For Ages
14 to 99

Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.
   Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.
   Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.

A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick

[STAR] "With stylish prose, richly developed characters and well-realized worldbuilding, Templeman plumbs archetypes of folklore to create a compelling blend of mythic elements and realistic teen experience."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred

[STAR] "This has both the stylish beauty of those [classic fairy] tales and the chilling darkness that makes them timeless."-The Bulletin, Starred

“The legion of Maggie Stiefvater fans out there ought to look this way.”-Booklist

An Excerpt fromThe Glass Casket

One bleak morning in the eye of winter, five horses and five riders thundered into the remote mountain village of Nag's End. Without ceremony or respect for local custom, they charged through the square and up the steep alpine trail that lay just beyond. Hazarding the rocky terrain, they weaved their way between snow-shrouded pines, climbing ever higher until they reached the icy plateau of Beggar's Drift--a place, it was said, that the Goddess had forsaken.
From the window of his father's tavern, Tom Parstle saw them pass, and although they rode with great speed, he was certain he caught the seal of the king's guard upon their breastplates. Few people of interest, and surely none so interesting as the king's soldiers, had ever passed through Nag's End, and in their wake, they left an aura of wondrous anticipation. For what could there be in such an isolated part of the forest to attract the attentions of the king?
Tom and his best friend, Rowan, were certain the arrival presaged the beginning of a marvelous adventure, but three days later, when the horses came surging down the mountain, barebacked and petrified, they knew that something had gone terribly wrong.
It was Tom who suggested the search party, and because Nag's Enders were a noble folk, the kind of people who saw even strangers as their brethren, volunteers gathered in earnest. After bidding farewell to his mother and to Rowan, Tom joined his fellows as they made the trek up to the forsaken place.
The higher they climbed, the more his lungs seemed to resist the harshness of the icy air, and when they neared their destination, Tom marveled at the fierceness of the tumbling snow. If the weather in Beggar's Drift was this brutal when the village below was calm, what must it have been like in the preceding days, when Nag's End had been hit with a gale the likes of which they hadn't seen for nearly a decade?
"It must have been death up here," his brother, Jude, whispered, as if speaking Tom's thoughts.
When they reached the plateau, Tom peered through the snowy haze to the bones of the camp stretched out in the distance. There was no movement, no sign of life, and yet Tom felt there was a strange pressure in the atmosphere-- a charged energy that made him feel as if he'd walked onto the scene of a massive celebration only moments after it had suddenly and inexplicably ceased.
As they approached, Tom saw something that astonished him. At the far end of the camp rose an enormous pile of wood, shattered and splintered as if heaved up half-digested from within the bowels of the earth. The monstrosity stood three men high and twenty men wide, and whatever its purpose might have been was lost on Tom.
"What in the name . . . ," Tom whispered, and started toward it, but then Jude grabbed his arm and pointed toward something in the near distance. One of the tents had been destroyed, a gash torn in its side, its rent fabric snapping in the wind. Upon seeing it, the men froze. Tom's father, Wilhelm Parstle, held up a hand to the others, but Tom and Jude broke into a run, as is the wont of teenage boys, toward the danger instead of away from it, and the others followed.
Tom reached the tent before his brother did, and when he stepped inside, his heart grew cold. The scene was utterly commonplace, and that in itself was unnerving. A flagon of wine stood on the table next to a half-filled mug of the same. A heavy coat lay on the cot, folded and ready to wear. The side of the tent had been mangled, and snow had swept in through the tear, marking time with its presence, but had it not been for that, Tom might have expected someone to return at any moment, finish his wine, and put on his winter gear before heading out for his day.
Tom jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder, but he turned to find it was only his brother.
"Over there," Jude said, pointing to a journal that lay open on the table, a pen set neatly beside it.
Leaning down, Tom brushed the dusting of snow from its pages to find two words scratched below:
It's starting.

Down in the village, Rowan Rose stepped out into the afternoon light. She'd been hard at work on her translations all morning, and she needed to clear her head. Wrapping her cloak around her, she lifted her face to the sky, delighting as the falling snow kissed her cheeks. Nag's End got its fair share of weather, and while she might enjoy the wildness of summer and the quiet brooding of fall, she preferred the ethereal beauty of winter.
Rowan lived with her father and her housemaid, Emily, at the edge of the forest in a two-story stone cottage. Theirs was the only home in Nag's End with a gate surrounding it, and a thicket of thorns beyond that. But inside their yard was a beautiful garden, the crowning glory of which were twin rose trees that framed the front door, one bearing red roses, the other white. It was rumored that Rowan's mother had planted them, but no one could say for certain. Rowan had never known her mother. She'd died in childbirth--taken by the fairies, some used to whisper--but Rowan liked to imagine her mother's long, smooth fingers moving through the dirt, placing the seeds in the earth and nurturing the sprouts through sapling-hood.
Reaching out to touch the naked branches, she thought how beautiful they would look when the snow melted and the rich buds burst forth. Lifting her sapphire skirts, she made her way along the garden path and stared out into the forest beyond. A bird lit on the stone wall, and Rowan smiled at its beauty. It was a bluebird--a rare thing in winter, when Nag's End seemed the exclusive domain of the large black crows that swept through the sky like terrible sirens.
Behind her, the front door opened, and Rowan spun to see her father emerging. Carrying a pile of books close to his chest, he moved briskly, his white-blond hair falling over his eyes. He looked worried, and when he saw his daughter lingering by the wrought-iron gate, he gave a start.
"I thought you were working," he said, a note of hesitation in his voice. "Glad to see you're taking the air. The life of the mind can lead to weakness of body."
"I've already had a morning walk," she said. "I went over to see Tom off before they left on their expedition."
Her father shook his head. "That search party is premature. You'll see, they'll find those soldiers hard at work up there, and then they'll feel the fools for wasting a full day on such a trek."
"Father," Rowan said, suddenly remembering the travelers who came to the door last night. "Who were they?"
There had been something about the trio that had riled her father, and even now, books pressed against his chest, he seemed more of a nervous schoolboy than the respected scholar he was.
He bit his lip and averted his eyes. "Yes, I've been meaning to speak with you about that," he said. "I rarely ask anything of you, you know that, but I'm making a request of you now. Do you understand?"
Taken aback by the intensity of his words, she nodded.
"Those people are dangerous, Rowan, and you are not, under any circumstances, to speak with them."
Rowan shuddered. "Dangerous?"
Her mind drifted back to the family of three that had appeared at their garden gates as if players in some distant dream. They were not from the mountain provinces; that was immediately clear. They wore bright colors and spoke with a strange accent that reminded Rowan of what it must sound like to hear the crash of the sea upon the shore. The man and woman were tall, and Rowan could not see much of them under their cloaks, but the third traveler was a girl who had thrown back her hood and stood gazing up at the sky, exposing the whole of her face to Rowan's eager eyes.
Roughly Rowan's age, the girl had been beautiful in the way that a crisp apple was delicious--almost too sharp, but with an underlying sweetness that makes its jaggedness seem merely bright. She was tall, with red lips and raven hair pulled back into a tight braid, and from where Rowan had sat perched in her window, the girl's dark eyes seemed to sparkle. Rowan's father had gone out to speak with them, but Rowan had been unable to hear his words. After a brief exchange, her father, clearly agitated, proceeded back inside and locked the door behind him.
"But what did they want?" Rowan asked.
"That's not your concern," he said, furrowing his brow. "I'm hoping they've left the village by now, but if you see them about, I want you to avoid them."
Rowan opened her mouth to speak, but her father brushed past her. "We'll talk later, Daughter. I'm due to deliver some papers to Ollen Bittern." And with that, he strode out of the yard, his blond hair flopping in the winter breeze.
Rowan stood staring after him, disconcerted by his uncharacteristic brusqueness. Catching movement on the western wall, she turned, hoping to see her little bluebird, but there atop the stones, she saw an enormous crow, its wings frayed and its eyes black as night. It was said that before the crows came to Nag's End, fairies and wood sprites and other forest things lived openly in the woods. But death rode in on the black wings of the crows, for a fairy hatchling is a crow's favorite food, and it was upon the birds' arrival that the benevolent forest things began disappearing, wicked ones lingering in their stead.
Hearing footfalls coming through the snow, Rowan turned to see Emily stalking toward her, a stern expression on her face. Emily was only a few years older than Rowan, but she'd been acting like Rowan's nursemaid since she herself had been in milk teeth. Emily's mother, Antonia, had been Rowan's actual nursemaid, and since Rowan had grown up without a mother, Antonia had raised the girl as her own, the three of them eating dinners together at the kitchen table while Rowan's father, more often than not, kept to himself, translating texts in his study. But now Antonia was gone as well, taken the previous year by fever, and although Rowan adored her father, it often felt as though she and Emily were the closest thing either had to a real family.
"You'll catch a chill out here. What are you doing, anyway? Waiting for Tom?"
Rowan shook her head. "He won't be back just yet."
"I heard your father talking to you," Emily said, concerned. "You saw that family last night?"
"I did."
Emily shook her head, disapproval in her eyes. "Strange, your father telling you not to talk to them."
Rowan nodded, hesitant. "He says they're dangerous."
"Does he?" Emily raised an eyebrow. "And did he tell you who the girl is?"
"No, though she was beautiful, wasn't she?"
"Like a rose, she was. But he didn't tell you who she is?"
Rowan set her hand on her hip, her patience growing thin. "Emily, don't be tiresome. Clearly you have something you want to tell me. Who is the girl?"
"She's your cousin," Emily said.
The words came like a jolt to Rowan's heart. Her cousin? Her father had never told her she had a cousin. Something felt very wrong. Trying to collect her thoughts, Rowan walked through the snow toward the northern wall of the yard. Behind them, ice-capped mountains climbed toward the sky.
She needed to speak with Tom. That morning, when she'd said her farewell, she'd told him about the mysterious strangers from the night before, but she hadn't known then that the girl was her own cousin. She wondered what Tom would make of it all.
Emily linked her arm with Rowan's and stared up toward Beggar's Drift. "I have a bad feeling about that mountain, I do."
"So do I," Rowan said.
From behind them came a cry and a tremendous beating of wings as the great black crow pushed off from its perch and hurtled up into the sky. Rowan shuddered. She had the strong sense that somewhere up on that mountain Tom was in terrible danger. She wrapped her cloak tight against the winter chill, hoping for some sign that everything would be okay, nearly certain that everything would not.

Tom and Jude stared at the journal, neither sure what to make of it. They could hear their father beginning to organize the men, and when he called for his sons, Tom set the journal down and stepped outside, Jude in tow.
"Right. Fan out, everyone," his father said, sending groups off in various directions. As the men dispersed, Wilhelm looked to his sons and lowered his voice. "Stay close," he said. "Something's not right here."
Tom nodded and started after the others, leaving Bartlett the tailor to puzzle over the tear in the tent. Tom's eyes swept across the landscape, white as far as he could see, and up ahead to where the men were moving like animals, fear evident in their bodies. He turned to speak with Jude, but there was no sign of him. No doubt he'd headed off on his own as soon as the moment had presented itself.
In the distance, among the nearly naked trees, Tak Carlysle was waving his hands above his head, trying to get the others' attention. Tom set off running, and even before he reached Tak, he could see the trail of blood, crimson against white, leading into the trees beyond.
That was where they found the first body. It took all of Tom's restraint not to cry out when he saw the snow mingled with frozen blood and bone. He turned away and closed his eyes lest he lose his breakfast in the snow, but his father was watching, so he forced himself to look again upon the corpse. The man's tongue had been torn from his mouth, his eyes gouged from their sockets, and wounds of varying size and depth covered his body, as if he had been set upon from every direction.
"Animal attack," Dr. Temper was quick to say, for he knew their minds would drift somewhere worse given their whereabouts.
Tom's father cleared his throat. "We need to keep looking. We must find the others."
With no tracks to follow, the men set out through the trees in grid formation, Tom's belly clenching ever tighter at the thought of what might lie ahead. They had gone only a short distance when little Natty Whitt, no more than fourteen and a little slow in the head, began shouting for the others.