The Midnight Charter

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Agora is an insular city-state where anything can be bought and sold. Everything is a commodity; goods, services, people, thoughts, concepts and even emotions are bartered on the open market. It’s an economy without money, where trade is the only way of life and debt is death. The successful elite rule, plague festers in the pitiless slums, and children are possessions until their twelfth birthdays.

In the ancient tower of Count Stelli, the city’s greatest astrologer, two children meet, both of whom have been sold into servitude. Mark is an emotional, imaginative boy who is sold by his father to the Count’s grandson in return for medical treatment. The other child, Lily, is reserved and thoughtful; an orphan now owned by the Count. At first, threatened with being thrown out to die on the disease-ridden streets if they displease their masters, Mark and Lily’s only goal is to work and survive. However, as they begin to understand that they can shape their own destinies, they each find their own path — Mark within the system, angling for power and the security it brings; and Lily beyond it, determined to change the city forever. Unbeknownst to them both, however, Mark and Lily are watched by the mysterious ruler of Agora, the Director of Receipts, whose interest in the apparently insignificant pair is more than a passing one.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

Chapter One

The Staircase

Being dead was colder than Mark had expected. When his mother had told them all tales of the afterlife, she had drawn him close into her woolen skirts and painted a picture of another city, one where it was always summer. A world where the river glowed clean and bright...
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PRAISE FOR

"Charity, greed, freedom, fate and political scheming are all woven through debut author Whitley's richly conceived world. Readers will be buoyed by every small triumph that cannot be recorded in an account book."
Publishers Weekly

"Deft world-building and crafty plotting combine for a zinger of an ending that will leave readers poised for book two. Surprisingly sophisticated upper-middle-grade fare, with enough meat to satisfy older readers as well."
— Kirkus Reviews

"Exciting and gripping from the first heart-stopping line. . . . Readers will anxiously await the next installment as they reach the cliff-hanger ending."
— School Library Journal


From the Hardcover edition.