The Cruelest Mercy (Hardcover)
After surviving the Crossing, Zahru has sworn off adventures. While Crown Prince Jet navigates the looming threat of war, she's content to simply figure out what the future holds for them. But they're dealt a devastating blow when prince Kasta returns with a shocking claim: he's the true winner of the Crossing and the rightful heir, and he bears the gods' mark as proof. Even more surprising—he's not the only one.
Somehow, Zahru possesses the very same mark, giving her equal right to the throne. The last thing she wants is to rule beside her would-be executioner, but she can't let Orkena fall into his merciless hands. So Zahru, Jet, and their allies must race against the clock to find a way to stop Kasta, because once he's crowned, there's no telling what horrors he'll unleash to win the war.
Zahru will do whatever it takes to keep Kasta from taking the throne...but to stop a villain, is she willing to become one herself?
★ "In this charming, well-rounded follow-up to The Kinder Poison, Zahru’s entertaining, funny narrative voice continues to engage and balance out the otherwise heavier tone of a story that deals with power dynamics, dark magic, horrific betrayals, and social injustice and that offers a thoughtful examination of just what a ruler should be willing to sacrifice for the greater good. A fantastically rewarding sequel." —Kirkus, starred review
PRAISE FOR THE KINDER POISON:
★ "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." —SLJ, 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
“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.” —Chelsea Bobulski, author of Remember Me
"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." —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