Raina Nightingale's Paths of Fantasy

Book Review: Cursed Song by Samantha Kroese

Cursed Song

cover of Cursed Song by Samantha Kroese; Ruyne and Shadow with notes floating around themSeries: Standalone

Author: Samantha Kroese

Genre: Fantasy (Fairy Tale Romance X Horror)

Book Description:

Bound by Song. Cursed by Fate


Ruyne, Leader of the Dusksinger bards, travels with his band from town to town, thrilling crowds with inspiring music born from an ancient magic. He leads a charmed life with his brother, and two life-long best friends.

Disaster strikes when Ruyne ignores a cryptic message from a loved one. The band’s idyllic peace is shattered by a monster from the past, and the horrifying truth behind their magic is revealed, leaving their lives in tatters and the hearts of the four men forever scarred. Scattered and broken, can they harmonize their Song in time to prevent a tragedy of apocalyptic proportions?

Rating: Enthralling, Inspiring, Moving, Incomplete. (I like this much better than choosing a number! Don’t you think?) Continue reading “Book Review: Cursed Song by Samantha Kroese”

Raina Nightingale's Paths of Fantasy

Review: Obsidian: Awakening by Sienna Frost

Obsidian: Awakening

Series: Obsidian, #1

Author: Sienna Frost

Genre: Historical Fantasy (Grimdark)

Blurb:

A war fought for peace.

A former slave who trades away his freedom.

An oracle tormented by his visions.

A wife who lives to kill her husband.

A half blood son born from hatred.

A tyrant who fights for unity.

A girl destined to end the war.

A sadistic bitch called Fate who breaks them all.

Seven broken heroes, born on both sides of the war between an empire and a nomadic race of the desert, must survive being tossed into the midst of chaos and forced to decide what they treasure more: loyalty to their lands, or what they hold dearest to their hearts.

DISCLAIMER: The name of this series, “Obsidian,” is derived from the rock that must first be broken to form a weapon. This is, therefore, a grimdark tale of people who choose to break like obsidian. It is not a light read for anyone who needs trigger warnings of any kind, and is written for a specific audience who enjoys grimdark stories, with no incorruptible heroes in sight and no promise of a happy, fulfilling ending. Please refrain from reading if you need these elements in a story.

Rating: Unforgettable, Thoughtful, Heart-provoking Continue reading “Review: Obsidian: Awakening by Sienna Frost”

enthralled by love blog by raina nightingale

Jesus, the New Eve – Mother of All Living

“Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.”

“When her baby is born into the world, she forgets her pain, in joy that a child has come into the world.”

“How often have I longed to shelter thee under My wings, as a hen shelters her young!”

“If a mother cannot forget the baby she has born, the child she has nursed at her breast, how shall I forget you, My people?”

“To see the Kingdom of God, you must first be born again.” Continue reading “Jesus, the New Eve – Mother of All Living”

Raina Nightingale's Paths of Fantasy

Review: The Stars Wait Not by Anne Wheeler

The Stars Wait Not

Series: The Star Realms Saga, #1

Author: Anne Wheeler

Genre: Sci-fi Romance

Blurb:

Ryllis Camden has a secret – she can talk to nature, and it speaks to her in return. But her gift is forbidden by the Vilarian Star Realm who controls her planet, and the penalty is death. When she’s falsely accused of treason and exiled to the Vilarian home world, hiding her power becomes even more critical. But how can she hide anything when she’s forced to toil in the home of the emperor’s youngest son?

Kresten Westermark might be a prince, but long ago he shunned a life of luxury to work as a telepath in the Vilarian Imperial Flee. His job demands he treat his new prisoner as a slave and test his deteriorating telepathic powers on her, but the only thing on his mind is the growing attraction he feels toward the earnest young woman tending his gardens.

As the mountain winter fades, a reluctant respect between the two becomes trust, and trust soon blossoms into affection. But when the Fleet arrives to arrest Kresten for treason, Ryllis must make an impossible decision.

Save Kresten’s life – or hers.

Rating: Heart-touching, thought-provoking, and unforgettable. (Yes, this is my new take on ratings; get used to it or find another reviewer!) Continue reading “Review: The Stars Wait Not by Anne Wheeler”

Featured fantasy, dawndark, fiction, genres, idealism, realism, grimdark, hopepunk, bright stories

Dawndark Fiction: What is it?

I have decided to start calling my novels ‘Dawndark.’ Some of them will express this more than others, but I realized that it’s a perfect term to describe what my novels are. I’ve been fumbling for a long time for a genre descriptor, something that gives people an idea what to expect, in a world that seems to operate with concepts and dichotomies that fit neither myself nor my stories. While dawndark doesn’t describe everything – like the specific kind of fantasy Areaer is – it describes a lot, it describes something common to almost everything I write or see myself ever writing, and it describes something that I don’t see a lot of out there. There are novels here and there, but not many, and very, very few indeed – if any, that I have seen – that express it to the extent my stories do.

I’m an idealist. I really am. I believe in holding to one’s ideals, to one’s vision, to one’s nature, no matter what. No matter what arguments other people have. No matter what horrors life throws at one. No matter how hard circumstances seem to be trying to force one to give in and let oneself be carved into another image. I don’t think that anyone ever fully succeeds. I certainly don’t believe that the ideal is the same for everyone, or even the same at all times in a person’s life. But I believe that holding to that ideal, to that vision, is desirable, even if we find it impossible.

And I believe that this is the victory.

My words right there are very important. I don’t mean it brings about victory. I do not mean it is always, or even usually, successful. I mean it is the victory.

I used to read some of these novels that ended with everything coming together “perfectly,” all the problems solved and neatly wrapped up, everything brought to a satisfying conclusion. Everyone alive, with no death or lasting sorrow. I still find them sometimes, and I still enjoy the novels sometimes (though I’m not sure this is what I enjoy about them, but that is neither here nor there; this is not a book review). I decided that I needed to write stories that were not like that. Stories where people died. Even stories where the protagonist died. Stories that dealt honestly and rawly with the wounds and grief left behind by life and death. Stories where everything was not resolved in the end. Stories where whatever the sufferings and strivings of the protagonists and their allies achieved, it was not every problem solved, or even every problem that impacted them resolved, everything they were trying to do successful.

Life is not like that. It does not work like that. People grieve, work, fight, die, are tortured, go to prison, live for what they believe in, for change, for a better world. Sometimes, they have a huge impact. Sometimes, they don’t appear to change even a small corner of the world. They never get everything they lived and strove for. They might achieve a lot of it. They might even be “successful,” or “victorious.” But there are still problems. The struggle is not over. At least, I don’t know of a single instance in history or in my experience where that is so. Sometimes, the overt problem goes underground for a while, only to resurface later. Always, the darkness is still there to be fought. Or to succumb to.

I’m a realist. I want to deal with the real world. I don’t want to make easy, cliche resolutions to my character’s struggles or sorrows. I want to work through my ideals and my beliefs in reality. If they can’t stand up to reality, they aren’t real. I want to think through and present my vision in the context of the very real struggles and challenges life presents, where sometimes people die and you don’t see them again. Where sometimes evil seems to have won and crushed everything you believe in and everything you strove for. Where sometimes you’re left to live alone. Where sometimes all you can do is a tiny dent in the bigger problem. Where sometimes, give your life in the attempt, you can only rescue a tiny handful from their slavery, when you wish you could rescue thousands. Where sometimes people’s very minds seem to be enslaved and darkened. Where sometimes people hate and detest you for trying to rescue them. Where sometimes your own mind is enslaved and darkened. Where sometimes you’re confused and you don’t know what’s right or wrong. Or you don’t know how to do what you believe is right, or not do what you believe is wrong. Where sometimes you don’t know how to hold out against your own despair. Where life leaves wounds and scars that don’t heal, or at least not like they were before, and not just on your body, but on your heart and mind.

To me, my idealism and this realism go together. But I don’t see a lot of that. I don’t see it in fiction, and I don’t see it in non-fiction. When either presents idealism, it’s usually apt to completely ignore the darker things in the world, in the human heart, in the human experience. Realism fiction and non-fiction tends to present idealism as naïvety, or even as selfishness, as something that must break before the force of the horror and terror that this world can throw at us. I don’t mean that the characters completely stop fighting for what they care about. Very often, they don’t. But they compromise their ideals, their natures. They fight with the enemy’s weapons. And let me be very clear here: I am not talking about assassins. I don’t understand where the idea of “honorable combat” as opposed to “dishonorable combat” came from. It took me very recently to even notice that a lot of people and a lot of novels assume that it is more honorable to kill the evil overlord’s minions – or even the evil overlord himself – in face-to-face combat with “fair” weapons than it is to slip a knife into his back or poison into his cup when he is not looking. Or at least, that is more culturally accepted as honorable, even if a few privileged individuals realize otherwise.

Once again, this is not about criticizing what other people write. I like it. I have enjoyed some novels that are like this very much indeed. I would not ask their authors to change them for the world. I don’t read to see nothing but my own thoughts reflected back at me (though I do enjoy that, too). This is about what I write, what I want to write, and specifically about how it differs from almost everything I have seen, because that’s what needs to be mentioned, not the ways in which it is alike!

This is what my novels are. Idealism and realism. Victory and defeat. Fantastical beauty and unvarnished horror. Breath-taking hope in the midst of crushing despair.

Dawndark.

 

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