Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.
The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.
Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.
She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.
Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature–or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?
Welcome to the shadow hour.
Chapter One Excerpt
Who are you?
The question soared across the scorched sky, spoken by a chorus of voices that seeped through the cracks in the rocks that glowed like coals, that oozed from the pulsing hot brightness of the magma inching down, down, down to swallow all life in its path.
Lava ran over Echo’s boots. She looked at her feet, dispassionate, divorced from the sight of the rubber and leather bubbling and melting. Her shoelaces caught fire, but she did not feel them burn. Soot coated her skin, clung to her hair, her eyelashes, her clothes. The blue had been burned out of the sky by the eruption, and darkness descended, called forth by a veil of ash.
Who are you?
“This isn’t real,” Echo said.
And that isn’t an answer.
This was a dream. And in this dream, she was burning. Her skin blistered in the heat. Magma rushed around her ankles. It didn’t scare her, though it had the first time she’d had this dream. And the second. And the third. But by now, she’d lived through this scenario so many times, it was beginning to feel routine. “All she had to do was endure it. Soon enough, she would wake up. She could do that. If there was anything at which Echo excelled, it was surviving.
She ignored the question—she’d yet to answer it in any of her dreams—and looked toward the gaping maw of the volcano. She stood at its base, watching it belch fire and smoke and ash into the heavens. Screams rose from the village below. That was the worst part. She could ignore her burning body, but she could never tune out the screams. Every night, without fail, from the first night. The night she had opened a door into the world and let the firebird enter. She could feel it now, its wings fluttering inside her as if testing the limits of its mortal cage.
Every night, the same question was posed to her, asked by a speaker with a thousand voices ringing as one: Who are you?
I am Echo, she thought. She didn’t speak the words aloud. She knew the answer wasn’t correct. Or perhaps the answer was simply not complete.
Melissa Grey was born and raised in New York City. She wrote her first short story at the age of twelve and hasn’t stopped writing since. After earning a degree in fine arts at Yale University, she traveled the world, then returned to New York City where she currently works as a freelance journalist. To learn more about Melissa, visit melissa-grey.com and follow @meligrey on Twitter.
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