- USD 7.99
The first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father's murder.
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.
When Ana's father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father's murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.
A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.
“Cinematic storytelling at its best.”—Adrienne Young, New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep and The Girl the Sea Gave Back
“Zhao shines in the fast-paced and vivid combat scenes, which lend a cinematic quality that pulls readers in.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Zhao is a master writer who weaves a powerful tale of loyalty, honor, and courage through a strong female protagonist. . . . Readers will love the fast-paced energy and plot twists in this adventure-packed story.”—SLJ
In this Russian-tinged fantasy from debut author Zhao, Affinites, exploited within the Cyrilian Empire for their myriad gifts, are trafficked within its borders, conned into contracts of indentured servitude, and made to control various elements. Eighteen-year-old Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess of the Cyrilian Empire, is a secret blood Affinite with the ability to exert physical control over others. After being framed for her father's murder, Ana breaks crime lord Ramson Quicktongue out of prison to find her father's true murderer and clear her name. Ana works to prove her innocence and Ramson works toward revenge against those who betrayed him, and the two become entangled in a revolution that seeks to overthrow the system of indentured servitude. As the dual quest proceeds, Ana reflects on the ethical use of her deadly power, and Ramson, who begins to know Affinites as people rather than commodities, comes to understand the aftereffects of his past support of human trafficking. Zhao's plot imperils its protagonists time and again, leading the arc to feel repetitive and the protagonists less than capable. Still, this pointed exploration into the consequences of exploitation and the defining nature of choices may garner readership despite the melodrama. Ages 12 up.