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House of Snake and Tome

House of Snake and Tome

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Book 2 of the Stone Singers series. 

Moriganne faces exile from her family unless she secures an invitation to one of the Hundred Halls' four secretive and influential societies, known for manipulating events and wielding forbidden magic globally. However, her path is blocked by a formidable rival, and when a mysterious death implicating the societies demands justice, Moriganne is torn between safeguarding her family's position and pursuing the truth.

Synopsis

At the heart of the Hundred Halls, four secret societies have manipulated events for their own dark purposes. They tamper with forbidden magics. They blackmail kings. No corner of the world escapes their reach.

Moriganne must acquire an invite one of these societies or her father will banish her from the family, but her biggest rival stands in her way at every step. When an unexpected death leads to an investigation that implicates the societies, Moriganne must decide what is more important—protecting her siblings and her standing in the family, or finding justice for those she has lost.

Chapter One Look Inside

The dress alone was worth a quarter of a million dollars: gold flake scales hardened by enchantment, pearl-inlaid belt cinched around her slender middle, and a silk double split skirt that revealed her tanned thighs. Moriganne tugged on the jade-and-diamond necklace that lay uncomfortably against her collarbones.
"I feel like I'm wearing armor," she said, shifting in the back seat, stretching her neck and grimacing.
Andromeda swatted her leg gently. "You're fidgeting more than a toddler who's had too many bowls of Fireballs."
Moriganne inhaled slowly, willing herself to calm. "Are you sure this doesn't look ridiculous? It feels ridiculous."
"High fashion is supposed to be over the top. Last year, Celesse showed up in what looked like if the Queen of Hearts had banged the Mad Hatter and had a kid." Andromeda checked over her shoulder, her lips coming to a point. The privacy shield was enchanted but they'd promised each other not to trust the normal protections because they could be compromised. "Aren't you used to wearing weird stuff?"
"This"—she tapped on the scaled bodice—"doesn't allow for breathing, which is kind of important for singing. Weird I can deal with. Comfort is a priority for performance."
Andromeda stuck her face to the window, which reflected the Mayan necklace tattoo she'd added when they'd been staying at her father's place near Puerto Vallarta. It was the least amount of body modification that she'd had in the time Moriganne had known her. Not even her eyes were changed. They'd been so focused on preparing for this event and the new school year that her youngest sister had barely experimented with new mods.
"Three more limos and then you're up," said Andromeda as she put a hand on her knee to calm its bounce. "Don't worry. Nerves are expected. Just remember everything we talked about this summer."
"Everything? Low bar," said Moriganne, chuckling. "I thought studying for the Codas was hard."
The SUV was nearing the red carpet, which only increased Moriganne's heart rate. Camera flashes bounced off the SUV. She flinched even though the tinted window protected her vision.
"Oh, one more thing," said Andromeda, smiling slyly. "I had something made. A little extra protection."
She reached into the fanny pack around her midsection. An oblong black shape crawled up Andromeda's wrist.
"What is it?" asked Moriganne, trying not to recoil.
"A scarab. Not real. It's made of discarded insect carapaces. One of the fifth years in my hall made it." Andromeda held up her arm to Moriganne's chest. The insect crawled off her wrist, attaching itself to the thin gold scales. The jagged legs pressed through the gaps against her skin, but for her sister's sake, she repressed the urge to shudder. "It'll keep Monique from laying any charms on you. The mandibles will click if it detects that kind of magic."
"You really think our mom would do that?"
Moriganne hadn't gotten used to calling Victor and Monique her parents. Her real ones were Hal and Judith, long in the grave, but leaving Minerva behind had meant adopting her new family.
"Never a direct charm, but the perfume she likes to wear was specifically brewed to make her presence appealing and to make those speaking with her more agreeable to her will. She's not above using that influence, even on her kids, and especially if it's to get back at Vic." When Moriganne made a face, Andromeda continued, "If it's any consolation, if you get into Snake and Tome, you'll learn nasty tricks like that too."
"When I get into Snake and Tome," said Moriganne.
"When," said Andromeda, nodding. "Hopefully tonight is a formality. Mom's just kicking the tires on her oldest living daughter to see if she's worthy enough."
They both knew that was unlikely to be true. Andromeda's flat gaze said as much. The SUV lurched to a stop which sent Moriganne's heart rate into the stratosphere. Rows of photographers were waiting for her exit.
"Shit," said Andromeda, sliding out of the way and pulling her knees to her chest in the shadows of the back seat as an attendant in a loincloth and jackal headdress pulled the door open. "You're up," squeaked her sister, sticking out her thumb.
The red carpet was no stranger to her former self, but she'd had the aura of the Siren of Savannah to wrap around her slender shoulders. Excellence bred the arrogance that one belonged, but Moriganne felt like a complete fraud inside this stolen skin. As she stepped out of the SUV, cameras flashing like a thousand supernovas, Moriganne put on a mask of conceit. The MOMA Gala Ball had to be her return to elite society. If she couldn't maneuver an invite into Snake and Tome, then Victor would cut her out of family decisions. He'd made it clear that entrance into the secret society was a prerequisite to his favor.

Main Tropes

  • Urban Fantasy
  • Magical Academy
  • Found Family
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