This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes.
A healer who cannot be healed...
When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it's only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she's destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.
A soldier shattered by war...
Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he'll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.
Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn't be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.
Seventeen-year-old Zivah, a Daran high healer, contracts the rose plague from an Amparan battalion that's occupying her village. Zivah survives the initial infection but is left rosemarked splotched with red, highly contagious, and likely to succumb to her disease within a decade. Dineas, 18, is a Shidadi warrior who catches the plague while shackled in an Amparan dungeon. His captors dump him in a ditch, but Dineas pulls through and returns to his people umbertouched spotted with brown, no longer infectious, and forever immune. The Daran and Shidadi people suffer mightily under Ampara's rule, so when their leaders hatch a plan that involves sending Zivah and Dineas to Sehmar City to gather intel about the empire's plans and weaknesses, the teenagers sign on, despite the dangers. This character-driven fantasy from Blackburne (the Midnight Thief books) is slow to start, but patient readers will be rewarded with an intricately choreographed conclusion and a high-stakes cliffhanger that sets up a sequel. Arguments against prejudice share the page with questions of faith in the face of tragedy. Ages 12 up.