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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > May 2018 > There will be blood

There will be blood

Arthur Slade brings his piano-wire precision to the story of a one-handed fugitive up againsta magical, merciless queen

FICTION

Crimson

Arthur Slade

HarperCollins, Ages 10–14

Crimson opens with 11-year-old Fen in the village square awaiting punishment from Queen Servilia, the magical ruler of Illium. For filching a tiny glass butterfly (a gift for her little sister), Fen has been sentenced to lose her hand. In most novels, a commotion or new character would pop up, disrupting this moment of horrific violence. But Arthur Slade is willing to go there. The Queen’s Guard – his red hair a symbol of Servilia’s magic, the only magic allowed in Illium – swiftly dispatches Her Majesty’s justice.

Fast-forward three years, and Fen is scraping by as a one-handed berry picker and taking care of her sister, May, while her mother works in the red dust mines harvesting the material that grants the Queen her power. Their loving family is a bright spot in a grim reality. One day, Fen wakes up to find her hair turning red, a sign that she’s becoming a “wildmagic” – a person with unpredictable abilities. This magic is different from the Queen’s and her guards’; and since Servilia has no control over it, she’s decreed the very existence of wildmagics as illegal.

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