Sapphic Hades and Persephone X BEYOND THE RUBY VEIL
With her winter-cursed queendom starved to the bone and her sister in mortal danger, Sirena hatches the perfect two-for-one plan: Poison her murderous mother, the queen, to take the throne and protect her sister. But before Sirena finishes the job, the queen sacrifices her to the alluring Cryptkeeper to bring back summer. Trapped in the underworld, she must do whatever it takes to escape, or she’ll lose her sister—and her crown—forever.
Everyone says the Long-Dead don’t have voices, but they sing to me.
“A new queen there will be,
One without sacrifice,
One who holds grief.”
A shiver unfurls down my spine. Villagers walk the snow-dusted path beyond the temple, hunched against the wind as it rips through threadbare tunics, pushing against the lifeless bodies of loved ones cradled in their arms. They place the dead into the silver pond at the center of the gardens, passing them to the Cryptkeeper who will tend to them in the afterlife.
Soon, I’ll be among them, carrying my younger sister Calantha to the silver shore. The thought fills the hollows in my body until I, too, am dead weight. After the sacrifice brings the summer thaw, our mother, the queen, will have Cal killed—an easy target in her bloody game of succession. The image of Cal dead in my arms turns my stomach. To never hear her laugh, count the stars beneath the summertide sky… I would die with her.
The clock in the village square tolls. I’m running late, but I pause to absorb the grief-twisted faces by the pond. A sharp reminder—Cal will die if the queen does not.
A smile splits my cold-chapped lips. Killing my mother will be a pleasure. She deserves it.