In the English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall. Tristan Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but she is as distant as the star they see fall from the sky one evening. For the prize of Victoria’s hand, Tristan vows to retrieve the star for his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town’s ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining.
But a greater part of him craved that look, yearned for it the way a flower strained for the sun. But if he were a flower, he would no doubt be poison. He drew her closer anyway. Cassius felt the irrational urge to mark her, claim her as his; and if the only way to do that was to let some of his poison rub off on her, then so be it.
For a female author to write a young, woman through the male gaze is nothing new to readers of young adult, fantasy fiction. These unhealthy depictions of women are usually tied in with problematic, romantic relationships, which are gradually being called out by members of the young adult book community. Two novels, which were on my reading list for this year, were inclusive of these relationships in a problematic way, wherein problematic is defined as something ‘full of problems or difficulties’. The books in question, Roar by Cora Carmack and The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, portrayed romantic relationships wherein the power dynamic was dramatically out of balance. One writes primarily through the male gaze, sexualising the protagonist’s interactions with the male characters, both in her point of view and the men’s. The other novel, however, the power imbalance lies within the concept of Stockholm syndrome, a condition in which someone being abused bonds emotionally with their abuser—in this circumstance, it is a slave and her immortal enslaver. Readings these texts, as well as others with similar relationships depicted, forced me to question if my writing has been condition over the years to reflect these types of relationships in my works. It is something that has been considered when writing women and men in my own fantasy young adult novel, to make sure not to cross the line into writing under the male gaze.
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.
Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.
To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.
Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.
Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.
It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?