The Mist Keeper's Apprentice by E.S. Barrison
Storytelling was outlawed. Magic had all but vanished. That all changed when the woman in black came to town. Branded with the black stamp at a young age, Brent thought he would end up a vagrant like his father. His craft was telling stories, but the Order had long forbidden any weaving of tales. When Brent sees the woman in black, she leads him into a menagerie of tunnels beneath the earth where his life falls into the nauseating, but beautiful, mist of the dead. He finds friendship in Rho, a young woman who hides her face with a tree branch while roots and vines bow to her every whim. Together, they embark on a journey to explore the world, escape the watchful eyes of the Order, and discover the woman in black's secrets. For thousands of years, the mist and the tunnels were under the sole guardianship of the Council of Mist Keepers. But as new monsters enter the mist, and magic is forced out of the shadows, the Council searches for young blood to join their ranks and Brent's next in line. Content Warning: This book approaches issues of sexism, prejudice, and mental illness, and includes mentions of death, violence/sexual assault, adult language, alcohol use, and psychological abuse/trauma.
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