Read The Mortal Bone Online

Authors: Marjorie M. Liu

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General

The Mortal Bone

BOOK: The Mortal Bone
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Table of Contents
 
 
PRAISE FOR THE HUNTER KISS NOVELS
BY “RED-HOT LIU”
1
 
A WILD LIGHT
 
“Written in flowing, at times poetic, prose,
A Wild Light
reads like a languid, surreal dream, punctuated by fierce, sudden, and often unexpected action . . . a superlative series.”

The Miami Herald
“Truly one of the most darkly intense and spellbinding series in [urban fantasy] today! Every Liu book should be an autobuy!”

Romantic Times
(4½ stars)
 
“This pivotal book in the Hunter Kiss series proves Liu’s dark side is a haunting place to be as she pushes Maxine to the brink as a sharp-witted, uncompromising defender, not immune to self-doubt but tempered and made stronger for it.”

Booklist
 
“[Liu’s] depth of imagination and her talent for creating unforgettable characters is masterful.”

Night Owl Reviews
 
“The third Hunter Kiss urban fantasy is a terrific entry that contains a powerful story line while also moving forward on the overarching theme . . . With a late great twist, fans will enjoy Marjorie M. Liu’s dark
A Wild Light
.”

Genre Go Round Reviews
 
 
DARKNESS CALLS
“Ms. Liu has an eloquent writing style and gives readers a story where the secondary characters are every bit as fascinating as the leads.
Darkness Calls
is vividly described and full of paranormal action from beginning to end.”

Darque Reviews
 
“[Liu’s] ability to deliver kick-butt action and characters whose humanity resonates, even when they’re anything but human, is a testament to her outstanding storytelling skills. Liu’s imagination is an amazing place to visit.”

Romantic Times
(top pick)
 

Darkness Calls
is one riveting book and Marjorie Liu is one great writer. The desperation Maxine feels as she deals with her past and unknown future is one that will keep you reading and anxious for the next terror Maxine will have to endure.”

Fresh Fiction
 
“Liu has done an excellent job of developing and expanding the mythos she created in
The Iron Hunt
. . . I look forward to reading the further adventures of Maxine Kiss.”

SFRevu
 
 
THE IRON HUNT
“I adore the Hunter Kiss series! Marjorie Liu’s writing is both lyrical and action packed, which is a very rare combination. Heroine Maxine Kiss and her demon friends are wonderful characters who are as likable as they are fierce. You’ll want to read this series over and over.”
—Angela Knight,
New York Times
bestselling author
 
“Liu is one of the best new voices in paranormal fiction.”

Publishers Weekly
 
“Marjorie M. Liu writes a gripping supernatural thriller.”

The Best Reviews
 
“From the imagination of one of today’s most talented authors comes a mesmerizing, darkly disturbing world on the brink of apocalypse. With her new Hunter Kiss series, Liu has created a uniquely tough yet vulnerable heroine in Maxine Kiss . . . Through Maxine’s eyes, readers take a heart-stopping ride where buried secrets could change the fate of the world.”

Romantic Times
 
“Readers who love urban fantasies like those of Charlaine Harris or Kim Harrison will relish Marjorie M. Liu’s excellent adventure. This is the superb start of a dynamic-looking saga.”

Midwest Book Review
 
“A stunning new series . . . The mythology is fascinating, the characters complicated, the story lines original. I’m a big fan of Liu’s Dirk & Steele series, but this one surpasses even it.”

Fresh Fiction
 
“An incredibly complex, engrossing story that will stretch your imagination and broaden your ideas of what is and what could be.”

Romance Junkies
 
“Ms. Liu does a lovely job in . . . preparing us for the highspeed action in her demon-filled adventure. A creative and well-written story line provides a strong backbone for this new urban fantasy series, and the unique characters in
The Iron Hunt
will charm, tempt, and surprise readers into coming back for more.”

Darque Reviews
 
“Marjorie Liu seems to have an endless imagination for creating new and interesting characters and stories. I can’t wait to see how this story develops and the world of Maxine Kiss evolves. This is a character and a story that has potential to keep the reader interested for an extensive series of books.”

Affaire de Coeur
 
MORE PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF MARJORIE M. LIU
 
“Raises the bar for all others competing in its league . . . Liu’s screenplay-worthy dialogue, vivid action, and gift for the punchy, unexpected metaphor rockets her tale high above the pack. Readers of early Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, and the best thrillers out there should try Liu now and catch a rising star.”

Publishers Weekly
(starred review)
 
“The boundlessness of Liu’s imagination never ceases to amaze; her ability to translate that imagination into a lyrical work of art never ceases to impress.”

Booklist
(starred review)
 
“Red-hot Liu . . . packs her stories with immensely intriguing characters, making the high-stakes plotlines even more mesmerizing.”

Romantic Times
(top pick, 4½ stars)
“Nonstop adventure . . . a rich world with paranormal elements.”
 

SFRevu
 
“A wonderful voice.”

Romance at Heart Magazine
 
“Liu is masterful in merging espionage, romance, and the supernatural into fiction that goes beyond the boundaries of action-adventure romance or romantic suspense.”

Booklist
 
“Fabulous romantic suspense fantasy that will hook the audience from the first note to the incredible climatic coda.”

Midwest Book Review
Ace Books by Marjorie M. Liu
 
THE IRON HUNT
DARKNESS CALLS
A WILD LIGHT
THE MORTAL BONE
 
Anthologies
 
WILD THING
(with Maggie Shayne, Alyssa Day, and Meljean Brook)
 
NEVER AFTER
(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, and Sharon Shinn)
 
INKED
(with Karen Chance, Yasmine Galenorn, and Eileen Wilks)
 
eSpecials
 
HUNTER KISS
ARMOR OF ROSES AND THE SILVER VOICE
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
THE MORTAL BONE
 
An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Ace mass-market edition / January 2012
 
Copyright © 2012 by Marjorie M. Liu.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
ISBN : 978-1-101-55368-8
 
ACE
Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

For J.D.
El futuro está lleno de luz.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I’d like to thank my editor, Kate Seaver, for her constant support and kindness. And to my copy editors, Sara and Bob Schwager, I send you warm wishes and a great deal of appreciation. Lucienne Diver . . . a huge thank-you, as well.
And to my readers . . . oh, you lovely readers . . . what can I say? I love you all.
To learn more about my books, please visit my website at
www.marjoriemliu.com
—or follow me on Twitter [email protected]
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
 
—RUMI
CHAPTER 1
W
HAT happens in Texas, stays in Texas. Except when demons are involved.
I was sitting on the sagging porch of the old farmhouse, sipping an ice-cold ginger ale, when a red pickup truck appeared around the last bend of the long, curving driveway. I stood, shielding my eyes against the late-afternoon sun—noticing, as had become my habit, the gold glimmer of my wedding ring standing out in stark relief against the obsidian, mercury-streaked tattoos that covered my entire left hand.
Dust kicked up behind the truck, but not much. The driver was taking a slow approach.
I hadn’t lived on this land in years. Maybe it was a nosy neighbor coming to visit. Or a social worker who had heard that a teenage boy was in residence and not attending school. Could be someone lost—but the driveway was almost three miles long and blocked by a heavy gate. A bit out of the way, just to ask directions.
I felt a tug against my tattooed skin. A persistent ripple that traveled like a small shock wave from my toenails to the base of my neck, as though an electrical pulse was moving through Zee and the boys.
I set down my drink. Against my neck, the tip of Dek’s tattooed tail thrummed, like the quiet warning of a rattlesnake. When I flexed my fingers, the organic silver armor covering my right hand tingled. Everything, coming alive as that red truck rolled and rumbled down the driveway.
The driver parked in front of the barn, surrounded in a swirling cloud of pale, hot dust. I couldn’t see much behind the tinted windows, so I listened to the engine pop and groan as I stepped off the porch.
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