To Bear an Iron Key
Bromwyn thinks the worst thing she could ever lose is her magic.
She's about to learn just how wrong she is.

Five years ago, the young witch Bromwyn refused a gift from the powerful fairy king. Tonight, on Midsummer, that decision comes back to haunt her. When her best friend Rusty picks the wrong pocket, he and Bromwyn are all that stand between their village and the rampaging fairies who have pushed through the World Door. If they cannot outwit the fairy king and queen before the World Door closes at sunrise, the friends will lose everything—their village, Bromwyn's magic, and Rusty's life.

May 2014

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Excerpt from To Bear an Iron Key

Praise for To Bear an Iron Key

"Jackie Morse Kessler is one of the most talented authors I know."
—Richelle Mead

Bromwyn peeked inside the baker’s doorway, looking for a glimpse of red hair. But no—if Rusty was in the shop at all, he was out of her view. If anything, he was probably running ingredients from the basement storehouse to the ovens in the back, judging by the line of customers waiting their turn. Bromwyn smiled as she imagined Rusty covered in enough powdered sugar to turn his hair pink.

As she walked past the bakery, she felt a soft nudge against her back.

Her hand whipped out behind her, and she grabbed hold. There was a yelp as she yanked her arm forward, and now in front of her was a mudrat of a child, whom she held by one skinny arm.

He blinked wide brown eyes at her, looking like quite the waif as he obviously prepared to give her a sad tale of parents lost and an empty belly forcing him to steal. Then something passed over his dirty face, and his eyes became glassy with fear.

“Lady Witch,” he stuttered. “I’m sorry! I didn’t know it was you! I swear it!”

She released him, but he stood rooted to the spot. Maybe one day, she would appreciate people’s fear of her, as her grandmother insisted again and again. But right now, all it did was make her feel tired, and uneasy, and very much the monster.

“Usually the long hair is a dead giveaway,” she said with a smile that she hoped was soothing.

But the child paled, and she realized her mistake. She could have kicked herself for the poor choice of words.

“I,” he said. “I. I.”

“You,” she prodded gently.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean! Here!” He thrust something at her—a small roll of bread, probably snatched just moments ago from one of the bakery shelves.

“Please,” she said, “this is not necessary…”

“Take it,” he shrieked, dropping it into her hand.

She closed her fingers around the roll and he took off, fleeing down the dirt-packed street and rounding a corner that would eventually lead toward the docks, as if he could outrun her magic had she chosen to lay a Curse on him.

She sighed. Stupid mudrat.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Morse Kessler

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