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A nameless 11-year-old girl survives the massacre of her clan only to be later captured by the mages who believe her people, the Mahdek, are demon worshippers who deserve nothing good. She is tortured and imprinted with metallic marks on her skin—a terrible curse that denies her any semblance of love and belonging and turns her into an outcast. But the nameless girl is nothing if not resilient, and years of vagrancy, thievery, and utter loneliness fuel her need for revenge against those who cursed her. When she comes across a nonmagical gambler who can seemingly get away with anything, she learns of the baffling and mysterious ways of the Argosi and a path to reclaiming her name and her identity. This introduction to the Spellslinger series is a twisting, gripping tale of prejudice, revenge, identity, and survival against all odds in a heady mix of magic, philosophy, and adventure, marred only by references to spirit animals in a non-Indigenous context. The story manages to maintain a lightness through Ferius’ snarky, funny narrative voice—a tremendous literary accomplishment considering the no-punches-pulled griminess of her tale, which includes suicidal ideation and sees its young protagonist endure graphic physical and mental torture. Lesbian Ferius reads as White.

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