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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Book Review: King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King's Cage (Red Queen #3) by Victoria Aveyard 
Genre: Young Adult (Dystopian/Science Fiction/Romance)
Date Published: February 7, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

King's Cage is the third book in the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. I don't know what my deal is, but I just can't seem to get into these books the way I expected and still want to. The action moments are quick and grab my attention with all that's going on, but there is so much down time with discussions of everything they plan to do and how they're going to do it, and I find myself zoning out. Also, we're getting multiple point of views now. Why? The first two books gave us only Mare's point of view. Now, we're suddenly getting perspectives from other characters. It wasn't necessary..and hmmm. It just rings too close to Allegiant. The characters interest me. Mare has grown on me since book one. I'm still waiting for Cal to come into his own. He seems to be floundering. Lastly, Maven keeps me intrigued in this morbid way. So, I'm curious to see how everything falls into place for them, and part of me wants to read the next book when it comes out. On the other hand, these books are pretty long, and that's a lot of time put into something I'm not completely enjoying. I'm on the fence, but don't go by me. These books have quite a following, and there's a lot to enjoy about them. So, they may be right up your alley.

The so-called “lightning alert” echoes through the main floor of Irabelle, up and down the scaffolded landings, back and forth between passages. Runners go out, seeking those of us deemed important enough to get updates on Mare. Usually I’m not a priority. No one drags me down to be debriefed with the rest of her club. The kids find me later on, at work, and hand me a paper detailing whatever snippets the Guard spies gathered on precious Barrow’s cell time. Useless stuff. What she ate, her guard rotation, that kind of thing. But today the runner, a little girl with slick, straight black hair and russet skin, tugs on my arm.

“Lightning alert, Miss Cole. Come with me,” she says, adamant and cloying.

I want to snap that my priority is to get the heat working in my barracks, not find out how many times Mare used the bathroom today, but her sweet face stops the impulse. Farley must’ve sent the cutest bleeding kid in the base. Damn her.

“All right, I’ll go,” I huff, tossing my tools back into their case. When she takes my hand, I’m reminded of Morrey. He’s shorter than I am, and back when we were kids working the assembly line, he used to hold my hand when the noisy machines frightened him. But this little girl shows no signs of fear.

She pulls me through curling passages, proud of herself for knowing which way to go. I frown at the red scrap tied around her wrist. She’s too young to be oathed to rebels, let alone living in their tactical headquarters. But then, I was sent to work when I was five, sorting scrap from the junk piles. She’s twice that age.

I open my mouth to ask what brought her here, but think better of it. Her parents, obviously, either by their life’s choices or their life’s ending. I wonder where they might be. Just like I wonder about mine.

Passages 4 and 5 and Sub 7 need wire stripping. Barracks A needs heat. I repeat the always-growing list of tasks to dull the sudden pain. My own parents fade from my thoughts as I push away their faces. Daddy driving a transport truck, his hands sure as ever on the wheel. Mama in the factory alongside me, quicker than I’ll ever be. She was sick when we left, her hair thinning while her dark skin seemed to gray. I almost choke on the memory. Both of them are out of my reach. But Morrey isn’t. Morrey I can get to.

Passages 4 and 5 and Sub 7 need wire stripping. Barracks A needs heat. Morrey Cole needs to be saved.

We reach the passage to central control the same time Kilorn does. His own runner trails behind, sprinting to keep up with the lanky boy tearing around the corner. Kilorn must have been topside, out in the frozen air of oncoming winter. His cheeks bloom red from the cold. As he walks, he pulls off a knit hat, upending uneven tawny locks.

“Cam.” He nods at me, stopping where our paths cross. He vibrates with fear, eyes vividly green in the fluorescent lights of the passage. “Any ideas?”

I shrug. I know less than anyone where Mare is concerned. I don’t even know why they bother to keep me in the loop. Probably to make me feel included. Everyone knows I don’t want to be here, but I have nowhere else to go. Not back to New Town, not to the Choke. I’m stuck.

“None,” I reply.

Kilorn glances back at his runner, offering a smile. “Thanks,” he says, kindly dismissive. The kid takes a hint, turning away with relief. I do the same to mine, gesturing with a bob of my head and a grateful smile. She takes off in the other direction, disappearing around a bend.

“Starting them young,” I can’t help but whisper under my breath.

“Not as young as we were,” Kilorn replies.

I frown. “True.”

In the past month or so, I’ve learned enough about Kilorn to know I can trust him as much anyone down here. Our lives are similar. He started apprenticing at a young age, and, like me, he had the luxury of a job to keep him from conscription. Until the rules changed on us both, and we ended up pulled into the lightning girl’s orbit. Kilorn would argue that his presence here is by choice, but I know better. He was Mare’s best friend, and he followed her into the Scarlet Guard. Now blind stubbornness—not to mention his fugitive status—keeps him here.

“But we weren’t indoctrinated into something, Kilorn,” I continue, hesitating to take the next few steps. The control-room guards wait a few yards away, silent in their duties at the door. They’re watching us both. I don’t like the feeling.

Kilorn offers a strange, sad twitch of a smile. His eyes lower to my tattooed neck, where I am permanently marked with my profession and place. The black ink stands out, even against my dark skin. “Yes, we were, Cam,” he says quietly. “Come on.”

He slips an arm around my shoulders, moving us both forward. The guards stand aside, letting us pass through the door.

This time, the control room is more crowded than I’ve ever seen. Every technician sits in rapt attention, their focus on the several screens at the front of the room. Each displays the same thing: the Burning Crown, the emblem of Norta, its flames of red, black, and silver. Usually the symbol bookends official broadcasts, and I assume I’m about to be subjected to the latest message from King Maven’s regime. I’m not the only one to think so.

“We might see her,” Kilorn breathes, his voice tempered by equal parts longing and fear. On-screen, the image jumps a little. Frozen, paused. “What are we waiting for?”

“More like who,” I reply, casting a look about the room. As far as I can see, Cal is here already, stoically folded at the back of the room, keeping his distance from everyone. He feels me watching, but doesn’t do much more than nod.

To my dismay, Kilorn waves him over. After a second of hesitation, Cal complies, moving gently through the room as it crowds full. For whatever reason, this lightning alert has drawn many to control, all of them as on edge as Kilorn. Most of them I don’t recognize, but a few newbloods join the mix. I spot Rash and Tahir at their usual position, seated with their radio equipment, while Nanny and Ada stick close together. Like Cal, they occupy the back wall, reluctant to draw any attention to themselves. As the prince gets closer, Red officers all but jump out of his way. He pretends to ignore it.

Cal and Kilorn trade weak smiles. Their usual rivalry is long gone, but replaced by trepidation.

“Wish the Colonel would move his ass a little faster,” a voice says on my right.

I turn to see Farley sidle up to us, doing her best to remain inconspicuous despite her belly. It’s mostly hidden by her large jacket, but it’s hard to keep secrets in a place like this. She’s close to four months and doesn’t care who knows. Even now, she balances a plate of fried potatoes in one hand, a fork in the other.

“Cameron, boys,” she adds, nodding at us in turn. I do the same, as does Kilorn. She gives Cal a mock salute with her fork, and he barely grunts a response. His jaw clenches so tightly his teeth might shatter.

“Thought the Colonel slept in here,” I reply, fixing my gaze on the screen. “Typical. The one time we need him around.”

Any other day, I would wonder if his absence was a ploy. Maybe to let us know who’s in charge. As if any of us could forget. Even next to Cal, a Silver prince and general, or a host of newbloods with a terrifying array of abilities, he somehow manages to hold all the cards. Because here, in the Scarlet Guard, in this world, information is more important than anything, and he’s the only one who knows enough to keep control of us all.

I can respect that. Parts of a machine don’t need to know what the other pieces are doing. But I’m not just a gear. Not anymore.

The Colonel enters, flanked by Mare’s brothers. Still no sign of her parents, who remain stowed away somewhere, alongside her sister with the dark red hair. I thought I saw her once, a smart, quick thing darting through the mess hall, but I never got close enough to ask. I’ve heard rumors, of course. Whispers from the other technicians and soldiers. A Security officer crushed the girl’s foot, forcing Mare to beg at the summer palace. Or something like that. I have a feeling that asking Kilorn for the real story would be inconsiderate.

The control center turns to watch for the Colonel, eager for him to start whatever we’re here to see. So we react together, stifling gasps or surprised expressions when another Silver follows the Colonel into the already-crowded room.

Every time I see him, I want to hate him. He was the reason Mare forced me to join her, forced me to return to my prison, forced me to kill, forced others to die so this insignificant dry twig of a man could live. But those choices weren’t his. He was a prisoner as much as I was, doomed to the cells of Corros and the slow, crushing death of Silent Stone. It’s not his fault the lightning girl loves him, and he must bear the curse that love brings with it.

Julian Jacos does not shrink against the back wall with the newbloods, and he doesn’t take the spot next to his nephew Cal either. Instead, he keeps close to the Colonel, allowing the crowd to part so that he might see this broadcast as best he can. I focus on his shoulders as he settles into place. His posture reeks of Silver decadence. Straight-backed, perfect. Even in the hand-me-down uniform, faded by use, with gray in his hair and the pallid, cold look we all take on underground, there’s no denying what he is. Others share my sentiments. The soldiers around him touch their holstered guns, keeping one eye on the Silver man. The rumors are more pointed where is he concerned. He’s Cal’s uncle, a dead queen’s brother, Mare’s old tutor. Woven into our ranks like a thread of steel among wool. Embedded, but dangerous and easily pulled free.

They say he can control a man with his voice and his eyes. Like the queen could. Like many still can.

One more person I will never, ever turn my back on. It’s a long list.

“Let’s see it,” the Colonel barks, cutting off the low murmur born of Julian’s presence. The screens respond in kind, jittering into motion.

No one speaks, and the sight of King Maven’s face cuts through us all.

He beckons from that hulking throne, deep in the heart of the Silver court, eyes wide and inviting. I know he’s a snake, so I can ignore his well-chosen disguise. But I imagine most of the country cannot see through the mask of a young boy called to greatness, dutifully doing what he can for a kingdom on the edge of chaos. He’s good-looking. Not broad like Cal, but finely shaped, a sculpture of sweeping cheekbones and glossy black hair. Beautiful, not handsome. I hear someone scratching notes, probably recording everything on-screen. Allowing the rest of us to watch unfettered, focused only on what horror Maven is about to perform.

He leans forward, one hand extended, as he stands to call someone to him.

“Come forward, Mare.”

The cameras turn, revolving smoothly to show Mare standing before the king. I expected rags, but instead she wears finery I could never dream of. Every inch of her is covered in bloodred gemstones and embroidered silk. It all shimmers as she walks down a grand aisle parting the crowd of Silvers assembled for whatever this is. No more collar, no more leash. Again I see through the mask. Again I hope the kingdom does too—but how can they? They don’t know her like we do. They don’t see the shadows in her dark eyes, flickering with every step. Her hollow cheeks. The purse of her lips. The twitching fingers. A tightening jaw. And that’s only what I notice. Who knows what Cal or Kilorn or her brothers can see in the lightning girl?

The dress covers her from just below her neck to wrist and ankle. Probably to hide bruises, scars, and the brand she bears from the king. It’s not a dress at all, but a costume.

I’m not the only one to suck in a breath of fear when she reaches the king. He takes her hand in his, and she hesitates to close her fingers. Only a fraction of a second, but enough to cement what we already know. This is not her choice. Or if it is, the alternative was much, much worse.

A current of heat ripples on the air. Kilorn does his best to sidle away from Cal without drawing attention, bumping into me. I make room as best I can. No one wants to be too close to the fire prince if things go south.

Maven does not have to gesture. Mare knows him and his schemes well enough to understand what he wants from her. The camera image pulls back as she moves to the right of his throne. What we see now is a display of ultimate strength. Evangeline Samos, the king’s betrothed, a future queen in power and appearance, on one side, with the lightning girl on the other. Silver and Red.

Other nobles, the greatest of the High Houses, stand in assembly on the dais. Names and faces I don’t know, but I’m sure many here do. Generals, diplomats, warriors, advisers. Every one of them dedicated to our complete annihilation.

The king takes his throne again, slowly, eyes locked deep into the camera, and so into us.

“Before I say anything else, before I begin this speech”—he gestures, confident and almost charming—“I want to thank the fighting men and women, Silver and Red, who serve to protect our borders, who are currently defending us from enemies outside this nation, and the enemies within. To the soldiers of Corvium, the loyal warriors resisting the constant and deplorable terrorist attacks of the Scarlet Guard, I salute you, and I am with you.”

“Liar,” someone snarls in the room, but they’re quickly hushed.

On-screen, Mare looks like she shares the sentiment. She does her best not to twitch or let her face betray her emotions. It works. Almost. A flush creeps up her neck, partially hidden by her high collar. Not high enough. Maven would have to put a bag over her head to hide her feelings.

“In recent days, after much deliberation with my council and the courts of Norta, Mare Barrow of the Stilts was sentenced for her crimes against this kingdom. She stood accused of murder and terrorism, and we believed her to be the worst of the rats gnawing at our roots.” Maven glances up at her, face still and focused. How many times he’s practiced this, I don’t want to know. “Her punishment was to face a lifetime in prison, after first being interrogated by my own cousins of House Merandus.”

At the king’s bidding, a man in dark blue steps forward. He comes within inches of Mare, close enough to brush a hand against whatever part of her he chose. She freezes in place, snapping every centimeter still to keep from flinching.

“I am Samson of House Merandus, and I performed the interrogation of Mare Barrow.”

Ahead of me, Julian raises a hand to his mouth. The only indication of how affected he is.

“As a whisper, my ability allows me to bypass the usual lies and twists of speech that most prisoners rely on. So when Mare Barrow told us the truth of the Scarlet Guard and its horrors, I confess I did not believe her. I testify here, on record, that I was wrong to doubt her. What I saw in her memories was painful and chilling.”

Another round of whispers through the room, another round of hushing. The tension is still palpable, though, as well as the confusion. The Colonel straightens, arms crossed. I’m sure they’re all thinking on their sins, and what this Samson fool could be rattling on about. On one side, Farley taps her fork against her lip, eyes narrowed. She curses under her breath, but I can’t ask why.

Mare lifts her chin, looking like she might vomit on the king’s boots. I bet she wants to.

“I went to the Scarlet Guard willingly,” she says. “They told me my brother had been executed while serving in the legions, for a crime he did not commit.” Her voice cracks at the mention of Shade. Next to me, Farley’s breath quickens and her hand curls over her stomach. “They asked if I wanted vengeance for his death. I did. So I swore my allegiance to their cause, and I was placed as a servant inside the royal residence at the Hall of the Sun.

“I came to the palace as a Red spy, but even I did not know I was something else entirely. During the right of Queenstrial, I discovered I somehow possessed electrical ability. After consultation, the late King Tiberias and Queen Elara decided to take me in, to quietly study what I was and, hopefully, teach me what my ability could become. They disguised me as a Silver to protect me. They rightfully knew that a Red with an ability would be considered a freak at best, an abomination at worst, and they hid my identity to keep me safe from the prejudices of both Red and Silver. My blood status was known to a few, Maven included, as well as Ca—Prince Tiberias.

“But the Scarlet Guard discovered what I was. They threatened to expose me publicly, both to ruin the credibility of the king and to put me in danger. I was forced to serve them as a spy, to follow their orders, and to facilitate their infiltration of the king’s court.”

The next outcry from the room is louder, and not easily put down.

“This is some impressive bullshit,” Kilorn growls.

“My ultimate mission was to gain Silver allies for the Scarlet Guard. I was instructed to target Prince Tiberias, a cunning warrior and the heir to the throne of Norta. He was . . .” She hesitates, her eyes boring into ours. They shift back and forth, searching. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Cal lower his head. “He was easily convinced. Once I figured out how to convince him, I also aided the Scarlet Guard in their plans for the Sun Shooting, which left eleven dead, and the bombing of the Bridge of Archeon.

“When Prince Tiberias killed his father, King Maven acted swiftly, making the only choice he thought he could,” her voice warbles. Next to her, Maven does his best to look sad at the mention of his murdered father. “He was grieving, and we were sentenced to execution in the arena. We escaped with our lives only because of the Scarlet Guard. They took us both to an island stronghold off the Nortan coast.

“I was held prisoner there, as were Prince Tiberias and, I discovered, the brother I thought I’d lost. Like me, he had an ability, and like me, he was feared by the Scarlet Guard. They intended to kill us, the ones they call newbloods. When I discovered that others like me existed, and the Scarlet Guard was hunting them down to exterminate them, I managed to escape with my brother and a few others. Prince Tiberias came with us. I know now that he intended to build himself an army to challenge his brother. After a few months, the Scarlet Guard caught up with us all, and they killed the few abilitied Reds we were able to find. My brother was murdered in the conflict, but I escaped alone.”

For once, the heat in the room isn’t coming from Cal. Everyone boils with rage. This isn’t Mare. These aren’t her words. But still I feel anger as much as the rest. How can she even let this out of her mouth? I’d spit blood before speaking Maven’s lies. But what choice does she have?

“With nowhere else to go, I turned myself in to King Maven and whatever justice he saw to give me.” Her resolve breaks piece by piece, until tears course down her cheeks. I’m ashamed to say they help her little speech more than anything else. “I stand here now a willing prisoner. I am sorry for what I’ve done, but I am ready to do whatever I can to stop the Scarlet Guard and their terrifying hope for the future. They stand for no one but themselves and the people they can control. They kill everyone else, everyone who stands in their way. Everyone who is different.”

The last words stick, refusing to come out. On the throne, Maven sits still, but his throat works a little. Emitting a noise the camera cannot hear, urging her to finish as he demands.

Mare Barrow raises her chin and glares forward. Her eyes seem black with rage. “We, the newbloods, are not fit for their dawn.”

Shouts and protests erupt through the room, hurling obscenities at Maven, at the Merandus whisper, even at the lightning girl for speaking the words.

“—vile beast of a king—”

“—would rather kill myself than say—”

“—barely a puppet—”

“—traitor, plain and simple—”

“—not her first time singing their song—”

Kilorn is the first to break, both hands curling into fists. “You think she wanted to do this?” he says, his voice loud enough to carry, but not harsh. His face reddens with frustration, and Cal puts a hand on his shoulder, standing with him. It silences more than a few, particularly the younger officers. They look embarrassed, apologetic, even, shamed by the reprimand of an eighteen-year-old boy.

“Quiet, all of you!” the Colonel rumbles, shutting up the rest. He turns once to glare with his mismatched eyes. “The brat is still speaking.”

“Colonel . . . ,” Cal growls. His tone is a threat plain as day.

In reply, the Colonel points on-screen. At Maven, not Mare.

“. . . offer refuge to any fleeing the terror of the Scarlet Guard. And to the newbloods among you, hiding from what seems to be little more than genocide, my own doors are open. I have instructed the royal palaces of Archeon, Harbor Bay, Delphie, and Summerton, as well as the military forts of Norta, to protect your kind from slaughter. You will have food, shelter, and, if you wish it, training for your abilities. You are my subjects to protect, and I will do it with every resource I have to give. Mare Barrow is not the first of you to join us, and she will not be the last.” He has the smug audacity to lay a hand on her arm.

So this is how barely more than a boy becomes a king. He’s not only ruthless and remorseless, but just plain brilliant. If not for the rage curling in me, I would be impressed. His ploy will cause problems for the Guard, of course. Personally, I’m more concerned with the newbloods still out there. We were recruited to Mare and her rebellion with little choice in the matter. Now there’s even less. The Guard or the King. Both see us as weapons. Both will get us killed. But only one will keep us in chains.

I glance over my shoulder, seeking out Ada. Her eyes are glued to the screen, effortlessly memorizing every tick and inflection to be scrutinized later. Like me, she frowns, thinking about the deeper worry no member of the Scarlet Guard has yet. What will happen to the people like us?

“To the Scarlet Guard, I say only this,” Maven adds, standing up from his throne. “Your dawn is little more than darkness, and it will never take this country. We fight to the last. Strength and power.”

On the dais, and across the rest of the throne room, the chant echoes from every mouth. Including Mare’s. “Strength and power.”

The image holds for a second, burning the sight into every brain. Red and Silver, the lightning girl and King Maven, united against the great evil they’ve made us out to be. I know it isn’t Mare’s choice, but it is her fault. Didn’t she realize he would use her if he didn’t kill her?

She didn’t think he would do it. Cal said that before, about her interrogation. They are both weak where Maven is concerned, and that weakness continues to plague us all.

Back at the Notch, Mare did her best to school me in my ability. I practice here when I can, together with the other newbloods learning their limits. Cal and Julian Jacos attempt to help, but I and many others are loath to trust their tutelage. Besides, I’ve found someone else to help me.

I know my ability has grown in strength, if not control. I feel it now, prodding beneath my skin, a blissful emptiness to still the chaos around me. It begs, and I clench a fist against it, keeping the silence back. I can’t turn my anger on the people in this room. They aren’t the enemy.

When the screen cuts to black, signaling the end of the address, a dozen voices sound at once. Cal’s palm slams against the desk in front of him, and he turns, muttering to himself.

“I’ve seen enough,” I think he says before he pushes his way out of the room. Stupid. He knows his own brother. He can dissect Maven’s words better than any of us.

The Colonel knows it too. “Get him back here,” he says under his breath, leaning in to speak to Julian. The Silver nods, moving smoothly to retrieve his nephew. Many stop talking to watch him go.

“Captain Farley, your thoughts?” the Colonel says, his sharp voice drawing attention back where it belongs. He crosses his arms and turns to face his daughter.

Farley snaps to focus, seemingly unaffected by the speech. She swallows a bite of potato. “The natural response would be a broadcast of our own. Refuting Maven’s claims, showing the country who we saved.”

Using us as propaganda. Doing exactly what Maven is doing to Mare. My stomach tightens at the thought of being shoved in front of a camera, forced to sing the praises of the people I barely tolerate and cannot fully trust.

Her father nods. “I agree—”

“But I don’t think that’s the right course of action.”

The Colonel raises the brow of his ruined eye.

She takes it as an invitation to continue. “It’ll just be words. Nothing of use in the end, in the scheme of what’s going on.” Her fingers tap against her lips, and I can almost see the wheels turning in her head. “I think we keep Maven talking, while we keep on doing. Already our infiltration of Corvium is placing strain on the king. See how he singled out the city? Its military? He’s bolstering morale. Why do that if they don’t need it?”

At the back of the room, Julian returns, one hand on Cal’s shoulder. They’re of the same height, though Cal looks about fifty pounds heavier than his uncle. Corros Prison certainly took as much of a toll on Julian as it did the rest of us.

“We have a good deal of information regarding Corvium,” Farley adds. “And its importance to Nortan military, not to mention Silver morale, makes it the perfect place.”

“For what?” I hear myself ask, surprising everyone in the room, myself included.

Farley is good enough to address me directly. “The first assault. The Scarlet Guard’s official declaration of war against the king of Norta.”

A strangled sort of yelp erupts from Cal, not the kind anyone would expect from a prince and soldier. His face pales, eyes wide with what can only be fear. “Corvium is a fortress. A city built with the sole purpose of surviving a war. There are a thousand Silver officers in there, soldiers trained to—”

“To organize. To fight Lakelanders. To stand behind a trench and mark places on a map,” Farley fires back. “Tell me I’m wrong, Cal. Tell me your kind is prepared to fight inside its own walls.”

The glare he levels at her would cut through anyone else, but Farley stands firm. If anything, she strengthens in her opposition.

“It’s suicide, for you and for anyone in your way,” he tells her. She laughs at the blatant dodge, inciting him further. He controls himself well, a fire prince reluctant to burn. “I’m not part of this,” he snarls. “Good luck assaulting Corvium without whatever intelligence you counted on from me.”

Farley’s emotions are not so hindered by a Silver ability. The room will not burn with her, no matter how red her face flushes. “Thanks to Shade Barrow, I already have everything I need!”

The name usually has a sobering effect. To remember Shade is to remember how he died, and what it did to the people he loved. For Mare, it turned her cold, empty, into the person willing to trade herself to keep her friends and family from the same fate. For Farley, it left her alone, singular in her pursuits, focused only on the Scarlet Guard and nothing else. I didn’t know either of them for very long before Shade died, but even I lament who they were. The loss changed them both, and not for the better.

She forces herself through the pain Shade’s memory brings, if only to shove Cal’s nose in it. “Before we faked his execution, Shade was our key operative in Corvium. He used his ability to feed us as much information as he could give. Don’t think for one second you are our only card to play in this,” Farley says evenly. Then she turns back to the Colonel. “I advise a full assault, utilizing newbloods in conjunction with Red soldiers and our infiltrators already inside the city.”

Utilizing newbloods. The words sting, stab, and burn, leaving a bitter taste in my mouth.

I guess it’s my turn to storm from the room.

Cal watches me go, mouth pressed into a grim, firm line.

You’re not the only one who can be dramatic, I think as I leave him behind.


Check out my reviews of the other books in this series!

Victoria Aveyard is an author and screenwriter, born and raised in a small town in Western Massachusetts. Both her parents are public school teachers, as well as avid film, television, and literature fans. Victoria grew up on a steady diet The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and LOST. She pursued a degree in Writing for Film & Television at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. After graduating college in 2012, Victoria moved home from Los Angeles  and began writing the manuscript that would become Red Queen.

She has since published three #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling books, two New York Times bestselling novellas, and continues pursuing her writing career while living full-time in Los Angeles, California.

The Red Queen series is currently being translated into 37 languages and counting.

To learn more about Victoria Aveyard and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookInstagramTumblrPinterest, and Twitter.

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