One night each month, Sel Archer takes his mum down to the basement of their house in Tremorglade and locks her in a big iron cage, so that she won’t tear him to pieces. He checks the tripwires and explosives, slings his tranquillizer gun over his shoulder, then finally heads out for some fun with his friends.
And he’s not alone. All over the world, children are doing the same. Between dusk and dawn on a full moon, almost every adult becomes a Ripper – a vicious werewolf-like creature with a lust for human blood and a murderous temper. It’s been this way ever since a virus spread around the globe, twenty-five years ago.
But hey, that’s old news, right? What’s the big deal? No need to make a fuss. Everyone knows the drill by now: stick some music on nice and loud for your Ripper and double-check the padlock, then chill. Everyone keeps the rules (more or less), everyone co-operates, everyone looks out for one another, and no one gets hurt.
Until, that is, one night, when sinister, deadly events begin to unravel Tremorglade’s peaceful existence. Sel, his best friend Elena, and their elderly friend Harold – the only adult in Tremorglade who doesn’t sprout fur and claws – realize their community is steeped in lies, and determine to uncover the truth. Soon it becomes clear that someone will do anything to stop them. But it can’t be… everyone, can it?
Always hovering somewhere distinctly below average at school, and a liability with a tranquillizer, thirteen-year-old Sel just wants a nice, safe, easy life. He plans to stay in Tremorglade for ever, since the world outside their isolated little town is far more chaotic and dangerous. He loves his mum and would do anything to keep her safe. But there’s no need to let her in on all his secrets.
Sel’s best friend, Elena is fidgety and keen to see the world, if only her dad could get a job somewhere other than boring old Tremorglade. Fearless and loyal to family and friends, she won’t put up with anyone trying to deceive her.
Elena’s nineteen-year-old brother, Pedro keeps their family afloat with his job fixing computers. He’s a whiz with mechanical things, but the more he pokes around inside the workings of their community, the less co-operative it gets.
Tremorglade’s only Immutable, Harold doesn’t Rip out on a full moon. He’s often thought there’s something suspicious going on locally, but nobody took him seriously, until now. He’s supportive of the kids’ investigations, but increasingly alarmed at their version of ‘being discreet’, fearing they are all in danger.
Sel’s nemesis, Ingrid has a habit of following him around, often with the threat of violence. She claims there’s more to Sel than meets the eye, and has made it her mission to expose him.
S. J. Wills’ Bite Risk is published by Simon & Schuster Children’s on 8 June 2023