THE LAND OF JOY AND SORROW
Seventeen-year-old Smadar never imagined that a flea-market find would lead her back to a magical world, sung into existence by the race of Elementals. Now its once-glorious cities lie in ruins, overrun by Lord Jogganath's monstrous hordes.
When an ambush leaves Smadar dying, a young mage’s forbidden mantras kindle her life. But beautiful, lethal Halle guards a shameful secret – he’s not a mage or a warrior, but a slave without memories, bound to a vicious master. And Smadar is the coin to buy his freedom. Only she refuses to be bought or sold.
As Jogganath’s power is growing, the pair gets caught in a brutal war, and the severed threads of their destinies entwine, weaving a tale of star-crossed love and ancient betrayal. To ensure a future for her people, Smadar must seek answers in her own past, embracing a destiny extraordinary even in a land of magic and curses.
Smadar glared at the ornate bronze clock by the pier. So Tammy was running forty minutes late. Unusual, but not such a tragedy. She knew her best friend would never miss their monthly bargain hunt in the tightly-packed rows of Trash or Treasure flea market. Some things were sacred.
She tried to ignore a group of girls, who had been staring and snickering at her for the last few minutes. If only people could be fined for staring – the longer the stare, the heavier the fine. She fought the urge to smooth down her black, wind-tangled hair, then shrugged and let it beat around her shoulders, long and thick as afternoon shadows. By now, she should’ve been used to the gawking, but Smadar was ashamed to admit the unwanted attention still bothered her. Over here as well as over there.
Familiar bitterness settled in her chest. And in that moment her whole life seemed so grotesquely, sickeningly unfair.
I wish I was normal, she thought wistfully, or better still, what I was born to be.
The girls giggled louder, and she tugged at the corner of her well-worn, lapis-blue scarf, filled with the need to cover up. The scarf, bright as a blue jay’s wing, warm and soft as a kitten curled up against her chest, had been one of the few reminders of Eden she was allowed to keep, the only splash of color in her black-on-black-on-gray clothes.