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A heartless monster. An innocent girl. He holds her life in his paws, but she holds his soul in her hands.
Thirteen-year-old Tallie has a strange new power. While experimenting with this power late at night, she is discovered by Mother Kyraisa, the ancient nun who runs the orphanage where Tallie lives. Terrified of something, Mother Kyraisa evacuates the orphanage and burns it to the ground. The pair flees into the desert with only a wagon and a lead-lined coffin to protect the girl from the unspoken danger that pursues her.
With no memories, no heart, or even a name, X is a monster. Fiercest of the Bestials, his predator’s instincts are controlled only by powerful spells binding his life to the regent’s will. When a flash of apostate magic betrays the hiding place of the late queen’s daughter, the regent dispatches X to kill the child—her niece and the long-hidden heir to the throne.
Following the child’s magic, X tracks Tallie to her hiding place. He prepares to kill her, until Tallie surprises him with a sincere request for help.
Tallie’s innocence and trust awaken a small spark of humanity inside X, and he tries to help her. But he remains a monster, bound by instinct and unbreakable oaths. Helping Tallie triggers a ferocious battle, as X fights his primal nature for her life—and his only hope of redemption.
Meanwhile, Tallie grapples with the tragedy of her past and her identity as crown princess. As royal heir, Tallie finds access to immense power—enough to destroy her enemies, but possibly her own soul as well, turning her into a monster far worse than X.
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About the Author
Braden Bell (who writes Young Adult novels under the name Brandon Gray) holds a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his family live on a quiet, wooded lot in Tennessee, where he teaches middle school theatre and music. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys reading, gardening, and long summer afternoons writing in his hammock.