#49 in Fantasy for October 2016 "His skin met hers like alchemy, two polar opposites combining to form a beautiful new energy. She loved him. She loved him. She hoped she would not be the one to kill him." Imagine a world where people's souls present as totems before their 15th birthdays. A strong totem means you'll likely be placed in a good job, in one of the lower kingdoms that guarantee food and shelter. A weak totem, however, can mean life in the Fringe: the outskirts of the Northern Kingdom, bordering the boundary that protects man from the beasts beyond the border. Amethyst Stillwater lives here, seventeen years old without a totem, a loving family, or, if the rumors are true, a soul. Amethyst's destiny seems certain - a life of solitude, rejection, and unhappiness - until the King's Bastard comes to the Fringe and accidentally launches Amethyst into the center of a war she knows nothing about. By some great act of luck, (or unluck), Amethyst's totem finally explodes out of her, but there is a problem. It is a Winter Bear: a long extinct beast of legend that roamed the borders, protecting humans from dragons. That Amethyst has the totem now can mean only one thing: the dragons, and the humans who follow them, are returning. Amethyst must become central to a plot of deception, revenge, romance, and a quest for freedom as she is taken deep into the heart of the King's City and trained to be the soldier who finally takes down the rebel mage king beyond the border.