So, recently, quite a few folks have been asking me for anything I can tell them about my upcoming novel, A Trial of Sparks & Kindling. Anything at all.
And this is where it gets super tricky, because there are literally spoilers from the first chapter. Now, since I don’t want to put a bullet in my own foot and tell you exactly what will happen in this novel (I hear that kind of behaviour is bad for sales
Because, yes, I want to gush about this book to the people out there who don’t mind listening to me gush. But, no, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
So–what can I tell you without giving anything away? Er…
The cover will be red?
Okay, on a serious note (though the cover really will be red). Things take off much sooner than they did in A Study of Ash & Smoke. I’m a slow writer, who tends to spend a lot of time setting the scene and introducing the characters, but I’ve already done that in Book 1. This time, I could just jump in with the intrigue, and I sincerely believe the pace is faster and the stakes higher.
Ultimately, this is a novel about a deadly plague that has been raging for the entire previous book, with a war going on in the background. So, brace yourself for lots of poor health and death.
On the whole, I think the themes of A Trial of Sparks & Kindling are darker than they were in ASOAAS. The world is grimmer, the characters are all traumatised after the way things ended last time, and everything looks a little bleaker than it did before.
In ASOAAS, I explored the impact of lies and manipulation in the lives of some characters. I’ve delved deeper into those themes in ATOSAK. Considering the cast and their circumstances, I had no other choice but to keep thinking about these themes, which led to some hard questions.
How far will someone go to get what they want? What are they willing to give to control others? And how far must someone be pushed before they break, or fight back?
The answer was resounding. All is not as it seems.
And, to make things even more interesting, I figured out how the story must progress from here. I’m not a planner, and went into ASOAAS with a vague idea of what the end would be, but I’ve since learned that my initial instincts were wrong. For the first time ever, I have a fairly detailed plan of every book to follow this one. So brace yourselves. This is going to be one hell of a ride.
Anyway, manipulation. There was no sex in ASOAAS, but the clothes do come off in ATOSAK. I figured, if people were going to these lengths to get what they want, sex is a natural progression on that. It’s not graphic or overly detailed, but it is there, so you’ve been warned.
As I mentioned above, some of the cast enters ATOSAK freshly traumatised, and a few of them have to deal with PTSD. Again, considering these characters and their backgrounds, dealing with this kind of trauma meant delving into the darkest aspects of their pasts, and led to some trying times for them in the sequel. No rainbows and unicorns here. 😛
I’ve also mentioned in other posts that we have a new viewpoint character this time around. We get to know one of my personal favourites, Pointy, more intimately. It’s been such a pleasure exploring this character and writing from his POV.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt. This is the opening lines from chapter 1–but do keep in mind that this might differ slightly from the published version. 🙂 Also, be warned. A Trial of Sparks & Kindling starts moments after the end of A Study of Ash & Smoke, so this excerpt contains spoilers if you haven’t read ASOAAS.
The halls of the castle blurred into a grey haze, broken only by the phantom-shapes of people as they hurried along, no doubt staring or whispering behind covered mouths. Some of the shapes shrank as they bowed.
They bowed to her, Carabelle of Mordoux, princess and heir to the throne. At least, that’s what Frank had called her. That’s what Malak had ordered her to say a few minutes ago.
Cara allowed herself to be led. Her vision still pulsed; her hands still shook. Every scrape, bruise or overused muscle begged for rest—just for a moment.
With a shake of her head she shelved the weariness and shuffled on. Her body would recover.
If only the same could be said for her mind. As the sedative drained out of her system, the numbness fled, and fragmented memories accompanied by warring emotions shouted for her attention. Frank was alive. She was just a princess. They were safe, but she’d almost been raped, Nathan and Nita had been hurt, Clarke had died—too young, too eager to save an invisible queen.
Rot still devoured Aelland, where Sera might have been exposed. Had the slummers marched all the way to Roicester? Were the Aellish caught in civil war?
And Magnus. Dear, sweet Magnus. Had he made it out of the slums? Was he still alive, or had the cancer claimed him?
Lock it away, Cara. Don’t think, don’t feel.A Trial of Sparks & Kindling – Yolandie Horak
Thanks for stopping by.