Read An Exclusive Excerpt From Deborah Schaumberg’s ‘The Tombs’

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Books. Who doesn’t love a good book? I know I do. And I am intrigued by Deborah Schaumberg upcoming book, The Tombs. We’re excited to reveal an exclusive excerpt from the book today.

If you haven’t heard of The Tombs, here’s the official synopsis –

New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn’t. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon, Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.

Like her mother’s, Avery’s powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power–or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on ‘patients’…and no one knows why.

Deborah Schaumberg’s gripping debut melds history and fantasy, taking readers on a breathless trip across a teeming turn-of-the-century New York, and asks the question: Where can you hide in a city that wants you buried?

Sounds good, right? Read the exclusive excerpt below –


The sounds of the factory came rushing back. I closed my eyes and told myself, as I did every morning, Just focus on your work. I confronted my day—one task at a time.

Geeno and I logged our names into the time roll and headed toward our welding stations.

My heart warmed as I passed each boy’s workbench—the brothers I never had. They made work bearable. Geeno was my little shadow. Tony, the oldest at fourteen, would stick his neck out for anyone. His brother, a newsboy over at South Ferry, got caught stealing, but Tony took the fall, so the court sentenced Tony to a year at the halfway house. Now he was escorted to work daily by the New York House of Refuge coach. Leo and Oscar were both twelve. Leo was a crackerjack-smart black boy, and Oscar, our lovable, mischievous Gypsy boy.

Just as I feared, Oscar’s station was empty. The last time Oscar showed up late, Mr. Malice came down from the perch and bawled him out good. The perch hung like an oversize birdcage eighty feet above our heads. From there, Mr. Malice saw everything.

Each block of welding stations formed a crew. The kids in the other crews didn’t talk to us, because I ran ours, and I was a girl. Besides, we had a black boy and a Gypsy. They shunned us all.

When Mr. Malice first hired Leo, even my crew was hesitant to work with him. I knew how that felt. No one had accepted me until I’d proved myself. So I’d volunteered to show Leo the ropes, and on his very first day he came up with a better way of holding the filler rod to produce a tighter seam. With that, he won the boys over—anything to make us look better than the other crews.

On one side of the plant, a giant belt moved pig iron to the new Siemens furnace. On the other side sat Bessie, the massive Bessemer converter. If Cross Street Ironworks was a living, breathing beast, then Bessie was her twenty-ton baby.

She stood on two legs with her potbelly slung low. The pig iron was dropped into her gaping maw. She’d get hotter and hotter, a low rumbling roar coming from inside her gut. We would feel the tension build as the air around her glowed like embers in a fire and the shadows turned purple. It was eerie. Then, impossibly, her immense bulk would flip completely over, blasting an orange volcano of fire and gas thirty feet into the air. Just as abruptly, she’d tip back and expel flowing white-hot liquid steel. She was something to behold, terrible and beautiful. The first time I saw her in action, I had a nightmare of her tearing herself loose, stomping out of the Works, and burying Brooklyn in molten metal.

Pulling on gloves and lowering my goggles, I flared up my arc welder and began to work. Sparks burst from the tip, heating the air so intensely I sucked air through my clenched teeth until my lungs adjusted. I found a strange satisfaction in creating the perfect weld. The speed and angle of the torch had to be just right to reduce slag and eliminate air bubbles in the weld pool. But it was more than that. I permanently joined things together. Nothing could tear them apart.

If only I could unite my own family as easily as I fused metal.

The loud grinding and clanging of machinery kept off normal conversation, but we’d learned to communicate without words. I was about to begin my third piece when I noticed Tony signaling.

Oscar sprinted toward us, pulling on gloves and helmet as he ran. Despite Tony’s warning, he didn’t see what was coming until it was too late.

Mr. Malice appeared in his path, holding a rod of steel like a baseball bat. I flipped up my goggles and started toward them. Halfway there, I felt Leo grab my arm. “Don’t mess with Malice, Ave,” he said, his eyes on Oscar.

I hesitated. Maybe Mr. Malice just wanted to scare poor Oscar, a thought pushed from my mind by the sickening crunch of steel on bone. Oscar collapsed, his legs knocked from under him.

Oscar bawled while Mr. Malice’s booming voice echoed over the din of the factory. “You wanna come late? I’ll teach you what happens when you cost—me—money!” He kicked Oscar with each word.

Oscar was bleeding from his mouth, trying to hunch into as small a ball as possible. I lost all sense of myself. “Stop!” I screamed. “For God’s sake, he’s only twelve.”

Mr. Malice turned on me, his full height like that of a grizzly bear I’d seen at P.T. Barnum’s circus. Glistening beads of sweat crowned his bald head. His small eyes, set into folds of fat, seemed amused, which scared me even more.

“When you’re here, you belong to me.” He spat on the floor. “You lackeys are lucky to have a job, you hear me? There’s kids begging me for work every day, and I will not be taken for a fool.” He glared at me, his voice a low growl. “Turn around, girl, and get back to your station.”

But I couldn’t leave Oscar.

“Please, sir. Oscar won’t be late again.” My eyes stung from the sweat running into them. “I promise.”

Mr. Malice turned toward Oscar. “Oh, that’s not all he did. Isn’t that right, boy? Serves me right for hiring a gypsy.” He raised his foot. He was going to kick Oscar’s face.

“I said stop!” In that instant, everything was illuminated, surrounded by a halo of light, like when you squint into the sun. I clearly saw a dark gray cloud around Mr. Malice. I had no time to decide if it was real or imagined.

My anger compressed into a tight ball in my chest. I wished I could throw it at him like a knife. The air crackled with the sound of breaking ice. The hair on my arms rose up and a thunderous roar enveloped me. It felt as if something erupted from within me, cracking open my ribs.

The explosion threw us both back. Mr. Malice landed against a trolley loaded with tie rods, knocking it over. The deafening sound of metal crashing into metal reverberated through the factory. I hit the floor, my head smacking hard on the concrete, my last thought to wonder who’d tell my father I was dead.


Will you be picking up the book? 

You can win a copy (US ONLY) of “The Tombs,” TODAY! Simply leave a comment in this post telling us why you’re excited for the book.  We’ll choose a winner 1/28. 

About the Author: Deborah Schaumberg was born in Brooklyn, not far from where her novel The Tombs takes place. She grew up renovating dilapidated old houses with her family. She and her father would walk the rooms, floor by floor, making up stories about the inhabitants that were filled with dark secrets, monsters, and, of course, ghosts. Deborah is a writer and an artist whose work always has an element of fantasy to it, and since she also studied architecture, settings are equally important. It was on a trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal that she imagined a girl with the ability to see energy, and the seed of The Tombs was planted. She collects old bottles, and her favorite holiday is, you guessed it, Halloween. Deborah lives with her family and two dogs in Maryland, just outside DC. Visit her at deborahschaumberg.com.

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