GARDEN OF THORNS
Kidnapped from a life of royalty as a child, seventeen-year-old Rose knows how fragile life as a dancing Flower can be. Forced into the Garden, a burlesque troupe of slave girls, she has learned to see dangers everywhere when a wrong word could mean losing your tongue—or worse.
When the Garden is invited to perform for the king and her slave master kills a fellow dancer as a show of power, Rose decides she must escape. Her plan is simple: grab a hostage and run like hell. What she didn't count on was her hostage revealing himself as the leader of the rebellion, and she definitely never dreamed she’d end up joining the uprising. But with the kingdom stamping out the rebels and her former slave master threatening to murder a dancer a day until she returns, Rose quickly realizes that nowhere is safe-- especially since she’s the unwilling heir to the neighboring throne.
Caught between staying with her newfound family in the rebellion or rescuing her sisters from the Garden, Rose must decide whether taking back her birthright is a crown of petals or a crown of thorns. Only then will she be able to rescue the other Flowers she abandoned, unite the war-torn kingdom and maybe even save herself.
My shackles are lined with needle-thin spikes that bite into my wrists and ankles. Blood has crusted in between my fingers and toes but my chapped skin stopped throbbing sometime last night. I learned that the less I move, the less they dig. Stillness comes with its own set of pains, though. Stiffness has crept up my back, growing up my bones like branches.
My carriage, cage really, jolts to a stop and I fly off the splintered bench, landing hard on my hands and knees in the straw lining the floor. Inching up until I'm sitting, I look up at the wooden roof. A crack of light spills into the cart, its weak rays like gentle fingers on my face. It gives the illusion of hope. I turn away from the sun before that seed takes root in my chest and grows.
Sounds rise up from the crack in my wooden cage: men shouting orders, wood banging against wood as the cart doors are thrown back, and the shrill sound of giggling. A second later, something heavy hits my door. I crawl toward the crack on the left side of my cart and peer out.
Our line of caravans always attracts gawkers during our parade through town. Women grab tighter to their husband’s hands, men pretend not to stare, and children weave in between each cart and horse. Today, five little boys, all knobby knees and boney arms, have followed us and circled around my cart, throwing rocks.