Welcome to the November 18th review stop on the blog tour for Songs of Autumn by Lauren Sevier, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, other reviews, guest posts by the author, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.
Author Guest Post:
Fierce Female Characters in Fantasy
A topic of much contention among Fantasy authors is how to develop strong female characters in the fantasy genre while still retaining their femininity. This is something I feel I’ve done particularly well in my debut novel Songs Of Autumn. Strength, specifically female strength, tends to be depicted by women wielding swords and donning armor in fantasy novels. Or, alternatively, wielding magic that gives them an edge in battle or over their enemies. Strength seems to be characterized by the ability to vanquish foes or feats of athleticism in the fantasy genre. This overcorrection and it’s pervasiveness among the genre led to a new character archetype ‘The Mary Sue’.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a ‘Mary Sue’ character is a strong female character with little to no flaws, so strong and overbearing that antagonists, conflicts, etc. seem nearly unable to touch her ferocity. Which isn’t exactly interesting to read about. Don’t we all want to read about realistic, well-rounded characters who overcome flaws and obstacles along their journey?
I’m going to borrow a quote from an advanced reviewer who posted his review of Songs Of Autumn on Goodreads. “While we may have all read the story of the princess who needs to be rescued, we haven’t all read the story of the princess who is strong, brave, and fragile all at once.”- Micah
Micah is absolutely right. Strength doesn’t have to mean physical strength, magical strength, or weapons mastery. In fact, it does a disservice to a lot of strong women throughout history who relied on the strength of their convictions to change the world. The strength of their kindness to make a difference in people’s lives. The strength of their minds to innovate and overcome obstacles put in place by society. Women like Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Florence Nightingale, Ada Lovelace, and so many others it’s hard to keep track.
What I love about Liz, my protagonist, is that she’s a teenage girl who makes mistakes. She has flaws, big ones, and yet she still tries her best to overcome them. Her strength comes from her compassion and her ability to see the humanity in others. Is she over dramatic or fatalistic at times, sure, what teenager isn’t? I certainly was. What’s special about Liz is that even though she’s fragile, it’s a fragile strength that transcends the usual archetypes of the genre. She avoids responsibility and denies her duty; unlike most heroes, she runs away. It’s a huge source of guilt for her throughout the novel, especially as she sees first hand the consequences of her actions. Despite all of that, she perseveres in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
I hope you all see the strength Liz has innately, and the strength she gains throughout my novel and learn to love her as dearly as I have while writing her.
-by Lauren Sevier
About the Book
Songs of Autumn
Songs Book One
by Lauren Sevier
Publishing 21 November 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Count: 286
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
What if your entire life you knew the exact day you were going to die?
Magick in the Kingdom of Aegis has almost run out. When that happens, the seasons will stop changing, the tides will cease to turn, and the sun will no longer be able to rise and set. The only way to save the lives of her people is if Liz agrees to be a blood sacrifice in a brutal ceremony that will take her life.
The problem is… Liz isn’t ready to go.
With the help of a mischievous wanna-be soldier, Matioch Steele, Liz dares to take her fate into her own hands. Defying a blood-thirsty sorcerer, her desperate flight teaches her how to truly live while Mat finds out what’s worth dying for. Each other.
Love, Death, Magick, and Mystery come together to weave one girl’s epic tale of self-discovery.
Her song will echo within us all.
Liz’s guilt coated her like an inky film, soaking deep into her skin. She was keeping so many things from Mat. Seeing him there, surrounded by his friends with an easy open smile, she couldn’t bear to speak of her secrets now. What if, somehow, her words hastened his impending demise? As if speaking them aloud would spur the gods to action. Like a bad omen, she followed after him with a prophecy of her own. She would not wish such a fate on an enemy, much less someone she had grown to trust.
Tia tugged her inside the lodge, a familiar conspiratorial smile on her lips. Liz’s heart ached beneath its beauty, evoking memories that had sharp edges. Pain and relief mixed together, indistinguishable from each other.
She missed her mother.
Somehow, innately, Liz knew she was dead. Perhaps the same way she could see through the mists and sense the threads of fate. All Liz knew was that she woke up one morning and the world was grey, her heart heavier.
Now she only remained alive within Liz’s memory, within her pain.
My Rating: 4 Stars
(Consider giving my review a like on Goodreads!)
I was provided with a complimentary eARC of Songs of Autumn by the author Lauren Sevier through Goddess Fish Promotions in exchange for an honest review as part of my participation in the blog tour for this title. Thank you to Lauren Sevier and Goddess Fish Promotions for the opportunity. This has not swayed my opinion. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
Songs of Autumn is a YA Fantasy Romance that begins with a young princess facing her very unwanted destiny as a prophesied sacrifice to save her people, and ends with a wizened woman who has learned what true sacrifice is and what things are truly worth fighting for.
This story is told through two points of view: princess to be sacrificed Liz and lowborn aspiring soldier Mat, and I do think the two POVs were handled well. Switches made sense and the narrative voices were quite distinct.
Lauren Sevier’s writing is absolutely beautiful! I’m confident that I would be able to read any prose she puts out, whether I liked the characters and plot or not, just because her writing itself is a pleasure to read. Add in the strong female characters and the vital life lessons this book has to offer and it’s a recipe for success!
I absolutely loved the fact that Liz (our princess destined to die) is strong enough to make the tough choices she has to make to survive, and the adventure that this takes her on was a blast. Not only is she fleeing for her life, but she’s also facing political intrigue she hadn’t even been aware of, and she’s learning that saving herself can and will cost others she cares about dearly. I also loved our main supporting characters, best friend Tia and hero-turned-love interest Mat. They have their flaws for sure, but they have Liz’s best interests at heart as well, and both are so instantly relatable and deserving of the reader’s empathy and affection.
I didn’t love Liz at first, though, and I think it’s because I felt like the setup was too slow, so I was getting bored while she was being broody (which was totally fair, I would be too if I were facing execution.) We spend a good chunk of time in the beginning just sitting in on Liz’s pity party about the upcoming marriage with a dessert of human sacrifice as we’re filled in on all the necessary preliminary info-dumping, and I wasn’t sure how we were supposed to feel about Liz or Tia, but I just wanted to get on with the plot.
The beginning was a bit of a struggle for me, and for that reason I can’t give this book a full 5 stars, but once it got going I really loved it. It’s full of love and loss, personal growth, defiance of birthrights and classism, a captivating fantasy world, wonderful friendships and deep love, and it also has dragons. Dragons are always a welcome bonus! Songs of Autumn is clearly the first book in a series and does leave quite a bit unanswered, but the ending it gives us is satisfying enough, albeit devastating.
The friendship between Liz and Tia is the sort of strong, true girl friendship that I love to see in any book. The lover relationship between Liz and Mat is a bit more of an “insta-love” trope situation, but since this is YA I’ll forgive that.
All in all, this is a brilliant, fast-paced fantasy adventure with a healthy serving of romance and mystery, and I would absolutely recommend this book to all fans of the fantasy genre and YA fiction in general. I’m looking forward to the continuation of this story!
About the Author
Lauren Sevier lives a simple life in small town Walker, Louisiana with her family and two mischievous dogs. She’s a proud firefighter wife and mother to her miracle son, born through IVF after an eight-year battle with infertility. She works full-time for a non-profit hospital in Cardiology caring for the elderly and low-income families all over the state of Louisiana in satellite and outreach clinics. Writing and being in the service of helping others are her two passions in life.
She started writing song lyrics and poems on the front porch swing of her family home nestled amidst a 200-year-old pecan tree orchard that was once part of a Civil War plantation. She’s inspired the most by Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and JK Rowling. Her background in Theatre introduced her to classic British literature, playwrights, and poets from a very young age. This helped her to understand story concepts, dramatization, and character development the way Shakespeare once did, as an actor.
Now her biggest inspiration for writing is her son who, like all children, learns by example. Lauren is determined to set a specific example for him; to live simply, work hard, and to never stop chasing her dreams. Because, one day, you just might catch them.
One lucky follower of the tour will walk away with a $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, winner’s choice! Visit other stops on the tour for more chances to enter.
September 30: Hope. Dreams. Life… Love
October 7: Rogue’s Angels
October 7: What Is That Book About
October 14: All the Ups and Downs
October 21: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
October 28: Novels Alive
November 4: Kit ‘N Kabookle
November 4: Long and Short Reviews
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