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Sydney looked down at Victor’s body. Then she perched on the edge of the coffin, and pressed her hands against his chest, reaching as far as she could. A moment later, the cold ran up her arms, and caught her breath, and beneath her hands a heartbeat fluttered, as Victor Vale opened his eyes, and smiled.


To my family, for not giving me strange looks when I told them what I wanted to write.

To my agent, Holly, for not giving me a strange look when I told her what I’d written.

To Patricia Riley, for loving every member of my motley crew (especially Mitch and his chocolate milk).

To Ruta Sepetys, who listened to me babble on and then told me very seriously to finish this book.

To Jen Barnhardt, for accompanying me to every comic book movie, even the not-so-great ones.

To Rachel Stark, for always asking hard questions, and for pushing me to do the same.

To Matthew Leach and Deanna Maurice, for the medical knowledge.

And to Sophie, for the term EO.

To my readers, for following me over moors and through dark halls and now into the heart of Merit.

And to my editor, Miriam, for making every step of this journey marvelous. From the first narwhal doodle to the last late-night discussions on morality, mortality, and villainy, I wouldn’t have wanted to do this book with anyone else.