In 1800s China under foreign occupation, 17-year-old Athena has a set script: survive finishing school, marry well. But when visions of future deaths entangle her in a dangerous conspiracy, she must forsake the life she’s known to save her family and her people.
DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE + Jane Austen
I once asked Mama if it was possible to murder a man but not have been at the scene for the murder itself.
She peered at me in that inscrutable way she has and said that just as there were many ways to heal, there were many ways to kill.
“Whether the man has earned it is the question,” she said.
I was eight then. I thought I’d have the answer by now, on the brink, as they say, of entering the world. But knowledge doesn’t work like that, in lessons learned at school or in lucid messages from the universe. It doesn’t happen in a line. Past, present, and future crisscross and intertwine in convoluted ways.
There is much I do not know: how I killed Fei’s uncle from a thousand miles away, why I see the horrible things I see before they occur, or why my monthly blood comes with a vengeance.
The latter feels like punishment for the former, the invisible blood on my hands coursing to my abdomen.
I shiver by the hearth, and I’m brought back to the present.
Breathing deeply, I try to focus on the feeling of warm porcelain against my palms.
“Drink,” Mama says, her voice gentle and low.
I obey, willing my eyes open and tipping the bowl towards my lips.
I don’t know the words for the forbidden ingredients that stare at me from the bowl—aside from the chicken—but I drink it all down like an escaped thief.