Look. What do you see? Sidewalks, skyscrapers, pigeons? But there's more. More that only twelve-year-old Rory Hennessey can see. More that only Rory can reveal to others.
So, look again. What do you see? Layered on our own New York is a spirit city inhabited by warrior cockroaches, malevolent subway trains, kung fu rodents, hungry gargoyles, and children made entirely of papier-mache. Built by history and legend, it's ruled by the Gods of Manhattan, lions of New York like Peter Stuyvesant and Babe Ruth.
Now everyone is racing to find Rory--the boy who can see. The boy who can change the destiny of New York.
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April 16, 2008
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Excerpt from Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus
Adriaen van der Donck raced over the Henry Hudson Bridge at the northern tip of Manhattan, urging his steaming horse to go faster as he made a break for the Bronx. Maybe he'd be lucky. Maybe his enemy had neglected to pick an assassin with the right kind of blood. He heard the sound of a horn in the distance. Was that the Trumpeter? He hadn't known the old fool was still haunting the river where he'd met his death centuries before. Oh well, no one had heard the man then and no one hears his ghost now. Just like nobody heard Adriaen. And now it might be too late.
His horse weaved around the cars whizzing across the bridge. None of the drivers even glanced in his direction. Adriaen had known his rival was planning something, but he'd never imagined anything like this. He needed to reach his farm, where he could get some sort of message to his daughter, warning her and the rest of his allies of their enemy's new, impossible weapon. If only the river would buy him some time--
Glancing over his shoulder, his spirits sank. The assassin smoothly galloped across the bridge without pausing, meaning he must have Bronx blood. Adriaen's enemy had planned for everything. Urging his horse onward, he flew down the side streets, the assassin hot on his trail. Now he could only hope to gain enough time to send a message off. But his horse was tired while the horse behind him was fresh. He'd only just crossed the boundary of his own farm when the assassin reached him.
A hard push knocked Adriaen off his horse. He landed heavily among the rows of towering cornstalks. Pushing himself to his feet, Adriaen turned to face the assassin, who had dismounted and was approaching him warily, knife in hand. That knife. How had his enemy made that knife? Killing Adriaen, or any god, was supposed to be impossible.
But everything was different now.
No time to warn his compatriots, not anymore. The only message he could send would be back to this killer's master. He gave a silent prayer for his daughter and the rest of the Rattle Watch. Look after my city, he whispered, and keep watch over the hidden Light. All will be for naught if he is taken. The assassin shifted his grip, getting ready to strike. Adriaen braced himself as he readied one last, desperate ploy. Maybe he'd save his city, though he couldn't save himself. The assassin sprang, and Adriaen van der Donck stepped forward to meet him, his fi nal trick ready to be played.
"I think this is yours!" the magician exclaimed as he held up the undamaged dollar bill he had cut into shreds just two minutes before.
The girl sighed in wonder and took the bill back as the small crowd of children sitting in the Hennessy living room clapped loudly. Every eye was on the short magician in the long blue robe as he bowed at the applause and began his next trick. He pulled out a dove and called upon a boy to place the bird in a box. The children held their breath as the magician pulled out a match and waved it through the air.
Rory Hennessy, thirteen years old and never fooled, leaned in closer to watch the magician at work. There had never been a magic trick, or a sleight-of-hand maneuver, or any other so- called illusion, that had not been picked apart, seen through, or laid bare by the eagle eyes of the elder Hennessy. He could always spy the magician slipping the twenty-dollar bill into the volunteer's pocket. He unerringly knew where the five of spades was hidden. He would point to the shell with the marble under it every time. He couldn't really explain how he knew. He just did. Rory would look a magician in the eye and suddenly the performer would no longer be a mystical practitioner of wonder, he'd be a sad little man with a weird hat. He'd start to stammer, his rabbit would fall out of his sleeve, and he'd press the wrong button and pour water all over his pants. Rory didn't do it on purpose. It was just his gift.
Therefore, Rory had long ago decided to give magic shows a miss. He'd only agreed to attend this particular performance because it was his sister Bridget's ninth birthday party. She had begged and begged for a magician, and since Mrs. Hennessy could never resist her daughter's pouting, a magician was hired and a brother was warned to keep his big mouth shut. Rory promised, and so far so good. He should have just hung out in his room, but instead he found himself leaning against the wall and watching intently. He couldn't help himself; he had to see. And up until now, he'd been less than impressed, as usual. Bridget's oohs and ahs got on his nerves, but he said nothing. Sometimes it seemed like she wanted to be fooled. She couldn't wait to be fooled. But not him. He saw the world the way it was. Somebody had to.