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The Seeking

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Beware the Gray People

Each Seeking, the magic that protects the town of Carra must be renewed, which means the children of the Exalted Family must go into hiding. Whether through disguise or bribe, through trusted friends or perfect hiding places, every child of the Priest family must avoid capture for the full day of The Seeking.

When things go wrong with the renewal, it’s up to seventeen-year-old Dahlia, the middle child of the Priest family, and her girlfriend, Bisa, to escape Carra and find the magical beings responsible for the protection. They must learn who would require such a cruel game every year and if the protection of the Gray People is really worth such a price.

What they will discover is far worse.


First published October 27, 2020

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About the author

Marlena Frank

31 books229 followers
Marlena Frank has always been fascinated by monsters, and now gets to write about them. She is the author of young adult fantasy and horror standalone novels, short stories, novellas, and series. Many of her books have hit the Amazon bestseller charts, including her debut novel, Stolen, and her latest release, The Impostor and Other Dark Tales. In 2022, she will be kicking off her young adult dark fantasy series The Wolves of Kanta featuring werewolves, steampunk, and mad scientists. She also has shorter work coming out in several anthologies.

Although she was born in Tennessee, Marlena has spent most of her life in Georgia. She lives with her sister and three spoiled adopted cats. She is an affiliate of the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association and is an avid member of the Atlanta cosplay community.

She is also an INFJ, a tea drinker, and a wildlife enthusiast.

She is also a Hufflepuff, an INFJ, a tea drinker, and a wildlife enthusiast.

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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for Candace Robinson.
Author 45 books972 followers
May 31, 2020
What Frank knows how to do is pull you into anything she writes. The writing and atmosphere in this one were absolutely perfect. I could feel everything Dahlia was encountering on her journey in this book! And I loved her! Also, there was great diversity in this one, along with everything else.

I'm a huge fan of horror but with books, I like to really delve into a character and get more than a chill factor, and that's what I got here. Not only is it a horror story, but a beautiful one at that. With this genre of book, I don't like to give too much away, so I'll let the reader enjoy it, but I loved the ending! Can't wait to read more from this author!
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 6 books470 followers
October 10, 2020
Have any of you ever read a truly amazing book and when you go to close it, release that satisfied woosh of air-a sigh of contenement- and immediately begin to think about what you read? Well, that doesn't happen to me very often because I'm a book goblin. I love all books, but then there are those I want to squish against my chest and beg for them to become part of me. SINK INTO MY SKIN. BE ONE WITH THE CELIA.

With her take on an alien invasion scenario, Frank propels readers into a world where The Gray People are the protectors from giant monsters in the forest that surrounds the town of Carra. Every year, the Exalted, or leaders of the town, have their children participate in a sort of Purge scenario where they must hide from the town for an entire day. If they are caught, they lose their standing and the winners become the town's Exalted and The Gray People renew their vow to protect the town.

Our heroine, Dahlia, is a strong-minded daughter of Carra's Exalted. She's got the brains and the brawn and the fierceness to protect those she loves, not unlike famous book protagonists like Katness and Tris. When something goes wrong, she must protect her younger brother and girlfriend before they fall victim to the monsters surrounding their town. I loved her honesty and her willingness to become a leader when all falls apart around her. Despite her grief, she looks at what can be done, to ensure a future for her family and friends. But she is not without flaws. Her anger does get the best of her, and her sadness sometimes gets in the way of her decision making. She is a realistic portrayal of someone faced with hard choices and the determination to set things right.

I wanted to touch upon one character that really interested me and that was Broskow. At first, I saw him as the book's villain, but he redeemed himself in ways I did not expect. Not unlike Dahlia, he does have his flaws, and his character is very human, led by fear and grief. But never have I read such a superb character arc like the character of the butcher, Broskow.

This is a horror book and there are scenes of violence that had me with a gaping mouth catching flies. So, there's your trigger warning. But, boy, did I love it. I'm such a sucker for movies like Battle Royale, The Purge, or anything that has people running for their lives. Oh, and Marlena was all like, yeah, let's do that but also let's add aliens and monstrous insects. A COCKTAIL OF AWESOMENESS, let me tell you, folks.

This book releases October 27th and if you liked the premise and/or my review, do me a favor and preorder it. It helps authors a ton when you preorder and it makes them happy :D

Marlena Frank delivers a dystopian science fiction masterpiece, not to be missed under any circumstances.

Bravo, Marlena, for another fantastic book.

Profile Image for Permanently_Booked.
756 reviews54 followers
October 28, 2020
This had a mix of some of my favorite creeptastic vibes with elements echoing the Hunger Games meets The Village. Sprinkle an awesome dose of alien-like beings and deadly creatures and you’re ready to dive in.

Dahlia lives in a town that is protected by the Gray People from the deadly critters that stalk the boundary lines. Each year children of the Exalted House are sent to hide and elude capture on Hallows Eve. Whoever catches one of the hiding children will then replace the current Exalted family. Seems innocent enough but what should be a simple game of hide and seek is more a game of stay alive as rivalries and prejudices run through the town. Not everyone comes back safe.

The synopsis is what pulled me in and I was not disappointed. It’s a fast paced read that makes you take a look into the dark side of humanity and being on the other side of the food chain. There are some pretty good skin crawling scenes that make me glad we don’t live in a movie like Love and Monsters. Did I mention face-melting carnivorous spiders? Do I have your horror loving attention yet?

This was perfect for my October reads and I can happily say that Marlena Frank will be on my radar for future reads. If I had any drawbacks it was the history of the world. This has a dystopian feel to it and I am generally curious how their world came to exist in the state that it is currently in. There is an excellent blend of adventure, horror and a beautiful touch of LGBTQ added into the mix.

Special thanks to Parliament Press for the opportunity to review this novel for an honest and unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for K.A. Wiggins.
Author 21 books193 followers
September 12, 2020
Terrifying dark fantasy/horror just in time for Halloween! Come for the face-melting spiders, stay for the haunting grey people with their eyeless black pits and talon-like nails.

At first, I thought this was a zombie apocalypse set-up but was pleased to find it twisted more into haunted forest meets Hunger Games territory. Some thoughtful character work and political/social insights to go along with some truly terrifying scenes.

Upsetting content and no magical powers for the humans tips this into more horror territory than dark fantasy IMHO. Technically YA but reads well as a crossover/NA. Also of note: f/f romance subplot.

Recommended for fans of Dawn Kurtagich and Carrie Ryan.
Profile Image for Olivia.
110 reviews6 followers
July 31, 2020
I haven’t read a lot of thrillers but I’m soooo glad I picked this one up! Frank’s writing conveyed the “spooky factor” that I know so many thriller readers love! The main character’s relationship with her family and close friends was such a great part of the story. What drew me to the story was the concept of “grey people” who protect this small town from monsters outside. When Dahlia has to participate in The Seeking, I was flying through the paragraphs to see what happened next. I haven’t read anything else by her but after finishing The Seeking I’m definitely going to pick up more of her books. Thank you to Parliament Press for sending me an eARC.
Profile Image for Donna (BookDragonGirl).
846 reviews5 followers
July 12, 2020
I am never let down by Marlena Frank’s books!!! This was such an amazing horror/dystopian/SciFi book!!! I loved Marlena’s fantasy series, but her horror/dystopian is just as amazing!! Her descriptions are written so vividly that you can picture them as if you were there. To the point that I had a dream about it last night when I was 3/4 of the way through!! She also writes awesome characters, whether they’re good/bad/both, fae, human, alien, etc...you can’t help but feel invested in the characters. I am always anticipating her next book!!!

Profile Image for Brandy {The Review Booth}.
187 reviews28 followers
October 29, 2020
The Seeking was another perfect pick to read just before Halloween – there are things inside this book that I would never wish to encounter. I won’t lie – the creatures Marlena Frank brought to life are downright terrifying, and if you’re sensitive to things like that, I don’t recommend reading it before bed. In my mind’s eye, the Gray People look like a terrifying version of a spriggan. I can imagine the town of Carra surrounded by haunting swaths of forested areas. The humans terrified of being near the boundary line, not fully understanding what their protection costs or what they are being protected from – until it’s too late.

I loved the diversity of the characters, their very human actions towards each other (good or bad), and how they grew throughout the story. I thoroughly enjoyed Dahlia’s character. She’s very down-to-earth, and she truly cares about not only her family but the others residing in Carra. There were several twists within that I was not expecting – the history (albeit brief) of Carra, humans, and the Gray People.

I would partially label The Seeking as a dystopia – the history behind the Priest family and the uncommon (but exceedingly common today) item given to Dahlia by her brother. It would be interesting to know what happened to form the reality that Dahlia resides in – it isn’t covered much, and, while it isn’t essential to the story, I’m beyond curious. If The Seeking were to become a series, I would 100% read any sequels. Marlena Frank successfully sucked me into Dahlia’s world, and I would love to read more. I would highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy young adult, LGBTQ+ relationships (PG), supernatural, horror, and fantasy. A BIG thank you to The Parliament House Press and Marlena Frank for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this heart-pounding, more than slightly terrifying book – all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Author 65 books44 followers
August 31, 2020
Dahlia’s anger keeps her alive through each horrible Seeking – and when this one goes horribly wrong, it is what keeps those dear to her alive, too. Her girlfriend and the two little boys do their part to keep her human.

The Gray People are fascinating and terrifying. Mother is going to haunt my nightmares…

Some stuff in the timeline doesn’t completely make sense (e.g. “last night” referring to before the Seeking happened, yet she’d spent that night hiding yet again) which could be interpretation or lack of clarity.

A thrilling dystopian dark fantasy edging on horror (if you happen to fear spiders and giant bugs) that keeps you intrigued until the very end. If you liked “The Hunger Games”, you’ll like this book.

*I received an ARC from the author and this is my honest opinion.

Trigger warning: children being hunted, violence, gore, giant flesh-eating bugs and spiders, nightmare creatures eating minds.
Profile Image for Energy (Rae's Reading).
1,422 reviews33 followers
October 27, 2020
This is one of those stories you don’t want to put down once you start because Frank jumps right in on the storyline and starts building curiosity. I wasn’t quite sure what this “Seeking” was that they were talking about, but I needed to know. Though I admit, it sounded a bit milder than I was expecting, which was a relief, but then once we got down to it, nope, it wasn’t milder. In fact, I didn’t want to put the book down because I was worried for our main character.

I loved the paranormal elements with this one. The Gray People were highly imaginative, and you weren’t exactly sure what was at play here. I appreciated that the cast was relatively small, which made it easier to know the characters well. I also appreciated the representation in this one. Overall, a fun read from start to finish.
Profile Image for Nicole Sams.
8 reviews
September 21, 2020
The Seeking was a refreshing change in story. I have never read anything like it, the town, the seeking day, the gray people, all new concepts. The story flowed wonderfully and had me flipping the pages for hours.
Profile Image for Teri Drake-Floyd.
205 reviews8 followers
September 29, 2020
Right from the first few lines of The Seeking I felt a sense of foreboding. I could almost smell the sickly, sweet fragrance of apple pie permeating the air as I followed the heroine, Dahlia, to her dirty, terrifyingly claustrophobic hiding place (it probably didn't hurt that it's currently "spooky" season and I'm not that fond of apple pie myself).

Author Marlena Frank draws a vivid, dreary picture of life in Carra, leaving no detail undescribed. It's easy to picture the stark, drab landscape where the citizens of this fated town suffer every day, as they draw out their meager existence, the only real excitement or hope the once-yearly, morbid and forced spectacle that is The Seeking, in which children of the "Exalted Family" must be literal prey to the townspeople for twenty-four hours. Dahlia, our heroine, manages to escape with her freedom to live another year, but as we soon find out, dodging townspeople hell-bent on her destruction is only the beginning of her problems...

The Seeking is a fascinating, terrifying, and deliciously dark and dreary read, perfect for Halloween.
Profile Image for Karly Wise.
256 reviews10 followers
October 29, 2020
“The Seeking” has become one of my all time favorite horror books! I feel like some horror authors focus more on making the story gruesome and forget about everything else, but Marlena Frank not only had a really creepy story plot, but also had amazing world and character building. From the minute I started reading this book I could not put it down, the writing just pulled me in. It really easy for me to connect with the main character, at some points I felt like I was there fighting the grey people with Dahlia. This was not only a spooky horror story, but also a beautifully written book with a lot of diversity. I honestly can’t wait to read more from this author.
I received this as a free ARC copy, but all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Ellen.
155 reviews3 followers
November 23, 2020
I LOVED this book!!! Perfect blend of horror and hope, I loved the representation of fear and emotion, LGBTQ+ relationships (including the main character), and POC ❤. The world building BLEW my mind and filled my mind with images of Carra and the horrible forest beyond the borders. Ah!!! Every moment of this novel had me enraptured with my breath held and tears in my eyes. I am happy to tell you there is a solid conclusion to the tale, and although there is heartbreak aplenty, there is happiness at the end of this dark novel. 100% recommend, it will BLOW YOUR MIND!!!
Profile Image for River.
235 reviews8 followers
October 22, 2020
3.5/5 Stars

This review is of an arc that I got from the author when she was looking for reviewers in a facebook group I’m a part of! I’m so glad I got to read it, because it had the perfect spooky vibes for this October!! If you’re looking for a creepy, original horror/dystopian novel with a brave lesbian MC, then I’d recommend you check this out. It releases just in time for Halloween on October 27th!

As far as what I thought of it in more depth, I loved the unique plot. It constantly surprised me and went in new amazing directions that were not at all what I had expected. The parts that were scary were just the right amount for me, too. They didn’t keep me up at night, but they did send a tingle down my spine for sure! I did feel like we were thrown into the action so quickly that I wasn’t sure what I thought of the characters and I would’ve liked to see them grow a little more over the course of the book, but I was hooked despite these feelings.
Profile Image for Danielle.
93 reviews18 followers
October 31, 2020
Just in time for Halloween, this creepy, atmospheric read contains all the fall vibes and is perfect for fans of the Hunger Games!
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

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