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Unnatural: An Archangel Academy Novel

Michael Griffo

ISBN 9780758253385
Publish Date 2/22/2011
Format Trade Paperback
Categories KTeen , Young Adult
List Price: $9.95

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Lesson 1: Nothing is ever what it seems…

In the town of Eden in northwestern England stands the exclusive boarding school known as Archangel Academy. Ancient and imposing, it’s a place filled with secrets. Just like its students…

For Michael Howard, being plucked from his Nebraska hometown and sent thousands of miles away is as close as he’s ever come to a miracle. In Weeping Water, he felt trapped, alone. At Archangel Academy, Michael belongs. And in Ciaran, Penry, and especially Ciaran’s enigmatic half-brother Ronan, Michael finds friendship deeper than he’s ever known.

But Michael’s only beginning to understand what makes the Academy so special. Ronan is a vampire—part of a hybrid clan who are outcasts even among other vampires. Within the Academy’s confines exists a ruthless world of deadly rivalries and shifting alliances, of clandestine love and forbidden temptations. And soon Michael will confront the destiny that brought him here—and a danger more powerful than he can imagine…

Michael Griffo is an award-winning writer and one of six playwrights whose career will be tracked by until 2010. He is a graduate of New York University, has studied at Playwrights Horizons and Gotham Writers Workshop, and has written several screenplays.


Outside, the earth was wet.

The rain had finally stopped, but it had poured hard and long during the night, the sudden storm catching the land unprepared for such a prolonged onslaught. From Michael’s bedroom window he could see the dirt road that led up to his house had flooded and the passageway that could lead him to another place, any place away from here, was broken, unusable. Today would not be the day he would be set free.

Ever since Michael was old enough to understand there was a world outside of his home, his school, his entire town, he had fantasized about leaving it all behind. Setting foot on the dirt path that began a few inches below his front steps and walking, walking, walking until the dirt road brought him somewhere else, somewhere that for him was better. He didn’t know where that place was, he didn’t know what it looked like; he only knew, he felt, that it existed.

Or was it all just foolish hope? Peering down from his second-floor window at the rain-drenched earth below, at the muddy river separating his home from everything else, he wondered if he was wrong. Was his dream of escape just that, a dream and nothing more? Would this be his view for all time? A harsh, unaccepting land that, despite living here for thirteen of his sixteen years, made him feel like an intruder. Leave! He could hear the wind command, This place is not for you. But go where?

On the front lawn he saw a meadowlark, smaller than typical but still robust-looking, drink from the weather beaten birdbath that overflowed with fresh rainwater. Drinking, drinking, drinking as if its thirst could not be quenched. It stopped and surveyed the area, singing its familiar melodious tune, da-da-DAH-da, da-da-da, and pausing only when it caught Michael’s stare. Switch places with me, Michael thought. Let me rest on the brink of another flight, and you sit here and wait.

And where would you go? the meadowlark asked. You know nothing of the world beyond this dirt.

Nothing now, but I’m willing to learn. The lark blinked, its yellow feathers bristling slightly, but I’m not willing to forget everything that I know. Da-da-DAHda, da-da-da.

How wonderful would it be to forget everything? For get that the mornings did not bring with them the promise of excitement, but just another day. Forget that the evenings did not bring with them the anticipation of adventure, but just darkness. Forget it all and start fresh, start over.

The meadowlark was walking along the ledge of the birdbath, interrupting the stagnant water this time with its feet instead of its beak, looking just as impatient as it did wise. You can never start over. The new life you may create is filled with memories of the old one. The new person you may become retains the essence of who you were.

No, Michael thought, I want to escape all this. I want to escape who I am!

Humans, such a foolish species, the lark thought. Dada- DAH-da da-da-da. You can never escape your true self and you’ll never be able to escape this world until you accept that.

Michael watched the meadowlark fly away, perhaps with a destination in mind, perhaps just willing to follow the current—regardless, out of view, gone. And Michael remained. The water in the birdbath still rippled with the lark’s memory, retaining what was once there, proof that there had been a visitor. Michael wondered if he would leave behind any proof that he was here when he left, if he ever left. Not that he cared if anyone remembered his presence, but simply to leave behind proof that he had existed before he began to live.

He turned his back to the window, the meadowlark’s memory and song, the flooded earth—none of that truly belonged to him anyway—and he gazed upon his room. For now, this sanctuary was all he had. He was grateful for it, grateful to have some place to wait until the waters receded and his path could lead him away from here.

But that would not happen today. Today his world, as wrong as it was, would have to do.

About Michael Griffo:

Michael Griffo is an award-winning writer and a graduate of New York University. He has studied at Playwrights Horizons and Gotham Writers Workshop, and has written several screenplays.

Average Customer Review

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Customer Review

A New - Interesting - Look at Vampires (Tuesday, March 8, 2011)
Reviewer: Amy Lignor

Here we go…again. Another young adult series that is based on the world of the vampire with a love triangle worked into the plot for all readers to enjoy. What is different about this one, you ask? This…is actually a good story which offers all different kinds of mysteries, characters, and plots that will keep the reader engaged throughout the story.

The author has dared to be different by writing about a young man named Michael who lives in the nowhere town of Weeping Water. This is the type of place where the only excitement available is to watch the leaves change and the cars rust, and the only thing for Michael to think about is how the heck he’s going to get out of here. He lives with his grandparents and his mother - who is a woman with extreme mental issues who regrets what she’s done in the past. Michael’s father lives in London, England, yet he was pulled away from him by dear old Mom and brought to live in a town where he doesn’t have a friend in the world. Michael has an even bigger issue than the fact that his own family treats him like a bit of an outcast; he actually has a true desire to be in love. Yet the desire he has and the images of his perfect soul mate are that of a male, and he has no idea how to make his family understand that he is, in fact, gay.

The people at his school pick on him constantly, and he is completely ostracized because of his passionate nature and the need to be who he truly is instead of going along with the crowd. Almost at the beginning of the story, Michael’s mother is placed in a hospital and ends her life, and Michael’s British father appears on the scene to take him back to London.

Once there, Michael goes straight to the Archangel Academy where, thankfully, he is bright enough to be one of the very best students, and the other boys attending accept him for the person he is, and not the person even his father wants him to be. His roommate, Ciaran, is a nice boy who quickly becomes Michael’s friend. But, unfortunately for Ciaran who wants nothing more than to have a friend of his own and not feel so alone all the time, Michael falls in love with Ciaran’s brother, Ronan.

Ronan is Mr. Popular. Handsome, strong, with a secret that only some know about, Ronan feels himself falling just as hard for Michael and has no idea how to tell him the information that he needs to know…information that could save his life.

As the author introduces some amazingly well-written characters including a young vampire by the name of Nakano, whose jealousy over losing Ronan is matched only by the powerful thirst that makes him take out students at the Academy. Not only that, but a girl by the name of Brania - who is an old acquaintance of Ronan’s - steps into the scene. Brania is a woman of extreme power who has her own agenda where the Academy and Michael is concerned, and will stop at nothing to succeed in destroying the world around her.

As the battle lines are drawn and the romance turns completely intense and truly moving, the plot thickens with each page and each new character that appears. Being the first book in this series, it is a wonderful introduction and set-up to the battle that’s about to be fought. Yes, the vampire “chaos” is certainly a part of this new set of novels - but the concept is something that will appeal to many on a whole different level; a truly beautiful story that contains honest-to-goodness heart and soul…as well as fangs. Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

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