Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.
Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.
But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?
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The Author: Jessica Cluess
The Guest Post: Favorite Fantasy Heroines
Choosing just one or two favorite fantasy heroines is nearly impossible. There are so many funny, strong, terrifying, vulnerable, compassionate, intelligent, fearsome, and downright incredible leading ladies in the genre that it’s one of those situations where your mind shuts down when you’re asked. That’s the kind of question where you go find the collected works of Tamora Pierce, plop them in front of the person who asked, shrug, and walk away. So instead of creating a list of umpteen billion women, I’m going to name two ladies whom I really love, and explain why I love them.
The first girl is Sophie Hatter from Howl’s Moving Castle. The reason I love Sophie is because she isn’t your standard fantasy heroine. In fact, in the beginning of the book, she’s resigned herself to a life of drudgery and boredom because she’s the eldest of three, and going by fairy tale logic, nothing remarkable will ever happen to her. Sophie does her work in a hat shop, knows how to cook and clean, but there’s nothing about her that screams ‘badass magic girl.’ And that’s the reason I love her. Sophie’s adventure is made the more real because she herself is a relatively “real” girl. I mean, sure, she’s got the whole curse that makes her look like an old woman going on, but that’s just the catalyst that gets her out the door. As much as I love women in fantasy who barge in with a sword strapped to their backs, a dagger between their teeth, and a prophecy sitting on their shoulders, I love girls like Sophie because they remind us that adventure and excitement isn’t just for the anointed. It can happen to all of us, if we’re brave enough to answer its call.
The second fantasy girl is Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials. When I was younger, I was fairly certain I was going to name my daughter after Lyra. She’s a twelve-year-old girl who swans around with aeronauts and armored bears, has an animal familiar that talks, and knows how to outwit people five times her age. I don’t care that she’s a kid: I’d still love to be her. Lyra is the unlikable girl protagonist. For the first book in the series especially, she’s a lying, manipulative child who is sassy to an almost unbelievable degree. She’s headstrong to a fault, and has zero control…because she’s twelve years old. Usually when we see young girls in fantasy, they’re made to be either entirely too sweet and demure, or so skilled and wise that you don’t believe for a second they’re not yet twenty. Lyra feels like a real, honest to god tomboy, and that makes her journey—and her eventual sacrifice—so painful and so pure. She’s allowed to develop and grow in great and horrible ways throughout the series. That kind of growth is rare in any character, let alone such a young kid. But that transformation makes her into one of the great fantasy heroines, as far as I’m concerned.
There are, like I’ve said, too many incredible girls to name. And if we’re lucky, even more incredible, flawed, brave, and true young women will be gracing the pages of fantasy books in the future. That would make naming them all even more difficult, and delightful.