Blog Tour ~ The Missing Heir of Mandralay
Author: Braden Bell
Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy
Dates: 20th – 24th of Feb
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours
A heartless monster. An innocent girl. He holds her life in his paws, but she holds his soul in her hands.
Thirteen-year-old Tallie has a strange new power. While experimenting with this power late at night, she is discovered by Mother Kyraisa, the ancient nun who runs the orphanage where Tallie lives. Terrified of something, Mother Kyraisa evacuates the orphanage and burns it to the ground. The pair flees into the desert with only a wagon and a lead-lined coffin to protect the girl from the unspoken danger that pursues her.
With no memories, no heart, or even a name, X is a monster. Fiercest of the Bestials, his predator’s instincts are controlled only by powerful spells binding his life to the regent’s will. When a flash of apostate magic betrays the hiding place of the late queen’s daughter, the regent dispatches X to kill the child—her niece and the long-hidden heir to the throne.
Following the child’s magic, X tracks Tallie to her hiding place. He prepares to kill her, until Tallie surprises him with a sincere request for help.
Tallie’s innocence and trust awaken a small spark of humanity inside X, and he tries to help her. But he remains a monster, bound by instinct and unbreakable oaths. Helping Tallie triggers a ferocious battle, as X fights his primal nature for her life—and his only hope of redemption.
Meanwhile, Tallie grapples with the tragedy of her past and her identity as crown princess. As royal heir, Tallie finds access to immense power—enough to destroy her enemies, but possibly her own soul as well, turning her into a monster far worse than X.
Braden Bell (who writes Young Adult novels under the name Brandon Gray) holds a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his family live on a quiet, wooded lot in Tennessee, where he teaches middle school theatre and music. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys reading, gardening, and long summer afternoons writing in his hammock. To read about his YA novels, check out: amazon.com/author/brandongray
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Shouts from below rang out. The sound of metal clanging against metal. Too late. Her warning came too late; a loud lament tore from her throat.
“Please, Your Majesty —you must act now!” The guilty fever swelled, and hot, burning sweat flowed beneath her habit.
The queen looked at her, growing fire struggling against the exhaustion in her eyes. “How do you know?”
“Forgive me, but I helped plan the coup.”
The prince consort did not hesitate. He took the infant from the midwife then placed her back in Taliesin’s arms. Taliesin the false prophet. The blasphemer. The heretic. “Protect her,” the prince consort said.
“I swear,” Taliesin said. “With my life, my heart, and my whole soul.”
The prince consort unsheathed his sword and ran from the room, followed by a handful of guards. He did not know the force that awaited him, had no idea of the trap the queen’s sister had laid.
More shouts escaped from down below. More clanging—then a scream.
The queen looked at the high priestess with an anger approaching hate. “I do not know what you have done, and there is no time to find out. Is my child in danger?”
Tears rolled from the high priestess’s eyes. “Yes. She was to be killed.” Her throat squeezed shut. “By my hand.”
The queen shook in rage. As she stared at the high priestess, all her maternal softness had faded. Even in her weakened state, she projected the fearsome power of Mother Earth. The queen’s fingers jerked through the air. Particles of metal appeared, swarming the high priestess like flies in the summer. She screamed as the flecks of metal spun around her, faster and faster. The delicate, royal fingers squeezed into a fist, and the metal followed, melding into twisting spirals of iron that encircled the high priestess in a curving cage that pushed sharp spikes up just under her chin.
The metal twisted tighter, pressing in to her flesh, squeezing the breath from her body. “Murder. Infanticide. Regicide. Treason,” the queen whispered. “You have committed enough crimes to die five or six deaths.”
A terrible scream came from the courtyard—the scream of someone who had been stabbed, but not yet killed. The kind of scream that meant blood and suffering.
The flames of conscience roared even hotter now. The high priestess knew those sounds all too well. She had been responsible for too many cries over the past year. With the pressure of the metal outside her body, and the fire inside her soul, the high priestess thought she might die.
“Your Majesty?” Taliesin stepped forward, holding the baby to his chest. “The high priestess did not go through with the crime. Indeed, she gave warning at great personal risk.” His eyes met hers now. Piercing, bright as quicksilver, they seemed to flow through her in a way that opened her soul to him, leaving it bare and uncovered. She had the certain knowledge that he was reading her heart as easily as she might read a book. “I see great darkness ahead. Great difficulty.” He winced, as if what he saw caused great pain. Then he continued, “It may be that only she can save the princess.”