For Your Consideration: Traitor's Masque

Subject: Traitor's Masque, The Andari Chronicles Book 1
Author: Kenley Davidson
Website: http://kenleydavidson.com/

Some of this is in my review on Amazon, but I wanted to say more about it here.

Give Cinderella some spunk, a backbone, and a whole lot of wit, and you’ve got Trystan, the heroine Traitor's Masque, a new incarnation of the rags-to-riches fairy tale.

First, let’s be honest with ourselves, there have been enough retellings of the Cinderella fairy tale over the years, that it takes something special to shine. I’m happy to report that TM is something special. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but the story and the deftness at which it was executed won me over. Sure, we might all know how our fairy tales end, but the journey to reach that Happily Ever After is what’s important. And for this reader, that journey was a lot of fun.

The major delight for me was the dialogue between Trystan and the prince Ramsey. Witty back-and-forth conversation is an art form, and Ms. Davidson is quite skilled at it. This novel feels pretty comfortable on your bookshelf right next to Pride and Prejudice (with or without zombies).

Cinderella’s story is used as a jumping off point, but the divergences from that plot are many—enough that in the end your mind may even reject the comparison out of hand. TM is something classic, but also something new—like a horse-drawn carriage, only the horses are robotic and have rockets for hooves.

I'm hard-pressed to ultimately classify this as Young Adult (YA) fiction. If it is, then it skews toward the older side of young. Ms. Davidson writes for a mature audience and isn't dumbing anything down for her readers to shoehorn (OMG, now there's an outdated reference) her story into a YA mold. But hey, fairy tale aren't just for kids anyway.

Just for fun, and because I love statistical analysis of art, I ran the first page of TM through Microsoft Word's grammar checker, and it came back with a Flesch reading ease of 58.8 and a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score of 10.4. So, the prose is basically readable by those of us who have finished high school. For comparison, What Happened On My Space Vacation rolls in at 79.9/4.8, which is described "fairly easy to read" according to Wikipedia.

As much enjoyment as I get out of reading level...content is far more important when deciding age-appropriateness. As long as your kid is watching PG movies, you're good here. The societal intrigue is complex, but competently explained. The romance is refreshingly pure and wholesome. Violence is minimal (possibly helped by the fact that there are exactly zero zombies in this book). The characters curse on occasion, probably because they're human like us.

The novel is engaging and well-written. So, if you like your classic fairy tales revved up, Traitor’s Masque has a shiny new engine lurking under its classic exterior. As it turns out, even after all these years, Cinderella’s story can still hold quite a few surprises.

Buy the novel here:Traitor's Masque, The Andari Chronicles Book 1. If it ends up being your thing, then the "Book 1" is a clue; there are currently two more books in this series. From the descriptions, characters from the first novel appear in those as well, so there's the promise of finding out more about some of the supporting characters.


If she can, so can you.

If you think you can't write a novel, I know you're wrong, because my daughter did it when she was 9.

If she can, so can you.

National Novel Writing Month has a Young Writers Program. Instead of the 50,000 goal for the month of November, you set a daily goal. We determined that 500 was reasonable for her. She did it for the first time when she was 8 and learned a lot about what it takes to start and finish a story in a month. She met her goal, but the story wasn't really a unified, workable thing. In 2015, she had a much simpler story and a much better idea of how to execute it. 500 words a day isn't an easy thing for a kid that young with school and karate and all the other things that have to get done as part of normal kid life. Actually, I'm sure it's just as difficult for as 1,667 words is for us adults. (For me, it means staying up super late to write.)

I promised her if she finished her story, we'd have it printed up through Amazon's CreateSpace. She'd also be able to give it out in electronic format to friends and family for Christmas. She hit her 15,000 word goal. The story wasn't quite done so she wrote for a few more days in order to finish her story. After that she did a complete editing pass, and then her mother and I went through it as well to take a look at grammar, etc.

I won't lie, it floored me how well-written the book was.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that she had fewer mistakes than I've ever had in a manuscript that long. Also--and this is big--it was a complete story. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. That, my friends, is a huge accomplishment. I understand my bias here, but I've read published novels that weren't as coherent or as engaging.

So yeah, she was 9, and she wrote a novel. (Let's not get picky here about how many pages makes a "novel.")

If she can, so can you.

I didn't write a single word of it. I didn't help her with story. I didn't draw the cover. All I did was provide constructive criticism and publish it for her. If you know her and you read her story, you will understand that this story is TOTALLY her. Her love of all things cat-related, to the adventure, to the humor--it's all her.

She was involved from the beginning. She got the full experience that self-published authors get. She knows all the steps from start to finish. From outlining and planning to sitting in that accursed chair and banging out word after word, day after day for 30 days straight. Getting behind schedule and having to work extra on the weekend. She got frustrated when the words weren't flowing and the deep thrills when they were. The excitement of being done, of completing that first draft and then the dreaded slog of the second. The feeling of looking at the preview and finding mistakes, fixing them, uploading a new version, only to find more mistakes. She knows what it's like to hold that physical proof in your hands, to read through it and find yet more things that need fixed. What it's like to get that first batch of first edition printed novels, to read it to her friends...and still be finding typos.

She's still involved, talking about her novel to friends and family and--this is the big one--strangers. Telling them the story and how and why she wrote it. She selling it on her own. And she's not stopping. She's planning the sequel. She's inspiring other young kids to do the same. That's extraordinary.

She's 10 now. She sat her butt down in a chair and wrote a novel. Now she's an author.

You and I? We have no excuses left for not writing.

If she can, so can we.

The Journey is available at this link.