by A.G. Henley
(Brilliant Darkness #3)
Publication date: September 25th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Fennel and Peree are finally where they’ve worked ceaselessly to be: together and safe from the Scourge in the protected village of Koolkuna. But on the day of their partnering ceremony the children of the village are stolen away—Fenn’s loyal companion, Kora, among them.
Fenn wants to bring the children home, especially as the villagers seem to blame Peree and her for the tragedy. Only since the death of her own family, she’s terrified that a wrong move on her part will lead to the loss of others she loves.
Despite her apprehension, Fenn and Peree join a small search party led by rival Kaiya, the one person who stands a chance of finding the children thanks to her mysterious past. As they travel away from the safe waters of Koolkuna and into the Scourge-infested wilds, Fenn endures Kai’s scorn, her subtle designs on Peree, and the squabbling of the group. But nothing in her life so far has prepared her for the fierce warrior women who will steal others’ children to preserve their own existence—the Fire Sisters.
If Fenn is to survive the threat of the Scourge, rescue the children from the Sisters, and have a hope of making a life with Peree in Koolkuna, she must face her fear of failure and loss and become the leader she’s destined to be.
Read THE FIRE SISTERS, the thrilling conclusion to the bestselling young adult fantasy Brilliant Darkness series! There are three novels and two short stories in the series. The first novel, The Scourge, was a finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award.
RECOMMENDED SERIES READING ORDER:
Excerpt 1“We lost them.” Derain’s voice buckles with grief. “They left one woman behind to fend us off with her arrows, and then she slipped away in the shadows of the branches, moving like the wind. We searched, but we couldn’t find them again.”
“Then we have no time to lose,” Nerang says. “A search party will leave as soon as possible. Who will go?”
There are a few declarations from the group. I hear Derain, and a woman’s high voice, like birdsong, that I think belongs to Amarina. I worked with her in the gardens. She sounds as breakable as a thin stalk of the maidengrass that grew around our water hole at home, but Kadee told me she’s a skilled tracker and woodswoman who can coax fire out of little more than a handful of damp kindling.
“My brothers and me are going for sure,” Moray growls. I don’t trust them much, but they’re tough and cunning. We need whoever can help bring Frost and the children home.
“I’ll go.” My voice is strong, decided. I feel better for saying the words.
Peree squeezes my shoulders. “I will, too.”
I’m afraid to enter an unfamiliar forest, chasing after a group of kidnapping warrior women. I’m no fighter.
But I want to go for Kora and her family. They were the first to befriend Peree and me when we washed up in Koolkuna, helpless as babies.
I want to go for Thrush, Moon, and Petrel. I know all too well how it feels to lose a brother.
I want to go for Frost. Pregnant and afraid, she risked her father, Osprey’s, rage to free Eland and me when we were trapped in the Lofty trees.
I want to go for Nerang, who saved our lives, and for the anuna, who took us in, even if some might unfairly blame us for this tragedy now.
And… I want to go for Eland. I couldn’t save him. I can still save these children.
Everyone has done so much for us. How can I sit here, enjoying the protection and comforts they secured for us, hoping someone else will help?
I’ll go, and I’ll do whatever it takes to find Kora and the others and bring them home.
Excerpt 2“The Sisters were something else, Fenn,” Peree says. “All painted white. Armed to the teeth. And that scream… Thrush went white as a stone.”
I won’t forget the Sisters’ battle cry any time soon. “Why didn’t the children cry or shout? Why couldn’t I hear them at all?”
He lets out a long breath. “I don’t know. They weren’t gagged or anything. But they looked odd. Kind of… slack-faced.”
I shiver, and he rubs my arms.
“It reminded me of a story Kadee told me once," he says, "about a man who came to a village and, at the request of the people, played his pipes to lead all the rats that had been bothering them away. But once the rats were gone, the people wouldn’t give the piper what they promised him in return. So the next night, he came back, played his pipes, and took all their children away. Only three children remained behind to tell the villagers what had happened. One was lame, and so couldn’t follow the other children. One was deaf, and so couldn’t hear the music. And one was blind and couldn’t find her way.”
I make a face at that. “What did the people do?”
“They begged and pleaded with the piper to give their children back, but he was angry, and he wouldn’t.”
I sigh. “Peree, I wish Kadee would teach you some new stories. Ones with happy endings.” I start to move away. “We should get ready.”
“Wait.” He draws me back into his arms. “The timing could be better, but… I don’t know when I’ll have you to myself again.”
He kisses me.
We’ve shared a lot of kisses now—sweet, soft, tender, steamy, seductive, intense. I never knew there were so many kinds. This one starts slow and builds, like a fire catching. My legs go weak, and my insides turn to liquid.
I press myself against him, wanting no distance between us. His back is muscled under my hands, and his slim hips fit well against my own. His sweet honeysuckle scent makes me dizzy. If only we could lose ourselves in each other, forget everything and everyone else… let it all slip away in the heat of our passion.
For a moment, I let myself pretend we can.
A.G. is also a clinical psychologist, which means people either tell her their life stories on airplanes, or avoid her at parties when they've had too much to drink. Neither of which she minds. When she's not writing fiction or shrinking heads, she can be found herding her children and their scruffy dog, Guapo, to various activities while trying to remember whatever she's inevitably forgotten to tell her husband. She lives in Denver, Colorado.Author Links:
1. Why don’t we start off with you telling us a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I SO appreciate bloggers for the good work you do to help authors get the word out about their books, and you’ve been especially kind to me. Thank you!
So, I’m a YA author with a now complete (hooray!) series of dystopian/post-apocalyptic books. The Brilliant Darkness series begins with The Scourge, a 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist, and includes The Defiance and the just-released The Fire Sisters. There are also two novellas in the series. The series features a blind girl who believes she’s mysteriously protected from flesh-eating creatures called the Scourge, but she hasn’t been tested—until now.
I’m also a psychologist, which makes my workweek an interesting mix of fantasy and heart-wrenching reality.
2. I know it is good to hear an encouraging word now and then to know how much the readers love your books and to keep you going. So what is your favorite comment from a fan that really lifted your spirits?
I LOVE my readers, and I have such nice ones. They are incredibly supportive. One comment that has always stuck in my brain came very early after I first published The Scourge in January 2012. I was not planning to self-publish, but at the time I couldn’t interest an agent in my writing. I thought no one would buy or read my book.
A woman, an early reader, said she was so engrossed in The Scourge that she read while trying to do her housework, and while changing her baby’s diaper. I was thrilled that the initial response was that the book was hard to put down. I see that as a primary goal for an author: to make you lose sleep, because you can’t stop reading : ) Consider that fair warning! You can see her actual comment here, third one down on the left:
3. I don’t want to give away any details in Fire Sisters to spoil the series for everyone else, so I will just focus on the series as a whole. I just love your Brilliant Darkness series! How did you come up with such a great idea for a story?
Thank you so much! I initially came up with the idea of people trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world full of swamps. I figured they’d move up into the trees. But, what if half the people moved up and wouldn’t share with the other half? That’s how the two main groups in The Scourge, the Lofties and Groundlings, were born. (The swamp idea kind of fell away, although water is very important to the story.)
Then, I thought, what if the main character, a Groundling, was blind? And THEN, I thought, and what if there were zombie-like creatures that only she was protected from, due to her blindness??? And that was it. Fennel and the Scourge were born.
4. I find the concept of the Lofties (tree dwellers) and Groudlings (Ground dwellers) so fascinating. Then there is the dreaded Scourge. Can you tell us a little about each of them?
Lofties are all fair-haired and fair-skinned. Groundlings are dark. Once a year, the two groups meet for the Exchange, when they trade their infants based on their coloring. It’s a terrible time for both groups, but they’ve been locked in this tradition for generations. The Lofties hold the safety and security of the trees and treetops, while the Groundlings control the community’s only water supply. So they have a tense, mistrustful relationship, as you might imagine. The Groundlings are particularly bitter, because they have to hide in cold, dark caves for days when the Scourge come, because the Lofties won’t share their trees.
The Scourge are vicious flesh-eating creatures that chase down and devour, or turn, any humans they come across—except the Sightless, like Fennel. I should say here that if you don’t like blood and gore, don’t be afraid of The Scourge. Most people who say they aren’t zombie fans, and are easily grossed out or afraid, don’t find my series to be objectionable at all. It’s really fantasy romance : )
5. Your characters have a ways of getting themselves into so many bad situations and some causes problems for those around them. Which character(s) gave you the most problems when trying to write their story?
Hmm, I’m not sure any of them gave me problems. I LOVE creating characters. They usually just jump into my head fully formed!
6. I love so many of the characters in The Brilliant Darkness series so I can’t pick just one. Who was your favorite character to write?
I’m attached to my two mains, Fennel and Peree. It was so fun to build their relationship from scratch. But the most fun to write was Moray. He’s a bad guy, really, but he has heroic, good guy moments. I really tried hard to write him so that you couldn’t classify him, so he wouldn’t be black and white. I hope I succeeded right through The Fire Sisters.
7. I know right now the series consist of 3 full length novels and 2 novellas. So is this it or do you feel there will be a spin-off or prequel in the future?
Hmm, this is it for NOW. Funny you should mention a spin-off, though. I did try to leave the ending somewhat open for a few characters, and there are many more questions about the world of the Scourge…
8. What are you working on now? Has a new story started to bring itself to life?
Thanks for asking! I’m writing a YA time travel short story right now for an indie anthology that will release in March. I met a group of women writers here in Denver who all write YA and are mostly indies. We have done a few writing retreats together, and at the last one someone said, “Why don’t we publish a short story anthology?” So, Tick Tock: Seven Tales of Time came to be! It’s so much fun to write a new character in a new world. I could totally see this leading to its own series down the road…
I’m also revising a novel I wrote last year that is YA speculative fiction. It will be a duology, if all goes as planned.
9. There is one question we like to ask all of our authors. Is there any advice you would like to give to the aspiring authors out there?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Honestly, that’s what being an author boils down to. I read, write, and create all day, and it’s a privilege to get paid to do it!
10. We would like to thank you for joining us today A.G. Henley you are amazing! Now I would like to give you the last word. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your books or yourself that I did not ask about? Or is there something you would like to say to all the readers out there?
Thank you so much for reading and supporting the work of authors and bloggers! I can create books and worlds, but that’s only half the equation of reading. Readers provide their own lens and interpretation to what I write, and they bring richness to the experience of writing that would otherwise be very solitary. We’re a team – and I appreciate my other half!
Thank you again for having me on the blog! It was a lot of fun.