Girl of Glass and Fury Launch Day!

In less than two hours, Girl of Glass and Fury arrives!

Girl of Glass and Fury Kindle Mockup

I’ll keep the price at 99c for the first week, so you can use this Universal Book Link to purchase it. Remember, if you haven’t read book one, that’s no problem! Girl of Glass and Fury takes place at the same time as Girl of Shadow and Glass (also 99c for a limited time!).

There are worse things than the shadows.

It’s a cruel and unjust world Finchoa lives in, and she’s determined to change it. Which would be a lot easier if not for one, massive problem: She’s a wisp.

To change the course of history, Finchoa will use every advantage she has—including her many friends. With the help of the boy she can’t be with and the friend she most trusts, Finchoa sets out to find their ancestors’ lost magic and a better future for her world. One in which her childhood friend Kith—and all the shade-children like her—will never have to choose between the dangerous shadows of the Open World and starvation.

Set in the same few days as Girl of Shadow and Glass (Tara’s Necklace Book One), Finchoa’s righteous anger grows into a force of its own, leading her out of her desert home and into a wild, new world she never could have imagined. Nor could she have dream of Arc, the mysterious soldier who suspects she’s more than she appears. And he isn’t wrong. Finchoa’s encounters with ancient magic are changing her in ways she can’t understand—yet.

With a bone-chilling jungle world full of dark surprises and a desert world mired in wicked winds, the worlds stand against a girl with the body of a ghost. Can Finchoa become what she needs to and unravel the secrets of Sundown? Or will those secrets die with her?

Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune (Vo)

A Review of The Empress of Salt and Fortune

“The Empress of Salt and Fortune belongs to all her subjects, and she was romantic and terrible and glamorous and sometimes all three at once. There are dozens of plays written about her, and some are good enough that they may last a little while even after she is gone. Older women wear their hair in braided crowns like she did, and because garnets were her favorite gem, they are everywhere in the capital.

“In-yo belonged to Anh, but Thriving Fortune only belonged to us.”

– Rabbit, telling her story to Cleric Chih and Almost Brilliant

If you read any book this month, let it be The Empress of Salt and Fortune. It won’t take long. This beautifully written, surprisingly short book is as tidy as cleric Chih’s records, and as wonderful and heartbreaking as the story of the Empress of Salt and Fortune herself.

The writing leans toward prose (lovely, fast-moving prose), the ending is a bit abrupt, and I felt one of the key emotional moments in The Empress of Salt and Fortune was a bit too underplayed. Yet reading over the ending and some of my highlights, I feel that same heartache the story left me with all over again. I’m happy to overlook my grumblings about those things, and I think many other readers will be, too, precisely because of that writing and the emotional punch it carries.

“…You could also find a beauty in it, a kind of peace even in something that was at first so very unsettling. I’d cried the first time I saw the luminescence of the lake. Now most nights, I slept on the porch, bathed in its red glow. If it was a monster of some kind, it was a monster that watched over me, and, at the very least, it had not devoured me yet.”
– Rabbit, on Lake Scarlet

The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a story full of uncommon elements. The opening chapter is packed with world-building, without pausing to explain it; protagonist Chih is in a hurry, after all. Instead of grand battle scenes in this tale of revolution, there a plot twists. The title character appears only once as a ghost, treated reverently by other ghosts on a road, and Chih, who is at first mistaken for a girl by part-time narrator Rabbit, is a cleric from the abbey at Singing Hills and not a girl. In the world of The Empress of Salt and Fortune, clerics, who are charged with traveling the world to record its history and events and locations, are they and them.

Throughout the book, chapters often begin with Chih and Almost Brilliant’s inventory of the house at Lake Scarlet, the sarcastically named Thriving Fortune. This is part of Chih and their neixin companion’s work. “The abbey at Singing Hills would say that if a record cannot be perfect,” Chih tells Rabbit, the now-elderly servant she meets there, “it should at least be present. Better for it to exist than for it to be perfect and only in your mind.” Pride drives Chih on this detour to the newly declassified Lake Scarlet; she desires to be the first cleric to record Thriving Fortune’s details. “Welcome to your place in history, grandmother,” Chih tells Rabbit as the now-elderly woman begins her story.

And that story matters a lot, because of its famous former resident.

In-yo, the Empress of Salt and Fortune, and Rabbit meet in the capital, where Rabbit is a palace servant and In-yo has become the new wife of the emperor. As a northerner, from a country known for mammoths and being bullied by Anh, In-yo is ill at ease in the south, where mages keep winter at bay and mammoths can’t survive. She isn’t well-received, either. The ladies and servants of the court fear her at first, “because the women of the north were all thought to be witches and sorceresses. Then [the noble ladies] discovered her great secret, that she was only a heartbroken and lonely girl, and she became of no account at all.”

Though In-yo is exiled to Thriving Fortune after producing an heir, clearly she plays a long game. The beginnings of the revolution trickle into the story with details not even Rabbit, devoted to the Empress as she is, could make sense of at the time. In-yo is a complex character, seen only through the eyes of others but depicted sympathetically and unflinchingly by Rabbit. In The Empress of Salt and Fortune, revolution is told through relationships rather than battles.

There is more to Rabbit herself, too. “For a single faraway moment, she looked like something other than a simple servant woman, but it was there and gone so fast that Chih could not say for sure what it was.” Naturally, Rabbit is more entwined with history than anyone knows. She suffers for her association with In-yo, and without it, too.

Rabbit’s life with In-yo is also easier and less formal than at court. There are fewer risks, too, for many of the years they reside there. But later experiences that could have left her bitter and angry never affect the choices she makes, though they leave her feeling worn and older than her years. She’s an understated, constant and lovable presence in the story.

“She had a foreigner’s beauty, like a language we do not know how to read…her face was as flat as a dish and almost perfectly round. Pearl-faced, they call it where she came from, but piggish is what they called it here.” And “as far as In-yo was concerned, she had no equals in all the empire.”
– Rabbit on In-yo, the Empress of Salt and Fortune

Rabbit sums it up best, in one of her recollections, with one of the most quotable lines in the book (and there are quite a few): “One drunken evening, many years on, In-yo would say that the war was won by silenced and nameless women, and it would be hard to argue with her.” Alone at Thriving Fortune, having outlived the Empress and so many others but still carrying their secrets, Rabbit could easily have been one of those women without Chih’s arrival. It’s this sad reality that brings a quiet joy to Rabbit’s story of loss, revolution and betrayal.

The world-building of The Empress of Salt and Fortune is lightly sketched but creative. Rather than spend a lot of time on the details, key aspects are revealed in matter-of-fact conversation, from the glowing Lake Scarlet’s origin as the resting place of a dying star, to a carp that became a calico dragon, and the ghostly imperial palanquin that Chih encounters on the road to Thriving Fortune. There are hidden dangers from creatures we never quite see, and ghosts are omnipresent. It made me want to continue journeying with Cleric Chih and Almost Brilliant—and Vo’s beautiful writing—just to see more of it.

To learn more about this author, visit

Supporting diversity in fantasy

Supporting Diversity in Fantasy

I’m back.

I wanted to reaffirm my commitment to reading authors of diverse backgrounds, and stories featuring diversity and non-white leads (something particularly important in fantasy). I’m going to do this by making a more concentrated effort to read said books, and by making sure I review the ones I’ve already read.

We’ve all seen how fantastic books like the three in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series have changed fantasy. We need more. We need international authors in translation, diverse authors, diverse characters, and a broader and more authentic inclusion of other cultures in our world-building.

Just think about the way Russian mythology in Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale felt like a breath of fresh air, and you’ll realize just how narrow fantasy is. Let’s not do that anymore. Give us all the places. Show us the cultures and well-rounded characters. Support books that do that by buying or borrowing them and leaving reviews along with me.

Note: I’ve updated this post to include a few author recommendations of my own (and one new author I’m excited about!), in no particular order, below.

Authors You’ll Love

Alexis Hendersen

The Year of the Witching is all the mystery, horror and serious trouble with witches you could ask for.  Don’t expect it to wrap up too neatly: a sequel is on the way to this beautifully (and creepily) descriptive book.

Bethany C. Morrow

A Song Below Water (YA Fantasy) is as compelling as…you know (my review here). A wonderful story of found-family sisterhood, identity, protest and myth set in a version of our world with modern mythological beings. The Renaissance fair mermaids might not be real, but the sirens and elokos are. A second book in the series, A Chorus Rises, is due out this year.

Intisar Khanani

Khanani is an indie author who is now a traditionally published one, too. She writes strong, diverse heroines, like Hitomi in the Sunbolt Chronicles (read my review of Book One here.) She is also the author who changed my mind about self-publishing.

N.K. JemisIn

The queen of science fantasy, if not all of fantasy. Jemisin won three consecutive Hugo Awards for The Broken Earth Trilogy, a series that knocked my socks off and only got better. With literary-caliber writing and an original world, Jemisin broke the mold in fantasy and made a new one. And there are more highly acclaimed books and series by Jemisin, too.

Silvia Moerno-Garcia

If you don’t know her yet, you will. Mexican Gothic will soon be a series (I can’t say this enough: don’t let anyone spoil the plot twist for you). But it’s Gods of Jade and Shadow that won, and broke, my heart. A classic fantasy odyssey set in Mexico and using Mayan and other regional mythology, it’s a truly unforgettable book.

Stephanie BwaBwa

Seraphim Falling (YA Epic Fantasy) is on my TBR list! With her first book released in 2020, BwaBwa is a more recent discovery of mine, and with a series that reminds me of Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series, I can’t wait to check it out!

Read More:

Kobo: 10 must-read diverse sci-fi and fantasy novels

Book Riot: 9 Diverse Fantasy Books that will Challenge your Idea of Fantasy Fiction

BookBub: 13 Acclaimed Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels by Black Authors

Cheers and be well,