Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online from 4th – 9th October!
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
In second grade, Becky Wallace had to sit in the corner because she refused to write anything except princess stories and fairy tales (and because she talked too much). Her time in isolation gave her plenty of opportunities to dream up the fantasy worlds she’s been dabbling with ever since. She was lucky enough to find her own real-life Prince Charming. They have four munchkins and live in happy little town near Houston, Texas.
Johanna and Rafi are in a race against time to save their country before a power-mad Keeper destroys everything they hold dear in the “enthralling magical world” (Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles) introduced in The Storyspinner.
As the last of the royal line, Johanna is the only person who can heal a magical breach in the wall that separates her kingdom of Santarem from the land of the Keepers, legendary men and women who wield elemental magic. The barrier protects Santarem from those Keepers who might try to take power over mere humans…Keepers who are determined to stop Johanna and seize the wall’s power for themselves.
And they’re not the only ones. As the duchys of Santarem descend into war over the throne, Johanna relies more than ever on the advice of her handsome companion, Lord Rafael DeSilva. But Rafi is a duke too, and his people come first. As their friendship progresses into the beginnings of a tender relationship, Johanna must wonder: is Rafi looking out for her happiness, or does he want the throne for himself?
With war on the horizon, Johanna and Rafi dodge treacherous dukes and Keeper assassins as they race to through the countryside, determined to strengthen the wall before it’s too late…even if it means sacrificing their happiness for the sake of their world.
EXCLUSIVE BONUS CONTENT with a note from Becky
Metal shavings fell onto her face; tiny slivers that she inhaled, stinging her nose and filling it with the overwhelming scent of damp steel. That smell was an improvement considering the stomach-churning muck that covered her boots and dampened her heavy canvas pants.
The sewers beneath the prison weren’t flushed very often. The occupants of these cells, the last in a very long line of closet-sized chambers, didn’t live long enough to complain about the stench anyway. The darkness, the small spaces, the air both cold and damp, took its toll on the inmates in a matter of days, if the guards didn’t get to them first.
The last bolt finally came loose, clinking off the brick-lined tunnel with a reverberating ping before disappearing into the pool of filth. Maribelle froze, holding her breath, listening for the heavy clomp of an approaching guard. But there wasn’t a sound. Not the hiss of a blade being drawn, nor the whisper of shifting material, or the groan of an inmate.
She counted to twenty, forcing her pounding heart to slow and her hands to steady, before slipping her dagger up her sleeve and pushing the heavy grate out of its housing. As far as she could tell, the four closest cells were empty; the prisoners who’d occupied them had been executed the afternoon before. Street thieves all of them, each with the roundness of childhood still on their cheeks.
Maribelle had disguised herself as a baker so she could attend the beheadings and watch for familiar faces among the condemned. None of her fellow rebels had been marched across the platform, but she didn’t feel any relief. Instead her abhorrence for Duke Inimigo peaked and she’d reacted with rash stupidity, taking her anger out on the closest available target.
And someone else was paying for the price of her actions.
The baker whose cart she’d borrowed was a quiet sympathizer. He fed the rebels when he had excess and had allowed her to hide in his storeroom a time or two, but he’d never murdered anyone. That crime stained Maribelle’s hands alone.
One of the nobles—a newly-raised replacement for someone who had displeased Inimigo—had bragged that he’d been robbed of three silver talons by the youngest of the four thieves.
Three silver talons. A pittance. Not even enough to pay for the poison sprinkled bun Maribelle sold to the hook-nosed bastard as he waited for justice to be delivered.
She’d smiled when the noble consumed it in two garish mouthfuls. She’d smirked as she wheeled the cart back to the baker’s shop thinking she’d rid Maringa of one more its high-born leeches. She’d swaggered as she told her friends of this tiny pinprick of victory.
And then she’d cried, privately, when she’d heard of the baker’s arrest.
Her fellow rebels tried to convince her that there was nothing that could be done. In the grand scheme of things, the baker was just one more life lost to Inimigo’s insane craving for control. She’d nodded, agreeing with their logic and accepting their condolences, while her mind ran through dozens of options for freeing the baker. Without any assistance.
It had been her mistake, and it was up to her to right it.
Maribelle knew, without question, that breaking into the prison was ill-advised. That if Inimigo caught her the rebellion would collapse. They needed her, for more than money and leadership. She was their talisman, their rallying cry. People joined The Mudança because Inimigo’s own daughter was at its head.
Crazy stunts like diverting a shipment of freshly cast cannons to one of Inimigo’s enemies, plundering his mistress’s jewelry and distributing it to the poor, and freeing an innocent baker were exactly the reasons she’d earned the people’s loyalty. She’d set herself apart from the duke—a noble who cared for every citizen of Maringa.
The few bright flashes of the rebellion’s success were fading to shadowy smudges in the people’s memories. She needed to do something to keep up the momentum. The baker was her main goal, but if everything went according to her plan, she’d strike a much bigger blow.
But the baker first.
She left the grate open for a quick escape, sliding it across the brick floor without a squeal. The edges were lubricated by whatever filth the guards had pushed through it. She mouthed a silent prayer of gratitude for this one infinitesimal bit of luck in a long series of recent disasters.
The prison was always manned by at least three guards: one at the base of the stairs that led down to the cells and one at the hallway’s midpoint. And if there was one thing Maribelle could say for her father, his soldiers were well trained. They’d be wary and difficult to surprise.
Maribelle was ready for them.