Who will be the sacrifice?
Kami is linked to two boys. One through a strong magical bond, and the other through unforgettable love. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town. Working with her friends, Kami uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.
As coauthor with Cassandra Clare of the bestselling Bane Chronicles, Sarah Rees Brennan has mastered the art of the page-turner.
A strong example of diversity in YA, the Lynburn Legacy not only introduces Kami Glass, a half-Japanese teen, but also includes an LGBTQ romance as one of the subplots.
“A sparkling fantasy that will make you laugh and break your heart.” —Cassandra Clare, New York Times bestselling author
“A darkly funny, deliciously thrilling Gothic.” —Kelley Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author
“Readers will laugh, shiver, and maybe even swoon over this modern Gothic novel.” —Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author
“Breathtaking—a compulsive, rocketing read.” —Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author
“Captures the reader with true magic.”—Esther Friesner, author of Deception’s Princess
“A laugh-out-loud delight.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Kami Glass was standing too close to the fire. The magical flames scorched her face, so hot that though her eyes stung and her vision swam, there was no possibility of tears.
Aurimere House, the golden manor from which the Lynburn sorcerers had ruled her town for centuries, was surrounded by a ring of fire that never spread too far or burned completely out. The flames ebbed and flowed like a wicked orange sea, separating her from the house.
There’s nothing in there for you, said Ash Lynburn, one of the few good sorcerers left alive and the one sorcerer who was connected to her, mind to mind. He’s gone.
You don’t know that, Kami told him.
I do know that, said Ash. And if you would admit it, you know it too. He’s not in there. He’s not anywhere. He’s dead.
Ash’s emotions coursed through her, sinking into her every pore. The connection between them was like adding a drop of ink to a glass of water: everything that had been clear becoming distorted. There was no way to separate the two of them, no matter how different they were or how poorly they mixed.
No matter that Kami didn’t want to be connected to Ash, and he didn’t want to be connected to her. They had linked because they had to, because as source and sorcerer together they had magical power that could be used to save their friends and protect their home.
They had been linked for over a month now. They were getting used to it, but it wasn’t getting any easier.
Kami had always wanted to be in control of herself; she had never wanted anyone else to try to control her. Ash did not mean to, but his cautions and misgivings were constant obstacles in her path. She felt fenced in on every side.
Worse than that, she felt Ash’s misery and despair, heavy as an anchor around her neck. He had no hope, and she did not have hope enough for both of them.
What was she supposed to say about Ash’s half brother Jared, her first source, the one she had loved, the boy she had been linked to for so much of her life? “He’s not dead! And we’re still dating!”?
It was her own mother who had told her he was dead.
They had all known that something terrible must have happened.
Rob Lynburn and all the sorcerers on his side, the ones who wanted a return to the days when sorcerers sacrificed people for power, had beaten them in a battle and taken over the manor. Ash’s mother Lillian, the only adult sorcerer left alive on their side, and Kami’s little brother Ten had both been captured in Aurimere. Everyone had been trying to plan a rescue mission when Lillian, holding Ten’s hand in a steely grip so he would not be able to get away from her, staggered in through the door of the inn. Lillian had always carried herself like the leader of the town before, but not then. She had seemed defeated, and instead of making a speech she had only made a proclamation, like a specter or a banshee calling out tidings of death, that Jared was lost.
Ten had stood mute, shaking in Dad’s arms, but he had told his tale later, reluctantly, in small shuddering pieces through barely parted lips: how he had been held in a little room up in the attic, and the door had slammed open, and there Jared had been, ordering him to run. Rob had been there too; Ten could barely speak about it, but they knew Jared could not have escaped, that Jared would have had to stop Rob from going after the terrified fleeing child.
They knew no more until Kami’s mother Claire, who was allowed entry into Aurimere House because she was a favored and submissive servant to the sorcerers, told Kami what she had found in that attic room.
Her mother had hardly spoken to Kami in weeks.
The silence between them was like the cold careful quiet that had fallen over their town since Rob had won the day and taken the manor. Nobody wanted to break the ice: the ice breaking meant dark waters might rush in and drown them all.
Kami had become used to the chilly absence where words and understanding had once been. She sat at the table, eating in silence as her mother made breakfast for the boys. It was a shock when her mother spoke.
“Please be careful today.”
“Why?” Kami asked softly. When her mother did not reply, she put down her spoon, watching her hands shake as she did so. She raised her voice, demanding an answer. “Why?”
Claire flinched, her shoulders hunched. “Rob demanded a sacrifice, and the town did not give him one.”
“I remember,” said Kami.
“Now he’s the lord of the manor, and his word is law.”
“Not to me,” said Kami.
“To everyone,” her mother snapped. “His word is law because to disobey him is death, do you understand me? He’s been talking to the mayor, and the mayor promised himhe promised Rob would have the winter sacrifice today.”
“Why would he promise that?” Kami whispered.
“The magic is greater if the sacrifice is willing,” said Claire, making eggs and soldiers for Kami’s brothers. She did not look up. “If the person who will be the sacrifice is willing, that is best of all, but failing thatif the town gives them up, there is more power in the sacrifice. That is the value of this town to its sorcerer. That is why Rob has always wanted us to cooperate, has given us time to understand that we must. We are going to cooperate. Cooperation is what will keep us alive. There is no choice.”
“It can’t happen! Nobody’s going to just give up a person they know to be sacrificed!”
Kami’s shout rang through the kitchen. Her own voice sounded desperate. It sounded like a lie. Her mother was silent.
“We cannot see evil and say nothing. We can’t see people murdered and do nothing,” Kami said savagely.
Claire turned then, wheeled around from the kitchen counter, her back to its brightly painted egg cups and steaming coffee. She faced Kami.
“I can,” said Claire. “I can and will do anything to keep my children safe. What was it that all your bravery won you, Kami? What came of your little rebellion? Your brother was taken up to Aurimere to be murdered with a golden knife. You dragged your family under the sorcerer’s eye. You put your brothers in danger. You did that, and if Ten had died, you would have done that too.”
It was something Kami had told herself all through this lonely winter, lying shivering in the dark, not able to get warm enough beneath her bedclothes to sleep. But she had not expected to hear it from her own mother, over a breakfast table in a room full of light. She stared mutely up into Claire’s face, worn by terror and exhaustion but still beautiful, a face Kami had loved and trusted all her life.
Mum’s shoulders sagged. She held on to the back of a chair as if she could not stand under the weight of all she feared.
“I don’t want to say this, Kami,” she whispered. “I know you meant it all for the best, but the only way we can be safe is not to fight. Fighting will win us nothing and cost us everything. Your Lynburn, I know what he did for Ten. I know he did it because of you. I know he went into that room and faced down his mother and his father for you.”
Kami bowed her head. She didn’t want to see her mother saying this. She did not want to hear her mother say it, did not want the knowledge, but she had always tried to face the truth and she could not run from it now.
“He saved Ten,” Claire whispered. “But nobody has seen him or Rosalind Lynburn for more than a month. I never wanted to tell you this, Kami, but I saw the room that Ten escaped from. I saw the blood on the floor and the walls. There was so much blood. Nobody could have lost that much blood and lived. Rob made me wash the boards on my hands and knees so I would have a tale to carry back to you. Nobody but Rob Lynburn left that room alive. He killed his own child. I will not let him kill mine. If evil is the price I have to pay for your lives, I will pay it.”
“And I should pay it too,” Kami said, her voice a whisper as dry as a dead winter leaf, ready to be blown away in the slightest wind. “I should close my eyes to everything going on in this town, because if I don’t, someone I love will die, and it will be my fault.”
“Someone’s already dead.” Claire looked at her hands as if there was blood still on them, scarlet embedded in her nails. Kami could almost see it, so vivid it was sickening, all that blood and her mother scrubbing it away, and not telling a soul until now. “Jared Lynburn is dead. Didn’t you love him?”
Kami felt as if her mother had lifted one of those hands and hit her. “I thought the question was, did I kill him?”
“Didn’t you kill him?” Mum asked. “Who else would he have died for?”
Kami had not said that. She and her mother both turned, guilty as if they had been keeping secrets again, and saw her father at the door. His black eyes were narrowed.
“You don’t talk to Kami like that,” he said. “Not ever again.” He paused. Kami knew she did not want to hear what he had to say next, when he was so angry and yet he still had to hesitate before he told her mother, “There’s that flat over your restaurant. Why don’t you go there for a while?”
They were both silent, caught in the stillness of utter shock. Dad had been sleeping in the office for weeks now, but Kami had not thoughtshe had not wanted to believehe would do anything irrevocable.
“No,” her mother said. She held on to the back of the chair with one hand and held the other out to him. Light outlined her hand, light filled her eyes, as if love was sorcery and she could make him change his mind.
Jon looked at her and, slowly, shook his head.
“You lied to me, you lied to Kami, you’re acting like a sympathizer to murdering sorcerers, and you don’t even seem to understand why what you’re doing is wrong. I don’t even recognize you anymore. I don’t trust you with my children. I don’t want you here.”
Kami had not been able to bear it for a moment longer. She had stumbled out of their kitchen and down the crazy paving, through their gate and up the winding road to the rise where Aurimere House stood wreathed in flame. She walked too close to the fire and almost savored being blind to all the white blazing centers of the flame.
She could still hear her mother’s voice saying, “There was so much blood. Nobody could have lost that much blood and lived.”
She had not wanted to believe it. She still did not want to believe it. She wanted to hope, to believe that there was something she could do.
She wanted to believe that if Jared was dead, she would know. He had been so much a part of her all her life. Even if they had been separated, surely something would have told her that he was completely lost. It did not feel right that magic should be stronger than her own painfully stubborn, painfully clinging heart. She should know.
I knew, said Ash. I knew my father would make Jared pay for defying him. We’re Lynburns. We do not forgive. We never permit a second sin against us.
She refused to surrender to despair, even in her own mind.
I’m getting a little tired of hearing all these mystical pronouncements about Lynburns, Kami said, and tried to show Ash nothing but determination. “We are creatures of red and gold,” “We do not forgive,” “We do not need hearts,” “Our family motto is ‘Hot blond death . . .’ ”
We don’t say that last one, said Ash, both bemused and amused. The emotions ran through Kami, sweet but alien, more strange than pleasant.
I admit I may have made that last one up, Kami said. But I stole the last piece of toast at breakfast yesterday, and you didn’t say “Lynburns never permit a second sin” and stab me in the hand with a fork. Even Rob is not consistent all the time. We don’t know what he did to Jared. We don’t know anything. Jared could still be in there.
And how would you suggest we get in there to find him? Ash asked.
Kami had been trying to think of a plan to do that for weeks, long before her mother’s words had sent her running up to Aurimere as if she could plunge through the flame and rescue Jared, weeks too late.
All her plans had been ridiculous, the laughable imaginings of a panicking child. Or perhaps that was just how they appeared to Ash. Kami was slowly losing her grip on how to differentiate between her darkening view of the world and the shadow through which Ash saw things.
She felt Ash’s regret, sympathetic but chilling, like a cold hand placed kindly on her shoulder. She tried to pull herself together the only way she knew how.
I have a plan to get in, she told him. This is fire. We can go to our school and steal all the fire extinguishers there: we can put it out enough to get in.
It’s magical fire, said Ash. That’s why it never burns out and never spreads. Fire extinguishers aren’t going to work.
He had vetoed every one of her plans.
Lucky for you, I have another scheme. First I need a hundred ducks, but after that it will all be pretty simple.
What do you need the ducks for?
I’m going to put a whole bunch of them in a giant catapult and launch them over Aurimere, Kami said. This will create a distraction. My message will be: Look at all the ducks I give.
Ash’s amusement sang through her body as a laugh would have sung through her ears: appreciative but humoring her too.
Jared would have said, I’m in. What’s our next move?
Kami turned her face away from the fires around Aurimere and looked out on the town. She told herself the fire was too hot, and that was why her eyes were stinging; that the smoke had got into her throat, scorching it, and that was why it ached. She lied to herself because she did not know how she would put herself back together if she fell apart.