Born on Midwinter Day, Saba and her twin brother Lugh are opposites—she’s dark, scrawny and cantankerous, while he exudes calm with his golden beauty—but that doesn't stop her from rising to the occasion when he needs her.
Weeks before their 18th birthday, four rough horsemen ride into their isolated, desert homestead, killing their star-reading Pa and taking Lugh captive. Saba embarks on a treacherous journey to save Lugh, with her pet crow, Nero, and her 9-year-old sister, Emmi, in tow. Saba and Emmi are kidnapped by slavers, who sell Saba to the Cage Master of the Colosseum, where she becomes known as the Angel of Death. Overseeing this macabre world is a king who keeps people in check with a narcotic, convincing them to renew his life by sacrificing a boy born on Midwinter Day. Saba learns about Lugh’s fate from Jack, a fellow prisoner. With the help of Nero and a group of freedom fighters, Jack and Saba escape and rush to Lugh’s rescue. This debut is a mashup of Spartacus, the court of Louis XIV and post-apocalyptic dystopia. Saba’s naive, uneducated voice narrates this well-paced heroic quest in dialect, an effective device for this tale that combines a love story, monsters and sibling rivalry.Readers looking for a strong female protagonist will find much to look forward to in this new series. (Science fiction. 12 & up)