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The Glow

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Glow: Potency by Aubrey Hadley is a captivating work of science fiction, from its outlandish characters to the in-depth world building.

Synopsis

✨A futuristic alien world, supernatural abilities, an ancient conspiracy, and the power of love and friendship; a teenage girl's life changes when she is abducted from home and becomes the human race's last hope to survive a deadly illness.✨

Harper just wants to be a normal seventeen-year-old girl, playing soccer with her friends and going to school, not understanding why her mom keeps her inside, locked away from the outside world. But once Harper stumbles upon a mysterious glowing figure in the Nevada desert, a chain-of-events is triggered that will change her life forever.

As the world experiences a deadly pandemic, Harper is taken far from home and held captive in the Base of Ki: a massive dome with a sheening white city and fantastic technology controlled by beings from another solar system. Was this why her mom was so keen to protect her?

Now she must form alliances -- and fast -- if she has any hope of returning to Earth. Harper's about to learn who she can rely on and who her real friends are, embarking on a journey that will expose her to dangers she doesn't yet understand . . .

Learning that you could be half human and half something else from another planet, what would be your first reaction? If you found out that you had an ability that is near impossible to have, how would you feel? These questions and many more are presented to the main character in this first installment of the Glow Series. Hadley has written this book with such vigor and creativity, readers will be engaged from start to finish.


Harper is just your average teenager who cannot wait to get out on her own. At seventeen years old, she should be dreaming about where she will go to college or boys, but she is not. Instead, the Sleeping Syndrome has come back with a vengeance after six months of silence. People in New York and Florida are dying after mere days from this disease and it is spreading fast. There is no one who Harper cares about more than her younger sister, Olivia. Making a promise to her that they will run away to California together when she turns eighteen, Harper is surprised when she finds out the disease has put a temporary hold on their plan. Her neighborhood in Reno falls victim to the Sleeping Syndrome only days after learning about its sudden reemergence. What can be worse than a disease? Harper's overbearing mother has taken Olivia and her older brother Brett outside of the neighborhood and is now unable to get back in, leaving her all alone. Trying not to lose hope, with people in Hazmat suits surrounding every corner and testing her like a lab rat, she cannot help but to see her neighborhood dwindling in number. Harper cannot help but to recall the weird glowing creature that she saw only a few nights ago in the desert while clearing her head, seemingly right before the syndrome hit Reno. What are the odds that these two phenomenons are not related? Getting closer to the truth is what Harper aims to do, but once she succeeds, it will be almost impossible to go back. It will be dangerous and she will have to come to terms with new truths, but will it be worth it? Is she ready to find out what is really going on, even if that means that her life as she knows it will never be the same or Earth for that matter?


Hadley's first installment in the Glow Series is fascinating, filled with original elements, intriguing world-building, and well-developed characters. The cover art also attracts interest and is spot on for science fiction. One element that stands out is the conflicting, but healthy emotional turmoil of the protagonist. Having that human morality throughout the story allows the reader to empathize with the main character; therefore, creating more of a relatable reaction for how they respond to situations. While this story has the capacity to be a five-star read, there are several grammatical errors, including missing or double wording, incorrect word choices and punctuation inconsistencies. Taking into consideration that an advanced copy was provided, we give the author the benefit of the doubt that hopefully these errors will have been cleaned up before publishing. If published as is, the errors are noticeable, but should not overtly decrease likability from the story-line. Since this is the first installment in the Glow Series, readers who enjoy sci-fi and fantasy will find this story worth a read.


An advanced electronic copy of this book was provided to Turning Another Page by Reedsy Discovery and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a four-star rating to Potency by Aubrey Hadley.

Reviewed by

Turning Another Page is a small web-based business, owned and operated out of San Antonio, Texas. Originally created as an official book blog in November 2014, Turning Another Page has successfully grown to encompass services that can be offered to authors worldwide.

Synopsis

✨A futuristic alien world, supernatural abilities, an ancient conspiracy, and the power of love and friendship; a teenage girl's life changes when she is abducted from home and becomes the human race's last hope to survive a deadly illness.✨

Harper just wants to be a normal seventeen-year-old girl, playing soccer with her friends and going to school, not understanding why her mom keeps her inside, locked away from the outside world. But once Harper stumbles upon a mysterious glowing figure in the Nevada desert, a chain-of-events is triggered that will change her life forever.

As the world experiences a deadly pandemic, Harper is taken far from home and held captive in the Base of Ki: a massive dome with a sheening white city and fantastic technology controlled by beings from another solar system. Was this why her mom was so keen to protect her?

Now she must form alliances -- and fast -- if she has any hope of returning to Earth. Harper's about to learn who she can rely on and who her real friends are, embarking on a journey that will expose her to dangers she doesn't yet understand . . .

- Chapter 1 -

My hands are almost shaking too much to grasp the knob. Once I manage to get the front door open, I slam it behind me and collapse on the floor, gasping for breath.

I turn and reach to click the lock. A pink sticky note on the door catches my eye.

Harper, you better be locked in your room when I get home!

I toss Mom’s note on the floor as I rush to turn on every light in the house. Then I check the locks on the doors and windows — not that I’m sure a door or window would stop that thing.

I sprint upstairs, shove my nightstand in front of my bedroom door, hide in my closet, and pick up my brother’s baseball bat. My heart slowly returns to a normal pace. This is ridiculous, I’m seventeen and hiding in my closet like a little kid. Ugh. I wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for Mom.


***

Earlier today


My younger sister Olivia and older brother Brett were already seated on the couch when I walked through the front door. Across from them, Mom was leaning back into her shabby Victorian armchair, staring at me with that smug-ass expression of hers.

“It’s 7:30 p.m., Harper. Where have you been?” she asked, tapping her foot impatiently.

“I thought it was another stupid scare,” I said as I set down my backpack, trying to keep my cool. “Don’t worry. I was just at soccer practice with a few friends.”

Mom tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. “People are dead, Harper. That was very careless of you.” Her voice sharpened.

“But it happened like thousands of miles from here,” Olivia blurted.

Mom looked from Olivia to the window in thought. The evening sun highlighted her attractive, yet permanently scowling face, with faint wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. “It’s always better to be safe than to take risks,” she said quietly, practically to herself. “I shouldn’t let you out of the house unless the authorities can prove the Syndrome is gone. Especially you, Harper.”

“Especially me?” I forced myself to pause, trying to maintain composure. “What about Brett? He leaves all the time, and you don’t care ... You’ve had me trapped in here for weeks. I needed some fresh air.”

“Brett is responsible. When he left the house this morning, he was going to his job — not to play soccer with his friends.”

“Yeah, but —”

She put up her hand. “And you’re hanging out with those ... girls when you play soccer. Those reckless, irresponsible girls.”

“So which part are you really upset about, then? The girls, or the soccer?” “Both.”

“Does this mean you’re going to keep us locked up like last time?” Olivia asked, her big doe eyes full of concern. She swept her dark hair away from her face, exposing the slightly awkward thirteen-year-old features that she hadn’t grown into yet.

“Oh, I’m such an awful mother, aren’t I? Trying to keep my children alive,” Mom added snidely for effect.

“More like dramatic,” Olivia huffed, crossing her arms.

Preach, Olivia! I looked to Brett for support, but he said nothing and kept his head down. Typical.

“Do you know how they diagnose the RSE Sleeping Syndrome?” Mom asked.

“They can’t confirm it until you’re dead, then they slice into your brain and find it full of tiny holes. There’s no cure for it because the scientists don’t know what it is. Does that sound like something you want to catch while playing soccer with your friends, Harper? Or hanging out at the mall, Olivia?”

My stomach lurched with annoyance. “You’re blowing the situation way, way out of proportion again. The breakout happened on the other side of the freaking country. There are no cases here. Do you realize how crazy controlling —” I snapped my mouth shut, but it had already slipped.

Olivia and Brett shrunk into the couch.

Mom stood with enough force to make her chair slide back. To reinforce her point, she stalked closer to me, and stopped when we were nearly eye-to-eye. “Nobody leaves or comes into this house unless I say so! Especially you, Harper. Is that clear?!” Her breath beat hot on my face.

My fists tightened. The seconds of silence that followed lingered in the air like a pungent smell. I peered at the door and then back at Mom.

“Harper, don’t you —”

She reached for me, but I was already out the door, pounding my anger into the ground with each step as I raced away. My feet carried me from the suburbs, through a creaky gate, and into the sagebrush-laden desert.

In the distance, the evening sun had sunk behind the great Sierra Nevada Mountains, the landscape darkening into a monochromatic gray stretch of bushes.

Antares, my favorite star, was one of the first to pierce the night sky. Away from the city lights, its ruby-red luminescence was brighter than even Mars tonight.

As my gaze lingered on it for a moment too long, my foot caught on a rock, and I crashed onto the gravel and skidded into a bush.

“Damn it!” I cursed. My leg was burning as I tried to wipe away the small rocks from my bleeding knee. But something on the ground caught my eye. Something fluttered. I turned. There was an odd glow in the not-too-far distance, and I froze.

Walking slowly towards me, almost floating, was a tall human-shaped silhouette — colors radiating off a black hole of a body at the center of what looked like a supernova.

I blinked over and over again, trying to correct my vision, holding the air in my lungs, so I didn’t make a sound.

As it continued toward me, its flame-like energy casted distorted halos across the surrounding sagebrush and rocks. When it passed the other side of my bush, a gasp slipped out.

Through the branches sheltering me, I saw the thing pause. Then its featureless black head revolved like an owl spotting prey.

In a panic, my fingers scurried across the dark ground until they found a small, jagged rock.

The thing made a sudden sharp turn, heading for my hiding spot. I shot up, my heart about to rip from my chest.

“S ... S ... Stop!” I shouted like an idiot.

It did ... And for a moment, everything seemed to move in slow motion as colorful flames licked around its tall and slender body, but I couldn’t make out anything else in its black silhouette.

It started hovering forward again, and I hurled my rock to slow it. The rock passed straight through the thing, as if it were made of smoke. My feet skidded on the gravel as I turned and raced home, too scared to look behind me.


***


Now I’m clutching this baseball bat in my closet, trying to make sense of what the hell I just witnessed. Was it all a hallucination?

I hear the front door open and tiptoe downstairs, still wary of my mother. Brett sets down a small pile of groceries and gives me an angry look. That’s not fair. I should be mad at him for not backing me up with Mom.

He looks at my knee, which is still trickling with blood. Damn, I forgot about that. His expression softens. “What happened?”

“Harper!” Mom calls in her nails-on-a-chalkboard tone. I don’t move, and I hear her walk inside.

“Why are you two just standing here?” she says in an accusatory tone, without so much as a glance at my knee.

“Because ... I think I saw a ... a ... ghost ...” Even with all that’s happened, and everything racing through my head, I realize how dumb it sounds the moment it comes out. I don’t even believe in ghosts. Well, didn't used to, anyway.

She slowly lifts an eyebrow. “Really? And is this conveniently timed ghost supposed to make me feel bad for you? Make me forgive what you’ve just done?”

Her eyes bore into me.

“I ... ” I go silent, tightening my trembling hands.

“Are you doing drugs with those girls?” she says.

I have to clench my jaw to stop myself from screaming. “Why do you think I would do drugs?” I say through gritted teeth, shivering from both fear and rage. “My friends don’t do them either. Forget it, alright? The desert was dark and hard to see.”

“You went to the desert? After what we just talked about? Really?” she says like I’m stupid.

I don’t say anything.

“Harper?” She snaps her fingers in my face.

“There was no one in the desert, Mom. It was fine,” I say flatly, to hide the sting in my throat.

She claps her hand to her forehead. “I can’t even, Harper. No more tonight, please. I’m done.” She shoves a grocery bag into my hands and pushes past me. Brett follows behind her like the little lap dog he is.

After a silent meal full of glares and aggressive meatloaf cutting, I take the dishes to the sink and load them into the dishwasher. When I return to the dining area, Mom immediately points to my room. I get up and push in my chair.

“Not just her,” Mom says, looking at Brett and Olivia “Everyone. Now.” she roars.

“They didn’t do anything,” I say, watching Olivia hang her head.

“It’s not great to have everyone pay for your actions, is it, Harper?” Mom taps her fingers against her arm, a threatening expression on her face.

Not fighting back would bring everyone the most peace so I hold my tongue and, like prisoners, we march upstairs to our bedrooms.

When I open my bedroom door, the papers on the wall give me pause: my printouts of dozens of nebula and space photographs are taped to the 70s orange oak paneling.

Fueled by my annoying, illogical paranoia, I rip them down and shove them into a box in my closet, promising them and myself that I’ll put them all up again when I stop being such a baby.

The moment I hear Mom’s TV turn on, I sneak across the hall into Olivia’s room. When I open the door, I find Olivia reading a newspaper in bed.

“Harper! Jeez! Knock first! And don’t be so careless!”

That hurts a little. “Careless” is Mom’s favorite word for me. I know Olivia doesn’t mean it. Mom was probably just going off about what a bad daughter I am when they all went shopping earlier.

“What are you reading?” I ask, answering my own question when I see, The RSE Sleeping Syndrome Is Here! in giant bold letters across the page.

Her voice quivers. “Mom said we should be ready, you know, if it comes here.”

The inflicted fear in her big eyes presses against me like a hot iron. I want to stomp down the hall and yell at Mom for making this innocent thirteen year old girl feel this way. But I hold back my emotions and plop on Olivia’s bed instead, wrapping my arm around her.

“What do I need to know?” I say cheerily.

“Well ... the first symptom is euphoria. It says to watch out for people who may

appear intoxicated or on drugs. That’s followed by the unavoidable urge to sleep. After someone falls asleep, death comes in about twenty-four hours.”

“Strange,” I say.

“Yeah. It’s very strange. Like Mom said, they aren’t even sure what it is, but they suspect it’s a super fast version of ... ” She points to a spot on the paper and struggles to pronounce the words, “Bo-vine spong-i-form en-ceph-alop-athy.”

I recognize the term from biology “Mad cow disease?”

Olivia looks up from the paper, her big eyes get even larger. “So you know more?”

I recall that Mad cow disease erodes holes in your brain so that it eventually looks like a sponge. But there’s no way I’m telling Olivia that.

“You don’t need to worry about it, Olivia. We have a better shot at winning the lottery.”

“But if I do get it, they don’t have a cure for it! Just like Mom said!”

Another wave of white-hot anger burst through me, but I say reassuringly, “Sure, everybody is panicking about it now, but it probably won’t spread. The only case in the United States is that homeless shelter all the way in New York. It didn’t spread after it wiped out that small village the first time.”

She frowns, seemingly unconvinced.

“Besides, why would anyone from New York ever want to come to crappy-old Reno, Nevada? Everyone wants to get the hell out of this crap hole the first chance they get. They’d much rather go to California or somewhere way cooler ... Like us one day.”

She smiles.

I grab the newspaper and toss it across the room, making it rain paper. She laughs, which makes my anger subside.

“You want to have a slumber party like old times?” I ask her.

She grins, slides over in her bed, and pats my usual spot.


About the author

Aubrey Hadley has always loved two things in life: words and design. For a while, she put writing to the side (she wasn’t sure if she was any good) and moved to the Bay Area to focus on Tech. After working in design for a while, she finally decided to write her first novel, Glow: Book I, Potency. view profile

Published on November 24, 2020

Published by Ruby & Topaz Publishing

100000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by

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