The Stranger-Than-True Book Club: Deeper into the Deathsong

Welcome back to the first-ever coming together of the Stranger-Than-True Book Club – an assortment of Deshipley characters joined in discussion about, in this instance, Danielle’s upcoming high-seas fantasy “Deathsong of the Deep”. I’m your merry moderator, Lady Marion Hood, of Outlaws of Avalon fame. To read Part One of the club meeting, click here. Now, on to Part Two. Laraspur, I believe you wanted in particular to gush about the relationships?

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Laraspur (Princess of Denebdeor/Queen of Welken, from The Wilderhark Tales): I did, and I do! I could go on about them for ages, but I’ll try to stay succinct. My first favorite pair, of course, is Molly and Crow. I love watching their estimations of each other develop over the course of time and conversation and adventure.

Uri (skater girl and Fire of God, from the “Inspired” novels): Time, conversation, and adventure – the holy trinity behind half your Wilderhark romances.

Nicky (genderless super ghost-whisperer, from “So Super Dead”): Well, any relationship that doesn’t have conversation behind it can’t hope to go far. The “Deathsong” characters seem pretty good about talking to each other, though. …Excepting maybe Blue Gracie, who’s more the type to only speak when it won’t communicate too much. Y’know how magical, mystical characters be like.

Lar: Speaking of Blue Gracie, I also very much enjoyed her relationship with Crow. Something about the way they wanted to be present together, even if neither one was in a real position to do much for the other. A sweet and a sad sort of caring.

Lucianíel (light elemental, muse, and fictional father figure, from the “Inspired” novels): There was quite a variety of caring to be found aboard the Painted Lady. Crow’s, often cavalier and inexpert. Anafrid’s, austere but dependable…

Lar: Oh, it was nice watching Anafrid care for Blue Gracie! Unlike Crow, Anafrid didn’t even seem to get anything out of it. She was just being kind.

U: Being kind, or flirting?

N: Anafrid didn’t come off the least bit flirty to me.

U: We don’t know how they flirt in Sjorda.

Luc: There’s nothing definitive in text about whether Anafrid is attracted to women, to men, or to no one at all. Subtextually, though, one could make inferences.

Marion: Speaking of Sjorda, what think we of the countries and cultures created specially for “Deathsong”?

Luc: Well, Danielle didn’t spend a great deal of page space delving into any of them. Even so, what little time she devoted to painting pictures of Sjorda’s cold (environmentally and culturally), Chesney’s shallow beauty, and the coarse, homely character of Hornwhal’s Lower Lee did much toward hinting at a convincingly diverse world.

N: Don’t forget the seafaring culture that fascinated Molly so hard. You could peg her for a water girl long before she ever ditched the land.

Lar: Just like Jessica! – Molly and Jessica being another favorite pairing of mine, by the way.

M: I do love me a womance in fiction.

U: A what now?

M: Womance. Female equivalent of bromance. Gal pals to the next level – like, I don’t know, you and Gabriel, or… are there any Wilderhark examples, Lar?

Lar: I’d say Father and Millyanna, but one’s a man.

M: Ah, well. In any case, yes, Molly and Jessica were proper mates. Really, it’s a bit remarkable the number of relationships Molly considered equally important to the one between her and Crow. First her and Jessica, then her and little Johnny…

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Lar: SO precious!

U: It’s like girl protagonists have space to have friends and be mothering and obsess over sea monsters and fall for the male lead. Who knew?

N: My book’s girl protagonist didn’t have space for any of that. I guess afterlife vengeance quests take up a lot of bandwidth.

M: So I’d imagine. Any more favorite relationships, Laraspur, before we move on for good?

Lar: Murdoch and Crow gave me feelings, and, I don’t know, I’m glad Semsen has Anafrid, since she seems to be the only one who halfway sees him.

Luc: I expect that’s because Crow’s shame has stopped him looking.

M: Quick question for each of you: If you had to pick one, would you rather be a seiren, a mershade, or one of the seal folk?

U: If Dis were my goddess? Definitely a seiren. The power of flight and a voice made for vengeance. I’m practically qualified already.

Lar: I’d far rather be a mershade and rescue sailors in need. …Even though it means I’d have to die first.

N: Hey wait, does that mean I’d be like the only regular person who could talk to mershades whenever we want to, not just if I’m about to drown?

U: You’re never regular, but maybe.

N: Cool! In any case, I’d pick being a mershade, too. Superhero ghost mermaids for the win!

Luc: I’ve not been shown enough about the lifestyle of seal men to know how well it would suit me. As for the lifestyle of a death creature like a seiren, it’s all a bit too centered around destruction, for my taste. I suppose that leaves the afterlife of a mershade for me, as well.

M: I expect I would love being part of a seal folk community. And fair warning to the men of land: You try to touch my skin without permission, you get knifed.

Lar: Even in an AU where the land man is Robin Hood and his motives are nobler than his methods?

M: Depending on how well he could explain himself, I might apologize afterward for the stabbing. One more item, now, if we can squeeze it in: The plot. What elements of “Deathsong”s storyline grabbed you?

N: I’m hyped on the way Molly makes things happen. Like, her goals are always perfectly personal – nothing ‘world-saving huge’ about them – but when she wants a thing and a chance of getting it comes within reach, she jumps for it, no matter how crazy that chance looks on paper.

Luc: I appreciate the sharp turn it all takes, halfway through. The drastic change Molly undergoes. The sudden costs Crow has to face. Suddenly, it all goes deeper – again, ‘environmentally and’.

N: And just like that, it’s Kraken time for real!

U: I think it’s interesting how long it takes to figure out what’s up with the Aglatha arc. We hear this thing from one source, that thing from another, a contradiction further up the road, and then by the end it’s like… dang, that’s messed up. As is Crow, the more comes to light. It’s actually terrible, the stuff Danielle just puts her imaginary people through.

Luc: One could argue that it’s no intention of Danielle’s. Some authors… well, they are to their stories as her best minstrels are to their songs: The art isn’t fashioned, only found. And Crow’s backstory, alas, is one easily enough found outside of fiction.

Lar: I just love how everything comes together in the end. I don’t know whether one could call it a fairytale ending, but the deathsong’s closing notes hit me like a proper finale.

M: And on that closing note, thank you, you four, for making this book club discussion a fictional reality. And thank you, readers of the blog, for stowing away for the ride. 😉 Feel free to bring your own addition to the discourse in the comments, and forget ye not: “Deathsong of the Deep” is sailing your way, just one short month from now!

The Stranger-Than-True Book Club: Let’s Get #KrakenBook

Hello, everyone! Lady Marion Hood, here, to lead a new and exciting venture that entered Danielle’s imagination when she meant to be working on something else – because isn’t that just how the creative mind works?

Any readers who’ve kept up with the Ever On Word blog for a few years – (or who’ve explored the blog’s pages on a whim) – may recall a somewhat short-lived feature called the Stranger Than Truth Club, in which Danielle, Tirzah, and a variable number of their respective fictional friends came together to talk at each other until the authors found something quotable. The posts were good fun to create, but too much of a collaborative effort to keep up with any regularity. So since the club name has gone so long out of use, I am stealing it (in true outlaw fashion) for a same-but-different sort of club. In specific, the Stranger-Than-True Book Club! A collection of Deshipley characters come to converse on, in today’s case, Danielle’s soon-to-be-released #KrakenBook, “Deathsong of  the Deep”.

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First, the book’s summary:

Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town. A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom. It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself, but the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.

Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow, Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong. Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.

From the author of fairytale saga “The Wilderhark Tales”, the “Outlaws of Avalon” legend, and “Inspired” love letters to the heart of creation, comes a high-seas fantasy of faith and doubt; of honor and love; and of tentacles.

Second, a brief introduction to the members of the club. Will everyone please state your name, your story world, and your role within it? Starting with you, Your Highness, then going ‘round clockwise.

stt book club - laraspurLar: Oh! As you like. Hello, I’m Laraspur, from the Wilderhark Tales – daughter of Queen Rosalba and King Edgwyn Wyle of Denebdeor, protagonist of “The Sun’s Rival”, and … something of a literal star of the heavens, by the end of things.

Uri, croppedU: The literal end of things. Been there. What up, I’m Uri from the “Inspired” novels. Skater girl, avenging angel, occasional clique leader of amateur author Annabelle Iole Gray’s character crew, when this guy’s not there to call the shots.

stt book club - lucLuc: ‘This guy’ being me – Lucianíel, elemental of light, principle muse to Annabelle, and co-guardian of our precious fictional children.

PowerPuff NickyN: Heya, I’m Nicky Ellenbogen-Jones, aka Xtra-Medium, from Danielle’s recent paranormal publication, “So Super Dead”. Mutant teen from the moon. Pronouns, s/he and himmer. Superpower, talking to dead people; in, like, a therapeutic way.

stt book club - marionM: And once again, I’m Marion, of Robin Hood’s Merry Men from Avalon Faire. I basically smile and try to keep the band from falling apart. Not always easy, that.

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N: Aw man, we’re logo-official? Sweet!
U: How much time did the author waste, making this?
Luc: Time spent in creation is never wasted.
M: Like an hour, though.
Lar: Well spent. ^_^

M: Now then! Onto the book discussion. First impressions of “Deathsong of the Deep”. Go!

N: Cool title! The death part. Like, is that a thing, with Danielle? Books full of death?

U: I mean, she did kill off my original author in the first few pages of “Inspired”. Not to mention the whole “Manta and the Mask” sub-story therein.

Lar: There’s not as much death to be found in the Wilderhark stories. But then, it’s a fairytale world. And on the other hand, the last book of the series was… Never mind. Death is everywhere.

Luc: Coming back to your opening question, Marion, I would call “Deathsong” an unusual book, even for Danielle. For one thing, she built the world herself, as opposed to her favored method of piggybacking off of established fairy tales, legends, or her own life. Even “So Super Dead” took place largely in a world like hers, just add vampires, werecats, superhuman moon colony, etc. “Deathsong” has its own geography and mythology, only borrowing fantasy creature types from various cultures to populate a wild new sea. It’s a different sort of creativity, for her, and the end result is… perhaps slightly profound.

U: I’m not a huge fan of her making up a sea goddess for it, but I get it. She was going through some stuff. Depression, exhaustion, theological disappointment. If she needed a bogus deity to help unpack and illustrate her dark night of the soul, I guess that’s what art is for.

M: Favorite characters, anyone?

Lar: Molly Worth is a treat! Sort of solemn but witty at the same time. Indomitable, and so deeply caring. She’d make a worthy princess, if she didn’t live on such a different story path.

Luc: I’d say a number of the characters exhibit a complexity I like. Each member of Captain Crow’s crew has a face they show and a passion they carry closer. Some of the passions get explored in text more thoroughly than others, but one can tell we’re dealing with people, not one-dimensional caricatures. If anything, I’m most intrigued by Anafrid, simply because we know the least about her.

U: I like Jessica. Not that I would probably want to spend much time with her, but I appreciate her heart’s devotion.

N: I— um, is it weird that I wanna say Kraken? ‘Cause, like, I get that he’s a monster, but…

U: But that’s your type.

N: I don’t have a type! I just… Part of him is dead, right? His humanity died. So he’d maybe eat me, but I’d wanna talk to him first.

M: I, for one, am here for Murdoch. Fun, friendly…

Lar: Plus-size positive!

M: …That! And a woman of color, to boot. If the crew of the Painted Lady were the Merry Men, Murdoch would easily be the Marion.

N: Ooh, ooh, who would everybody else be?

U: Anafrid = Little John, no contest.

M: They are both second-in-command and tall. Anafrid talks more than Little John, but then, who doesn’t? As for Captain Crow… not sure. He’s in charge like Robin, and has a not entirely dissimilar charm, but then he flashes that flirtatious smile that hides a tortured mind and hurting heart, and all you can think is ‘Will Scarlet’.

Lar: Father would love to design his coats. The style skews feminine, and womenswear has long been a favorite of the famed tailor-king.

N: Do we have an Allyn-a-Dale?

U: That would be Gracie – the mystery pulled in from out of nowhere who isn’t more than they seem, just more than anyone can name for certain, for a while. Also, blue.

N: Oh, yeah. That’d actually be blatant, if she’d done it on purpose.

Luc: Danielle has certainly done her share of blatant character copying. That is, as she’s readily admitted, the deliberate conceit behind the cast of “Inspired”. And if anything, Captain Crow is as much begotten of Wilderhark’s Gant-o’-the-Lute as am I. Blue Gracie, however, was based predominately on her author.

N: And I’m not seeing a match at all for Semsen.

U: Semsen doesn’t have half enough ‘merry’ in him for the Sherwood crowd. He wouldn’t make the worst knight in Camelot, though.

M: Well, this discussion is delightful, but also running long. What do you think, fellows? Should we break off and make it a two-parter? Come back next week?

N: I’m for that!

U: Why, is there more to say?

Lar: Is there! We haven’t even touched upon all the relationships! Or the locations, the magical creatures, the plot! We certainly must come back for that, if Danielle’s willing to host us again.

Luc: And why would she not be? Her characters posting in her stead is her favorite way to blog.

M: Then it’s settled. Characters, take five. And readers, take seven days. The Stranger-Than-True Book Club will return with further insights on “Deathsong of the Deep”. Stay tuned! Leave comments! And farewell!