I bring you the review for a new story, or rather, the first “journey” of a new story by an author and blogger I’ve been following and reading for a while now, and whose work I’ve reviewed here on quite a few occasions. When she announced she’d be publishing Dead of Winter, I offered to share the news. I remembered she had mentioned the story to me (although I didn’t know the title or the ins and outs of it) years back and had told me she’d had to put it aside when she realised there was a central element to her story that also appeared in another series that had suddenly become very well-known and popular. She hadn’t been aware of it at the time of writing, and the stories were totally different, but she felt people might still question it. But, as a writer, and I’m sure many of you have experienced the same with personal projects, sometimes we can’t let go of certain things, because they keep haunting us, and Teagan has finally decided to publish it in instalments called “journeys” in this case.
I share my review of the first Journey, but I thought I’d borrow from her own presentation of the book, as she knows much more about it than I do. So first I share some of her own introduction and then follows my review.
Here, in Teagan’s own words:
Dead of Winter will be a serial/series available through Amazon. (Maybe other sites as well, for the anti-Amazon among us. If those sites cooperate, that is. I have little patience for their shenanigans).
I call the installments Journeys, because the characters travel across the complex world I built, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. These journeys will publish approximately monthly. Length will range from 30 to 60 pages, or so.
This is the new video trailer for Journey 1
Here’s the Blurb
Dead of Winter takes place in a fantasy world that resembles some countries in the past of our own world. In this monthly series we travel through many lands, each with a distinct culture. The series begins in the Flowing Lands at Forlorn Peak (Journey 1).
The Brethren are fanatics who gradually took over the Flowing Lands. They say all beliefs but theirs are heresy. Women are little more than property. Emlyn is only twelve, but to the Brethren she is an abomination. Why? She can see ghosts and other entities. That’s a secret she can admit only to her teacher, Osabide.
The stronger Emlyn’s ability gets, the harder it is for her to hide it. Now she has also gotten a supernatural warning that she knows is not about the weather, “Winter is coming!”
As the veil separating the world of the living from the realm of the dead deteriorates, the danger accelerates. Journey with Emlyn as she explores her world and its many cultures in Dead of Winter.
Universal Purchase Links
Some of you have seen this video with me narrating the prologue, and thank you so much for listening. It took half a bottle of throat spray, but I did it. The recording lasts fewer than three minutes and there are lovely images to entertain you. If you haven’t already, then I hope you will stop to listen.
Just in case you don’t know Teagan, here is a bit more information about her:
About the author:
Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a major east coast city, but she calls the desert southwest home. She longs to return to those magical lands.
Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.
Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers.
Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.
See book trailer videos here:
And check her own blog here:
Here is a list of the blogs that are sharing the news as well, so you might want to visit them (not only because of that, but because they are more than worth a visit or many).
Pat Alderman at e-Quips
And now, my review:
I have followed the author’s blog and the writing she shares there for a few years, and have also read and reviewed her novels, and I love her imagination and the beauty of her writing, so I am grateful for the ARC copy of this first instalment (journey) of her new serial, which I freely and eagerly chose to review.
I am not a big reader of fantasy, especially “high fantasy”, because I don’t have the patience for the laborious world building involved, the huge amounts of description, and because I need a quick connection with a character, and characters I can relate to (I don’t have to like them, and they don’t have to be anything like me, but there has to be something that pulls me towards them and makes me want to follow their adventures). But I’ve read some fantasy set in worlds that felt fairly familiar or recognisable to me, and where the main characters grabbed my attention straight away. And this was the case here.
Emlyn is a young girl who doesn’t fit in the very narrow and limited definition of womanhood the Brethern have imposed over the Flowing Lands, where she lives. Although in this first journey there isn’t a lot of detail about that world order or the setting, it is clear that the Brethern are some kind of religious fanatics with extreme views (especially where women are concerned), and women are not allowed to learn anything other than how to look after the house, their husbands and their children, are supposed to wear only subdued colours and to hide their hair. Healers or other women suspected of having access to knowledge or who’ve behaved in a manner unbecoming, according to them, get banished or worse.
The society seems to be a pre-industrial one, but not all places are ruled the same, and we get glimpses at what might be a different way of life, although it’s very early days in the story.
I liked Emlyn, who is special in many ways as the blurb hints at, and whose coming-of-age journey seems to play a big part in the story (or so I hope), and I also liked Osabide, her teacher, who hides depths Emlyn is only now beginning to discover. She lives an alternative lifestyle and guides Emlyn through a difficult life, where her family is less than understanding, and there seem to be dangers even under her own roof.
The author’s writing is beautiful, and although I’m not a fan of description per se, she manages to conjure up the natural world surrounding Emlyn, as well as her own experiences, that have more than a touch of the magical and the mystical about them. Even though the story is written in the third person, we see things from the point of view of the protagonist, and we experience her wonder, her fear, and also her excitement at being in the company of women who have a different and less limiting view of the world.
There are characters I dislike already, like Emlyn’s sister and her brother-in-law (he’s a creep!), but I’m sure there will be plenty more, as the second journey promises to offer us a closer view at how things work in Emlyn’s world.
I enjoyed the writing, the characters, the setting of the story, and I’m already hooked onto the imaginary world Emlyn inhabits. There’s nothing I disliked about it, other than I’ll have to wait until the next journey is published to read more. This early in the serial I don’t want to mention other stories that it might put people in mind of (I’m looking at you, The Handmaid’s Tale), but I think most readers are likely to be reminded of past events and historical periods and also about more recent developments in certain societies when they read this journey. A great start to the serial, recommended to all who love fantasy, strong female characters, anybody looking for a short read, and also those who enjoy beautiful writing and want to be transported to an imaginary world where anything might be possible. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Teagan for taking me along on this journey, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep safe, keep smiling (from behind the mask), and come back soon!