"Mears has crafted a highly detailed world…will leave readers eager for Carin's further adventures." — Publishers Weekly
"This rich story not only carries a thrilling plot and engaging characters, it has a beautiful heart and care to it that connects to you on a deep level. Masterful storytelling." — Ellie Ann, New York Times Bestselling Author
Magic forms both feast and famine…
Carin has never known hunger. Born into the Hearthland, a lush world of fertile fields and abundant resources, her biggest worry is whether she and her three friends will find their true names on their Journeying. But when one of them is murdered on the morning of their departure, Carin's peaceful world is stained with blood.
As they travel north, Carin and her friends discover a horrible truth: their land's bounty is no mystery. An ancient spell cast by their ancestors is draining the very life force from the lands across the northern mountains, withering the earth and starving its people.
Forced to confront the truth, Carin must decide her own fate. Remain silent and allow the murder of the earth itself—or risk her own life in exile and break the spell.
The hearths of home have only ever nourished. Now the Hearthland will see just how hot fire can burn.
All choices have consequences.
Mears's fantasy series opener introduces the seemingly utopian world of the Hearthland: peaceful, prosperous, free of want. All adolescent Hearthlanders undertake vision quests in which they learn their true names and the dark secret behind the Hearthland's prosperity: magic that drains the life force from other lands, starving them. Most accept this knowledge and return to their community, but Carin and her friend Ryd cannot; horrified, they flee, becoming exiles. They make a new life in a hungry, harsh land, where Carin must decide whether she will break the life-draining spell by destroying the stones that bind it. The storytelling is effective, if formulaic, and the characters are pleasantly appealing. Mears has crafted a highly detailed world in which equality of men, women, and the nonbinary hyrsin is taken for granted by all, and it's enjoyable to see a unique and idealistic treatment of gender that is not a central part of the plot. The conclusion will leave readers eager for Carin's further adventures.