This is my stop during the blog tour for Willows of Fate (Lands of the Sun and Stone series #1) by Suzanna J Linton. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 3 till 16 October, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
All her life, Desdemona has seen things others haven’t. Dragons, knights, dwarves, kids with three eyes. Heeding her mother’s advice, she keeps silent about this and struggles through life, pretending everything is normal.
At her mother’s death, Desdemona returns to a home haunted with memories but she is determined to not be shaken from what little normalcy she has. However, when her brother is murdered and she uncovers a family secret, Desdemona realizes that there is more to what she sees. Perhaps a whole other world, one that’s willing to kill to have her as its own.
Top Ten List of What Makes Urban Fantasy…Urban Fantasy
Oh, eek. I have trouble with grocery lists but I’ll give this my best!
Obviously, you can’t call something urban fantasy if it solely takes place on Delta Vega or The Kingdom of Everlast or whatever. Whenever most people think of urban fantasy, they think of Butcher’s Dresden Files or Gaiman’s American Gods. What those and other such books have in common is the fantastic (magic, fairies, myths) bursting onto the stage of our everyday, ho-hum life.
- Genre Blending
Urban fantasy naturally lends itself to the blending of genres. Again, we can turn to the example of Burcher’s Dresden Files. The first few novels were a blend of fantasy and hard-boiled detective, with a dash of noir to keep things interesting. Dean Koontz writes novels that blend genres. His Odd Thomas Series is one minute a mystery story, another a paranormal scarefest, and finally fantasy. I think of urban fantasy as the ultimate blender of genres.
- New Visions
A big part of urban fantasy is looking at old stories in a new way. The trick is to take a story, or a character type, and tell it in a new way. In McKinley’s Sunshine, she returns the vampire to the disgusting, scary creature a la Stoker but at the same time enfuses him with a humanity that is unmistakably appealing. She also created a world where magic resides in everyday objects, like tattoos. In order to appeal to readers, the writer of urban fantasy has to take the mundane and crack it open to reveal the glitter of fantasy within. Many times, that means taking old tropes and standing them on their heads.
- More Relatable Characters
This connects with setting. In fantasy, there are often magic users, royalty, healers, and people with job descriptions we wouldn’t encounter at Walmart. In urban fantasy, there are characters who could be the person next door. When facing down a dragon, they make a D&D reference. In the middle of a fight, they might quote Star Wars. It’s someone who is very relatable.
- An Element of Fun
Unlike epic fantasy or many romances, urban fantasy tends to have an element of fun. There is something about it that lends itself to the ridiculous. This could be taken all the way into parody or it could be used to liven up serious situations, such as Dresden’s bad jokes in the early Dresden Files.
- Tension Between Magic and Reality
There is also an unavoidable tension between magic and reality. This can be something as overt as magic frying electronics (Dresden Files) or as subtle as the main character being afraid people will think she’s crazy (a la Desdemona in Willows of Fate). In urban fantasy, there’s this feeling that magic and reality, myths and the everday, co-exist uneasily and this tension oftentimes provides an impetus for conflict.
Urban fantasy tends to lend itself to parallels between the “real” world and the “other world”. This could be racism (e.g., vampires vs werewolves) or sexism, like in Willows of Fate. In my novel, there is tension between what a certain woman wants to do and what her family feels she should do because of her gender and social position.
- Established World
World-building is an important part of writing any genre, but in urban fantasy, this is even more crucial. In order for the fantastic and “real life” to exist side by side, there has to be an established order. In other words, there has to be rules. Like McKinley’s Sunshine. There is a complicated history involving humans and the supernatural, as well as laws and social mores. If McKinley hadn’t carefully mapped it all out, none of it would have made sense.
9.-10. Something really awesome
To be perfectly honest, there aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules about urban fantasy. This is a subgenre that is as complex and variegated as the stories themselves. For me, the biggest things are the first three. Everything else is fairly negotiable.
In Willows of Fate, I wasn’t that worried about whether or not the novel fit the stereotype of an urban fantasy. There was a voice in my mind and she had a story to tell. I think the flexibility of this genre allows for some rules to be bent or completely disregarded. That’s why I love it.
I pick up the first journal, the one I’d fallen asleep while reading, and flip until I come to place where I’d left off. An image of the teenager in the photograph fills my mind, writing the words in these pages as I read them. Time ticks by as the sun eases through the afternoon, drawing light slowly from the room until Eric is forced to flick on the overhead.
I wince and rub my eyes. Tense shoulder muscles tangle in a snarl and I roll them.
“Maybe we should take a break,” Eric suggests.
“Maybe. Have you come across anything useful?”
He shakes his head. “Just paranoid rantings, as far as I can tell. Sometimes it’s lucid. She talks about childhood memories or things that have gone on at the nursing home.”
“What kind of paranoia?”
“People stealing her things. People watching her. She complains that someone comes into her room every now and again and reorders it or knocks things over.”
My face feels cold as the blood drains away.
Eric frowns. “What is it?”
I shake my head, looking back down at the journal in my hands. “Nothing.”
“It doesn’t look like nothing.”
I close the book and stand. “I’m going for a walk.” Turning, I stride toward the hallway.
His chair scrapes back as he springs to his feet. “Desdemona, wait.”
I stop in the doorway and face him, crossing my arms. “What?”
“This isn’t going to work if you hide things from me.”
“I’m not hiding anything.”
Scowling, I glare at him.
He moves to stand in front of me. “Des.” His voice is soft. Soothing. Like I’m a frightened filly and he seeks to calm me. “You can trust me. To get through this, you’re going to need to trust someone.”
His summer-blue eyes plead with me. Maybe there are those who can stand alone in the worst of situations, relying on inner strength and commitment to see them through. I am not one of those. My resolve crumbles beneath those eyes. I step back, his hands slipping away.
“I see things, too,” I tell him.
He frowns. “Things? Like Samantha sees?”
“Not like what she sees. I see and experience the exact same things.”
You can find Willows of Fate on Goodreads
About the Author:
Suzanna Linton became a writer the first day she picked up a pencil, scribbling happily in magazines and books. Growing up in (very) rural South Carolina, she was steeped in legends and ghost stories and was surrounded by her mother’s ever-growing book collection. She graduated from Francis Marion University with a degree in Professional Writing and bounced from job to job until she landed in a library, where she met her now-husband. She lives with him in South Carolina with their two dogs and cat.
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Willows of Fate. These are the prizes you can win:
– e-copy of Willows of Fate through smashwords
– 20$ amazon gift card
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