My name is Sophia and I love to read and write fantasy. I also love music, watching funny shows, and my wonderful pets.
Queer characters, lush writing, magic as metaphor, dark but hopeful stories, morally gray characters.
In Estoria, poor parents are offered money in exchange for sending their children to the Service, a group trained in dark magic and sworn to protect Estoria. Nix has come far in the five years since she last saw her family. She uses her magic to make the deaths of Queen Reyna’s enemies look natural, earning her place at Reyna’s side with every kill.
If it wasn’t for the memory of the week they spent together last winter, the week Reyna pretends never happened, Nix would have everything she wants. So when Reyna orders her to find and bring back a boy trapped in a magical garden, she jumps on the chance to prove her dedication.
Nix thinks the hardest part of her mission will be trespassing in a hostile kingdom, but it only gets harder when she finds Adryn. He’s funny and kind, and she’s drawn to him in a way that’s uncomfortably familiar. Worse, he doesn’t want to leave his garden. He has magical healing abilities that come with a heavy price, and he doesn’t want to risk having to pay that price again.
If Reyna is ever going to love her, Nix can’t fail. But her growing affection for Adryn—and the disturbing implications of Reyna’s interest in him—test her loyalty like never before.
As the truth of Reyna’s plans and Nix’s role in them comes to light, Nix will have to decide how much of herself is worth sacrificing for a girl who has rarely seemed to love her back.
Content warnings: blood, death, off page death of parents, self-harm as part of magical rituals, body horror, emotionally abusive relationship, off page torture, mentions of suicide.
The night doesn’t smell of blood yet.
I shiver, a humid breeze brushing the back of my neck. My eyes scan the darkness, but there’s no movement, no sounds. Just me on my knees, my hands pressed against the dirt, searching for something dead.
My senses brush up against a mole, beneath my hands and to the left, dead in its tunnel. I feel that flash of pain from it, that brief moment before it died crystallized forever, a dry twig waiting for the spark of my magic. I ignore the nausea, the sickly twinge in the back of my head—no matter how many times I do this, it never gets better—and focus, drawing the power into me. The shivery, electric feeling of it slips up my fingers and arm until it settles in my chest. It’s not quite enough for what I need to do, so I grit my teeth, draw one of my knives, and open a shallow cut on my arm.
The scent of blood curls through the air, heavy and inevitable.
I bandage my arm while the power of my own pain ricochets through my body, mixing with the mole’s. I stand, my gaze settling on the castle that rears its stony head above me. I’m at the edge of the forest that abuts Baldor, the crowded pines and sheer stone wall enough protection against almost any enemy.
But not against me.
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