Authors: Jaclyn Dolamore
Copyright © 2015 by Jaclyn Dolamore
Cover illustration by Shane Rebenschied
Cover design by Maria Elias
Cover photographs © 2015 Shutterstock
All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 125 West End
Avenue, New York, New York 10023.
To Kathy Dolamore Gould, all-around fun and supportive aunt who listened to me ramble on about my stories when I was just a wee thing
arlis Horn came from a long line of unpleasant women. They were known for being too smart for their own good and for lacking feminine delicacy and
sentimentality. Marlis was quite proud of this heritage.
But the opera was what always undid her. She didn’t care for the raucous jazz other girls enjoyed, but the acoustics in the Theatre Urobrun were so magnificent. Music seemed to come from
every corner and fill her soul with stories of love and bravery, death and revenge.
She clutched her opera gloves together as the hero, Siegfried, perished, stabbed from behind. The heroine, Kriemhild, curled over Siegfried’s body, singing of her despair in a powerful
soprano, her hair tumbling across the front of her dress in long, fair braids. The stage lights were upon her so that she seemed to glow in her white dress, but her eyes were dark. So dark, so
angry—so powerful. She would avenge his death.
If something terrible ever happened, I would be like Kriemhild,
I would take action
She had seen this opera three times before, but it had never seemed as real as it did tonight. She couldn’t shake the feeling something was about to happen. All her life, Marlis had
sometimes heard odd, ominous music at night, but today it had happened even in the middle of breakfast. She always felt it meant something, but she had long since stopped telling Papa when she
heard it; he dismissed it as the result of an overactive imagination, and gave her that awful medicine that made her feel stupid.
Marlis wasn’t a child anymore. She would not risk anyone knowing that her mind veered into strange places. The world was already too quick to dismiss an ambitious girl as crazy.
“Look, Paul’s across the way.” Ida brought Marlis back to the real world, and for once Marlis was almost glad for it. Usually she just put up with her. Being the daughter of
the Chancellor unfortunately meant spending a lot of time paired with the daughter of Vice Chancellor Walther. Ida enjoyed the opera merely as a social event, and all night she’d been peering
at other audience members through her opera glasses, sometimes waving or stepping out to talk to someone.
“Yes, I see him,” Marlis said.
“He’s cute, isn’t he?” Ida replied, the glasses still held to her nose. “I hear he’s getting really good at tennis. Have you ever played with him?”
“I haven’t,” Marlis whispered. “But maybe you should pay attention. It’s almost over.”
“Thank goodness.” Ida settled back into her chair. “What’s going on again?”
“Shh.” Marlis started to lift one finger to shush Ida, but she saw Papa’s attention slide her way. Papa had suggested lately that she ought to be friendlier with other girls.
Boys, too, for that matter. He admired her focus, but said anyone who aspired to politics ought to be good at making friends.
Marlis expected no one told Kriemhild to make friends.
Not even God can hide you from my vengeance
, she sang, and in the next cycle of the opera, to be performed later in the season, she
would stop at nothing—setting fire to the palace and striking down the man who murdered Siegfried with Siegfried’s own sword.
If only I lived in the days of warrior queens and Papa was the king instead of the Chancellor. I’d learn to fight, and everyone would love me for fending off barbarians.
As the curtain closed on Siegfried’s funeral pyre, Ida stretched. “I’m going to find Paul and say hi. Do you want to come with me?”
“I’m not interested in Paul.”
“I never said you had to be interested! Maybe we could just play doubles with him and Heini sometime.”
Papa gave her a pointed look.
“I guess,” Marlis relented.
The house lights had come on, so the opera house had lost a little of its gilded mystery. The curtain was down, the room filled with the din of cheerful upper-class voices. Marlis threw her
white fur wrap around her shoulders.
Papa’s senior adviser, Volland, shoved aside the curtain to their box. His lean face was white, his necktie not quite straight.
“What are you doing here, Volland?” Papa frowned. “I thought you were going to get some sleep tonight.”
“Mr. Chancellor, sir, something’s happened. You need to leave at once.”
Marlis felt as if she’d swallowed stones. The unsettling feeling inside her all day suddenly found its direction. She didn’t know yet what had happened—but she already
understood it was bad.
“Is everything all right?” Mrs. Walther clutched at her jewels.
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Vice Chancellor Walther said, putting an arm around her.
Down in the gallery, a man underdressed for the theater was running up the main aisle shouting something. The crowds that had been clearing out leisurely suddenly began to rush. Volland waved
his hands at the Walthers, getting them moving. Additional guards were waiting to usher their party out.
“It’s the Valkenraths, sir,” Volland said, as they hurried down the back stairs. “The rebels have been gathering around Roderick Valkenrath’s house, and…the
workers are escaping.”
Papa thundered. “How could this be? Where are the Valkenraths, then?”
“No one’s seen them. But we’ve only just gotten word of this.”
“I can’t imagine they’d betray us,” said Vice Chancellor Walther, who was a friend of Gerik Valkenrath. Mrs. Walther whimpered softly—she was certainly full of
feminine delicacy and sentimentality, her diamond earrings sparkling through her soft blond waves. Ida shot Marlis a panicked expression.
“Put the army on full alert,” Papa said. “We need to get this under control at once.”
arlis couldn’t remember when she’d last seen so many guards, especially with all branches of government stretched so thin. The
Walthers climbed into one car in the motorcade, while she and Papa climbed in the second with Volland. Marlis managed not to show any panic outwardly. She wasn’t sure she even felt panic
Since she was a child, the city had been using magic to bring back the dead to work in secret underground. The government had kept them concealed for eight years now. Who was to blame for this
breach, Marlis wondered.
Freddy was the key to all of this, the only one with the power to bring the dead back to life. But he was only seventeen. If he had revealed the secret—well, the Valkenraths were his
guardians, and she wondered if they hadn’t driven him into it.
She didn’t like either one of them. When she was a girl, Gerik used to pull a quarter out of her ear and tell her to smile more. As for Roderick, she could appreciate his cool demeanor,
but she didn’t trust it one bit. But Papa did. He’d known them both since they were in school together.
“How…did you find out about this?” Papa asked Volland, putting an arm around Marlis. He was a little breathless from rushing down the stairs.
“The police received several calls about a commotion in the neighborhood. The neighbors thought maybe the rebels were staging a protest at Roderick’s house, but when the officers
responded, they discovered people in work suits, looking confused. At this point, they contacted the guard.”
The city police didn’t know about the underground workers. Only her father’s private guard was aware of them.