She has no name.
She has her knives, her training, and her halo.
The first and second give her the ability to defeat the opponents she is pitted against each month. The third frees her from pain and fear. From any kind of emotion at all. Everything is as it should be. Everything is as it should be, until…
Fear… Pain… Anger… Happiness… Desire… Guilt…
When a newly named Kit escapes the Sanctuary after killing her best friend, the last thing she needs is another knife in her hand. Or Ryka, the damaged, beautiful blond boy, whom she refuses to let save her. The sights and sounds of Freetown are new, yet one thing is familiar: the matches. The only difference? Where the blood in the Sanctuary landed only on the Colosseum floor, Kit will quickly learn that a river of red runs through Freetown’s very streets.
Without her halo, the inhabitants of Kit’s new home consider her saved, but is that really the case? Would she be better off free of the guilt associated with all the blood on her hands, or is the love of one boy worth living through all the pain?
Raksha is the call of the dead. It is the rumbling chant for fresh blood from the other side, the demand for sacrifice. The Colosseum is behind Kit. The fighting pits await.
RAKSHA EXCERPT ONE
I mmm doubtfully, scratching Jada behind her ears. She seems to like that. Cai’s face is gone now, although who knows how long the reprieve will be. When I look up, Ryka is watching me pet Jada.
“She likes you,” he says.
“You sound surprised.”
“I’m not. My sister’s a good judge of character. If Liv likes you that pretty much means everyone else will. Including my fickle dog.” He whistles softly and Jada pricks her ears at the sound.
“And you?” I ask.
He smiles. “Seriously?”
I nod, and Ryka’s mouth pulls up to one side in a way that makes my heart race. He looks wicked.
“Well, we’re friends. In that weird way where you’re eternally mad at me, and I’m eternally imagining what you look like naked.”
“What!” I go to slap his arm but he ducks out of reach, grinning. From the way my insides react to his words, it feels like I’ve swallowed something entirely too hot. Is this normal? Is this what liking someone feels like? It’s confusing and frustrating and frankly—okay, I’ll admit it—kind of wonderful. But what the hell am I supposed to do with that? How do I change who I am, sixteen years of fighting, a life of blood? How do I trade in all that confrontation for something a little sweeter? I think it’s probably too late.
“I really didn’t do myself any favours when I met you, did I? You still don’t trust me?” Ryka tips his head forward, smiling ruefully at his feet when I shake my head. “In that case I suppose it’s pointless asking if you’ve fallen in love with me yet?”
The boy is determined to make me die a death this evening. It’s all I can do not to choke as I shake my head. “Sadly, no. I don’t think I want to kill you anymore, though. So there’s that.”
In the moonlight, Ryka’s eyes bow as he smiles broadly. “There is that. We’ll have to see what we can do to change your mind, though. I’ve never been very good at waiting for anything I want.” He shoves me gently with his shoulder and my heart stumbles.
“You want me?”
Ryka’s smile is devastatingly sharp. “You own me, remember. And now, after the other night…well, I guess I kinda own you, too.”
I focus on him and clench my dagger in my hand. The sea of voices swells, and I’m certain I can pick out Miranda’s deranged shrieking, yelling over and over again, “End him! End him!”
Falin Asha’s brown eyes fix on me and it looks for a second like he’s crying. That can’t be right, though. I hover just out of his reach, staring at him. “What’s going on?”
He smiles crookedly and brushes his hair back out of his face. “It’s going to be okay, all right? Remember that.”
I’m so thrown by his comment that I am utterly unprepared for what he does next. The knife in his hand snakes out toward me, and I skitter away from him to the left. He knows how I react, however, and he moves with me, my mirror image. He darts for me and does the unthinkable, something that spells the end to the fight and me along with it: he grabs hold of my striking arm at the wrist. A low gasp runs around the Colosseum, growing in pitch until it’s a rushing echo in my ears. I try and fumble for the Balisong on my belt, hoping I can flick it open and use it, but Falin Asha is there before me. He doesn’t knock my hand away, just holds his over it. He pulls me closer to him and sucks in a deep breath.
“Don’t let them see,” he hisses. With that, I feel a twisting movement between our two bodies, and then his eyes go wide. He looks stunned, the way Elin children do when they fall and they’re unsure whether they’re supposed to cry or not. I look down and see his own knife submerged up to the handle in his stomach. A cracking, bubbling noise comes out of his throat, and he smiles slowly at me. The whole Colosseum has gone deadly silent. I can think nothing other than this: What have you done? What on earth have you gone and done?
Frankie Rose is a British expat, who is currently enjoying the perks of living in Australia- her awesome husband, sunshine, and vitamin D. She spends her time creating fictional universes in which the guy sometimes gets the girl, the heroes occasionally die, and the endings aren’t always happy. But they usually are.
Available from 30 April.