TMP Spoiler-filled Recap – Part One

The Madness Project — Part One Recap

Hayli - The Madness Project

Hayli – The Madness Project

So, as I’m getting ready to release A Dark So Deep, I thought it would be helpful to post a little recap of Book 1 so you can be ready to dive into more madness! Here follows my very helpful summary with some tidbits you might not have known and some Easter Eggs and quite a lot of spoilers, so…read at your own risk if you haven’t actually READ the book.

SERIOUSLY. If you haven’t read the book….this has !!!!!SPOILERS!!!!!! from beginning to end. So consider yourself warned. Adamantly.


Still here? Okay, fine….keep reading…

Ridiculously simplified synopsis:

In a country where magic is outlawed, a prince who can magically change his appearance is sent onto the streets to infiltrate a secret society bent on overthrowing truth, justice, and the Cavnish way.

A street kid who can turn into a crow is being groomed for admission into said secret society with the mission to help overthrow lies, injustice, and the Cavnish nobility’s oppressive ways.

Crime, seditions, evil plots, winding alleys and secret rooms abound.


Since this book is a fantastically large beastie of a novel, I’m dividing the recap into four posts corresponding to the four parts of the book.

Thus follows the recap of Part One:


  • We start with Prince Tarik as a wee 5 year old lad, complete with adorable sailor suit and hat, visiting the seashore with his royal parents. They’ve gone to gawk at a new steam ship, because STEAM.
  • Tarik is already a naughty boy, and runs away from his nurse to stand on the quay wall. His bodyguard Zagger saves him when he almost gets blown into the ocean by the wind. That’s probably important.
  • Tarik asks his nurse about mages, and almost tells her a secret that his best friend Griff told him about one of his friends. (This should probably be written with big flags and exclamation points around it.)
  • Tarik’s mother takes his hand and he feels a buzz of electricity, and that alarms her because…because OH NOES…the boy is MAGICSY!!! And she knows it because she is, too. Which is important.
  • On the ride home Tarik magically changes his appearance while he’s playing. He proudly shows his parents. His mother is sad, the King gets mad. He slaps Tarik and accuses the queen of lying to him. (Which is also important).
  • He tells Tarik to never use his gift or talk about it to anyone EVER. Then he leaves to smoke a cigar. (That’s not really important, except you might notice that Tarik ever afterwards hates the smell.)
  • Fast forward twelve years, and Tarik is about to turn seventeen (official age of manliness and responsibility and whatnot in Cavnal…which is exciting because I’M A MAN but bad because RESPONSIBILITY.)
  • His father is afraid Tarik will get into trouble so he orders Zagger to keep an eye on him. Zagger: “Yay! Let’s go puttering around the palace grounds in my fantastic new motorcar!” Tarik: Yawn.
  • They meet Tarik’s lifelong friend Samyr outside the palace aerodrome, where they watch Griff flying his steam plane. Tarik lets slip something about climbing bell towers. That’s probably important.
  • It’s yucky and rainy and cold, but hey, that’s Brinmark. Nothing new here. Then Griff’s plane catches fire and starts to crash. That’s new.


  • Meanwhile, shape-shifter mage and street rat Hayli finds herself on top of the Oval Wall that circles the palace. She just Shifted into her crow form successfully for the first time. Hayli: “Yay!” 
  • She and her co-conspirator Jig have a super secret plan about picking rain grate locks, but a fire-wielding mage who was supposed to crash an aeroplane and cause a distraction kind of epically failed to do so. Jig: Growl. 
  • Hayli tells Jig she’s scared of getting caught, and has a flashback about her parents and court rooms which you should probably remember because it will be important later on. She is kind of sad about the plane, but almost gets spotted by a guard so she has to turn into the crow fast.


  • It gets really windy at the aerodrome as Tarik realizes his friend is crashing. (*waves flags*) Somehow the plane hits the tarmac without exploding and Griff gets out just before it does explode. He’s really mad and swears a lot, then tries to act cool about it because that’s Griff.
  • A newsman takes a photograph of Tarik and Griff standing there which will probably show up later. Zagger worries that someone sabotaged the plane and might have gone after the car too. Tarik thinks he’s ridiculous.
  • Griff wants to go celebrate Tarik’s birthday at a shady kind of dive but Tarik is afraid of being recognized as a mage, so he acts really uppity and arrogant and refuses to go.
  • Tarik, Griff and Samyr have a chat about magic and the super-secret cult leader Rivano. Zagger warns them to be quiet or the spooky super-secret police will come after them. And suddenly we get the sense that not all is charming and civilized in Cavnal if you have to have the RIGHT OPINIONS or the police will come get you. We also get a hint that not all is right in the Science Ministry. *waves flags* Zagger and Tarik leave in the motorcar.


  • Hayli wakes up all confused, laying on the road while someone shakes her and asks if she’s all right. She realizes she got hit by a motorcar and that makes her understandably cross.
  • But then, hellooooo, sweetie… Tall, elegant, handsome, mysterious boy gets out of the car and comes to help her, and that makes her madder than ever because he=shining god of darkly gorgeous awesomeness, she=filthy street rat laying in the mud. 
  • The boy takes her hand to help her up and it feels like he shocked her. She doesn’t know why. He, on the other hand, seems terrified. Then she realizes he’s the PRINCE and gawks a bit. She gets booted off the palace grounds rather unceremoniously.


  • Tarik frets that the street kid recognized him as a mage. At first he thinks it might be wonderfully scandalous, because Tarik = rogue and Scandal is his middle name. But not really because that would be lame.
  • He tells Zagger he thinks the kid was a mage, and Zagger worries that she was involved in Griff’s crash, which Tarik thinks is ridiculous. Tarik should really listen to Zagger more often.
  • He goes to see his mother, who seems to know a lot about what’s happened already. That’s a big CLUE about her magic. Tarik finally realizes that her reputation is at stake, not just his, which is a very mature moment for him.
  • Elanar tells him the King wants to speak to him later, which is über scary because Trabin has a penchant for ignoring Tarik unless Tarik gets into mischief. Which is probably a commentary on Tarik’s psychological condition.
  • At dinner Tarik learns he’s supposed to ride in a motorcade around the city in the morning. Tarik: yawn.
  • There’s a lot of talk about magic and Rivano, plus the rumor that Cavnal was responsible for assassinating the Godar of Istia — one of the few countries that actually protects mages.
  • Queen Elanar is calmly upset by this choice of dinner conversation, which should have flags and exclamation points and big flashing SPOILER alerts. There is even some talk about scientists developing plane-mounted machine guns which will be important later.


  • Hayli gets back to the Hole, the underground of a factory complex where a bunch of street kids live. We get to meet the cool and mysterious Derrin, the oldest kid in the Hole, whom Hayli absolutely worships. 
  • Derrin takes her to see the Hole boss, Kantian, and kind of “disappears into the shadows like only he could” which has major epic !!!SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER!!! written all over it.
  • Hayli gets reprimanded by Kantian, and meets the mysterious Rivano for the first time. He already seems to know who she is. Kantian tells her not to use her magic again until she can control it better.
  • Hayli goes outside to think over her fate, and figure out if she wants to be part of Rivano’s clan. Derrin appears mysteriously beside her (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER). He promises to help her be a better spy, but Hayli thinks she’ll be worthless without magic.
  • Derrin says something about not needing to be a mage to be useful, and Hayli assumes he’s offended because he’s not a mage but he NEVER ADMITS THAT. </spoiler>  
  • Hayli realizes Jig took the blame for their failure and that makes no sense at all because Jig only cares about Jig. Right?


  • Tarik goes to see Trabin in some secret-y type of underground palace bunker. They argue a bit about everything because they really have some serious issues seeing eye-to-eye. Then Trabin admits that he needs Tarik’s magical ability. Which is understandably shocking to poor Tarik.
  • Trabin is worried about spies in his Court and fears that Rivano’s Clan has murdered five (Five) people in barbaric fashion this year…plus, you know, anarchists. He needs Tarik to learn the truth because none of his lackeys would be able to get close to the Clan.
  • Tarik meets a loud, intimidating, bear of a man named Kor who is really kind of amazing and needs to be played by Vin Diesel if there’s ever a movie. Kor’s job is to get Tarik ready for life on the streets. Tarik thinks this is all quite ridiculous.
  • Tarik has a nightmare about climbing the bell tower. It has wind in it, which is probably important.
  • Kor and Zagger meet the next morning. They really don’t like each other. Kor is an ass, Zagger gets mad. Tarik second-guesses his agreement to help Trabin, and finally dismisses Kor.


  • Hayli gets woken up by a little red-haired girl named Pika, who has a habit of repeating Hayli’s name. A lot. She wants to go see the prince’s motorcade and says Hayli wants to see the prince, which is a bit odd since Hayli didn’t tell anyone about meeting the prince.  
  • She has a newspaper with the photograph of Tarik and Griff on the front page (see? told you to remember that picture) and a story about the crash. Hayli thinks Griff’s name sounds familiar (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER!!!!) but can’t place why. 
  • She almost runs into Derrin when she gets out of bed but he quickly backs away from her (FLAGS! !!!! !!!!!). Hayli and Pika head out to find the motorcade, which Pika finds with creepy accuracy (*waves tiny flags*). When they see the prince Pika makes a comment that mimics Hayli’s thoughts (*tiny tiny flags*). 
  • Then all hell breaks loose as a shooter(s?) opens fire on the motorcade, killing the driver and wounding the king. Tarik jumps out to hunt down the shooter. It’s really windy (see that? wind again!). 
  • Tarik takes Zagger’s gun and shoots at a dark figure up on a balcony, but the man disappears the way only a mage Ghost can disappear. (Hmm….isn’t that interesting…)


  • Tarik waits for word about Trabin’s fate. The Court Ministers tell him he has to go to his public birthday gala, and Tarik surprises them all by asking about the second shooter who killed the driver — who is never identified but by the end of the book you might be piecing together who it might have been.
  • Tarik finally gets to see Trabin, who will survive, and Trabin tells him he has to go find the would-be assassin…find proof of Rivano’s treachery and bring down the organization from the inside. Tarik promises he’ll do it.


  • Meanwhile Hayli talks to Derrin about what happened on the street. They argue about whether or not Tarik is really a rogue and a scoundrel, which Derrin says he is but Hayli doesn’t believe because she has an itty bitty secret crush on him. Because he’s the PRINCE. And he’s nothing like she thought he would be. 
  • They go to the gala and see Prince Tarik on the stage, and Hayli thinks he’s wearing his face like a mask which is funny because he is a Mask and…yeah, maybe it’s not that funny, but it seemed really funny to the author at the time. 
  • They listen to Tarik’s little speech where he accidentally rants a little too strongly about going after the would-be assassin. He tells everyone he’s leaving Brinmark for a while and that makes Hayli glum.


  • Tarik later gets bored at his private party in the palace and sneaks back to the gala in “disguise” (i.e., he puts on a hat). He sees Hayli arguing with Jig and another Hole rat named Anuk, who want her to share some bread she stole. He steps in nobly to help out, and gets in a fist fight with the two boys that he barely escapes intact.
  • The police finally show up, and get all exasperated when they realize who he is because they deal with him too much already. They march him off and the police sergeant gives him a talking-to, but Tarik acts like a bit of a jerk-off to him because he really does care but doesn’t want to let on to anybody that he does, and that makes him cross. Then he goes to chat with Hayli, and acts like his regular charming, flirtatious self, which totally bewilders her.
  • Zagger shows up, and Hayli disappears as soon as she spots him, but Tarik sees a crow sitting on the wall where Hayli was. This time he actually manages to put two and two together.
  • Tarik wants to tell Zagger about his magic, but he’s afraid Zagger will hate him, turn on him, abandon him. Finally he fesses up, and to his surprise, Zagger is more shocked that Tarik didn’t trust him with that secret than he is about the secret itself.
  • But Zagger lets slip a, “That means, your mother…?” which Tarik doesn’t catch on to, and a “Your father…?” a little later which Tarik also doesn’t catch on to, because he can really be a bit obtuse sometimes. This is probably important.
  • Zagger admits he’s worried about Trabin’s plan…that it could put Tarik’s life in danger. Tarik is oddly unfazed by this notion. Kor arrives and Tarik finds out he’s a mage, and they have a bit of an alpha-male showdown that Tarik barely escapes with his dignity.
  • The next morning Tarik starts training with Kor, as Elanar and Trabin leave for their winter lodge. Kor is an ass, Zagger gets mad, and Tarik has to step up to make them behave themselves. Everyone seems surprised about this, especially Tarik.
  • Kor has very unusual tactics for convincing Tarik that he’s about to play a very dangerous game. This makes Zagger mad, again. Which gets Kor mad. Which makes Tarik have to step in, AGAIN. Boys. Kor teaches Tarik that on the streets, he might have to cheat if he wants to survive…carry a knife up his sleeve.


  • Hayli comes out of her Shifting up on a ceiling beam in an abandoned building. When she manages to get down, she realizes she’s not alone. Two men appear, too well-dressed to be thugs, and they knock her out with chloroform. 
  • She wakes up in a white room tied down onto a metal table. A man comes in to talk to her, but when she refuses to give her name, she is called “Seven.” This is probably a significant number. 
  • The man seems to know she is a mage, and eventually does something terrible that she can’t remember. She wakes up in a gutter with Derrin standing over her. (One might wonder why, or how, and why there aren’t big SPOILER flags waving everywhere.) It feels a little weird when Derrin picks her up but she’s too out of sorts to realize why. (*more flags*)


  • Tarik continues to train with Kor. Zagger and Kor continue to man-hate each other, which Tarik finds hilarious. Kor warns Tarik that his particular Gift (Masking his appearance) might make people suspicious. Tarik practices masking to the face he will wear on the streets, and Kor helps him look just right (a little more thug, a little less charming…and a lot more Istian). (*WAVES FLAGS*).
  • Kor tells him he needs a tattoo, and shows him his own clockwork tattoo, which naturally is important. Tarik makes a white tattoo around his eye.
  • Kor takes him out for “tea” which means going to a greasy dive for beer and teaching Tarik how not to be an arrogant, snobbish prince. Kor flirts with the serving girl, Astel, who takes a shine to Tarik. Kor has a heart-to-heart with Tarik about the awfulness of working undercover.
  • Back at the palace, Tarik gets ready for his jaunt on the streets.
  • Thus endeth Part the First.
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