This one’s funny but dark. Content warning for mentions of torture and attempted suicide.
I was thirteen when the wizard took me. Opened a portal right under my feet. I fell through the fabric of the universe, screaming my throat raw, and landed in an ice-cold lake. Thank God my parents had paid for swimming lessons when I was five. Once I dragged myself ashore, coughing, shivering, and scared out of my mind, the wizard was there.
You know what he looks like. Wild gray beard, pointy hat, billowing robe of patchwork colors—the whole shebang. He told me I was in another world, and that I’d been chosen to save it. I believed him, of course. The massive snowy mountains in the distance were about as far from rural Arkansas as I could imagine, and that was even without the glowing fairies darting around the lake.
And I desperately wanted to believe him. Chosen to save the world? Me? Any dweeby, lonely little boy would eat that shit up with a spoon, and I was no exception. I did everything the wizard asked, worked harder than I ever had in my life. And really, it wasn’t much of a chore when I was learning magic—real magic! I remember the first time I made a seed sprout and grow into a giant tree before my eyes, the first time I conjured flames in my bare hands. It was freaking incredible. Even now, I can still feel the wonder in my bitter, black heart.
But the wizard wasn’t teaching me for the sake of spreading the joy of magic. No, I was expected to put those skills to use to defeat the Deathly King—an evil son of a bitch no thirteen-year-old kid had any business fighting. I made trees grow through the walls of enemy fortresses, flung fireballs at trolls, and fought my way through dark caves of shrieking, many-armed creatures. I was a goddamn child soldier, and I had the stab wounds, head injuries, and emotional trauma to prove it.
My podcast library isn’t very big (yet). I can fly through most novels in a couple of days and a comic in an afternoon, but podcasts, like TV shows, are more of a time commitment. So I tend to only listen to ones that I really, really like.
I really, really like Inn Between.
If you’ve never listened to it before, here’s the description from its website:
Inn Between is an audio drama podcast, a fantasy-adventure between adventures, wherein five heroes encounter monsters, magic, fighting, and friendship in the conveniently located Goblin’s Head Inn. There will be laughs. There will be bickering. There will be character development.
There’s no shortage of stories about adventurers going on quests in epic fantasy settings, so let’s talk about what sets Inn Between apart. It actually skips the vast majority of the action scenes in the heroes’ quest. Instead, each episode starts when the heroes return to the inn to recuperate and react to what happened.
Basically, Inn Between focuses on the moments in between the action (See what they did there?), on character development and interaction—which I think is the best part of any story.
There’s a reason I chose it as Dave and Val’s vacation destination when I wrote Kill Them All. And I’m happy to report that my trip went a lot better than theirs did and wasn’t interrupted by rocket launchers and complex, supervillain-related plots. 😉
I’m going to be a witch this Halloween. I’ve got the hat and the black dress, and I just need to figure out my makeup.
Witches have always been one my favorite paranormal beings. Maybe it’s the spells and potions or the feminist undertones. It could also be a side-effect of growing up reading Harry Potter. Or maybe it’s just the aesthetic.
Free ebooks are the best. They’re a great way for readers to try new series risk-free, and they help authors reach new audiences. But there’s just so many of them that it can be hard to find one you like.
Free ebook Friday spotlights a free ebook I’ve personally read and enjoyed, and hopefully, it’ll help you find a good read. The posts come out on random Fridays, not weekly, and the books featured will probably be speculative fiction.
This week’s pick is:
Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t the model of military professionalism—he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship—but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron—what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives… Continue reading Free ebook Friday: Balanced on the Blade’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker
Paperback and hardcover editions of The Ghost Machine have popped up on Amazon, which is super exciting. Clockmaker hasn’t been re-released yet, though, so what should you read while you’re waiting for another gothic steampunk novel?
Steampunk is a weird, niche little genre, when you think about it. Merriam-Webster defines it as “science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology.”
That’s pretty darn specific. It’s not like the post-apocalyptic subgenre restricts its stories to the 23rd century, or space opera specifies the power source that spaceships have to use.
The boundaries of steampunk seem pretty restrictive at first glance, so it’s not surprising many authors bend and break the rules. Steampunk has branched out and evolved as creators and fans innovate, which brings me to the strength of the genre: