In a gritty medieval world where the ruling houses are based on the constellations, betrayal, intrigue, and a king's murder force the royal sisters of the Bear House on the run!
Moody Aster and her spoiled sister Ursula are the daughters of Jasper Lourdes, Bear Major and high king of the realm. Rivals, both girls dream of becoming the Bear queen someday, although neither really deserve to, having no particular talent in... well, anything.
But when their jealous Uncle Bram murders their father in a bid for the crown, the girls are forced onto the run, along with lowly Dev the Bearkeeper and the half-grown grizzly Alcor, symbol of their house. As a bitter struggle for the throne consumes the kingdom in civil war—and attracts demonic attention from even darker powers—the sisters must rely on Dev, the bear cub, two mysterious princes from opposing houses, and each other to survive… and find wells of courage, cunning, and skill they never knew they had.
For there are many houses in the Bear Highen—the House of the Hemoth Bear, the House of the White Bear, the House of the Ox, the House of the Lion, the House of the Lynx, the House of Hounds, the House of the Blue Giraffe, and the House of the Shadow Dragon—each of them guided and protected by a ferocious namesake beast. But only one can rule.
Perfects for fans of Shannon Messenger, Holly Black, John Flanagan, and Diane Magras, this action-packed fantasy-adventure has sky-high stakes, electrifying action, stellar magic, powerful girls, and surprises for even the canniest reader…
“An epic, complex narrative.”—Publishers Weekly
“Stellar… Thrilling… Enchanting.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Truly wonderful.”—School Library Journal
“Magnificent.”—The Canadian Children’s Book Center
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
McIsaac's (Movers) dark fantasy series starter ambitiously weaves intrigue and adventure against a complicated backdrop of constellation-inspired myth. The northern kingdoms, collectively known as the Bear Highen, have always been ruled by the House of the Hemoth Bear. Spoiled Aster Lourdes, 13, dreams of following in her father's footsteps as its sovereign, but everyone expects her imperious older sister Ursula, 16, to be chosen. When their uncle Bram betrays the family in an unthinkable coup, the sisters must flee the kingdom, along with bear keeper Dev, 13, and young grizzly Alcor, "the living symbol of the Bear House." To prevent the Bear Highen from falling to tyranny and blasphemy, the unlikely companions must survive in the wild, outwit their pursuers, and rally the heirs to several other kingdoms. Hot-tempered and insecure, the flawed, cued-white protagonists slowly prove themselves as they're pushed to their limits in a well-depicted journey of maturity. Dense worldbuilding bogs things down early on, but multiple perspectives enable the story to play out from different angles, contributing to an epic, complex narrative. Ages 10 14. Agent: Alison McDonald, the Rights Factory.