The Firethorn Crown

Lea Doue’s The Firethorn Crown is a novel I’ve been wanting to read since I first saw the cover and heard that the premise was loosely based on the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. That is one of my all-time favorite fairy tales, and one of the less-well-known ones, so it is always fun to find a retelling of it. However, I had not quite gotten around to reading it… and when the Fellowship of Fantasy Book Club picked it as their February read, that was exactly the motivation I’d been needing. I bought a copy late in the month and managed to devour it in two or three sittings – as I actually had an entire blissful afternoon to spend curled up with a good book one day, not something that happens very often around here!

Everything about this story was delightful and enchanting. The twelve sisters are well-written and developed. Such a large cast in a short story can be a bit difficult and cumbersome for an author to handle well, but Doue does a fantastic job distinguishing each sister from the crowd. Some of them were focused on more than others, but none of them felt like flat “additions” to the story simply because the tale called for 12 sisters. And while the classic fairy tale was well-adhered to (with many references to other fairy tales woven in, with tantalizing hints that those will be expounded upon later in the series) there were enough things to make the story unique that it felt fresh and new.

The world also felt very well thought out, and I am quite looking forward to entering this fantastical realm once more in the sequel and subsequent stories that are promised to come. The villains were also done quite well.

Even the frustrating moments: like when the main character – Princess Lily, the eldest of the 12 princesses – realizes that she must spend her days mute and unable to speak unless she wishes to doom herself and her sisters to a fate worse than death, were handled so cleverly and interwoven with the dialogue from the other characters that I did not feel at all like tearing my hair out or shouting at her. I also liked the twists and turns that the story took as she had to navigate the intricacies of the curse, court-life, and a sudden and unexpected deadline by which her parents expected her to name a suitor she would accept.

Lily’s most zealous suitor is a man who is truly shudder-worthy, and while it is necessary for him to be as repulsive as he is in order to understand why Lily runs away from him and hides in a place she probably wouldn’t have ventured had she been thinking clearly, he truly made my skin crawl. Because of him, I would recommend this read for ages 13 and up. I did appreciate the characters being somewhat horrified by the cut of some of the dresses they are forced to wear during the story, and I enjoyed the author making a big deal out of their modesty… and having it be a good thing.

Overall, the story was beautifully written and extremely fun to read. I was well-satisfied with the end, and felt like it wrapped up the main story well, while still leaving enough things open in the lives of the secondary characters for plenty of stories yet to be written in this world.

If you love fairy tale retellings and fantasy, you will enjoy this book.

Five Dragon Eggs

dragonEgg5star

~ jenelle

Second Son

Today was Grayden Erebor’s due date.

Of course, he wanted to make sure to get here in time for the opening day of baseball season… so he came a wee bit early (last week) and we have been loving getting to know him and adjusting to our new “normal” as a family of six!

Today, in honor of the arrival of MY “second son” I thought it might be fun to do a little promo. So, for a limited time, SECOND SON is free on Amazon!

GET YOUR COPY NOW

Second Son Cover

~ jenelle

Interview With a Chosen One

I think InterFiction was a bit concerned that a new baby would interfere with my work schedule for them, because they suddenly lined up a lot of trips for me in a short span of time. But it seems to have worked out quite nicely. This time I was to go to a village called Coldhaven, a somewhat medieval-feeling town to look for a character named Victoria Saveron. She sounded like a very interesting sort of person, being chased by dark forces and maybe even her world’s “Chosen One” and I couldn’t wait to meet her. There is also a pretty awesome giveaway you can take part in to win a Kindle Paperwhite, so make sure you don’t miss that at the end of the post!

But first, a little bit about the book.

RedeemerChronicles1_Awakening_FinalAwakening (Redeemer Chronicles, Book 1)

Being the Chosen One could kill her …

Victoria Saveron knows two things for certain. Dark forces want to kill her, and her friends have cooler powers than she does. Katrina can shapeshift and Tellen can tap into destructive magic currents. 

Everything else is uncertain and rumors abound.

Victoria might be the Chosen One, whatever that means. Her father might be able to help them, but only if they can find him. Coldhaven’s villagers might be able to offer them food and shelter. Some fool might be running around unlocking Darkland portals to raise an undead army. 

The further Victoria and her companions get on their journey, the more dangers and betrayals they face. They must awaken Vic’s true powers or forfeit the world.

This interview is in a bit of a different style, as both of us are thinking in 1st-person. To avoid confusion, everything Vic is saying/thinking is in italics.

I walk into the small village of Coldhaven, and stride up to the Gathering Hall where I was told I could probably find my quarry. I never realized how much hunting I would have to do on this job. Inside the Gathering Hall, I glance around until I see blond hair. This isn’t the best job for an introvert, but I put on my reporter’s face and walk up behind her and tap her on the shoulder. “Excuse me, I’m here with the InterFiction Gazette. Are you by any chance Victoria Saveron?”

When a hand lands on my right shoulder, I yelp and whirl, fists already forming. Even though a group of children led us here, I half-expect a zombie to have wandered up behind me. The figure in front of me draws back looking ready to dodge a blow. It occurs to me that my bracers are still in their normal form, so at least the woman doesn’t pose a magical danger. About this time, her question finally sinks in too. 

 “Uh, yes?” I wish that didn’t sound so much like a question. “Yes. Do I know you?” I let me hands drop to my sides.

I grin sort of awkwardly. “I’m sorry to have startled you; I just have a few questions, if you wouldn’t mind? My readers back home are very interested to know a bit about you. Can you tell me a little about yourself? Do you have a family?”

“We’re here looking for my father,” I blurt out before I can stop myself. I look around for Katrina and Tellen, but they’ve wandered to the far side of thevic copy 2 Gathering Hall. Their amused expressions tell me they’re going to be absolutely no help here. To keep myself from blithering on about my whole family history, I add, “He said to come here if we … got into trouble. I’m nobody special, but I think we’re in trouble.” I stop speaking because each sentence is making less sense than the one before.

 I jot down her words and look up. “Speaking of trouble, I heard you were attacked by zombies… is that a normal part of your world, or is this a new sort of occurrence?”

“Well, it’s never happened before yesterday … and this morning,” I answer. For some reason, I think I’m supposed to trust this woman, even though she’s no villager. Perhaps she’s an angel. I swallow the urge to ask her the question. There’s no reason for me to sound stupider than I already do. I study the floor for a long moment before continuing. “My father says the Darkland creatures are attacking in greater numbers.” 

The character in front of me is giving me a really strange look. I’m not exactly sure who she thinks I am, but I’m glad she’s willing to talk to me. Sometimes characters don’t trust me much. “Forgive me for listening to idle gossip on my way here, but I also heard some whispers about someone the people are saying was ‘Chosen.’ Can you explain that to me? Chosen for or by what?”

 “I might be The Lady’s Chosen Redeemer.” Saying that out loud sounds ridiculous. I really don’t want to get into the whole dream and prophecy thing. I redden and rush on. “I’m not sure what that really means, but the zombies don’t seem happy about it so I guess it means something.” I bite my bottom lip to keep from adding that if it’s really up to me to save the world, we’re in big trouble.  

The woman must see my discomfort, for her next question seeks to set me at ease.

 She does not seem to like the track this conversation is on, so I switch to a different line of questioning. “Can you tell me a bit about your traveling companions?”

“Sure. The one on the left is Katrina Polani. She’s a Saroth Shapeshifter. Tellen’s standing next to her.” Seeing me glance their way, Katrina and Tellen offer us friendly nods. “He’s an Arkonai huntsman.” One look at the lady tells me I’ve lost her, so I try to explain. For somebody running around asking random people questions, she doesn’t seem to understand the world very well. Once again, I’m struck by the notion that perhaps she’s not from Aeris. “Saroth and Arkonai don’t usually travel together, but they’re both my friends. I’m half Saroth and half Arkonai, so they’re both okay with me. We’ve only been traveling together a short time, but they’d been watching me for a few days because my father doesn’t like to leave me alone at the cabin when he’s away on long hunts.”   

 I can tell that she’s getting a bit antsy, and that perhaps my questions are starting to annoy her. I speak quickly, “I’m sure you have to be getting on your way, villains can be unpredictable in when and where they strike. Just a few more questions, I hear the friends you are traveling with have some pretty incredible abilities. If you could have an ability like theirs, what would you choose and why?”

 “I wish I were as beautiful as Katrina with her long, dark hair, but I’m pretty sure this woman’s talking about her abilities as a Shapeshifter. Hmm, shapeshifting or being able to cast lightning like Tellen. Both skills suit my friends very well, but I don’t think I’d like either of them. I guess it’d be neat to fly, but I don’t want to have to shapeshift into a bug to do that,” I answer. “Also, it’s a bad idea to give me any destructive powers like lightning. That’s one of Tellen’s gifts.” I have in fact wished for both skills recently, but not seriously. “I guess I just wish I could make sense of my own gifts.” I know the woman’s about to pounce with more questions, so I hold up a hand defensively. My right glove has slipped a little, showing off some of the dead flesh on my diseased hand. I quickly fix the glove. “I glow when Darkland creatures are about to attack. It’s definitely magic. I just wish it was useful magic.”  

“Those are some neat skills. I come from a world where nobody has any abilities like that, or magic in general. I’m sure my readers will be fascinated to learn about the differences here in your realm. One final question: How do you feel about the role your Author has created for you? Is there anything you’d like to ask her to change?”

 “Huh?” I turn the dumb question into a cough. “Do you mean The Lady?” 

The woman  explains briefly though not much of it makes sense. I don’t really believe her as she sounds touched by fever, but I try to humor her. I know my fate lies in the hands of the One and The Lady.

 “If you have the ear of this Author being, tell her to watch over my friends.” My cautious smile slips into a frown as I look back at Tellen and Katrina again. They’re currently ignoring each other. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s some danger lurking about in this quiet little village. Forcing the smile back to life, I turn back to the curious woman. “And if she could explain what I’m supposed to do, that would be nice.”

I grin at Vic as my badge begins to glow blue once more. “Thank you so very much for answering my questions. I wish you all the best on your journey.” Her startled expression is the last thing I see before her world fades into a hazy mist around me.

Well, that was fun! Did I mention that author Julie Gilbert is also holding a giveaway? Enter below for your chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite:

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Julie Gilbert 2013 (5 of 25)

Do you have any questions for Julie about this story or any of her others? Please leave them in the comments!

If you would like to learn more about Julie C. Gilbert or her books, feel free to connect with her on her WEBSITE, FACEBOOK, or TWITTER

~ jenelle