The Mirror of Beasts

The Mirror of Beasts

by Alexandra Bracken
The Mirror of Beasts

The Mirror of Beasts

by Alexandra Bracken

Hardcover

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken is back with the electrifying sequel to SILVER IN THE BONE, in which fresh betrayal ignites ancient magic to wake the dead, and a cursed girl with no magic of her own must put the past to rest.

With the dream of Avalon in ruins, Tamsin and her friends are all that stands in the way of Lord Death's plans to unleash the horrors of Anwnn on the world of the living. As the Wild Hunt carves a bloody path across continents, Tamsin is mustering allies, tracking down powerful artifacts, and traversing into new otherlands in search of a way to stop him.

Legend tells of a “Mirror of Beasts,” powerful enough to trap even Lord Death in its accursed glass, but the mirror is not all that it seems. Tamsin must confront her own darkest secrets if she hopes to tap the mirror's strength to defeat her enemies.

Arthurian legend bleeds into contemporary action, and scars of the past are torn open anew by a starcrossed love that refuses to go quietly. This riveting conclusion to the Silver in the Bone duology will hold you in its thrall until the very last page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593481691
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/30/2024
Series: Silver in the Bone , #2
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 8,146
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.25(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

About The Author
ALEXANDRA BRACKEN was born in Phoenix, Arizona. The daughter of a Star Wars collector, she grew up going to an endless string of Star Wars conventions and toy fairs, which helped spark her imagination and instilled a deep love of reading. After graduating high school, she attended the College of William & Mary in Virginia, where she double-majored in English and history. She sold her first book, Brightly Woven, as a senior in college, and later moved to New York City to work in children's book publishing, first as an editorial assistant, then in marketing. After six years, she took the plunge and decided to write full-time. She now lives in Arizona with her tiny pup, Tennyson, in a house that's overflowing with books.

Alex is a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her work is available across the world in over 15 languages.

Read an Excerpt

1

“No, Tamsin. To break yours.”

As Nash’s words faded in the air, other sounds rushed in to fill the void of silence they left behind. Distant cars and voices moving endlessly through Boston’s old streets. Music from a nearby bar whispering through the walls. My upstairs neighbor pacing, his feet beating out a muted rhythm through the ceiling. The rasp of Nash’s fingers torturing his hat’s brim. All vying to fill the long silence that stretched between us.

And still, I couldn’t bring myself to speak.

“It’s been a long time, I know,” Nash continued, his voice gruff. “A long time past too long . . .”

Whatever he said next vanished beneath the roar of blood rushing in my ears. The throb of my heartbeat that seemed to make my whole body shake with the force of it. My hand closed into a fist, and before I could stop myself, before I could tame that surge of pure, unadulterated fury, I punched him.

Nash staggered back, swearing beneath his breath.

“Tamsin!” Neve gasped.

I shook out my stinging hand, watching with grim satisfaction as he pressed his own against his face to stanch the flow of blood from his nose. He reached up, resetting the bone with a terrible snap that made even Caitriona wince.

“All right,” he said, his voice muffled by his hand. He pulled a handkerchief from the pocket of his leather jacket, holding it to his face. “I suppose I deserved that. Good form, by the way.”

I forced myself to take several deep breaths. As quickly as the anger had come, it abandoned me, and the emotion that welled up in its place was as useless as it was unwelcome.

When I was a little girl, I used to spend hours in our Hollower guild’s library tucked between the lesser-­used shelves of Baltic legends and incomplete Immortalities, staring at a glass display case it seemed everyone else had forgotten about, or didn’t care to remember.

The light above the polished chunk of amber inside sent a warm glow rippling over the dark shelves, beckoning. Inside its crystalline depths, a spider and a scorpion were knotted around one another, still locked in their battle for supremacy. Perfectly preserved by the same pit of resin that had killed them.

The amber might as well have been a window in which past could see present, and present past. It was frightening and beautiful all at once—it told a story, but it was more than that. It was a sliver of time itself.

I used to think that my memory was like amber, capturing each moment that passed, preserving it in excruciatingly perfect detail. But looking at the man who had once been my guardian, the same one I’d been so sure had abandoned my brother and me seven years ago as children, I began to question that.

I began to question everything.

Nash looked twenty years younger than the final memory I’d captured of him. Before I’d punched him, my mind had registered that the bridge of his nose was straight again, as if it had never been broken in a pub brawl, let alone three others. And his expression, so grave . . . there was none of the reckless adventurer, no sly grins or lying eyes.

Or maybe I was guilty of what I’d always accused him of: mythologizing the man just to tell a better story.

“Tamsy?” he prompted, brow furrowing. “Did you hear what I said about the curse?”

Exhaustion dug its claws into me. My lips parted, but the only words spinning through my mind were the ones he had spoken. No, Tamsin, to break yours.

“You don’t believe me, I see it in your eyes.” He glanced toward the door, momentarily distracted by the way it seemed to rattle as the wind picked up. “But I need you to listen to me carefully—to truly hear me—and do what I say for once in your stubborn life, because like spring, you are cursed to die young.”

“So?” The word was out before I could stop it.

The others turned to me, horrified. I almost wished that I felt the same way—that I felt anything at all. Instead, an almost comforting numbness settled over me, as if I’d known all along. Maybe I had. People like me . . . we weren’t meant for long lives or happy endings.

“What in the Blessed Mother’s name are you talking about?” Olwen demanded. “Who would have cursed her, and in such a way?”

“Was it the White Lady?” Neve asked softly.

The bruiselike stain on my chest, just above my heart, turned icy, prickling the warm skin around it. My pulse started a drumming beat, off-­tempo from the throbbing of the mark. As if a call, and an answer. Every hair on my body rose as the seconds stretched with the agonizing silence.

Nash took a step toward me, bringing with him the smell of damp soil and grass and leather. “No, Tamsy was born with it. But the magic of the curse did draw the spirit—”

The dark air of the apartment shifted violently, forcing me back as another blur of movement raced forward. A flash of silver hair—of a silver blade.

Caitriona launched herself at Nash, using the force of her momentum to slam him back against the front door. The hat and hand­kerchief fell from his hands, both slipping along the threadbare rug to land at my feet. Olwen gasped, hands pressed to her mouth as Caitriona brought one of my kitchen knives up to Nash’s bare throat. Her other arm rose to pin him in place.

“Who are you?” Caitriona demanded. The edge of the blade drew a faint line of blood to the surface of his clean-­shaven skin.

A bolt of panic shot through me as her words sank in, electrifying my mind.

It’s not him.

We’d found his body in Avalon. As much as I wanted the last few hours to be one long, unending nightmare, it wasn’t. I could lie to myself about any number of things, but that wasn’t one of them. Nash was dead.

“Who are you?” Caitriona repeated. “There are many creatures that can wear the face of another, all tricksters, most wicked.”

The man stared at me with a familiar look of indignation, exasperation, and amusement. The air burned in my lungs, begging for release.

“Who?” Caitriona repeated.

His answer was to shift his stance, hooking his leg through the inside of hers as his open palm shot out and slammed against her solar plexus. Breath burst from her in an explosion of shock and anger, but his foot had hooked her knee and she was falling before any of the rest of us could lunge to catch her.

“Cait!” Olwen moved to kneel beside her, but I caught her arm, holding her in place.

The being reached down to claim the knife, the corners of his mouth quirking with a suppressed smile.

“All this blade’s good for is picking teeth and buttering toast, dove,” he said.

“Put down the knife and step away from her.” I’d never heard ­Neve’s voice as cold as it was then, her face hardening with anger. “Touch her again and you’ll have hands for feet and feet for hands.”

Her wand, through magic or some strange stroke of luck, had survived the destruction of Avalon—I had completely forgotten about it until I saw her reach into the bag at her waist and pull its long body free. Nash—or Not-­Nash—stared down at the razored tip pointed toward him, then looked at me, a bushy brow arching.

“Never thought I’d see the day you’d be cavorting with a sorceress, Tamsy.”

“Keep going,” Neve said. “Your face can only be improved by swapping your mouth with your nose.”

The man tilted his head to the side for a moment, as if pausing to picture this. But he did as asked, setting the knife down on the floor and kicking it out of Caitriona’s reach.

“Are you of Avalon?” he asked Caitriona. “Are you the reason it’s merged again with our world?”

The words were like hands around my throat. The others flinched, retreating from the accusation—but we were guilty of it, all of us. We had performed the ritual thinking it would heal the Otherland and free it from a cursed existence, but it had only restored it to our own world. The collision of the isle and modern Glastonbury had wrought death and destruction I couldn’t begin to think about without wanting to claw at my own face.

You didn’t mean for it to happen, I told myself. None of us did.

It was a mistake. It was a terrible, terrible mistake. I could rationalize that all I wanted, but it didn’t stop the waves of nausea from spreading through me, or the gripping horror at knowing what we’d done.

“Tamsy—” he began again.

Don’t,” I got out around the knot in my throat, “call me that.”

“That’s what I’ve always called you,” he said. “From the time you were nothing but a wee imp. The first time I used it, you kicked me in the shins and called me a dingus. That was your favorite insult for a while.”

My stomach clenched. The others looked to me, searching for the truth of it in my face.

Caitriona finally rose from the floor, backing toward us, eyes scanning the room for another weapon.

“How . . . ?” I whispered. How are you alive?

A low grumble of thunder moved through the city, bringing him up short. Nash returned to his perch by the door, his body tensed as he looked through its peephole. Whatever storm had blown in was only building in ferocity. When he turned to me again, it was with that same look he’d had when I’d opened the door.

“Were you able to find the ring in Avalon?” Nash asked, as if I hadn’t spoken at all.

“Yes, but—” Olwen began.

“Cabell needed the ring, not me,” I whispered. That was the most unforgivable part of all this. If I had been able to use the ring on ­Cabell . . . 

The thought of my brother just then, the only other person who’d understand the chaos of my thoughts, who’d be able to help me untangle them, was a knife to the gut.

“Cabell is beyond its help,” Nash said. The dismissiveness of his tone made bile rise in my throat.

“How would you know?” I snarled. “You haven’t even cared enough to ask where he is!”

“Do you really think I don’t know why he’s not here? Do you truly believe I don’t know what you unleashed into this world?” Nash shook his head, blowing out a hard breath. “Where’s the Ring of Dispel now?”

“It’s—” Neve glanced at me, as if not sure she should say. “Emrys Dye took it.”

“You let a Dye have the ring?” Nash exploded. “For the love of hellfire, Tamsy!”

“Call me that again and I’ll make sure you stay dead this time,” I warned him.

“Tamsin didn’t have a choice in it,” Neve continued. “He was hired by a sorceress.”

“Which one?” Nash pressed, reaching down to swipe his hat off the floor.

I got the name out through gritted teeth. “Madrigal—”

Her name vanished beneath an explosion of thunder. It seemed to erupt from above us and below us all at once; the force of it made the dishes in the kitchen chatter like teeth and sent books falling from the nearby shelves. At the sound of a flat-­toned blare, deeper and more wrenching than any ship I’d heard before in the harbor, a chill walked its bony fingers down my spine.

A stream of furious words burst from Nash as he jammed his hat back onto his head and gripped the doorknob, struggling to open it against the taunting of the wind.

“You’re leaving?” Caitriona asked, aghast.

“Of course,” I said bitterly. “It’s what he’s best at.”

Nash finally wrenched the door open and whirled around. His right hand pressed to his heart in a mockery of a vow. “All I’ve ever wanted—all I’ve ever tried to do—is protect you.”

“Since when?” I spat.

Neve’s hand curled tighter around my arm as she drew me closer to her. I’d never seen her like this, all but trembling with anger. It radiated from her until it became indistinguishable from my own.

The December air billowed in around Nash, exhaling delicate flakes of snow. Thunder boomed once more, loud enough to rattle the town-­house-­turned-­apartments down to its foundations. A sharp, acrid scent like ozone filled the apartment, making my toes curl in my boots.

Behind Nash, far above the festive garlands and twinkling Christmas lights, the sky had turned an eerie shade of green. The furious wind tugged at his clothes, drawing him toward the waiting night. Behind him, the trees bowed to the storm, groaning.

“I’m going to get that bloody ring to break your curse,” he snapped. “If you hear that sound again, closer than it is now, run as fast as you can—but until then, stay here, or so help me, I will wring your scrawny little necks myself!”

He pointed a finger at the four of us in turn. “You haven’t the faintest idea what’s coming—what hides within winter’s icy depths. Listen to me and you may yet survive this horror you’ve brought upon us.”

The door slammed shut behind him.

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