Mare Barrow's fate is sealed. She is a lowly red, born to work hard and serve the ruling silvers. With her birthday approaching and no job prospects, Mare will be conscripted in to the army like her older brothers. Fighting in an endless war, Mare will surely die on the battlefield. Desperate and out of options, Mare takes a big risk to sneak into the castle for a chance to pick pocket from the rich and powerful silvers that hold her fate in their hands. Stealing from silvers isn't as easy as it sounds as each is gifted with an ability due to their silver blood. Some can read minds, some control fire, some can become invisible. Mare has to be very careful...but everything goes wrong when a resistance group called Red Dawn detonates a bomb in the city square. Suspicion falls on any red in the area, and Mare has to make a quick exit without any loot to show for it.
Mare knows she is doomed to conscription when she meets a friendly servant who offers her a job working for the silvers in the castle. The deal seems to good to be true. With the wages she can take care of her family and be saved from the battlefield. Her elation doesn't last long. Her first job is serving noble families on the night of Queenstrial, when all the silver noble families present their daughters (and their dangerous abilities) to the royal family to choose from for the son's betrothed. Things go horribly wrong when Mare accidentally falls into the testing arena, directly into an electrified net. The electricity should have killed her, but Mare absorbs the power, feeling the sparks tickle across her skin.
Mare's survival is quickly covered up by the royal family. No red should have the power to control electricity! With the Red Dawn attacking silver power, rebellions in several cities, the last thing the silvers need is a red with special abilities proving that being a silver isn't that special after all. The King and Queen concoct a story that Mare is the lost daughter of a fallen silver general. Mare (now Mareena) is revealed to the public as a silver raised by reds and immediately betrothed to the youngest prince. Mare's has to keep the secret of her red heritage for her families safety. But Red Dawn also sees potential in Mare's position as a red posing as a silver and they try to recruit her. Will Mare risk everything for equality and freedom? What about the prince she might love?