Standing in the hallway was a man enveloped in steam. I say man, but honestly, that was up for debate. His leather coat seemed normal enough, but the cloak draped over his shoulders was studded with small steam pipes puffing away at regular intervals. WAS THIS GUY STEAM POWERED? In one hand he gripped a brass-topped cane, in the other, a clipboard covered with gears. Perched on his head was a top hat mounted with aviator goggles. A monocle—a monocle!—adorned his left eye. He must have had a good twenty pounds of brass gadgets strapped to him. And I couldn’t have told you what a single one of them did.
Excerpt from Willa Snap and the Clockwerk Boy. (Coming Fall 2017.)
We emerged into a hazy courtyard. The Blasted Dragon’s stone exterior looked like two immense dragons curving around face to face, their outstretched wings forming a high-pitched roof. A row of blasted steps between their smoking snouts appeared to be the only way in or out. A rumbling shook the cab.
“What’s that?” asked Nimet nervously.
Bertie glanced uneasily at the top of the steps.
“Wait for it,” he said grimly.
A few seconds later, the dragons’ mouths erupted into a fiery red blaze, completely engulfing each other’s heads.
Nimet let out a little shriek.
I turned to Bertie. “That’s fake, right?”
“Yeah . . . never really had the nerve to check that out.”