About the Book
Author: Dana Li
Release date: March 1, 2022
“To enter Faerie’s blessed demesne
four secrets must be found:
the land unbound by time and space
opens only to the one who knows
the Light, the Song, and Mortal Gate.”
In the sheltered town of Carmel, women do not have a future outside of a good marriage. That future is threatened when Leah Edwards’ father gambles away the family’s livelihood and estate. She and her sisters must hurry to find husbands. Then August Fox, a Guardian from Cariath, comes to town and purchases a supposedly haunted manor. Charged to keep the peace between mortals and Faerie, the Guardians are the stuff of legend. After he stuns her with a marriage proposal, Leah reluctantly journeys to Cariath, discovering there is more to August and the legends than she guessed.
Nimrod and his Oath-breakers betrayed the Guardians, seeking to solve an ancient riddle that would unlock the Faerie realm. Not all his followers share his desire for conquest. Benedict Fox, his second-in-command, has different motives. But as he continues fulfilling Nimrod’s plan, Benedict hurtles towards a choice between saving his family and settling a personal vendetta.
For Leah, August, and their allies, it is a race against time to solve the ancient riddle before the Oath-breakers, and reunite the Guardians to save the mortal realm. The war is never really over, and this time, the battle lines cut through blood ties and brotherhood.
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The Vermillion Riddle was a strange and exciting tale within a world that was hidden in secrets that some thought were just fables. At first the story was like two different worlds and as the chapters progressed, like I was reading two stories in one book, a fantasy one and a regency one. Until they converge and the story of a war and fairy world comes alive.
This is a story of two brothers, Benedict and August Fox. They are enemies now, fighting against one another. There is a war between a group called the Guardians and one called the Oath Breakers.
This is also a story of a marriage, Leah's and August's. Leah comes from a family who is about to be ruined due to her father's debt. Then a mysterious young man that has all the women talking buys a so-called haunted estate. He has a ball and meets Leah. That part of the story was very much like a regency. It was mysterious and in part a little touch of gothic as well. Since I am more of a romance reader than a fantasy one, I enjoyed the complicated relationship of Leah and August.
Leah is about to have an adventure of a lifetime as she gets to know her husband and all his family secrets that will be uncovered. Even some of her own.
This was a very interesting and unique story that merged two different worlds together into one imaginative story.
I was provided a copy of this novel from the author. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
About the Author
More from Dana
Two of my favorite fiction authors are J.R.R. Tolkien and Jane Austen. Besides both being British, their works are worlds apart, literally – one wrote epic, sprawling stories of the battle between good and evil, while the other wrote of small town families, romance, and culture in the Regency era. If Tolkien’s heroes failed, death and darkness would sweep across the land. If Austen’s heroes failed, a lady would be single at thirty. (The horror!)
As different as they are, I had a desire to blend the best of both genres. I didn’t think it’d be the most marketable book, but then, I also thought no one else would write this. That concept sparked the genesis of The Vermilion Riddle. I wanted an epic fantasy that was also character-driven and intimate. I love how Austen deftly explored familial and romantic relationships in the framework of her society, and I was curious to see how that would unfold in the context of a traditional fantasy. I shamelessly drew influence from the Regency era for parts of my story’s culture, simply because it’s got that quaint, cozy vibe, stored inside a broad, sweeping world.
This is a snippet of what I wrote in my original query letter for The Vermilion Riddle:
“While the novel evokes elements of classic fantasy—quests, duels, and the battle of good versus evil—it thrives on character exploration. The plot hums to the beat of a cosmic conflict and climax, though the struggles within a family—between fathers and sons, brothers by blood (and not), husband and wife—forms its core melody.”
When it came to the characters and relationships in the story, three questions framed my writing.
What makes a strong, relatable, and feminine heroine?
What happens to brothers who are pitted against each other ideologically?
What does a love story that happens after marriage look like?
I did not know, concretely, the answer to any of these when I began, and Riddle was going to be my way of exploring them. In retrospect, I was in over my head. I’m not sure if I ever found totally satisfactory answers, but as I worked on the novel over the years, I felt the story mature quietly alongside of me. There were nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from life and other people that made their way into the story. There were also surprising insights that emerged from the characters as I was writing.
In the end, I wanted to write characters who, though born into another world, were achingly human. Though they chase ancient secrets and face the fury of the faerie-kind, they aren’t wrapped in an air of mythology that makes them feel far removed from us. They are the sort of people who could be legends – but a legend is usually formed in retrospect. They are like Merry and Pippin, hobbits who felt like useless baggage for much of their journey before they were hailed as heroes.
That’s what I strove for, at least – a story that’s epic yet intimate, that’s far-flung and yet close to home.
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To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of The Vermilion Riddle (e-book for those outside the US)!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.