Happy Monday, friends! I’m so happy to be kicking off the blog tour for Melissa Marr’s Seven Black Diamonds! Below is an excerpt from the book, where you’ll find the first scavenger hunt clue in bold red. Each scavenger hunt stop will have a clue so make sure you keep them somewhere safe!
Seven Black Diamonds
“A dead baby. A score of slaughtered sailors. The truth of what started the war was a matter of which side you were on and how you spun the story. In her grief, the queen wept seven tears into the sea, one for each of her brightest diamonds, and then she waited” (The Cost Of Secrets by Iana Abernathy)
Chapter 1: EILIDH
“You were created to serve.” The Queen of Blood and Rage sat on a throne inside her small throne room. The throne in this room was nothing more than wood and vine. It flowered at her will, but the blooms were absent today. The queen herself needed no ornamentation to evoke terror. Her eyes did that without any seeming effort from her. Today, she was worse that usual as she’d been preparing to spar when the Sleepers were brought before her. Her hair was bound back in a tight braid. Her hands were gloved, and she wore armor the color of battle-blackened blood.
Behind her on the wall were an assortment of sharpened blades, swords as well as axes and daggers. In front of her, kneeling on the bone-white floor, were five of her Sleepers, half-fae, half-humans who were created to serve as soldiers in her war on humanity. At the queen’s either side were her two living children, her Unseelie son Rhys and Eilidh, the queen’s daughter with the king of Seelie court.
No one else was in the room. The usually crowded chamber seemed almost cavernous with so few people present. Unlike many meetings, this one was secret. Neither of the courts knew of the queen’s Sleepers.
Eilidh wished she didn’t know either—especially when the girl kneeling in front of her mother said, “I’m not a murderer.”
“Truly,” the queen murmured.
Anyone who lived in the Hidden Lands would recognize that tone. Eilidh suppressed a wince. She was the queen’s heir, and whether or not she wanted to be the next in line to the Hidden Throne, Eilidh had a duty. She would stand in this small room with her mother and brother. She would witness the proceedings with an emotionless mien.
“I understand that we were born to serve your cause,” the girl said. “We all do.”
The five Sleepers behind her said nothing.
“We will not kill for you though,” the girl said. She was still on her knees, but her voice was strong, echoing slightly in the queen’s private throne room, despite the obvious danger in disobeying the Queen of Blood and Rage. The other five Sleepers remained silent. At least one of them looked as foolishly brave as this half-fae girl who was facing the Queen.
Their silence condemned them.
Endellion ruled both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, and even those fae-blood who lived outside the Hidden Lands. Possession of any fae blood was enough to be declared her subject—by decree of both fae and human law.
“Stand,” the queen commanded.
“You need to understand . . . I was raised as a human. We all were. You can’t expect us just to murder them. It’s—”
“Them or us.” The queen spoke over her as she descended from her throne.
“I’m both,” the girl argued as she came to her feet. “My mother is human. There is no them or us for the Sleepers. Can’t you see that?”
The queen glanced at Rhys, her gaze conveying the order.
When Rhys walked toward the girl, Eilidh stayed beside the queen’s throne. Protocol was a part of life in the Hidden Lands, even in the tiny private room where there would be no living witnesses beyond the royal family. Eilidh’s role as heir was to observe the proceedings, to learn, to see what a queen must do for her subjects.
The girl stood, but she did not move.
Rhys could’ve made her. He was the queen’s most trusted guard and truest servant. If she wanted him to move the young half-fae, half-human girl, he would do so, but the queen held up her hand.
She stepped down and walked over to face the girl. “Do you speak for your whole team?”
Eilidh wanted to tell the girl, to tell all of them, to stop what was about to happen. Instead, she forced herself to watch, knowing that these moments were what defined a future queen. She didn’t ever want to take the Hidden Throne, but as she had so many times already, Eilidh swore to herself that she would be a different sort of ruler than her mother.
The girl lifted her head to meet the queen’s eyes. “I do. We are a unit, but not the terrorists you’ve tried to make us become.”
None of the other five people dissented when the queen’s gaze drifted over them. “So you all choose to be human rather than fae? So be it.”
In the next moment, a scream began and ended. One of the queen’s various blades sliced across the girl’s throat. Between one breath and the next, she was dead.
Eilidh didn’t let her wince show on her face. Showing her feelings was not something she was allowed to do, even when the witnesses would be soon dead. Weakness wasn’t ever acceptable.
Looking up from the body at her feet, the queen ordered, “Mind Eilidh’s safety.”
Rhys stepped closer to the heir of the Hidden throne, as their mother glanced at the rest of the group.
In mere minutes, they were dead. They stood no chance against the queen. She had held the Unseelie throne for centuries and had bloodied her blade with every fighter who came close to being her equal. Even the Seelie King himself wasn’t so foolish as to raise a blade to her. Centuries ago, when she walked into his court, dripping with the blood of his best fighters, and announced that they would mate and unify their courts, he simply acquiesced.
Standing in the room with her children, the floor strewn with bodies, Endellion sighed. “I need to speak to the other handlers. Most of the Sleeper cells are not performing as they need to be.” Her longsword was pointed at the floor; blood dripped from the fae-wrought steel to the stone floor. The queen herself wasn’t even winded. She sighed and said, “My jewels are the only Sleepers that haven’t needed to be eliminated . . . yet.”
“Why?” Eilidh asked before she could stop herself.
Her mother smiled. “Because they were created with a different level of attention.”
Eilidh had questions, but she didn’t bother asking. The queen shared only what she thought necessary. That was the privilege of ruling. Eilidh bowed her head and held her silence.
Rhys drew their mother’s attention then. “Shall I clean this or do you still want to spar?”
Endellion looked briefly at him and then back to her heir. “Eilidh will tend this. You will spar with me. Come”
And then she walked away with no other word, leaving Eilidh with five dead bodies.
This riveting fantasy marks Melissa Marr’s return to the world of faery courts that made her Wicked Lovely series an international phenomenon.
Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humans and faeries. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.
Lily’s father has always shielded her, but when she’s sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, she’s delivered straight into the arms of a fae sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite’s been chosen to join them…and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.
Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers at the edge of their seats.
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