Promotions Week of July 19th


I’m a day late in writing this, but that’s okay, because you still have plenty of time to download two of my books for *free* this week!

Through the end of the day (that means 11:59 pm PDT) Friday, you can purchase the two Reborn series novellas, Revenge and Rectify, for free on Amazon! If you want to read them in order with the rest of the series, Revenge is book 2.5, and Rectify is book 3.5. But I wrote them in such a way so they also stand on their own.

Revenge is a short ghost story that focuses on one of the other Greek houses in the Reborn world, Alpha Rho. One of the Alpha Rho’s sorority sisters has died, and her spirit needs the sorority’s help to move on to the afterlife. It ties up some loose ends from the Alpha Rho subplot in Reborn, but it’s really a story about friendship and sisterhood. (And did I mention ghosts?)

Rectify is told from the point-of-view of Apate, the Greek goddess of trickery. She’s been stirring up a lot of trouble lately, but in Rectify she’s looking to right past wrongs. Her POV is a ton of fun to write from, because she says, and does, what she wants, and sometimes breaks the fourth wall. The novella also centers around her budding romance with Jimmy, a bartender and musician (and her arch nemesis’s ex).

The summaries for each novella are below. And if you do read one or both of them, I’d appreciate you leaving your thoughts on Amazon and/or Goodreads! Word of mouth is still the best way authors grow their readership.

Revenge

A stand-alone ghost story set in the Reborn world

Genie Cho was ambitious, a dedicated student, and–as president of her sorority, Alpha Rho–a promising leader. Until she made some new, otherworldly–and dangerous–friends. They opened her up to a world of magic, a world where everyone had special powers. They promised her eternal life. But something went wrong, and Genie wound up dead.

Her untimely death has shaken all of her sorority sisters, but hits Rebecca Grey especially hard. Ever since her roommate’s passing, Rebecca’s sleepless nights have been filled with nightmares. Rebecca even thinks she hears Genie’s voice sometimes, calling out for help. Although some of her sisters remain skeptical, Rebecca is convinced that Genie’s ghost is still out there somewhere and needs their help to move on.

Join Rebecca and the Alpha Rhos on their journey to lay Genie’s spirit to rest, a quest that takes them beyond the safety and comfort of their sorority house to the gates of the Underworld.

Rectify

A sexy, stand-alone novella set in the Reborn world

Love ’em and leave ’em. That’s always been Apate’s motto. The Olympian goddess of trickery doesn’t have time for entanglements, romantic or otherwise. And she sure as hell doesn’t have time for regret.

But when Thurston University student Siobhan Elliot goes missing and the human cops start sniffing around, Apate’s dubious past catches up with her. Now it’s only a matter of time until Jimmy, her latest conquest—who also happens to be Siobhan’s ex—finds out it’s her fault. To cover her tracks, Apate pays a visit to the Elliots, using her powers of illusion to pose as their daughter and convince them everything’s fine. Lying is easy. Confronting the consequences of her actions, however, will prove to be much harder than Apate expected.

To find her redemption, Apate knows it’s time to come clean. But the truth could cost her the only love she’s ever known.

Promotions Week of July 12th


To celebrate the release of Retribution, the fourth and final installment of the Reborn series, I have several promotions running over on Amazon for the earlier books in the series.

Reborn, the first book, is still free for a few more hours! Grab yours before it goes back to its original price tonight at 11:59 pm PST. The second and third books, Relapse and Reclaim, are both currently $0.99. Their price goes up to $1.99 in one day and reverts back to the original price on Sunday.

And if you do purchase one (or more 😉 ) of my books, remember to leave a brief, honest review of your thoughts on Amazon and/or Goodreads!

In other news, today I went live on Facebook for the first time! Overall, it was a little awkward but not too shabby? After the updates, I read a short excerpt from Chapter 4 of Retribution! Haha, so I can’t get the video to embed properly, but you can watch it here! (I am admittedly too tired to fiddle with trying to embed it, lol.)

Promotion: Reborn is FREE Through July 12th


Happy Friday Eve!

I am running a promotion for Reborn, the first book in my romantic urban fantasy series. Reborn is FREE for Kindle through the end of the day (11:59 pm PDT) July 12th! This way, you can dip your toes, so to speak, into the series if you’re new to it! Grab your free copy here.

Reborn is a modern, darker spin on the Eros and Psyche story from Greek Mythology. I call it an urban fantasy with strong romantic elements because it doesn’t fit the typical romance formula (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

I just released the fourth and final book, Retribution, and the complete series is also available to KU subscribers.

***

Summary: An old flame. A magical sorority. An uncontrollable power…

Siobhan Elliot’s World Myths and Legends class was supposed to be an easy way to get elective credit. Instead, she gets an unexpected—and unwanted—blast from the past in the form of the course’s handsome teaching assistant, Jasper Hart. He puts the cliché tall, dark and handsome to shame, but that’s the least of Siobhan’s worries. Because she’s met him before.

And he’s definitely not human.

Back then, their brief encounter left her with a unique but uncontrollable power, forever altering her young adult life. Now, the only person who can tell her the truth about who—and what—she really is doesn’t seem to remember her.

Even so, Jasper’s return opens a whole new world to Siobhan, one straight from the pages of her World Myths and Legends textbook. Her already bizarre life is about to be turned upside down, and nothing—not even her sorority, Gamma Lambda Phi—is left untouched. A world where Greek mythology meets Greek life, legendary lovers reunite, and nothing is what it seems.

Retribution is Here!


Happy Wednesday!

If you’re in one of the areas in the US experiencing record heat waves, I hope you’re able to stay cool. And while you’re indoors basking in the AC, why not curl up with a book?

Retribution, the fourth and final(?) installment of the Reborn series, is out in the world! You can purchase it alone for Kindle or as part of the complete series box set. All of my books are also available for KU subscribers. While you’re at it, add it to your summer TBR pile on Goodreads.

If funds are tight, I will be giving out a few review copies of the series box set (.mobi or pdf), so fill out this Google form if you’re interested! All I ask is that you leave an honest review on Goodreads and Amazon when you’re done reading. (And it goes without saying I won’t share your email with anyone, or use it for any other purpose!)

Summary:

Siobhan has returned from a seven-month stint in Pandora to a world that’s falling apart. Literally.

She doesn’t care, though, about the holes in the walls between the worlds. Or that, according to a prophecy, she’s the only one who can stop Eric and his halfling army from taking over Olympus. All Siobhan wants now is to get back to some semblance of normalcy in life, and in her relationship with Jasper.

Meanwhile, combat training is Carly’s new normal. But while Gamma Lambda Phi prepares for certain war, she grapples with missing memories and a forgotten power. And just when a possibility for new love presents itself, an old flame is rekindled.

Electra is the new general of Eric’s army, but it’s a tenuous command. She is caught between love and fear, sanity and madness, a desire for absolution and a thirst for vengeance…

In the game of the gods, anything goes, and nothing is what it seems. And in this conclusion to the Reborn saga, these three women will learn just how far they’re willing to go to win.

Retribution: The First 300 Words


With only ten days to go until Retribution releases July 1, I thought I’d share the first part of Chapter 1.

There are three main threads in the novel. Most of it is told from, of course, Siobhan’s perspective. The second chunk is from Carly’s. The third is a surprise, but it’s someone readers are familiar with (and will probably figure out fairly quickly). Your first clue is that Chapter 1 is called “Eric”. Your second clue is this playlist.

By the way, the Reborn series box set is on sale for Kindle through Wednesday morning. And you can pre-order Retribution here.

~

Every night, in my dreams, I return to the lake.

I kneel on the pebbled shore, swirling a finger through sepia-toned waters. Deep down, I know the color is wrong. But I also know I’m dreaming.

Think I’m dreaming.

Small waves lap the beach, rhythmic, endless, leaving behind dark, damp stones and traces of brown sludge. If I listen closely, I can hear the waves whispering. If I listen closer still, I can make out the words.

Feel me. See me. Know me.

I spring to my feet, shivering. But the whispers are a chorus now, pounding like blood in my temples.

Feel me.

See me.

Know me.

Hitching a breath, I dip my toes in the water. It is ice, but it is also a balm, the lake’s song diminishing to a murmur once again. I tiptoe forward until the water is ankle-deep. A little further still, and it doesn’t feel so bad anymore, the waves skimming my legs like indolent fingers.

Calves, knees, torso, shoulders—soon everything save for my head is submerged. I pause, treading water, and scan the lake. It is silent now. And I am alone.

There’s a pressure at my back, warm and slippery, like an eel slithering around my waist. It hooks my hip, shocking the breath out of me. A final squeeze, and I’m tugged entirely into the water.

Down here, the world is black ice. Everything is numbing, burning, crushing pain. I fight and thrash, but nothing I do makes any difference. Whatever has ahold of me isn’t letting go, dragging me down, down, down into more dark silence.

***

He is down here, in these muddy waters. I can’t see him, but his presence swells with every yard I fall. He sleeps. Dreams. Waits.

He waits for me.

Reborn Series Box Set On Sale


It’s officially summer!

And to celebrate summer, and the release of Retribution in a little over a week, the Reborn series box set is on sale starting today, June 21 at 11 a.m., through July 23 at 11 a.m. EST. The box set includes the first three books in the series, as well as two companion novellas. Get caught up before Retribution releases on July 1!

You can pre-order Retribution here. For all you KU subscribers, the entire series is also available through Kindle Unlimited.

Series Summary: Siobhan Elliot’s World Myths and Legends class was supposed to be an easy way to get elective credit. Instead, she gets an unexpected—and unwanted—blast from the past in the form of the course’s handsome teaching assistant, Jasper Hart. He puts the cliché tall, dark and handsome to shame, but that’s the least of Siobhan’s worries. Because she’s met him before.

And he’s definitely not human.

Back then, their brief encounter left her with a unique but uncontrollable power, forever altering her young adult life. Now, the only person who can tell her the truth about who—and what—she really is doesn’t seem to remember her.

Even so, Jasper’s return opens a whole new world to Siobhan, one straight from the pages of her World Myths and Legends textbook. Her already bizarre life is about to be turned upside down, and nothing—not even her sorority, Gamma Lambda Phi—is left untouched. A world where Greek mythology meets Greek life, legendary lovers reunite, and nothing is what it seems.

And that’s just the beginning. This Reborn Series box set features the first three books in the series (REBORN, RELAPSE, and RECLAIM) and two bonus novellas (REVENGE and RECTIFY).

Retribution Release and Pre-Order


Writing your first novel is…hard. Publishing your first novel, whether you decide to go the traditional or self-publishing route, is hard. But do you know what’s at least equally as hard, if not harder?

Writing the next book. And the next. And the next.

I forget who this quote is ascribed to, but I’ve heard it said you never learn how to write a book – you only learn how to write this book. I’ve been thinking about that quote lately, and how true it is. I published the first edition of Reborn back in November of 2013. That’s…eight years ago, lol. It started out as a pretty simple idea: a story about a college-aged woman who runs into a man from her past. A tall, dark, handsome, broody man who is probably not human. And who is either her long-lost love or sworn enemy. Or a little bit of both.

I wondered who these two characters were. I wanted to root around their brains, find out what drove them, what scared them, what – and who – they wanted more than anything.

Then, quite suddenly, I didn’t have just Siobhan and Jasper anymore, these two fascinating but deeply flawed people. I had a whole world in my head I wanted to explore, a world where Greek mythology met Greek life but was also equal parts 90s syndicated sci-fi show and teen drama. If you would have asked me to describe Reborn when it first came out, I might have told you it was like Stargate SG-1 meets Greek (you know, the ABC Family – now Freeform – show from the late 2000s?). Which is honestly kind of accurate, but also who the heck would want to read that (besides me)?

If you’re new to the Reborn series, it’s essentially a modern retelling of the Eros and Psyche myth. My Psyche is Siobhan Elliot, a college student at the fictional Thurston University in Shadesburg (a Pittsburgh-esque city). My Eros is Jasper Hart, her hot teaching assistant for her World Myths and Legends class. The first two books in the series, Reborn and Relapse, mostly focus on their complicated, at times downright toxic, relationship, as well as Siobhan’s efforts to navigate this new world she finds herself in.

Pretty quickly, my ideas for the series expanded beyond Siobhan and Jasper’s story. It spawned two novellas and the third installment, Reclaim, which focused on a different main character: Siobhan’s sorority sister, Carly Dragonjac. While Siobhan’s interests began to clash a lot with her sorority’s, I think of Carly as the Gamma Lambda Phi sister who stayed. As Carly doesn’t have much of a family left, the sorority didn’t just become her home-away-from-home, but her home, period. And her storyline let me indulge one of my other favorite archetypes, the wicked (and sexy) trickster god. The fourth book, Retribution, picks up where both Siobhan and Carly’s stories left off and gives them a (mostly) happy resolution.

Oh, right. Did I mention I have a book coming out?

Going back to that quote at the beginning of the post, it took me four years (Reclaim was published in 2017) to learn how to write Retribution. Not that I was writing it that entire time. I was not. I did put out a novella in 2019, but mostly the ideas for the fourth book were marinating. And, sure, then there was a global pandemic in which I was like…okay, I’m at home way more than usual, there is literally no excuse now not to finish this book…

Although the major ideas and revelations in the book never changed, I think it would have been a much different book if I had forced myself to write it four years ago. It was always going to be about how Siobhan and Jasper both heal from their past traumas, how they finally find their way back to an authentic, healthy version of their relationship. But I was also thinking about several larger themes while I was writing it. For one: What would happen if our world was infiltrated by an alien civilization? (Slight spoiler alert: probably nothing good.)

And, in this era of movements like #MeToo, where we’re starting, as a society, to confront egregious abuses of power and privilege, I was thinking a lot about what we’re “allowed” or expected to feel as women. So, power is definitely one of the major themes in Retribution – confronting power imbalances, confronting those who abuse their power and, most importantly, reclaiming that power.

Now, there are definitely many light-hearted, fun, silly, sexy, and romantic moments in Retribution. But it does get rather dark at times. Rest assured, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, I let my female characters experience the whole gamut of emotions: happiness, love, desire, fear, desperation, despair, regret, hate, resentment. Each main character has an inner darkness to confront. One learns to accept and live with it. One rises above it. One embraces it.

You can pre-order Retribution for Kindle on Amazon! It releases July 1, 2021. While you’re at it, add it on Goodreads. I am planning to give out a few review copies (.mobi or pdf only), so email me at slstacyauthor@gmail.com if you’re interested. Heidi’s gorgeous cover art and the book summary are below!

*****

Siobhan has returned from a seven-month stint in Pandora to a world that’s falling apart. Literally.

She doesn’t care, though, about the holes in the walls between the worlds. Or that, according to a prophecy, she’s the only one who can stop Eric and his halfling army from taking over Olympus. All Siobhan wants now is to get back to some semblance of normalcy in life, and in her relationship with Jasper.

Meanwhile, combat training is Carly’s new normal. But while Gamma Lambda Phi prepares for certain war, she grapples with missing memories and a forgotten power. And just when a possibility for new love presents itself, an old flame is rekindled.

Electra is the new general of Eric’s army, but it’s a tenuous command. She is caught between love and fear, sanity and madness, a desire for absolution and a thirst for vengeance…

In the game of the gods, anything goes, and nothing is what it seems. And in this conclusion to the Reborn saga, these three women will learn just how far they’re willing to go to win.

Retro Book Review: Tithe


Happy Wednesday! As I announced last week, I thought writing some “retro” book reviews would be a fun summer goal for keeping the blog going. Last week, I did a re-read of Dark Visions by L.J. Smith (review here). This week, I’m reviewing Tithe by one of my new favorites, Holly Black.

Tithe is the first book in Black’s Modern Faerie Tales trilogy, originally published back in 2002 (which is very nearly 20 years ago? oh my…). Recently, the Modern Faerie Tales have been reissued with some gorgeous new covers. I would have been in middle school when Tithe first came out, but for whatever reason, Holly Black was not on my radar back then. The first book of hers I read was The Cruel Prince, and after that, I was hooked on her beautiful, brutal faery world and its characters.

Tithe is also excellent, although not for the faint of heart, I suppose. It’s a fairly dark, gritty urban fantasy, and, although it is a YA series, the Modern Faerie Tales deal with some pretty heavy issues. Black’s spin on the world of the fae is equal parts beautiful and cruel, pleasurable and painful. Its teen MCs are imperfect, its parents range from being selfish to downright neglectful, and no one is safe from the capricious, deadly fae.

At the beginning of Tithe, Kaye Fierch is on the road with her mother, a musician who survives paycheck to paycheck, and gig to gig. But a nearly fatal clash with one of her mother’s bandmates sends them packing for Kaye’s grandmother’s house in New Jersey. Kaye hasn’t been to school in years and, despite her grandmother’s insistence, isn’t about to go back now. She smokes, stays out too late, and is generally a bit aimless. In New Jersey, she reconnects with an old friend, Janet, and Janet’s loner brother, Cornelius (Corny) Stone.

Their New Jersey is one of abandoned warehouses, dark alleyways, and underground raves. But it’s also a world many of the solitary fae – faeries who have been exiled from the Seelie or Unseelie courts – call home. Kaye remembers some imaginary friends she made as a kid. In Tithe, those once imaginary friends turn out to be all too real and know the truth about who Kaye really is. Kaye’s journey is one of self-discovery, of survival as the human and fae worlds collide. And of new love in the form of white-haired Roiben, a Seelie knight who has been traded to serve the Unseelie queen as a show of peace between the two courts.

I am giving Tithe five stars. I love to read (and write) imperfect characters, and Kaye certainly fits the bill. I think some readers, and some perhaps concerned with what teens are reading, balk a bit when the character isn’t some sort of role model. But I don’t believe all characters, even those in YA books, are obligated to be role models. In fact, there are likely many teens out there who may relate to Kaye, a girl from a poor family, with a somewhat neglectful parent and a poor track record at school. Those teens have stories, too. And those teens need to see characters like Kaye who are overcoming odds and discovering their own strengths.

Also, Roiben sounds hot. So there’s that.

If you’re a fan of the fae, urban fantasy, and don’t mind it with a large helping of romantic horror, I recommend Tithe! In the coming weeks, I will also be reviewing the second two books, Valiant and Ironside. I am officially hooked on Holly Black!

Retro Book Review: Dark Visions


Context: I’ve decided to write some “retro” book reviews this summer. I’m defining retro as any book originally published more than 15 years ago. For all you L.J. Smith fans who may or may not be out there, today I’m reviewing a classic: Dark Visions.

I was originally introduced to L.J. Smith in middle school, when my friend handed me The Forbidden Game and said, “I think you’ll like this. Julian is hot.” LOL. Every few years, the nostalgia hits me, and I re-read TFG or Dark Visions, mostly because they’re my favorites, but also because I own them.

I’m not saying Dark Visions is perfect or anything. It was an older book even when I read it for the first time (it’s nearly as old as me). Although I do like L.J. Smith’s writing style, I can’t lie that the characters in Dark Visions sound like something out of a 1950s movie. Honestly, some of it has not aged well. But it’s still one of my favorite comfort reads.

Dark Visions is a trilogy (the three books are often found together now in an omnibus edition) following Kaitlyn Fairchild, a teen artist whose drawings are often prophetic. Because of her spooky powers, she feels out of place in her small town and is sort of viewed as the town “witch.” Then, destiny comes knocking when she’s recruited to an institute for psychics in San Francisco, where she joins four other teen psychics (Rob, Gabriel, Anna, and Lewis) to learn to hone her abilities. It becomes quickly apparent, though, that nothing is as it initially seems at the institute, and its enigmatic leader, Mr. Zetes, has recruited them for more nefarious purposes.

The first book in the trilogy focuses on Kait’s time at the institute and getting to know the other psychics. For the first time, she feels like she has real friends, and even falls in love for the first time, with psychic healer Rob. Unfortunately, she – and basically everybody, lol – butts heads with Gabriel, the bad boy of the bunch who may or may not have murdered someone.

Okay, maybe I just like these books because of Gabriel? L.J. Smith has always done misunderstood, broody antihero very well. Her books also tend to feature a central love triangle, between the main heroine, a well-liked golden boy (who is not without his own flaws), and a Broody McBroodypants. In Dark Visions, we of course have the Rob-Kait-Gabriel love triangle, with both guys appealing to different sides of Kait. I had sort of forgotten this until I re-read it (and this may be a bit of a spoiler, but these books are 30-years-old…), but it does come with the lesson that your first love won’t necessarily be your last, or only, love – and that you can love people in different ways. Which, duh…but still, I think it’s a nice lesson to impart, especially for teen readers. When you’re young, breaking up with someone can feel like the end of the world, but it’s definitely not. I promise you, you will love again, lol.

Part of the reason that Dark Visions (and L.J. Smith’s other books) might be so memorable/important to me, is because – back at the time I first read them – YA was not nearly the behemoth genre it is now. The YA section of our local library was several shelves against a wall crammed with delightfully pulp-y paperbacks. It was right before YA started to get really big in the mid- to late-2000s. Back then, I also read a lot of V.C. Andrews, which probably could be considered YA by today’s standards (perhaps except for all the, uh, incest…), it just wasn’t marketed as such at the time. I think it’s great there are so many options and subgenres of YA now. So many choices for teens! And for older millennials like me who read/write YA. Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, but I think much of the reason L.J. Smith’s books will always hold a special place in my heart.

I just got some of Holly Black’s older books from the library (curbside pickup has been my best friend during the pandemic), so I think doing these types of retro reviews will be one of my summer projects. For now, happy Friday eve – and happy reading!

Monster Girls and Wicked Boys


Happy Thursday! I haven’t really done a book review on this blog for quite some time. But, I recently read Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air trilogy, and I have thoughts, lol.

It’s been awhile since I felt like anything pulled me in as much as this series did. And it was somewhat unexpected. I read the first book, The Cruel Prince, early last year, probably a month or so before the pandemic began. I really liked it! But it took me until this past month to read the next two (The Wicked King and The Queen of Nothing). I was so pulled in that I actually went back and re-read The Cruel Prince, then read the other two again before I had to return them to the library. I rarely re-read books at all, let alone this soon after the first read, haha. I was curious to see, though, what clues Holly Black might have sprinkled throughout the series leading up to its conclusion.

So, this post is sort of part book review, part discussion of themes that I liked in the trilogy. First, the review part: top-notch books, five million stars. Lol. (I should note, too, the title of today’s post is borrowed from How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories, a short story collection and companion to TFOTA.)

The series centers around Jude Duarte, a girl whose parents were murdered by the Folk and then raised by their murderer, a redcap named Madoc, in Elfhame. Jude and her twin sister, Taryn, have quite a different upbringing in Elfhame than they would have in the human world, to say the least. The fairy world is one filled with intrigue, epic political rivalries, debauchery, and violence. In the first book, Jude has aspirations of becoming a knight. She craves both physical armor and the respect such a position would grant her, but she’s also, in a sense, armored her emotions, her heart, just to survive as a human in Elfhame.

Jude is a great, and perhaps rare, type of character in YA literature. She is unapologetically ambitious and will do anything to take, and hold onto, even a little bit of power in the fairy world. Especially in the first book, she’s very nearly, if not entirely, a psychopath. She also has a bloodthirsty streak.

There’s actually quite a lot of political intrigue going on in this series, so it’s unfair to boil it down to its central romance. But, what a “romance” it is. Cardan is the youngest prince of Elfhame. When they’re in school together, he and his friends are bullies, and to say Jude hates him is an understatement. Cardan “hates” her at the start, too, although perhaps it’s more fair to say that he hates himself for not actually hating her, a puny human.

If you’re an enemies-to-lovers fan, this is the trilogy for you. And clearly from some of the reviews I’ve seen after finishing the series, not everyone is a fan of this, and that’s fine. This aspect of the book seems to have gotten some slack because Cardan is, of course, a bully at the beginning, and for some readers, that’s a deal breaker. But, although I think it’s fair to say a relationship like this doesn’t translate well to real life (and it doesn’t have to), I love the themes Holly Black is able to explore with this dynamic.

Because it’s true, Cardan is cruel at the start of the series (although some of his friends are arguably worse), but Jude is also horrible, in her way. Like I said, she will do anything to get ahead, to feel like she has at least some control in a world she knows is against her. And this includes tricking, lying, and controlling Cardan in The Wicked King. Cardan has a troubled past that explains much of why he is the way he is, and he grows out of this by the end of the series. One of the themes of the trilogy is that boys can change, and I actually think this is really important. Not in a sense that you should be in a relationship with someone who bullies you (you absolutely shouldn’t), but in a more general sense. Like, honestly, boys absorb a lot of toxic messages, whether they’re aware of it or not, about what it means to be a man. But, as you get older, you can learn new things – realize what you’ve been taught or raised to believe isn’t necessarily true – and change your perspective as a result.

Jude, too, goes through a learning process throughout the series. She comes to learn that loving someone doesn’t mean controlling them. The emotional armor she’s built around herself begins, slowly, to chip away.

I think this trilogy’s themes also resonated with me because (shameless plug alert), it reminded me of what I was trying to do in my Reborn series. In Reborn and Relapse, Siobhan and Jasper have a pretty toxic relationship. They could both use a lesson in love does not equal control. Jasper blatantly manipulates Siobhan in the first book, believing he has her best interests in mind. In the second book, I try to reverse their roles a bit. Jasper is starting to come around, disliking the darker version of himself he’s become. And, despite everything, he does love Siobhan. She knows this. She knows this, exploits it because she gets something from him, too – but can’t give herself entirely to him, emotionally. Siobhan, in this way, is hurting him right back; she’s aware of it, but she goes ahead with it, anyway.

Another aspect of Holly Black’s trilogy I appreciated was the way she reversed gender roles. In addition to wanting to become a knight, Jude has many of the personality traits that, if we do see them, we usually see them in male characters. Like I said, she’s shamelessly ambitious, needs to control everything, and has a penchant for solving problems with violence. And, this is a bit superficial, but I also love how Cardan is the “flashy” one, ha. Jude does get dressed up in the books, but she tends to gravitate toward more practical clothing, while Cardan’s closets are full of fancy attire.

Anyway, these kinds of role reversals are what I like to see in books, and also what I tried to incorporate in Retribution. I want to see heroines who are ambitious, complicated, controlling, bloodthirsty, unapologetic. “Monster” girls, as Holly Black might say.

If you are a fan of YA, fantasy, and romance, I highly recommend The Folk of the Air books!