YA fantasy novel

national finalist in Simon & Schuster's Simon451 novel contest

Talia has never left the servants' quarters of the palace, where she dutifully does her chores, her soul number tightly wrapped and hidden by a scarf. She is the daughter of the Seer, a powerful old soul who “reads” babies at birth to discern the age—the soul number—of their reincarnated souls. To keep peace in the kingdom, children are taken from their families and grouped into livelihoods that reflect their soul numbers. Although Talia has the same psychic talents as her father, she lives hidden away, not knowing what her number is. She does not question it, because her father has told her not to.

When she is seven, a serious misstep at court reveals that Tali is a new soul, a One—the lowest in the kingdom, an untouchable, unable to have the gift. She is taken from her father and forced into the faraway child mines for new souls, where for four years Talia struggles to bury her calling with the grey rock she shovels, bullied by the guards and even the other children for her curse —until the dark night she has a prophetic dream that her father will be murdered during an upcoming royal wedding.

Now eleven years old, it's up to Talia to find her way back to the castle and warn her father of the imminent danger. Along the way, she meets a group of outcast rebels who want to abolish the soul number system. But Talia isn’t interested in heroism—she just wants to save her father. But her Kingdom has become dark, and when Talia reaches him, her father ushers her far away from court, high into the sacred mountain of her childhoods dreams, where Tali discovers a funky unit of mixed-age souls called a family she never knew she had, a destiny with a Seer's Sayf she is not sure she can handle or even wants, and the Queen's deeply guarded secret that her father will protect at any cost - even hers. As Talia struggles to forgive her father, she desperately longs to stay in the mountain and save him from his horrible fate, but when her family's tragic past threatens to destroy the very fabric of their system and the children of the mines, Talia must face that only she has the power to save the crown of Aybrrth.