Debut author Jessica Rubinkowski delivers the thrilling first book in an epic Russian folklore–inspired fantasy duology filled with page-turning romance, tragedy, magic, and monsters. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sara Raasch!
Seventeen-year-old Valeria is one of the only survivors of the freeze, a dark magical hold Knnot Mountain unleashed on her village. Everyone, including her family, is trapped in an unbreakable sheet of ice. Ever since, she’s been on the run from the czar, who has set out to imprison anyone who managed to escape. Valeria finds refuge with the Thieves Guild, doing odd jobs with her best friend, Alik, the only piece of home she has left. That is, until he is brutally murdered.
A year later, she discovers Alik is alive and being held captive. To buy his freedom, she must lead a group of cutthroats and thieves on a perilous expedition to the very mountain that claimed her family. Only something sinister slumbers in the heart of Knnot. And it has waited years for release.
Ten years ago, Valeria, now 17, was one of the few survivors of a curse that trapped her mining town in perpetual ice. Ever since, she's worked for the Thieves Guild, hiding from the forces of the Czar, who blame Valeria's people both for the curse and for the resultant loss of access to the country's prime resource, precious lovite ore, which, when combined with iron, creates an unbreakable alloy for use in weaponry, construction, and defense. Then Valeria is recruited by Ivan, an enigmatic soldier who believes she can help him access the lost vaults of lovite deep within the mountain of Knnot. In exchange, he reunites Valeria with her best friend Alik, long thought dead. But as Valeria joins Ivan, Alik, and others on a perilous journey into the frozen north and into a haunted mountain, she realizes they may be pawns of the feuding Bright and Pale Gods, siblings whose irreconcilable desires bringing light and warmth to the world vs. consuming pain and suffering have disrupted the course of mortal history with intermittent bloody wars. Despite a solid romantic thread and the looming influence of the supernatural, this adventure's leisurely pacing and soap opera style drama may frustrate. Drawing inspiration from Russian folklore, Rubinkowski offers an atmospheric fantasy debut populated by engaging characters and fueled by a strong premise, with a cliffhanger setting up events for the sequel. Ages 12 up. \n