patricia sarrafian ward

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"A gut-punching  novel, consistently taut and bleak. Readers will feel Lucy hanging on by her fingernails just beneath the human world and bloodied by every hard climb upward."
     --Publishers Weekly
                                                

Skinner was what servs called each other. It was because they were fake, their skins a disguise…

     Every year when the deep cold of winter sets in, unbeknownst to humanity, dangerous visitors arrive from another world. Disguised as humans, the Nafikh move among us in secret, hungry for tastes of this existence. Their fickle, often violent desires must be accommodated at all times, and the price of keeping them satisfied is paid most heavily by servs.

     Created by the Nafikh to attend their every whim, servs are physically indistinguishable from humans but for the Source, the painful, white-hot energy that both animates and enslaves them. Destined to live in pain, unable to escape their bondage, servs dwell in a bleak underworld where life is brutal and short.

     Lucy is a serv who arrived a baby and by chance was adopted by humans. She is an outcast among outcasts, struggling to find a place where she truly belongs. For years she has been walking a tightrope, balancing between the horrors of her serv existence and the ordinary life she desperately longs to maintain, her human family unaware of her darkest secrets.

     But when the body of a serv child turns up and Lucy is implicated in the gruesome death, the worlds she's tried so hard to keep separate collide. Hounded by the police, turned upon by the servs who once held her dear, she must fight to protect her family and the life she's made for herself.
                                                

"Ward's prose is expressive and often unexpectedly beautiful . . .
High-caliber, often    engrossing literary sci-fi."
     --Kirkus Reviews