It was Brooke's recklessness that got them locked out in the first place, and her sacrifice that got her friends back in. Now, with Brooke's paralyzed body deteriorating and her caster self going mad with loneliness, Alex and Maryanne know they have to find a way to get Brooke's cast back before her ailing body fails ... or they'll die trying. With Melissa Kosnick, the region's most motivated, passionate Heller hunter, following their every move, the "die trying" part is a real possibility.
The young women will need all the help they can get – from both the living and the dead – if Brooke is to escape a sentence of lonely exile, stranded forever in the night. But more, they'll need each other in this desperate test of faith, friendship and survival.
But the Casters have a righteous fury of their own. God help anyone who dares harm one.
In fact, demons ARE rising. Slowly. One at a time, to dwell unnoticed among us as they multiply our misery. And they’re rising in Chthonic City where the veil between the Chthonic (the Underworld for which the City was named, though the meaning of the word has been long forgotten) and earthly reality is very thin.
Demons cannot rise until a human soul is driven mad. Over the millennia, demons have crossed as they could, but never before has humanity been so stressed as it is now in the Western world. Never before have we been so starved for time, touch, meaning, purpose. Never have our circuits been so overloaded with gloom and doom, economically, environmentally, spiritually. Never before have the demons had such a vulnerable population. Scenting a chance to break free in numbers, they hurl themselves into our dreams, battering at our sanity.
But these demons are not unopposed. In a crumbling church on the edge of town, an ancient Guardian has been watching and waiting. When the threat from the Underworld surges, the Guardian's job is to send out a call to a fresh crop – a cell – of Gatekeepers, and train them to descend into the Chthonic through the dream state and do battle with the demons, slaying them there before they can cross the threshold.
In Chthonic City, a new cell of Gatekeepers – teenagers all – has just been summoned....
For Maree Krystek, the pharmaceutical mind-wipe that ushered in the New Order failed, a fact she manages to conceal, but which makes her service as the Prophet’s concubine unendurable. But endure she does—until her sister Zophia is identified as a breeder, a soul-destroying fate of birthing infants, only to surrender them to wet nurses to expedite the next breeding.
Maree escapes with Zophia, but once outside the Compound, they must elude not just soldiers, but the roaming bands of Reprobates, violent criminals loosed into the wild to discourage such escapes.
The Prophet wants the women returned to face his wrath, but he also knows that if anyone can locate Society Three, the whispered-about haven for non-believers, it’s Maree. He tasks Kallem Marsh, Captain of the First Guard, to follow the women to the rebel base before apprehending them.
When Reprobates menace the women, Kallem intervenes to save them. To salvage his mission, he tells the two he was cast out in disgrace over their escape and has no loyalty to the Prophet. Maree doesn’t trust him an inch, but she knows they’ll need his help to survive the quest for Society Three.
Yet Maree remembers something from “before”, something Kallem does not—a shared desire that once scorched her teenage soul.