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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 304

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In a world that is divided between the "Reds," the commoners with no powers, and the "Silvers," the rulers with powers, Mare Barrow is a seeming paradox. She was raised as a commoner by her parents along with her sister and three brothers. However, it is soon discovered that Mare has an ability to create lightning. When Mare shocks both herself and those around her with her powers in a public setting, the king and queen devise a plot to preserve the delineation between Reds and Silvers. Simply, they decide to lie about Mare's heritage and take her in to live in the palace, even betrothing her to their younger son, Maven.

Mare's life in the palace has its luxuries, but she also has to deal with several changes, including leaving her family and her best friend, Kilorn. Yet, she begins to form bonds with her betrothed, his older brother, Cal, and Cal's uncle, Julian. Through Mare and Julian's relationship, Julian begins to study the reality of Mare having abilities and concludes that not only does she have powers that are stronger than Silvers, but other Reds possess a similar mutation, causing them to have abilities as well. Mare also, in the midst of living in the palace, joins the Scarlet Guard, a group dedicated to supporting the Reds, and offers to spy for them and deliver information through her connection, Farley.

When an attack on the palace occurs through the Scarlet Guard, the plot takes a turn in revealing that Maven, whom Mare trusted, is actually working with his mother, Evangeline, to take the throne. Maven's mother uses her mind control ability to force Cal to kill his father, making him a murderer unfit for the throne, and Mare and Cal are barely able to escape with the help of the Scarlet Guard.