Deadly Flowers: A Ninja’s Tale



Something was coming up through that drain.

That slurping sound came again, a vile, eager little gulp. And then a strange, soft clack-clack-clack.

The skin on my back crawled, a chilly ripple that worked its way up my spine and into my scalp.

Whatever it was, it sounded hungry.

I’d put my sword back in the armory.

There was nothing but a water dipper in my hand.

A sword is a tool, not a crutch. Use it; do not lean on it. Anything can be a weapon. A stick, a stone. A comb, a needle.

Or, of course, a cooking pot.

I laid the dipper down on the stovetop and seized the pot of soup with both hands. Then I waited until from the shadows across the room I heard small, sharp claws scrabbling against bamboo, and then the softer sound of those claws on the dirt floor.

I threw the pot hard and heard it thud as it hit the ground, the bamboo pipe, and—something else.

It would have been better if the soup had been boiling rather than lukewarm. Curtains of broth and showers of noodles flew everywhere. There was a squeak and more of that clacking.

This time it didn’t sound hungry. It sounded angry.

I snatched up the dipper before I leaped, planning a dash across the kitchen. On the second step, I slipped. A nest of noodles under my feet sent me sprawling in a slick of soupy mud.

I gasped breath back into my lungs, rolled— —too late.

There came a quick scuttling sound that might have been made by dozens of legs all working at once, and it was on me. A snakelike weight, a long, writhing body, and those legs, too many, all grasping and pinching and scrabbling at me, while giant pincers clacked shut an inch from my face.

Spot illustrations © Jim Carroll

With one hand I grabbed its neck, or where its neck should have been—it was all neck, this thing, and trying to coil around me. I shoved the horrible head away from my face. It squealed, furious, ravenous. The mandibles snapped and sticky-soft feelers groped for my eyes. Angry claws raked the skin of my stomach and legs.

With my other hand, I gripped the water dipper tightly and brought it down as hard as I could across the creature’s head.

It squealed again, and writhed, and we were both flung about in the mud I’d made of the dirt floor. My shoulder and hip cracked hard against the platform where the cook sat to work.

I could have screamed, and ten highly trained girls would have poured into the kitchen.

But it didn’t occur to me to yell.

No ally will defend you. No army will come to your aid. No lord will protect you. Protect yourself.

The platform where the cook worked was just above me. He knelt there to chop and grate and mince and pound and slice and hum and whistle.

That meant there were knives, and cleavers, and mallets, laid out neatly in a row, just above my head. All I needed was to get my hands on one.



By Sarah L. Thomson Published by Highlights Press ISBN-13: 9781629792149 Age Range: 10 – 14 Years

Kata, a ninja, embarks on her first solo mission, for which she must enter a warlord’s castle and make sure that a certain sleeping occupant never awakens. But then Kata discovers that her target is just a young boy (and that her new accomplice is that boy’s slightly older sister), and suddenly her mission is much more complicated than she bargained for. Faced with taking someone’s life or confronting the dire consequences of failure in her mission, Kata must make a hard choice, one that leads her into a more dangerous battle than she ever expected. In this action-packed coming-of-age novel, Kata discovers that while a ninja must always act alone, humanity requires that you accept the trust and friendship of others.

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Look for the sequel, Deadly Wish: A Ninja’s Journey!



Sarah L. Thomson has published more than thirty terrifying books for young readers. (Actually, they are not all terrifying. Some are quite cozy!) A versatile writer, she has created fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, fantasy and realism, for age levels from preschool through high school. Her books include an adventure featuring a fifteen-year-old female ninja and a novel about a real-life vampire, as well as nonfiction early readers describing ferocious prehistoric birds that stood as tall as a basketball hoop and sinister sharks that glow in the dark.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books described Sarah’s most recent novel, Deadly Flowers as “clever, dangerous, vivacious,” and Booklist cheered this fantasy featuring a teenage ninja, calling it “genuinely thrilling, with surprises at every turn and a solid emotional core.” Sarah’s novel, Mercy, was selected as one of Barnes and Noble’s top ten YA books of the year. In 2013, Sarah was featured on the Travel Channel’s show Monumental Mysteries, discussing the historical background to this eerie tale of a historical vampire incident.

Sarah was once a table for Halloween. Her two best friends were people in chairs