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From the The Felserpent Chronicles series , Vol. 2

An imaginative sword-and-sorcery tale with a winsome love story at its heart.

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Star-crossed lovers rekindle their relationship from a previous life while struggling to bridge society’s ethnic divide in Keridan’s romantic fantasy novel.

The second installment of the author’s Felserpent Chronicles series follows the budding romance between Sebastian Sayre and Kyra Valorian. He’s a Daeval, living in the realm of Nocens as a professional assassin who can magically teleport and emit flames; she is an Astral, living in the neighboring realm of Aeles, who can magically heal people and resurrect the dead. Standing between them is the bigotry of the Astrals, who regard their golden blood as so superior to the Daevals’ silver blood that they have a Blood Alarm to keep Daevals out. The antagonism is personal for Kyra and Sebastian—as a child, the latter was imprisoned in the secret Astral laboratory at Rynstyn and subjected to torturous medical experiments in which Kyra’s father may have participated. Drawing them together are their bracelets, which enable them to communicate telepathically, and their memories of being King Schatten and Queen Kareth, rulers of the united realm of Aeles-Nocens 1,000 years ago. Sebastian and Kyra set about several tasks, including bringing the shade of Sebastian’s mother, Grace, who was murdered by his abusive father, Malum, out of the land of the dead; wiping out Rynstyn; and attempting to reunite the realms. Meanwhile, they navigate their awkward, yearning relationship: Kyra prods the taciturn Sebastian to express his feelings; Sebastian seethes with jealousy when Kyra talks to other men; they sleep together in Sebastian’s well-appointed cave, but chastely. Keridan presents a vivid, teeming fantasy world in which wizardry is ubiquitous and everyone has a talking animal to provide telepathic advice (Kyra’s is a lynx named Aurelius, Sebastian’s is a bat named Batty). Her narrative features sharply etched characters, a chilling portrait of social prejudice, and powerful, emotionally fraught prose (“Sebastian screamed as he ran forward, just as his father drove the blade into his mother’s chest. ‘You should have stayed mine, Grace,’ Malum said quietly, wrenching the knife free. ‘If you don’t belong to me, I have no use for you’ ”). The result is a complex, captivating yarn.

An imaginative sword-and-sorcery tale with a winsome love story at its heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781684632206

Page Count: 352

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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From the Empyrean series , Vol. 2

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

A young Navarrian woman faces even greater challenges in her second year at dragon-riding school.

Violet Sorrengail did all the normal things one would do as a first-year student at Basgiath War College: made new friends, fell in love, and survived multiple assassination attempts. She was also the first rider to ever bond with two dragons: Tairn, a powerful black dragon with a distinguished battle history, and Andarna, a baby dragon too young to carry a rider. At the end of Fourth Wing (2023), Violet and her lover, Xaden Riorson, discovered that Navarre is under attack from wyvern, evil two-legged dragons, and venin, soulless monsters that harvest energy from the ground. Navarrians had always been told that these were monsters of legend and myth, not real creatures dangerously close to breaking through Navarre’s wards and attacking civilian populations. In this overly long sequel, Violet, Xaden, and their dragons are determined to find a way to protect Navarre, despite the fact that the army and government hid the truth about these creatures. Due to the machinations of several traitorous instructors at Basgiath, Xaden and Violet are separated for most of the book—he’s stationed at a distant outpost, leaving her to handle the treacherous, cutthroat world of the war college on her own. Violet is repeatedly threatened by her new vice commandant, a brutal man who wants to silence her. Although Violet and her dragons continue to model extreme bravery, the novel feels repetitive and more than a little sloppy, leaving obvious questions about the world unanswered. The book is full of action and just as full of plot holes, including scenes that are illogical or disconnected from the main narrative. Secondary characters are ignored until a scene requires them to assist Violet or to be killed in the endless violence that plagues their school.

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374172

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

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