You might think that, because she’s a direct descendant of one of the school’s founders, Ester Harding could simply coast her way to graduation. But the faculty at Harding-Pencroft Academy doesn’t care what your name is. Regardless of who you are or where you came from, you’re expected to put in the work if you want to be the best of the best. And Ester is determined to carve out a reputation for herself while also living up to her family’s legacy.
That is, if she can get her index cards in order . . .
Ester lives with an anxiety disorder. And for everyone enrolled at HP, stress and anxiety are part of the core curriculum. Thankfully, Ester’s roommates and best friends—Ana Dakkar and Nelinha da Silva—always have her back. They and Ester’s emotional support dog, Top, of course. (Though how a hyperactive part Jack Russell, part Yorkie, and part tornado could make anyone feel less anxious remains a mystery. . . . )
Welcome to House Orca
Ester is part of House Orca, which means that her areas of study are medicine, psychology, education, marine biology, and communal memory. And it’s hard to think of anyone who is better suited to their respective house. Not only is Ester a genius-level empath when it comes to non-verbal communication, she also holds more information about marine ecosystems in her head than can be found in the school library. The only thing she doesn’t know is how to control the volume of her voice when she gets excited.
Perhaps because she is autistic, Ester prefers interacting with animals over humans. While she sometimes has difficulty making small talk and understanding other people’s jokes, she is able to forge deep, personal bonds with any member of the animal kingdom. She can usually tell what they’re thinking and feeling simply by spending a little time with them.
So don’t take it personally if she’d rather confer with an octopus than with you. Odds are it has a more interesting life story anyway.
What’s in a Name?
Ester is a descendant of Cyrus Harding. If that name is unfamiliar to you, check out The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. In the 19th century book, Cyrus was a railroad engineer and companion of the famous Captain Nemo, commander of the Nautilus. Say, doesn’t Nemo share a name with Ester’s roommate Ana? Wonder if there’s any connection there . . .
Fun fact: In the book, Cyrus was accompanied on his adventure by a dog named Top. Whether Cyrus’ Top is also related to Ester’s Top has yet to be revealed. After all, is Top really a popular name for dogs these days?
Want to learn more about Ester and the other students of Harding-Pencroft Academy? Be sure to pick up Daughter of the Deep, on sale October 26th!