Cover reveal: The Dawn and Its Light by Piper CJ (plus an exclusive excerpt)

"The Dawn and Its Light" by Piper CJ. Image courtesy of Sourcebooks.
"The Dawn and Its Light" by Piper CJ. Image courtesy of Sourcebooks. /

Piper CJ is a folklorist and the bestselling author of The Night and Its Moon, a series of bisexual fantasy books featuring fae magic and love that transcends immense obstacles. You may also know her from TikTok, where her videos about her book series, fae and folklore have reached millions of viewers.

The first three books in the series, The Night and Its Moon, The Sun and Its Shade, and The Gloom Between Stars captivated readers and have drawn comparisons to fantasy authors like Olivie Blake and R.F. Kuang. Soon the series will reach its breathtaking conclusion with the fourth and final book, The Dawn and Its Light.

We’re so excited to be able to reveal the gorgeous cover for Piper CJ’s The Dawn and Its Light, as well as an exclusive sneak peek at the novel’s first chapter!

The Dawn and Its Light synopsis

"All that remains…If Nox and Amaris are ever to have the life together they’ve always hoped for, they will have to use all the power and strength within them to protect their continent. When powerful enemies from Sulgrave wielding unspeakable access to magic threaten to shatter their world for good, they must join with Raascot’s military, the reevers, and an unlikely ally from the mountains to have any hope of saving their kingdoms. Together, their forces press north across deadly wastelands, facing unknowable threats, impossible battles…and new questions of what their fate truly holds.Their entire lives have been building toward this moment. Caught between faith and frenzy, questions and identity, love and lust, past and present, Nox and Amaris’s story draws to an explosive conclusion as they fight once and for all to protect their people, their future, and each other."

It’s been a long road for Nox and Amaris, from the mountain stronghold of an assassin order to political courts and battlefields. In early 2024 we’ll finally see how their story ends. Without further adieu, it’s our great pleasure to reveal the beautiful cover for The Dawn and Its Light, designed by Kyria and Nigel Smith:

“The Dawn and Its Light” by Piper CJ. Image courtesy of Sourcebooks.
“The Dawn and Its Light” by Piper CJ. Image courtesy of Sourcebooks. /

Read on for an exclusive preview of the first chapter of The Dawn and Its Light!

Chapter One

“This is what you dream about?”

Nox had expected to see battlefields, dragons, glory, or maidens. She’d even been prepared to step into a nightmare, ready for the horrors of their fight at Castle Aubade to splash into the general’s sleeping mind. Instead, the sweet smell of dying leaves filled the evening. It was so peaceful, so picturesque, that she nearly forgot the world had come to an end.

The corner of Gadriel’s mouth quirked in a crooked smile. He looked up from where he’d been chopping wood. Nox looked over his shoulder at the gray smoke dancing merrily from the chimney of the two-story country house, wondering if someone else was home. The ivy that hung on its siding indicated the oranges and reds of the season. She ran her gaze over the split-rail fence that enclosed the well-loved yard.

There was no trace of lilac, silver, or moonlight in his bucolic dream. Her attempts to reach Amaris had been met with nothingness following the slippery, phantasmal moments they’d shared on the cliff. Nox had never attempted to visit anyone else, but when she returned to sleep at long last, she slipped into her cousin’s sleeping mind.

Gadriel wiped the sweat from his brow. Setting down the axe, he said, “This is where I grew up.”

A sticky feeling accompanied the statement. Confusion, nostalgia, sweetness, and pain lodged in her throat. He was in simple clothes. She’d never seen him in white before, but his tunic was wet with sweat and clung to his chest. His wings were as prominent as they’d ever been, though they seemed to fold in behind him as if they were even more modest in his memories. Seeing him amidst the oaks and vines with no weapons, no fighting leathers, no trace of military bravado was both jarring and profoundly comforting.

“Is this a memory?” she asked.

“My mother’s making apple pie. It’s a recurrent dream of mine.”

“I…” She deflated. She wanted to ask about Amaris. About Moirai. About the mission, the curse, and what the hell had caused Amaris’s dream to wobble like a stone dropped in a pond. She should tell him about Tanith, about the castle, about the Hand and the Hammer. It was too much, too horrible, too difficult to grasp, particularly on an evening this lovely. The longer she stood in the dream, the more her worries began to slip. The smoke, the autumn, the faint scent of apples soaked into her muscles. She relaxed, feeling almost drunk on the pleasantness of the vision. In the end, all she said was “I’m sorry to intrude.”

He sat down on the stump where he’d been clearing wood. “I grew up with Ceres’s visits. He’s the reason I’m a lucid dreamer. Now, when I sleep, I choose memories that bring me peace.”


Serenity was so rare, so precious, that she struggled to maintain a hold on her sense of urgency. Instead, the calm’s intoxicating effect let something gentle slip from her lips. “I’ve tried visiting Amaris so many times, but I haven’t been able to explain the situation to her. It was enough for me to know she was alive… For her, it’s just a dream. For me…”

His eyes softened in a half-apologetic smile. A comfortable silence moved between them and she wondered, if only for a moment, what it would have been like to have been raised with her cousin. Part of her felt nostalgia for an emotion she’d never experienced—the pain of a life that wasn’t.

He continued talking, saying something about the dreamscapes that he and Ceres would conquer as children. She was only half listening as she sank to the ground, crisscrossing her legs and resting her elbows on her knees. He’d started talking about her—about the reign she had ahead of her, and what a useful gift dream walking was—but Nox had sobered up from the initial effects of the windless autumn. If she was a good queen, she would overcome the temptations of this perfect world. There were nightmares to face. Her eyes fluttered shut so she didn’t have to see his face.

“Aubade invaded the north.”

Gadriel stopped short. He sucked in a sharp intake of air.

“I wrote to you,” she said. “I’ve been using the quill for hours with no response.”

She looked up from her place on the grass, watching his face change from friend to general. He brought his thumb and forefinger to his chin and chewed on the information, his jaw flexing slightly in thought. The gentle pink clouds of a pleasant late hour floated behind his head, casting an angelic haze over the painful realities.

“You’re alive,” he said. “What’s more, it sounds like you already tried to visit Amaris. I’m sorry I haven’t gotten the messages. The quill is with her things.” His frown deepened as he contemplated the possibilities. “Tell me you aren’t dreaming from a prison cell?”

Nox smiled with a combination of pride and victory. The rosy sky matched the glow she felt. “We won, Gad.” Her words were so quiet, so happy, they were almost a song. “The Hand and the Hammer met Zaccai and me in the throne room, and we took them down.” Her eyes were twinkling as she relived the thrill of battle. “And I was useful. I stood up to my past—stood up for my country. And Tanith… She saved Gwydir. Farehold filled the castle. The men were everywhere. We were overrun. But Ash freed her, and she fought for us. No, that’s not quite right. She didn’t just fight…she disintegrated the enemy, Gad. Tanith is the reason Raascot stands.”

His laugh was a low, breathy sound.

Her brows pinched. “What?”

“I’m just thinking of our early days with Tanith in the dungeon. When you’d said you wanted to turn her, it had seemed like wishful thinking.” He shook his head in both disbelief and amazement. His mouth twitched in a thoughtful chuckle, lips parting appreciatively as he absorbed the information. His teeth caught the fading evening light as he smiled. He met her eyes in genuine appreciation. “When I told you that I believed in you as our queen, I didn’t realize you’d have to prove yourself so quickly. But goddess, Nox, Raascot doesn’t deserve you.”

She beamed, head still resting in her hands. She sipped at the dream once more, savoring its buzz. Her smile flickered. He mirrored her expression, waiting for her question.

“What happened in Aubade?” Her tone made it clear that she was asking one very specific question.

Gadriel seemed to understand and gave her what she needed. “Amaris is alive, but barely.”

Nox choked on her relief, hand flying to her chest. His words were too serious, too dramatic for the gentle chirping of evening songbirds that flitted through the silhouetted canopies.

Gadriel went on. “Amaris has been unconsciousness for a while now, but she’s being cared for. There was a coordinated attack on the south by Sulgrave. Now that I know the north was invaded…” He chewed on the information for a long moment. “Moirai intended for us to come south.”

Nox’s hands flexed into fists. “What?”

He rubbed at his chin. “She wouldn’t have invaded unless she thought our forces would be elsewhere. She wanted the north to be empty. She wanted Raascot’s eyes to be on the south.”

“It was a trap,” Nox said on a low breath.

“One that backfired,” he confirmed. “If Moirai had intended for us to intercept her messages about the southern banquet, then the information was easy to find by design. Sulgrave found it as well and showed up in full force.”

“Vageth? Ag’imni?”

“Ghouls,” Gadriel said, grimacing. “Things unraveled fast. Amaris and Malik went through the front gates with the duke. Yazlyn and I made our way through the dungeons. Once I made it into the castle, the dead had already swarmed. It was mayhem. Moirai’s guards stood down while everyone was slaughtered. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Malik?” She swallowed the name, fearing the answer.

“Not a scratch on him. I found Malik first. He was helping the unarmed escape. He continued evacuating civilians while I caught my half-feral sergeant dragging Amaris out onto the cliffs. She’d turned Amaris blue to keep her from bleeding out. It was a nightmare, but we made it.”

Nox’s spine went rigid. “She’d frozen Amaris?”

“Her throat was torn open. It’s…rough.” He looked away, as if struggling to relay the information. After a beat, he confirmed, “Yaz lowered Amaris’s body temperature enough to keep her alive and turned the gash to ice. She is the reason Amaris survived. You might want to get her something nice for her birthday.”

Nox’s stomach roiled at the thought of Yazlyn freezing Amaris’s bloodied, broken body. The world wobbled in response, the very trees trembling as they matched her blooming panic. She looked at her hands and then at the ground, searching for the source of the problem as everything around her rippled.

Gadriel responded to the wavering world by crossing to an apple tree whose branches were heavy with ruby-red fruit. He plucked one, then another, causing the tree to shutter. “Catch,” he called, tossing the fruit underhand.

Surprised turned into focus as it arced. The trees stopped wiggling. The world solidified as Nox plucked the object from the air and cradled it in her hand.

The snapping sound of teeth puncturing the flesh of firm fruit pulled her attention upward. Between bites, Gadriel said, “You’ll want to watch out for that. Do your best to keep your emotions in check when dream walking—yours, and anyone you’re visiting. Strong reactions, particularly fear responses, will wake the sleepers.”

She ran her finger over the waxy skin, understanding the distraction. “I guess that makes sense. People sit up in bed screaming from night terrors all the time. I’ll do my best to remain calm as you tell me about the army of ghouls and Amaris as a half-dead icicle. Anything else?” Her words were brittle and humorless as she eyed him.

Gadriel nodded, taking another bite. He swallowed and said, “It appears that Sulgrave’s efforts were focused solely on the castle. Once Malik and I got the civilians and nobility off the grounds, the citizens were in the clear to escape into the city, with no evidence of the undead beyond castle walls. At least, we assume it was Sulgrave. We weren’t able to secure the threat.”

Nox lifted the fruit to her lips, then hesitated. “But Amaris…”

“You would have been very proud of her. She did it. She killed the queen.”

Nox’s mouth twitched, too pained to truly smile. “Please, tell me everything’s going to be okay. You can lie to me if you need to.”

“She’s going to be okay, Nox. I’ve got her now.” He held her gaze solemnly. There was a gravity to his words that she trusted. Gadriel went on: “We’ve settled at an inn for the night. To our knowledge, the Castle Aubade is still overrun with dead. We’re planning to leave it that way until Amaris has healed.”

“And everyone is okay…” Nox repeated it back to herself, desperate to believe it. She frowned down at the apple, wondering if food in the unconscious mind tasted every bit as fictional as she imagined. She set the food on the grass beside her as Gadriel continued.

“She and Yazlyn are sharing a room now so that Yaz can keep an eye on her. Everyone else made it out all right, though you’ll have to do your best to avoid mentioning crows around Yazlyn for the foreseeable future.”

Dizziness caused Nox’s vision to speckle before she realized she’d been holding her breath. “What do we do now? Moirai is dead in the south, as are her forces in the north. I know I’m supposed to have some claim to the throne, but what exactly does that mean? How can I sit on two thrones? How would the people even know? And does it even matter while the castle is overrun by ghouls and Sulgrave still lurks in every shadow?”

The musical, pleasant voice of a woman called from the house, and Gadriel turned toward the sound. He offered a hand and helped Nox up from the ground.

“Do you like pie?”

Nox blinked after him. Had he not heard her? She lifted a finger in protest, but he’d already started toward the house. She followed behind him as he crossed the yard and left the fall evening for his doorway. When they entered the house, Nox encountered who she could only assume was Gadriel’s mother. Her fae blood made it difficult to put a finger on her age, but the cunning in her eyes belonged to someone who had lived for centuries. The woman was every bit as beautiful as Gadriel was handsome.

“This is my mother, Allua.”

The skin around her eyes crinkled with maternal warmth. Nox’s hands twitched, unsure how to greet the woman, before she realized Allua had no intention of greeting her at all. Nox deflated slightly, unsure as to why she was disappointed. She reminded herself that Gadriel’s dream was a memory, and the memory didn’t include her.

Allua hummed to herself, plopping the dessert onto the table as she continued with her satisfied tune. Heat curled from the sugar-crusted dough in white, smokelike tendrils.

“Do we really just get to sit and eat pie?”

Gadriel grinned as he shoveled in the first bite. “Just wait until you have to hold a meeting with Zaccai in his dreams. I’m told there are wyverns. Battle debriefing in his imagination requires a tolerance of the dramatic. What I’d give to have your power to visit dreams…”

“Come on, Gad, you’re the general here. We have to make a plan. Shouldn’t you be—”

“Try it.” He nodded through a mouthful of pie.

Her eyes narrowed, but she obliged. Sugars and caramels swirled around the bright pop of the fruit as it melted in her mouth. The buttery dough alone had been worth the entire dream. The sleeping mind made each flavor, scent, and sight impossible to discern from reality. If they hadn’t established the dream, she may have been able to truly forget herself.

Maybe she’d make a habit of visiting Gadriel.

“It’s good, right?” The general grinned with the glowing smile of a son who loved his mother and her cooking very, very much.

“Your childhood home at sunset in the autumn while eating apple pie? Yes. No words do it justice, Gadriel. I’m lucky I got to see this part of you.”

He was many things—some that Nox was, and some that she was not. He was Raascot’s general. He was a leader, warrior, a winged fae. She’d known him to be tough, stern, and fearless. She also knew that he cared about Amaris. And if he was going to love Amaris, this was the version of him Nox wanted to remember. The wood-chopping, pie-eating man who was easily given over to smiles.

“But the plan—”

He gestured with his fork. “Here’s what I would do if I were you. You’ve won the physical thrones, but there’s work ahead of us in getting Farehold to recognize your claim. Call what remains of your circle and discuss the best ways to disseminate information. Use Zaccai. If the curse truly has broken, this will be a game changer for our ability to spread communication between the north and south. Focus on your campaign to inform and inspire the south. Farehold is ours to claim, but first we have to clear it out. I’ll take care of it. The ghouls are rather slow, and I’m difficult to kill. I’m not worried.”

“And after that? After they’re cleared?”

He shrugged, still chewing. “After that, we can have another meeting. You can’t be two places at once, so you might need to spend some time thinking about who you want as your spokesman sitting in your stead.”

“And then? Will you return north?”

He paused and set down his fork. This was the first time she’d seen Gadriel frown in his dream world. “You’re asking questions as if you don’t have answers to these. You’re in charge.”

She was grateful for him. She didn’t doubt herself, but she also saw the wisdom in his advice. She stood by her belief that he should be king, and would have gladly stepped to the side if Gadriel had wanted the crown. But the time for those conversations had come and gone. She straightened her posture and swallowed her bite of pie. She was queen, and the only thing he required of her was that she act like it.

“I’ll speak to Tanith about the best way to locate the other Sulgrave fae, but to be honest… I think the ones currently on the continent might be the tip of the iceberg. Elil made their arrival in Farehold and Raascot sound like a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. The demon presence has spiked across the continent like we’ve never seen. Something has to have spurred their descent. If we don’t address the root of the problem, every head we cut off will grow three in its place.”

“Are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?”

“I don’t see an alternative. If we do nothing, there will be no kingdoms to rule. One fae decimated Raascot’s forces. One fae bound an army of the dead in Aubade. What if they send more? When will it end? After we secure our seats on the continent, we go north to Sulgrave.”


Excerpt from The Dawn and Its Light reprinted by permission of Sourcebooks.

The Dawn and Its Light releases on January 16, 2024 from Bloom Books, and is available now for preorder. The first three books in Piper CJ’s The Night and Its Moon series are available now wherever books are sold.

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