We are so excited to be able to participate in the release of Hannah West’s new book Realm of Ruins! This book has magic and danger on almost every page and we can’t wait to tell you about it. Hannah was also kind enough to answer some questions for us about the book and herself but before we share that with you, how about we tell you a bit about the book? Check it out…Realm of Ruins by Hannah West
Published by Holiday House, Incorporated on December 4, 2018
Valory’s power is different . . . it’s dangerous, unruly, and destructive. But can she channel it to crush a cunning enemy and save the realm from chaos?
Welcome to Nissera, land of three kingdoms and home to spectacular magic.
A century after her legendary ancestors overcame a bloodthirsty tyrant, seventeen-year-old Valory Braiosa attends a training academy for elicromancers, immortal beings with magical gifts. Yet Valory’s immense power seems impossible to tame, and she faces imprisonment by the Nisseran authorities. Then a forbidden resurrection spell awakens a long-dormant evil, and Valory may be the only one who can vanquish this terrifying villain. Together with a band of allies—including an old friend; a haughty princess; and a mysterious, handsome stranger—Valory must learn to harness her power and fight back.
Weaving together her imaginative world of gritty fairytale magic with snippets from Beauty and the Beast and other classic stories, Hannah West’s dark and dangerous adventure is a gripping, immersive companion to her acclaimed debut, Kingdom of Ash and Briars.
Did you have a favorite scene you wrote for this book and if so, (without spoilers!) what was it and why is it your favorite? My characters go on a harrowing journey and experience a lot of unfortunate setbacks, but when mysterious helpers intercept them, they’re able to rest, eat, get clean, heal, and confront some *feelings.* To me, that sense of relief makes this scene feel luxuriant.
We love the synopsis for this book – what was your inspiration for the story? In Kingdom of Ash and Briars, the standalone prequel, Bristal acts as the fairy godmother to both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty as a way of accomplishing her own agenda of trying to prevent a looming supernatural war. For Realm of Ruins, I wanted to use my favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, and I liked the idea of the main character playing a more complicated, villain-type role: someone who curses rather than cures. I wanted Valory to be troubled, both afraid of and intrigued by her own potential. So the story stemmed out from the curse she places on the spoiled prince who’s attempting to resurrect loved ones but raises an ancient evil instead.
There is a link to classic fairytales with your books – what is it about them that prompts you to write stories like that? Fairytales are so special in the sense that they’re charming and relatable enough to survive through generations, yet they leave so much to be desired; their brevity and lack of descriptive detail invite endless new iterations. They’re nostalgic and familiar but also act as a launching pad for our wildest imaginations.
Did any of your characters surprise you by doing something you didn’t expect? There’s a character who at first appears snooty and unlikeable, but the more I invited her onto the page, the more her cold casing melted away. She proved herself to be a brave soul and a good friend without losing the difficult personality traits that made her a little abrasive to begin with. People are complicated!
What are you currently reading? Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
Any advice for aspiring writers? Don’t rush through revisions because you’re anxious to get your work out there. Whether you’re planning to query agents or post on Wattpad, always make sure your project is as polished and pristine as possible and that you’ve asked for feedback from trusted sources.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about? I haven’t announced anything officially, but I can tell you that there will be another journey in Nissera. I’ll also have a YA Southern Gothic releasing in 2020. I’m excited to be able to share more details about both of these projects!
Favorite Song (right now): “Be Like You” by Wethan featuring Broods
Favorite Book (right now): What a diabolical question! Let’s see…I recently really enjoyed Furyborn by Claire Legrand, This Splintered Silence by Kayla Olson, and Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Favorite TV Show/Movie: Parks & Rec. It’s really hard to name only one but I’m going to force myself to do it.
Favorite Word: “Ambrosial” is a gorgeous word.
Favorite Color: Green
Realm of Ruins by Hannah West is the companion novel to her first book Kingdom of Ash and Briars and part of the Nissera Chronicles series. If you like your stories to have a fairytale feel, you’ll want to add this one to your TBR stack.
Our main character in this story is Valory, a descendant the main character from Kingdom of Ash and Briars, and she attends a training academy for elicromancers, immortal beings with magical gifts. Unfortunately for Valory, she hasn’t felt any magic in herself and being surrounded by a family who has a lot of magical power, she feels a bit like she doesn’t fit. When something horrible happens, Valory comes to possess a dark power that she can’t really control, and the Realm Alliance isn’t taking any chances with her. When she is required to leave her home and puts her on a dangerous path.
As Valory is forced to leave her home, she finds out that she isn’t really safe anywhere she goes. Her first problem occurs when it is discovered that Prince Devorian, one of the Lorenthi’s and a relative, has released something evil, Valory is determined to fix something she had a role in bringing about. When she gets to Beyrian, and her neutralizer ends up dead, she is forced to leave before the Realm Alliance can blame her for something she didn’t have any part in. And these are only things that happened in the first half of the book.
There are a lot of characters in this story. There are Melkior, Ivria, and Anders who we are introduced to at Valory’s school – all cousins to her. Then there are the Lorenthi siblings who play a role in Valory’s story. Rayed and Kadri, brother and sister as well as friends to Valory. One of the other key people, Mercer, is a mysterious stranger that Valory ends up finding injured during her travels to Beyrian. I loved how West brought together a group of characters who, in normal circumstances, might not have been able to accomplish what they set out to do together and forced them to work together.
A lot happens in this book and I can’t tell you everything. Valory’s growth and determination are at the center of the entire story as she goes from being a girl who wants power and to fit in at the beginning of the book to being someone who has grown into what she has been given and is willing to do whatever is necessary to protect those she loves. She also learns who she can really trust within her family and it may not necessarily be who she originally thought it would be.
The world that West has developed here was interesting and well developed. I thought the way the Moth King’s story unfolded was interesting and kept me turning the pages to see what was going to happen. Add to that the fact that the group is facing more than just the danger of the Moth King throughout the story, there seems to be something dangerous to face with every new chapter.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There isn’t much more I can say without potentially giving something away, so I will stop here. As I mentioned, this is a companion to the first book so while you don’t necessarily have to read that one to follow along with this book, there are references back to Bristal and what happened. If you are looking for a fantasy that weaves in bits of fairytales, focuses on magic, and has some interesting characters, definitely consider checking this one out. I will be looking forward to seeing West writes next.
Thank you to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
If you want to check out a free Nissera short story head over to Amazon, B&N, and all e-tailers. It’s called Fields of Fire and it takes place before Realm of Ruins so you could easily grab this and dive right in before book 2 releases on December 4th!