August Fairclough has given a lot to his estranged daughter — his enviable magical prowess, her introversion and distaste for authority, the spiderweb of scars across her back, and the nightmares that haunt her to this day. When Rae Fairclough receives an abrupt summons from him, she hesitantly returns to her decrepit childhood home for the first time in twelve years, hoping to face her past and abusive father only to find he has one last gift to give.
Rae finds that August is on the verge of death, his body literally falling apart in front of her eyes as he informs her of her inheritance. Magic law and custom dictates her right to the carefully curated collection of her ancestors’ magical knowledge. Less customary is the fact that the Fairclough grimoire comes with its own underworldy custodian, the sarcastically sadistic Belfnir. Out of all the preparations she made for facing her demons, none of them covered anything about actual, terrifyingly literal ones.
As the keeper of the Fairclough ‘curse,’ a demonic pact afflicting countless generations of her lineage, Belfnir presents her with a simple set of terms and conditions: unimaginable magical power, for the low cost of her immortal soul. No need to sign; the signature on the Fairclough contract dried long before she was born.
Every weakening pulse of August's heart is precious seconds shaved off of Rae's countdown to damnation as she attempts to succeed where every other Fairclough has failed, Belfnir taunting her every step of the way. Her search is interrupted by the helping hand and infectious grin of Cassius Vale, a sorcerer who introduces her to the Society of Spirit: a quirky cabal of teenagers lead by Cornelia Peters, who's more the group’s grandmother than gal pal.
With new friends by her side the impossible starts to feel possible, even as she digs through every skeleton in the Fairclough closet. Rae finds herself waist-deep in open graves, pulling all-nighters in the library digging through dense arcana, getting into dramatic catfights with her cousin’s Unseelie familiar-with-benefits, and falling for Cassius’ crooked smile.
With her soul on the line and her infernal shackles pulling tighter, Rae must come face-to-face with the ghosts of her childhood as she races to gather the components of a ritual that just might free her from the demon’s contract. As she gives everything she has to make this plan succeed, she loses focus on everything around her. Those closest to her have other agendas — ones that don’t have her best interests at heart.
Sometimes those you trust the most are the first to betray you.