Cornelius Quiggle, a peasant boy living in a famine-stricken village, suffers from being invisible because he only has half a soul. The other half was taken by a supernatural creature of death called a mortuis. It's hard to be normal when he can't talk without scaring the other villagers. And people laugh at him when he volunteers to journey to the capital city and petition the king to help their village. But Cornelius goes anyway, because if he succeeds he'll finally get some respect, and maybe he might find a cure for his invisibility.
But when he reaches the castle, the mortuis catches up with him, claiming it has unfinished business with him from the moment he was born. If Cornelius can't get the king to acknowledge him, the mortuis will kill him to fulfill the terms of an old deal. And while he doesn't know any of the nobles in the castle, some of them know him--and the web of a centuries-old conspiracy ensnares him.
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