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A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Stick and stones break bones. Words kill.

They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she's good with words.

They'll live to regret it.

They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn't have. But he doesn't remember.

Now they're after him and he doesn't know why.

There's a word, they say. A word that kills.

And they want it back . . . 

“Best thing I've read in a long time . . . a masterpiece.” —Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 08, 2013 – The fate of humanity is at stake in this ambitious satirical thriller from Australian author Barry (Machine Man). Picked off the streets of San Francisco after displaying a natural aptitude for persuasion, 16-year-old magician/hustler Emily Ruff joins a group of prodigies at the Academy, where poets learn the magic of controlling others minds with words. Meanwhile, hapless Wil Parke, the key player in an internal war between highly trained poets called Eliot and Woolf, is the only person known to survive the infamous bareword Woolf set loose in Broken Hill, Australia, two years before an event that killed thousands and wiped Wil s memory clean. Eliot believes Wil to be the only one capable of stopping this word that can persist... like an echo, and is determined to use Wil in his quest to elucidate the word s elemental code. Emily s story and Wil s story converge in a violent denouement that amuses as much as it shocks.

Customer Reviews

Skip it

Sorry but this was one of the worst edited books I've read in a long time. The transitions were awful. Please do us all a favor and fire your editors. The story had an interesting premise, but turned out to be a crass, zombie book in disguise. The female characters were empty and obviously dreamt up by the male brain. I wanted more; I am disappointed.


I highly recommend this to everyone who enjoys a good mystery and appreciates the art of communication. Simply Fantastic!

Perfect. That seems like a good word.

Fantastic read from a great writer. Perfectly woven tapestry of narrative. Best scifi book I've read since Wool.

View in iTunes
  • $4.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Adventure
  • Published: Jun 18, 2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings