Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"The Labyrinth Wall" by Emilyann Girdner

The Labyrinth Wall
(Obsidian Series Book 1)
by Emilyann Girdner

The Labyrinth Wall is the first book in Emilyann Girdner's Obsidian Series for young adults. The author stops by today for a short interview and to share an excerpt from the book. You can also read my review.

Araina’s isolated teenage life is forever altered when she witnesses a man emerge through a rippling wall into the dark labyrinth she calls home. As a result of the stranger’s arrival, Araina’s Creators have unleashed a series of magical attacks using the labyrinth against its inhabitants. Now Araina must decide if she will trust potentially deceitful allies in order to reach safety on the other side of the labyrinth wall.
The Labyrinth Wall is the story of a young woman who discovers that although labyrinth walls confine her and her enemies try to repress her, the power of hope can set her free.
Will the walls that confine her be the walls that set her free?
Read Amazon bestselling, Reader's Favorite 5 Star rated novel, The Labyrinth Wall, the first book in the Obsidian Series, perfect for fans of adventure filled and imaginative favorites like The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, and The Hobbit.

Book Video

My hand motions for the man in white to follow as we head back into the dark hall. Darith glances both ways, and he propels back down the direction we came in. He launches a door open then disappears into a cell.
“Darith,” I whisper. “What are you doing, come on!” I pause at the doorway to the cell and find him shaking the woman who led us here.
She opens her eyes, staring blankly in a daze before jumping up with surprise. Sharply tightened lips wordlessly convey her attitude as she remembers. Her eyes roll as Darith smugly says, “Okay, lady, I’m gonna make a sweet deal with ya. Get us out of this place and I’ll let ya live. I’ll even give ya back the bag I stole from ya.”
“You’re so kind,” she replies with agitation.
When we head into the hall, she starts back the way we came.
“Think again. The guards will be looking for us that way. I bet you know a safer way out, right?” My dagger grazes her stomach.
She flinches as it almost pierces through her shirt to her tan skin.
“Fine.” She takes off the opposite direction.
The four of us swiftly glide through the halls until we come to a dead end. Despair burns in my stomach, my throat, and my lungs.
That’s it then. She cared more about our capture than saving her own life. Or never knew a good escape route in the first place. My shoulders jolt in response to the sound of Darith’s fist pounding into the wall that denies our escape.

Praise for the Book
"Full of exciting situations, humor, and a good look at the human psyche of a labyrinth prisoner, this book pulls you in, and doesn't let you go until the very end." ~ Desert Rose Reviews

"This action-packed adventure pulled me in, and I found it very hard to put the book down. I'll definitely be buying the next book in the series as soon as it comes out." ~ Katie
"This labyrinth adventure is very well written and kept me captivated all the way through." ~ Becca Wilson

"I’m a big fan of fantasy fiction provided it isn’t super sweet and cute and I am so glad I read The Labyrinth Wall. The Labyrinth Wall is a great adventure with a dystopian fantasy feel. Araina and Darith go from one exciting adventure to another which makes the book impossible to put down. There is a constant quest to learn whether there is really something better outside the labyrinth walls. If you enjoy books like The Hobbit (with a slightly lighter feel), you will definitely enjoy The Labyrinth Wall by Emilyann Girdner. I can’t wait to read the next book.” ~ Ellen P. Lafleche-Christian

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The Mahk are a breed of workers brought to life by the Creators, already fully-developed. They mine for obsidian (for a purpose that is not explained) in exchange for meager food rations, and they live in the labyrinths surrounding Simul's castle, fighting and killing each other for their food. Araina is a Mahk who came into existence only two years ago but who resembles a seventeen-year-old girl. She lives in a secret spot in the Labyrinth with only Blue, a large bird with blue feathers, for company. One day Araina witnesses a man in white shimmer through the labyrinth wall, and she follows him to Simul's castle to seek answers. This is the beginning of an extraordinary adventure, as Araina and some new-found friends struggle to find their way back to the wall. But will they find something better on the other side of the labyrinth wall?
This is a totally engrossing book; however, too many sentences begin with dependent clauses. As the book progresses, either this stops, or I stopped noticing as I became more involved in the narrative. Darith's colloquial speech is annoying, especially as it is so different to the formal tone set by the author and the precise language of Araina and the rest of the Mahk. (I'm hoping Darith's speech variation may become relevant in a later book.) The story is also a bit repetitive, and there is too much introspection from Araina (but I thought the same of Katniss in The Hunger Games; interestingly, the author cites Suzanne Collins as one of her influences).
Despite these flaws, this is an action-packed adventure, full of interesting characters, thrilling encounters, and the all-important quest. The author has created an imaginative land full of horrors: hunger, discomfort, hard work, Mahk killing Mahk for food, the cannibalistic Nabal in the Blood Caves, the Darktouch flowers that can turn you to stone, hidden booby traps, the Rotting Pass with its poisonous mist and saber-tooth mutts, the dog-like Sir Riddles, a lava-spewing volcano, the giant snake-like Buyu, and the remorseless Creators themselves. Some scenes are quite gruesome, making this unsuitable for younger readers.
While this episode is complete, further adventures in the labyrinth will follow. I look forward to reading them.

Interview With the Author
Hi, Emilyann. J. K. Rowling was inspired on a train to write Harry Potter and Stephenie Meyer had a dream that started the Twilight series. How did The Labyrinth Wall come about?
The concept was originally sparked by my interest in Dante’s Inferno but set in a Lord of the Rings-like fantasy world … but it evolved. I began to think about the characters in this world and thought, "What if I explore a character that never had a childhood because they are actually a creation?" So as a writer I am forced into a very strange perspective of someone learning to understand themselves and others for the first time. And of course, where better to explore all of this than in a labyrinth, a place that holds so much mystery and possibility?
And writing the book was pretty exciting too! My husband was a truck driver at the time, and I had decided to go on the road with him. So The Labyrinth Wall was written during our time living in a semi-truck and traveling the country. It was an adventure.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I get this question a lot (or inquiries along this line). It’s more like people say to me, "I saw how you were getting at issues of repression," or they mention freedom, and companionship. It’s funny because I don’t want to be a preachy person by any means, so I wouldn’t say I’m writing messages that I want people to grasp. I’d more describe my writing as my own process of working through life’s struggles. If my journey of internalizing and learning through writing does grasp readers and mean something to them as well, then that’s wonderful. And that is something I hear from people who have read The Labyrinth Wall, which is a great blessing.
Who is your favorite author? Who inspired you to write?
Terry Brooks is my favorite author. The Elf Queen of Shannara has been my favorite book since I first read it in eighth grade, which is also about the time my love of writing truly began taking hold. Over the years many others and encouraging people like family and teachers have inspired me to write. I'd also say that stylistically I picked up some influence from Suzanne Collins.
Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?
This question is funny because I once asked my husband what quirk he has noticed. He said I stop sleeping when I'm writing. And he's right! I become so invested in a project when I'm writing that I hardly sleep at night because I'm busy writing and I walk around day dreaming the story during the day. I suppose I'm pretty immersed when I get in the zone.

About the Author
Though she was born in Germany and raised in Turkey until the age of five, Emilyann Girdner spent the majority of her grade school years in Tallahassee, Florida. She discovered early she had a love for stories. Reading books, watching movies and then acting them out with friends or toys gave living an extra flavor. This is likely why she spent the first part of her college career studying Creative Writing, before switching to Graphic Design and then graduating with a BFA in Digital Art from Missouri State University in 2011. Her writing has appeared on websites and blogs including Center for Work Life, Easter Seals Florida, MU Museum of Art & Archaeology's Musings and She is best known for her Amazon Best-Selling novel, The Labyrinth Wall. Emilyann is now living and working in Florida.
Given her three focus transitions as an undergraduate, it isn't a shock that she is a multi-medium lover, exploring writing, digital art, photography and design. She finds that her creativity is most fluent when given the opportunity to bounce between artistic outlets.
To truly understand this Author, there are two things to know about her. Emilyann hopes to share a love for others and God in all she does. She believes that imagination sparks beauty in the soul.

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