Isra Kalb might be only sixteen and left to her own devices in a filthy slum in Pakistan. But her existence holds the key to saving the world from potential destruction.
Recently orphaned, Isra is left with a sister to care for and only a precious family heirloom to remember her parents by. It’s an amulet that just so happens to transport its keeper to Zarcane— the beastly garden where Adam and Eve were born. Since the first man and woman, a girl and a boy must guard the Amulet. And as the Keepers, they need to find each other and, together, return the amulet to Zarcane. Otherwise the beastly garden’s queen will lead her army to Earth, pillaging the lives of millions, to strengthen her power.
But when Isra learns the other Keeper’s identity—Farid—she realizes her mission is nothing short of doomed. Farid, bitter from a past affair that his mother had with Isra’s father, has no intention of helping. And there’s no way Isra can seal the cracks between Zarcane and Earth without her counterpart. If Isra fails, she will be the first female Keeper to betray the ancestral duty. Winged creatures with teeth like nails would be unleashed to Earth, and she would be the one to blame—responsible for every life taken.
The hunger cramps continued to gnaw at my empty stomach. They crept into the hollow insides of my body, silent and sly, snatching the sleep I never seemed to get enough of. I had fooled the yearning for a while by wrapping a cloth tight around my torso. I almost convinced myself that I wasn’t hungry. Almost. Now, enraged at the deception, the hunger was back with a vengeance. It was useless to try and go back to sleep. I had worn out my welcome in the dreamers’ lands.
I glanced at the silhouette of my sister, who was lying beside me. The blanket had slipped off her skinny body and now lay in an untidy heap on the floor. I picked it up and gently pulled it over her cold shoulders. She rolled, spinning a cocoon in its wool, and sighed happily. I felt my lips part in a smile that echoed her short-lived contentment.
Sparing a final glance at my sister, I crept out of the room. The door wailed behind me, its rusted hinges creaking. I hoped silently that it hadn’t woken my sister and began walking along the dirt road. I moved past rows of corrugated iron and wooden shacks, toward the only well in our slum. Maybe I could fill my stomach with water instead. I had done it before on far more than one occasion.
I looked back. From a distance, my home looked like a human bird’s nest, but I loved it as it was. The crumbling infrastructure was the framework of my life.