A fighter with a venomous grudge.
A monster with an immortal curse.
A girl with a terrible gift.
All three out for blood in a land torn apart by harsh gods and holy wars. Each entwined with the other, on their own quests for vengeance, and yet held together by strange links to sinister pasts. As their fates unravel, a dangerous romance blooms, and violent darkness beckons.
At turns both darkly humorous and utterly morbid, STRANGER RITUALS is the startling first novel in Kali Rose Schmidt’s dark new series.
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His expression didn’t change as his hands reached for her, but a shudder came over her as she thought of his gloved hand on her face, his bright green eyes morphing into the Praeminister’s watery gaze. She gasped.
He paused, his dark brows knitted together in something like surprise, or confusion.
He didn’t back away, but he lowered the cigarette, the one Scarko knew contained the mindeta. His eyes trailed over hers, down to her lips, the scowl on her face.
“Where are you from?” he asked, his eyes shifting back up, voice still rough, still cold.
Memories of the Praeminister, of the palace, of the blind eye the king turned to the bruises on her skin, on Klaus’s, the fear she always carried before his spiritual advisor.
“A village no one knows. Close to Visla.” She didn’t know why she answered, why she told the truth, but Zephir was so close, too close. She could barely breathe, and she blinked, willing him not to turn to the Praeminister again.
Ida drew in a breath. Jalde was silent.
Zephir didn’t react for a moment, merely stared at her without blinking, unnerving her.
“Your parents. Where are they?”
“Z, you know it doesn’t matter—”
Slowly, he twisted around to stare at Ida, and a flash of unease crossed her face. She looked down, and Zephir turned back to Scarko.
“Dead,” she nearly spat in answer to his question.
A flicker of something crossed his face—anger, grief, it was hard to tell. He stared at her a moment longer, as if trying to find something familiar in her face.
“Open your mouth. I won’t hurt you, but you can’t be awake for this.”
Scarko clenched her jaw.
Zephir sighed, glanced down to her knees between them, his lashes grazing his cheeks. “Those scars on your palm…how’d you get them?”
Scarko’s mouth hung open in surprise, and before she realized she had been duped, he shoved the mindeta cigarette between her teeth.
And then once more, quicker than the last time, the world went very black.”