Spotlight on The Court Of Miracles (Kester Grant), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to spotlight The Court Of Miracles by Kester Grant.
Read on for more about Kester and her book, an excerpt, plus an giveaway!
Meet Kester Grant!
Kester (Kit) Grant is a British-Mauritian writer of color who has lived all over the world: Mauritius, Democratic Republic of the Congo, England, USA, and France. She has worked as a copywriter and a volunteer writing mentor for the Ministry of Stories, a UK nonprofit based on Dave Eggers's 826 National. You can learn more about her on her website at kestergrant.com and follow her on Twitter at @kester_grant.
Meet The Court Of Miracles!
Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris's criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina's life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father's fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger--the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh--Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city's dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice--protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.
~ Excerpt ~
Le Début de l’Histoire
It is a time of famine, a time of hungering want that threatens to eat you from the inside out, leaving you good only to wait for the coming of death. And Death the Endless always comes.
It is before dawn, dark and silent. The corpses of the starving have been laid out on the cobblestones overnight, waiting for the carts to bear them away. The dead are wide-eyed, unhearing, uncaring, unafraid. They remind me of my sister, Azelma.
Azelma, who never cries, cried for two whole days. She wouldn’t eat or sleep. I tried everything, even saying that Father was coming with two bottles of whisky in his belly and rage in his eyes. But she didn’t move, unhearing, uncaring, unafraid.
She’s ﬁnally stopped crying. For the last few hours she’s been lying on her bed, staring into the distance. She won’t answer me, won’t even look at me. I think I prefer the crying.
Azelma used to wake me with a murmur of “Viens, ma petite chatonne,” and I’d lean into her warmth while she brushed my hair and helped me draw on my clothes.
Now I slip from the bed without her and change in the cold, putting on a dress that’s getting too short. Giving my hair a few tugs with a hairbrush and teasing it into a lopsided braid. I splash my face with icy water poured
from a heavy porcelain jug and sneak a look back at her. She’s on her side, eyes open but seeing nothing.
The inn is quiet at this hour. I hesitate a moment longer, but she doesn’t move, so I go downstairs and grab a pail, take a faded scarf from a peg by the door. The scarf is Azelma’s and is too big for me, but the well is many streets away from the inn and the walk will be cold. I hate making the trip alone, in the darkness, but I must.
Outside, the freezing air burns my throat. I hasten to the well, trying not to look at the bodies I pass on the street. At the well I lower the pail and heave it back, full, my numb ﬁngers straining with the weight of it.
The road back is treacherous, and with every cautious step my breath rises in clouds. With every breath I think of my sister, and the fear eats at my insides.
When I reach the inn, my shaking arms are relieved to put the bucket down. I pour some of the water into a pan and set it to boil, then look around. The ﬂoor needs mopping, even though that never keeps out the smell of spilled wine, and in the dim light, the main hall is a disarray of plates, empty tankards, and jugs; all need scrubbing.
I have dried hundreds of plates while Azelma ﬂicked soapy bubbles at me. I duck and complain. She wrinkles her nose and tells me, “Kittens hate water.”
I sigh and decide to start on the ﬂoor. The mop is heavy, and it makes my tired arms ache dreadfully, but I push it back and forth with vigor. Maybe if I can scrub away the stains, I can also scrub away the sickening feeling growing in the pit of my stomach.
My sister, my sister.
Last night Father said nothing when Azelma didn’t emerge from her room for the third night in a row. It was as if he’d forgotten she existed. He hummed, drumming his ﬁngers on the table cheerily. He even threw me a hunk of warm brioche, which was so unlike him that I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. There’s barely ﬂour in the city for bread, let alone for brioche, so I don’t know where he got it. My father is a thief; he’s stolen many a shinier jewel or weightier gold purse than this scrap of dough. But what use are jewels or gold in a time of famine?
My stomach growled low and heavy at the scent of the pastry. But fear was gnawing at my bones worse than hunger, so I brought the bread to Azelma, and now it sits growing stale on a chipped plate beside her bed.
My hands are red and raw with cleaning, and there’s a sheen of sweat on my brow, but still I shiver. If Azelma doesn’t eat, she’ll soon be lying with the corpses outside in the cold, waiting for the carter to pick her up. But she’s not feverish, I checked; there’s something else wrong with her, something dreadful. What’s worse, I can’t do anything to heal it. I feel like the kitten Azelma likens me to—tiny, fragile, batting my paws against the wind.
There’s a sound at the top of the stair, and when I turn, Azelma is there: clothed, hair plaited, looking straight at me. I should be relieved, but her expression is unnerving.
“I’ll ﬁnish up here,” she says in a ﬂat voice. “You need to ﬁnd Femi.”
I should be happy to drop the cleaning, but my ﬁngers tighten around the mop handle, and I frown. Why should I get Femi Vano, the one they call the Messenger? He comes and goes as he pleases, whispering things in my father’s ear. He speaks to Azelma in murmurs and makes her laugh. But it’s not even dawn and the inn stands empty; Father is snoring in his bed. Why must I get Femi now? Can we not clean as we always do, side by side?
Azelma comes down the stairs and takes the mop from me. My sister has a way with words; her voice is soothing, like honey, and the customers like her for that, and because she’s pretty, soft. But now, even hushed, her voice is dagger-sharp.
“Bring him around to the back, and tell no one. Do you hear me?” I nod, reluctantly heading for the door.
Azelma always asks me if I have a scarf or reminds me I need a coat. She tells me to be careful and not to dawdle. But now she turns away, saying nothing. I don’t know this hard girl. She’s not my sister. She’s something else, a hollow thing wearing my sister’s face.
The Court Of Miracles
By: Kester Grant
Publisher: Knopf BYR
Release Date: June 2nd, 2020
One winner will receive a copy of The Court Of Miracles (Kester Grant) ~ (US Only)
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