From an Aurora Award-winning author comes the first book in a new portal fantasy series in which one woman's powers open the way to a labyrinth of new dimensions.
For Shawna Keys, the world is almost perfect. She's just opened a pottery studio in a beautiful city. She's in love with a wonderful man. She has good friends.
But one shattering moment of violence changes everything. Mysterious attackers kill her best friend. They're about to kill Shawna. She can't believe it's happening--and just like that, it isn't. It hasn't. No one else remembers the attack, or her friend. To everyone else, Shawna's friend never existed...
Everyone, that is, except the mysterious stranger who shows up in Shawna's shop. He claims her world has been perfect because she Shaped it to be perfect; that it is only one of uncounted Shaped worlds in a great Labyrinth; and that all those worlds are under threat from the Adversary who has now invaded hers. She cannot save her world, he says, but she might be able to save others--if she will follow him from world to world, learning their secrets and carrying them to Ygrair, the mysterious Lady at the Labyrinth's heart.
Frightened and hounded, Shawna sets off on a desperate journey, uncertain whom she can trust, how to use her newfound power, and what awaits her in the myriad worlds beyond her own.
Some people jumped under their tables, others leaped up, sending tables and chairs tumbling. Glasses of wine, beer bottles, cups of coffee, kale salads, and plates of fish and chips and avocado toast skittered across the hardwood floor. The baristas dove behind the counter. I threw myself behind one of the couches that faced the stage. Aesha stood frozen. I screamed her name.
The black-clad figures opened fire.
Bullets tore through the couch above my head, showering me with singed horsehair. They cut through one of the legs of the grand piano, which crashed to the stage with a sad clanging discord. They scored a bull’s-eye on the dartboard on the wall by the door leading to the bathrooms. They exploded the giant brass cappuccino machine in a spray of steam and water and coffee grounds.
They tore through Aesha’s tiny body.
One second she was Aesha, my best friend, standing frozen in terror. The next she was a bloody mass of meat and shattered bone splayed across the gore-stained floor.
Blood misted the air, covered me in a sticky scarlet layer. Others must have died, but Aesha was the only one I saw die, right in front of me.
I’d had no time to react, to feel anything but shock. I stared at what was left of my best friend. Denial welled up inside me. This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening. This can’t be
happening . . .
A man came around the end of the couch. He wore black, and carried a pistol: otherwise he was a very ordinary-looking man, with brown hair and brown eyes. He looked down at me. “Hello, Shawna,” he said. “And good-bye.” Then he reached out and touched my forehead.
I felt something like a massive static electric shock, but deeper, invasive, violating, a shock that reached deep into my mind and made my body shudder. I jerked back, scrabbling away from the man, my buttocks smearing a track across the bloody floor. The man, expressionless, raised his pistol and pointed it at me, and I knew I was about to die.
In that instant, this can’t be happening turned to this isn’t happening.
“This isn’t happening!” I screamed it in the face of that impossible killer. “This isn’t happening!”
The world . . . twisted. I suddenly sensed it in a way I never had before, as though it were a giant machine whose gears and pulleys and chains and wheels had been hidden from view until that moment, as though I had opened a secret door, reached inside, yanked a lever, shifted those gears, reset those pulleys, tugged on those chains, spun those wheels to a new configuration.
And then . . .
I was right where I had been, sitting on my rear end on the wooden floor of the Human Bean . . . but there was no blood on that floor, on the walls, or on me. The grand piano stood undamaged. The sofa, seedy as ever, had only its usual moth-eaten holes in it, none caused by bullets. A dart thudded into the dartboard I had seen blown apart. The cappuccino machine hissed, but only because a barista was filling an order.
Aesha had vanished.