“Seventeen year-old Ruby and her little brother Thorn, have only known a life blighted by the extremist Fireseed Cult. The night Ruby is set to be claimed by one of its cruelest and oldest leaders, she makes a bid for freedom. With Thorn in tow, she stumbles into the world beyond, and finds an opportunity for a fresh start in Skull’s Wrath under the guidance of Nevada Pilgrim, a woman who may not be all she seems. Ruby's new life could bring her friendship, love, even fortune, but nothing comes without a price. Is Ruby's talent for elixirs keeping the roof over their heads, or do some of her associates have a more sinister and lucrative interest in them? Life outside a strange cult isn't without its dangers, and the experience leaves Ruby transformed and communing with the Fireseed more closely than she ever would have imagined. Stine delivers a thrilling adventure led by an exciting cast of characters, and the romance is really well handled.” -YA’s The Word
Seventeen year-old Ruby’s afraid of how beautiful she is because it’s always gotten her more attention than she wants. She has wild blond hair and a halo of curly bangs. She’s a master of mixing elixirs, a skill her father taught her when they hunted cave lizards and milked out their venom. She wears a belt brimming with pouches for catching lizards and beetles. She grew up in a strange desert cult, but she never realized how dangerous it was until the night she escaped. That’s why she still needs Oblivion, a sleeping drug that she concocted, but would like to kick.
Eighteen year-old Blane is the resident bodyguard at The Greening. He’s also a student there. He has massive shoulders and a chiseled face, yet the crafty glint in his hazel eyes and his spray of honey-hued freckles suggest a lighter, even playful side. He escaped East Coast sector where he lost his entire family, including his beloved dog, Cloud, in a horrific tsunami. There’s a rumor going around that his mother was a geneticist and his father was a brain surgeon back in the day, but Ruby doesn’t believe it because Blane likes to mess with her head. Blane spends a lot of time surreptitiously tracking Ruby, trying to figure her out.
Now, welcome Ruby and Blane!
Tell us, Ruby, what do you really want in life?
I want to earn enough money from my elixirs to buy a big wave-colored house out in Vegas-by-the Sea. I’d save my mother from the cult, and install all of my friends there. I’d hire a special tutor for my little brother, Thorn, so he can retrieve the sentences and phrases that the elders beat out of him.
I want a good meal of northern Restavik boar. I want to play soccer. I want my dog, Cloud back. I want to be with people who bring something to the equation. (Gives Ruby a long, soulful stare) I want to be left alone.
(Ruby elbows him)
Blane, what’s your favorite color?
(He glances over at Ruby, then away). Yellow, blond, like her hair.
Blue, the color of waves. I imagine them constantly—the bluest ever. If I win a finalist spot in the Axiom contest, I’ll get to see the Pacific.
I’m going to win a finalist spot. You’ll have to contend with me. Do you think you’d be able to stand a ride on a hovercraft together?
(Slides a finger down the bridge of his nose, and says slowly, teasingly) As long as you bring something to the equation.
Thanks, Ruby and Blane!
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