Sam Ledel has a new FF fantasy out, Book 3 in the Odium Trilogy: The Princess and the Odium.
The kingdom of Venostes is in upheaval.
Her sister’s cure in hand, Jastyn races home to find her family in chains. The Dark Fae has grown more powerful, and malevolent forces reign. When Jastyn is forced to work alongside the Diarmaids, things become even more complicated.
Aurelia is dragged back to Venostes to confront not only her brother’s killer, but her own parents’ dark past. As evil takes hold of her kingdom, Aurelia fights to destroy the Dark Fae and his masters once and for all.
Together, Jastyn and Aurelia face unimaginable dangers. Can they take back Venostes? Even more, can two people as different as they—a princess and an Odium—be together? Are they destined for one another, as Aurelia hopes? Or, as Jastyn fears, are they simply impossible?
Jastyn stared out at the calm waters of the Southern Sea. The blue-green waves carried her modest wooden ship steadily onward. Behind her lay the selkies cove, or what was left of it after the invasion. The elves had come and gone quickly, like a raging storm that hadn’t found its true target and moved on, content with the devastation it had wrought. Ahead of her was the land she hadn’t seen in six months. Venostes, the kingdom she had reluctantly called home for nearly twenty-three years, a kingdom taught to despise her. Yet, here she was, the Odium child returning home.
Adjusting her woven navy and gold belt, she squinted at the wave crests shimmering like jewels in the sunlight. A memory flashed like the light in her mind. Ten thousand rubies to whosoever can bring the princess back to Venostes.
Shaking her head, Jastyn laughed at the first time she’d thought about the reward since its pronouncement from King Grannus Diarmaid. It seemed like ages ago when Jastyn had stood on that market road with Coran, concocting a plan to rescue Princess Aurelia Diarmaid while simultaneously securing a key to the cure for her sister Alanna. At least, Jastyn had thought Aurelia was the key. She’d been convinced of it, unable to fathom another meaning to the Red One’s words. The mercurial leprechaun had told her a noble sacrifice would be required to obtain her sister’s cure, and Jastyn had been sure Aurelia was the noble in question. She had been so convinced, in fact, she’d dragged Aurelia across the realm, knowing she might have had to face grave dangers, maybe even death.
Jastyn wouldn’t have let anything happen to her. Their frightening excursion through the mountains had been awful, but they’d survived. Jastyn had been prepared to handle the obstacles she’d imagined lurking, waiting inside the caves. However, another complication entirely had surprised her on their journey. Love had found its way into her heart. She had fallen in love with Aurelia, and that love complicated everything. When Jastyn had realized she’d been wrong about the meaning of the noble sacrifice, she had been relieved, confused, and grateful. Still, keeping Aurelia ignorant of her fears had betrayed Aurelia’s trust. Jastyn had been prepared to fight against whatever had wanted Aurelia’s noble blood in exchange for the cure. She had not been prepared for the heartbreak involved in revealing her plans and watching Aurelia walk away, maybe for good.
When she’d told Aurelia the truth on the beach one week ago, Jastyn’s world had crumbled. She could handle many things: hunger, cold, even the dirty looks the villagers in Venostes threw at her for being marked an Odium, a bastard child. Aurelia’s dismay upon learning what Jastyn had kept from her, however, had been too much.
Closing her eyes, Jastyn let the salty breeze cool her warming face. She leaned against the ship’s railing, listening to the water and the sail beating steadily against the wind.
“Tove says we should have Venostes in sight in two days’ time.” Jastyn opened her eyes. Her best friend Coran stood beside her on the deck in a worn navy tunic that fell to his knees above old boots, the only difference in their outfits being the color of his black pants to her brown ones. His red-orange hair whipped wildly in the wind. Jastyn’s own braid flopped like a fish’s tail, the plaited end patting an irreverent beat against her chest. “Fastest travelin’ I’ve ever done,” he added. “These selkies are some sailors.”
Her father, Tove, manned the helm, despite most of the sailing being done by his magic, which he’d cast three days before when they’d set out. He said something to Fortan, the only other soul aboard their ship heading east. The two of them conversed quietly, their sealskins perched atop their heads seeming to listen along. Jastyn imagined they were discussing recovery plans for their cove, which was left in disrepair after the elf attack.
Seeming to read her mind, Coran said, “Revna says they’ll be fine. They’ll rebuild, Jas.”
Gripping the rail, she cut her eyes to his freckled face. “It was in pieces, Coran. Their home was obliterated.” More memories surfaced: young selkies emerging from the water on the heels of their parents the day after the attack. Tears running from their dark eyes as they transformed, sprinting to what used to be their safest place. Barks of anguish ringing out, echoing across the cove.
“It’s all my fault,” she murmured. “All of this is my fault.”
“Come on, Jas. You know that’s not true.”
“Tell that to my family.”
Coran grimaced. “We’ll get them out.”
Originally from Dallas-Fort Worth, Ledel now resides in Southern California with her girlfriend and their Jack Russell terrier. She is currently working on her next novel.