Are Indie Authors Worth Reading?

It may sound heretical for an indie author to ask, but I think it’s a valid question.

I take my writing seriously. I mean, get-up-at-5-am-to-write-before-driving-to-class, proofread-to-midnight, pay-for-cover-designers-before-clothes seriously. Most the other indie authors I know also put in the same ridiculous amount of time, effort, and exhaustive work. It can really hurt when we aren’t taken seriously by other people. There’s still a huge stigma towards indie authors, though it’s not as bad as it was even a few years ago. Still, a lot of reviewers, retailers, and some readers won’t touch our stuff just because it’s not tattooed with a Big Six Publisher’s logo. To add insult to injury, I actually understand why the stigma exists.

There are a lot of crappy self-published authors. A LOT. No way around that.

Hell, I was a crappy self-published author at one point. I actually reedited, redesigned, and republished my first five books because, let’s face it, the editing sucked and the covers sucked. (With their current versions, I can at least live with myself.)

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Being an indie author comes with incredible freedom. We get to choose when we publish, what we publish, in what formats, the cover art, the audiobook narrators, the interior format, who we sell what rights, and literally everything you can possibly think of.

But like great power, great freedom comes with great responsibility.

I’ve seen a lot of indies (and I’ve already admitted I did stuff like this) upload a partially edited Word doc. to Kindle Direct Publishing, slap together an image drawn in Paint, and set it loose on the innocent world. This is what has flooded the market with the bad material that has given so many of us a bad name.

Regardless, there is no “right” way to be an indie author.

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Those of us who are serious all agree it’s imperative to produce quality work for our readers. That’s about as far as our consensus goes. Some swear we need a professional editor. Others rely on a team of trusted beta readers and brutally honest writer friends.

Some indies hire professional interior designers for eBook and/or print versions of their books. Others bootstrap it and study the formatting guides like the Bible until we know what we’re doing.

We all concur covers are second only to story, but again we diverge. While most of us (including Yours Truly) will scream we need a professional cover artist, I would admit others have done pretty well with a Shutterstock subscription and Adobe InDesign.

There are a vast number of ways to be an indie author. Therein lies the point and the problem. It’s all up to the individual!

But are indie authors worth it? Really, that’s up to you—our readers. 

You are the final judge of all things. We’re creating stories and delivering them straight to readers. That’s the point of being indies. We answer directly to you and we try to listen to what you want—those of us who take our work seriously, at least. And there are plenty of us who take it seriously, I promise.

In the end, I would encourage you to try indie authors despite the existence of crappy ones. Take a look at reviews, browse a few free previews, and see if anything catches your eye. Remember we write to please you, not agents or acquisitions editors. Until then, we’ll keep bringing our very best because, long-term, indie publishing is one of those things people only really do when they can’t imagine doing anything else.

Interview: H.O. Charles, author of The Fireblade Array @HOCharles

Today it is my pleasure to host one of the hidden gems of self-publishing, H.O. Charles! Charles’s epic fantasy romance series (and by epic, I mean it spans multiple centuries and lifetimes) is one of my favorites and I’m delighted to be hosting the insanely talented creator!

How did you get the idea for The Fireblade Array?

I’m not sure, really. It was years ago, and I used to make up stories in my head to amuse myself on dull train journeys. I like the idea of another universe that has some similarities to this one, but then I want to add in what’s missing in this world. Why is X so unfair, why do we have to suffer Y, and why must we be limited by Z? But as you know, we can’t have everything good all the time – the human psyche just isn’t wired that way. Angst and trials are entertaining to us – to me! So as soon as you start conjuring amazing powers and piecing together beautiful places in your head, you know there has to be some sort of balance – a price, if you will.

So for example, people in The Fireblade Array are very nearly immortal, but can you imagine how overpopulated our world would become if that were true? There has to be a correcting mechanism or mechanisms in there because of the way The Darkworld was formed (you discover some of the history behind this in Book 6), and the balancing mechanisms you see in my books pretty much wrote themselves. Interestingly, and while looking into mortality, I discovered that if we were no longer susceptible to disease or age in this world, we would still *only* have an average life expectancy of 1,200 years. This is because we are so accident-prone and (to a lesser extent) given to murdering one another. (Ref: Finch, C. 1990, Longevity, Senescence, and the Genome) Isn’t that fascinating?

If you broke the ideas in the series into their constituent parts, you’d probably find that they’re a Frankenstein’s monster of bits and pieces from Western literature, film, TV and even video games. I get a great deal of enjoyment reading nineteenth century novels as well as modern, but it would be wrong to discount the huge influence gaming and film have. Games, in particular, are another fantastic modern-day mode of storytelling. The Bioshock series blew me away. Books and games each offer something the other does not have, and they both activate that creative bit of the brain. I think everything an author sees and reads and consumes ends up being churned up and spat out in their writing one way or another (sorry, that’s not very nice imagery, is it?! I’m in Mirel mode. Radiated might have been better there). I radiate all that I consume. Haha. Hmm. Okay, onto the next one before I start to sound like an hubristic narcissist!

Fantasy backed by scientific articles! I love it. The Fireblade Array has a very unique format in that it’s more of an epic chronicle than a stereotypical narrative. What inspired you to write that way?

I wanted the story to be told from different points of view. I cannot claim credit for it, as it’s fairly standard practice in the fantasy genre (Robert Jordan, GRRM both do it, as do others I cannot remember offhand). It made the most sense to me, and I knew the story would be a long one. I can do single-point narrative, but I find I become bored easily. I also REALLY enjoy cliffhangers. << laughs wickedly >>

I know you love cliffhangers, you wretched goblin. *glares* What made you decide to become an indie author?

Haha. You mean, why didn’t I get a big-name publisher?! I tried a couple, but I started young and for whatever reason (I’m not bitter. Nope) I wasn’t picked out of the pile. I took it personally (I shouldn’t have), but I don’t feel I’ve missed out. The world is different now. The big publishers still have their finger in the publicity pie, and enough budget to hire powerful literary PR agencies, but the book world is a much more heterogeneous place compared to that of ten years ago. Yes, there’s some dross out there (there was before, let’s be honest), but it’s better for readers now. Back in 2010, I stumbled upon a very amateurish book on Smashwords, and thought (as we often do) “I can do better than that!” and decided to have a go. I always hoped my books would do well, but I never expected to leave my job/PhD and make a living out of it. Really, I just wrote and published because I loved creating the stories. Still do!!

Yeah…publishers can be like that. But good for you! How did you pick your penname? Do you feel it has allowed you more creative freedom?

YES. I picked the penname because I thought it sounded like the typical, middle-aged, bearded dude that writes fantasy (I think it’s some sort of uniform that you have to adopt once you get signed to a major contract). Is that who I am?! I’ll leave that up to your imagination, but YES, YES and YES, it has given me huge creative freedom. I am seriously self-conscious about anything I do, and I was scared of having my friends cut and paste romantic scenes from the books onto my Facebook page for laughs (they would do this, srsly), so I made my own little secret world where I could write anything I bloody well liked. “Write like everyone you know is dead,” they say (I cannot find the source for that quotation) – well, instead I killed me and invented a person too new to know anyone.

I still haven’t ‘come out’ to most of them about my penname. I’m working up to it…

You have to do what you’re comfortable with. Your three favorite characters to write and why?

Silar – for teh swearz

Morghiad – if I said here, I would spoil the next book…

Mirel – because she’s just so wicked!

Personally, Morghiad is my favorite. <3 (And not just because he’s dreamy, I swear.) What’s a story idea that’s come to you recently?

What? Give away all my hugely lucrative ideas on your blog?! Okay then! I started writing both a prequel and a spin-off to the series a while back. I hope to finish those within a reasonable time frame.

I have some other ideas that are still in development stage. One will be an historical fiction-type-adventure thing. With a ton of romance. Mustn’t forget that. I also want to do a near-future dystopia one (think Charlie Brooker/Black Mirror), but I don’t have time just yet!

YES for the romaction! How would you describe yourself in three fictional characters?

My own characters are basically me if I were significantly better-looking and braver and cooler. Take Silar, Artemi and Morghiad, and stir them all in a pot. Something like me will come out of it. Probably. Maybe a bit more evil Ambrose from Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. And possibly some Emma Woodhouse from Austin. Sorry, that’s more than three, isn’t it? See? That’s why I added evil/scheming characters, because they don’t like doing things the proper way.

Pieces of yourself to each? Hmm…that’s either great or concerning. Your favorite online haunts and links?

Ooh. I’m going to be really boring and say I don’t go anywhere exciting online at the moment. Aside from the news, Wikipedia, checking my own reviews (I know, I need to STOP doing that) and the usual social media pages… there’s not a whole lot online these days that I have time to wander around. If you know of any good places, do tell me though.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Here’s to the best of luck and looking forward to Fall of Blaze! 🙂

H.O. Charles was born in Northern England, but now resides in a beige house in Suffolk.

Charles has spent many years at various academic institutions, and really ought to get on with writing a PhD, but frequently becomes distracted by writing fantasy fiction instead.

Hobbies include being in the sea, being by the sea and eating things that come out of the sea.

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Review: Burning Shadows (Order of the Krigers, #2) by Jennifer Anne Davis @AuthorJennifer

The Order of the Krigers has risen.

Determined to destroy the Order, the vicious king, Morlet, scours the land searching for the twelve chosen ones. He burns entire villages hoping to crush the Krigers.

He has other plans for Kaia.

In order to end the curse, Kaia must conceive a child before the Krigers can kill Morlet. However, Kaia doesn’t know if the father is supposed to be her fiancé, Vidar, or his brother, the evil king. Determined to find the answer, she sets off to the other side of the mountains with Anders. Stifling her growing feelings for the assassin, Kaia unearths secrets that force her to reevaluate her cause. Can she sacrifice so much of herself to save the kingdom of Nelebek? Can she kill Morlet when she is starting to understand and even sympathize with him? And is there really any choice at all, especially when it comes to matters of the heart?

With newfound power, Kaia’s heart and mind are entwined with the realization that choices come with a price, passion can rival hatred, and an evil looms on the horizon, more sinister than she ever imagined.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

4 out of 5 stars

The first book in this series was a bit of a disappointment for me after the author’s stellar True Reign and Reign of Secrets series, but we’re back, baby! The Rema/Allyssa books are still my favorite. Nonetheless, the author’s god-given genius is much more pronounced here. The first book in this series was published with Month 9 and this one is self-published (go indies!), another explanation for why this story felt more authentic, I think.

The plot:

We’re back to the less predictable  storyline style of the beloved True Reign series I keep mentioning. It was more difficult for me to predict what would happen and I liked that. I do wish there had been more focus on a clearer build/climax, but that damnable love triangle is (mostly) gone, thank God.

The characters:

I liked Kaia more in this one. A LOT more. She has autonomy and has started talking back to Vidar (YES). She also balances between the whole acceptance of her fate and maintaining ownership of her life. I was impressed with how that was handled and like I said, MUCH better than the previous book. In the last one, she lets that jerk Vidar pressure her into an engagement and it made me SO ANGRY. I WAS SALTY FOR MONTHS AND I’M STILL MAD AND…*deep breath* Everything’s better now. It’s okay. I’m okay.

Vidar and Morlet—the two immortal princes—are still both pieces of work in their own way. Morlet is the mass murderer driven by evil magic and Vidar is the control-freak, “Kaia must marry me because reasons” heir to the throne. Guess which one I like more? Yes—Morlet.

There was a great deal more explanation for Morlet’s actions. His mood swings and irrational behavior are suddenly quite understandable and I might even be liking him more than Anders *gasp*. Keyword there is “might” and it depends on what happens in book three.

On a minor note, I did like that Allyssa got another girl as a friend in this one. Bonus points for not making the warrior girl have all guy friends, definitely.

In summation, I was impressed with how much better the author did on her own versus with a publisher. I think most the little things that knocked this down from 5 stars—odd twists and circling in the story, one or two rocky transitions—were the results of leading the story back over to a plot truer to the original vision. Even with this issues, this is a definite recommended read from me.

Find Burning Shadows on Goodreads

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Review: Final Advent (No Angels, #3) by Eli Hinze @Eli_Hinze

Death overshadows everyone at some point, but for Liz Patrona that time comes far too soon. Word comes that Wily, her ruthless enemy, survived being thrown into the Black River and crossed into Geminus to usurp the kingdom’s throne. Now his sights rest firmly on her world. Knowing Liz is the only threat in his path, he curses her to die in one year’s time—unless she can kill him before the clock runs out. In the months she has left, she must travel into Geminus, forge precarious alliances with those who’ve survived Wily’s reign, and battle for her very survival. Yet what lies in Geminus may be more than she bargained for. In these foreign lands looms a sinister secret about her own past. Something that has been guiding her from her first breaths to her final steps.

In the long-awaited conclusion to the No Angels trilogy, Liz is pushed one last time to discover the bounds of how far she’s willing to go to protect those she loves—even if it means losing herself along the way.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

Endings are always hard to read. This is the last in a trilogy I’ve been following since No Angels was just a newborn baby book. I have watched this author with rapt attention and I am so glad to say she has only gotten better.

We meet a whole new plethora of races, new characters, and a new (or is he?) villain, too. There are some wonderfully imaginative creatures and structures brought into play here and that was one of my favorite parts. Not to spoil anything but—STONE ENTS.

The plot:

This baby comes out to 362 pages, but I read through it in three sittings. It moves quickly, but remains fully fleshed out and multidimensional. There was a sense of impending doom with this story, just because of THE END in sight and the premise of Liz having limited time to live. That was something new to me for this series, but to be expected at the close.

The characters:

Liz started in book one with all the mushy ferocity of the Pillsbury dough boy. She’s now a glorious wielder of distilled badassdom, but retains that kindness and softness so many “strong female characters” lose. I was delighted with the balance.

One of my favorite things about this series is the relationship between Liz and Riven. I mean, a lot of these warrior romances in YA books can get borderline (or outright) abusive, but none of that here! There is a beautiful equality in their relationship and I could blather about it on and on. Even with the impending doom of the story, their romance had me all giggly.

At just around a quarter in, we are introduced to Leon who is now one of my favorite characters in the whole trilogy. Mixing tragedy, badassery, and a lovely romance subplot, Leon has all the traits I can’t resist. I realized that the author has been planning to bring in him and Vita since the beginning and that made is SO MUCH MORE AWESOME!

Mark is still here and I am SO GLAD the author actually gave him a life. He deserves one. Usually, the “best friend” character ends up miserable, lonely, and/or overshadowed by the awesomeness of his/her counterpart. Not so with Mark. He has a bright human future ahead, is autonomous, and a self-motivated character—I was so happy.

There were sad parts, happy parts, and an overall feeling of bittersweet. It was a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful series and I cannot wait to see what the author does next.

Find The Final Advent on Goodreads

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Read my reviews of No Angels and Collapsed Cathedrals

Interview: Brianna Merritt @bgmwriting

Today I have invited a creative young authoress, gearing up to publish her very first masterpiece! So leave a comment to say hi and don’t forget to check out her links at the end!

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Brianna Merritt is a dragon-loving, tea-addicted writer who loves to share the joy of adventure and grace of redemption through her writing. 

From an early age she fell in love with all things literary and the journey from reader to writer followed. With the help of One Year Adventure Novel, Brianna finished her first novel in 2012. After years of rewriting and editing, her debut novel is almost ready. Keep watch for My Eyes, the first book in the Archangel Trilogy. 

As well as writing, Brianna enjoys dancing and currently teaches Ballet and Jazz dance in Virginia where she lives with her family.

Brianna writes Christian Speculative Fiction and Fantasy for teens and young adult readers.

Hi Brianna! Thanks for stopping by. What can you tell us about the Archangel Trilogy?

The Archangel Trilogy began in my head as a very different story when I started writing it in 2012 then what I finished this year. I created the main character, Quinn Rogers, and let her have free run with the story world and plot. Little did I know what was going to happen!

In My Eyes, book one of the trilogy, a little bit of Quinn’s backstory is told leading up to her change of occupation from a sniper in the British Army to an international assassin. Haunted by her past, she quickly becomes the best recruit Rourke Andres, a master assassin and terrorist, has ever trained. Quinn is his prodigy—his legacy—and Rourke will do everything in his power to keep her that way.

As a merciless assassin, Quinn has never known anything other than heartlessness and death. Known as “The Archangel”, there is nothing she cannot—or will not—do for her mentor. But when she kidnaps a young man during an assignment as a means to escape the FBI, Quinn does not realize the spiritual forces at work.

Her hostage, Nathan, is a Christian who shows a kind of love the assassin cannot begin to fathom. On the run from the law, the two form an unlikely bond that soon has Quinn questioning everything she has held true and right.

Caught in the conflict between God’s forgiving love and a life full of hatred and pain, she must learn to relinquish control in order to protect the lives of those she cares about. 

Until book one gets published that’s all I can tell you about the trilogy. But I will tell you that I am super excited to share the rest of Quinn Rogers’ story with my readers. The wild adventure is only just beginning!

Definitely a new kind of Christian thriller! Can you tell us what first got you into writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but my love of reading and immersing myself into the story world of my favorite characters was probably what gave me that final push into crazy author mode. I can vividly remember when I was younger asking any new friends I made if they wanted to write a book with me. Everybody wanted to, but we never really made it past the first few chapters. A really good friend of mine worked with me for a while on a story about dragon ninjas (fun fact: our villain in the story was based off of Ursula from The Little Mermaid) for a couple of years but never finished it. It wasn’t until I found One Year Adventure Novel, a homeschool writing curriculum, that I was able to type “the end” on a project. Since then I have known that I want to be an author and share my love of good stories, great characters, and lasting friendships between reader and fictional character.  

I know lots of homeschool authors have immensely benefited from the One Year Adventure Novel. What has been your favorite part of the online writing community thus far? Least favorite?

My favorite part would have to be making new friends and connections. Not only did I meet my editor on Twitter, but I have had more support from my Twitter followers than some of my real life friends, which is wonderful! The retweets, likes, and comments make me want to keep going. Hearing from other authors about what they are going through is always an encouragement because it tells you that no one is ever alone. A very important part of the writing process because us authors are usually introverted hermits. ☺

My least favorite part about the online community would probably have to be the fact that it’s hard to build a following. You really have to work to be consistent in tweeting or posting and that takes away from writing time. But all in all I think the pros outweigh the cons any day!

Being indie can be hard work, yes. But worth it! Have you ever gotten to meet any of your favorite authors? What happened? If not, who would you like to meet?

I have! Chuck Black, author of The Kingdom Series, War of the Realms, and The Knights of Arrethrea, has been at several homeschool conventions I have gone to and it’s always great seeing him and his family and connecting for a bit. I think most, if not all, of the books I have bought from him are autographed.

Jill Williamson was awesome to meet as well! She came to speak at a writing workshop I was at and her lectures were super inspiring for young writers and the fantasy genre. I love her books and wonderful personality!

In addition, I have also met Tosca Lee (Demon: a memoir), Kerry Nietz (Amish Vampires in Space), Amy Brock Mcnew (Rebirth), J. S. Bailey (Rage’s Echo), and Nadine Brandes (A Time To Die).

If I could them, I would love to sit down and have coffee with Donita K. Paul, Sarah J. Maas, and Wayne Thomas Batson. They are all authors of epic fantasy series and I think picking their brain for advice and ideas would be a dream come true!

I have read Chuck Black and OH MY GOSH JILL WILLIAMSON. I am so jealous. But back to you, how will you know when you’ve “made it” as an author?

When my mom says I don’t have to go to school and I can just write! xD Okay, not really. Probably when someone asks me for an autograph or tells me that my story and characters really changed them or helped them through a time in their lives. There are countless books and authors who have helped get me through hard times in my life and I would love for one of my books to someday do that for someone. That’s when I think I will know I’ve made it.

That’s a great goal to have. If you could bring one thing to life from the Archangel Trilogy, what would it be?

Quinn Rogers!

I would totally want my main character to be alive. She would have some crazy ideas to help with my writing, not to mention day-to-day life would suddenly become very interesting. I would probably end up a fugitive. But c’est la vie, right?

Sometimes, that’s just the way it is. 😉 Team Hardcopies or Team eBooks?

Definitely Hardcopies. I like the idea of having thousands of books on one device, but it just isn’t the same as holding something in your hands. I love the smell of books; Kindles just don’t smell the same.

True, true. Though in a dorm, I don’t have much choice. 🙁 What for you is the “most wonderful time of the year”?

Oh, tough question. I’m from Oklahoma so I am used to 100+ degree summers and ice-cold winters all the while enduring 90 mph wind so my “most wonderful time of the year” used to be those five or six days of perfect weather where Spring and Fall were supposed to be. But my family and I moved to Virginia a year ago so I’m starting to see that there are actually seasons beyond too hot and too cold! All that considered I would have to say anytime I can sit outside and not get overheated or chilly while I write and drink a nice cup of Chai tea. September and October are great months for that (especially since my birthday is in September and Halloween is at the end of October).

At least you HAVE winters unlike in Texas, LOL. Stock up on that Chai and thanks again for visiting! Best of luck in all your writerly endeavors.

Find Brianna in all these places: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Things I hate about writing

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I love writing—usually—but sometimes, things about it make me want to scream and rip my hair out. Because writing is overall pretty great, I put up with them, but still…with Nano Wrimo just around the corner, I thought I’d whine over the things I hate about writing.

Plot Holes

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Have you ever realized your story’s two halves mashed two totally different world structures? I have. I know writers who’ve misplaced characters, but I think an entire socioeconomic system wins this round. And don’t get me started on character consistency. Ugh.

Writer’s Block

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All writers have, at some point, stared at a blank page with no thought but “what now?” To make matters worse, I almost always know what I want to happen it’s just…how to get there???

Rejection Letters

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Everyone who has ever sent out a query to agents or publishers knows the pain. I lost count of how many I’ve gotten and it never hurts any less. And if they’ve requested a complete manuscript only to slap you with a fat “no”? AGONY!

(I did eventually get a “yes” for the Argetallam Saga, but that publisher demanded too many of my rights. Hence I went full-on indie. Bet you didn’t think of me as a rebel. 😉 )

Self-Editing

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If there were a hell for writers, it would be made of rejection letters in need of editing. You either agonize for days hours over whether or not something is crap or you know it’s crap and can’t believe you actually wrote that. Either way, you end up needing feedback.

Feedback

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Feedback is necessary the way childbirth and tooth extraction is necessary. I find actually reading feedback isn’t half as bad as expecting feedback and have been known to tie myself in knots over it. What if they don’t like it? Was that kissing scene cheesy? Was the dialogue stupid? What if all my years of work were for nothing??? Then the feedback comes in and it’s usually really helpful. But then I’m right back to editing and just…ick.

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I once vowed to stick with writing ‘til death do us part, but…I wish it wasn’t so rough. Are you a writer? Do you have your own “hate list” for writing? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The First Chill of Autumn (Shards of a Broken Sword, #3) by W.R. Gingell

29614612Llassar is an occupied country– but nobody seems to know it.

Fae began to filter slowly into the land shortly after the birth of the crown princess, Dion ferch Alawn, supposedly fleeing a dark threat in Faery known as the Guardians. But that was fifteen years ago, and now there isn’t a town in Llassar that isn’t populated by or under the control of the fae.

Smaller, weaker, and less talented at magic, Llassarians are quickly finding out that there’s no fighting the invasion that crept in so quietly and politely. Even the castle isn’t free of fae: those closest to the king and queen are faery advisors.

When Dion ferch Alawn returns from a carefully sanitised tour of Outer Llassar, the most exciting thing she expects from the near future is the present her twin sister Aeron promised for their seventeenth birthday.

Then her carriage breaks down, and Dion gets a taste of what the real Llassar has become: desperate, enslaved, and ripe for rebellion. Getting home safely is just the first problem she faces: the real struggle begins when Dion returns to the castle. Her new knowledge is inconvenient and unwelcome– to declare it, treason.

Her parents expect her to publicly embrace the Llassarian policy of acceptance and deference to the fae.

The common Llassarians, their injuries passed over and their weapons long since confiscated, expect her to fight for them. Dion must choose between doing what is convenient and politic, and what is right.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

This is the final book and with impending doom, so it’s just a tad darker than the other two. There was still plenty of laughs and cute, sweet “aww” things, not to mention the return of the characters from the first two books. It was a splendid ending (especially since I was rooting for Barric from the beginning—shh!) and I loved it.

The plot:

Since it’s a novella, the story moves along quickly, following young Dion from toddler years to when she fulfills her destiny and saves the human world from Faery. I very much appreciated the whole “political correctness” storyline with the faeries and how the humans basically outlawed defending themselves. It was strikingly familiar to some real world historic issues. At the same time, we get to meet wonderful, awesome, lovable faeries and some sides of familiar faeries we really haven’t gotten before. It was a good, realistic balance, I thought, and definitely a take I had not encountered before.

The characters:

Dion is sweet and brave, having accepted from a  young age that she is destined to die for her country. While she starts out naive and too trusting, she is forced to learn quickly. She’s the kind of character we admire most for her heart.

Just in case that opening paragraph misled you, there are no—I repeat—NO LOVE TRIANGLES, okay? There are two love interests (Padraig’s sweet and brave and awesome, but the other one is the perfect one), but no love triangles. There was still bittersweet romance tossed in with cute romance, we get to see Markon and Althea in their banter-filled wedded bliss and Carmine play damsel in distress to his warrior princess, plus Rafiq and Koto be awesome dragons together.

Novellas get taken for granted too much, but this one is definitely a series worth a shot. Magic, quests, and romance mix together in clean fairytale-flavored adventures any retellings fanatic is bound to love.

Find The First Chill of Autumn on Goodreads

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Read my reviews of Twelve Days of Faery (Shards of a Broken Sword, #1) and Fire in the Blood (Shards of a Broken Sword, #2).