The Havenwood Falls universe is expanding, this time with a whole new type of supernatural creatures: college students.
This semester launches the introduction of Sun & Moon Academy, a College of Supernatural Guardians that acts as an elite training program for a covert army charged with protecting the world’s supernatural community. Students are offered acceptance by invitation only, and after passing a series of grueling trials to test their worthiness, the top tier are admitted to the hidden college under the mountain. This semester ten students will find themselves “marked” in a series of personalized trials that require them to defeat monsters and mayhem that threaten to destroy campus before time runs out. This is not your typical classroom exercise either. The longer each marked student takes to succeed, the higher the body count grows.
The first collection in the new Sun & Moon Academy spinoff features ten paranormal tales from some of the Collective’s award-winning and bestselling authors, including Kristie Cook, Tish Thawer, Belinda Boring, Rose Garcia, Victoria Flynn, EJ Fechenda, Amy Richie, Victoria Escobar, and Justine Winter. In addition to the collection’s variety of authors, the diversity of supernatural creatures you can expect to find in attendance at SMA runs from vampires to shifters, to angels, and even Valkyries. The students themselves, when they're not practicing magic, include a host of new faces, familiar family names, and an inclusive student body that takes care to represent the diverse voices of a true university campus. SMA, with its Norse mythology flair and an under-mountain campus that makes Hogwarts Castle look plain by comparison, is truly a home for all furred, fanged, and feathery.
As with any collection, some stories are stronger than others, but all remain true to the unique voice of Havenwood Falls, proving again publisher and Universe-creator Kristie Cook’s unquestionable talent for collaborative world-building and visionary storytelling. Personal favorites in Sun & Moon Academy Book 1 include EJ Fechenda’s “Time to Live”, a story about a time-spinning witch who finds herself torn between the ghost of a boy she visits in a netherworld and her love interest in real time, and Rose Garcia’s “Chasing Time”, wherein Infiniti Clausman (a recent addition to Havenwood Falls High, the universe’s YA fantasy line) finds the power within herself to overcome her challenge.
Whether it’s a supernatural love-triangle you’re interested in or something a little darker, it’s impossible not to fall in love with these characters and their world. As for this reviewer, I’m still holding out for my Hogwarts letter, but if a wooden puzzle box with a star and moon etched on top shows up on my doorstep, I might trade in my wand and head to Havenwood Falls and Sun & Moon Academy instead.
Ten paranormal tales and one page-turning supernatural academy story in this spinoff from the award-winning Havenwood Falls universe.
The brand new Sun & Moon Academy College of Supernatural Guardians is an elite training program for a covert army that protects the supernatural community around the world. After a series of grueling trials to test their worthiness, only the top tier of applicants are admitted to the hidden college under the mountain.
We are ten of those students.
We’re a powerful mix of shifters, witches, vampires, demigods, angels, and more, making SMA no ordinary university. Throw in classes about healing potions, inter-dimensional exploration, and combat training, and college life here is a bit . . . well, unusual. But we still must juggle studying, obnoxious roommates, and killer parties. And, of course, we always make room for romance. How can we not? No other place in the world teems with such a sexy fusion of brains and badassery.
But classes haven’t even begun when our campus is terrorized, and the dangers continue throughout the semester—a hacker who threatens to publicly expose our school, a string of vampire attacks, invisible beasts with deadly bites, cursed classrooms that devour those who dare enter . . . What the hell kind of place is this, anyway?
For some reason that not even the Board of Regents has been able to figure out, it’s up to the ten of us to defeat these monsters and mayhem—before the sands in the big courtyard hourglass run out. Yep, we’re being timed, and the bodies are dropping almost as fast as the crystals. If any of us fail, this first semester of SMA just might be the last one ever.
In this unique anthology of over 750 pages, you not only get ten paranormal fantasy novellas, but one sweeping story that will have you flipping pages until the end. Learn more at http://havenwoodfalls.com/.
This week marks the release of one of my favorite new YA horror stories/series by one of my favorite new ladies of horror fiction: The Night Weaver by Monique Snyman. (If you missed my review, read it here or here.) To help celebrate the release of the book, I invited Monique to do a guest interview here on the blog and share some of her writing pearls of wisdom, as well as talk about what's next for her new Harrowsgate series. Welcome, Monique!
Simultaneously refreshing and deeply unsettling, The Night Weaver weaves together small-town horror with an intricate otherworldly fairytale to deliver a blend of horror and fantasy that captures the essence of young adult terror seasoned with the stuff of grown-up nightmares. - Seven Jane
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
You don’t need to be the next J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or J.R.R. Tolkien, so stop measuring yourself by their standards when you’re contemplating your future and career. Be the first Monique Snyman. Be you, no matter what, and also, don’t be so impatient with yourself.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Oh, I’ve always known that language had power. Growing up, I had to force myself to speak a certain way in order to “blend” in better. If I didn’t, I was bullied by my peers. Even today, when I go to my childhood home, I change my dialect and the words I pick are wholly different to when I’m not there. So, language has a lot of power, especially if you need to survive adolescence.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Lies like Love by Louisa Reid. I read that book quite a few years ago, but it was such an impactful tale and beautifully crafted book that I still find myself thinking about it.
The Night Weaver doesn’t only prey upon the flesh of children, but on grief, fear, and pain—making her both the monster under the bed in a scared child’s bedroom and a fitting personification of the dark shadow that lives in the back of the mind of anyone who has experienced tragedy. - Seven jane
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
I’m a Libra, so balance, in general, comes naturally to me. I do, however, take into account what readers enjoy/despise, and allow their preferences to sometimes guide me on my journey.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
I wouldn’t call it spiritual per se; it’s rather cathartic for me to write. I have all these characters living inside my head, an unlimited amount of stories that need to come out, and everything battles for my attention when I’m not writing. So, although I have my writing rituals, and for some it could even feel spiritual in a way, but it’s more of a therapy session for me.
And of course, what's next for Rachel and clan?
Well, in The Night Weaver, readers got a taste of the horrible things Shadow Grove often attracts, but in The Bone Carver we get to see what happens when those nasties hone in on a single target and the lengths they’ll go to when they feel … rejected. There are also some new characters being added into the story, but the old ones make an appearance, too. The sequel is a different kind of scary, but scary nonetheless.
Interior artwork courtesy of Monique Snyman. Illustrated by Luke Spooner from Carrion House.
Connect with Monique
You can keep up with Monique on her various social channels. She also has a spectacular blog!
Website – www.moniquesnyman.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/moniquesnyman.author
Twitter – www.twitter.com/moniquesnyman
Instagram – www.instagram.com/therealmoniquesnyman
And, don't forget to stay tuned for the sequel. The Bone Carver is coming September 2020 from Vesuvian Books.
Today is release day for one of my favorite new YA novels by Liana Gardner: Speak No Evil. (If you missed my review, read it here.) To help celebrate the release of the book, I invited Liana to do a guest interview and tell us more about a story that reminds us all that silence does not equal consent, and that the truth, even (and perhaps especially) when it hurts, must be spoken. Speak No Evil is a powerful reminder to today's young women to speak up, speak out, and never lose their voice.
Dark, delicate, and masterfully written, Speak No Evil will make you cringe and cry in equal measure as it pulls your heart through the muck of humanity’s worst evils in every page before depositing you at the end feeling uplifted, empowered, and—most of all—grateful." - Seven Jane
Most authors would avoid such serious subject matter (such as abuse, abandonment, and sexual assault), but you've brought them front and center. What made you want to convey this story for a younger audience?
This is such a HUGE question. To be honest, my gut reaction is, “How can we not?”
So, I’m going to start by answering with some facts. Every 92 seconds another American experiences sexual assault. Every 9 minutes that person is a child. Over 60,000 cases of sexual child abuse are documented each year—and those are only the cases that have been reported. Of those cases, 67% of the victims are aged 12-18 and 34% under the age of 12. One in nine girls and one in 53 boys have experienced sexual assault. For every 1,000 cases reported, only 5 perpetrators will be incarcerated.
The majority of child sexual assault cases involve someone known to the victim; parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, teachers, etc. Most are authority figures. There are some commonalities to the occurrence:
By not talking about weighty topics such as abuse, abandonment, and sexual assault, we are perpetuating the isolation the perpetrators have created. We need books like Speak No Evil so those who have experienced or are experiencing these things know they are not alone. So they realize it is not their fault. And hopefully it gives them an opportunity to find their voice and speak out.
We need those who have not experienced the issues to know that they exist and can happen. And hopefully, they can be a better friend to those who have experienced, to be patient and listen to what the survivor has to say and to say those words the survivor most needs to hear--I believe you.
Because, bearing in mind the statistics, in a classroom of 30 students three or four have experienced or are experiencing sexual abuse. If we don’t provide a safe ground for talking about these matters, then who will?
There are those who will argue that the topics in this book will strip away some of the kids’ innocence. I’d rather provide a kid with the framework for awareness and a platform for discussing such heavy topics than have them find out their reality first hand. And please, let’s stop denying such things exist, negating the experience of so many, demeaning their self-worth.
Like Melody’s voice that could calm snakes, Gardner’s storytelling displays the same sort of sinister charm as she unravels Melody’s past to tell the story of her present. Speak No Evil is at once hypnotic, vaguely sinister, and decidedly beautiful, with sharp, poignant prose that handles the heaviest of issues with grace and delicacy." - Seven Jane
What gave you the idea to frame the story around a protagonist who won't speak?
Some stories come a little at a time, slowly building up the framework, while others burst into being almost fully formed. Speak No Evil was the latter kind. I didn’t decide to frame a story around a protagonist who doesn’t speak, it hit me like a lightning bolt.
On my way to work one morning, I had the radio on and an emotional song came on, and I had the idle thought, as I had many times before, that sometimes songs conveyed feelings better than we are able to say them. Then BAM! the story hit … I nearly had to pull over and probably would have if I had been able to. In the same moment, I felt very strongly the urge to speak, but knowing if I opened my mouth, nothing would come out. And more than anything, I knew I had to write this story and give Melody a voice.
How does the book's title relate to the deeper message?
The title immediately brings to mind the three wise monkeys and the message they convey of turning away from evil. But the underlying meaning is how society silences survivors. Do not speak of the evil that befell you because you will be blamed for allowing it to happen. We are so good at turning our heads away from evil, at pretending it doesn’t exist, that the automatic response is to wonder what the victim did to bring their fate crashing down around them.
We don’t want to face the truth; we don’t want to believe evil exists because if it does, and the victim did nothing wrong, then it could happen to me. Facing the truth means we all lose a little of our security—our feeling of safety.
What do you hope readers take away from your work?
Understanding. Empathy. Hope.
In many ways it depends on the reader. If the reader has not experienced the types of situations Melody has, then what I’d like them to take away is understanding and empathy for those who have. A recognition that it is not the fault of the victim, but that of the perpetrator.
For those who have experienced the abuse, I’d like them to recognize they are not to blame, it isn’t their fault, and they did nothing wrong. And if they have been rendered silent, my hope is that they can find a safe haven where they can find their voice and with it peace.
What was your biggest challenge when writing this piece?
Framing the story from the point of view of a main character who doesn’t speak. :) It would have been much easier to change point of views and give other characters a chance to share the story. But I wanted the reader to share in Melody’s experience right from the beginning, where the wall of silence is palpable. And if the character was non communicative, then I wanted to show that on the page, so felt that going into her thoughts was taking a liberty I shouldn’t. Of course, as she became comfortable and started opening up, I was able to go deeper into the skin of the character.
The other challenge I had to overcome is my deep and abiding fear of snakes. With her background of having been raised in a snake-handling church, the snakes were there throughout the story. So, I had to do my research and have watched more video than I’d care to say about snake-handling churches. One of the scenes deals with Melody caring for and nursing back to health a sick snake. It created an odd place in my head because I’m one of The only good snake is a dead snake. crowd, and the sympathetic feeling for the book snake was a weird thing.
Connect with Liana
Author Website: www.LianaGardner.com
Book Site: www.SpeakNoEvilNovel.com