Cover Reveal for Black City Chronicles

A dark and tender postapocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

A while back, I interviewed author Elizabeth Richards. You can find the interview here
Her debut, Black City Chronicles, is getting some buzz, and I have the cover and first chapter here!

Check out this blurb on the book and the first chapter below. You also have a chance to win a galley of the book!

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection, that causes Ash’s long dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong. When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

First Chapter

An air raid siren wails in the distance, alerting Black City citizens to lock their doors and turn out the lights. They don’t want to be out in the dark alone. They might meet something dangerous. Something like me.

I head under the canal bridge and wait for the girl, taking a packet of Sentry-regulation smokes from my back pocket and sparking up. The nicotine courses through my veins, making them throb with adrenaline; the sensation is almost like a pulse . . . almost.

Footsteps approach the bridge, and a short girl with straggly black hair appears from the shadows, dressed in men’s work boots, tight black trousers and a tailcoat made from a patchwork of clashing fabrics. Her hazel eyes gaze up into mine. She’s brave. Not many cherry-poppers have the courage to look me in the eyes. She hands me an old playing card with two hearts on it, one red, one black. It’s my calling card. It seemed an appropriate choice; that’s what I’m selling her after all, an illusion of love. I slip it into the pocket of my dark green military jacket.

“You’re late,” I say. “Last thing I need is to be caught out here after curfew by a Tracker. They’re just begging for a reason to throw me in jail.”

“Sorry, they’ve put up extra checkpoints, stopping everyone. There’s tanks everywhere!” she babbles. “I guess they can’t be too careful with the Sentry Emissary back in the city, what with the boundary negotiations with the Legion and—”

“You paid Beetle?” I interrupt.

The girl nods.

“Terms and conditions,” I say. “No refunds. You don’t enjoy it, you puke, you freak—not my problem, okay?”

She nods again.

“You pregnant?” She blushes furiously. “I’ll take that as a no. It may cause drowsiness, so don’t drive or operate any heavy machinery.” She smiles at this, and I grin. They always like that. “And no repeats for at least two weeks, all right? I mean it.”

“That all?”

“No kissing. Strictly business, okay?”

She seems a little disappointed by this, but I don’t like to mix business with pleasure. She shyly unbuttons the collar of her coat, revealing her slim, pale neck. Hunger grips my stomach at the sight.

“What do I do?” she asks.

“Lean back,” I say.
She obeys like a good girl. I place a hand against the wall and slip my other hand between her thighs, gently easing her legs apart. Touching her doesn’t turn me on, but I groan like it does, knowing she’ll enjoy that. They all do, even the guys—it’s why they come to me instead of the Haze dens. I slide my body between her thighs so we’re face-to-face. Her shallow breaths are warm against my cool skin.

“Relax, okay? It’s more enjoyable if you relax.”

“My heart’s pounding a mile a minute.” She gives a nervous laugh.

“Can’t say I know how that feels,” I admit.

She tentatively presses a hand against my chest, and her eyes widen. “So it’s true, then? You don’t have a heart?”

“I have a heart,” I growl, shoving her hard against the wall. It just doesn’t beat.

A small tear snakes down her cheek, her thin lips trembling.

“Sshhh, it’s okay, sweetheart. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” I gently wipe her tear away. “Forgive me?”

She nods, then tilts her head to one side, exposing the smooth whiteness of her neck. The poison sacs behind my fangs swell with venom.

Focus, Ash. Don’t blow your load.

I lean toward her, pressing my lips against the soft flesh on her neck, just below her ear. Her pulse flutters under my lips, and I nearly lose it. I begin to nibble on the flesh, tickling the tiny hairs on her neck with my tongue, making them wet with my saliva.

“Do it,” she whispers.

So much for foreplay. I sink my fangs into her jugular. Hot blood spills over my tongue, making my taste buds burst with its sticky sweetness. Man, I love the newbies; they always taste the best. She sighs as my venom enters her bloodstream. I wait for the Haze to take effect before I start to drink from her. That’s the bonus of Haze; my clients get high from me, and I get high from them by drinking their drugged blood. It’s win-win.

A sour, bitter flavor suddenly floods my mouth, and I gag, leaping back.

“What the—” I spit up blood.

The girl stares at me with glazed eyes, blood trickling down the two puncture wounds in her neck.

“Everything’s sparkling,” she says dreamily.

“Didn’t Beetle tell you I don’t take clients on meds?”

She lurches toward me, and I grab her before she falls into the water.

“I love you,” she slurs, trying to kiss me.

I shove her, hard. She falls back against the wall and slides to the floor. Her eyes roll back into her head, and she begins to spasm, white foam bubbling out the corners of her mouth.

“No, no, no! Wake up.” I kneel down and shake her, panic rushing through me.

The girl jerks, her boots leaving black scuff marks on the cobblestones. Fragg! This is why I don’t take clients on meds. You can never tell how they’re going to react to the Haze. I shrug off my jacket and place it under her head.

A Sentry tank rolls over the bridge, and I shut my eyes and wait for it to pass. Even though the war is officially over, I still get chills at that sound. Wherever they went, Death followed. I had a few close scrapes during the war. During those days, the fact that I was a legal citizen and half human didn’t mean much to them. If you weren’t 100 percent human, you were the enemy. Every day was a fight for survival. Not much has improved since then; I’m still the enemy in most people’s eyes. All they can see is the Darkling in me. The tank turns down Bleak Street toward the Sentry Emissary’s headquarters.

The girl groans. It’s too dangerous here; I have to go. I could just leave her . . . No, that’s not an option, but I can’t take her to the hospital. I’d get in so much trouble.


I peer down the canal. A yellow barge is moored about one hundred feet away. The lights are off. Where is he? He’s meant to be my wingman; that’s why I came to the bridge in the first place. Can this get any wor—

An explosion of pain bursts inside my chest, and I clutch a hand over my lifeless heart. I sense someone behind me and turn.

A girl stands by the entranceway, lit by the headlamps of a passing truck. In the fleeting light, I catch a glimpse of cornflower-blue eyes flicking between me and the Hazer writhing on the ground.
Her gaze finally fixes on me.

I fall back, struck down, as the pain in my chest blooms again.

Shivers run through my body, rushing toward a single point in my chest. There’s a spark of electricity and then:

A flutter.

Sounds pretty awesome! 
Want to win a galley of this book before the public sees it on shelves?  Just comment on this post and you'll be entered to win. The galley is provided by Penguin Books for Young Readers and the winner will be announced on this blog post March 14, 2012. It's also open to international visitors.Good luck!

Elizabeth Richards lives in Buckinghamshire, England and can be found online at

Elizabeth Richards is an award-winning journalist and debut author, who spent her early career writing for videogame publications such as CUBE, P2 and Games TM, and now works as a website editor. Previously, she ran a successful lifestyle website aimed at teenage girls. She won the Jane Hayward Young Journalist of the Year award for her feature on girls in the games industry, and was named 'Editor's Choice' in the industry trade magazine, MCV.


A Backwards Story said...

Thank you so much for the giveaway! I haven't heard of this before today, but I already want to read this so, so badly! *Crosses fingers*

I adore this cover. I like the way it's a flower, but it's shattering, which makes it so unique! Plus, I love the addition of a city, which adds the dystopian flare!

My email is abackwardsstory(at)gmail(dot)com.

Ron Smith said...

Thanks for stopping by A Backwards Story. It is a gorgeous cover!

magan bagan said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

I'm so excited for this book and finally seeing the cover has made me even more thrilled!


Anonymous said...

Love the cover. Although it doesn't have much on it's just so.. Beautiful. And then we have the first chapter that made me decide. I NEED that book

Thanks for the giveaway! :)

Thildeespensen (at) live (dot) dk

Maria said...

I LOVE the fluttering petals on the cover! The book sounds so good can't wait until it's out! :)


Gaby Pendragon said...

OMG!! this book looks totally awesome!!

Thanks for the giveaway!!

My email is: gaby_sama(at)hotmail(dot)com

Kelly Polark said...

Beautiful cover!
Thanks for the sneak peek!

roro said...

Thanks for the giveaway!!
lov the covr


Vivien said...

This is the whole package. I'm in love with everything.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

REBECCA@ReadingWishes said...

Thanks for the chance to win!

ame1184 said...

i am in love with this cover, and after reading the first chapter, i want to read the whole book that much more : ) thanks for the giveaway!!

ame1184 at gmail dot com

Jordan McMakin said...

Black City sounds thrilling! What an eye-catching cover. Thanks for sharing, Ron!

Cricket said...

Thanks for the giveaway, the book sounds great and the cover looks AMAZING!

Kimberly said...

I've been hearing buzz about this book too! Sounds awesome.

Thanks for the sneak peak!

Teresa said...

Oh i can't want to read the book!

Mina Burrows said...

Cool concept. Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad you're back. The blogging world can wait when you're creating, right? Looking forward to learning more about your MG book. My son and I are reading Riptide together. I haven're read nor do I know anything about it. :)

Martina Koleva said...

Thank you for the great giveaway and for making it international. I love the cover of the book and I would definitely love to get a chance to read it.

Amy said...

Great chance to win this awesome book! I loved that first chapter!


FairyWhispers said...

can't wait to read it!

FreakChiq said...

I'd love to get my hands on this early! Thanks so much for the chance to win an ARC!


Jena said...

Thank you so much for the chance!! I want to meet Ash so badly! And I love how dark this world seems! :)

Shortie Says

books first love said...

I am so excited about the book. It sounds very interesting and the cover is GORGEOUS, I like the bloody crimson rose with glass shattered petals, and I want a drawing...sigh, let's see if I have luck.
Thanks for the chance to win.

The Little Blue Pig said...

Yay, thank's so much! I can't wait to read this one! The cover is gorgeous, I just love it!

picyadri said...

I am in love with this cover. That rose! And based on the blurb this looks like an amazing book!
Thank you for the chance to win!

Gisele Alv said...

The cover is beautiful, for me the shattered rose represents how everything they knew about life was lost, the beauty of the time, and all the wonderfulness of love! My gosh the excerpt leave wanting more! I need to have a cooopy!! Thanks for the giveaway!

my email: ilepachequin(at)hotmail(dot)com

Kali S said...

Thanks so much!

Jackie said...

Totally in love with this cover. I love the bursting flower. It's defintely differently from other book covers. I am super excited for this one. Thanks for the giveaway!


wintergirl20 said...

The book sounds awesome!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the giveaway! Love the cover!