“My goodness, what a difference a few weeks make. Stepping into the world of blog tours is like bungee jumping when you don’t know the first name of the instructor and only met him two seconds before – definitely a dive into perilous waters.”
My guest, Ellie Raine, is a young novelist who is currently taking readers of fantasy by storm. Not only does she write about things that might go bump in the night but she is very good at it. And on reading her bio, I realised she and I only share one thing in common – our love of Terry Prachett. Other than that she is young, reads Rachel Aaron, Brandon Sanderson and Douglas Hulick, and originally set out to create a computer game. In all honesty, she shares far more with my granddaughter who has just given up on her attempt to create a graphic novel because she too has an affection for sorcery, fantasy and scripts that take you by the hand into a new and exciting world … and she too is young. (And believe me, I don’t resent her gifts at all, only her age!)
But before I introduce Ellie, let me ask you a question. How do you go about choosing your next book? Do you stick to the same genre – most of us do. We slip in and out of the genres we enjoy, historical, cozy-mysteries, romance, rather like having an entire wardrobe of clothes and always picking out your favourite sweater and jeans to wear … again. I am like that – only I describe my taste as introverted.
I can promise you there is nothing introverted about Ellie Raine. All I can say is leave your preconceptions on the threshold because you will be dazzled by her use of words – they resemble darts being hurled into a dartboard. These are the opening lines from Willow of Ashes:
"This must be a mistake?” a voice rippled in the darkness. “A farce… yes, that must be it. They mock us. I should hope they wouldn’t choose one so young as our contender?” I stirred out of my numbness, my temples pounding. Silver flares shimmered over my vision like trails of tumbling glitter as consciousness returned. Where am I…? I was sure my sight had returned, yet I was surround by blackness, the world cloaked in shadow.” "No,"that same voice hushged, wafting like smoke from the emptiness. "No, it is a mistake. The Gods wouldn't be so cruel. Surely they meant to place such a burden on someone older? Someopne more deserving of death...?"
Hang onto your hats, good readers – it’s going to be a bumpy ride but a thrilling one.
Five kingdoms face destruction. Two brothers fight to prevent it. Their epic adventure of magic, love, and loss will become a timeless legend.
The five realms of Land, Sky, Ocean, Dream, and Death have been at peace for centuries, but that peace is threatened when dark forces seek to destroy it. The Gods have chosen a champion to protect the world, yet unexpectedly that champion was born as twin necromancers whose magic was split at birth. Only together would they be strong enough to survive what’s to come. But now one of them has died… and his soul became trapped inside his brother.
The coexisting twins embark on a journey across the five realms, determined to be normal again. But their quest of hope turns into a living nightmare when they stumble into an army of undead beasts that have been unleashed on the lands by a vicious sorceress. With the help of new comrades and a mysterious lady Reaper skilled with the scythe, they must fight for more than a new life. Now they fight for the future of the realms themselves.
It takes a lot of imagination and creativity to create an entire world, not just in characters but in language and new creatures as well. Ellie Raine does an amazing job of pulling readers into a word of magic, where twin sorcerers must work together while chaos and enemies constantly get in their way. Because the world is entirely new to the reader, there were a few moments of confusion, but it never took away from story itself. I became invested in the characters, wanted to see them succeed, and also want to know more about how they got to the moment the story begins.
The book ends answering a lot of those questions but also leaves you wanting more, keeping you tied to the characters and the series. Well done Raine. I really enjoyed reading this and look forward to what happens next.
Words from Ellie herself
Hi everyone! Ellie Raine here, author of the award-winning series, the NecroSeam Chronicles. I’m going to talk a little bit about the kingdom of Grim from the books, and if you’re interested in reading more, I’d appreciate if you checked out the first volume, Willow of Ashes.
Now then, to start: the protagonists of the story, twins Xavier and Alexander, are apprentice Death Knights—called Reapers—of an underground kingdom of Grim. Yes, it’s a pun. I’ve always been obsessed with the Grim Reaper since I was a kid, and I thought it would be fun to turn it around a bit and make them “Reapers of Grim”.
Grim was heavily inspired by Hades and the underworld from Greek mythology. There are straits and rivers cutting through various pockets of these wide caverns, the mists thick and swirling both on the water below and the cavern’s ceiling. And, you guessed it, Grim is where souls of the dead come to live their afterlife. But Grim also has living people as its citizens, whom the royal family of Grim oversees just as well as the ghosts. Since there is no sun, the living typically have granite-grey skin, like what you’d see on a gargoyle. No, they’re not made of stone, they just have the discoloration. The surface dwellers in the other kingdoms often compare their complexion to that of a corpse, though they’re alive and well.
In the world of Nirus, death is just another phase of life. Once you die, a Reaper of Grim comes to cut your NecroSeam—which is a ghostly thread that tethers your soul to your body—and your detached ghost is led down to Grim to live out your afterlife for the next 300 years, until your soul returns to the Seamstress of Souls (a goddess of Death the Grimlings worship) where your soul is then given a new life to be reborn again. The Seamstress’s sacred maxim is “Mu Necros, Neschali Yettek”, which is Grimish for “With death, comes rebirth”.
The Grimish language (whose verbal annunciations are inspired by a mix of Yiddish and Scottish tones, though not directly derived from those languages) isn’t used quite as much as it used to be in Grim’s history, ever since the Landish language became popular with an older Death Queen some centuries back, but Grim’s native language is still spoken in various parts of the caverns today, and is considered a required subject among nobles and the royal family. To get a look at what the Grimish script looks like, I made a character chart to show the alphabet and certain key words that have their own symbols in certain contexts (the normal font is shown on the left, the fancier font is shown on the right, just for variation if anyone is curious what their names would look like in Grimish).
Intrigued! Need to know more about Ellie – read on!
“Writer’s Digest award-winning fantasy author Ellie Raine is a voracious BookWyrm when it comes to epic adventures, detailed world-building, and thrilling battles. Fueled by coffee-bean concoctions brewed by the finest caffeine alchemists in the land, she only emerges from the depths of these daring tales when she is summoned by her loving king and their darling daughter: the Dragon Princess Felicity, in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. Her first book, Willow of Ashes, won First Place in Fantasy for the 2019 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Ebook Awards, as well as Honorable Mention in Fantasy for the 2019 Readers’ Favorite Awards.”
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