbelief. Her clothes lay in tatters against her limbs like someone had fed her through a meat grinder. Scratches and cuts marred her pale flesh and her muscles ached from overuse. Panic slammed her, squeezing her chest until it hurt to breathe.
“What the hell?” she choked.
She replayed the previous evening in her mind. She remembered filing tactical reports, watching the republic news, eating protein enriched synth-noodles, and then going to bed. The rest of the night was a blank, an endless void in the darkness without beginning or end. She’d assumed she had spent it in deep REM sleep, but now…
Gina looked down at her clothes once more. Blood dotted her t-shirt. She frantically pulled the cotton material away from her stomach, ripping it over her head before tossing it onto the floor. Pressing a splayed hand against her abdomen, she examined her skin. Nothing. She stripped out of the rest of her clothes, adding them to the pile destined for the incinerator. Her gaze swept her body. There were no obvious signs of injuries. Naked and confused, Gina swallowed a lump of fear, feeling its icy tendrils claw its way down her throat.
She curled her knees against her chest and hugged herself as tremors wracked her body. She didn’t understand what was happening. Where had she been? Gina strained to remember, but no answers came forth, only nothingness. Her gaze strayed back to the crimson mosaic coloring her discarded shirt.
If the blood wasn’t hers, then whose was it?