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First pages

One:

Grandmother taught me that silence never goes to waste.

“One need not talk all the time, Echo.” Her voice, rough from age and little use, spoke to me even from the grave. I pictured her rocking in her chair, dispensing her wisdom. For seventeen years I had absorbed everything she had said.

Now, a year after her death, I stood silently in the foyer belonging to a wealthy aristocrat in the city proper of Umon, far from my beloved village of Iskadar. He didn’t wish to pay the agreed upon price, though my sewing did not bear a single mistake. Every stitch resided in its precise spot; the flowering vines along the hem of each tablecloth took my breath away, and a slithering power rose through my throat as I listened to his wife.

“It is beautiful work,” she whispered, her voice vaulting to the ceilings where it rebounded to my ears. “Pay the girl.”

“If I pay her the full amount, we will not have need for the tablecloths,” her husband argued. “I cannot afford the party if I pay full price for these.”

I waited, silent. I inhaled deliberately, the way Oake, my song teacher from Iskadar, had taught me. As if oxygen alone could calm the storm escalating inside. As if air could push out the anger. As if breathing was easy.

But nothing came easy without Grandmother. For magic was a powerful being, formed by two people uniting their voices together. Each sound joining with the other, weaving counterparts and harmonies that tamed their energies into a source of great power. Singing with a bond created a cocoon of magic, where I had felt safe and loved.

But alone, the magic had no stopper and the user no protection. Some people searched for years to find a bond, while others bonded with family members in childhood. Grandmother and I had been bonded as long as I could remember, but death bore a sharp knife that even we couldn’t escape.

I clenched my fists at my sides, pretending I could squeeze back the pain just as easily. Or the magic.

I knew I couldn’t perform a spell-song here, not inside this particular house situated so near the Prince’s palace.

The hope that he’d do the right thing faded as the aristocrat and his wife continued to argue. Helplessness crowded my throat. My sister and I needed the full amount from this job if we had any hope of keeping our modest living quarters in the west tower.

My seamstressing work, while steady, did not provide much money. Olive worked long hours in the market, but sometimes she couldn’t sell her flower arrangements before they wilted. When that happened, we lost wages, lost supplies, lost time, lost hope.

“I am sorry,” the man said, returning to the foyer. His wife didn’t accompany him, though I hadn’t heard her delicate heels click away. I knew she lingered out of sight, and the idea further infuriated me. Magic coursed through me, desperate to be released through songs, and chants, and rhymes. I clenched my teeth to keep it inside.

“We are not satisfied with the work,” he said. “We will only pay half.” He held the lesser payment toward me, but I didn’t move to take it.

“Your wife said it was beautiful work,” I said, finally releasing my voice. Olive often criticized me for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, but I felt sure she would want me to fight for the full payment in this instance. I had found her thirteen months ago, living in a hovel with three other girls. Together, we’d worked hard enough and saved long enough to move into private quarters in the west tower a few months ago.

I would not lose it now, not when the alternative was a room with only three walls, and beds stacked to the ceiling.

My mind raced through the possibly of reclaiming the tablecloths and selling them in the market. How long would that take? Could I get the amount this man had agreed to pay?

Uncertain, I steadfastly shook my head at his still-offered payment. “I must insist you pay the full amount.” The beginnings of a melody to bend his will to mine floated through my mind.

Magic left an imprint, something someone could detect—and possibly trace back to me. I stifled the spell-song, my jaw tightening. I could not release my magic carelessly. I didn’t want to become a magician in the High King’s court. I would not subject my power to the whims of senseless men. “Please.”

He truly looked shamed as he said, “I’m sorry. I cannot.”

A sob worked its way through the contained magic in my body. If I forfeited this income, my sister and I would default on our rent. I remembered her dirty hair, her hollow face, when I found her after I had journeyed from Iskadar. Though we hadn’t bonded magically, as Grandmother had hoped, Olive and I shared a sisterly bond that would not allow me to accept half of this payment. I wouldn’t send her back to that lean-to.

I dug my fingers into my palms, drew a shallow breath, and hummed a charm that would soften his mind, allow me to suggest his actions. The notes barely met my own ears, and I felt certain that even his wife would not hear me. That the imprint I would leave with this simple music would not be noticed by anyone.

Unless that person could detect magicians. I had never met a magician who could sense the power in others, and Oake had not either. But the High King of Nyth seemed to have unlimited resources at his disposal and his magicians had learned—or been forced—to play by different rules.

I exhaled the last notes along with my fear, fury, and desperation, feeling more in control of my emotions when I gave voice to magic. I hadn’t used a spell more advanced than the childhood songs Olive and I once sung while we peeled turnips and planted pole beans. I didn’t truly know what would happen if I performed powerful magic while unbonded, and I wasn’t willing to find out.

“I must have the full amount,” I said in a strong, sure voice. Around me, the rich wallpapers spun, and the light from the elaborate gas-fueled chandelier sharpened into white light as bright as glinting diamonds.

The aristocrat turned without a word and moved on wooden legs into the room where his wife waited. As soon as he left my sight, I reached for the grand piano to steady myself.

Thankfully, I heard no voices and saw no images as the room settled to stillness. Such startling side effects had happened when I had hummed a detection rhyme on my journey to the city. Simple magic, but used without a bond, every note felt like an attack instead of a relief.

A whispered conversation began between the man and woman, and a moment later, he returned. This time, he dropped the full payment into my hands without a word. I disliked the glazed look in his eyes, but I couldn’t dwell on it. He had agreed to the price, and Olive and I desperately needed the income.

I hastily fisted the money, spun in my well-worn shoes, and fled the premises. Outside, the sun beat down on the city, hinting at the promise of a hot summer. Because of my magic usage, the light felt blinding, the heat oppressive.

I stuffed the money into my satchel, cast a glance down the street to the Prince’s palace, and nearly lost my footing on the steps.

A man stalked toward me, his black uniform screaming of his military standing. He had dark hair, Nythinian molasses-colored skin, and a well-placed scowl.

I hurried down the steps, looking over my shoulder when I met the street. I cursed myself as I forced my eyes forward again. I couldn’t appear to be so shifty, like I had broken a law and did not wish to be caught.

Though I had done exactly that. Oake had educated me on the history of Nyth and the High King’s rise to power. He ruled his people through ruthless spell-songs and fear. He had driven the magicians from his land, at least those he couldn’t use for his advantage. Those who couldn’t escape he forced into servitude.

I would not let him take me, nor would I stop my voice from unleashing its full power if I was ever caught. I worked hard to live as inconspicuously as I did, and I increased the speed of my flight in the hopes of maintaining my anonymity and freedom.

I couldn’t believe I had used magic in favor of money. My goal these past thirteen months had been to conceal my powers in a city devoid of magicians, keep the quarters Olive and I had secured, and continue to work hard so we could improve our situation further.

I expected a shout in the northern language of Nyth I still hadn’t learned, or the grip of the soldier’s fingers to clamp around my wrist. I heard only the wheezing of my breath as I flew toward safety.

At the corner, I ducked around the hedge guarding another aristocrat’s beautiful home. I leaned against it, catching my breath and hoping the man was simply militia and not magician.

I gathered my courage and peered around the corner. The man stood at the door of the aristocrat’s home, listening to the noble. From this distance, I couldn’t hear their words, but the soldier looked directly at me. He held my eyes for several long seconds before unclasping his hands and entering the aristocrat’s house.

I didn’t wait for him to emerge, to send his guards after me, to follow me home and arrest me there. I hurried toward the towers located on the eastern side of the walled city.

#

My arrival at the cramped residence I shared with my sister came much earlier than usual. Olive looked up in surprise, and the emotion in her face morphed to fear. “What’s wrong?” She paused in the arrangement of a wedding bouquet. She had secured the job the previous week, but took only half of the commission up front. She had used nearly all the money to buy the flowers she needed for the event, and we had purchased another chicken for our balcony. We now had two, and now we each enjoyed an egg at breakfast every day. I didn’t miss the flatcakes I had been consuming for so many months.

“Nothing’s wrong,” I lied, unwilling to tell my sister about the situation in the nobility sector. She valued my anonymity above all, and she wouldn’t appreciate that I had used song-magic to secure payment.

Frustration skated through her expression, and her fingers pinched too tightly on the rose stems. “What are you doing home, then?” she asked. “Do you not have work to do?”

Looking at my sister, I was once again reminded of Grandmother’s counsel. Sometimes you have words, Echo, that do not need to be said.

I wondered what she would tell me now. She had given no instructions for how to survive in Umon, how to live without singing magic into beauty. Her parting words after giving me a letter for Olive had been, “Do not use your magic near the city. I love you, Echo.”

I had wondered then as I did now how she thought I would use my magic at all without her.

Olive finished the bouquet and moved into our small living room. I stayed rooted to the spot just inside the door, watching her. She gave me an exaggerated sigh—her lead-up to a lecture—as she fiddled with the drapes and adjusted the few trinkets we owned on the shelves.

Olive knew how to make a space beautiful, where to put a vase of flowers so that all would notice it, how to dress a window to get the best light in the winter and keep the sun out in the summer. While I noticed clothing and thread, she remembered people. Their faces, their voices, their tastes.

Her long, earth-colored hair cascaded over her shoulder when she returned to the kitchen and retrieved our lunch from the oven. My stomach yearned for something of substance, but the scent indicated that Olive had made hash—again. She said potatoes stretched our limited supply of beef, but we had run out of meat last week. The thought of choking down dry hash made me ill.

She slammed the oven gloves on the counter. “Tell me what happened.”

I looked at my shoes, my dark braid falling over my shoulder, which provided the answer she sought.

“Echo, tell me you didn’t.” Her voice ghosted between us, heavy with fear. “You cannot use magic here!”

“He was only going to pay half,” I said, still unable to meet her gaze. “I had to do something.”

“Like you had to do something to persuade the coal master?” Desperation tainted her voice, and I appreciated her concern for me.

“Yes, exactly like that.” I finally raised my eyes from the floor. “That spell-song provided us with heat for a week—in the coldest month of the year.”

“Even so,” she said. “I fear for you. You cannot—”
“We would have frozen to death,” I interrupted. “And this song made it possible for us to pay the rent.” I dropped my satchel containing the money on the counter, a river of fire flowing beneath my skin. “Almost.”

“A few extra coins are not worth using your voice.” Her words came from a genuine place of concern.

“This is a lot more than a few coins.” I pinned her with a pointed look. “I will not send you back to that pit.” I moved to the window in the living room while she spoke about the High King and his magician hunters. I’d heard the stories from Oake before coming to the city. Whispered rumors told of hunting parties with magicians gifted with the ability to scent their kind. Stories of orange-eyed magicians who chanted until the trees sharpened their limbs and stabbed holes through the hearts of men.

“It was a simple melody,” I said, tearing my thoughts from Oake. “I barely felt faint.” I sank onto a ragged chair, wishing I could eat and lie down, for though the song had been simple, I didn’ call on my magic often enough to be able to use it without extreme fatigue.

“Echo, please,” Olive said, the fight leaving her body. “What happens when you are caught? I cannot watch you get stripped of all freedoms, hung upside down, and bled out while the High King chants an immortal song to steal your power.”

She moved to sit next to me. “You cannot imagine the horrific things he would do for power like yours. Please.” She held me at arm’s length. “Please do not give voice to another song, no matter how simple.”

How easily we slipped into the roles we had shouldered. Her, my protector, constantly worrying about concealing my power from the Nythinian soldiers. Me, our financial administrator, constantly worrying over whether or not we had the means to maintain our inconspicuous life.

“I want more for you,” I said.

“I simply want you to be safe,” she said. “That is why you came here.”

I thought of Iskadar, of the eight-day journey that had brought me to the city just twenty-four hours after Grandmother’s funeral. Rumors of Nythinian hunting parties had made Oake concerned, and he had all but packed my bag in his encouragement for me to flee to Umon for safety.

“Please,” Olive said again, drawing me into a hug. “No more magic.”

“I will try,” I said.

“That’s not good enough. You simply cannot let everything you think come out of your mouth.” She stood, reclaiming her position over me. “If you won’t do it for yourself, consider the danger you’re causing for me.”

I hung my head. My sister had a special gift to invoke guilt, even if doing so was meant to help. In this case, she was right. “I am sorry, sister.”

“I have few choices.” Grandmother had said Olive had left Iskadar to find someone to bond with, but she never had. She had few skills, and she felt frustrated that she couldn’t provide for herself. She felt as caged in her life as I felt in mine. I was unable to do magic; she was unable to buy enough meat and milk.

There was precious little either of us could do to change our situation, so we stuck together, bonding in a non-magical way, as we worked to make the best life for ourselves, even if it wasn’t the life we truly wanted.

“I understand,” I said. “I won’t use magic again.” The thought seeped like poison into my bloodstream.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two:

Grandmother taught me to evaluate a situation before acting.

“Look and listen first,” she said, her wise eyes noticing details in Oake’s magical puzzles I couldn’t find even after she pointed them out.

And so I looked and I listened whenever I went to the market. Most of the merchants I dealt with for my sewing supplies knew me, and were fair. Still, I didn’t trust them, and we constantly haggled over prices.

My stomach growled at the tantalizing smell of pork kabobs and honeyed carrots. I had left home after choking down as much hash as I could—only a handful of bites. I feared I would faint if I ate nothing, though I’d flirted with the prospect.

I passed the food booths, heading for the notions stall in the back corner of the market. I adored buttons, and lace, and jeweled threads. I allowed myself a few extra minutes to look over all the wares in the booth, before selecting the sensible threads I needed for my work.

“These three,” I said, handing the merchant butter yellow, silver, and coral thread of medium weight. The colors would work well together against the navy fabric the duchess had selected for her new apron.

He glanced at the threads. “Forty.”

My breath stalled in my chest. “Forty?” I repeated. “I paid twenty for this much thread only weeks ago.”

The merchant curled his fingers around my would-be purchase. “Prices have gone up. Heona has increased the importation taxes.”

I looked southward, though I could not see beyond the walls of the market. But the hills rose in the distance, separating Umon from Heona and the ocean. Heona controlled all the ports, something both Umon and Nyth, which lay to the north, paid for dearly.

The Queen who ruled in Heona did not know magic, but was a master in economics. Oake insisted I keep up with the movement of rulers and their philosophies, claiming that a magician living in our uncertain times, and in a country stuck between two others, needed to know whom she could trust.

And right now, I couldn’t even depend on the price of thread to be stable. I looked at him helplessly, then focused on the materials I needed. “What can I get for twenty?”

He considered the spools and held up the silver thread with a question in his eyes.

I couldn’t monogram the duchess’s apron in a single color. I’d never get hired again. I thought about the funds we still needed for rent, how bare the pantry had been, how Olive needed additional flowers to complete her arrangements.

I looked over my shoulder, remembering my promise to my sister. Worry seethed inside my bones. Frustration built into a lump in my throat, one I could not swallow away. The market lay in the center of the city, filled with people. My simple persuasion rhyme would not be noticed.

Yet I stalled. I didn’t wish to take what I couldn’t pay for, but stitching the dutchess’s apron in monotone simply would not do. I would suffer for this mistake for years, something I couldn’t afford. The merchant could—and I vowed to make up the difference over time.

So I opened my mouth as if to speak, barely giving sound to the spell-song. I felt my power rush out of me, and I quickly stoppered it. My magic buzzed beneath my skin, making me itch.

The merchant took a step backward, his fingers releasing the thread. He studied me with blank eyes. I blinked and his face twisted, flickered, and became someone else’s.

My father’s face.

His kind eyes and gentle smile I had seen hundreds of times in the only portrait of him that Grandmother owned. Never in person, as he had died when I was just four days old.

He couldn’t be here, now, in the marketplace of Umon. I couldn’t draw a proper breath as the merchant spoke with a voice not his own.

I closed my eyes, forcing reason into my mind. When I looked again, the merchant had morphed back into himself. Familiar ginger beard; watchful hazel eyes.

“Twenty?” he offered. My spell-song had worked. The thought brought me little comfort. I paid what he asked as my magic cleared from his eyes. I caught the distrustful look he gave me when he saw the lesser amount in his hand, and I quickly turned from the notions stall.

Fear escalated through me as I navigated the crowd. I needed to get away from the merchant before he called for the guards. I needed to escape from the press of all these people, get out from behind this city’s walls. My legs shook with every step, and each face I saw bore my father’s midnight eyes.

I tried to erase his image from my mind, but it wouldn’t go. My power writhed within me, and I worried that my footprints would shine with magic, that I might not make it home without fainting.

I stumbled and collided with someone, who steadied me with an iron grip. “Are you well?” a man asked, but I dared not seek his face. I didn’t wish to see my father in him, could not bear another hallucination from my foolish use of singing spells while unbonded.

I leaned on the stranger for a mere moment, though I wanted to clutch him until the earth settled and people wore their own skin. “I am well.”

The man released me, and I chanced to look at him. A sigh of relief escaped my lips when I didn’t see my father’s face. But horror snaked through me when I recognized the Nythinian soldier who had entered the aristocrat’s house immediately after I had left.

“You should head home and rest.” His words curled with the slightest of accents. His eyes were the color of murky water; his hair dark and short. This time, he didn’t wear a scowl, but a watchful glint in his eye, like he knew something I didn’t.

Anger rushed through my head. “Don’t tell me what to do.” I turned and melted into the crowd before he could respond. I felt spent as the fury faded, and walking became a chore after only a few minutes. I leaned against the outer wall of the market to catch my breath. I didn’t believe this particular soldier’s presence at the market was a mere coincidence. How much he knew about me, I couldn’t fathom. But he certainly knew something.

#

When the merchants began closing their shops, I eased into the flow of people leaving the square, taking care to stay out of sight of any soldiers. I dreaded returning to the apartment, where I faced another argument with Olive.

A thunderous crash ripped my thoughts from what excuses I could provide for my sister. A jolt of magic froze me to the path, and the magically purchased thread fell from my loose fingers.

“No,” I whispered, but the power I kept carefully contained did not obey my command. A strange grinding noise tore from my throat as I tried to stop the song-spell from joining the escalating storm.

But a note burst from my mouth as an arc of blue light whipped above my head into the atmosphere. It cackled with the other magic already formed, and as the magicians calling up the storm continued their songs, the sky foamed with dark clouds.

I silenced my voice and sucked in a breath, remembering Oake’s teachings. He had warned me never to underestimate the power of proper breathing when working magic. But I didn’t want to work with magic right now. I slowly backed into the wall as the evening sky flashed cyan and then violet. White lightning lit the rooftops. The magic-spun storm clouds seeped a magenta glow, and a voice that shook the fragile earth under my feet boomed like thunder.

The magic in my body responded to the arches clawing into the sky. I suppressed the urge to stride through the streets, find the magicians producing this storm, and twine my voice with theirs.

My deep breathing did nothing. The pulsing in my gut sped; the need to release my power built toward a crescendo that I feared would have to be satisfied.

Voices rained from the sky, bellowed in the language of the northern kingdom of Nyth. I didn’t understand a word, just like I did not understand why the High King had unseated our king. Or how he had stayed only long enough to introduce his soldiers to our streets. I did not understand why he sent his son to control affairs in Umon, just like I couldn’t comprehend enslaving magicians simply to produce colorful storms.

But it didn’t matter what I didn’t understand. The tingle of magic reached my fingertips, and I turned quickly down an alley that led to the tight circle of towers in the eastern sector. I couldn’t stay in the street where the imprint of my magic now existed.

Too many questions would be asked, questions I couldn’t answer. I ducked my head and forced my feet to move faster over the rivuleting paths. I needed shelter, not only from the storm but from myself. Every second outside in the magic urged me to release my power to the skies.

If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to lie this time. And if I cannot lie, I’ll— I cut off the thought, refusing to imagine what songs I would sing to escape. Olive had been quite detailed about what the High King did to his magicians to coerce them to obey his will. I’d become just as vile as he if I used my magic to inflict pain.

“This way,” a man’s voice said, the sound emerging from the stones of the surrounding buildings. His words curled with a Nythinian accent. I faltered, my pulse and my magic pounding. Had he seen me release my magic? Heard my voice?

At the corner, a man gestured to me, his face cloaked by a hood. I continued forward, my steps sure, but my mind screamed at me: Wait!

At the corner, he linked his arm through mine, turned his face away before I could identify him, and steered me down an unfamiliar side street. I yanked my arm out of his grip, but kept moving, anxious to put as much distance between myself and the magical imprint I’d left in the market.

“Who are you?” I hissed out of the corner of my mouth. “Why are you helping me?”

The man walked faster. After a few minutes, we emerged into the quad across from my tower. He delivered me to the door just as the clouds turned from magenta to black. “You should not be out in such a storm.”

“Neither should you,” I replied.

I couldn’t see the man’s face, but I felt him smile beneath the darkness of his hood. “Until next time.” He bowed his face against the wind and started across the street.

Next time? I stood in the protective archway of my tower and watched him. He continued across the quad to the neighboring tower, where he ducked into the second doorway. As he did, his hood blew back, revealing his face. A face I knew well.

I didn’t know this man’s name, but I’d first seen him marching toward me as I left an aristocrat’s house just this morning. He’d broken my hallucinations in the market this very afternoon. I couldn’t comprehend why he had given me yet another pass.

Amid a tremendous clap of thunder, I spun and shoved open the door to my tower. By the time I passed the sixth floor, my heart pounded more from exertion than fear. Still, I knew that man was watching my building.

I wondered how long his silence had bought me the simple life I’d led in Umon. Because he must know what I was, what I could do. Surely his job was to find and arrest the magicians in the city, but he hadn’t taken me. As I continued climbing, my footsteps in the stairwell rang with a single question: Why not me?

#

Olive sat in the stuffed chair, her fingers working flowers into beautiful centerpieces. “I need more flowers,” she said, which did nothing to soothe my financial worries. I escaped her questioning eyes in favor of our bedroom, where I unwound my scarf and dropped it to our dresser. From the twenty-third floor of the tower, I could see across the city, past the wall, and into the surrounding land. The thick sky bled to the ground, but the northern mountains that separated Nyth from Umon still appeared darker than everything else.

Rain pelted against the glass, needling the window the way confusion pricked my mind. The High King from Nyth had only stayed in Umon for a few weeks, and he was gone by the time I had arrived in the city. His soldiers kept the peace, and his magicians took orders from his son, the Prince, who had arrived a week after me. I wondered why he needed the cover of darkness tonight, why he would waste his magician’s talent to conjure such an annoying storm.

The sound of knocking penetrated my thoughts. I turned to answer the door. I snatched an apple off the counter along the way and polished the skin with my thumb.

Five soldiers stood in the hall, their hats ramrod straight, their black-gloved fingers clenched into fists at their sides. The apple fell from my hands. I tore my eyes from the unsmiling faces of the guards to watch the fruit roll in slow motion across the uneven floor.

A guard spoke in the swirling, vibrant language of Nyth. I caught “king” and something that might be translated to “wet.”

“We don’t wish any trouble,” I said, cursing my stumbling tongue. My language sounded so harsh against their lilting words. I scanned the guards, and when my gaze landed on that oh-so-familiar face, I stifled a cry of recognition as I took the tiniest step backward.

Had he delivered me to the safety of my tower, only to gather his soldiers and arrest me?

Now, as before, his green-brown eyes searched mine, and they seemed to hold a message. I couldn’t quite decipher it, but I did my best to regain my composure and tear my gaze from his. I felt it important not to give him away, to repay the multiple favors he’d given me.

“It is time,” he said, which made about as much sense as his Nythinian words. “Perhaps you’d like a cloak. It’s raining outside.”

My feet moved to the kitchen table where I’d left my cloak, my power building toward a peak I must release at exactly the right moment.

Olive stood near the stuffed chair, her fingers now worrying around each other. She shook her head, but I wouldn’t simply accompany these soldiers to my imprisonment—or my death.

With trembling hands, I pulled the hood over my hair and turned. Before anyone could so much as blink, I unleashed my voice, belting a powerful, high note that sent the five soldiers away from me.

The door slammed closed as I changed the music into a spell-song to bewitch objects. The lock slid into position even as my vision blurred and then became crowded with silver starbursts.

I cut off the note still flying from my throat. My knees met the floor, though I tried desperately to stand. I needed to get to the window in our bedroom, climb out, and use the fire chute to escape from the soldiers. “Olive.” The name came out as a moan. She helped me stand just as the sound of singing came from the hallway. “We must fly.”

I stumbled with unseeing eyes, hands outstretched, toward the back of the apartment. A voice came through the haze in my head. Low and insistent, it sounded like a woman.

Grandmother. The thought came unbidden, and sourness accompanied the vertigo cascading through my core. Grandmother couldn’t work her half of the spells from the other side of death, no matter how much I wished it.

The apartment door crashed; the tenor singing became louder. My vision cleared enough for me to see the depth of the storm beyond the glass as I fumbled with the lock on the window.

I had just gotten the window open when a soldier barked a Nythinian order. I sang an old chant Grandmother had woven for me, a song to make a man fall into a deep sleep.

“Not endless,” she had admonished when I’d asked. “We do not use our power to harm permanently. Remember that, Echo.”

Right now, though, to get away from these armed guards, I couldn’t restrain my power. The guard at the door slumped to the floor as if dead, and Olive cried out. “Hurry, Echo,” she said. “I will hold them as long as I can.” She secured the bedroom door as I flung my legs onto the platform outside the window.

 


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Elana Johnson is a hybrid author of many YA novels and adult romance novels. Her next YA sci-fi series, The Rift Walkers series which includes RIFT (Fall 2016) and MEND (Spring 2017), will be published by Jolly Fish Press. She writes inspirational romance under the pen name Liz Isaacson, and her debut contemporary romance series, the Redwood Bay series, will be published by Cleis Press beginning in 2016. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
A.
I love interacting with readers! The best place to do that is on Facebook or twitter. But really Facebook. (<<Icons right over there...)
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
The hardest part, for me, of writing any speculative fiction novel is building the world. How does the magic work? Who can use it? What technology is available? What's the cost of it? I had these same issues with Echoes of Silence, but after several rounds of edits, I finally figured things out.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
I love fantasy and science fiction because I can escape from the realities of this world. I love lush landscapes and experiencing other worlds, which makes reading and writing speculative fiction a joy.

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