Today on the site, we’re revealing the cover of The Merciless King of Moore High by Lily Sparks, a contemporary YA fantasy releasing April 23, 2024 from Flux Books! Here’s the story:
When the adults of Brockton, Connecticut, morphed into gigantic, bloodthirsty monsters nine months ago, the students at Jefferson High barricaded themselves inside their school. Now eighteen-year-old Kay Kim is one of the Student Council members trying to keep her classmates from starving.
Kay has no poker face and can’t keep her mouth shut when she knows she’s right, so when she accidentally learns a secret that threatens the delicate power balance at Jefferson, she’s dragged out of the school in the dead of night and dumped in the middle of town in a secret assassination attempt.
But when a raiding party of cheerleaders from crosstown rival Moore High comes to her rescue, Kay finds herself among ruthless, hard-partying road warriors who have adopted the feudal trappings of a once-popular video game. Life at Moore is violent and cliquish, but everyone is thriving—everyone, that is, who survives the kingdom’s periodic monster hunts. For Moore’s beloved King Max demands only two things: absolute fealty and that everyone at Moore help kill the “dragons.”
If Kay wants to survive, she must be granted asylum at Moore—which means slaying dragons, not asking the wrong questions, and navigating the rival factions, love triangles, and political intrigues at court. But when Kay discovers a deadly secret that reaches all the way to Jefferson, her inability to hide the truth might spark the revolution that burns both schools to the ground.
And here’s the epic cover, designed by Cynthia Della-Rovere and illustrated by Jensine Eckwell, and a note from the author!
THE MERCILESS KING OF MOORE HIGH seemed like an impossible cover assignment, because the book straddles genre: contemporary teens at two rival high schools, navigating a feudal monarchy and fighting fantastic monsters. Illustrator Jensine Eckwall’s style, which has rich undertones of medieval woodcutting and a contemporary edge, is the perfect entry point for a world in which passing a note to the wrong person can mean fighting for your life in a Trial by Combat.
Eckwell has captured a shield emblazoned with the Three of Swords, a tarot symbol, surrounded by the bones and the black, iridescent blood of the monsters in this story, which are seen as magical dragons by Moore High, and zombified corpse-piles by Jefferson High. MKMH is all about clashing narratives, and tarot exemplifies how we can construct stories to empower or terrify each other. The heart pierced by three swords is a striking symbol of grief and loss. And in this story three characters will, with all the best intentions, break each other’s hearts.
Lily Sparks is the author of Teen Killers Club (Crooked Lane, 2020), a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, Thriller Award nominee, and YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers. It received a starred Kirkus review and blurbs from several bestselling authors and launched a series including Teen Killers in Love and Teen Killers at Large. She’s developed TV projects for MTV, FX, and Amazon, written for the CW’s Reign and Paramount’s Heathers, and currently leads character design for Adult Swim’s Royal Crackers.