Rhia, an apprentice herbalist, is immune to the deadly plague draining her kingdom of magic. When her mentor, the disinherited prince, harnesses her abilities to murder the king and queen and disappear, he leaves Rhia trapped in the castle to atone for a crime she didn’t commit. After years in exile, the prince plots his return. But Rhia won’t be scapegoated again. To earn her freedom, she must discover the source of his power and stop his ascent to the throne–before magic disappears forever.
The Heiligstadt Leaching Cemetery could not bear the burden of another body. The snaggletoothed rows of headstones had grown so rapidly they pressed against the border of wrought iron gates with silent desperation. The youngest plots were so shallow a light rain would reveal the corpses’ grayed fingertips, shriveled hands clawing the air until the flesh melted from their bones.
The new bodies, they burned.
Rhia knelt in the center of the mass of graves, where thickets of dead man’s breath grew in clusters around the headstones; a handful of its crushed petals could revitalize an enervated body. Whispering a prayer to the goddess and any forgotten gods who might be listening in the Otherworld, she placed a freckled brown hand atop each grave in turn, cold knifing into her palms. She thanked the occupants for allowing her to pass through unharmed. Things had to be seen as they were, even horrible things, if she hoped to fix them. And she knew all too well if she didn’t, she would find herself here, in the end: a nameless girl in a kingdom of ancient dynasties, tossed in a shallow pit with all the others who had their dreams and heart and life drained until nothing but gray dust remained.
She could not fail them.