Desperate and hiding a deadly secret, Seya isn’t expecting much when she returns to the city where she grew up, especially after finding out Halcyon, the magic school where she spent much of her childhood, and her last–and only–hope for help, is now in the hands of a stranger. But trouble is brewing in Starling, and after a run-in with a teenage delinquent with secrets of her own, she ends up tangled in it, all the while struggling with bonds old and new, family she’s spent her life denying, and terrifying coercive magic. And it’s not just guilt and fear that’s keeping her from accepting help. Her secrets destroyed the last place she thought she could stay, so how could she dare hope to accept the comfort and solace offered to her?

The secrets and heartbreak Vico’s been carrying for the last year, after suffering a breakdown that ended his long, fraught partnership with the heir of the Malthusius, are dragging him down and stretching him to his limits. He can’t bring himself to cut his last tie to the man he still loves, even though it seems impossible that he’ll ever be seen as Jayen’s equal in the eyes of their clan. When the bond sister who shattered his heart a decade ago returns, he finds himself hoping again, though it will take all his guile to maneuver deadly curses, the politics of the clan, and the secrets he fears Seya is hiding.