So, initially, I started writing a review of just the first book in the Tales of Inthya, The Queen of Ieflaria. I finished this book at 1:30am and was feeling giddy. I’d had a very long day at work and this book had me laying in bed giggling. It was just so fulfilling.
So, having already purchased the semi-sequel Daughter of the Sun, I fell asleep knowing I could read the next one the next day.
I read the whole thing in less than 12 hours. I went out to lunch with my writing partner and his husband and couldn’t stop reading even then. (His husband drove so I didn’t even have to stop to make the five-minute drive to Buffalo Wild Wings, or the ride back for that matter.)
So this has turned into a series review instead of just one book. Oops.
This go around like the title says we are going to be talking about The Tales of Inthya series.
Look at how beautiful they are?
For The Queen of Ieflaria, it’s an example of the “YA” cover done right in my opinion. Maybe because I love sparkle gays but I’m going to be very biased. The moody blue and purple let us know that there is going to be some deep emotional weight. Beyond that, it’s beautiful, it’s got complimentary colors to interest the eyes. It’s not just the main character looking forlorn and waiting for her prince.
That’s because there is no prince.
When it comes to Daughter of the Sun, this is a much more active cover. I can tell that this book is going to involve a lot more activity than the first one, more movement, more action. This character is someone who isn’t going to roll over and let someone else save her. She’s going to be her own savior.
I love the consistency between the covers with the clouds at the bottom.
I’m also going to throw it out there and say thank you, just for being the first series that I can find large, high-quality pictures of the covers. It’s so frustrating to always have low-quality images of the covers. How am I supposed to show them off if I can’t show them off??
Let’s start at the beginning, with The Queen of Ieflaria.
Princess Esofi of Rhodia and Crown Prince Albion of Ieflaria have been betrothed since they were children but have never met. At age seventeen, Esofi’s journey to Ieflaria is not for the wedding she always expected but instead to offer condolences on the death of her would-be husband.
But Ieflaria is desperately in need of help from Rhodia for their dragon problem, so Esofi is offered a new betrothal to Prince Albion’s younger sister, the new Crown Princess Adale. But Adale has no plans of taking the throne, leaving Esofi with more to battle than fire-breathing beasts.https://www.amazon.com/Queen-Ieflaria-Tales-Inthya/dp/1948608138/ref=bseries_primary_1_1948608138
This… is literally everything I have ever wanted in a book.
Princesses who are definitely going to kiss? Check.
Orsina of Melidrie is a paladin of the Order of the Sun, sworn to drive out corruption and chaos wherever she finds it. She has been ordered to leave her home and travel around Vesolda in search of a great evil she is supposedly destined to destroy. But after two years of fighting monsters and demons and evil gods, she does not seem to be any closer to her goal—or ever returning home.
Aelia is the Goddess of Caprice, the personification of poor decision-making. The Order of the Sun has classified her as a chaos goddess, meaning that her worship has been outlawed. During a run-in with Orsina, she is trapped in a mortal body, rendering her unable to leave Inthya.
Aelia is found by Orsina again, but this time Orsina does not recognize her in her new body. So Aelia pretends to be a mortal woman who is fleeing an abusive family. Aelia plans to use Orsina as protection as she hunts down the magical relic that will free her from her mortal body.
As Aelia and Orsina grow closer to one another, Aelia wrestles with her own desire to tell Orsina the truth about who she is, and her fear that Orsina will turn on her if she does. But the decision might not be hers after all, because their actions have not gone unnoticed by Aelia’s siblings.https://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Tales-Inthya-Effie-Calvin/dp/1949909360/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1548971284&sr=8-2&keywords=queen+of+ieflaria
Just when I didn’t think it could get better…
Strong badass female lead??
Disaster Gay goddess?
What Drew Me to the Books
I’ll be honest, there’s a post circulating on Tumblr and that’s what drew my eye to Calvin’s work. It’s one she made herself and by god, it might be the best way to sell a book I’ve ever encountered.
For each of her books, she’s made very helpful resources. I’m going to post each one separately so you can enjoy them thoroughly. (I have her permission to do so.)
There are very few things that will get me interested in something than humor. I read somewhere, and I wish I could link it, that if you just say what makes your book different than other books and in a way that’s what’s going on here.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t want to really spoil anything. You’ll have to read it for yourself.
But I want to briefly touch on the world building. I’ve read a lot of books where the authors feel the need to show off their fancy worlds and all the things they’ve done and just weigh you down with exposition and just kind of… go on and on about stuff that ultimately isn’t relevant.
Calvin never beats you over the head with exposition to fill out space. Characters don’t spend time expositing to themselves about how magical they are, or how many asses they’ve kicked. We don’t find out one of the characters is a complete and utter badass until she’s kicking ass without breaking a sweat.
The world unfolds organically, and it feels alive. Sometimes you can tell the author doesn’t have much going on behind the scenes or doesn’t have a goal in mind as they’re going. That’s not the case with this series.
Just look at this map, we don’t go most, or many of the places listed. But she’s letting us know they exist, they’re referenced so we can see them. We can see just how far Rhodia is from Ieflaria. We’re teased that there are elves, even if they don’t ever play a big role.
From the map alone I can tell that this is an author who has so much more to show us. I could literally go on for hours about the worldbuilding alone, but I won’t.
I want you to experience this for yourself.
About Calvin’s Writing
In a blog post she has on her website Calvin speaks about her thoughts about her writing.
Some people like to read stories where LGBTQIA+ characters struggle and overcome a bigoted society, drawing strength from one another and building families of choice. And I think it’s great that we’re finally seeing more stories like that, instead of ones that end with one or both halves of the couple dying and/or miserable.
But I’ve seen less that’s straight-up fairy tale wish fulfillment, where LGBTQIA+ characters aren’t just awkwardly tolerated, they’re seen as part of the natural order.https://effiecalvin.com/2018/06/02/in-defense-of-wish-fulfillment-and-book-3-title-reveal/
She goes on the say the following a little later:
When I wrote my first draft of The Queen of Ieflaria, I didn’t write it for an audience. I wrote it for 16-year-old me, miserable and confused and not understanding why I was so discontented when the pretty girl married the handsome boy at the end of every story.
I do not reject the books I read growing up. I love those books. They made me who I am. But if one—just ONE—of those handsome boys had been a pretty girl, my world would have been forever changed and it might not have taken me until college to admit I was gay.https://effiecalvin.com/2018/06/02/in-defense-of-wish-fulfillment-and-book-3-title-reveal/
Honestly… this… this is exactly what I want. This is what I want in my fiction. I want the characters to overcome something, but I don’t want them to have to fight to be allowed to love each other. We already have to fight in real life. Why can’t my pretty princesses in dresses that take 3 pages to describe just be allowed to love each other?
I might not have known about Calvin’s work for long, but I know for a fact she’s just gotten herself a life long fan.
(Also, if you’re reading this Effie: hi, sorry, you’re stuck with my dumb gay ass.)
Uh, I guess I don’t really have any major complaints. The only things I’ve got are two very, very, very minor nitpicks. Did I mention how minor they are? For sure, this is nothing that has to change.
Nitpick 1, I like having several shorter chapters. I was so sad when I opened The Queen of Ieflaira and saw there were only 7 chapters. I thought the book was a lot shorter than it actually was. It’s a 60k word book, which averages just under 9k per chapter. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s even an in book reason for such long chapters. Each chapter is from the perspective of one of the two leads and each chapter signifies a change between perspectives.
Nitpick 2, in the physical version, the words are a little too close to the spine for me. I don’t have my copy to show what I mean, but I would have moved that interior edge over about .125 inches or .25 inches away from the fold.
But like I said these two things are just my personal opinion. Note, neither one has anything to do with the stories. I can’t say it would be the same about Daughter of the Sun since I don’t own a physical copy yet.
Since I’m starting to rate these things, here’s my rating.
Five huge gay sparkling hearts out of five stars.
Seriously, please, more than any other series I’ve reviewed, check out this one.
I rushed this out in excitement, please excuse any errors.