The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (The Court of Miracles #1)
English | 2020 | Children/Young Adult | ePUB | 8.2 MB
Les Miserables 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.
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 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.
I call Femi by whistling the way he taught me, and suddenly he appears, swooping down from nowhere.
“Kitten,” he says with a low bow, but I’ve no time for his gallantries and drag him by the arm to the inn. Azelma looks at us dead-eyed and tells me to scrape the wax from the tables into the pot so we can melt it down for new candles. When she slips out the back door to speak to Femi, I tiptoe to the kitchen and climb onto the tall red stool I sit on to wash the dishes. I can just make out the tops of their heads through the window. They’re standing pressed against the wall.