Sarah J. Maas takes on a DC icon in Catwoman: Soulstealer: Read an excerpt
Sarah J. Maas is taking on the world of DC Comics.
The best-selling author, known for her 2012 debut novel Throne of Glass, is turning to superhero fiction with her latest saga, as part of “DC Icons,” a new series featuring beloved YA writers tackling classic superheroes. Maas’ Catwoman: Soulstealer imagines Selina Kyle returning to Gotham City as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees, two years after she escaped the slums. Meanwhile, Gotham City is vulnerable with Batman off on a vital mission, and Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. Selina’s left to balance a threat from her past, her growing connection to Luke, and the heist she still hopes to pull off.
It’s a Catwoman story with Maas’ signature touch. Maas has exclusively shared with EW the book’s official cover, as well as a devilish excerpt. Read on below, and learn more about Catwoman: Soulstealer here.
Excerpt from Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas
She was a ghost. A wraith.
Selina reminded herself of that little fact as she stood atop the stairs of the private jet, squinted into the blinding midday sun glinting off the hangars of the exclusive airfield, and got a faceful of late-August Gotham City stink.
That, at least, hadn’t changed in the past two years. But as for Selina herself . . .
The four-inch beige heels that clipped so nicely against the steps as she descended were just the start of the changes to her. The long golden-blond hair, the manicured nails, and the suntanned skin were the next. And then there was the perfectly tailored creamcolored linen suit, steamed for her by the flight attendant thirty minutes before landing. The portrait of unthreatening, carefree money.
No sign of the girl who’d ascended the stairs of this plane two years ago, bloody and battered. No sign of the girl who’d clawed and fought to keep her sister safe, keep her as healthy as could be expected—especially with Maggie now well cared for, living in a pretty house in the suburbs.
No sign of that girl at all.
Indeed, the resources of the League of Assassins had made these first steps back into Gotham City so much easier, clearing a path for all she’d arrived here to do. The League was bigger, more lethal, than any criminal organization in this city. A near myth. They answered to nobody and nothing, a veritable force of nature. Their goals were so much larger than financial profit. No, the League dealt in power—the sort that could alter countries, alter the world. The smart criminals were the ones who got out of their way. The smartest were those who bowed.
Selina took a slow, bracing breath, flexing her fingers against the slight tremor that rippled down them. No space for fear, for doubt, for hesitation. Not with so many eyes watching.
Photographers sporting long-range cameras snapped photos through the nearby chainlink fence.
Selina shoved away any lingering trace of nerves and offered a sultry, sly look in their direction, her broad-brimmed black hat—the crowning piece of her ensemble—blocking half her face. She did the photographers an even bigger favor and removed her sunglasses as she stepped off the stairs and turned toward the awaiting black sedan.
And just because she was finally back in this shit-hole city, finally back in this place that had been both hell and home, she flashed them a wave and a smile white and bright enough to light up the Gotham City skyline.
Snap, shutter, snap.
Had those photographers even thought to question the anonymous tip about socialite Holly Vanderhees coming to town after a
lengthy stay in Europe? Or were they too afraid of looking foolish to ask who this person was who’d just descended upon Gotham
The information she’d leaked through their computer systems had been brief but detailed. Her family had investments everywhere. Old money. Parents: deceased. Siblings: none. Net worth: billions.
Selina reached the sedan and the driver holding the door open for her. It took years of training to hold back her nod of thanks, to make herself ignore the urge to meet his eyes in a minimal greeting.
He didn’t dare introduce himself. Didn’t do anything. Well trained not to be a presence but an instrument.
Even now, after all she’d been taught and instructed to do, it made her stomach churn.
A lie. This is all a lie. The East End bred me, raised me. The words sat on her tongue as she ducked into the car. This is all a lie.
But she didn’t need to speak a word to him: he already had the address of the Old Gotham City penthouse Holly had leased for the as-yet-unknown length of her stay. Likely through gala season, she’d informed the real estate agent, who’d nearly fainted at the commission of a lifetime.
Butter-soft leather cushioned her when she slid into the rear seat of the car, the driver making sure her waxed golden legs were fully inside, Birkin bag nestled in the seat beside her, before quietly shutting the door. Air at seventy degrees, two chilled bottles of water in the lowered tray beside her, a smart tablet anchored to the back of the front passenger seat, packets of lemon-scented face towelettes tucked into the mesh netting beneath.
Not that she’d use them. Why ruin the makeup she’d carefully applied before landing? The barely-there foundation, matte dovegray
eye shadow with a swoop of eyeliner, and bold flamethrowerred lips.
She’d refused to acknowledge the slight trembling in her hands while she’d done it—the hands she’d had to shake out multiple times before they were steady enough to precisely apply her eyeliner and lipstick.
Being nervous before a mission didn’t help anything. She reminded herself of that over and over. Even if she’d already gone through every breathing technique she’d been taught.
The driver got in, turning on the radio to the station she’d requested: classical. As a soon-to-be patron of the Gotham City Opera, she at least had to appear interested in it.
Appear to be many things, since the driver was sure to talk. Just as the flight attendants of the plane were sure to talk. Money bought nearly everything, but silence was never a guarantee. In Gotham City, loyalty was bought and sold as fast as any stock on the market.
Loyalty couldn’t exist in a place like this. She’d learned that, too, these past few years.
The car pulled out of the private airport, the heavy gates parting to let them through. Selina stroked a hand down the silky-smooth leather of the Birkin beside her. The bag, the shoes, the clothes, the jewels—all were loaded symbols. Literally. And also passports, veritable golden tickets into the circles of society who dwelled above those eking out a living on the streets of Gotham City.
Nature is all about balance, Nyssa al Ghūl, her mentor and personal instructor during her time in Italy, had once purred to her. Tip too far in one direction, and it will always find a way to right itself.
Gotham City had been tipping too far toward the rich and corrupt for a long, long time. She’d come home to right it once more.
The car wove through a grid of streets before merging onto the highway that would cross the Gotham River and take them downtown. As they sped over the Brown Bridge, the southern tip of Gotham City spread before her, packed with the glittering highrises that pierced the cloudless summer day like lances. And lording above them all: Wayne Tower. Every citizen of the city could likely sketch the building from memory. A symbol of welcome, the postcards claimed.
That tower was a symbol of anything but.
And when she was finished here, the world would see that, too.
She peered out through the gaps in the steel beams of the bridge toward the muddy-blue waters of Gotham River. How many bodies would be swimming in it by the time she was finished here?
Gotham City was primed to fall. All it would take was a little encouragement.
What fortunate timing that the sanctimonious Batman was currently gone—no sign of him for weeks now. And that Batwing, along with a few others, was barely holding back the tide of lowlifes seeking to take advantage of that absence.
She snorted softly. What ridiculous names they gave themselves, these vigilantes.
Selina lifted her gaze from the river to the shining metropolis approaching with every heartbeat. To the darker, shorter buildings of the East End smudging the horizon.
Home. Or it had been. She hadn’t let herself consider it her home in a long while. Refused to contemplate where home might be, if such a thing could ever exist for her now.
The brutal training at the League of Assassins had taught her many, many things. Had killed that street-raised, desperate girl, leaving her somewhere at the bottom of a ravine in the Dolomites. Had drained that girl away into nothing, along with the blood of the men who Nyssa and the others had taught her how to bring down—how to punish.
You will bring empires to their knees, Nyssa had once sworn to her after a particularly grueling demonstration on how to get men to talk. A kernel of promise while she’d puked her guts up afterward.
No, home did not exist anymore. But it was worth it. She’d come here to make sure it had all been worth it—the training, the unspeakable cost. She would not fail. Not this most vital mission.
So Selina loosed a settling breath and beheld the sparkling city as she reclined in the cushioned seat of the car.
And finally, at long last, she allowed herself a little smile.
Let Gotham City enjoy its final days of summer.