Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Isla's Oath" by Cassandra Page

Isla's Oath
(Isla's Inheritance Book 2)
by Cassandra Page

Isla's Oath is the second book in the Isla's Inheritance trilogy by Cassandra Page. Also available: Isla's Inheritance (see my blog post).

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Australia is a long way from the Old World and its fae denizens … but not far enough.
Isla is determined to understand her heritage and control her new abilities, but concealing them from those close to her proves difficult. Convincing the local fae she isn’t a threat despite her mixed blood is harder still. When the dazzling Everest arrives with a retinue of servants, Isla gets her first glimpse of why her mother’s people are hated … and feared.
But Isla isn’t the only one with something to hide. Someone she trusts is concealing a dangerous secret. She must seek the truth and stop Everest from killing to get what he wants: Isla’s oath.

As we reached the floor of the valley, my ears strained to hear the sounds of a village going about its evening business. The air was still. I could clearly hear the sighing of the distant trees between the rhythmic slapping of our footsteps against the cobbles. Part of it was the lack of electronic noise from the buildings we passed - no televisions, gaming consoles or radios chattered here. But it was more than that. And it couldn’t be that everyone was asleep either. Jack had already made the point that the duinesidhe were primarily nocturnal.
“Is it normally this quiet?” I whispered.
Jack shook his head.
“They’re hiding from me.” It wasn’t a question; I already knew the answer.
“I warned them you might be coming. They are cautious.”
“They’re afraid.”
He nodded, eyes sad.
The thought made my stomach churn. “Let’s get this done so I can leave and they can get back to normal then.”
Jack led me through the deserted streets to a small garden cottage surrounded by bushes and climbing vines that sagged, heavy with flowers. Most of the blooms were shut for the night, except for a spray of white evening primrose near the gate. The sweet, heady scent of the blooms eased my anxiety, intermingling with the aromas of fragrant herbs - I could smell lavender, basil, lemon balm and mint - from elsewhere in the garden.
If I were a creature who collected smells, this was the sort of garden I would grow. Although given I had a black thumb I might need Aunt Elizabeth to come and tend it for me.
Jack knocked on the wooden cottage door. There was no answer. I stood patiently by his side for a minute or so before raising my eyebrows at him. He shrugged apologetically and knocked again.
Maybe the puca would be more likely to answer the door if I weren’t standing so close? I wandered back towards the garden beds. I wasn’t an avid gardener like my aunt. I knew enough to identify some of the flowers, at least those that were common Canberra varieties. Most of these plants were strange to me. One, with glossy green leaves and plump buds, caught my eye. From the wicked, curved thorns that pierced the stems like the hooked claws of a cat, it was probably a variety of rose, although not one I’d ever seen. The petals were a vivid royal purple.
I heard murmuring voices behind me and glanced back to see Jack was bent over double, head poking through a dog flap in the bottom half of the cottage door. I couldn’t hear what he was saying but he sounded irritated. A muffled voice replied, “I’ve changed my mind. Go away!”
Pretending not to notice, I turned my attention back to the flowers with a sigh, running a luminescent finger - I didn’t think I would ever get used to that - along the outside of one of the fat buds. The petal was soft as fine silk.
The flower unfurled under my fingertip.
I gasped. The sweet, distinctive aroma of roses in bloom filled the air as, one after another, radiating out from the flower I’d touched, the rest of the buds on the bush opened to the night sky.

Praise for the Book
"Isla’s Oath is a great follow up to book one, Isla’s Inheritance by Aussie author Cassandra Page. I love the references to the city of Canberra and the surrounding countryside; I lived there a long time ago, and remember it well. The author paints easily visualized word pictures. There are a few twists and turns to keep the pages turning plus the characters are well fleshed out; I love Welkin. I am really looking forward to book 3 which I hope won’t be too far away. Highly recommended with a big recommendation to read book 1 first." ~ Brenda on Goodreads
"I quite enjoyed this Young Adult Urban Fantasy. It was a light read and the descriptive language made it easy to visualise the Fae world and its inhabitants. I loved the Australian flavour of the story with mentions of Aussie country towns and our unique flora and fauna." ~ Veronica on Goodreads
"Really enjoyed this sequel!" ~ Ash on Goodreads

Interview with the Author
Isla's Oath is the second book in the Isla's Inheritance trilogy. Tell us a bit about the first book.
The series is a young adult urban fantasy set in Australia. Isla’s Inheritance follows Isla’s journey as she discovers that her father has been keeping secrets from her. She thought her mother died during childbirth, but during the course of the book she learns there’s a lot more to it than that. Her mother is fae, one of the ruling class called the aosidhe, and is very much alive - Isla’s father fled to Australia with Isla when she was a baby to get them both away from his angry bride.
Unfortunately, when Isla turns eighteen and becomes an adult, her half-fae heritage starts to manifest and it draws all sorts of unwanted attention.
What can we expect from Isla's Oath?
In short: kissing, self-discovery, a sexy bad guy, and some running. (Love the running!)
The fae, or duinesidhe, in Australia are almost all refugees of one kind or another: “lesser” fae who want to live free of aosidhe oppression. Members of the fae ruling class are renowned for their cruelty. Needless to say, the duinesidhe wild about discovering a half-aosidhe in their midst, as they’re concerned not only that she might try to enslave them but about what she might draw down on them, however inadvertently. 
While trying to navigate that side of her life, Isla is also trying to navigate a new relationship with Dominic. He’s suspicious of her friendship with Jack, her duinesidhe friend - largely because Dominic doesn’t know anything about that side of her life.
And then Everest, a full-blooded aosidhe, turns up and things get really interesting.
Reviewers of Isla's Inheritance have commented on Isla’s close-knit family. Tell us about them.
Isla lives with her aunt and two cousins in the city, because her father’s farm is far enough out of town that it was difficult for her to get to school each day. Sarah, the younger of her cousins, is almost the same age as her and is her best friend. Isla still lives with them now she’s graduated, while she’s trying to find work and is learning about her fae heritage. And despite her mixed feelings about the things her dad kept hidden from her for so long, she is still very close to him in Isla's Oath.
I love to see strong families in YA. So often the parents are absent, neglectful or the bad guys! Isla’s biological mother certainly qualifies in some or all of those categories, but her aunt is something of a surrogate mother, treating Isla the same way she does her own children. And while the rest of her family isn’t all sunshine and roses - she argues with her cousins and doesn’t get on with her grandmother at all - Isla knows they are there for her and that she can rely on them when she needs to.
Where did the idea for Isla’s Inheritance come from?
It was a combination of a few ideas, but the main one was a story idea I had for a psychic vampire - the sort of undead critter that feeds off emotions rather than blood, and can leave people a burnt-out husk. But by then Twilight had already hit the big time and everyone’s interest in vampires was waning. I decided to take the basic idea of an empath who can absorb emotions and turn it into something different. Thus Isla was born.
What sort of research did you do while planning the series?
I did a lot of reading about mythological creatures - mostly European ones like the various fae races - but also some from further afield.
One thing I found really interesting during my research was seeing the echoes of those myths in other authors’ books. For example, I’d bet that J. K. Rowling’s Dementors were inspired by the myths of the sluagh, with a touch of Grim Reaper in their look. Her house elves are very much like the English myth of the hob. (I also have hobs in my series, but I made them quite different, partly because I love Dobby and didn’t want to tread on his toes. I’m glad I did, though, as I’m a big fan of Jack, my leading hob!)
When should we expect the third book to hit the selves? And does it have a title yet?
It’s called Melpomene’s Daughter, and it’s scheduled for release in April this year. So excite!
How do you pronounce aosidhe again?
Ae-oh-shee (the “Ae” is the same as the a in baby).
Duinesidhe is pronounced din-a-shee. Sidhe is the word for the faerie mounds. The aosidhe are the rulers of the mounds, and the duinesidhe are the people of the mounds.

About the Author
Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat -  which is ironic, as she’s allergic to cats. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?

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