Emily Halloran knows who she is, but not what made her. She knows that when she was seven years old, her parents and little brother were killed in a house fire that should have–but somehow didn’t–kill her. Instead she was found roaming around the smoking ruins of the house, severely burned, carrying a diamond in the shape of a tear and the air of a soldier coming back from combat.
She knows these things because her great-grandmother, the woman who raised her, told her. Emily does not remember the fire or anything that happened before it. The pictures and stories about her family might as well be about someone else.
Sometimes, Emily hopes that she will never remember, that she will never lose the distance forgetting has given her. And yet she will remember, whether she wants to or not, when she takes her turn at binding the Tithe with the dark Fae. With the fragments of memory comes a childhood rhyme that someone–or something–whispered into seven-year-old Emily’s ear the night her family died:
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children will burn.