At first glance, The Iris of Issoria is your standard children's fantasy with the expected tropes embedded in the plot. A young girl is magically transported to another world. A diverse group of fantasy creatures embark on a quest to save their world. An evil queen who likes the color red has taken over the land. But there are striking differences in the story that set The Iris of Issoria apart from other fantasy novels on the shelf.
1. Both parents are involved in the story line. In order for a child to be able to have a fantastical journey in a middle-grade novel, writers must remove parental authority with its adventure-killing rules and constant supervision. Most writers do this by either killing the parents of the main character or making them stupid and uncaring. This is not the case with Anika, the main character. Anika’s parents are deeply involved in the story, although we only see them briefly at the beginning. By transporting Anika to a different world, I was able to get rid of that pesky parental supervision without using the traditional methods.
2. Anika is not a Mary Sue. The main character is a strong young woman who is authentically flawed. She cries. She gets scared. She does not have natural fighting ability. She often speaks without thinking. She fails. Her mentors tell her she has a long road of training ahead of her before she can be of any use in battle. She is an ordinary person who happens to be caught in the center of an epic battle because of circumstances beyond her control. What is extraordinary is her reaction to the events surrounding her.
3. A wonderful life is disrupted. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, James Henry Trotter, Matilda, the Baudelaire kids, the Pevensies, and Alanna of Trebond lived at best dull, at worst grim and austere lives before setting off on their adventures. They find out they are special in some way to explain the tediousness of their lives at the start of the book. Before being forced to flee from her father at the start of The Iris of Issoria, Anika lived a good life with her parents. They had a strong marriage, and Anika had friends at school whom she loved. Her life was disrupted when she was thrust into the world of NoArah.
4. The fairy is a tough cookie. Gracielle, the Fey warrior, is not tiny, weak, vain, or silly. As a military leader, she breaks all the stereotypes you have read about fairies.
5. Girls rule. While there are many middle grade and YA fantasy books with strong female characters, they have to function in the context of a male-dominated world. In NoArah, women have the lion’s share of the power in government and military roles. I also do not weaken the male characters to falsely strengthen the female characters.
6. The line between good & evil is often blurred. Initially, the world of NoArah seems to be divided between the good and evil characters as seen in the typical children's fantasy novel, but that line blurs as Anika finds out more about the mythology of the world. Is an action evil if it benefits the greater good? Is sacrificing one life to save thousands acceptable? These are the types of moral dilemmas the reader will encounter in Iris.
7. Three drastically different dimensions make up the multiverse. Anika and her parents have been living in our earthly, non-magic plane at the start of the novel, but she is soon transported to the mystical world of NoArah. There is a third demon dimension that makes up part of the multiverse, but it does not come into play until later.
8. The unicorn mythology will rock you. I developed some original twists to unicorn mythology in this book.
9. Diversity of the human characters. The human-like races in NoArah are far from homogenous. Anika is half-Latina. This detail is subtly addressed, as it is not a defining characteristic related to the plot of the story. The proud, powerful Dryads are black. Halflings have the appearance of Native Americans. The dragon-kind have blonde hair and blue eyes.
10. The ending is original and unpredictable. I know, I know. When an author says the ending to her book is unpredictable that is similar to a mother who says her children are brilliant. In my case it is true though (on both counts…..!)
The Iris of Issoria will be available September 23. It is a story the whole family will enjoy. Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my blog for updates, teasers, promotions, excerpts, and cool facts about the book. If you would like to be a beta reader, sign up using the form on my website.
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Stay tuned next week when I reveal the cover!