Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 14 to 18
- Grade: 9 to 12
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong comes a new romantic thriller that will leave fans trembling for more.
The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve's End is that soon she'll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There's nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They're better off taking a chance elsewhere.
The only thing Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.
But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they're all missing?
"Like Stephen King, who manages an under-the-covers, flashlight-in-face kind of storytelling without sounding ridiculous, Armstrong not only writes interesting page-turners, she has also achieved that unlikely goal, what all writers strive for: a genre of her own." —The Walrus
About the author
When librarians finally granted Kelley Armstrong an adult card, she made straight for the epic fantasy and horror shelves. She spent the rest of her childhood and teen years happily roaming fantastical and terrible worlds, and vowed that someday she'd write a story combining swords, sorcery, and the ravenous undead. That story began with the New York Times bestselling Sea of Shadows and continues with Empire of Night.
Armstrong's first works for teens were the New York Times bestselling Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies. She lives in rural Ontario with her husband, three children, and far too many pets.
- Short-listed, Arthur Ellis Award - Best Juvenile/Young Adult Crime Book
Excerpt: Missing (by (author) Kelley Armstrong)
Reeve’s End is the kind of town every kid can’t wait to escape. Each summer, a dozen kids leave and at least a quarter never come back. I don’t blame them—I’ll do the same in another year. We thought it was just something that happened in towns like ours.
We were wrong.
"Twenty dollars an hour," I say to the guy who’s stopped me as I head for Doc Southcott’s. I know his name. When your high school has only two hundred kids, you can’t even pretend you don’t. But from his expression, you’d think I’ve clearly forgotten him. Forgotten who he is, at least.
I lean against the crumbling brickwork. "You asked if I can help boost your math grade. The answer is yes. For twenty dollars an hour."
"But . . ."
"I know, Garrett. You expected I’d do it for the pleasure of your company. That’s what you’re used to—girls jumping at the chance to spend time with you. You’re a decent guy, though, so I’ll warn that it’s not so much you they’re after as a one-way ticket out of Reeve’s End. Preferably with a cute boy who’ll earn a football scholarship . . . as long as he can get the grades for college. Which is why you’re here."
"Uh . . ."
I sigh and look down the road. There’s nothing to see. Pothole-ridden streets. Rust-plagued pickups. Even the mutt tied outside the Dollar Barn gazes at the fog-shrouded Appalachians as if dreaming of better.
I turn back to Garrett. "I’m happy to help. But you’re not the only one who wants out, and college is expensive."
"Not for you. With your grades, you’re guaranteed a full ride."
"Nothing is guaranteed. And I doubt I’ll get a full ride for my post-grad."
"Med school?" He glances at Doc Southcott’s office. "You’re not serious about that."
"Are you serious about a football scholarship?"
"Hell, yeah. It’s just . . . med school?"
Kids from Reeve’s End don’t go to med school. Especially those like me, who even here would be from the wrong side of the tracks . . . if Reeve’s End had tracks. Sometimes I figure the train purposely diverted around us for the same reason we don’t have buses or taxis—so it’s harder to escape.
Tutoring won’t get me through med school. Neither will working for Doc Southcott. But I’ve got a plan, and every penny counts. It’s always counted.
"You have your dreams, Garrett, and I have mine. Yours will cost twenty bucks an hour. If you put in the effort, I can bring you up to a B. And the bonus to paying me? You won’t need to flirt to win my help."
He shakes his head. "You’re a strange girl, Winter Crane."
"No, I’m just strange for Reeve’s End. So, do we have a deal? I’ve got one tutor slot open, which will fill in another week, when kids finally admit midterms are coming."
He agrees, still looking confused.
"Tomorrow, after school at the library," I say. "Payment in advance."
I have a short shift at the doc’s that day. Mrs. Southcott has managed to convince her husband to take an extended long-weekend vacation, leaving this afternoon. I tried to argue that I could do office work while they’re gone, but apparently she figures Doc Southcott isn’t the only one overdue for time off.
I head to the trailer park. My official address, even if I spend as little time there as possible. Mom died when I was seven. My sister left last year. It’s just me and Bert now. He prefers Rob, but Bert better suits a guy who traded an engineering career in the city for a string of crap jobs that pay just enough to keep him in bourbon. He lost the right to be called Dad when he decided I was a burden to be borne and not gladly.
I pass our trailer and duck into the forest. My real home is out there—an abandoned shack that’s far more habitable than our trailer.
Thick forest leads from the town to the foothills, and what used to be a good source of income back when the local coal mine operated. Shitty work—old-timers still cough black phlegm decades later. But that doesn’t stop them from reminiscing as if they’d had cushy office jobs. There was money then. Good and steady money. Then the mine closed and the town emptied. Those who stayed did so because they had no place else to go . . . or no place else would have them.
My shack is nearly a mile in. That’s a serious hike through dense forest, but it means I don’t need to worry about local kids using my cabin for parties. Hunters do stumble over it in season—and out of season, Reeve’s End not being a place where people pay attention to laws if they interfere with putting food on the table.
I check my boundary thread. One section is slack, as if something pushed against it and then withdrew. Humans barrel through without noticing, so I’m guessing this was a deer. Or so I hope, because the alternative is a black bear or coyote or, worse, one of the feral dogs that have been giving me trouble.
I tighten the thread and duck under. My shack is exactly that—a dilapidated wooden structure maybe eight feet square. It’s empty inside except for a rickety chair near the wall. I pry up a loose floorboard and remove my gear. Spread my carpet. Pour a cup of water. Set aside my sleeping bag and lantern. Home sweet home.
I write up a lab experiment while the light is good. Then I go check my snares, the bow over my shoulder doubling my chance to add meat to my ramen noodles. I forage, too, but it’s the hunting that marks me as a girl who lives in a place like Reeve’s End, as I discovered when a scholarship sent me to science camp in Lexington. Some city girls must hunt, but you wouldn’t think so from my fellow students’ expressions when I told them how I got my ace dissection skills.
"Aren’t there supermarkets where you live?" one girl asked.
Well, no. Reeve’s End only has a grocery and a small one at that. But food costs money, and as much as possible, money is for my savings account. At least I know where my meat comes from, which is more than I can say for those kids.
I’m drawing near the second snare when I notice something white lying beside it. I inhale, hoping it’s not a skunk—polecat in these parts. But it’s just white. Shit. I hope I haven’t trapped someone’s cat.
I jog over to see . . . a sneaker?
I peer at the surrounding forest, expecting a prank. My snares are far from the trails, and even if someone stumbled on one, the trap is hardly life-threatening. Yet from the looks of the flattened ground cover, this person fought hard to get free.
I examine the shoe. If the mate were here, I’d take it. At size eleven, it wouldn’t fit me, but it’s a nearly new Air Jordan, which I could sell for at least fifty bucks. I turn the shoe over.
That’s when I see the blood. Then I spot a red handprint on a sapling, where he must have righted himself after the trap. I figure "he" given the size of the shoe. That shoe also means he’s not from Reeve’s End, where wearing three-hundred-dollar sneakers would be the equivalent of riding to school in a chauffeured Escalade.
I follow his trail for a bit. Mostly I’m just curious. But as I track him, I start to worry. He’s like an injured black bear, staggering and stumbling and mowing down everything in his path. Wounded and lost in what must have seemed endless wilderness.
I should try to find him. It’s inconvenient, but it’ll be a hell of a lot more inconvenient when some hunter finds his body and I suffer the guilt of knowing I might have been able to help.
I continue tracking him for close to a mile. That’s when I hear the distant growls of feral dogs.
One of Bank Street’s Best Children's Books of The Year (2017)
Selection – OLA Forest Teen Committee’s 2018 Summer Reading List
PRAISE FOR Missing:
"[A] compelling thriller that keeps the reader hooked until the end." --Starred Review, VOYA
"Master of crime thrillers, Armstrong (The Masked Truth,2015) introduces a new, intensely independent female protagonist . . . Winter gets into and out of treacherous situations frequently and with dubious ease, but readers will be drawn in by Armstrong’s expert pacing and meticulously constructed mystery." --Kirkus Reviews
"As [the plot] thickens, and the danger turns into a serious life-or-death threat, the narrative easily holds readers' interest. Thrills and mystery from a pro." --Booklist
Other titles by Kelley Armstrong
The Final Trial
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 4
The Poisoner's Ring
A Rip Through Time Novel
Someone Is Always Watching
Murder at Haven's Rock
A Rip Through Time
The Deepest of Secrets
A Rockton Novel
A Stranger in Town
A Rockton Novel
Shapers of Worlds Volume II
Science fiction and fantasy by authors featured on the Aurora Award-winning podcast The Worldshapers
The Serpent's Fury
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 3