The map of Bones is the second book in a speculative trilogy set in a future where all children are born twins: one perfect and one deformed.
A stunning exploration of human sacrifice and joint destiny…
The Omega resistance has been brutally attacked, its members dead or in hiding. The Alpha Council’s plan for permanently containing the Omegas has begun.
But all is not entirely lost: the Council’s seer, The Confessor, is dead, killed by her twin’s sacrifice.
Cass is left haunted by visions of the past, while her brother Zach’s cruelty and obsession pushes her to the edge, and threatens to destroy everything she hopes for.
As the country moves closer to all-out civil war, Cass will learn that to change the future she will need to uncover the past. But nothing can prepare her for what she discovers: a deeply buried secret that raises the stakes higher than ever before.
PROLOGUE from The Map of Bones
Each time he came to me in dreams, I saw him as I’d seen him the first time: floating. He was a silhouette, blurred by the tank’s thick glass, and by the viscous fluid in which he was submerged. I could see only glimpses: his head slumped against his shoulder; the curve of his cheek. I couldn’t see his face clearly, but I knew it was him, the same way that I would know the weight of his arm across my body, or the sound of his breath in the darkness.
Kip’s torso curled forwards, his legs hanging. His suspended body was a question mark that I couldn’t answer.
I would have preferred anything to those dreams – even the memory of his jump. That came to me often enough in the daytime: his half-shrug, before he leapt. The long fall. How the silo floor was the mortar that made his bones a pestle, grinding his own flesh.
When I dreamed of him in the tank it was a different kind of horror. Not the spreading blood on the silo floor, but something worse: the immaculate torture of the tubes and wires. I had freed him from the tank, months ago. Ever since I’d watched him die in the silo, most nights my dreams encased him once again within the glass.
The dream shifted. Kip was gone, and I was watching Zach sleeping. One of his hands was thrust out towards me. I could see the gnawed skin around his fingernails; I could see his jaw, roughened by stubble.
When we were very small we’d shared a cot, and slept each night curled together. Even when we were older, and he’d begun to fear and despise me, our bodies never unlearnt that habit of closeness. When we’d outgrown our shared cot, I would roll over in my own bed and watch how he, sleeping on the far side of the room, would roll too.
Now I stared again at Zach’s sleeping face. There was nothing on it to show what he had done. I was the branded one, but his face should have worn some kind of mark. How could he have built the tanks, and ordered the massacre on the island, and still sleep like that, open-mouthed and oblivious? Awake, he had never been still. I remembered his hands, always moving, tying invisible knots in the air. Now he was motionless. Only his eyes were twitching as they followed the movements of his own dreams. At his neck, a vein pulsed, keeping count of his heart’s beats. My own, too – they were the same thing. When his stopped, so would mine. He had betrayed me at every opportunity, but our shared death was the one promise that he couldn’t break.
He opened his eyes.
‘What do you want from me?’ he said. I had fled from him all the way to the island, and back to the deadlands of the east, but here he was, my twin, staring at me across the silence of my dream. It was as if a rope bound me to him, and the further we ran from each other, the more we felt it tighten.
‘What do you want from me?’ he said again.
‘I want to stop you,’ I said. Once I would have said I wanted to save him. Perhaps there was no difference.
‘You can’t,’ he said. There was no triumph in his voice – just a certainty, hard as teeth.
‘What did I do to you?’ I said to him. ‘What have you done to us?’
Zach didn’t answer – the flames did instead. The blast came, its white flash ripping through the dream. It stole the world and replaced it with fire.
Francesca Haig is a novelist, poet and academic. The Fire Sermon, her debut novel (2015), is the first in a post-apocalyptic trilogy. Rights for the series have sold in more than twenty countries, and the second novel, The Map of Bones, will be published in April 2016. Her poetry has been published in literary journals in both Australia and England, and her first collection of poetry, Bodies of Water, was published in 2006. Francesca grew up in Tasmania, gained her PhD from the University of Melbourne, and was a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Chester. In 2010 she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship.