In a land of vast, dark forests and clustered cities, cardeai and anthelai live in uneasy proximity. Forced deep into the wilds, the anthelai are feared and hated. They are not people in the eyes of others. They are seen as monsters, demons, and servants of the dark god Enas, master of the hell-like Plains of Centura. Halfbloods, the children of the two species, are extremely rare. The blood does not mix easy, but when it does the result belongs to neither side. Outcast, anathema, pariah.
Carfuinel, an anthehome in the far north, has seen two such beings in its long existence. The first died in infancy, but the second, a stronger-willed creature, survived. Shielded from the animosity of others by her parents, the child thrived. Until the day when everything changed forever.
The half-anthela, half-cardea girl, after having seen her home and family destroyed, vows revenge on the man responsible. The odds are weighed heavily against her. She is young and brash, and trapped by the power of a small green stone that binds to her the whims of her tormentor. He transforms her into a most deadly assassin, hoping that her demon-like presence at his side will pave the way for the domination of a kingdom. But the girl, now called the Nightingale, has a steely strength that refuses to crack.
She has lost her home, family, freedom, and even her name. But she is stronger than anyone realizes, and she will not break easily. Her captor, and even all of the cardeai kingdom of Caesia, would do well to remember that.
Review by Publishers Weekly:
In a world where most humans have a superstitious fear of the elflike, tree-dwelling anthelai, a half-anthela girl, a rarity considered a demon by the human population, survives the brutal destruction of her home only to be enslaved by the rapacious human Guildmaster Lorcen Caspon. As the mysterious assassin known as the Nightingale, she spreads death and terror until faced by a determined opponent of equal skill: Astin Talros, a general in service to the king. Her struggle to escape Caspon and avenge her family’s death becomes a race against her relentless pursuit by Talros, who, unaware that she acts under compulsion, is sworn to destroy her. Effectively melding briskly paced action with the internal struggles of both a traumatized young outcast forced into horrific deeds and the wily but honorable Talros, debut author Mickelsen brings fresh twists and emotional depth to her tightly written, compelling tale of mercantile politics, interracial conflict, and difficult choices. (Apr.)