Cast out of her family three years ago, Mara turned to the only place that would take her - a school where students train to protect others. But Mara is stunned when guarding a noble girl in the Empire's capital turns out to be more dangerous than she could've imagined. More shocking still, she finds the boy she thought she had lost forever outside the gates of her new home. Mara knew the dizzying Imperial city would hold dangers.
The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives. Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. Now 16, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron's errand girl, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city's handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.