Wednesday, February 12, 2014

a necklace of souls

If I had been blogging in March 2013, I would have told you that my clever big sister's first novel, A Necklace of Souls, was being published - hurrah!  So instead, here I am 11 months later, making up lost time.

Rachel was the winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for YA Fiction in 2012, which set things in motion for A Necklace of Souls to be published by HarperCollins.  It's the story of Dana, a kick-ass princess and heir to the magical Necklace of Souls, which protects her hidden kingdom from mysterious and evil foes but which exacts a terrible price on its Guardian.  Dana must come to terms with the threats to her parents' kingdom and arm herself (literally and magically) to fight this evil.  But she must also come to terms with the personal price she herself will have to pay.

A Necklace of Souls is also the story of Will, a plague-survivor and refugee in the hidden Kingdom of the Rose, who comes across the princess, becomes friends with her, and ends up fighting alongside her.  As Rachel said to the Otago Daily Times: ''What I wanted to do with Necklace was to have protagonists of both sexes who interacted at an equal level; who were both equally developed characters.''

Rachel talked to Smackfiction about the novel and its inspiration:
"I began writing Necklace after having a dream of a girl fighting in a forest. She was wearing dark clothes and fighting with swords and the light cut across her face so she seemed entangled in grey and green. Her opponents wore capes that flared around them like wings and sometimes they almost seemed to fly through the trees. They fought silently; it seemed I was watching them through a window.  I wanted to find out more about her, why she was there, how she learnt to fight… so I wrote the story."

It feels weird to review one's own sister's novel... so I'm not going to go there, although I can say that I loved the book.  What I will do is direct you to a few reviews, as they all seem to be universally glowing.  For example:

My Best Friends Are Books thinks:
"Last year’s very deserving winner [of the Tessa Duder Award] was Rachel Stedman.  I’m extremely glad she won because her book, A Necklace of Souls is a brilliant fantasy that left me awestruck. ...
"A Necklace of Souls is gripping, dark fantasy that sweeps you up takes you on a wild ride.  It has reignited my love of fantasy stories. ...
"A Necklace of Souls is a story that will stay with me for a long time and I hope that there is more of Dana and Will’s story to come.  I think that A Necklace of Souls can stand proudly beside the likes of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, and Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina as a great fantasy story for teens and adults alike.  Everybody should go out and buy a copy for NZ Book Month and support this wonderful New Zealand author."

Reviewers for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand think:
"In A Necklace of Souls Ms Stedman has created a believable world peopled with sympathetic characters that are true to their motivations. She does not over play the magic nor rely on coincidence.
"This was a book that pleads for a sequel as there is obviously more of the story to tell."

Fangtastic thought:
"A Necklace of Souls is the debut novel from RL Stedman, and it’s excellent.
Small confession: I’m always terribly nervous reading books from local authors, or authors I know; there’s that absolute terror of how to say you detested their writing, so my relief at finding even one positive thing to comment on is profound. Thankfully local Dunedin author RL Stedman had me hooked from the first page."

Kiwifamilies thinks:
"I’ve read a lot of fantasy so sometimes it feels repetitive, but this book avoids many of the clich├ęs of the genre. Rather than spoon feeding you every detail you’re required to think for yourself and interpret what isn’t said. This is particularly true of the magic in the book, enough detail is supplied to understand what’s happening without slowing the story down."

I'll leave it there... but I think you'll find that if you google more reviews it'll be hard to find anything but good words!

You can buy A Necklace of Souls at a variety of websites and stores... see Rachel's website, here, for some links - towards the bottom of the page.

You're welcome. :)

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