Interview with J. Kathleen Cheney, Author of The Golden City

Please welcome J Kathleen Cheney to the virtual offices this morning! She dropped by to chat about The Golden City.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[J Kathleen Cheney] Former math teacher and retail buyer turned historical fantasy writer who’s holding her breath until November 5th.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Golden City?

[J Kathleen Cheney] In an alternate 1902 Portugal, Oriana Paredes is a spy among the social elite of the Golden City. Her people, the sereia, are sea folk banned from the city’s shores. When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris, but before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown.

Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die. Oriana vows vengeance, but as a spy she can’t take her information to the police. She’ll have to stop the killer alone. But then she crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[J Kathleen Cheney] When I started this piece, I meant for it to be about a woman (Oriana) who’s unable to go to the police, so I made her of a race that’s banned. She’s caught between two antagonists, unsure which is lying and which means her harm.

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Waiting on Wednesday– Blood Kin by M J Scott

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I enjoyed Shadow Kin, so I’m anxious to read M J Scott’s follow up Blood Kin.  I really like the cover, too.  Unlike the protagonist, though, I could never pose on a tile roof without falling off.  That would be both painful and humiliating, especially if I stabbed myself with a knife on the way to the ground.

Imagine a city divided. A city where human and Fae magic rests uneasily next to the vampire Blood and the shapeshifting Beasts. A city where a fragile peace is brokered by a treaty that set the laws for all four races… a treaty that is faltering day by day.

I didn’t plan on becoming a thief and a spy. But options are limited for the half-breed daughter of a Fae lord. My father abandoned me but at least I inherited some of his magic, and my skills with charms and glamours mean that few are as good at uncovering secrets others wish to hide. Right now the city has many secrets. And those who seek them pay so well…

I never expected to stumble across a Templar Knight in my part of the city. Guy DuCaine is sworn to duty and honor and loyalty — all the things I’m not. I may have aroused more than his suspicion but he belongs to the Order and the human world. So when treachery and violence spill threaten both our kind, learning to trust each other might be the only thing that saves us.

But even if a spy and a holy knight can work together, finding the key to peace is never going to be easy…

In stores June 2012

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Review: Shadow Kin by M J Scott


Title: Shadow Kin

Author: M J Scott

Publisher: ROC

ISBN: 978-0451464040


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

On one side, the Night World, rules by the Blood Lords and the Beast Kind. On the other, the elusive Fae and the humans, protected by their steadfast mages…

Born a wraith, Lily is a shadow who slips between worlds. Brought up by a Blood Lord and raised to be his assassin, she is little more than a slave. But when Lily meets her match in target Simon DuCaine, the unlikely bond that develops between them threatens to disrupt an already stretched peace in a city on the verge of being torn apart…


Once I picked up Shadow Kin, I could not put it down.  I loved the grim, dangerous world that Lily lived in, which is populated by the Fae, Beasts, and Vampires.  Humans are the odd species out there, weaker and more vulnerable than the other beings they co-exist with.  Peace is a shaky proposition, and safety is certainly not assured.  With a power-hungry vampire fortifying his position in the city, a continued peace seems ever more doubtful.

Lily is a wraith; her mother is Fae, and she has no idea who her father is.  Given to Lucius as an infant, the scariest vampire of them all, Lily has been trained to be an assassin, killing at her master’s whims.  With the ability to become a shadow, Lily can slip undetected just about anywhere, as long as there is darkness.  Her fatal flaw is a compelling one – she can’t use her powers when there’s sunlight.  Her weakness is also her strength, though, because her vampire master can’t endure the sun.  Lucius is trapped in darkness, while Lily can move between both the worlds of light and dark.

I felt so bad for Lily.  Everyone treats this girl so poorly, all for reasons that she has no control over.  She’s no better than a slave, really, and Lucius is a demanding taskmaster.  When she fails a mission, the Blood Lord is furious, and he doesn’t hesitate to humiliate her in front of his entire court.  He also never pulls his punches when his punishments become fits of rage.  Having been beaten into submission from the time she was a child, Lily’s attitude toward her lot in life is convincing, as well as compelling.  The few kindnesses that she has received have been few and far between, so her suspicion of Simon and his friends is logical and understandable.

When Lily is sent to murder Simon, a sun mage, her entire world is turned upside down.  Instead of killing her, Simon is remorseful when his magic causes her discomfort.  At first I didn’t buy into Simon’s chivalrous behavior, but he did act in a consistent manner, at least until near the end of the book.  He’s a healer, and he takes his duties to save lives seriously.  He will treat anyone who is sick or injured, which gets him on Lucius’ hit list.  Even his brother, a holy knight, can’t understand his reasoning when Simon heals everyone he encounters.  He’s on a mission to save everyone, and sometimes that even grated on my nerves, but with a personality like that, it’s easy to believe that he would be drawn to Lily, a seasoned killer in the service of a bloodthirsty vampire.  Simon is wired to save, and if anyone needs saving, it’s Lily.

Against her will, Lily is drawn to Simon.  He is very charismatic, and his killer looks don’t hurt, either.  In order to accept that Lily would turn on Lucius, the attraction between Simon and Lily had to flash like a solar flare.  It did.  Even though Lily is bound to Lucius by his blood and all of the sensual pleasures, as well as humiliations, that go with it, she is still fascinated by Simon.  He’s the first person to actually care about her and not hold what she is against her.  The back and forth pull between Simon and Lucius had me wondering which of them would win the tug of war for her.  Lucius wants only to possess her and take advantage of her powers, while Simon’s interest, though not totally selfless, was at least based on compassion and a desire to see her in better hands.

There’s a lot of action and some intense fight scenes to heighten the sense of danger for Lily.  She’s a consummate fighter, and she doesn’t shirk away from a confrontation.  I loved the magic and world-building in Shadow Kin, and all of the races that populate it.  I liked the characters, and was surprised to feel a flicker of compassion for Lucius, who doesn’t deserve an iota of anyone’s pity!  Despite wanting to reach into the pages and throttle Simon near the end, this was a tense, exciting read. I am looking forward to more from MJ Scott.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher