The Chalice and the Crown
by Kassandra Flamouri
Genre: YA Fantasy
Driven, talented, and determined to live up to her family's fame, Sasha Nikolayeva is ballet’s crown princess. But just when Sasha lands her most prestigious role yet, she falls prey to a host of disturbing neurological symptoms that threaten to end her career and her very life. As her mind and body deteriorate, Sasha spirals into a nightmare world where beauty and cruelty exist in the same breath and villains rule from the shadows.
In the glittering, sharp-edged City of Roses, Sasha is no princess. She’s a thrall, a slave. Thousands like her suffer in cursed silence while citizens enjoy the splendor of the City, blissfully unaware that their servants are anything more than living dolls enchanted to do their bidding. But the City's slavers know the truth, and they are always watching. One misstep could cost Sasha her life—or her soul.
Even as she endures the violence and indignity of captivity, Sasha can't help being drawn to the beauty of her nightmare world and the underground rebels who offer her friendship, shelter, even love. Before Sasha can break her chains for good, she'll need choose between the life waiting for her at home and the countless lives she could save if she stays. To choose a nightmare over her real life, her future, would be madness...but maybe a little madness is just what it takes to change the fate of a city built on lies.
Dreams and reality perform a captivating pas de deux in this tale of legacy and longing. A lyrical and original fantasy that, like its heroine, has the soul of a dancer.
- Adi Rule, author of STRANGE SWEET SONG
In retrospect, I probably should have realized a lot earlier that I was meant to be a writer. Even as early as kindergarten, I struggled to pay attention in class because the outside world was just not as interesting as what was going on in my head. By that time, I had already made my storytelling debut ("Squirm the Worm," delivered at age three) and had spent countless hours playing make-believe with my 284 stuffed animals, every one of whom had a name and detailed backstory.
Though I quickly learned to pay attention (or at least look like I was paying attention) during school hours, I retained a tendency to daydream and a love of stories. When I left high school to attend the Sunderman Conservatory at Gettysburg College, I learned to translate both emotional and programatic content into music. Now, as an exam prep and college essay tutor, I have the time and flexibility to really dig into fiction again. My work has appeared online and in print in such venues as Timeless Tales Magazine and Quantum Fairy Tales.
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