Title: GARDEN OF THORNS
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 96,000
Kidnapped 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 booked to perform for the lord of the kingdom and her slave master kills a fellow dancer to keep Rose in check, she decides to break free. Her plan is simple: grab a hostage and run like hell. What she didn't count on was her hostage being the leader of a rebellion against the current ruler, and she definitely never dreamed she’d end up joining. But with her old slave master threatening to kill off a dancer a day until she returns and the kingdom looking to stamp out the rebels, Rose quickly realizes that nowhere is really safe, especially since she’s the unwilling heir to the throne.
Caught between the family she’s created for herself in the rebellion and the title she’s never wanted, Rose must decide whether 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 new shackles are lined with needle-thin spikes that bite into my chapped wrists and ankles. Their constant prickling is a reminder of what my attempted freedom cost me, a warning of what another failed break will mean. My carriage, cage really, jolts to a stop and I fly off the splintered bench, landing hard on my hands and knees in the dirty straw that lines 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 it before that seed can take root in my chest and grow.
From the outside, our traveling band looks a lot like the circus that used to visit my father’s land every spring. The brightly colored carriages portray the traveling 13 Dancing Flowers, but unlike the circus, we aren’t meant to entertain the children. The paintings on the sides of our carts are meant to tantalize, each dress is brighter than the last, accentuating the curves and dips of our forms as we dance, forced to lose one petal at a time.
Sounds rise up from the crack in my wooden cage: men shouting orders, horses whinnying impatiently, cart doors being thrown back and the materials to make our temporary garden being dragged out of storage. I crawl towards the small hole in the edge of my cart and wait. The banging begins like clockwork.