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In the magical kingdom of Orkena, Zahru has long dreamed of a life beyond the desert, even though she knows her lowly position as a stable girl who can commune with animals will never afford her such a luxury.
All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes an ancient tradition known as the Crossing. It's a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish - and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey's end - will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.
As preparations and celebrations commence, Zahru jumps at the chance to experience a small taste of glamour by sneaking into the palace. But the minor indiscretion quickly turns into the worst mistake of her life as she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is ultimately forced to become the Crossing's human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most powerful people in the world.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"Mae has crafted a fascinating world with a unique magic structure that is wholly believable because of the vibrant characters within it. With characters to love, to hate, and to love to hate, plus a plot full of adventure skillfully woven with suspense, this is a must-purchase for all YA collections." --School Library Journal, starred review "Zahru's unexpectedly humorous inner voice, the rich worldbuilding full of political intrigue, a slow-burning romance, and a fantastic set of well-developed characters (both friends and foes) mark this exciting and refreshing tale of power and accountability. A funny, rewarding story for fans of optimistic tales with a bite." --Kirkus, starred review
"The Kinder Poison delivers a deadly dose of danger and ancient magic in a cleverly penned fantasy, perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes or Three Dark Crowns. Like a coiled snake, it's full of wicked surprises." --Colleen Oakes, bestselling author of the Queen of Hearts series
"The Kinder Poison is a heartfelt, magical tale that swept me away like a desert storm." --Brenda Drake, New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies
"A captivating tale of duty versus dreams, woven through with a unique system of magic and a push-pull romance that will have you demanding the sequel. Magically seductive!" --Lori Goldstein, author of Screen Queens and Becoming Jinn
"The best fantasy I've read in years. The Kinder Poison will grip you from the very first page and refuse to let go, sweeping you into an unforgettable adventure and leaving you breathless. Get ready for your newest obsession." --Chelsea Bobulski, author of Remember Me
"Zahru is a witty, engaging narrator whose supernatural skills might be lacking but whose ability to throw out some epic one-linezingers is well honed and highly satisfying. The heirs are surprisingly nuanced as three once-loving siblings pitted against oneanother. A thrilling trip across sandswept dunes with a shocking ending that points to a dramatic sequel." -- BCCB
"A great cross-country race, sibling rivalry, magic gifts (or lack thereof), and unlikely love all come together in a delicious stew of adventure. As in other fantasies, magical ability and ability type help determine someone's value, but Mae bestows additional complexity on her characters by deliberately exploring the human traits that shape them as well." -- Booklist
"The engaging cast stands out, especially the antagonists, whose well-developed backgrounds ensure sustained narrative tension. Zahru's amusing mental dialogue and nascent romance complement the fast-paced plot, resulting in an entertaining duology opener." --Publishers Weekly