From the author of The City Beautiful comes a haunting fantasy following Toma, adopted daughter of the benevolent undead, making her way across a civil war-torn continent to save her younger sister as she discovers she might possess magical powers herself.
The Kosa empire roils in tension, on the verge of being torn apart by a proletarian revolution between magic-endowed elites and the superstitious lower class, but seventeen-year-old Toma lives blissfully disconnected from the conflict in the empire with her adoptive family of benevolent undead.
When she meets Vanya, a charming commoner branded as a witch by his own neighbors, and the dethroned Tsar Mikhail himself, the unlikely trio bonds over trying to restore Mikhail’s magic and protect the empire from the revolutionary leader, Koschei, whose forces have stolen the castle. Vanya has his magic, and Mikhail has his title, but if Toma can’t dig deep and find her power in time, all of their lives will be at Koschei’s mercy.
Much of Aden Polydoros’ new YA fantasy novel deals with identity, of figuring out who you are when the world wants you to be something else. As a royal, Mikhail is an agent of the system. He directly benefits from the oppression of the Strannik and the proletariat, but he is also bound to his throne by that same system. As one of the oppressed Strannik, Vanya longs to be as free as Mikhail appears, but even his own people fear him. Having that kind of power means nothing good for the other Strannik or the other revolutionaries. Toma has put herself into a box by literally and metaphorically running from her past. Vanya and Mikhail tear down her walls and show her a world of possibilities. Each teen realizes they are greater than the sum of their parts and even greater as a trio.
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