An instant New York Times bestseller!
“For readers who have just finished Naomi Novik’s The Golden Enclaves and are ravenous for more dark academia” (Booklist), this “pulse-pounding” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) fantasy thriller follows six teenage wizards as they fight to make it home alive after a malfunctioning spell leaves them stranded in the wilderness.
Ren Monroe has spent four years proving she’s one of the best wizards in her generation. But top marks at Balmerick University will mean nothing if she fails to get recruited into one of the major houses. Enter Theo Brood. If being rich were a sin, he’d already be halfway to hell. After a failed and disastrous party trick, fate has the two of them crossing paths at the public waxway portal the day before holidays; Theo’s punishment is to travel home with the scholarship kids—which doesn’t sit well with any of them.
A fight breaks out. In the chaos, the portal spell malfunctions. All six students are snatched from the safety of the school’s campus and set down in the middle of nowhere. And one of them is dead on arrival.
If anyone can get them through the punishing wilderness with limited magical reserves it’s Ren. She’s been in survival mode her entire life. But no magic could prepare her for the tangled secrets the rest of the group is harboring, or for what’s following them through the dark woods…
Six teenage wizards are stranded in the wilderness after a spell goes awry in this pulse-pounding series launch from Reintgen (the Ashlords duology). Balmerick University scholarship student Ren Monroe may be talented, but she lacks the connections necessary to secure employment at one of the wealthy, powerful political houses in the hierarchical city of Kathor. That is, until disaster strikes. Ren and five classmates—including two house heirs—are traveling via portal when something misfires and drops them in the Dires, a distant, desolate place where dragons once dwelled and monsters still roam. One person mysteriously dies in transit, inspiring distrust among the survivors, but since Kathor is too far for transport via sorcery, the group must join forces to return on foot. Though the long, dangerous trek is further complicated by limited resources, Ren determines it a serendipitous opportunity to impress the heirs and obtain placement in one of their houses—provided that they all live. Reintgen combines inventive worldbuilding, intricate plotting, and a strongly developed, racially diverse cast to craft a twisty tale of classism, redemption, and revenge. Tense prose and escalating environmental, magical, and social conflicts foster constant fear for the characters' fates. Ages 14–up.