Claire Legrand’s An Ivy and Glass Crown

A crown intertwined with ivy.

Image: Source books Casablanca

Claire Legrand is a bestselling YA author—her works include the Empire and winter game trilogies, but it’s coming out next year her first adult fantasy saga. The first book is titled A crown of ivy and glassand io9 is pleased to unveil the cover and a snippet today.

Here’s more about the saga, which has been called the Middlemist Trilogy:Bridgerton meets A garden of thorns and roses in this new fantasy novel series. The story revolves around Gemma, Farrin and Mara Ashbourne, three sisters in a noble magical family who must fight against hidden dark forces trying to destroy the Middlemist – an ancient barrier that protects their world from the dangerous realm of the ancient gods – and long. -buried secrets that will change their lives forever.”

And here’s the full cover of A crown and ivy and glassfeaturing a custom illustration by digital fantasy artist Nekro:

Image for article titled Magical danger galore in this excerpt from Claire Legrand's A Crown of Ivy and Glass

Image: Source books Casablanca

And here is the excerpt from A crown of ivy and glass; it shows a heated moment between magical sisters Gemma and Mara, and provides an introduction to the creepy Middlemist.


‘I have something to tell you, Gemma,’ my sister began slowly, ‘something your father is not allowed to tell. Not yet. But tell Farrin. Ask her to pick Gareth out of college. Sit down and tell them both at once – I don’t trust the mail, not even a wilder’s messenger, not with this – and make sure no one is around to hear it. Maybe the three of you can do something together before it’s too late.”

Mara laughed a little, quietly, like a held breath. “At the very least, the secrets I keep will weigh less on me, if you and Farrin share the burden.” Then she frowned, her gaze drifting. “All weapons within reach, and yet my hands have long been tied…”

The expression on her face was so distant and strange, alternating between fear and sadness and anger, that my blood went cold with horror.

“I don’t understand,” I said. “Before it’s too late? Too late for what?”

She fell silent and stared at the floor. I touched her chin and turned her towards me.

“Mar?” I set my jaw. “Tell me, right now, what to say.”

But before she could, a loud jingle of bells exploded from the priory, so sudden and cacophonic that I nearly jumped out of my skin.

Mara immediately stood up, her fatigue had disappeared. She loomed over me, tense and curled up, her palm over the dagger around her waist. A hawk’s cry pierced the air and Mara whispered, “Freyda.” Then, without looking at me, she barked, “Enter the priory, Gemma. utilities.”

With that she ran out of the temple and down the mountain, her steps smooth and long, her footsteps almost silent, and I should have obeyed – oh, I should have obeyed – but I could not forget that terrible look on her face, nor the ghostly quality of her voice. And I knew what those bubbles meant.

An intruder, as the director considered them. Some being or being from the Old Land had slipped through the Middlemist somewhere along its thousand-mile length, breaking the gulf between that realm and ours, either by accident or by design.

For the Order of the Rose, the reason didn’t matter. Invaders would either be fought back to where they belonged or killed. No exceptions. No delays. When the bells rang, the Roses attacked.

And if I didn’t act right away, I might never hear what Mara had to say. The moment would be lost, she’d feign ignorance and never talk about it again—or something terrible would happen to her and she’d lose the opportunity altogether.

Before it is too lateshe’d said. Words I knew I had to take seriously, no matter what it cost me.

I ran down the mountain after my sister, clumsily in my boots and frock, pumping as fast as I could with my thin legs. “Mara! Guard! What did you have to tell me?”

Mara threw her head over her shoulder and roared, “Get in, Gemma!”

Other women poured out of the priory—some younger than Mara, some older, all impossibly graceful as they raced through the trees to the thick silver ring that surrounded the grounds.

The mediocre.

My blood chilled as I looked at them – flint faces, hands with quivers and arrows, sabers, crossbows. I knew I had to stop, I wasn’t supposed to see what would happen, but I needed to know what Mara had to tell me. I couldn’t go back to that day, twelve years ago, and stop the director from taking her, but I could.

The Mist was not far now. My body trembled with fear as I approached the glittering veil, but I pushed on, ignoring the cries of Farrin and Father a little way behind me. Their frenzied voices ordered me to stop, begged me to stop.

Dozens of roses launched themselves into the air or leaped through the trees, their bodies changing as I looked at them—longer, sharper, swelling. Bare feet grew claws. The hands that held the weapons hardened into scaly claws. Skinny arms sprouted wings of black, gray, speckled brown. Their changing bodies tore to shreds all the garments they wore, the bits of cloth fluttered on the floor like molten feathers, and then I remembered, with a gasping laugh, why all the roses wore such plain, worn clothes.

What was the point of wearing nice clothes if they were going to be destroyed every time the bells rang?

Foolish girl I was, I had never considered the usefulness of their clothes before, only the gloom of them.

Just before diving into the Mist, I held my breath and braced myself.

I was not disappointed.

The moment the Mist hit me and washed over me with a strange smooth coolness, I felt a pain like I’d never felt before. The hungry appeal of our Greenway was nothing in comparison. The Mist had a thousand ruthless teeth and they all dug into my skin, my muscles, my bone.

I staggered, vomited, caught myself against a tree. Looking up, squinting through tears of pain and shock, I frantically searched for Mara, desperate to find her before the tingling blackness invading my view swallowed me completely.

But as I stood there, a horrible chorus of shrieks came through my ears—just a few at first, then dozens. Cruel and clearly out of our world. The sound made my pain worse. I briefly blacked out and came to in the mud, on my hands and knees. I gasped, not understanding what I was hearing. I had thought that Mara and the others would travel through one of the greenways of the priory to the distant expanse of the Mist that had broken – but these beastly cries were close and closer and closer. Intruders, this close to Rosewarren? Impossible. Unheard of. When the gods created the Middlemist just before their deaths, on the day of the Unmaking, they made sure that the Mist closest to the priory was doubly strong. A final compassionate gift to those who would be doomed to serve there.

Invaders had never been able to reach the Rosewarren grounds, not even the nearby town of Fenwood or any settlement within a ten square mile radius—but they were here now, and that could only mean one thing:

The Middlemist, created and strengthened by the gods themselves, weakened.

But only here, near the priory, did it lose power? I hoped so, despite the danger to Mara. The alternative was too gruesome to imagine.

All around me, the Roses were calling to each other in their foreign language—a cross between the common language and the coded words the director was teaching them. I only recognized a few: They want the girl! Get her out of here!

My stomach dropped to my toes. I knew without a doubt, my instinct yelling at me to run, that the girl they were talking about was me.

I tried to get up, but I couldn’t, my legs are worthless. I clambered for something – anything, a tree or a rock to hide behind, some weapon I could pretend I knew how to fire – but I was lost in the Mist, the world around me opaque of slippery gray.

And then I heard a cry of anger, both human and not, shattering in its despair, and distorted, multiplied, as if the sound had been pierced with claws and each bleeding streak had its own voice.

Yet I knew whose cry was, and my chest gripped my heart hard.

A great weight fell from the trees and threw itself in front of me, shielding me from the approaching enemy who let out those piercing screams.

My breath caught in my throat.

marah.

I had never seen her transform; none of us had. She had taken care of it. But now I was in the Mist, an intruder, and she couldn’t hide from me – her blazing golden eyes, the wild fall of dark hair and feathers falling down her back, the huge brown wings sprouting from naked, knotted muscles. she had. not possessed in the temple just moments before. Her skin was no longer quite human, a mosaic of pale flesh, scales and smooth feathers. Her face was hers, but sharper, haggard, wrapped in shiny velvet fur.

“Leave now!” She roared the words, her altered voice broke in two with sorrow and shame, and I wanted – gods help me, I wanted to flee like a monster in a nightmare – but my limbs were out of control. The pain was too great, my illness too complete. I tried to apologize, but my voice cracked in vain.

A strong hand grabbed my arm, pulled me up, helped me run. I let it take me, trusting it, happy with it, for it led me away from this creature that was both my sister and not. The sky cleared; the hand lifted me out of the Mist, thank goodness, and when my vision recovered, I saw that the hand was my father’s. His countenance had changed completely – no longer a proud, smoothing father, but instead a fierce hunter. A sentry, his anointed power gives him heightened strength and agility, unfailing precision with any weapon he might seize.

But no weapons were needed. Vader’s speed was enough to save us. We dashed through the iron gate into the undergrowth where Farrin waited, pale and small, then ducked into the mouth of the greenway. His magic swirled around me, confused but eager to smell the Mist on my skin, but I cared not for his confusion, nor for the tingling fresh pain that spread quickly through my body.

All I could think about was Mara, the cry of her despair, the tears streaming down her face—woman and bird, both astonishing and repulsive.

It was only the second time I could remember seeing my sister cry. The first was the day the director took her away from us, and in both cases Mara’s tears—her fear and grief, the terrible loss that radiated from her like swirling waves—were all because of me.


Excerpt from Claire Legrand’s A crown of ivy and glass reprinted with permission from Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Claire Legrand’s A crown of ivy and glass comes out in May 2023; you can pre-order a copy here.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest miracle and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on Film and TVand everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Leave a Comment