Monday, April 12, 2021

Blog Tour: These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy Excerpt

 


Hiya, Booknerds! I was lucky enough to be selected for the Blog Tour of THESE FEATHERED FLAMESAs such, I will give you some details about the interesting book as well as its lovely author. 

And you also get a BOOKISH BONUS: 

*A delightful morsel of an excerpt can be found below*

ABOUT THE BOOK:

PublisherINKYARD PRESS
Release Date: April 20, 2021
GenreTeen & Young Adult Fantasy/ Epic/Fairy Tales & Folklore/ Adaptations/Family/Siblings/Romance/LGBTQ+romance
Pages
496
Source: ARC

THE STORY:
Three Dark Crowns meets Wicked Saints in this queer #ownvoices retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale, by debut author Alexandra Overy.
When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.
But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.
As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.
BUY LINKS:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Apple Books
Google Books


EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE:

The prey wasn’t meant to be a child.

When Asya had smelled the sharp tang of magic—strong even before she emerged from the tree line—that possibility hadn’t so much as fluttered across her mind. It was never meant to be a child.

But the scent of magic was undeniable. That indistinguishable combination of damp overturned earth and the metallic copper of blood, cut through with the acrid burn of power. It was overlaid with the cloying sweetness of waterose, as if someone had tried to mask it.

A futile attempt.

And Asya was sure this time. The person they were looking for had to be here.

The comfort of the forest stood at her back, the dark canopy of trees stretching behind her in every direction. The fading sunlight could not break through the writhing tangle of branches, so in the shadow of the trunks, it was dark as twilight.

Most people feared the forest. Stories of monsters that lurked in its depths, witches who lured unsuspecting children in and tore out their hearts. But to Asya it had always felt safe, the gnarled trunks and rustling leaves were like old friends.

“This is it,” Asya said, inclining her head toward the clearing in front of them.

A slight smile tugged at her lips. Two years ago, when her great-aunt had first deemed her ready to try tracking herself—to follow the magic with only her mortal senses once they were close enough to the source—she’d found it impossible. More often than not, she just led them in circles until Tarya gave up on her. But today, Asya had managed it.

She might not be as unwavering as her aunt, as strong or as dutiful, but at least Asya had succeeded in this.

She glanced over at Tarya, waiting for her reaction. But her aunt stood stiller than the trees, an immovable presence in their midst. The shadowed light filtering through the leaves cast her face in stark relief, carving deep hollows into her snow-white cheeks and emphasizing the wrinkles at her brow. She could have been a painting—one of the old oil portraits of the gods, soft brushstrokes of light adding an ethereal glow to her stern face.

It made her look otherworldly. Inhuman.

Which she was. One of the creatures that prowled these trees.

While Asya, or any other mortal, could smell the residual magic, her aunt could feel it. No amount of waterose or burned sage—or any of the other tricks people tried—could hide magic from Tarya.

Her dark eyes flickered to Asya. “Correct,” her aunt murmured, a hint of satisfaction in her soft voice.

In front of them, the comforting trees gave way to an open paddock. It had been allowed to run wild, chamomile glinting yellow in the long grass, like sun spots on water. Purple-capped mushrooms pushed their way through the weeds, intertwining with the soft lilac of scattered crocuses.

The tinge of pride in Asya’s chest melted away, replaced by a thrumming anticipation. The paddock could have been beautiful, she supposed. But the cold apprehension burning in her stomach overshadowed it, darkening the flowers to poisonous thorns and muting the colors like fog. It was always like this. Ever since the first time Tarya had taken her on a hunt. Once she was left without a task to complete—a distraction—Asya couldn’t pretend to forget what came next. She’d hoped it would get better, but she still couldn’t shake the lingering fear.

She shifted her feet, trying to ignore the erratic rhythm of her heart. She hated waiting. Each frantic beat stretching out into an eternity.

She just wanted this to be over.

After all, her sister had always been the brave one.

But that was why Asya was here. Why she had to follow this path, no matter how she wavered. She owed it to her sister. They were the two sides of a coin, and if Asya failed, then her sister would too.

Tarya’s words—the words Asya had to live by—pounded through her. This is our duty. Not a question of right or wrong, but balance.

Her aunt stepped forward. She moved silently, slipping like a shadow untethered from its owner, from the gnarled trees and out into the overgrown paddock beyond. She didn’t speak—she rarely did when she felt a Calling—but Asya knew she was meant to follow.

Asya took a shaky breath, touching one finger to the wooden icon around her neck. An unspoken prayer. She could do this.

Far less quietly, she followed Tarya into the uneven grass, wincing at the snapping twigs beneath her boots.

The paddock led to a small cottage, surrounded by more soft crocuses. Their purple seeped out from the house like a bruise. The building’s thatched roof had clearly been recently repaired, and the gray stone was all but consumed by creeping moss. The stench of magic grew with each step Asya took. Wateroses lay scattered on the ground, interspersed with dried rosemary sprigs. The too-sweet scent, cut through with the burn of magic, made her stomach turn.

Tarya stopped by the wooden door. Marks of various saints had been daubed across it in stark black paint, uneven and still wet. Acts of desperation. They felt out of place in the idyllic scene. The sight sent a prickle of unease through Asya’s gut.

“Your weapon,” Tarya prompted, her voice as low as the rustle of grass behind them.

Asya’s fingers jumped to the curved bronze shashka at her waist. A careless mistake. She should have drawn the short blade long before. She couldn’t let the apprehension clawing at the edge of her mind overwhelm her. Not this time. 

She had to be sure. Uncompromising. She had to be like Tarya.

Asya unsheathed the weapon, the bronze glinting in the fading light, and forced her hand to steady.

Her aunt gave her a long look, one that said she knew just how Asya’s heart roiled beneath the surface. But Tarya just nodded, turning back to the freshly marked door. Sparks already danced behind her eyes—deep red and burnished-gold flames swallowing her dark irises. It transformed her from ethereal into something powerful.

Monstrous.

Asya swallowed, pushing that thought away. Her aunt wasn’t a monster.

Tarya reached out and pressed her palm to the wood. Heat rolled from her in a great wave, making Asya’s eyes water. A low splintering noise fractured the air, followed by the snap of the metal bolt. The door swung open. All that was left of the painted sigils was a scorched handprint. Asya’s mouth went dry. She couldn’t help but feel that breaking the saints’ signs was violating some ancient covenant.

But Tarya just stepped inside. Asya tightened her grip on the blade, trying to shake off the sense of foreboding nipping at her heels, and followed.

The cottage was comprised of a single small room. Heavy fabric hung over the windows, leaving them half in shadow. As Asya’s vision adjusted, she took in the shapes of furniture—all overturned or smashed against the cracked walls. Clothes were strewn across the floor in a whirl, along with a few shattered plates and even a broken viila, its strings snapped and useless. A statue of Saint Meshnik lay on its side, their head several paces from their armored body. The room looked like it had been ransacked, perhaps set upon by thieves.

Or like someone wanted it to seem that way.

Tarya turned slowly, her sparking eyes taking in the room. Then her gaze fixed on a spot to her left, and flames reared across her irises again. Asya couldn’t see anything. But she knew her aunt was not really looking at the wall, she was feeling—reaching for those intangible threads that bound the world and using them to narrow in on her prey.

Asya waited, her breath caught in her chest.

Tarya moved in a flash, as though Vetviya herself had looked down and granted her secret passage through the In-Between. One moment beside Asya, the next in front of the wall. Flames, as golden and bright as sunlight, sputtered from her wrists, licking along her forearms. She put her hands on the wall, and the flames eagerly reached out to devour.

They burned away what must have been a false panel, revealing a tight crevice behind. Three faces stared out, eyes wide and afraid. Two children, a boy and a girl, clutching onto a man with ash-white hair, now covered in a faint sheen of soot.

“Oryaze,” he breathed, terror rising on his face like waves over a hapless ship. Firebird.

Bile burned in Asya’s throat. She took a halting step back, staring at the huddled family. It’s the man, she told herself. It had to be. The thought murmured through her, a desperate prayer to any god or saint who might be listening.

The man leaped forward, spreading his arms as though hiding the children from view might protect them. As though anything he did would make a difference. “I won’t let you touch her!” he cried, grabbing one of the broken chair legs and brandishing it like a sword.

Asya clenched her teeth, a sharp jab of pity shooting through her. It would be no use. Nothing would.

The flames coiled lazily around Tarya’s wrists as she watched the man with a detached curiosity. “The price must be paid.”

He let out a low sob, the chair leg clattering uselessly to the ground as he clasped his hands together as if in prayer. “Please, take it from me. She didn’t know what she was doing.”

The room was too hot, the flames scorching the very air in Asya’s lungs. This is what has to be done, she intoned. This is our duty. The same words her aunt had hammered into her. Asya’s knuckles shone white on the hilt of her shashka, the cool metal tethering her to the ground, to this moment, and not the rising guilt in the back of her mind. A panic that threatened to crush her.

“I cannot,” Tarya said, her voice hollow. “The price must be taken from the one who cast the spell.” With a casual flick of her wrist, a burst of fire sprang at the man. He dived aside, toppling into an overturned table.

The little boy was crying now, soft whimpers barely louder than the spitting flames. But the girl did not cry, even as Tarya wrapped an elegant hand around her arm and dragged her forward.

Asya saw the stratsviye clearly against the milk-white skin of the girl’s wrist. A mass of black lines that coalesced to form a burning feather, seared into her flesh like a brand. The mark of the Firebird. The mark that meant a debt had to be paid. 

“Please,” the man said again, pulling himself from the collapsed table. “Please, she didn’t mean to—”

“Asya,” her aunt said, without looking up from the mark.

Asya knew what she was meant to do, but her legs took a moment to obey. Muscles protesting though her mind could not. But she moved forward anyway, placing herself between the man and the little girl, shashka raised in warning.

No one could interfere with the price.

The man scrambled for the chair leg again, leveling it at Asya with trembling hands. “She only did it to save her brother,” he pleaded, emotion cracking through his voice like summer ice. “He was sick. She didn’t know the consequences.”

Asya’s gaze slid to the little girl. To the determined set of her jaw, her defiantly dry eyes. That look wrenched something in Asya’s chest. The resolve she’d so carefully built crumbled around her. She knew what is was like to have a sibling you would do anything—risk anything—for.

But Tarya was unmoved. “Now she will know—magic always comes with a price.”

He lunged. He was clumsy, fueled by fear and desperation. Asya should have been able to stop him easily, but she hesitated. A single thought caught in her mind: Is it so wrong of him to want to protect his daughter?

That one, faltering breath cost her. The man swung the chair leg at her, catching the side of her head. Bright lights danced in front of her eyes. She stumbled into the wall as the man let out a fractured cry and threw himself toward Tarya.

Tarya did not hesitate.

Another tongue of flame reared from her, forcing the man back. This one was more than a warning. The acrid smell of burnt flesh sliced through the scent of magic. A low, broken sob trembled in the air as the man clutched his now-scorched left side.

Tarya’s head snapped to Asya, flames flashing bloodred.

Ignoring the throbbing pain in her head, Asya darted forward. She grabbed the man’s arm and twisted, sending the chair leg tumbling to the ground again. It was painfully easy. The injury made his attempt to swing back at her fly wide, and her hands fastened on him again. She spun him, one arm wrapping around him, the other holding the shashka to his throat. Her chest heaved, and her head reeled. But she didn’t move.

He let out a low whimper, still trying to struggle free. Asya pressed the blade deeper, almost wincing as a trickle of blood ran down his throat. “Don’t,” she said, half command, half plea. “You’ll just make it worse.”

Tarya had already turned back to her prey. Her gleaming eyes, still threaded with flame, stared down at the girl. There was no malice on her face, just a cold emptiness. Asya wasn’t sure if that made it better or worse.

“You must understand, child,” Tarya said. “The price has to be paid.”

And in a breath, she transformed.

Flames devoured her eyes, spreading from the pupils until they were no more than luminous orbs. Twin suns, captured in a face. But the fire did not end there. It rose up out of her like a living thing. Glinting golds and burnt oranges twisted with deepest crimson to form hooked wings, spread behind her like a blazing cape. Another head loomed above her own, a vicious, living mask. It formed a sharp beak, feathered flames rising from it to forge the great bird’s plumage. They arched up into an expression of cruel indifference, mirroring the human features below. The very walls of the cottage trembled.

The Firebird.

Asya felt her hand go slack. A deep, instinctual fear sank into her bones. She had seen her aunt transform before, more times than she could count. But that primal fear never went away. The mortal instinct that she should run from this creature.

She was eleven when she’d first seen her aunt exact a price. Asya had been naive and desperate to shirk her new responsibility, to run back to her sister. Tarya had brought her on a hunt to see—to truly understand—the weight of this responsibility.

It had terrified Asya then. It still terrified her now, six years later.

Everything about the flaming creature exuded power. Not the simple spells mortals toyed with, but the kind of power drawn from the depths of the earth, ancient and deadly.

The girl could not hide her fear now. It shone in her dark eyes like a beacon as she tried to back away, but Tarya’s curled fingers held her tight. The boy was screaming. The sound rose in Asya’s ears to a high keening, writhing through her insides.

The creature—Tarya—looked down at the girl, head cocked to one side. Considering.

Asya wanted to close her eyes. To pretend she was somewhere far away, safe beneath a canopy of trees. But she couldn’t. 

She had to do this. This was the duty the gods had chosen her for. The burden she had accepted.

And looking away would feel like abandoning the little girl.

Asya tried to take a breath to steady her whirling thoughts, but the very air was bitter and scorched. Please be something small, she thought. Not her heart.

She couldn’t stand back and watch that. Or, perhaps, she didn’t want to believe that she would just stand aside as this monster tore the girl’s heart from her body.

Because Asya knew she would. Knew she had to. That was her price.

The flames spread down Tarya’s left arm, coiling like a great serpent as they bridged across her fingers to the girl. A cry tore through the air, raw and achingly human. The greedy, blazing tendrils wrapped around the girl’s arm, as unmoved by the screams as their master. They consumed the flesh as if it were nothing more than parchment.

In only a few frantic beats of Asya’s heart, the girl’s left arm was gone. Not just burned, but gone. No trace of it remained. No charred bone, not even a scattering of ashes.

The price had been paid.

The flames receded, the creature folding back in on itself until it was no more than a spark in Tarya’s eyes. All that was left was a heavy smoke in the air, thick and choking.

Asya let her hand holding the shashka fall. The man threw himself forward—though Asya had a feeling he would have moved even if her blade had still been at his throat—and clutched the little girl, who was still half-frozen in shock. The boy flung himself at his sister too, his screams reduced to gasping cries. 

Asya’s stomach curled as she stared down at the huddled family, enclosed in a grief she had helped cause.

She backed away. It was suddenly all too much. The suffocating smoke. The man’s ragged sobs. The blistered stump that had been the girl’s arm. Her aunt’s impassive face, as empty as the carved saint’s head on the ground.

Asya whirled around, pushing back through the broken door. She doubled over as she stumbled across the threshold, leaning a hand against the moss-eaten stone to keep upright. Bile rose in her throat.

It had never been a child before. Despite all the hunts Tarya had taken her on, all the training lessons, Asya hadn’t thought of that possibility—that it could be a little girl desperate to save her brother.

Something wet trickled from the wound on Asya’s head, but she barely felt it. Her insides had been hollowed out.

All she could see were the little girl’s eyes. The ghastly reflection of the Firebird in them, looming and monstrous. A creature of legend.

A creature that, one day, Asya would become. 


Excerpted from THESE FEATHERED FLAMES by Alexandra Overy © 2021, used with permission from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ALEXANDRA OVERY was born in London, England. Ever since she was little she has loved being able to escape into another world through books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and is completing her MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. When she's not working on a new manuscript or procrastinating on doing homework, she can be found obsessing over Netflix shows, or eating all the ice cream she can.

Social Links:

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads -- Author




***Check out Julie Kagawa's website for more information about her and THESE FEATHERED FLAMES.: https://www.alexandraovery.com/ 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Review: A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

 




*Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date
February 16, 2021
Pages768
SourceHardcover

THE STORY:
Sarah J. Maas's sexy, richly imagined series continues with the journey of Feyre's fiery sister, Nesta.
Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she's struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can't seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre's Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta's orbit. But her temper isn't the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other's arms.
BUY LINKS: The Lit. Bar    |    Amazon


RATING

ONE-WORD REVIEW: MASTERFUL

TAG LINE:


Untamed power. Untamed passion.


OPENING LINE:


Cassian raised his fist to the green door on the dim hallway—and hesitated.



REVIEW:

Initial Thoughts:

But my God as I was reading this book, I just... I have no words.

I need to simmer a bit to recompose myself.

Sometime Later:

I am now thoroughly, wholly undone...

The story is going to crack you wide open and expose the nerves of all your needs and desires. Your secrets.

Well, it did to me anyway. 

I LOVED this book! I’m still trying to piece myself back together!

And this is coming from someone who was indifferent to Cassian — don’t get me wrong, I liked him, he was that hot, fun, warrior brute, but there wasn’t really any substance —and, not to mention, I HATED Nesta for how she treated Feyre—I found her to be truly despicable. Before you rush to her defense and claim “well, why are male characters allowed to get away with that behavior but not female ones!” —no, just no. I don’t know what type of books y’all are reading and who likes male characters who act like Nesta but I think y’all are confused. There’s a difference between an aloof, emotionally repressed, rough around the edges warrior and someone who is just a jealous, selfish asshole who is atrociously mean to her baby sister (who, might I add, did everything possible to keep all of the actual adults alive)—talk about glaringly ungrateful.

Rant over, moving on.

Nesta was the epitome of “hurt people hurt people. But I have to say: Nesta’s character arc has to be my favorite in some time. SJM masterfully crafted Nesta’s characterization —I went from pure hatred (all you have to do is skim through scenes of Nesta and Feyre in ACOTAR to coax your memory of how awful she was) to rooting for her growth. Man. Her journey was a hard, spiky one I will not soon forget.

“So Nesta had become a wolf. Armed herself with invisible teeth and claws, and learned to strike faster, deeper, more lethally. Had relished it. But when the time came to put away the wolf, she'd found it had devoured her too.”


The plot and worldbuilding lived up to the expectations set by its predecessors. The pacing was fantastic and the story unfolded so beautifully. The plot was interesting enough, find magical objects and keep from evil guys.

Most importantly, Cassian's and Nesta's relationship . . . one word: SPICY! The absolute spiciest in the series thusfar. 

I have to say, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY HATED Nesta. She was godawful to Feyre. FEYRE! The baby of the family who made ALL of the sacrifices to keep her older sisters and father alive. Even after they took advantage of her, treated her like shit *Nesta* and were totally ungrateful. So, I knew going in it was going to take a MAJOR overhauling for Nesta in her character arc. Thank goodness that worked out superbly. Now, getting to the point, throughout the series I never felt connected to Cassian. I always imagined him as the sexy, goofy brute, who was overly affectionate and had boundary issues. I liked him in passing but I didn't really know him know his mind. A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES did not disappoint! Now, Cassian is giving Rhys a run for his money. Cassian is incredibly compassionate, thoughtful, and nonjudgmental. This was the side of him I needed to see in order to truly connect with his character.

“I'll be with you every step of the way. Just don't lock me out. You want to walk in silence for a week, I'm fine with that. So long as you talk to me at the end of it.”

Nesta and Cassian's relationship coupled with Nesta's character growth and her making friends— was a work of art. The banter, the sexual tension, the chemistry, the angst. My God it hurt so damn good. We were literally under the impression Nesta hated Cassian despite her physical attraction to him and the matebond that made her have some inkling of connection to him. But, low and below, ya girl felt exactly the opposite of hate. She hated herself and didn't think she was good enough for him. Makes so much sense. Then throw in the SPICY Gods, the SPICINESSSSSS. And to read that unfolding on page was a sublime experience.

All in all, I am obsessed with A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES and anxiously await the next installment in the ACOTAR series.


CHARACTERS:

NESTA: As aforementioned, Nesta was the epitome of “hurt people hurt people. But I have to say: Nesta’s character arc has to be my favorite in some time. 
“I am worthless and I am nothing, Nesta nearly said. She wasn’t sure why the words bubbled up, pressing on her lips to voice them. I hate everything that I am. And I am so, so tired. I am tired of wanting to be anywhere but in my own head.”

  

CASSIAN: As aforementioned, I always imagined him as the sexy, goofy brute, who was overly affectionate and had boundary issues. I liked him in passing but I didn't really know him know his mind. Cassian is incredibly compassionate, thoughtful, and nonjudgmental. This was the side of him I needed to see in order to truly connect with his character.
“I am your mate, for fuck’s sake!” Cassian shouted, loud enough for people across the river to hear. “You are my mate! Why are you still fighting it?”


FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Your power is a song, and one I've waited a very, very long time to hear, Nesta.” —Cassian

“Cassian leaned to whisper in her ear, 'The first time I saw that look on your face, you were still human. Still human, and I nearly went to my knees before you.'”—Cassian

“I cannot survive without reading.”—Nesta

“Nesta had loved Cassian since she'd first laid eyes on him. Had loved him even when she did not want to, even when she had been swallowed by despair and fear and hatred. Had loved him and destroyed herself because she didn't believe she deserved him, because he was all that was good, and brave, and kind, and she loved him, she loved him, she loved him”—Nesta



FAVORITE FANART:









BONUS AZRIEL CHAPTER:

The bonus chapter really highlighted the issues I had with Azriel's character and why I never connected to him. Azriel takes no initiative, he’s not assertive when it comes to relationships/romance. Like, my guy, it’s been ***500 years*** and 1) you’ve done nothing to pursue Mor outright, 2) won’t even talk to her about how you feel —Like have they even had an actual conversation in any of the books? 3) still haven’t figured out Mor prefers women... Make it make sense.


And that bonus chapter did not endear Azriel to me—to be completely honest, he seemed skeevy and entitled to me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Throne of Glass, Court of Thorns and Roses, and Crescent City series. Her books have sold more than nine million copies and are published in thirty-seven languages. A New York native, Sarah lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and dog.


***Check out Sarah J. Maas' website for more information about her and 
A COURT OF SILVER FLAMESHERE




Happy Reading!

 
Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Blog Tour: The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa Excerpt & Q&A


Hiya, Booknerds! I was lucky enough to be selected for the Blog Tour of THE IRON RAVENAs such, I will give you some details about the interesting book as well as its lovely author. 

And you also get a BOOKISH BONUS: 

*A delightful morsel of an excerpt can be found below*

ABOUT THE BOOK:

PublisherINKYARD PRESS
Release DateFebruary 9, 2021
GenreTeen & Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy; Folklore and Fairytale; Paranormal romance
Pages
336
Source: ARC

THE STORY:
Wicked faeries and fantastic danger... Welcome to book one of the new trilogy in New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey fantasy series, as infamous prankster Puck finally has a chance to tell his story and stand with allies new and old to save Faery and the world. 
"YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF ME..."
Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool... King Oberon's right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.
With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck's longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten. Filled with myths and faery lore, romance and unfathomable dangers, The Iron Raven is book one of a new epic fantasy trilogy set in the world of The Iron Fey.
BUY LINKS:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Apple Books
Google Books


Q&A WITH JULIE KAGAWA

Q: What was the hardest scene to write in The Iron Raven? What was the easiest?

A: I can't say too much without giving away spoilers, but the hardest scene in The Iron Raven was near the very end of the book when they're fighting the final Big Bad, and Puck does a completely Puck-ish thing to give them a fighting chance. It was random and irreverent and completely ridiculous, so I had to get it just right to avoid making it cheesy. The easiest scene was one where Puck and Ash were semi-seriously threatening each other, because I know those two so well and it was all rather familiar. 

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)?

A: Lol, well I'm going to reveal my absolute geekiness and say that the name of the newest character, Nyx, is actually my D&D character, a dragon-hating elven assassin. There were a few tweaks, of course, but Nyx is...well, me in a D&D campaign. :P

Q: What do you hope people remember about The Iron Raven?

A: I hope The Iron Raven brings back the feel of the first Iron Fey novels, where everything was new and surreal and exciting. I hope readers will experience the same wonder and belief in magic, friendship, love and heroism that I tried to present in the first series. 

Q: Did The Iron Raven have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?

A: My music tastes are eclectic, but I do listen to a lot of Two Steps From Hell while writing, because its mostly instrumental and they have some epic soundtracks.

Q: What is your dream cast for The Iron Raven?

A: I am so bad at this question I don't even think I can answer it. Apologies, but I really am terrible at remembering actors and actresses. This is a great question for fans, though. Who would your dream cast be for an Iron Fey series?

EXCERPT:

The human world

A long, long time ago

It was almost time.

I peeked out of the bushes and grinned.  The stage was nearly set.  In the tiny, sun-dappled clearing beyond the trees, the crystal-clear pool glimmered, attracting all manner of life to its sparkling waters.  A herd of spotted deer bent graceful necks to the surface under the watchful eye of a great stag, standing tall at the edge of the pond.  A few rabbits hopped through the bracken scattered through the clearing, and a family of squirrels scolded each other in the branches of a large gnarled oak.  Birds sang, wildlife meandered, and the wind gently rustled the leaves overhead.  It was a blissful, picturesque woodland scene, a perfectly peaceful day in the human realm.

Boring, boring, boring.

I smiled, reached into my shirt, and pulled the pan flute into the light.  It was my own design; I’d spent several days gathering hollow reeds, cutting them, binding them together and making sure the tone was perfect.  Now, I was going to see what it could do.  

Drawing glamour from the forest around me, I raised the flute to my lips and blew out a single note.

The clear, high sound cut through the stillness of the woods, arcing over the grove, and all the animals clustered around the pond jerked up, eyes wide and nostrils flaring.  The rabbits sat up, ears twitching back and forth.  The deer raised their heads, dark eyes huge as they gazed around, ready to flee.  The squirrels’ tails flicked back and forth as they clung to the branches, their chittering voices silenced.    

In the sudden stillness, I took a deep breath, gathering my magic, and began playing.

The melody rose into the air, cheerful and face paced.  It swirled around the pond, into the ears of every living creature.  For a moment, none of them moved,

Then, one of the rabbits began tapping its foot.  The others followed, thumping their hind legs in tune to the rhythm, and the deer began tossing their heads to the music.  In the branches, the squirrels bobbed, tails flicking back and forth, keeping time, and the birds added their voices to the song.  I bit down a smile and played louder, faster, drawing in more glamour and releasing it into the notes trilling through the forest.  

With a bugle, the ancient stag reared up, tossing his huge antlers, and gave a graceful bound to the center of the clearing.  His sharp hooves pawed the grass, raking gouges in the earth, as he began stepping and leaping with the music.  As one, his herd joined him, bouncing and cavorting to his side, and the rabbits began flinging themselves in wild arcs around the stomping deer.  My glee soared; this was working better than I had hoped. It was all I could do to keep playing and not let the song drop because of the enormous grin wanting to stretch my face.  

Rising from the bushes, I walked toward the grove, the pan flute moving rapidly under my lips, the song rising and the magic soaring in response.  My feet itched, and I started to move them, stepping and dancing to the center of the clearing.  Filling my lungs, I played as loudly as I could, my body moving almost on its own, leaping and twirling and spinning through the air.  And all around me, the forest creatures danced as well, hooves and horns and furry bodies barely missing me as they bounced and cavorted in a frantic circle, hurling themselves around the grove with wild abandon. I lost myself in the music, in the excitement and ecstasy, as I danced with the forest.

I didn’t know how long the melody went on; half the time my eyes were closed and I was moving on pure instinct.  But at last, as the song reached a crescendo, I sensed it was time to bring it to a close.  With one final, soaring note, the melody died away, the wild emotions faded, and the whirlwind of magic swirling through the grove fluttered out, returning to the earth.   

Panting, I lowered my arms.  Around me, my fellow dancers also came to shuddering stops, breathing hard.  The great stag stood a few feet away, antlered head bowed, legs and flanks trembling.  As I watched, he quivered and collapsed, white foam bubbling from his mouth and nostrils as his head struck the ground.  One by one, the rest of the herd crumpled as well, some gasping wide-eyed for breath, some lying motionless in the dirt.  Scattered around them, furry lumps of rabbits lay in the churned mud.  I looked at the trees and saw the squirrels and birds lying at the bases of the trunks, having fallen from their perches once the music ceased.  

I blinked.  Well, that was unexpected.  How long had I been playing anyway?  I looked at the sky through the branches and saw clouds streaked with orange, the sun hovering low on the horizon.  I’d come to this grove and played the very first note early this morning.  It seemed our wild revel had lasted the entire day.

Huh.  I scratched the back of my head.  Well, that’s disappointing.  I guess I can’t push these mortal beasts too aggressively, or they just collapse.  Hmm.  Tapping the fingers of one hand against my arm, I gazed at the pan flute in the other.  I wonder if humans would do any better? 

“Boy.” 

The deep, lyrical voice came from behind me, and a ripple of magic shivered through the air. I felt a stab of annoyance that someone had been watching my revel; that was why I’d chosen to do this in the human world, after all—so I could worry less about curious eavesdroppers.   I turned and saw a procession of horses at the edge of the clearing, watching me from the trees.  The mounts were fey creatures, lighter and much more graceful than their mortal counterparts, their hooves barely touching the ground.  The riders atop them were sidhe knights, clad in armor of leaves, vines and branches woven together.  Part of the Summer Court, I realized.  I’d seen them before, as well as the knights of the Winter Court.  I’d even played with a few of them in the wyldwood, though they never realized the cause of all their small, annoying mishaps was a forest boy too insignificant to notice. 

But the rider at the front of the procession had definitely noticed me, and he was impossible to miss, too.  His mount was bright gold, brighter than any mortal steed, but the noble atop it outshone even his mount.  He was dressed in armor of green and gold, with a cloak made of blooming vines that left flowers where he passed.  Long silver hair flowed from under the huge antlered crown that rested on his brow, and the piercing green eyes beneath it were fixed solely on me. 

Why was he here?  Had he heard my music and been drawn to the sound? That was unfortunate. I tried to avoid catching the eye of the Summer Court, particularly this faery.  I hadn’t been doing anything wrong; the fey cared little to what happened in the mortal world. The deaths of a few forest creatures meant nothing to them. But attracting the attention of one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever was a dangerous game. Depending on his mood, he might demand that I “gift” him the thing I’d worked so hard on, play the pipes for him and his knights by for as long as he was amused, or entertain them all by becoming the next hunt. The fey lords were notoriously unpredictable, and I treated them as I would a sleeping dragon: it was okay to tiptoe around and steal their gold, as long as they didn’t see you.

But now, the dragon had spotted me.

The sidhe gentry nudged his mount, and the horse stepped into the clearing, striding across the grass until beast and rider loomed before me.  I stood my ground and gazed up defiantly at the noble, who was watching me with appraising eyes.

“So young,” he mused.  “And such an impressive use of glamour.  What is your name, boy?”

“Robin.”

“And where are your parents, Robin?”

I shrugged.  “I live by myself.  In the wyldwood.”  I couldn’t remember my parents, if I’d even had them.  My earliest memory was the tangle of the wyldwood, foraging for food and shelter, learning the skills I needed to survive.  But, even though I was alone, I’d never felt like I didn’t belong.  The forest, the wyldwood, was my home.  That was how it always had been. 

“Hm.”  The tall noble didn’t press the question.  He observed me in silence for another moment, his face giving nothing away.  “Do you know who I am, boy?” he asked instead. 

This time, I nodded.  “You’re King Oberon.” It was obvious; everyone knew who the Summer King was, though I’d never seen him in person.  It didn’t matter.  I had never seen Queen Mab, ruler of the Winter Court, either, but I was certain I would know her if I did.

“Yes,” the Seelie King agreed.  “I am indeed.  And I could use someone of your talents in Seelie territory.” He raised a hand, indicating me with long, elegant fingers.  “You have power; raw, unfettered Summer magic rivaling some of my strongest allies in the court. Such a gift should not go to waste in the wyldwood.  You should not be living in the forest like a beast, singing to birds and squirrels.  You should be part of the greatest court in the Nevernever. What say you, Robin?”  The king regarded me with eyes like pale green frost.  “Would you like to become part of the Seelie Court?”

Part of the Seelie Court?  

Curiosity battled defiance.  I was intrigued, of course.  Living by myself in the wyldwood meant I could come and go as I pleased, but it was getting a bit lonely.  I wanted to talk to people, others of my kind, not just forest creatures and the occasional scatterbrained piskie.  And of the two courts, Summer territory sounded much more pleasant than the frozen, hostile land of Winter.

       Still, it was never a good idea to take the first offer.  Even I, with my limited knowledge of bargains and deals, knew that much.

“I like it in the forest.”  I crossed my arms and smiled at the king.  “Why should I go live at the Summer Court?”

The Seelie King smiled, as if he’d expected that answer.  “Because, Robin, I am king.”  He spoke the phrase like it was the most important fact in the world.  “And as king of the Seelie, I can give you whatever your heart desires. I can grant you power, wealth, the love of as many hearts as you wish.” He paused, as I wrinkled my nose. “But I can see you are not interested in these things. Perhaps, then, this would be of note.  I have many enemies, Robin.  Both within the court and without. From time to time, these enemies need to realize that they cannot underestimate the sovereignty of Summer.  If you join me…well, let us say you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your magic on things other than common forest beasts.”

Now that sounded interesting. I glanced back at the pond, at the motionless bodies surrounding it.  Poor dumb animals. I hadn’t meant to harm them, but it seemed normal creatures were very fragile.  I would love to try some of my ideas on sturdier creatures, maybe even a few fey, and Oberon was dangling that big, bright carrot in front of me.  He seemed to know exactly what I wanted.  The only question was, did I care?  

“So, Robin of the Wyldwood,” King Oberon went on, peering down at me from his horse.  “What is your decision?  Will you join my court?  I will name you court jester, and you can play your tricks and practice your magic without boundaries.  All I ask is that you do me a small service from time to time.  Do we have a deal?”

Something nagged at me, a feeling that this agreement wasn’t quite what I thought it was. I’d made deals before, but they were with piskies and sprites and a couple local dryads. Never with someone as important as the ruler of the Seelie Court. Was I missing something? This did seem a little too good to be true. 

I hesitated a moment more, then shrugged.  Then again, why not join the Summer Court?  What was the worst that could happen? I was aching for something new, and if I was under the protection of King Oberon himself, think of all the pranks and tricks I could play without fear of retribution.  

This was going to be fun.

“All right,” I agreed, grinning up at Oberon, who raised a thin silver brow in return.  “You have a deal, king.  I’ll join the Summer Court, as long as I get to practice my magic and play as many tricks as I want.”  

“Excellent.”  Oberon nodded and raised both hands.  “Then I name you Robin Goodfellow, jester of the Summer Court,” he announced in sudden, booming tones, and the branches of the trees shook, as if acknowledging his declaration.  Lowering his arms, the Summer lord gazed down at me with a sudden, almost proud smile.  “Welcome to the Seelie Court, Robin Goodfellow.  Wear your name proudly.  Perhaps someday the world will come to know it, as well.”

Excerpted from THE IRON RAVEN by Julie Kagawa. © 2021 by Julie Kagawa, used with permission by Inkyard Press.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



JULIE KAGAWA is the New York Times, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, The Talon Saga and the Shadow of the Fox series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a plethora of pets. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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