Read an Excerpt: Dragons Walk Among Us by Dan Rice

There are side effects to an experimental procedure to restore Allison’s vision. Can she trust her eyes, or is it hallucinations? — Dragons Walk Among Us (The Allison Lee Chronicles) by @DanRiceWrites

Dragons Walk Among Us is the first novel in The Allison Lee Chronicles. I can confirm that readers should expect more books featuring Allison Lee and her squad. Right now, I am planning four, maybe five, books to comprise the entire series.

Where do these books stand now? Well, I have the broad strokes outlined for the entire series. I’m currently writing the rough draft for the second installment. I’m about fifty percent through the draft. If everything goes to plan, I’ll have a complete manuscript ready to turn in to my publisher by December this year. The novel deals with similar themes of belonging and angst found in Dragons Walk Among Us, along with a few new topics readers will hopefully find engaging. Without giving too much away, portions of the second novel will take place in Southeast Asia. I’ve traveled the area extensively and hope my experiences will help me capture the essence of the region’s beauty and diverse cultures.

After book two, while I do have an outline, my plan is a bit more nebulous. That’s why I say the series might turn out to be five books as opposed to four. With any luck, these novels will come out steadily over the next several years. After completing The Allison Lee Chronicles, you can expect more action-packed sci-fi and fantasy tales with social commentary woven in that I think young adults will find very appealing.

Dragons Walk Among Us
The Allison Lee Chronicles Book 1
by Dan Rice
Genre: YA Fantasy

At times it’s hard to believe what you see.
Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl’s abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.
While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison’s life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she’ll never see again. Despair sets in until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?

Read an excerpt:

Excerpt 1

Obscured by the surrounding shrubbery next to the base of a conifer is a blue tarp. I press my free hand against the brown bag, feeling the warmth radiating from the container of broth. Good. I’d hate for the soup to be cold.

A gust of wind pushes me sideways. From somewhere overhead comes a loud crack like the bone of some gargantuan creature snapping. A widowmaker thumps to the earth. Gasping, I nearly drop the soup and freeze in place. Overhead, the trees sway in the wind, branches creaking and groaning. I scamper toward the encampment.

About half a dozen tents surround the base of the tall conifer. A wide man with hunched shoulders moves around the camp. I smile. It’s Joe.

I’m about to call out to him when I smell a strange mixture of eucalyptus and menthol and sweat on the wind. It’s the kind of odor I’d expect to roll off guys at a crowded dance club. I scan my surroundings for the source of the scent.

A figure stands behind me in the gloom.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

The stalker strides toward me, raising something about a foot long overhead. A club?
My muscles tense like springs under immense pressure. Dad warned me about attacks on campus. I back away, a scream rising up my throat. The club whirls through the air too fast to avoid.

Excerpt 2

An oddly familiar beeping wakes me. I shift my cramped body. Ouch. Moving makes me feel like I’m slamming my head against a brick wall. Ugh. I’m lying down on a soft, cushy surface. Fabric covers me. Bedsheets? I’m in bed? How in the world did I end up in bed?

I draw in a deep breath, and my eyes flutter, never quite fully opening. A harsh scent hangs in the air like the antiseptic odor of a recently cleaned high school bathroom. Where the hell am I?

My eyes blink open, only something isn’t right. I don’t see anything.

Nothing.

At.

All.

“Help,” I say, sounding like I’m speaking with a mouthful of toffee.

I try to stay calm, but my body is reacting. Pulse reverberating. Breathing rapid. I’m so hot underneath the sheet I want to tear it aside.

I raise my voice. “Help!”

Fear slams into my brain like a baseball bat. My eyes are wide open, but all I see is the most intense darkness I’ve ever known. Absolute black.

Excerpt 3

We head for the Chapel Library off the quad to study with Haji. Over an inch of snow hides the red bricks of the quad. The snow falls dry and thick, quickly filling in our footprints. We enter the library and walk to a chamber like a cathedral with a high vaulted ceiling, book-lined walls, and long tables. The room is only sparsely populated with studying students, so we easily find an empty table and sit across from each other.

We decide to work on algebra while we wait for Haji. We’re deep into working quadratic equations when someone loudly clearing their throat makes me nearly jump out of my seat. We both look up, searching for the disturbance. I half expect the culprit to be Haji.

It’s a tall and absurdly thin man standing just inside the entrance to the reading room. I recognize him as Dr. Radcliffe from the many faculty functions I’ve attended with Dad over the years. I stare at him, entranced, not believing what I’m seeing.

“Allison, is something wrong?” Dalia whispers.

“No,” I say and drag my gaze back to the quadratic equation written in my notebook.

Dalia resumes talking about strategies to solve the equation, but I barely register a word. My gaze is lured back to Dr. Radcliffe like a particle inexorably pulled into a black hole. My eyes widen, and my jaw slackens. Furrowing my brow, I blink, desperate to clear the mind-boggling absurdity from my vision.

***

Excerpt from Dragons Walk Among Us by Dan Rice. Copyright 2021. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.


 

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Debut author Rice offers an allegorical YA fantasy novel about the transformative power of self-love.

Savvy, coffee-loving teenager Allison Lee is strong beyond her years. The biracial girl faces open discrimination and also copes with her apparent abandonment by her mother, who disappeared several years ago. She’s developed a keen sense of social justice along with a skill for photography. When a mysterious stalker hits her over the head, leaving her blind, she turns to an experimental eye-surgery procedure that forever changes her view of the world. Once, Allison saw her camera as her window to the truth; now, with her naked eye, she’s able to see mythological creatures that aren’t visible to other humans and that fight to protect their way of life. Allison’s ability results in her embarking on a dangerous adventure as she discovers her own highly unusual dragon-hunting legacy. She faces mortal peril as she protects humans and other creatures from a violent, otherworldly onslaught. Along the way, she also gets in touch with her own physical and emotional resilience. Although dragons play a central role in Rice’s work, the heart of the narrative is found in simple humanity and in a celebration of differences. Throughout, characters demonstrate emotional growth as they confront their limiting beliefs about others and embrace a sense of family. The story addresses serious, socially relevant subject matter, such as discrimination, poverty, and bullying, but it’s never preachy; indeed, it has a lighthearted tone that will resonate with adolescent readers. It concludes on an affirming, heartfelt note that will leave readers thoroughly satisfied yet also curious about the future of Rice’s magical fictional world.

An inspirational and socially relevant fantasy.”

– Kirkus Reviews

Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert’s Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He plans to keep writing fantasy and science-fiction for many years.

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