What she can’t remember could ruin her life.
The Mirror Worlds are but dull reflections of the True World, where magic and technology blend together...
On the True World, Belinda Loring has known from childhood that she must Bond with the son of another noble First Family. Uniting the families ensures hers will hold onto its powerful position, and so she’s always pushed down the tender feelings she has for her best friend—gorgeous, steadfast Demian, who isn’t noble.
But when the ceremonial magic goes disastrously wrong, Belinda becomes a national disgrace. Scorned as Broken, she turns to Demian for help getting revenge on the man who ruined her: the radical Malachi.
But the seeds of Malachi’s murderous planslie buried in Belinda’s past, in the dark days of her kidnapping—a period of which she has no memory. And Demian may hold the key to recovering all that she’s lost—and saving the worlds.
The Otherselves series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Through Fire and Sea
Book #2 Amid Wind and Stone
Book #3 In Truth and Ashes
About the Author
Nicole Luiken wrote her first book at age thirteen and never stopped.
She is the author of nine published books for young adults, including Violet Eyes and its sequels, Silver Eyes and Angel Eyes, Frost, Unlocking the Doors, The Catalyst, Escape to the Overworld, Dreamfire, and the sequel, Dreamline. She also has an adult thriller, Running on Instinct, under the name N. M. Luiken, and a fantasy romance series, Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith.
Nicole lives with her family in Edmonton, AB. It is physically impossible for her to go more than three days in a row without writing. Visit her website at www.nicoleluiken.com or like her Facebook fan page for updates on her novels.
Read an Excerpt
In Truth & Ashes
By Nicole Luiken, Tracy Montoya
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Nicole Luiken Humphrey
All rights reserved.
The word made Belinda Loring's spine go rigid, and she paused just outside the small Hall of Records waiting room from which Warren's voice emanated. She'd volunteered to fetch Warren because she was eager to see him again, but now her throat tightened, and nausea churned in her stomach. Was he talking about her? Belinda Broken.
The childhood taunt shouldn't have still had the power to hurt her, but oh, it did. Hearing it was like picking a scab off a never-healed wound. It made her bleed inside and brought back bad memories of hiding out in the school restroom, bawling. She pressed her back against the stone corridor. Her nails dug into the flesh of her palms. Stop it. You're not that scared little girl anymore.
"She's not Broken." That voice belonged to Violet, and Belinda sagged against the wall in relief at her best friend's defense, until Violet continued, "She's just messed up."
Gee, thanks. And, hey, why was Violet — who'd messaged Belinda that she was going to be late — sneaking around with Warren — Belinda's soon-to-be Bonded — anyway?
"She was only six when she was kidnapped," Violet said. "That would have messed up anyone."
"I suppose it was too much to hope that she'd disqualify herself," Warren said.
Any lingering childhood fantasy Belinda had had that tomorrow's Bonding ceremony might be the beginning of something more than a political alliance shattered into a hundred pieces.
She didn't want to hear any more; she felt sick, her stomach twisting — but she still needed to tell Warren it was time for the Mirror of Truth test. If she walked in now, they'd know she'd heard them. Maybe she should tiptoe backward, then make more noise?
"If you don't want to be Bonded with her, why don't you back out?" Violet asked.
Warren snorted. "You must be joking. My father would kill me. He's salivating at the thought of linking the Scott family to the prestigious Loring name."
Belinda took a deep breath and pushed back her hurt. So Warren was a jerk. So he was a good-looking jerk. So she might have had a teeny-tiny crush on him. So what? It wasn't like she'd been in love with him or anything. And better to know now before she made a fool of herself.
It didn't change anything. Tomorrow's ceremony would still go forward.
It's just a Binding Ceremony, Belinda reminded herself. Not a marriage. At seventeen, they were too young for marriage. Instead, she and Warren would stand in a circle and magically Bind their otherselves' bloodlines, make a Binding vow to have at least two children themselves — one heir for each Family — sometime in the future, and that would be it.
No longer caring if they knew she'd been eavesdropping, she marched into the room — and immediately wished she hadn't. Her mouth fell open. Her feet rooted themselves to the ground.
The waiting rooms were designed for mothers with young children. The walls were programmed to display a soft, dove gray, and the room contained a diaper-change table, a padded bench with a U-shaped nursing pillow, and a bin of toys for older siblings. It was not in any way romantic.
But Violet and Warren were smooching — her best friend and the boy she would Bond with tomorrow. It didn't look like a tentative first kiss either. It was definitely a clinch: Violet's curvy body was pressed against Warren's taller one, her brown hands woven into his golden hair, their lips locked together. His hand caressed the skin underneath the back of Violet's pink shirt.
After the first moment of shock, betrayal stabbed deep. Warren didn't owe her anything — they'd only spoken to each other a handful of times; their Binding was just a political alliance, and anything else had been in her head — but Violet was her best friend. She knew Belinda had always dreamed about marrying her Bonded. How could Violet do this to her?
Belinda must have made some noise, an exhalation or a scuff of shoe on stone, because Warren and Violet jumped apart.
Violet's brown eyes rounded in horror, and she cringed, unable to meet Belinda's gaze. Her pink lipstick was smudged, but her vivid flower-petal eye makeup remained intact, accenting her long eyelashes. As always, her friend looked gorgeous and stylish, beautiful where Belinda was only average.
Hot anger roared through Belinda's veins like a forest fire. Unable to bear looking at her so-called friend, she turned to Warren. "It's time for the test." Her voice sounded harsh to her own ears.
Warren's fair skin flushed. His golden hair was feathered back from his face, and his curls just touched the collar of his dark-brown lace-up shirt. An elaborate genie covered his left cheekbone and swept up to his temple. The genie looked more like a chainmail crescent than what it was — a neural implant used to communicate over long distances and access the World Information Net. He'd probably chosen the genie's sapphire power gem inset at his temple to match his eyes.
Warren recovered quickly. "Hey, Belinda," he said without a trace of guilt. "Have they cleared the backlog then?"
Belinda ignored Violet and directed her words at Warren. "One more couple with a baby, and it'll be our turn. Come on." Without waiting for a response, she left the room and walked briskly back down the hallway.
"Wait up," Warren called.
She didn't slow. She didn't want to speak to him or Violet.
The gray hallway ended in an archway. Belinda swept through, her wide-legged pants brushing the marble, and entered the large chamber containing the Mirror of Truth.
The ten-foot-tall mirror stood on a small dais. Five rows of seating surrounded it. The mirror dominated the chamber and dwarfed the couple with the baby. At least they were still there. Ellona would have given her a stern lecture if she'd been late.
Belinda hesitated. She'd intended to rejoin her grandmother, First Councillor Ellona Loring, in the second row, but she feared Ellona's sharp blue eyes might note her discomposure. Instead, Belinda took up a waiting position at the back of the room, just off to the side, where the recordkeeper could clearly see her.
The size of the Mirror of Truth alone made it impressive. Like all Four Worlds mirrors, it was made up of four different mirrors melded together, and each submirror was four feet square by itself. The submirrors represented the four Mirror Worlds: obsidian for Fire World, ice for Water World, gold for Stone World, and clear glass for Air World. The four mirrors together represented the True World.
Belinda lived on the True World, the original world created by the god Aesok. The Mirror Worlds were imperfect copies made by Aesok's brother god, Besok. Besok had populated his worlds by making exact copies of the animals and humans on the True World. Over centuries the identical populations of the five worlds had diverged, but rare people still had otherselves — genetically identical mirror twins — on some or all of the Mirror Worlds.
The mirror was a modern wonder. It could discern if one had otherselves and on which world the otherselves lived. Well, actually, a regular Four Worlds Mirror could do that, too, to a lesser degree. What made the Mirror of Truth unique was the power gem inset into each individual mirror. The energy-infused gems would amplify her Call so that if one of her otherselves was unable to reach a mirror, the gem would still glow. It even worked for newborns, unable to speak, though the passive process took much longer. Hence the backlog.
Having four otherselves, one per Mirror World, was a rare and elite thing seldom found outside the First Families. Ah, but within the First Families, it was expected. And if you didn't have them, or if they died before having kids, people gossiped behind your back and called you "broken."
"So are you nervous?" Warren whispered, joining her against the back wall. Apparently, he was just going to pretend he hadn't been kissing Violet. Jerk.
"No." She bit the word out.
He raised his hands. Why hadn't she noticed before how smarmy his smile was? "Oh, really? You sound pretty nervous to me."
I'm not nervous, I'm angry. There's a difference.
"Well, don't worry about it," Warren said. Now there was an edge to his voice. "Even if it turns out you've lost an otherself, the ceremony will still go through."
She stopped and stared at him. "What?" She had difficulty keeping her voice low. Fortunately, the chamber's acoustics were designed to amplify sound from the front of the room, not the back.
He shot her a disbelieving look. "Oh, come on. Don't act like your grandmother wouldn't bribe the recordkeeper. Besides, it wouldn't be the first time a First Family has had a Broken generation. There are ways to fix it."
Ethically questionable ways. Not that it mattered. "I'm not Broken," she whispered coldly. "I'll prove it in a minute."
Back rigid, she faced the front again and saw that Violet had joined Ellona on the second bench.
On the dais, the red-and-black uniformed recordkeeper ushered out the couple with the baby. The middle-aged woman then beckoned to Belinda.
Belinda walked down the aisle and climbed the two steps of the platform to the Mirror of Truth. A skylight sent sunshine slanting down onto the giant mirror. Though she'd visited here before, the hair on her arms lifted in awe. This close she could also see that the mirror was bordered in silver. Silver mirrors could magically capture images, and it would store a permanent image of her test for the Hall of Records.
Belinda placed her hand on the oily black obsidian mirror that represented Fire World. She set her jaw with determination. Half an hour ago she'd been nervous about this, fearing some accident might've befallen one of her otherselves since she'd last checked on them. Now she was ready to prove herself.
Time to show everyone that her kidnapping hadn't tainted her, and put Belinda Broken to rest for good. Fierce anger blew through her like a gale, and she Called, "Look into the mirror!" At the same time, she reached out mentally, trying to find her Fire World otherself, slide into her thoughts, and implant the suggestion that her otherself should seek out a mirror and look into it.
Within seconds, the emerald power gem in the center of the obsidian panel flashed to life. Bathed in its green glow, Leah appeared in the black mirror, peering at Belinda with dull eyes. Leah looked gaunt and dirty, her dark hair unkempt. Belinda cringed at her appearance. Her Fire otherself had never been impressive. As a bastard, Leah had few opportunities and worked as a mere servant.
Fire World's recent disaster made it the most dangerous for otherselves. Ellona let out a soft exhale of relief, though her expression remained cold and proud.
"Fire World witnessed!" Violet said. At least she was doing her job as Witness.
(what is it?) Leah asked, reaching out.
Belinda didn't bother to answer. She stepped sideways, bringing her reflection with her and severing the connection to Leah.
Air World next ... Belinda raised her hand to the pane of clear glass and, with growing confidence, Called Audrey. The gem lit at once. Audrey was the most respectable of her otherselves, a member of the nobility, and should make up for Leah's poor showing.
Instead, a titter went through the small crowd. Embarrassment burned over Belinda; someone was embracing Audrey from behind and kissing her neck. A nearly invisible boy, his features blurred by wind. It looked very odd. And since when did Audrey have a boyfriend? And short hair? Maybe it was a good thing the Binding ceremony was tomorrow, before her otherself married someone who wasn't Warren's otherself.
Warren's Witness, a boy named Zach, wolf-whistled. "Better rein that one in soon!"
Her back stiffened. It wasn't like she had any control over who her otherselves kissed. Warren, on the other hand, had control over his own lips.
"Air World witnessed!"
Fortunately, Holly, her Water World otherself, was alone and not doing anything embarrassing. Her hair had a pink streak, but that was typical of Water World fashion.
So far, all her otherselves had answered her Call within moments, and she hadn't needed the Mirror of Truth's power gems to seek them out, but when she Called Stone World, Dorotea didn't answer. Stone World had suffered an ecological collapse three generations before, and almost everyone now lived in underground caverns. There weren't many mirrors there, so it wasn't surprising Dorotea hadn't responded, but Belinda kept Calling, disappointed. She'd hoped to catch a glimpse of Dorotea's younger sister, Marta. Belinda had helped get her medical aid a few weeks ago and had liked the sweet-natured girl. But once the sapphire gem in the golden mirror flashed to life, Violet called out, "Stone World witnessed!"
The recordkeeper stepped forward. "Let the record show that Belinda Loring is confirmed to have four otherselves," she announced.
There. Belinda had passed the test. She lifted her chin and shot a look of challenge at Warren. His turn. She stepped off the platform.
Rather to her disappointment, Warren lit all four gems, too. He wasn't Broken either. And his otherselves made a better showing — only his Water otherself was poorly dressed in ripped blue pants.
Violet caught Belinda before they left the Hall of Records, while Ellona was deep in some political talk with Warren's parents. Warren had excused himself to the restroom.
"Come talk to me."
Belinda follow Violet a short distance down the hall, then stopped and crossed her arms. "Well? What did you want to say?"
"Please, don't be mad." Violet reached for her arm, then hesitated and withdrew.
"Mad?" Belinda repeated, voice and temper rising. "Why would I be mad just because you kissed my Bonded?"
Violet rolled her eyes. "It's not like you're in love with him."
And that was so typical. If Violet had one fault, it was not being able to admit when she'd done something wrong. "And do you?" Belinda asked pointedly. "Love him, I mean?"
"No! Look, don't make this into a big deal. We were just fooling around," Violet said.
Belinda thought the top of her head might explode, but she gritted her teeth and kept her voice low so that the adults didn't hear. "It is a big deal. And if you were just fooling around, that makes it worse."
Violet's brow crinkled. "What? How can fooling around be worse?"
Still steaming, Belinda spelled it out. "If the kiss didn't mean anything, then you should have resisted doing it out of respect for our friendship. Now if you were actually in love, I might excuse you getting carried away."
Silence. "What if it is more?" Violet asked, her voice growing softer. "What if I am in love with Warren? Would you call off the ceremony?"
Unbelievable. "No, I wouldn't."
Violet's nostrils flared. "Now who's the bad friend?" she demanded. As if that vindicated her actions. As if anything could.
You betrayed our friendship. "If he's in love with you, he should be the one to call it off," Belinda said sharply. "Since he hasn't, his feelings probably aren't strong enough."
For a moment, hurt flashed in Violet's eyes, then she spun and left without another word.
Belinda returned to her grandmother and arrived just in time to hear Ellona invite Warren and his parents to Loring House for a "pre-celebratory" dinner. Which meant instead of getting a chance to unwind, she was going to be stuck with his company all evening
Sweet Aesok, kill her now.
In the small salon, Belinda picked up another gift and pulled the string that unraveled the silk floss wrapping. Inside was an antique silver bracelet with a timekeeper. She sighed and set it aside. Yet another gift aimed more at impressing Ellona than herself — Belinda didn't wear a timekeeper. If she wanted to know the time, she just asked her genie.
"I'm bored," Warren complained. "You're supposed to entertain me. Remember, I'm your guest." His words parroted Ellona's dismissive after-dinner command: Belinda, go entertain your guest. What Ellona had meant, of course, was Go away while the adults talk about important adult things.
Excerpted from In Truth & Ashes by Nicole Luiken, Tracy Montoya. Copyright © 2017 Nicole Luiken Humphrey. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Truth & Ashes was a bit different from the previous books in the Otherselves series. It really focuses on one world - the True World. The True World sits at the "center" of the Mirror Worlds and somewhat exerts control over them, playing matchmaker to ensure the True World selves have matching selves on the Mirror Worlds. It was all a bit creepy and really relegated that elemental worlds to nothing much more than a source of resources and prestige. Belinda is the center of our story and matching self for the characters in the Mirror Worlds. And at first, I hated her. I never really truly liked her, but she did earn my respect. The final book in this series tries to draw all the cords together into one place, but that means I really missed seeing more of the Mirror Worlds that I had really loved. Fire is the only one that really manages to take center stage other than the True World. Things do come to some rather startling and unexpected conclusions. There is far more heart-pounding excitement in the final book than the others, and the way the day is saved was amazing. A few times we went over the top, but if you're going to go there, an explosive ending is the way to do it. *I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book*
Wow - what a finale to this intriguing series! This is one where I really believe it is necessary to have read the earlier books in the series before starting this on - but they make a great story, so it is well worth doing so IMHO! Readers of earlier stories will know that in this fantasy series there are other worlds besides the “True World”, they are the worlds of Fire, Water and Air. For some significant people, they have their equivalent person living on each world - they are their otherselves (hence the series title!). Much of this story is set on the True World, and focusses on Belinda who has otherselves on all the worlds and who were the heroines in earlier stories and who also have their parts to play in this story, too. Belinda had been kidnapped as a child by a mysterious, notorious person known as Malachi. She has no memory of what happened to her during the days she was missing. Now she’s going to take part in the Binding Ceremony, an important event for her, her otherselves and the person to whom she is being bound as it will promise that she will marry him and that their otherselves will also be similarly bound together. When disaster strikes, Belinda needs to discover just what happened during those forgotten days, working with her friend Demian to do so. Can they find out what happened? Can they protect the Worlds and prevent their destruction? Can they - and their otherselves - find their soulmates and true love? This is an action packed fantasy, with danger and perils around every corner as the otherselves strive to save all the Worlds and those of their other selves. It is a story of alternate worlds where teen heroes fight those willing to risk all to promote themselves and gain power. Love permeates throughout the stories and this book is an excellent conclusion to the trilogy. it fills in so many blanks from the other stories and adds to the readers’ understanding of the backstory and resolving things but only after some adventures and surprises along the way. This is a great series for anyone who enjoys fantasy, regardless of their age! Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for gifting me an ARC of this novel. This is my honest review.
The final installment of the Otherselves series and it mostly takes place in the True World where we meet Belinda. Belinda is from a First Family, basically royalty in the True World. She is to be bonded with a boy chosen by her family. But the bonding process goes terribly wrong and it’s reveal that Belinda is already bonded, something that could only have happened during the time she was kidnapped as a child by Malachi. She sets out to get revenge and brings along her childhood friend Damian. This third novel in the series is probably the best one if you ask me. I love how a lot of things a put in to place like a puzzle here and things are explained and explored in both the True World but also the four mirror worlds. Belinda’s otherselves are always there in the background and even if their original quests differ they all come to work together to achieve the same goal in the end. It’s easy to see why the third novel is the best one and in my opinion it’s mostly because it focuses on the same world almost the entire time. This provides enough time to explore the world and dig deeper into the characters. The previous novels have been torn between two worlds and hence also two different plots, making them lack depth. Here we get the best of everything and the writer’s talent really shines in this novel. If I could have made one wish, it would have been to make this series into five separate books, one for each world. But now we have a trilogy and it is good enough. The worlds I’ve been introduced to in this series are very different and interesting and I would love to explore them even more in future novels. This series is a great read for anyone interested in YA Fantasy.
Loved it! Great story, from the moment I started reading about the Otherselves living in separate worlds I was captured in a story so vivid and engrossing it felt real. Once I entered into this story I was taken through one event after another it was as if I lived in four very real yet separate worlds. I found the story to be very different from anything I have read in awhile. Along with the mystery and well timed believable romance it sets a pace that you do not want to let go, you want to see what is going to happen next to all of the characters in the story. You are kept engaged as each character is very well developed and you are rooting for them throughout the story.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review In Truth and Ashes by Nicole Luiken, the third and last book in the Otherselves trilogy. This last book of the series focuses mainly on the true world and the characters that live there. Since Qetarah was taken care of, her mentor Malachi is the villain trying to get rid of the four worlds. Belinda fell into my heart because of her tyrant of a grandmother and her friend Demian is interestingly mysterious! Nicole Luiken brings all of the information from the last two books and its four worlds seamlessly into In Truth and Ashes to make a complicated world with dynamic and complex characters into a wonderful fantasy adventure series - 4 stars!
“In Truth and Ashes” completes the otherselves series with a story primarily set from the “True World” but with flashes of the other worlds we’ve come to know and love. Belinda is set to be bonded to the somewhat despicable Warren, who she quickly learns has been hooking up with her best friend, Violet. On True World, First Families are those who have otherselves on all mirror worlds and they participate in a binding to other First Families to continue their legacy of having otherselves on all other worlds. Once bound, their otherselves are more likely to fall in love and create the same children they will. Belinda has been raised by her grandmother Ellona with a severe sense of purpose and duty. As a Loring, one of the First Families, she is expected to be beyond perfect and receives little love in her life. Despite Warren’s infidelity and spoiled boy behaviors, Belinda finds him attractive and thinks that they will be okay- they have to be, as she must uphold her duty. However, at the binding ceremony, the bind backfires- which only happens if one of them is already bound or she is already pregnant. Pregnancy out of the question, her grandmother punishes her for this binding of which Belinda knows nothing. Belinda’s memory has one gap- when she was kidnapped by Qeturah’s mentor Malachi when she was just six years old. Malachi is a dangerous man, bent on destroying the mirror worlds. Belinda knows that if she is already bound, it must have occurred when she was with Malachi, so she begins the dangerous work of seeking him out to break the binding. She luckily has the help of her long-time and handsome friend, Demian. Demian has always been there for her, and now is no different. She is trying to resist her attraction to him, but it becomes undeniable as they spend more time together. This is a wonderful conclusion to a really fun series. I found that it moved a lot faster than the previous books, likely because 90% of this one is about Belinda, so you don’t keep jumping back and forth between stories. Leah appears in the other 10% as the fire world is the weakest/one with the most issues. The otherselves appear occasionally for a short couple seconds, but I found that their stories had really been wrapped up in the past books, so it wasn’t necessary- Belinda’s was mostly untold and Leah’s needed to be wrapped up, so they were the perfect ends to the series. Most of the book is about finding answers for Belinda’s missing memories and saving the world. I wish there had been more tidbits about her past (and current) relationship with Demian- it may have been more fun to start with when they were little, but this would break the pattern of the series. As it is, we have to imagine their history from the little memories we grasp through the book. That being said, I loved their relationship anyways. Overall, this was a fascinating story of an alternate world told with heroism, love, and hard-work. I really enjoyed it and would love to see some novellas from this series in the future! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are entirely my own.
*I received this eBook as a review copy from a publisher at Entangled Teen via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* I have got to say this was a good conclusion to the end of the Otherselves trilogy. I loved learning more about the True World, which was the last world we hadn't learned that much about yet. Belinda is going to be bonded to someone of her families choosing in order to ensure that the next generation will have four other selves. Something goes wrong after the bonding ceremony, so Belinda decides to go on a quest to find and destroy Malachi. On her quest, Belinda brings along her childhood friend, Damian. An overall theme that I found interesting was how prominent Fire World and Leah were to the whole series. I really liked how Nicole Luiken wove her through the story and having her have a part in the "war." Also, throughout the book they looped must of the other worlds in multiple times which, I liked because I loved learning more about each of the worlds. Throughout the third book, many things seem to begin to fall into place. With learning more about the True World, you understand more about the mirror worlds. With that you start to see all the sides of the story after learning about the worlds in the other books. I enjoyed reading the book as all the pieces began to fall into place and you could finally understand why that event happened. I really enjoyed the third book and would reccomend the Otherselves trilogy to anyone who enjoys fantasy books or mythology. Nicole Luiken is an amazing author and I truely enjoyed reading this book. "In Truth and Ashes" had it's up and downs but overall I really enjoyed the book and would definately reccomend it to my friends who love fantasy books.