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World Fantasy Award 2003, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 2003. Tähtifantasia Award nominee 2007.
Ombria. It is a city that echoes with the footfalls of sapphire-heeled shoes... that holds its breath as a straw-haired apparition glides through its streets... that sees its dreams – and nightmares – take shape in the drawings of a bastard-heir. It is an enchanted time and place envisioned by World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip, acclaimed author of The Tower at Stony Wood.
When Ombria's prince, Royce Greve, breathes his last in palace rooms high above the city, he leaves his young son at the mercy of his great aunt, Domina Pearl – a woman who has plotted her rise to poser in Ombria for far too many years to allow a little boy to stand in her way. Already she has thrown Greve's pretty mistress out into the streets, where no one would expect her to live an hour. The boy will take her a little longer.
Meanwhile, in a dreamlike underworld peopled by Ombria's ghosts, a sorceress weaves her spells and brews her potions, never revealing her real face – or true heart. And somewhere in between, the struggle to rule the whole of Ombria – both its light and shadows – will rest in the hands of those whose fractures lives align like the lost pieces of a magical puzzle...