A lush, unique new fantasy trilogy about a girl tasked with stealing the prince’s heart…literally, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lovely Vicious series.
Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.
Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.
Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.
So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.
Winner takes the loser’s heart.
King Sref of Cavanos watches me with eyes of a raven circling a corpse—patient, waiting to devour me the second I let my guard down. I briefly debate telling him humans don’t taste all that good, until I remember normal girls don’t eat raw flesh. Or fake their way into royal courts.
Normal, I think to myself. Completely and utterly normal. Bat your eyelashes. Laugh like you’ve got nothing in your head. Old God’s teeth, what in the flaming afterlife do normal girls do again?
The other girls would know. There are three of us; three girls in cake-pink dresses, kneeling before King Sref’s throne. We wear veils to hide our faces. I’d ask them, but we’re currently busy drowning in expensive lace and the silent stares of every gilded noble in the room. Well, the other two girls are. I’m doing more of a laughing internally at the way they carefully tilt their gorgeous heads and purse their pouts thing. Look More Attractive Than The Girl Next To You is the name of the game their mothers have been teaching them from birth.
Mine taught me how to die, and not much else.
“You are all as lovely as rose blooms,” the king says finally. His face is weathered with a handsome age. Dignity carves lines around his steel-colored eyes. The smile in them doesn’t reach his lips, though, a sure sign it’s only half-sincere. He is old, he is powerful, and he is bored—the most dangerous combination I can think of.
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” the two girls echo, and I quickly mimic them. I’ve nicknamed them in my head—Charm and Grace. Charm and Grace don’t dare look at anything but the marble floor, while my eyes dart about, thirsty for the rich silks of the nobles’ clothes and the gold falcons carved into the majestic stone columns. Three years stuck in the woods serving a witch makes your eyes hungry for anything that isn’t a tree or deer droppings. I can’t raise my head for fear I’ll be singled out, but I can look just high enough to see the feet of Queen Kolissa and her son. Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane, Archduke of Tollmount-Kilstead, Fireborn, the Black Eagle—he has a dozen names, all of them eye-roll worthy. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my single day at the royal court, it’s that the more names someone has, the less they actually do.
I haven’t seen more than his booted toes, and I already know he’s useless.
And soon, if I have my way, he’ll be heartless.