Home GADGETS A.K. Mulford Fantasy Book Excerpt: River of Golden Bones

A.K. Mulford Fantasy Book Excerpt: River of Golden Bones

A.K. Mulford Fantasy Book Excerpt: River of Golden Bones
A.K. Mulford Fantasy Book Excerpt: River of Golden Bones

A new romantic fantasy trilogy begins with A River of Golden Bonesthe latest from author A.K. Mulfordknown for their Five Crowns of Okrith series. It’s described as “a twist on Sleeping Beauty,” and the twist is a big one: the twin protagonists have secret animal identities.

The twist is revealed in this description of the book (and it’s hinted at in the cover art), the first entry in the Golden Court series. Keep reading to see the full cover—followed by an exclusive Chapter One excerpt from the December release.

A sleeping curse. A fallen court. A secret twin.

Twins Calla and Briar have spent their entire lives hiding from the powerful sorceress who destroyed their kingdom… and from the humans who don’t know they are Wolves. Each twin has their own purpose in life: Briar’s is to marry the prince of an ally pack and save the Golden Court. Calla’s purpose is to remain a secret, her twin’s shadow… the backup plan.

No one knows who Calla truly is except for her childhood friend—and sister’s betrothed—the distractingly handsome Prince Grae. But when Calla and Briar journey out of hiding for Briar’s wedding, all of their well-made plans go awry. The evil sorceress is back with another sleeping curse for the last heir to the Golden Court.

Calla must step out of the shadows to save their sister, their kingdom, and their own legacy. Continuing to hide as a human and denying who she truly is, Calla embarks on a quest across the realm, discovering a whole world she never knew existed. Outside the confines of rigid Wolf society, Calla begins to wonder: who could she be if she dared to try?

Full of adventure, love, gender exploration, and self-discovery, A River of Golden Bones follows Calla’s journey through treacherous Wolf kingdoms, monster-filled realms, and the depths of their own heart in this thrilling romantic fantasy.

Image: Harper Voyager

Chapter 1

The golden carriages kicked up dust as townsfolk rushed to the streets, packing every window and stoop. They waved their handkerchiefs at the two coaches, craning their necks, trying to get a peek at the crown prince. The villagers didn’t know why he was there, but I did, and it made my heart leap into my throat with excitement. I knew tomorrow I’d be leaving town in one of those gilded carriages back to his castle.

A rook cawed above me, iridescent wings shimmering as it landed on a maple branch. I scowled at the midnight bird—a bad omen. Sawyn’s army of cloaked guards brandished the same moniker. And now, whenever I saw them, my stomach turned sour, sobering me from the thrill of the encroaching carriages.

With a frown toward the rook, I leapt from my trusty perch. I didn’t need any bad omens today of all days. My gut lurched as the wind rushed around me and I landed in a crouch. I did a quick scan of the clearing, though I knew no humans were nearby. Their scent would’ve carried easily through the dry summer forest.

I peered back at the maple tree, but the rook had disappeared into the dense foliage. I tucked my amber necklace back under my neckline and dusted the leaves off my threadbare dress. Sticks snapped under my bare feet as I darted downhill. My dress snagged on a thicket of thorns and I pulled it free, grimacing at the sound of fabric tearing. Vellia would have to mend it again. I hated dresses, but Vellia insisted I wear them when I ventured from the cabin, as wearing tunics and breeches would only draw more attention.

As if I wasn’t stared at anyway, being one of the two strange girls who lived in the wood.

I shielded my eyes from the glinting sun as I ran—not from the rook, though it still had me a bit spooked, especially with who was coming, but towards the road. My bare toes clung to the rough bark of a fallen tree as I crossed the narrow creek, rushing toward the royal procession. In one of those carriages was Graemon Claudius, the crown prince to the Silver Wolf kingdom of Damrienn. My friend had returned at last.

My heart drummed in my ears. I wondered if he looked the same. We’d still been pups the last time I saw him in this form, only thirteen years old. Full moons were the only time his father, King Nero, permitted him to visit us here, and only ever as a Wolf —it was too risky any other way. For if anyone discovered a Gold Wolf in this village, the news would surely spread to Sawyn…

I glanced up again, to see if I could spy a rook spying back on me.

When no birds caught my eye, I cleared the forest with a swift leap. My bare feet slapped against the dusty cobbles as I raced toward the throng of well-wishers. It was with a sense of mischievous contentment that I knew I would be watching the world through their human eyes one last time, pretending to be just another among them. My lungs panted sweet air as I pushed my legs faster. Rushing past broken carts and bags of spoiled grain, my hair whipped behind me as I steered toward the main road.

I skirted down a shortcut and heard the crowd roar. I turned my head toward the sound, not watching up ahead, and slammed into an unyielding object. My feet slid out from under me as I bounced off what I realized was a cloaked figure. Arms wheeling, I braced myself for the hard thump onto the stone when two powerful hands grabbed me mid-air and hoisted me back to my feet.

“Apologies,” I blurted out, even as I scrambled for the paring knife in my dress pocket. Vellia wouldn’t let me bring my dagger, but I could justify a paring knife for foraging.

The figure chuckled—a deep throaty laugh that made me still my hand.

“Hello, little fox.”

The familiar rasp of his low voice made my eyes go wide. My stomach somersaulted at the sound of my nickname. Brushing the curls off my face, I narrowed my eyes, peering into the darkness of his hood. Only one person ever called me that name—and that person I hadn’t seen in seven years.

Someone who should be in one of those carriages instead of standing before me.

“Grae?” I dropped my hand from my knife’s handle.

He pulled back his hood and the sight of him rattled me more than colliding headlong into him. This was not the boy I had known. No, this was not a boy at all. I’d never seen a more stunning man. He had classic Damrienn features—obsidian hair pulled to a small knot at the crown of his head, golden brown skin, and hooded umber eyes. But he was also twice my size, towering over me, the peak of shoulder muscles from his neckline denoting a warrior’s physique. He was gorgeous, and yet still wolflike even in his human form, with glinting canines and a hardened jaw. His angular cheeks dimpled as he smirked down at me.

“Wh-what are you doing out here?” I asked, scanning the vacant backstreets.

“We’re visiting, of course.”

“I mean what are you doing herein this alley,” I said.

His grin widened. “I wanted to see the village where you grew up without being noticed.” His voice was an octave lower since last I’d heard it. “Maybe a bit too unnoticeable, seeing as you ran straight into me.”

That voice. Gods, help me. His Wolf voice had spoken into my mind during his visits, but we had been thirteen then. Hearing it now was . . . distracting.

“Briar and Vellia are waiting at the cabin for you,” I whispered. It was all I could think to say as my gaze hooked on his face, dumbstruck.

How was it possible this is what Grae looked like?

His dark eyes twinkled, making the hairs on my arms stand on end. “Walk with me?”

Adapted from A RIVER OF GOLDEN BONES by A.K. Mulford, published by Harper Voyager. Copyright © 2023 by A.K. Mulford. Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.

A.K. Mulford’s A River of Golden Bones will be released December 5. You can pre-order a copy here or here.

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