The Vermilion Riddle Kick-Off Package
About the Book
Book: The Vermilion Riddle
Author: Dana Li
Release date: March 1, 2022
“To enter Faerie’s blessed demesne
four secrets must be found:
the land unbound by time and space
opens only to the one who knows
the Light, the Song, and Mortal Gate.”
In the sheltered town of Carmel, women do not have a future outside of a good marriage. That future is threatened when Leah Edwards’ father gambles away the family’s livelihood and estate. She and her sisters must hurry to find husbands. Then August Fox, a Guardian from Cariath, comes to town and purchases a supposedly haunted manor. Charged to keep the peace between mortals and Faerie, the Guardians are the stuff of legend. After he stuns her with a marriage proposal, Leah reluctantly journeys to Cariath, discovering there is more to August and the legends than she guessed.
Nimrod and his Oath-breakers betrayed the Guardians, seeking to solve an ancient riddle that would unlock the Faerie realm. Not all his followers share his desire for conquest. Benedict Fox, his second-in-command, has different motives. But as he continues fulfilling Nimrod’s plan, Benedict hurtles towards a choice between saving his family and settling a personal vendetta.
For Leah, August, and their allies, it is a race against time to solve the ancient riddle before the Oath-breakers, and reunite the Guardians to save the mortal realm. The war is never really over, and this time, the battle lines cut through blood ties and brotherhood.
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About the Author
Dana Li is a software product manager by day, and a novelist by night. She holds an MS in management science and engineering from Stanford University and a BS in computer science from USC, but she’s always been better at writing stories than code. Her writing misadventures began with a dozen now-deleted Star Wars fanfiction tales. She loves good fantasy/sci-fi, classy cuisines, and roller coasters (but not all at once). Dana currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and The Vermilion Riddle is her first novel.
More from Dana
Two of my favorite fiction authors are J.R.R. Tolkien and Jane Austen. Besides both being British, their works are worlds apart, literally – one wrote epic, sprawling stories of the battle between good and evil, while the other wrote of small town families, romance, and culture in the Regency era. If Tolkien’s heroes failed, death and darkness would sweep across the land. If Austen’s heroes failed, a lady would be single at thirty. (The horror!)
As different as they are, I had a desire to blend the best of both genres. I didn’t think it’d be the most marketable book, but then, I also thought no one else would write this. That concept sparked the genesis of The Vermilion Riddle. I wanted an epic fantasy that was also character-driven and intimate. I love how Austen deftly explored familial and romantic relationships in the framework of her society, and I was curious to see how that would unfold in the context of a traditional fantasy. I shamelessly drew influence from the Regency era for parts of my story’s culture, simply because it’s got that quaint, cozy vibe, stored inside a broad, sweeping world.
This is a snippet of what I wrote in my original query letter for The Vermilion Riddle:
“While the novel evokes elements of classic fantasy—quests, duels, and the battle of good versus evil—it thrives on character exploration. The plot hums to the beat of a cosmic conflict and climax, though the struggles within a family—between fathers and sons, brothers by blood (and not), husband and wife—forms its core melody.”
When it came to the characters and relationships in the story, three questions framed my writing.
What makes a strong, relatable, and feminine heroine?
What happens to brothers who are pitted against each other ideologically?
What does a love story that happens after marriage look like?
I did not know, concretely, the answer to any of these when I began, and Riddle was going to be my way of exploring them. In retrospect, I was in over my head. I’m not sure if I ever found totally satisfactory answers, but as I worked on the novel over the years, I felt the story mature quietly alongside of me. There were nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from life and other people that made their way into the story. There were also surprising insights that emerged from the characters as I was writing.
In the end, I wanted to write characters who, though born into another world, were achingly human. Though they chase ancient secrets and face the fury of the faerie-kind, they aren’t wrapped in an air of mythology that makes them feel far removed from us. They are the sort of people who could be legends – but a legend is usually formed in retrospect. They are like Merry and Pippin, hobbits who felt like useless baggage for much of their journey before they were hailed as heroes.
That’s what I strove for, at least – a story that’s epic yet intimate, that’s far-flung and yet close to home.
The author has designed a place where fantasy is there n all its beauty and secrets. The feel of the story was easy to embrace and I did enjoy following our main characters. In the town of Carmel it is strikingly clear that Leah and her sisters need to marry in order to help save their family from ruin. What a lot of pressure that must be to know you are needed to marry quickly. What happens if you have no feelings for the man you are marrying? It raises the question of what is more important, “Love or money and power?”
With a division between the Guardians and the Oath-breakers the story gives readers an insight into justice and doing the right thing. There are at times scenes where I held my breath not knowing if Leah and August could complete their mission without tragedy happening. I loved following them as they began their lives together, but you can sense that danger is drawing near for them. I loved how the author is able to illustrate the tension and how betrayal is well represented in the story.
It was interesting to read this from one of the characters,”You learn to accept the hand that you’re dealt with in life.” That had me thinking that sometimes we may have trials in our life, but the important thing is how we react to those trials. Do we give up and not try to make things better or do we trust our faith and give it to God? Leah is very clear who she believe in and August at times wishes he had her faith. Watching them start to trust each other is an example of love.
As they seek out the Vermillion Riddle, Leah becomes more aware of how strong and brave August is. He may seem cold at times but his determination to keep Leah safe is admirable. The story takes on a few surprises as The Guardians and Oath -Breakers meet. Will revenge be the outcome? I was shocked as some of the secrets are revealed and Leah hears someone say, “The true God can’t be tamed by what men want. He is renewing hearts, and He will renew all things one day.”
As the ending soon comes to an end we have experienced betrayal, justice, revenge, love and for some hope of a better life. As both sides went to find out if they would be able to solve the Vermillion Riddle, they learned how important it is to have faith and not turn your back on family. Reconciliation can happen if you allow forgiveness to happen.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of The Vermilion Riddle (e-book for those outside the US)!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Hi Deana! Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful review. I'm glad you enjoyed following the characters' journeys :)ReplyDelete
Great review, thank you.ReplyDelete
Thank You for the reviewReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing your review, the book sounds greatReplyDelete
Congratulations on your recent release of The Vermillion Riddle, Dana, your book sounds like an exciting fantasy for me to enjoy and I like the cover! Good luck with your book and the tour! Thanks for sharing it with me!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Texas Book-aholic, for sharing your review!
Have a terrific day!
This sounds like a fascinating book. Thank you for your review.ReplyDelete
My niece would like this book.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the contest.
Sounds like a great fantasy! Faeries are so cool!ReplyDelete
What a combination of themes!ReplyDelete
Deana, Thank you for sharing your excellent review! The Vermillion Riddle sounds like a page-turner.ReplyDelete
I really enjoyed your review and learning about the bookReplyDelete