Mundie Moms

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) by Richelle Mead


By: Richelle Mead
Published by: Razorbill
Released on: February 12th, 2013
Source: bound arc from publisher to review
5 Stars: I LOVED It!
Series: Bloodlines #3
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive—this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood


I totally admit I wanted to read The Indigo Spell for Adrian. Well, that I also wanted to find out what Sydney was going to do. She about killed me at the end of The Golden Lily, which I recently reviewed here. She more than made up for it with the ending of this book! *fist bumps the air* This storyline takes us deeper into the history of all that Sydney has been taught. Let's just say, nothing is what it is seems. Sydney has to decide where she wants to stand once all of the lies and betrayals that are finally uncovered. This plot line was definitely a lot more twisted than the previous two books, and it was fantastic! There's shocking betrayals, HOT character chemistry, and plenty of action that had me reading this book in one sitting. I couldn't put it down.

I'll be honest, I had a rough time with Sydney through out this entire book. While I didn't have any issues w/ her in The Golden Lily, other than the fact I wanted her to just admit her loved Adrian, this time around her indecision was too dragged out for me, and really got on my nerves to the point I felt bad for Adrian and wanted him to move on (okay not really). Thankfully Adrian's a very patient guy. Why yes, I am an extremely impatient person, and I wanted to see Adrian and Sydney together, but that's beside the point. I felt like Sydney toyed with his emotions a little too much, BUT, I also got why Sydney was so torn. I admire her for looking for truths and answers with what she was raised to believe, how she really really felt about Adrian, and what she discovers from all that Marcus tells her. It's a lot to take in. I loved how Adrian slowly but surely broke down her tight control. All I can say is Richelle rewarded my patience with a holy hotness batman scene and plenty of moments in between with Adrian and Sydney that kept me turning the pages. I love the character chemistry these two have.

Oh Adrian! I didn't think I was going to love his character anymore than I already did from The Golden Lily, but he really surprised me in this book. He made me love him even more. He grows even more as a character, which I didn't think it was possible to do. What really made me fall even harder for him, was the way he was with Sydney. He lets her think he's backed off from invading her life, and making her fall for him, because let's face it, Sydney's been in love with Adrian for as long as Adrian has been in love with her. While it irked me to end that Sydney kept on pushing him away, and kept on telling him it wouldn't work, and then would turn to him and ask for help, I loved that Adrian stayed very much apart of her life. When that one HOT scene FINALLY happens, she too knows she can not deny what's between them. Adrian, Adrian, Adrian! What's not to love about him? What I loved about Adrian is how protective he is of Sydney, that he allows her to work out her own issues and patiently waits for her to admit she loves him. He's loyal, always there for her, wants to be a better person/vampire for her, and who could resist a character like that? Plus, he's funny. That scores even more points in my book.

This is a must read for fans of this series! I can not wait to read more Adrian and Sydney. Judging by that shocking twist at the end of the book, I have a feeling things are going to become much more complicated for the two of them.

The Lives We Lost Blog Tour: Guest Post with Author Megan Crewe

Happy Thursday! I'm excited to have YA author Megan Crew on the blog today. Her latest release, The Lives We Lost was recently released, and today Megan's here to talk about a few YA books/series she wish she had read as a teen. 


Four YA Books/Series I Wish I'd Read as a Teen

I've read and enjoyed a lot of YA novels since "officially" becoming an adult, and there are a few favorites I think teen-me would really have appreciated.

-The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. When I was around 14 or 15, I reached the point where I'd read so much adult high fantasy with the same basic set up (intrepid group of underdogs with oddly-spelled names faces down evil bent on destroying their pseudo-medieval world) that I burned out on the genre and still can rarely get into it. I've since discovered a whole realm of unique and exciting fantasy in YA, but it took a while--I wish I'd had this series, my favorite in the genre, to turn to right away.

-The Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart. The most amazing thing about reading this series for me was how much the main character reminds me of my teenage self--not so much in the things that happen to her, but in the way she thinks and reacts to the world around her, her uncertainties and insecurities. I think I'd have found it comforting to have read these as a teen, and felt a little less weird in Ruby's company.

-Cody Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Not only is this a spectacularly written book full of twists and unreliable narration and heartbreak, all of which I'd have eagerly devoured back then as much as today, but it's also a testament to the power of friendship. I had good friends in my teens, sure, but nothing close to what these two girls share. Maybe if I'd had this book to inspire me, I'd have looked harder and found something like it.

-Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn. What makes this story so powerful is that it takes you right inside the head of a messed-up guy whose relationship with his girlfriend becomes increasingly troubled, so that you can sympathize with him even as you see how important it is for her to get away from him. I don't know if having read it would have changed any of the romantic decisions I made in my youth, but I think it would have helped to get that message that you can care about something and see good in them, but still know it's not good for you to be with them.

About the Books:

Released on: 2/24/12
Written by: Megan Crewe
Published by: Hyperion Teens

It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.

And then you're dead.


When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn't?

Poignant and dizzying, The Way We Fall is the heart-wrenching story of one girl's bravery and unbeatable spirit as she challenges not just her fears, but her sense of what makes life worth living


Released on 2/12/13
Written by: Megan Crewe
Published by: Hyperion Teens

First, the virus took Kaelyn’s friends. Then, her family. Now it’s taken away her home.

But she can't look back—the life she once had is gone forever.


A deadly virus has destroyed Kaelyn’s small island community and spread beyond the quarantine. No one is safe. But when Kaelyn finds samples of a vaccine in her father's abandoned lab, she knows there must be someone, somewhere, who can replicate it. As Kaelyn and her friends head to the mainland, they encounter a world beyond recognition. It’s not only the “friendly flu” that’s a killer—there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the vaccine. How much will Kaelyn risk for an unproven cure, when the search could either destroy those she loves or save the human race?

Megan Crewe's second volume in the Fallen World trilogy is an action-packed journey that explores the resilience of friendship, the ache of lost love, and Kaelyn’s enduring hope in the face of the sacrifices she must make to stay alive

About the Author:

Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two cats (and does on occasion say "eh"), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and--thankfully--the worst virus she's caught so far is the garden-variety flu.

You can find a more detailed biography on her main website.

Megan welcome questions and comments from readers. Email her directly or visit her blogFacebook pageTwitterTumblr, or GoodReads profile.

Clockwork Prince Read Along Day #9: Chapter 8



Welcome to Day 9 of the Clockwork Prince Read Along. You can follow the entire read-a-long and find each of the day's posts here. Remember there's no right or wrong way to participate. Your comments can be as long or a short as you'd like them to be. You can answer one or each of the questions asked, it's totally up to you, BUT, in order to be entered into the CP giveaway (which you also had to sign up to win), you do need to be actively participating in the read-a-long. 

Today's discussion is about: Chapter 8
  • This chapter continues to leave me heart broken for Will. I can not imagine all he's had to endure these past few years, and then he sees his sister, but the law forbids him from even talking to her, or showing himself to her. Though Will is one of the best Shadowhunters, do you this is something that would have him question his beliefs and his duty as a Shadowhunter?
  • Aw! Gideon Lightwood, flushing! What do you make of him and Sophie? I have to say, I'm surprised at how, um, gentle he's being with her, unlike how Gabriel is being with Tessa. Too bad Will isn't around to say something to him lol.
  • Why do you think Magnus would send Tessa a letter concerning Will instead of Jem?
Please DO NOT POST SPOILERS. There's some fans who are joining the read-a-long who are reading Clockwork Prince for the first time. 

Thoughtful Thursday - Ventana Sierra


Ventana Sierra is a non-profit foundation started by New York Times best-selling author, Ellen Hopkins. Their mission is to help disadvantaged youth finish their education by providing them with "housing, tuition, books, transportation, medical care and life skills classes". The participants will be required to maintain a 3.0 GPA and remain substance-free.

In reading through the material for their program, one fact stuck out for me:

"Each year, tens of thousands of foster-care children exit the system at age 18 without a net."

Now kids who are hard-working and ambitious won't have to sacrifice their dream for a better future for themselves. We here at Mundie Moms fully support Ellen's goals, and now you can, too, by following Ventana Sierra on facebook and twitter.

You can also help out the organization by donating money, volunteering your time, becoming a mentor or helping to spread the word about this much needed cause. I know Mundie Moms, and I can truly say that we spread the word rather well. So please post about Ventana Sierra on your fb wall and tweet about it to your followers. These kids are counting on you.

Now I know Ellen well enough to say that the one thing she always does is give back. She has created one incredible opportunity to benefit Ventana Sierra through an advanced writing workshop. Holy schmoly, take a glimpse at the faculty:

Authors: Cinda Williams Chima, Cynthea Liu, Eric Elfman, Kristin Elizabeth Clark, Suzanne Morgan Williams and Ellen Hopkins
Editors: Emma Dryden, Lorin Oberweger, Sarah Branham
Agents: Laurie McLean, Michael Bourret, Lara Perkins, Jill Corcoran
Publisher: Judith Curr

It's an unbelievable group of authors, editors/publishers and agents. I'll admit to getting a little dizzy just reading through their formidable bios.

So Mundie Mom writers, will you join Ellen for a weekend of workshops, writing and manuscript evaluation? It's such a great opportunity for both young and advanced writers, and the proceeds will go to a great cause.

Cover Reveal: Out of Play by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry

Last year was the year of my fantasy kick (well I'm very much still on a fantasy high), and this year has started out being the year I madly fall in love with contemps, books I've not been a huge fan of until last year. Today's cover reveal is for a contemp I can not wait to get my hands on! Nyrae Dawn & Jolene Perry's Out of Play, which will be out this coming August from Entangled. 

CHECK OUT THIS COVER! 


I love this cover! It's sexy, sensual, and did you notice while her eyes are closed, his are open, looking at her. Yeah, I need to know more about these two! I can't wait to read this story this summer.

About the Book

Rock star drummer Bishop Riley doesn't have a problem. Celebrities—especially ones suffering from anxiety—deserve to party, right? Wrong. After taking a few too many pills, Bishop wakes up in the hospital facing an intervention. If he wants to stay in the band, he’ll have to detox while under house arrest in Seldon, Alaska.

Hockey player Penny Jones can't imagine a life outside of Seldon. Though she has tons of scholarship offers, the last thing she wants is to leave. Who'll take care of her absent-minded gramps? Not her mother, who can’t even be bothered with the new tenants next door.

Penny’s too hung up on another guy to deal with Bishop’s crappy attitude, and Bishop’s too busy sneaking pills to care. Until he starts hanging out with Gramps. If Bishop wants a chance with the fiery girl next door, he’ll have to admit he has a problem and kick it. Too bad addiction is hard to kick…and Bishop’s about to run out of time.


Add it to Goodreads

Pre-Order it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

What do you guys think? Is this a book you'd pick up?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Read the ENTIRE 1st Chapter of Clockwork Princess!


We did it! Shadowhunter fans took to Twitter for the past 25+ hours and tweeted #clockworkprincess 524,270 times (the word count of the 1st chapter) in order to get the FULL 1st chapter reveal from Simon Teen. Read the 1st chapter at Shadowhunters.com/ClockworkPrincess, or read it below (quoted from the website).

Here's what Cassie had to say:


The whole first chapter of Clockwork Princess is now up!
Go and read and  I hope you have as much fun reading it (if you choose to!) as I did writing it.
Also just to say you guys did an amazing job tweeting to reveal the chapter - close to 600,000 tweets in barely over a day. I wouldn’t have even thought it was possible and I am proud and also humbled!
You guys rock!





“December is a fortuitous time for a marriage,” said the seamstress, speaking around her mouthful of pins with the ease of years of practice. “As they say, ‘When December snows fall fast, marry, and true love will last.’” She placed a final pin in the gown and took a step back. “There. What do you think? It is modeled after one of Worth’s own designs.”
Tessa looked at her reflection in the pier glass in her bedroom. The dress was a deep gold silk, as was the custom for Shadowhunters, who believed white to be the color of mourning, and would not marry in it, despite Queen Victoria herself having set the fashion for doing just that. Duchesse lace edged the tightly fitted bodice and dripped from the sleeves.
“It’s lovely!” Charlotte clapped her hands together and leaned forward. Her brown eyes shone with delight. “Tessa, the color looks so fine on you.”
Tessa turned and twisted in front of the mirror. The gold put some much-needed color into her cheeks. The hourglass corset shaped and curved her everywhere it was supposed to, and the clockwork angel around her throat comforted her with its ticking. Below it dangled the jade pendant that Jem had given her. She had lengthened the chain so she could wear them both at once, not being willing to part with either. “You don’t think, perhaps, that the lace is a trifle too much adornment?”
“Not at all!” Charlotte sat back, one hand resting protectively, unconsciously, over her belly. She had always been too slim—skinny, in truth—to really need a corset, and now that she was going to have a child, she had taken to wearing tea gowns, in which she looked like a little bird. “It is your wedding day, Tessa. If there is ever an excuse for excessive adornment, it is that. Just imagine it.”
Tessa had spent many nights doing just that. She was not yet sure where she and Jem would be married, for the Council was still deliberating their situation. But when she imagined the wedding, it was always in a church, with her being marched down the aisle, perhaps on Henry’s arm, looking neither to the left or right but straight ahead at her betrothed, as a proper bride should. Jem would be wearing gear—not the sort one fought in, but specially designed, in the manner of a military uniform, for the occasion: black with bands of gold at the wrists, and gold runes picked out along the collar and placket.
He would look so young. They were both so young. Tessa knew it was unusual to marry at seventeen and eighteen, but they were racing a clock.
The clock of Jem’s life, before it wound down.
She put her hand to her throat, and felt the familiar vibration of her clockwork angel, its wings scratching her palm. The seamstress looked up at her anxiously. She was mundane, not Nephilim, but had the Sight, as all who served the Shadowhunters did. “Would you like the lace removed, miss?”
Before Tessa could answer, there was a knock at the door, and a familiar voice. “It’s Jem. Tessa, are you there?”
Charlotte sat bolt upright. “Oh! He mustn’t see you in your dress!”
Tessa stood dumbfounded. “Whyever not?”
“It’s a Shadowhunter custom—bad luck!” Charlotte rose to her feet. “Quickly! Hide behind the wardrobe!”
“The wardrobe? But—” Tessa broke off with a yelp as Charlotte seized her about the waist and frog-marched her behind the wardrobe like a policeman with a particularly resistant criminal. Released, Tessa dusted off her dress and made a face at Charlotte, and they both peeked around the side of the furniture as the seamstress, after a bewildered look, opened the door.
Jem’s silvery head appeared in the gap. He looked a bit disheveled, his jacket askew. He glanced around in puzzlement before his gaze lighted on Charlotte and Tessa, half-concealed behind the wardrobe. “Thank goodness,” he said. “I’d no idea where any of you had gone. Gabriel Lightwood’s downstairs, and he’s making the most dreadful row.”

“Write to them, Will,” said Cecily Herondale. “Please. Just one letter.”
Will tossed his sweat-soaked dark hair back and glared at her. “Get your feet into position,” was all he said. He pointed, with the tip of his dagger. “There, and there.”
Cecily sighed, and moved her feet. She had known she was out of position; she’d been doing in intentionally, to needle Will. It was easy to needle her brother. That much she remembered about him from when he was twelve years old. Even then daring him to do something, like climb the steeply pitched roof of their manor house, had resulted in the same thing: an angry blue flame in his eyes, a set jaw, and sometimes Will with a broken leg or arm at the end of it.
Of course this brother, the nearly adult Will, was not the brother she remembered from her childhood. He had grown both more explosive and more withdrawn. He had all their mother’s beauty, and all their father’s stubbornness—and, she feared, their father’s propensity for vices, though she had guessed that only from whispers among the occupants of the Institute.
“Raise your blade,” Will said. His voice was as cool and professional as her governess’s.
Cecily raised it. It had taken her some time to get used to the feel of gear against her skin: the loose tunic and trousers, the belt around her waist. Now she moved in it as comfortably as she had ever moved in the loosest nightgown. “I don’t understand why you won’t consider writing a letter. A single letter.”
“I don’t understand why you won’t consider going home,” Will said. “If you would just agree to return to Yorkshire yourself, you could stop worrying about our parents and I could arrange—”
Cecily interrupted him, having heard this speech a thousand times. “Would you consider a wager, Will?”
Cecily was both pleased and a little disappointed to see Will’s eyes spark, just the way her father’s always did when a gentleman’s bet was suggested. Men were so easy to predict.
“What sort of a wager?” Will took a step forward. He was wearing gear; Cecily could see the Marks that twined his wrists, the mnemosyne rune on his throat. It had taken her some time to see the Marks as something other than disfiguring, but she was used to them now—as she had grown used to the gear, to the great echoing halls of the Institute, and to its peculiar denizens.
She pointed at the wall in front of them. An ancient target had been painted on the wall in black: a bull’s-eye inside a larger circle. “If I hit the center of that three times, you have to write a letter to Dad and Mam and tell them how you are. You must tell them of the curse and why you left.”
Will’s face closed like a door, the way it always did when she made this request. But, “You’ll never hit it three times without missing, Cecy.”
“Well, then it should be no great concern to you to make the bet, William.” She used his full name purposefully. She knew it bothered him, coming from her, though when his best friend—no, his parabatai; she had learned since coming to the Institute that these were quite different things—Jem did it, Will seemed to take it as a term of affection. Possibly it was because he still had memories of her toddling after him on chubby legs, calling Will, Will, after him in breathless Welsh. She had never called him “William,” only ever “Will” or his Welsh name, Gwilym.
His eyes narrowed, those dark blue eyes the same color as her own. When their mother had said affectionately that Will would be a breaker of hearts when he was grown, Cecily had always looked at her dubiously. Will had been all arms and legs then, skinny and disheveled and always dirty. She could see it now, though, had seen it when she had first walked into the dining room of the Institute and he had stood up in astonishment, and she had thought: That can’t be Will.
He had turned those eyes on her, her mother’s eyes, and she had seen the anger in them. He had not been pleased to see her, not at all. And where in her memories there had been a skinny boy with a wild tangle of black hair like a Gypsy’s and leaves in his clothes, there was now this tall, frightening man instead. The words she had wanted to say had dissolved on her tongue, and she had matched him, glare for glare. And so it had been since, Will barely enduring her presence as if she were a stone in his shoe, a constant but minor annoyance.
Cecily took a deep breath, raised her chin, and prepared to throw the first knife. Will did not know, would never know, of the hours she had spent in this room, alone, practicing, learning to balance the weight of the knife in her hand, discovering that a good knife throw began from behind the body. She held both arms straight down and drew her right arm back, behind her head, before bringing it, and the weight of her body, forward. The tip of the knife was in line with the target. She released it and snapped her hand back, sucking in a gasp
The knife stuck, point-down in the wall, exactly in the center of the target.
“One,” Cecily said, giving Will a superior smile.
He looked at her stonily, yanked the knife from the wall, and handed it to her again.
Cecily threw it. The second throw, like the first, flew directly to its target and stuck there, vibrating like a mocking finger.
“Two,” Cecily said in a sepulchral tone.
Will’s jaw set as he took the knife again and presented it to her. She took it with a smile. Confidence was flowing through her veins like new blood. She knew she could do this. She had always been able to climb as high as Will, run as fast, hold her breath as long… .
She threw the knife. It struck its target, and she leaped into the air, clapping her hands, forgetting herself for a moment in the thrill of victory. Her hair came down from its pins and spilled into her face; she pushed it back and grinned at Will. “You shall write that letter. You agreed to the bet!”
To her surprise he smiled at her. “Oh, I will write it,” he said. “I will write it, and then I will throw it into the fire.” He held up a hand against her outburst of indignation. “I said I would write it. I never said I would send it.”
Cecily’s breath went out of her in a gasp. “How dare you trick me like that!”
“I told you that you were not made of Shadowhunter stuff, or you would not be so easily fooled. I am not going to write a letter, Cecy. It’s against the Law, and that’s the end of it.”
“As if you care about the Law!” Cecily stamped her foot, and was immediately more annoyed than ever; she detested girls who stamped their feet.
Will’s eyes narrowed. “And you don’t care about being a Shadowhunter. How is this? I shall write a letter and give it to you if you promise to deliver it home yourself—and not to return.”
Cecily recoiled. She had many memories of shouting matches with Will, of the china dolls she had owned that he had broken by dropping them out an attic window, but there was also kindness in her memories—the brother who had bandaged up a cut knee, or retied her hair ribbons when they had come loose. That kindness was absent from the Will who stood before her now. Mam used to cry for the first year or two after Will went; she had said, holding Cecily to her, that the Shadowhunters would “take all the love out of him.” A cold people, she had told Cecily, a people who had forbidden her marriage to her husband. What could he want with them, her Will, her little one?
“I will not go,” Cecily said, staring her brother down. “And if you insist that I must, I will—I will”
The door of the attic slid open, and Jem stood silhouetted in the doorway. “Ah,” he said, “threatening each other, I see. Has this been going on all afternoon, or did it just begin?”
“He began it,” Cecily said, jerking her chin at Will, though she knew it was pointless. Jem, Will’s parabatai, treated her with the distant sweet kindness reserved for the little sisters of one’s friends, but he would always side with Will. Kindly, but firmly, he put Will above everything else in the world.
Well, nearly everything. She had been most struck by Jem when she first came to the Institute—he had an unearthly, unusual beauty, with his silvery hair and eyes and delicate features. He looked like a prince in a fairy-tale book, and she might have considered developing an attachment to him, were it not so absolutely clear that he was entirely in love with Tessa Gray. His eyes followed her where she went, and his voice changed when he spoke to her. Cecily had once heard her mother say in amusement that one of their neighbors’ boys looked at a girl as if she were “the only star in the sky” and that was the way Jem looked at Tessa.
Cecily didn’t resent it: Tessa was pleasant and kind to her, if a little shy, and with her face always stuck in a book, like Will. If that was the sort of girl Jem wanted, she and he never would have suited—and the longer she remained at the Institute, the more she realized how awkward it would have made things with Will. He was ferociously protective of Jem, and he would have watched her constantly in case she ever distressed or hurt him in any way. No—she was far better out of the whole thing.
“I was just thinking of bundling up Cecily and feeding her to the ducks in Hyde Park,” said Will, pushing his wet hair back and favoring Jem with a rare smile. “I could use your assistance.”
“Unfortunately, you may have to delay your plans for sororicide a bit longer. Gabriel Lightwood is downstairs, and I have two words for you. Two of your favorite words, at least when you put them together.”
“‘Utter simpleton’?” inquired Will. “‘Worthless upstart’?”
Jem grinned. “‘Demon pox,’” he said.

Sophie balanced the salver on one hand with the ease of long practice while she rapped on Gideon Lightwood’s door with the other.
She heard the sound of a hurried shuffle, and the door swung open. Gideon stood before her in trousers, braces, and a white shirt rolled up to the elbows. His hands were wet, as if he had just run quick fingers through his hair, which was also damp. Her heart took a little leap inside her chest before settling. She forced herself to frown at him.
“Mr. Lightwood,” she said. “I’ve brought the scones you rang for, and Bridget’s made you up a plate of sandwiches as well.”
Gideon took a step back to allow her into the room. It was like all the other rooms in the Institute: heavy dark furniture, a great four-poster bed, a wide fireplace, and high windows, which in this case looked down upon the courtyard below. Sophie could feel his gaze on her as she moved across the room to place the salver on the table before the fire. She straightened up and turned to him, her hands folded in front of her apron.
“Sophie—,” he began.
“Mr. Lightwood,” she interrupted. “Is there anything else you require?”
He looked at her half-mutinously, half-sadly. “I wish you would call me Gideon.”
“I have told you, I cannot call you by your Christian name.”
“I am a Shadowhunter; I do not have a Christian name. Sophie, please.” He took a step toward her. “Before I took up residence in the Institute, I had thought we were well on our way to a friendship. Yet since the day I arrived, you have been cold to me.”
Sophie’s hand went involuntarily to her face. She remembered Master Teddy, the son of her old employer, and the horrible way he would catch her in dark corners and press her up against the wall, hands creeping under her bodice, murmuring in her ear that she had better be friendlier to him, if she knew what was good for her. The thought filled her with sickness, even now.
“Sophie.” Gideon’s eyes crinkled worriedly at the corners. “What is it? If there is some wrong I have done you, some slight, please tell me what it is that I may remedy it—”
“There is no wrong, no slight. You are a gentleman and I am a servant; anything more would be a familiarity. Please do not make me uncomfortable, Mr. Lightwood.”
Gideon, who had half-raised his hand, let it drop to his side. He looked so woebegone that Sophie’s heart softened. I have everything to lose, and he has nothing to lose, she reminded herself. It was what she told herself late at night, lying in her narrow bed, with the memory of a pair of storm-colored eyes hovering in her mind. “I had thought we were friends,” he said.
“I cannot be your friend.”
He took a step forward. “What if I were to ask you—”
“Gideon!” It was Henry, at the open door, breathless, wearing one of his terrible green-and-orange-striped waistcoats. “Your brother’s here. Downstairs—”
Gideon’s eyes widened. “Gabriel’s here?”
“Yes. Shouting something about your father, but he won’t tell us anything more unless you’re there. He swears it. Come along.”
Gideon hesitated, his eyes moving from Henry to Sophie, who tried to look invisible. “I …”
“Come now, Gideon.” Henry rarely spoke sharply, and when he did, the effect was startling. “He’s covered in blood.”
Gideon paled, and he reached for the sword that hung on a set of double pegs by his door. “I’m on my way.”

Gabriel Lightwood leaned against the wall inside the Institute doors, his jacket gone, his shirt and trousers drenched in scarlet. Outside, through the open doors, Tessa could see the Lightwood carriage, with its flame blazon on the side, drawn up at the foot of the steps. Gabriel must have driven it here himself.
“Gabriel,” Charlotte said soothingly, as if she were trying to gentle a wild horse. “Gabriel, tell us what happened, please.”
Gabriel—tall and slender, brown hair sticky with blood—scrubbed at his face, wild-eyed. His hands were bloody too. “Where’s my brother? I have to talk to my brother.”
“He’s coming down. I sent Henry to fetch him, and Cyril to ready the Institute’s carriage. Gabriel, are you injured? Do you need an iratze?” Charlotte sounded as motherly as if this boy had never faced her down from behind Benedict Lightwood’s chair, had never conspired with his father to take the Institute away from her.
“That is a great deal of blood,” said Tessa, pushing forward. “Gabriel, it is not all yours, is it?”
Gabriel looked at her. It was the first time, Tessa thought, that she had seen him behave with no posturing at all. There was only stunned fear in his eyes, fear and—confusion. “No… . It’s theirs—”
“Theirs? Who are they?” It was Gideon, hurrying down the stairs, a sword in his right hand. Along with him came Henry, and Jem, and behind him, Will and Cecily. Jem paused on the steps in startlement, and Tessa realized that he had caught sight of her in her wedding dress. His eyes widened, but the others were already pushing by, and he was carried down the steps like a leaf in a current.
“Is Father hurt?” Gideon went on, coming to a stop before his brother. “Are you?” He put his hand up and took his brother’s face, his hand cupping Gabriel’s chin and turning it toward him. Though Gabriel was taller, the look of a younger sibling was clear in his face—relief that his brother was there, and a flicker of resentment at his peremptory tone.
“Father … ,” Gabriel began. “Father is a worm.”
Will gave a short laugh. He was in gear as if he had just come from the practice room, and his hair curled damply against his temples. He was not looking at Tessa, but she had grown used to that. Will hardly ever looked at her unless he had to. “It’s good to see you’ve come round to our view of things, Gabriel, but this is an unusual way of announcing it.”
Gideon shot Will a reproachful look before turning back to his brother. “What do you mean, Gabriel? What did Father do?”
Gabriel shook his head. “He’s a worm,” he said again, tonelessly.
“I know. He has brought shame on the name of Lightwood, and lied to both of us. He shamed and destroyed our mother. But we need not be like him.”
Gabriel pulled away from his brother’s grip, his teeth suddenly flashing in an angry scowl. “You’re not listening to me,” he said. “He’s a worm. A worm. A bloody great serpentlike thing. Since Mortmain stopped sending the medicine, he’s been getting worse. Changing. Those sores upon his arms, they started to cover him. His hands, his neck, h-his face …” Gabriel’s green eyes sought Will. “It was the pox, wasn’t it? You know all about it, don’t you? Aren’t you some sort of expert?”
“Well, you needn’t act as if I invented it,” said Will. “Just because I believed it existed. There are accounts of it—old stories in the library—”
”Demon pox?” said Cecily, her face screwed up in confusion. “Will, what is he talking about?”
Will opened his mouth, and flushed faintly across his cheekbones. Tessa hid a smile. It had been weeks since Cecily had come to the Institute, and still her presence bothered and upset Will. He did not seem to know how to behave around this younger sister, who was not the child he remembered, and whose presence he insisted was unwelcome. And yet Tessa had seen him follow Cecily around a room with his eyes, with the same protective love in his gaze that he sometimes bent on Jem. Certainly the existence of demon pox, and how one acquired it, was the last thing he would want to explain to Cecily. “Nothing you need know about,” he muttered.
Gabriel’s eyes went to Cecily, and his lips parted in surprise. Tessa could see him taking Cecily in. Will’s parents must both have been very beautiful, Tessa thought, for Cecily was as pretty as Will was handsome, and with the same gleaming black hair and startling dark blue eyes. Cecily gazed boldly back at him, her expression curious; she must have been wondering who this boy was, who seemed to so dislike her brother.
“Is Father dead?” Gideon demanded, his voice rising. “Has the demon pox killed him?”
“Not killed,” said Gabriel. “Changed. It has changed him. Some weeks ago he moved our household to Chiswick. He would not say why. Then a few days ago he locked himself in his study. He wouldn’t come out, not even to eat. This morning I went to the study to try to rouse him. The door had been torn off its hinges. There was a … a trail of some slimy stuff leading down the hall. I followed it downstairs and into the gardens.” He looked around the now silent entryway. “He has become a worm. That is what I am telling you.”
“I don’t suppose it would be possible,” said Henry into the silence, “to, er, step on him?”
Gabriel looked at him in disgust. “I searched around the gardens. I found some of the servants. And when I say ‘I found’ some of them, I mean exactly what I say. They had been torn into—into pieces.” He swallowed and looked down at his bloody clothes. “I heard a sound—a high-pitched howling noise. I turned and saw it coming toward me. A great blind worm like a dragon out of a legend. Its mouth was open wide, lined with dagger teeth. I turned and ran for the stables. It slithered after me, but I leaped upon the carriage and drove it out through the gates. The creature—Father—did not follow. I think it fears to be seen by the general populace.”
“Ah,” said Henry. “Too big to be stepped on, then.”
“I shouldn’t have run,” said Gabriel, looking at his brother. “I should have stood and fought the creature. Maybe it could be reasoned with. Maybe Father is in there somewhere.”
”And maybe it would have bitten you in half,” said Will. “What you are describing, the transformation into a demon, is the last stage of the pox.”
“Will!” Charlotte threw up her hands. “Why didn’t you say so?”
“You know, the books on demon pox are in the library,” Will said with an injured tone. “I wasn’t preventing anyone from reading them.”
”Yes, but if Benedict was going to turn into an enormous serpent, you’d think you could at least have mentioned it,” said Charlotte. “As a matter of general interest.”
“First,” said Will, “I didn’t know he was going to turn into a gigantic worm. The end stage of demon pox is turning into a demon. It could have been any sort. Second, it takes weeks for the transformation process to occur. I would have thought even a certified idiot like Gabriel here would have taken account of it and notified someone.”
“Notified who?” asked Jem, not unreasonably. He had moved closer to Tessa as the conversation had continued. As they stood side by side, the backs of their hands brushed.
“The Clave. The postman. Us. Anyone,” said Will, shooting an irritated look at Gabriel, who was starting to get some color back and looked furious.
“I am not a certified idiot—”
“Lack of certification hardly proves intelligence,” Will muttered.
“And as I told you, Father locked himself in his study for the past week—”
“And you didn’t think to take any special notice of that?” said Will.
“You don’t know our father,” said Gideon in the flat tone of voice he used sometimes when conversation about his family was inescapable. He turned back to his brother and put his hands on Gabriel’s shoulders, speaking quietly, in measured tones none of them could hear.
Jem, beside Tessa, hooked his smallest finger through hers. It was a habitual affectionate gesture, one that Tessa had grown used to over the past months, enough that she sometimes put out her hand without thinking when he was standing by her. “Is that your wedding dress?” he asked under his breath.
Tessa was saved answering by the appearance of Bridget, carrying gear, and Gideon suddenly turning to the rest of them and saying, “Chiswick. We must go. Gabriel and I, if no one else.”
“Go alone?” Tessa said, startled enough to speak out of turn. “But why would you not call upon others to come with you—”
“The Clave,” said Will, his blue eyes keen. “He doesn’t want the Clave to know about his father.”
“Would you?” said Gabriel hotly. “If it were your family?” His lip curled. “Never mind. It’s not as if you know the meaning of loyalty—”
“Gabriel.” Gideon’s voice was a reprimand. “Do not speak to Will in that manner.”
Gabriel looked surprised, and Tessa could hardly blame him. Gideon knew of Will’s curse, of the belief that had caused his hostility and his abrupt manners, as all in the Institute did, but the story was private to them, and none outside had been told of it.
“We will come with you. Of course we will come with you,” said Jem, releasing Tessa’s hand and stepping forward. “Gideon did us a service. We have not forgotten, have we, Charlotte?”
“Of course not,” said Charlotte, turning. “Bridget, the gear—”
“I am conveniently already in gear,” said Will as Henry shucked off his coat and traded it for a gear jacket and a weapons belt; Jem did the same, and suddenly the entryway was full of motion—Charlotte speaking quietly to Henry, her hand hovering just above her stomach. Tessa looked away from the private moment and saw a dark head bent with a fair one. Jem was at Will’s side with his stele drawn, tracing a rune on the side of Will’s throat. Cecily looked at her brother and scowled.
“I, too, am conveniently already in gear,” she announced.
Will jerked his head up, causing Jem to make a sound of annoyed protest. “Cecily, absolutely not.”
“You have no right to tell me yes or no.” Her eyes flashed. “I am going.”
Will jerked his head toward Henry, who shrugged apologetically. “She does have the right. She has trained for nearly two months—”
“She’s a little girl!”
“You were doing the same at fifteen,” said Jem quietly, and Will spun back toward him. For a moment everyone seemed to hold their breath, even Gabriel. Jem’s gaze held Will’s, steadily, and not for the first time Tessa had the sense of unspoken words passing between them.
Will sighed and half-closed his eyes. “Tessa will be wanting to come next.”
“Of course I am coming,” Tessa said. “I may not be a Shadowhunter, but I too have trained. Jem is not going without me.”
“You are in your wedding dress,” Will protested.
“Well, now that you’ve all seen it, I can’t possibly wear it to be married in,” said Tessa. “Bad luck, you know.”
Will groaned something in Welsh—unintelligible, but clearly the tone of a man defeated. Across the room Jem cast Tessa a slight, worried smile. The Institute door swung open then, letting a blaze of autumn sunlight into the entryway. Cyril stood on the threshold, breathless.
“The second carriage is now ready,” he said. “Who’ll be coming, then?”

To: Consul Josiah Wayland
From: The Council
Dear Sir,
As you are doubtless aware, your term of service as Consul, after ten years, is coming to an end. The time has come to appoint a successor.
As for ourselves, we are giving serious consideration to the appointment of Charlotte Branwell, neƩ Fairchild. She has done good work as the head of the London Institute, and we believe her to have your stamp of approval, as she was appointed by you after the death of her father.
As your opinion and esteem are to us of the highest value, we would appreciate any thoughts that you might have on the matter.
Yours with the highest regards,
Victor Whitelaw, Inquisitor, on behalf of the Council

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