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Read Online Books/Novels:

Shimmer and Burn (Shimmer and Burn #1)

Author/Writer of Book/Novel:

Mary Taranta

Language:
English
ISBN/ ASIN:
1481471996 (ISBN13: 9781481471992)
Book Information:

To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.

Books in Series:

Shimmer and Burn Series by Mary Taranta

Books by Author:

Mary Taranta Books

One

MY MOTHER TRIED TO KILL me the night the guards arrested her.

Only six years old at the time, I remember her earnest face bent over mine, a hand laced through my own. She smelled strange that night, like damp stone and cold earth, and I wondered where she’d been to smell so unfamiliar. “What are you doing?” I finally asked.

“Saying good-bye,” she whispered back. “I love you, Faris. Remember that.”

What I remember is the look on her face as her blade sank into my chest and my blood darkened her hands. No remorse when I screamed, only fierce determination—as though I were a complicated pattern to be embroidered on the dresses my father sold downstairs.

What I remember is the way it felt, to be torn apart, like an imperfect seam.

Within minutes, guards arrived and dragged my mother into the street. Within days, she was dead. And then the guards returned, but this time with torches as they overturned my father’s small shop, destroying everything in their search for the gold they claimed she’d stolen from the king.

They never found it. Nobody did. The only thing my mother left behind that night was my broken heart, awoken to the idea that there was gold in this world, that there was more.

And she had wanted it more than she wanted me.

Half an inch lower and she could have pinned my heart to my spine. Instead, she only nicked a bone and left a scar threaded with questions. If I press hard enough, I can feel it shifting, like a bad memory trapped beneath the skin. It aches sometimes, when it’s cold.

It bites sometimes, when I’m angry.

Tonight it’s nothing more than a bump beneath my fingers as I rub absent lines across my collarbone, staring at the Herald Mountains that cradle the sky above us.

“There aren’t any stars,” Thaelan says, leaning back on his hands beside me, his feet crossed at the ankles. “How can you make a wish if there aren’t any stars?”

Dropping my hand, I mimic his stance, a half-empty bottle of barleywine clutched between my knees. We’re seated at the edge of the shallows, a series of oval puddles framed by narrow rings of earth meant to hold rainwater for irrigating the farming terraces that stair-step below us. Mist rises from the gorge on the other side of the kingdom’s outer wall, cloaking everything with a veil of white and moonlit blue shadow. Candlelight glitters through the gloom behind us, only a few pinpricks here along the Brim where oil and candles cost too dear, but multiplying the higher the kingdom rises and the richer its citizens become until it reaches the brightest lights of all, shining from the castle floating in the clouds.

“Here,” I say, pointing toward the castle with my chin, “just use one of those.”

“You can’t wish on a window,” Thaelan says darkly, head rolling toward me.

“It’s my birthday. I can do whatever I want.”

“It’s not your birthday until midnight. Eight past midnight, actually, so until then, Faris Locke, you are held to the same rules as always. No wishing on windows.”

I grin as he kisses me. “Your lips are cold,” he chides, inviting me under his dark wool cloak—sage green trimmed in silver with a clumsy pattern of ivy and stags. It’s Queen Robetta’s design; it’s Queen Robetta’s hobby, dictating the fashions of the court and distributing the patterns to the seamstresses of the kingdom to replicate. It’s the one thing she’s allowed to control; everything else belongs to her husband, King Perrote.

I tug the hem of the cloak over my knee and rub my thumb across the scar of embroidery. My father says her stags look like underfed mountain goats, and I have to agree.

It was my father who sewed me closed that night ten years ago. Nine perfect stitches, the last he’d ever do.

“We should have met somewhere warmer,” I say.

“You know I have to be careful.”

“You have to be secret.” My voice tightens. “Your fiancée might see.”

“Hey.” He bumps me with his shoulder. “You said you didn’t mind coming here.”

I duck my head, picking at the grass by my hip. I didn’t mind coming here when I was twelve and still believed I would marry Thaelan, back when our inequality was an abstract concept easy to ignore. But there are no excuses to play pretend anymore: The son of nobility does not marry the daughter of a drunkard and a thief.

Music plays in the distance, from the merchant tier of housing known as the Ridge, undercut with warm laughter and the sound of footfalls in a steady tempo of dancing. I try not to listen, to envy. The only dances in the Brim are the kind that end with compromised virtues in dark alleys and dirty rooms.

“What does Ellis’s dress look like?” I ask, as if that will alleviate the ache inside me for the life I’ll never have.


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