Friday, 12 June 2020
** Engraved in Magic is still on track for publication in late July **
I like the sound of this one because although it has a traditional fairy-tale setting, one of the main characters, Harper, is from the contemporary world, and she isn’t at all happy to find herself in Emberfall. It also has dual POV, so the reader has the chance to see things from the perspective of Prince Rhen (the ‘beast’) as well as Harper.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall… and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
1. We must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.
not going to fall in love with you,” she says.
Her words are not a surprise. I sigh. “You won’t be the first.”
3. This was never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the thought that we might find escape.
Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge
This version appeals to me because there are elements of Greek mythology in the story and because the premise is intriguing. Nyx starts out intending to commit an act of murder to free her people—something she’s been trained for her whole life. I imagine she won’t succeed immediately otherwise there would be no story, but I look forward to reading how the romance is presented.
Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart.
1. “Have you seen lamplight shine through dusty air, setting the dust motes on fire?” He waved a hand. “Imagine that, spread across the night sky—but ten thousand motes and ten thousand times brighter, glittering like the eyes of all the gods.”
2. I was alone, and I had no hands to clench around my memories. I had no memories, no name, only the knowledge (deeper and colder than any darkness) that I had lost what I loved more than life. And then I forgot I had lost it. Time unwound. Prices were unpaid. The world changed.
don’t tell me you’re sorry, because that would make you a very pitiful
“I’m not an assassin!” My head snapped up and I saw that he was kneeling right beside me.
“Oh. I’m sorry. That would make you a very pitiful saboteur who carries a knife for nonviolent purposes.” His crimson cat eyes were laughing at me.
by Naomi Novik
The description caught my interest because there’s no mention of a curse to be broken. Instead the ‘beast’ is described as an ageless wizard who returns his captives to their homes after ten years of service. Also, Agnieszka sounds like a very interesting protagonist!
Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest's dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value behind.
Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she's everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it's not Kasia he takes.
1. I’d been watching only to be sure he actually left; it took nearly all the caution left in me not to throw something down at his head, and I don’t mean a token of my regard.
2. He looked at me, baffled and for the first time uncertain, as though he had stumbled into something, unprepared. His long narrow hands were cradled around mine, both of us holding the rose together. Magic was singing in me, through me; I felt the murmur of his power singing back that same song.
3. Then he spluttered at me, “You impossible, wretched, nonsensical contradiction, what on earth have you done now?”
Heart's Blood, by Juliet Marillier
I’m interested in reading this version because Whistling Tor is described as a safe haven for Caitrin. That’s a little different to the traditional construct where the heroine is imprisoned by the beast against her will.
Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious, wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.
For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.
1. Trust can be a hard lesson; hope still more difficult.
2. I cannot expiate my sin, yet I am compelled to try. My mind will not let me rest. There must be something I could have done, some way I could have acted, something I could have changed to snatch victory from bitter defeat.
3. “How could you not know?" His voice was full of wonderment. "You changed me utterly.”
by Meagan Spooner
I can’t wait to read about Yeva. She’s described as a hunter who is very familiar with the forest, but it’s also clear she has no first-hand experience of magic or fairy tales. The book’s description doesn’t give anything away in terms of who the ‘beast’ is and how much of a challenge Yeva faces.
Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman.
But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
1. There's no such thing as living happily ever after — there's only living. We make the choice to do it happily.
2. It’s the wanting that brought me here, to her. To another soul as empty as mine, and yet not empty at all, because it’s so full of everything I thought only I ever felt. Her soul against mine feels like music, like a heartbeat, like magic. Like beauty.
3. She hated the indecisiveness of people in town, how they waited to make decisions, took weeks or months or years to settle, until the decisions were made for them by inaction.