Excerpt: Burning Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber

The final book in the swoony and high-stakes fantasy rom-com trilogy that began with Twin Crowns, about twin princesses separated at birth—from bestselling authors Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber.

As Oonagh threatens all Rose and Wren hold dear, it will take everything they have to save Eana—including a sacrifice they may not be prepared to make.



Wren stood on the banks of Lake Carranam, trying to rub the goose bumps from her arms. The water rippled amber and gold, illuminated by the sun’s dying rays. Even though it was the first day of spring, there was a chill in the wind. There was a chill in Wren’s bones, too. But that had been there long before today.

“Tonight will be perfect,” said Rose, squeezing Wren’s arm. Rose stood beside her, looking beautiful in her new gown. It was pale green and embroidered with fine lace flowers to reflect the coming of spring. Agnes had threaded daisies through Rose’s hair, which hung in loose curls down her back. “Our ancestors are smiling down on us. I just know it.”

Wren’s gown was a simple sheath of midnight blue, cinched at the waist. Around her neck, she wore a sapphire gemstone that had once belonged to her mother, and in her braid, a vine of delicate winter flowers still pricked with thorns. She had told her sister she wanted to represent the passing of winter, but as she had threaded those fine white flowers through her hair that morning, she couldn’t help picturing the kingdom of Gevra in her mind and the proud spires of Grinstad Palace jutting up from the snowy mountains.

Rose had approved of the symbolism in her sister’s choice. Winter was behind them now, and with it, the terrible rebellion that had once threatened Eana’s future.

Since their return home, Wren and Rose had held several royal audiences, throwing open the golden gates of Anadawn Palace to their subjects. The town of Eshlinn had been rebuilt, the surrounding forest planted with thousands of saplings. The Anadawn Royal Fleet had been purged of traitors and reformed with willing young soldiers, grain stores across the country were now refilled, farmland had been redistributed, and thirty-seven new infirmaries were now open. With more healers than ever, the witches of Ortha found themselves in high demand. In the last few months, many had spread out, some traveling as far as Norbrook to settle, while others journeyed south, to where the Amarach Towers were thrumming with new apprentices itching to read the secrets of the sky.

Slowly but surely, the twins were establishing themselves as true leaders. Witches who were respected in their own country, not feared. Queens who intended to usher the kingdom into an era of peace and prosperity. A new dawn had come. Tonight, they were marking it by celebrating the Festival of Imbolg a few miles east of Anadawn Palace on the banks of the oldest lake in Eana.

At the palace’s invitation, thousands of people had gathered at Lake Carranam to celebrate the festival. Under the watchful guard of Anadawn’s soldiers, they reveled in the swell of music. Some danced under the setting sun while others congregated by the serving tables, drinking wine and feasting on the treats that Cam and his team of cooks had prepared for the occasion. Celeste, Rose’s best friend, had already gone back for seconds. There were crispy potato croquettes, roasted lamb bites, figs with goat cheese and honey, pear and almond tartlets, spiced carrot cake, and chocolate stars.

The twins stood apart from the revelry, watching their kingdom celebrate. Rose giggled at the sight of Shen Lo dancing with Grandmother Lu, the old witch cackling as he spun her far too fast. Although it was a long way to travel, the newly crowned king of the Sunkissed Kingdom wouldn’t dream of passing up an invitation from the queens of Eana.

He was, after all, hopelessly in love with one of them.

Wren glanced sidelong at Rose. “Aren’t you going to dance with Shen?” she said, amused and secretly pleased by the ongoing mutual fawning between her sister and her oldest friend.

Rose smiled coyly. “Once he asks me.”

“Why don’t you ask him?”

Rose wrinkled her nose. “Because I am the prize, Wren.”

“He hasn’t been able to take his eyes off you all night,” Wren pointed out. “Maybe he’s nervous.”

“I’ve never known Shen Lo to be nervous about anything,” said Rose, a note of warmth creeping into her voice. “Although I will admit my dress is particularly fine this evening.”

A cold breeze swept through the clearing. The lake rippled and Wren looked down, scowling at her own reflection.

“Stop admiring yourself,” said Rose. “Vanity is unbecoming of a queen.”

Wren snorted. “You spend hours looking in the mirror.”

“Yes, but never in public. Or at least not so obviously.”

Wren didn’t know how to tell Rose that she wasn’t looking at herself. When she peered into the waters of Lake Carranam, she swore she saw Oonagh Starcrest looking back at her. The twins never spoke of their ancestor—who was still hiding in the wilds of Gevra, likely gathering her strength—but with each passing day, Wren saw more of Oonagh in her own haunted eyes. A strange emptiness yawned inside her, reminding her of everything she had given up in pursuit of blood magic: the healing strand of her magic and therefore her peace of mind.

Rose still didn’t know about any of that.

Wren didn’t know how to tell her.

“Are you ready?” said Rose, reaching for her sister’s hand. “It’s almost time for our performance.”

Wren pulled her gaze from the lake. “I’m ready.”

Rose made a gesture at the minstrels. The music quieted. Shen Lo fell out of his dance, smiling as he turned toward the twins. The rest of the revelers followed suit, looking eagerly to their queens. Even the wind stopped, as though to listen.

Lanterns flickered all around the lake, casting Wren and Rose in their glow.

“Welcome to the Festival of Imbolg,” Rose called out. “It is our honor to mark with you the end of this long winter and to welcome the beginning of spring. This season is a time for new blessings. And so we celebrate together, with rousing music and delicious food, and of course, magic.”

The crowd cheered.

Rose nodded at Wren, giving the signal.

Wren raised her free hand, summoning the tempest magic inside her. Aside from her native enchantment, her tempest strand came the easiest to her now. It was Banba’s legacy, after all. Although Banba had passed on, Wren’s grandmother was still close to her heart. Wren thought of her every time she glimpsed the new silver streak in her hair, felt her strength whenever she reached for her tempest magic, and heard her voice in the rumble of every storm.

Whipping up a new wind, Wren raised a river of water from the lake. As it swelled, it became a storm cloud. She exhaled through her nose, concentrating as she moved the cloud directly over the lake. Power buzzed in her bloodstream and rattled in her teeth.

“Tonight, we say goodbye to the fear and dissent of the past,” Rose proclaimed. “We banish all memory of war and bloodshed.”

Wren released her grip on the storm just as Rose raised her free hand, shearing the storm cloud in two. There was an almighty thunderclap. The crowd cheered as lightning flashed all around them. Rain fell in a great gushing waterfall, pummeling the lake. And then, all at once, the deluge stopped. The sky was clear once more.

A sudden shock of pain tore through Wren. She ground her teeth, forcing a smile, but her hands were trembling and her knees were growing weak.

“Today, we welcome a brighter future for Eana,” said Rose, her voice loud and clear, smile broad and sure. “We welcome new life. New growth. New hope.”

She squeezed Wren’s hand. It was time for their enchantment. The twins knelt and each picked up a fistful of silt from the lakeshore. The fresh earth in Wren’s hand strengthened her as she stood. If Rose noticed her sister’s sudden exhaustion, she didn’t show it.

The twins’ voices arced as they recited their enchantment, the spell ringing out like a song.

From earth to dust, with flames so bright, we welcome spring and its new light.”

Just like they had been practicing all week, Wren and Rose cast their earth and conjured a magnificent oak tree made of flame. It hovered on the surface of the lake like a great burning statue. The crowd erupted in applause.

“People of Eana, we invite all of you to join us,” cried Rose. “Those without magic, take a candle from one of our stewards and raise it to the sky, joining your light with ours. Witches, lend your magic to our spell. With this symbolic Tree of Light, help us to cast new blessings on this ancient land.”

All across the clearing, candles were lit and raised. Witches knelt to gather dirt before casting their own enchantments, adding whips of flame to the great burning tree until it sprawled across the entire lake, its branches twisting up toward the sky. The clearing flared amber and gold, no longer lit by the dying sun but by the Tree of Light. The symbol of Imbolg.

Everyone looked up, marveling at such a feat of power.

Rose’s laughter rang out, merry as a song. “Oh, Wren, isn’t it wonderful?”

The great tree burned tears in Wren’s eyes, and for a brief, perfect moment, she felt invigorated, filled with a hope she had thought was lost to her.

Then the smoke came. It stole up from the base of the tree, hissing as it swallowed the flames.

“Oh no!” Rose kept her voice low, but Wren heard the panic in it. “What’s happening?”

Wren winced as fresh pain lanced up her arm. She dropped her hand, letting her magic go out, but it was too late. The spell had twisted. The smoke was getting thicker, blacker. It traveled along the branches of the tree, stealing every flicker of light. Then it billowed across the lake, smothering the candles in a choking cloud of ash.

The crowd screamed as darkness fell.

“Wren! Something’s wrong!” hissed Rose, grabbing her hand.

Before Wren could say another word, an eerie laugh rang out. It seemed to echo all around her, finding its breath in the smoke. Wren froze. Suddenly, she knew—not what was wrong but who. Somehow, Oonagh Starcrest was here. Wren dropped Rose’s hand and fled.


Burning Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber (May 7, Balzer + Bray)

rom-com meets magic 

The final book in the swoony and high-stakes fantasy rom-com trilogy that began with Twin Crowns, about twin princesses separated at birth—from bestselling authors Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber.

As Oonagh threatens all Rose and Wren hold dear, it will take everything they have to save Eana—including a sacrifice they may not be prepared to make.

Twin Crowns cast a spell on me from the very first pages with its glittering blend of harrowing adventure, charming wit, and intricate world building. Add in delightful romance and two unforgettable narrators, and I was thoroughly bewitched by this marvelous book! Don’t miss it!”—Sarah J. Maas#1 New York Times bestselling author


Catherine grew up in Galway in the west of Ireland by the sea. She is the author of the Blood for Blood YA trilogy and the middle grade Storm Keeper trilogy. She currently lives in Ireland with her husband, Jack, and their dog, Cali.

Katherine is from Southern California and spent much of her childhood in the Palm Springs desert. She is the author of Only Love Can Break Your Heart and The Revelry. For younger readers, she cowrites the Sam Wu Is Not Afraid and Dragon Realm series with her husband, Kevin Tsang. She is currently based in London with her husband and young daughters.

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