Friday, 31 October 2014

Cover Reveal and Teaser - Fear's Touch: A Darkworld Novella!

Guess what, guys? It's finally time to reveal the cover for Fear's Touch: A Darkworld Novella! I know it's been quite a wait, but I'm happy to say the novella will be released on the 17th November 2014!



I couldn't be happier with these covers! :) I was lucky enough to work with the extremely talented Amalia for the rest of the series, so I'll have some more lovely covers to share in the coming months!

Meanwhile...what's Fear's Touch about? Well, I mentioned it's a novella, from the viewpoint of Claudia, Ash's sorceress friend. Claudia likes life on the wild side, so she was fun to write! 

Here's the blurb:

This is a standalone novella, intended as a prequel to the Darkworld series. As it takes place one year before the events of Darkness Watching, it doesn’t contain any spoilers (although it does hint at things which will come into play later in the series).



Freakish powers and staring demon eyes aren’t part of Claudia’s plans for the future – and neither is ending up stuck at the gloomy, isolated University of Blackstone. But bad life decisions are the least of her problems, when a split-second decision to help out another magic-user puts her in the crossfire of both the shadow-beasts and the creepy organisation which hunt them down.



Claudia’s never had to worry about making the right choice before, but every decision matters when you have a Darkworld connection. Soon, she’s going to have to make a choice: turn her back on the crazy and try to live a normal life, or take the monsters down.



But in a world where everyone seems to have secrets, can she really trust her fellow magic-users – or even herself?

Add on Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22857713-fear-s-touch

Aaaand...here's a teaser :

“Get away from me!” A yell cut through my self-pity-fest.
I looked up from where I’d been contemplating the rain trailing down the wall of the bus shelter. The blurred shape of a person ran past, down the middle of the road, heedless of the car horns beeping. What kind of idiot ran through traffic like that?
Unless…they were in some kind of trouble?
I thought of the demon I’d seen watching me as the train had pulled into the station.  That horrible chill raced up my arms, as if in response to my thoughts. Apparently it was caused by the Darkworld. Another thrilling perk of my new life.
Anyway, I ignored both the something-is-wrong feeling and the instinct to stay out of the rain, and dropped my backpack, moving out of the bus shelter. I’d made the mistake of wearing my thigh-high heeled boots, which were a bitch to walk in when carrying luggage, but now I felt kind of badass, going to help the girl in the road.
At least, until I saw what was chasing her.
If it were me, I’d have run out into traffic, too. The creature was like a child’s drawing of a monster come to life, a furry, fanged, snarling bundle of shadows about the height of a car. It shambled forward, and I could make out claws and sharp teeth and suddenly I wished I’d stayed in the shelter. I looked around. No one else seemed to have noticed the monstrosity right in the middle of traffic, though several cars swerved slightly, drivers frowning as though not sure what they’d almost collided with.
That alone told me the creature belonged to the Darkworld.
Oh, God. I wanted out of there. My heart pounded in my ears and my feet itched to make a run for it – but there was the other girl, leaning on a parked car, out of breath. She looked up, and our eyes met. Something about the utter terror on her face made me pause, and not give into the instinct to run a million miles away.
Shadow-beast, I thought.
I’d never seen one, but during one of our Talks, my parents had given me a pretty thorough explanation. Shadow-beasts were like wild animals gone over to the Dark Side. Nasty and scary, but not demons. I could kill it…my hand went to my pocket again. Fire. I’d done it a hundred times – for lack of anything better to do over summer – but using it in public would supposedly bring the venators – that is, members of the Magic Police - swarming down on me.
The creature roared. I winced, my eardrums protesting. Okay – maybe I wasn’t feeling too brave, after all. But that girl was staring at me helplessly. Gods, what do I do?
The girl made my decision for me. As the beast stalked toward her, its shadowy body weaving through the traffic, she bolted for the bus shelter. Right at me.
Oh, hell.
Before I could even think about what to do, she’d thrown herself behind me.
Great. Now I’m the crazy psycho-beast’s target.
“I’m sorry,” she whimpered. “Please. You can see it. Help me.”
I’m new to this, you know. But I drew in a breath and pulled out the Japanese fan all the same. Might as well look like I knew what I was doing.
By the bus stop, people gathered, huddled under umbrellas, or hurried down the streets and into shops to avoid the rain. No one even looked at the thing approaching us. Worse, it wasn’t like we could call for help without being deemed insane.
There was one thing I knew how to do, though. Time to pull out the trick Mum and Dad had taught me – and make us almost-invisible.
Concentrate, I told myself. My connection to the Darkworld was always there – it never went away. I just had to concentrate on the chill coming from the shadow-beast, that deep, deep coldness that cut right to the bone. Grab the shadows. Pull them around you, imagine it like a cloak. Shadow-beasts were weak. They couldn’t see through low-level Influence – a mind-trick that also worked on people. Well, non-magic-users. If anything, it’d stop the stares. We’d fade into the background, become invisible to anyone except sorcerers and demons. The monster would lose its targets.
Not that that was a comforting thought at the moment. I knew I could rock the badass look, but did I actually know what I was doing? Hell, no. And I didn’t much fancy the idea of letting this girl get hurt because I’d given her the impression I knew how to fight this thing.
Okay. Time for action.
I mentally called the shadows toward me – one thing I’d got the knack of pretty quickly, even if it had freaked me out almost as much as the demon had, the sight of every shadow in the room zooming over to me as though I’d activated some kind of shadow-sucking hoover. Right now, though, I felt a spasm of relief when dark, swirling shadows came out from under cars and people, swarming over to me in one motion. I flicked my hand up, still holding the fan, and the shadows complied, forming a wall between us and the shadow-beast.
The monster paused, as if puzzled that its prey had vanished. Ha. Nice try.
I tried not to think about how the shield was depending on me staying linked up to the Darkworld as long as I wanted it to stay there. It dragged at me, like the sleepiness after pulling an all-nighter, and I staggered to the side, suddenly feeling less like a badass and more like I wanted my bed.
Then I spotted two other people on the other side of the road, just standing there. From the way their gazes were fixed forward, on the shadow-beast, I knew they could see it.
From their military-type navy blue uniforms, I knew they belonged to the secret group, the Venantium. Mum and Dad had described them to me enough times.
Oh, hell. So much for avoiding attention. Worse, one of them had looked up from the shadow-beast – right at the girl and me. Even from the other side of the road, I saw his brow furrow and his eyes narrow, like he was scrutinising me for something.
Then the shield dropped.



And here's more information on the first in the series, Darkness Watching (Darkworld #1), which is currently only 99 cents (£1.02) on Amazon!

Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she's losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone  - little knowing that it isn't coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life - but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she's looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be...
 

Add on Goodreads  
Read Chapter One.


Amazon   Amazon UK   Barnes and Noble  Waterstones

Reviews

“In the vein of Buffy and Supernatural, DARKNESS WATCHING found that perfect balance between the freaky and the fun.” - YA author Jen Estes

"Demons, Sorcerers, evil, and secrets. Could you ask for a better supernatural suspense set-up?...It's full of suspense, danger, evil and dark humor. The plot is original, and completely gripping. From the first page, this book had me hooked." - Rose at Desert Rose Reviews

"A suspenseful first part to an intriguing new fantasy series." Sharon Stevenson, supernatural author

“The story is extremely well-written with effortless, flowing prose, and the original magic-user mythology and Darkworld creatures are very entertaining. The author took what might have been over-done premise and twisted it into something very fresh and exciting.” - Lexa Cain, author of Soul Cutter

"This is a wildly different story than any I have read about demons...I loved it!" - Kathy at Bookmarks, Spoilers, and Happily-Ever-Afters



Want to help me promote the release of Walking Shadow (Darkworld #2) in December? I'm organising a cover reveal, book blitz and blog tour, and sign-ups are open!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Interview - Erin Rhew, Author of The Prophecy!

Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!

1) I am left-handed.
2) I am terrified of flying and fire.
3) I can only eat Sprees in pairs of the same color.

Summarize your book in one line.
The Outlanders picks up right where The Prophecy left off and takes the reader on a ride with numerous twists and turns where everything is not as it seems…

Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!
While writing one particular scene, I listened to Evanescence’s “My Immortal” over and over. When I completed the scene, I stayed in an emotional funk the whole rest of the day. Life of a writer, right? LOL!

Why did you decide to write this particular book?
The idea just came to me one night, and the characters screamed to have their story told.

Best part of the writing process?
The actual writing—when you’re in that flow and everything is coming together. There’s a rush associated with it that can’t be found anywhere else.

Share one thing you learned writing this book.
I need a support team. Writing seems like a solitary process, but without my friends (The Dream Team), this series would have never been completed.

Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!
Let me preface this story by saying I’ve had a lifelong fear of ET. When I was four, I went into the hospital to get my tonsils taken out. I have a big family, and a lot of them came to visit me post-surgery. When my grandma arrived, she came bearing gifts—a coloring book, a board game, and…a stuffed ET doll. She had no idea I was so afraid. Thanks to the surgery, I couldn’t tell her. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out. Instead, the alarm bells on the monitors (ie: my blood pressure, heart rate, etc) went crazy. My mom, who had stepped out the room to get some food after a long vigil by my bedside, heard “Emergency in Room 205!” over the intercom. She dropped her food and tore down the hallway to my room. The doctors and nurses fluttered around me, unable to figure out what caused my sudden turn. When my mom saw the ET doll, she cried out, “She’s afraid of ET. Get the doll away from her.” My grandma snatched it back and set the beastly doll in the hallway. After that, my blood pressure and heart rate stabilized. Needless to say, no one in my family has ever given me anything ET related since. ;)
Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.
Camp Half-Blood!

Name one real place you’d love to visit.
The Caribbean, or Hawaii, or both. I love warm, sunny beaches!

Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!
Everything about Mia felt wrong. The girl, who looked so much like Layla, just happened to be where Samson could find her and came with him to the home of her enemy without any resistance? Whole generations of Ecclesiastics searched for entire lifetimes and never found the Fulfillment, yet Samson encountered two potentials in short succession. She couldn’t pinpoint the reason for her unease, but something tickled the back of her mind, inching toward the surface with painstaking sluggishness.



With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms.
Unbeknownst to the Ethereals or the Vanguards, a slumbering menace stirs in the south, awakened after centuries of slumber. The mysterious Outlanders, a force shadowed in mystery, sit poised to tip the balance of power, sending ripples of fear throughout both warring kingdoms.
Elder Werrick proved a formidable foe, but Layla may yet meet her match in the monstrous Outlander queen. This mistress of the dark’s plans, rooted in revenge and ancient lore, now threaten the livelihood of all three kingdoms.
Racing against time, Layla travels to the Borderlands—home of the Voltons and Ecclesiastics—to discover as much as she can about the war, the First Ones, and the prophecy itself. Lives teeter in the balance, kingdoms sit on the cusp of ruin, and a beast, greater than any she’s ever faced before, plots a catastrophic attack.  





Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up
 Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer, Deek Rhew, and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.   
Find me online:

Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks






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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

What's Up Wednesday

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

Blue Lily, Lily Blue.*sigh* I can never get enough of Maggie's writing. Sooo good!

I've also been reading some books by my fellow CQ authors, including the hilarious urban fantasy The Book of Bart by Ryan Hill, which is narrated by a demon; The Curse Merchant by J. P. Sloan, another great urban fantasy which I think fans of the Dresden files would enjoy; and God's Play by H. D. Lynn, a great take on shape-shifters and magic.

And I read The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, because I've been in the mood to read more high fantasy, science fantasy and alternative-universe fantasy - and wow, does this deliver! God, the world-building in this. I'm envious.

What I'm writing

I finished the first draft of Book 2! *dances* This one's 76K and took 34 days (though I was editing/in Iceland part of that time). I'm pretty pleased with that! :D

I've also been doing more worldbuilding/research and re-outlining for Book 3. I'm in two minds about NaNo because this one's going to be tricky, and I also have Darkworld edits AND two book releases to prepare for... but I've added Shiny Book 3 to my NaNoWriMo profile anyway. And, uh, I sort of accidentally started writing it.

Did I mention I love this series?!

What works for me


Although I fast-draft, I do sometimes go back and edit if a particular issue is really bothering me. I was really close to the end of my draft, but there were a couple of plot elements that kept nagging at me because something felt off. After struggling along for a couple of days, I finally decided to go back and fix the problems, and the words started flowing again!


What else I've been up to


Not much outside of work/writing/sleeping (damn you, winter and SAD, making me tired all the time. *cries*) But I have some exciting things coming up soon. I'm revealing the cover for Fear's Touch: A Darkworld Novella on Halloween (seems appropriate!), and for Walking Shadow (Darkworld #2) I'm organising a cover reveal, book blitz, blog tour and Facebook party. Sign-ups are now open here! :)

For Halloween, I've also written a Darkworld short story exclusively for my newsletter subscribers, from the perspective of the villain in Darkness Watching! (I think I referred to this as "Secret Micro-Project" at some point earlier this year. Not gonna lie, it was probably too much fun. :P) Now's the perfect time to sign up!

There's also a fun sale over at Curiosity Quills, in which Darkness Watching and lots of other titles are reduced to 99 cents! ^_^

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

October Reading Wrap-Up!

The Cure for Dreaming
It's time for another monthly reading round-up! (Again, apologies for the weird formatting. Blogger and I are not friends...)


The Cure for Dreaming has such an amazing concept, I knew I had to read it! Set in the early 20th century, it follows a young woman determined to speak her mind in a society that stifled women's voices, and a hypnotist employed as a "cure" for her dreams of the future. I loved the inclusion of photos and quotations from the period that added to the historical atmosphere. An excellent read!
Clariel (Abhorsen, #4)


I was so happy to finally read Clariel, the prequel to Garth Nix's phenomenal Old Kingdom series. I absolutely love this story world and the magic system, and it was awesome to see Mogget appear again!

The Lost Sun (The United States of Asgard, #1)The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co., #2)


I also enjoyed the unique take on Norse mythology in Tessa Gratton's The Lost Son, which is set in an alternative-Earth USA in which the Norse gods are real. Pretty awesome concept!



I really enjoyed the first in the Lockwood & Co. series, The Screaming Staircase, so I was excited to read the sequel! This gripping series follows young ghost-hunters Lucy, Lockwood and George as they encounter spectres and spine-chilling secrets. I love the dynamic between the team, and the quick-moving pace is matched by the spooky atmosphere. Amongst other things, they encounter a haunted jar, a mysterious mirror, rotting corpses and rival agents. Another stellar instalment!

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)



Oh, Heir of Fire. This has to be one of the best books I've read this year! It's a long book, but this gives scope to explore the fantasy world further as we follow several new characters as well as those we know and love. Celaena herself goes through a heart-wrenching journey as she confronts the horrific things she experienced in her past, and the loss of her friend. This is much more intense than the previous books in the series, emotional, gripping, and with excellent character development. And oh, my God, that ending. I NEED the next book now!

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)



Thanks to Netgalley, I was lucky enough to get the chance to read some great books before release!

The Curse Merchant


The Paper Magician was a fun read with a creative premise, although it felt a little rushed in places.



The Curse Merchant was a page-turning urban fantasy novel with a really cool premise (curses/hexes are based on karma) and it's sure to appeal to fans of the Dresden files.

God's PlayThe Book of BartThe Book of Bart is absolutely hilarious. Narrated by a snarky demon, it's a fun, entertaining read!


I also enjoyed God's Play by H. D. Lynn, in which a shapeshifter-hunter is forced to team up with his enemy for revenge on the monster that killed his family.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)

Finally, I read Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. I love this series so much. The characterisation is superb, and the writing just pulls you effortlessly into the story. Once again, I was entranced!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Fall Into Fantasy: Week 10


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 10: Strings by G. Miki Hayden


Robert, an ordinary boy, finds himself in a newly chaotic world. Buildings move when and where they please, and time jumps around according to no known laws of physics. For Robert, getting to his regular school in the morning is next to impossible. As for getting home...

But then, Holden—a boy he and his friend, Nila, meet in a cave—offers them a string. No, not twine, but a string of the kind that forms the universe. Teeny and tiny, and invisible to the naked eye, this string will take Robert and Mila to their homes and way, way beyond...

Accompanied by a memorable cast of characters, Robert and his friends follow the string on a journey across time, space, and dimensions to discover the answer to a mystery: Who has caused the world to fall apart?

Buy it from: Amazon  Barnes & Noble
Or add it on Goodreads


EXCERPT: 

Holden stood up, suddenly excited. “Yes, strings, Robert, strings. String theory says we live in a universe of multiple dimensions. Something is happening to the strings that form our everyday world, and now the universes are bleeding over into one another—merging. I have to figure out how to stop it, to separate the worlds again.”

“And we have to figure out how to get home,” Nila cried out. “What a mess everything is.”

The smoke from the small fire had made Robert’s eyes tear.

ABOUT G. MIKI HAYDEN


The author, G. Miki Hayden, strongly believes in alternate universes and has written about them in her adult novels Pacific Empire (which won a New York Times rave) and New Pacific.

“Nothing in time-space is fixed,” Miki says, a distant look in her eyes. 

Miki won an Edgar for an historical crime story and has a couple of writing books in print. 

At the moment, she generally lives with millions of other people in New York City in a three-dimensional, temporal world but is exploring other realms.

Find G. Miki Hayden online: http://gmikihayden.tumblr.com/


Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?
  • Don't forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.
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Saturday, 25 October 2014

#WIPMarathon Update #9

Last report wordcount and chapter count/scene count: I was at 15K of Shiny Book 2! I was also working on two novellas.

Current report WC + CC/SC:
 I finished my draft at 76K! :D


I also reached 16K of this novella, so that's 4K added this month.

I also worked on several rounds of (intensive!) edits on Shiny New MS based on feedback from two rounds of readers. I cut/rewrote close to 10,000 words (it's now 79K). And I still love it! ^_^

And my first round of publisher edits on Darkworld Book 3 came in from my awesome editor! So... more edits. *brain explodes*

WIP Issues this month: Not so much a writing issue as a technological one, but I kind of broke another laptop. (Or rather, a certain book broke it :P) So I had to replace it with a new desktop computer (which is awesome!) and deal with all the technological.. stuff.


Also, juggling, an inevitable consequence of getting editorial notes on a different project while working on a draft! It meant pulling out my brain and shaking it a bit so it wanted to work on the right series, which was a bit more difficult than I expected! I wish my brain came with a project switch...

Four things I learned this month in writing:

  • Hmm... you know, it's been another rollercoastery month (publishing!), but I think (I hope!) I'm starting to just... write through it. The first half of this year, I really struggled with constant knockbacks kicking my progress off-track, whereas now, something "meh" happens and I kind of give it a glance and then carry on writing anyway!
  • I learned that it's totally okay to stop mid crazy-drafting mode and fix major issues before they steamrollered out of control. I was THAT close to the end of my draft, but some issues were just annoying me so much that it was stopping me making progress until I went back and fixed them. (My OCD means that when something's bugging me, it's REALLY bugging me, so I had to do it, really!) I ended up cutting 3000 unnecessary words and adding a couple of new scenes, and the words just started flowing again!
  • ...that's all I've got. *falls asleep*

What distracted me this month when writing: ICELAND! *ahem*

Goal for next month: Hmm... I wasn't going to do NaNo, but based on the way this series has been going so far, I might give it a try for Shiny Book 3! Or perhaps some short stories. I still need to finish Darkworld edits, though. (Then again, I got over 50K this month without even realising it, so there is hope!)


Last 200 words: Book 2 is spoilery, so this is from the latest version of the first book! 



Skyla grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the way of a swiping claw. The monster reared up to its full height, letting out a roar loud enough to make my eardrums hurt. Claws slashed madly, and the beast drove us further and further back, out into another, narrower corridor.
“We’ve got to lure it away,” I gasped, my dagger suddenly feeling like a flimsy knife in comparison to those claws.
“This way!” Skyla pulled me down a side-tunnel, panting, hair plastered to her face with blood from a cut on her cheek. The wyvern screeched, angry its prey was escaping, and struck out – we backed up further down the tunnel. The ceiling was narrow, so I’d hoped the wyvern wouldn’t be able to fit, but as it dropped to the ground and began to slither in a rapid, snake-like movement, I knew we’d driven ourselves into a bigger trap. Skyla’s nails dug into my arm. We backed away further and further and as its teeth snapped, pure panic took over.

We ran, the beast’s cries echoing behind us, faster, faster – claws swiped at our backs and I felt my coat tear, shredded to ribbons. Another swipe, and the dagger clattered from my hand. No!
No time to stop. My heart pounded in tandem with our frantic steps as we ran through corridors even I didn’t know, until I skidded to a halt at a dead end.
Dead. We were dead.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Review - Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever. 


Wow! Danielle L. Jensen has a winner here. I was hooked from the start, where Cecile is kidnapped from her village and dragged underground. There, she learns that a hidden group of trolls is trapped underneath the mountain under a curse that can only be broken if the prince marries a “daughter of the sun” – and they’ve chosen her.

After an opening like that, how could I put it down? This is a YA high fantasy unlike any I’ve read before, and with a unique take on troll mythology. I loved Cecile as a protagonist. From the start, her reactions were realistic – who wants to marry a troll? Crucially, though, she’s clever, and uses her own wits and common sense to navigate her way around this dangerous, politically fraught underground world. Tristan, the prince she’s bonded to, is about as happy with the situation as she is – not at all! He’s rude and abrasive, and to make things worse, his marrying Cecile doesn’t break the curse as the trolls hoped. Now he and Cecile are permanently bonded, and each feels whatever the other does. Slowly, they move from enemies to grudging allies.

I loved all the details of this story, from the trolls’ magic to the uprising Tristan is secretly involved with, to save the half-troll, half-humans who are doomed to a life of slavery. The trolls despise humans, and if the curse is broken, then the troll king would be free to conquer the world. I found all the interwoven conflicts fascinating, and simply couldn’t put the book down. Of course, with so much detail, it’s inevitable that this is the first book in a trilogy, but it’s one I’ll definitely be sticking with. The characters are complex, the romance is sweet and not forced, and the worldbuilding is compelling – I absolutely can’t wait for the next book!

Rating: 5 stars.