The Missing Heir of Mandralay is dear to my heart because it was suggested by something that happened years ago at the school where I work. I was teaching a theatre camp one summer. During the camp, a young student–a second grader, I believe–got a sliver in her finger. I took her to the lower school office so our beloved secretary/nurse could remove the sliver. The student, however, asked me to take the sliver out instead.

I remember taking her tiny hand in my own and trying to remove that sliver without hurting her. Something about her trust in me was profoundly moving, and that moment sunk deeply down into my heart as I pondered the trust a teacher has.

It also sparked my imagination. I started thinking about a series of “what if” questions. What if there was a tiny princess with a sliver? What if the only person who could help was a terrible monster. What if he was actually supposed to kill her? What would her trust do to him? What if….

That was all spinning in my mind when I had a very vivid dream about an underwater cave where warriors were turning into crocodile-men (not sure what I ate that night before bed).

Those streams came together and became this book, which I love dearly. It’s even more special to me because two very special students helped with the cover–one was the model and one was the photographer. Several years ago, I was struggling to finish a trilogy. Sales had not been all I hoped for, and it was discouraging. I was questioning whether or not I should even continue.

One day after class, a shy, quiet student came up to me. Clearly she wanted to discuss something. Clearly she was embarrassed. I did my best to make her comfortable and ask her how I could help her. She looked at her friend–whom she had brought along for moral support. Then she finally blurted out her question: “Are you ever going to do a sequel to Penumbras?” She then told me how much she’d enjoyed the series and wanted me to finish it. That gave me the confidence I needed to push through and finish the book. That student grew up and is now the face on the cover of this book.

Because of all that, I dedicated this book to all of my students. And, to a very special teacher who has inspired me for many years now.

About The Missing Heir of Mandralay

The Missing Heir of Mandralay
by Braden Bell
: Mockingbird Cottage Press
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy


A heartless monster. An innocent girl. He holds her life in his paws, but she holds his soul in her hands.

Thirteen-year-old Tallie has a strange new power. While experimenting with this power late at night, she is discovered by Mother Kyraisa, the ancient nun who runs the orphanage where Tallie lives. Terrified of something, Mother Kyraisa evacuates the orphanage and burns it to the ground. The pair flees into the desert with only a wagon and a lead-lined coffin to protect the girl from the unspoken danger that pursues her.

With no memories, no heart, or even a name, X is a monster. Fiercest of the Bestials, his predator’s instincts are controlled only by powerful spells binding his life to the regent’s will. When a flash of apostate magic betrays the hiding place of the late queen’s daughter, the regent dispatches X to kill the child—her niece and the long-hidden heir to the throne.

Following the child’s magic, X tracks Tallie to her hiding place. He prepares to kill her, until Tallie surprises him with a sincere request for help.

Tallie’s innocence and trust awaken a small spark of humanity inside X, and he tries to help her. But he remains a monster, bound by instinct and unbreakable oaths. Helping Tallie triggers a ferocious battle, as X fights his primal nature for her life—and his only hope of redemption.

Meanwhile, Tallie grapples with the tragedy of her past and her identity as crown princess. As royal heir, Tallie finds access to immense power—enough to destroy her enemies, but possibly her own soul as well, turning her into a monster far worse than X.




About the Author


Braden Bell (who writes Young Adult novels under the name Brandon Gray) holds a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his family live on a quiet, wooded lot in Tennessee, where he teaches middle school theatre and music. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys reading, gardening, and long summer afternoons writing in his hammock. To read about his YA novels, check out:

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