The award-winning novel that started it all.
“A riveting tale from start to finish. Between the simmering romance, the rich and inventive fantasy world, and one seriously jaw-dropping finale, readers will clamor for the next book—and I'll be at the front of the line!” —Marissa Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of the Lunar Chronicles
In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.
“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”
As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth—meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.
Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war or be killed.
Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.
But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for? Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.
“Intense and intriguing. Fans of high stakes fantasy won't be able to put it down.” —CJ Redwine, New York Times bestselling author of the Ravenspire series
“Mary Weber has created a fascinating, twisted world. Storm Siren sucked me in from page one—I couldn’t stop reading! This is a definite must-read, the kind of book that kept me up late into the night turning the pages!” —Lindsay Cummings, author of the Androma Saga
“A riveting read! Mary Weber's rich world and heartbreaking heroine had me from page one. You're going to fall in love with this love story.” —Josephine Angelini, internationally bestselling author of the Starcrossed trilogy
“Elegant prose and intricate world-building twist into a breathless cyclone of a story that will constantly keep you guessing. More please!” —Shannon Messenger, author of the Sky Fall series
About the Author
Mary Weber is the award-winning HarperCollins author of the bestselling young adult Storm Siren Trilogy, and The Sofi Snow duology. An avid school and conference speaker, Mary’s passion is helping others find their voice amid a world that often feels too loud. When she’s not plotting adventures involving tough girls who frequently take over the world, Mary sings 80s hairband songs to her three muggle children and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California which is perfect for stalking LA bands and the ocean. She gets nerdy at maryweber.com; Facebook: marychristineweber; Instagram: maryweberauthor; Twitter: @mchristineweber; and Goodreads.
Read an Excerpt
Book One in the Storm Siren Trilogy
By Mary Weber
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2014 Mary Christine Weber
All rights reserved.
FOURTEEN CIRCLES FOR FOURTEEN OWNERS."
I shade my eyes to block the sun's reflection off the distant mountains currently doused in snow and smoke and flesh-eating birds. The yellow flags above me snap sharp and loud in the breeze as if to emphasize my owner's words that yes, she's quite aware such a high count is utterly ridiculous.
Waiting for it ...
"Fourteen?" the sweaty merchant says.
Ha! There it is. Eleven years of repeatedly being sold, and it's sad, really, how familiar I've become with this conversation. Today, if Brea has her way, I will meet my fifteenth, which I suppose should actually bother me. But it doesn't.
Brea nods. "Fourteen."
I smirk and turn to watch a gimpy minstrel roaming through the marketplace, which is the closest I've ever been to Faelen's High Court. The poor guy is singing so wretchedly off-key, I want to giggle, except he might be newly returned from the war front, so I don't. Besides, his odd version of the old ballad "The Monster and the Sea of Elisedd's Sadness" reminds me of my home up in the Fendres. Have you been there? I want to ask him.
Instead, I look over as the enormous merchant grunts his nervousness and retreats from me, giving the ground a superstitious spit. He eyes Brea. "Fourteen owners says either yer lyin' or she's got the dark-death disease. Whichever it is, you best get her out of my way. I got a money business to run." He makes to hurry off toward the selling stand, almost tripping in his furtrimmed shoes.
I grin. Yes, run away in your too-little boots.
"Wait!" Brea grabs his arm. "Nym doesn't have the disease. She's just ..."
The merchant scowls at her grip on his sleeve.
She releases it, but her roundish face turns stony with determination. "She's just too uppity for the poorer folk, that's all. There's only so much a master can take of a servant who thinks she's made of better than the rest."
What in hulls? Is she off her chump? My laugh bubbles up and I choke it back, waiting for her to choke on her lie. He creeps closer and slides a look of dislike down my partially hooded face, my chin, my half-cloaked body. "She don't look uppity. She don't even look decent enough for the favor houses."
Whoa. I bite back a prickly remark about his mum birthing him in one of those dung havens and look away. Neither of them deserves a reaction. Using my practiced haughty pose, I face the lively crowd gathered like giddy children in front of the selling platform. Five, ten, fifty people. They're all smiling as if the circus with its panther monkeys and manic dwarves were performing instead of a fat guy in little boots exploiting children. Seems even decent women are desperate for extra hands while the men are off fighting a war we've no hope of winning.
The merchant chews his puffy lip and studies me, like he expects me to help coerce him. Is he jesting? I raise an eyebrow and glare at him until, finally, he grunts again and pulls up the cuff on my right arm.
His gloved fingers run over each thread tattooed around my wrist like tiny bracelets. "One. Two. Three ..." He numbers the circles slowly, fourteen in a row inked into my skin with the juice of the black mugplant. I almost feel like I should clap for him.
Good job, I mouth. You know how to count.
The merchant's face twists into a snarl. He gives me a vicious pinch below my elbow and pushes my sleeve higher up my arm onto my shoulder. I shiver and, narrowing my eyes, start to pull away, but Brea leans into me.
"You hold yourself together," she sputters close to my ear. "And for fool's sake, keep your hair covered, or so help me, Nymia, I'll break your fingers again."
I bite my tongue but refuse her the satisfaction of dipping my gaze to my slightly misshapen left hand, which I'm now curling into a fist.
"How old are you?" the dealer growls in my face.
"Seventeen," I growl back.
"When was she first sold?" This question is for Brea, but I feel his bristly glove squeeze my skin as if he expects me to alert him if she's dishonest.
"Age six. Her parents died when she was five and then she lived a short time with a midwife who had no use for her." She says this last part with a slice of disgust in her voice that's directed at me. And as much as I try to force it down, the hateful shame swells up to eat holes in my chest. She's got me on that one. Two parents, one midwife, and fourteen owners I've ruined, the latest being Brea's own husband. And it doesn't matter that I tried to warn every single one of them.
The merchant's eyes constrict. "There somethin' else wrong with her yer not tellin' me?"
"Nothing's wrong with her. She's perfectly fine. Just give me three draghts and she's yours."
"Three draghts?" I murmur. "How generous."
Either she doesn't hear or chooses to ignore me as the merchant rubs his huge, stubbled jowls and considers the offer. Although I can already sense he'll take it. Three is cheap. Beyond cheap. It's pathetic. I consider feeling insulted.
The minstrel limps by, practically giddy as he continues his fabulously bad recount of the Monster and the Sea. "'Twas the night compassion forsooooook us." He's singing, referring to the night an agreement was struck between Faelen's past king and the great, flesh-eating Draewulf. The price of which had been Faelen's children. "And the big sea, she roared and spit up her foam at the shape-shifter's trickery and our foooooolish king."
I swallow and feel my amusement over how much he's enjoying himself catch in my throat at what I know comes next.
"The ocean, she's begging for our salvation. Begging for blood that will set our children free."
And for a moment I swear I can feel the sea waves calling, begging my blood to set us all free.
Except just as with the Draewulf, my blood comes at a price.
"Blast the crippled croaker! Would someone put him out of his misery?" the merchant shouts.
A louder shout and then a cheer interrupt the inharmonious tune. Someone's just been bought for a higher amount than expected. The merchant looks at the stage behind us and smiles. Then, without glancing at me, he says, "Done," and fishes into his hip bag to drop three draghts into Brea's open palm.
Congratulations, Nym. You're officially the cheapest slave sold in Faelen history.
Brea hands the reins of my collar to the merchant and turns from him, but not so quickly as to confirm his suspicion that there's something else amiss with me. Just before she leaves, she leans into me again, and her black hair brushes against my cheek.
"Pity you weren't born a boy," she whispers. "They would've just killed you outright. Saved us all from what you are." And then she's gone.
And I won't even pretend I'm sorry.
The merchant yanks my leather straps like he's bridling a goat and leads me behind him to the side of the selling platform where twelve other slaves wait, tethered to a lengthy stretch of chain. Before he bends down to tie me in line, he pulls a thin knife from his right bootie and puts it against my chin. "Try to escape, little imp, and this blade'll find you faster than a bolcrane goin' for a baby." He breathes an extra puff of foul air up my nostrils and grins when I squirm in revulsion.
So, of course, I do what any self-respecting, uncooperative person would do. I spit into his annoying face.
"You little ..." His knife is as fast as his fury, and before I can move he's cut into my skin just beneath my jaw.
I cry out, and then bite my tongue because he doesn't deserve to see my pain.
"I'll sell you off in pieces if I have to," he says, growling.
"Try," I mutter.
Obviously the heat's gotten to me because I'm smiling a bit crazy in spite of the sting—until his arm rises. I barely have time to brace before the back of his hand finds my mouth with a force that nearly knocks me over. Warm blood gushes from my lip to join the trickle on my neck, and suddenly I'm blinking to keep the whirling world in focus. Curse him.
He yells at someone I can't see, "Get her up front and be rid of her. Now!"
The assistant pushes me to the low base of the stand. Hands shove me onto the stage as a small girl with red hair, who can scarcely be older than five, is being led off the other side. My stomach twists at her frightened expression, at the terror-filled memory of my first selling—the brief image of coming home to the midwife after my curse had wiped out her entire herd of sheep. Within hours I was sold to a man who gave a whole new meaning to the word monster.
The merchant's assistant is standing beside me. He looms over the buyers and makes up attributes about me, of which he knows nothing and believes none of. What a sideshow.
The bidding starts low. Despite the aching slash in my neck, I stare into the faces of the individuals yelling out prices, evaluating them as they freely evaluate me. Their ballooning silk hats and ruffled shawls, I swear, look strikingly similar to a pair of lady's panties I saw in the sale booth last year. These people appear well-off compared to most I've known in our kingdom. Not as fancy as the politicians from the High Court, but clearly living above the poverty of the peasants. Panty shawls and all.
The bidding begins to climb with the same frenzy the onlookers have been possessed by for the past half hour. Suddenly, a male voice clamors above the rest, "Take off the hood and give us a better look at her. Let's see what she's made of."
I scowl and lean forward, jerking on my reins to yell back,
"Why aren't you off helping win the war, you wastrel?"
"Right there, let's see her!"
"Yeah! Take off her cloak!"
The assistant grabs my shoulder. I bristle, but his hand is already reaching for my hood.
I shove an elbow into his skinny stomach, hard enough to knock the wind from him. "Don't touch me."
He yelps. Staggers back like the weakling he is.
Then the merchant swears, and before I can blink he climbs onto the stage and lunges for my wrists.
I kick him in his crotch.
He screams but doesn't crumble. A noise erupts behind me and just as I'm turning to check, two men grab my arms and the merchant is up and plows into my side, nearly knocking me over. He grips my cloak and yanks it off in one harsh sweep.
Before I can count to one, the three of them are stumbling back and tripping off the stage.
The crowd falls silent.CHAPTER 2
My HAIR SLIPS DOWN MY BACK AND shoulders and around my face like fresh snow falling on the forest floor. Pure white. I raise my chin as the onlookers stare. Yes. Look.
You don't want me.
Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.
It's what I do.
A child's gasp breaks the silence and out of the corner of my eye, I see the little redheaded girl at the outer edge of the crowd. The reins of her collar are in her master's hand. He's stalled in horror like the rest of them. But the little girl's features—they're painted in awe. Which, of course, makes a lump climb up my throat. The childlike mercy her innocence brings touches something within me. She's too young to recognize the perverse significance of my snowy-white hair and sea-blue eyes. Apparently no one's told her about Elementals, or how they are not allowed to exist. No one's told her that a female version is not even possible. That I shouldn't be.
The hush has rippled out to the market stalls. Vendors and customers alike pause to find the source of the unnatural silence. I wonder if they're terrified as well. They should be.
Offstage, the merchant suddenly lets loose a string of curses, equally distributed between the long-gone Brea and me. I find his anger a bit funny, and it effectively shatters the spell of quiet and triggers an uproar in the crowd.
"What is she?"
"How can she be?"
"Is she dangerous?"
"Yes. Very," I whisper.
"What are all those tattoos on her arms? Are those owner circles?"
"What about the markings on the other arm?"
Memorials, is what I won't say.
The assistant I knocked the wind from recovers himself when he realizes the merchant standing just off the stand is now swearing at him. He scrambles back over and tries to start the bidding up again, but suddenly even those who've named prices are ducking their heads and backing away.
A gaudy laugh erupts from the sideline. It's so melodramatic and mocking that everyone pauses to look in its direction. It's the man holding the redheaded girl's reins. His face is as strikingly cruel as it is handsome. He waves a hand in the air toward me. "She doesn't look like much! How about loaning her out and letting me test her? Let's see what she's good for!" He jerks the small slave girl's collar and struts his way toward the stage, dragging her behind him.
I force myself to look away from them both. Hold it in, Nym.
"C'mon! No one else is going to want her. Let me have her, and I'll pay you more if she ends up being worth it." The man uses his hands to boast, and the redhead's reins yank her little neck around as he swaggers through the captive audience who've parted to create a path for him. She begins to cry. He doesn't even notice.
My chest ignites. Stop, I warn my insides. She's not you.
In the back of the crowd, a noblewoman strolls over from one of the stalls. Her shimmery, gold-lined eyes match her brilliant hair and painted lips as she studies me. My shoulders smooth out. My eyes hope. "Please take me," I whisper. Before I can't control it.
Her gilded lips press together in a thoughtful line, then she turns away.
I drop my gaze on the man now standing directly below me in front of the stage.
"How about you show us a bit more skin and maybe I'll throw in an extra draght?" he hollers, brandishing a hand at the throng as if to earn their agreement.
A whimper beside him, followed by a squeak, and it's only then he seems to notice the little girl whose neck he's nearly cracked. She's sniffling and straining upward so she doesn't get hung by the collar.
He sneers at her. But she doesn't notice. Her gaze is glued on me. He looks back and forth between the two of us. Curiosity, then anger flickers across his face. I pretend to ignore it. Until he lifts the girl's reins and gives them a tug.
She winces and I grimace.
A sick grin twists his mouth. Slowly, deliberately, he raises her reins another inch so her toes are barely touching the ground He watches for my reaction.
The girl's eyes go wild. She begins to writhe and spin, trying to hold her head high enough to keep breathing.
My fingers curl into fists.
Stay out of it, Nym. Close your eyes.
An awkward hush falls. The man's perverse pleasure is tangible as again he lifts the reins. But this time he doesn't stop unti her feet are off the ground and the little girl's expression has exploded into full-blown terror. She is kicking, flailing, gasping Choking at the end of her noose.
And he's enjoying every second of it.
I shut my eyes and feel the throbbing of my own neck One ... two ... three heart pulses, and abruptly there's a pause in the air. As if the wind itself is holding her breath.
And then the sound of a choked spasm, so fragile in its hopelessness, signaling what I already knew.
He's going to let her die.
But I can't.
Thick clouds descend on the marketplace in a swirling rush and darken the sun. They sharpen the friction in the atmosphere, engaging with my infuriated blood, my skin. Sickened I open my eyes in time to see faces draw upward. Their expressions slowly alter from humor to horror.
I'm so sorry, I want to say. But all you fancy people in your pretty shawls? You should know better.
Shouts pick up. "What's going on? Is she doing that?"
The cold sets in. My body shivers, followed by heat rippling along my skin's pale surface.
The little girl's owner lowers the reins and stares at me. As does the noblewoman in back with the gold-rimmed eyes. Is it in fear? Fascination? I don't know which and I don't care.
Excerpted from Storm Siren by Mary Weber. Copyright © 2014 Mary Christine Weber. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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