Coming in the summer of 2011, this post-apocalyptic urban fantasy novel is the first of three. Empty Cradle: The Untimely Death of Corey Sanderson introduces readers to a richly imagined vision of the future after a slow-motion cataclysm that puts an end to modern society.
Ivy Aniram can’t afford to make stupid mistakes. A scavenger and rare traveler through a post-apocalyptic America, she’s ambushed and nearly killed thanks to a moment of trust she shouldn’t have extended. The village of Hanson’s Home saves her life, but demands a hefty price in return–the birth of a child. As one of the few women untouched by “Empty Cradle,” a plague of infertility, Ivy is herself a valuable commodity. She may have tumbled out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire.
Corey Sanderson, a farmboy who’s eager to escape Hanson’s Home at all costs, proves to be Ivy’s salvation, and she agrees to take him to the walled city of Detroit in exchange for her freedom. Upon reaching Detroit, Ivy is hauled unexpectedly before the magistrates after Corey is involved in an altercation with a seriously unpleasant mercenary that results in the death of his shapeshifer girlfriend. Ivy is surprised to learn that she’s needed to carry an important package to Strip City. Scavs are rarely trusted with cargo for the city, but a recent war has destroyed the usual caravan routes and left Ivy as the only traveler willing to brave the 2300 miles of hostile terrain separating Detroit’s box from its destination.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Ivy’s injuries threaten to make it an impossible task. She’s got to trust Corey, which goes against her solitary, self-reliant nature. Corey’s youthful enthusiasm, combined with a complete lack of experience “out in the dirt,” makes him both an asset and a liability.
It’s hard enough teaching Corey to properly navigate the ever-shifting social codes of the cities they travel to, but Ivy also has to deal with the usual perils of the road: scarce supplies, determined bandits, equipment-stealing gleaners, mutated, half-human “biters” and the occasional territorial shape-shifter. The other passengers Ivy takes on–Marcus McEvoy, a traveling historian with a mysterious past; Swan Dallara, a cheerfully abrasive female mercenary and her deer-shapeshifter companion Kroni–add further complications while helping to slowly bring Ivy out of her shell. Though she’s the driver and travel-master, Ivy quickly learns that getting this particular package to its destination isn’t going to happen unless she accepts help.
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