This book is just so amazing we wanted to share the first page with you. Ok so we love it so much we had to share more! We hope you enjoy this title!
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.
Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.
In the beginning, there were two suns and two moons.
The boy’s sight blurred before him, seeing past the truth. Past the shame. He focused on the story his uba had told him the night before. A story of good and evil, light and dark. A story where the triumphant sun rose high above its enemies.
On instinct, his fingers reached for the calloused warmth of his uba’s hand. The nursemaid from Kisun had been with him since before he could remember, but now—like everything else—she was gone.
Now there was no one left.
Against his will, the boy’s vision cleared, locking on the clear blue of the noon sky above. His fingers curled around the stiff linen of his shirtsleeves.
Don’t look away. If they see you looking away, they will say you are weak.
Once more, his uba’s words echoed in his ears.
He lowered his gaze.
The courtyard before him was draped in fluttering white, surrounded on three sides by rice-paper screens. Pennants flying the golden crest of the emperor danced in a passing breeze. To the left and right stood grim-faced onlookers—samurai dressed in the dark silks of their formal hakama.
In the center of the courtyard was the boy’s father, kneeling on a small tatami mat covered in bleached canvas. He, too, was draped in white, his features etched in stone. Before him sat a low table with a short blade. At his side stood the man who was once his best friend.
The boy sought his father’s eyes. For a moment, he thought his father looked his way, but it could have been a trick of the wind. A trick of the perfumed smoke curling above the squat brass braziers.
His father would not want to look into his son’s eyes. The boy knew this. The shame was too great. And his father would die before passing the shame of tears along to his son.
The drums began to pound out a slow beat. A dirge.
In the distance beyond the gates, the boy caught the muffled sound of small children laughing and playing. They were soon silenced by a terse shout.
Without hesitation, his father loosened the knot from around his waist and pushed open his white robe, exposing the skin of his stomach and chest. Then he tucked his sleeves beneath his knees to prevent himself from falling backward.
For even a disgraced samurai should die well.
The boy watched his father reach for the short tanto blade on the small table before him. He wanted to cry for him to stop. Cry for a moment more. A single look more.
But the boy remained silent, his fingers turning bloodless in his fists. He swallowed.
Don’t look away.
His father took hold of the blade, wrapping his hands around the skein of white silk near its base. He plunged the sword into his stomach, cutting slowly to the left, then up to the right. His features remained passive. No hint of suffering could be detected, though the boy searched for it—felt it—despite his father’s best efforts.
Never look away.
Finally, when his father stretched his neck forward, the boy saw it. A small flicker; a grimace. In the same instant, the boy’s heart shuddered in his chest. A hot burst of pain glimmered beneath it.
The man who had been his father’s best friend took two long strides, then swung a gleaming katana in a perfect arc toward his father’s exposed neck. The thud of his father’s head hitting the tatami mat silenced the drumbeats in a hollow start.
Still the boy did not look away. He watched the crimson spurt from his father’s folded body, past the edge of the mat and onto the grey stones beyond. The tang of the fresh blood caught in his nose—warm metal and sea salt. He waited until his father’s body was carried in one direction, his head to another to be displayed as a warning.
No hint of treason would be tolerated. Not even a whisper.
All the while, no one came to the boy’s side. No one dared to look him in the eye.
The burden of shame took shape in the boy’s chest, heavier than any weight he could ever fathom.
When the boy finally turned to leave the empty courtyard, his eyes fell upon the creaking door nearby. A nursemaid met his gaze, one hand sliding off the latch, the other clenched around two toy swords. Her skin flushed pink for an instant.
Never look away.
The nursemaid dropped her eyes in discomfort. The boy watched as she quickly ushered a boy and a girl through the wooden gate. They were a few years younger than he and obviously from a wealthy family. Perhaps the children of one of the samurai in attendance today. The younger boy straightened the fine silk of his kimono collar and darted past his nursemaid, never once pausing to acknowledge the presence of a traitor’s son.
The girl, however, stopped. She looked straight at him, her pert features in constant motion. Rubbing her nose with the heel of one hand, she blinked, letting her eyes run the length of him before pausing on his face.
He held her gaze.
“Mariko-chan!” the nursemaid scolded. She whispered in the girl’s ear, then tugged her away by the elbow.
Still the girl’s eyes did not waver. Even when she passed the pool of blood darkening the stones. Even when her eyes narrowed in understanding.
The boy was grateful he saw no sympathy in her expression. Instead the girl continued studying him until her nursemaid urged her around the corner.
His gaze returned to the sky, his chin in high disregard of his tears.
In the beginning, there were two suns and two moons.
One day, the victorious son would rise—
And set fire to all his father’s enemies.
Disclaimer: Thanks to Goodreads and Amazon for the book cover, about the book, and author information. Buying via these above links allows my site to get a % of the sale at no cost to you. This money gets used to buy items for giveaways. In accordance with FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers, I would like my readers to know that many of the books I review are provided to me for free by the publisher or author of the book in exchange for an honest review. I am in no way compensated for any reviews on this site. All donations are to help keep this site running via costs from shipping, .com charges, and other giveaways.
Comments are DELICIOUS! and now that were using this new format for comments the TOP 3 Commenters will all win bookish goodies each month! So that is just one more reason to comment! This is open to everyone! So get commenting!
Don't forget to check out our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!