Signal Boost: The Awful Truth About Forgetting

What she knows, she dare not tell.

Rachel Griffin should be having an amazing freshman year. She has the Princess of Magical Australia and crazy orphan Sigfried the Dragonslayer for friends and a handsome sorcerer boyfriend romancing her with charms magical and otherwise. 

But otherworldly forces conspire against those she loves.

While all others can be made to forget the truth, Rachel cannot. When she runs afoul of the hidden force hiding these terrible secrets, Rachel must face her most desperate hour yet.

This on top of winter fairies, missing friends, Yule gifts, flying practice, and a rampaging ogre…oh, and schoolwork. 

Then there is the matter of a certain undeniably attractive older boy…

See on Amazon

Students of the Roanoke Academy

The long-awaited main book trailer for the fourth book in L.Jagi Lamplighter’s excellent Books of Unexpected Enlightenment series is now unveiled. Please enjoy and share around as much as possible.

When otherworldly forces conspire against those she loves, Rachel Griffin must face her most desperate hour.

This on top of winter fairies, lost friends, undeniably attractive older boys, and, oh, a rampaging ogre.

Out now on Amazon

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Superversive Book Review: The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel

In my review of The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, I noted how it had a magical girl, who ended up at a magical school, collected nearly a dozen magical friends, joined a fraternity, investigated a mystery, saw an omen that heralds the doom of worlds, headed off an attack by an army of dozens of mind-controlled students, saved the entire campus, and provided support for a battle that involved the dragon that used to be Professor Moriarty.Not bad for the first week, huh?

No. Sorry, my mistake. It’s not bad for the first five days of school. Take that, Harry Potter.

How do I know that book one was the first week? Because , book two of L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Rachel series, opens only a few hours after the end of book 1, and explicitly states she’s only been there five days.

If the books get any more dense, we’re going to have to call Rachel Griffin “Jack Bauer.”

In spy novels, most people will cite John Le Carre, usually for good reason. As far as I’m concerned, his crowning achievement were his George Smiley novels. The middle book of his Carla trilogy was called The Honorable Schoolboybook 1, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, ended with the discovery of a mole in MI6, and his unmasking. Much of the second book is walking back the cat — going through the mole’s history and discovering exactly what havoc he hath wrought upon the spy service during his period working for the other team.  Much of The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel proceeds in a similar manner. Book one was so dense, and the implications so vast, we need an after action report just to get a good grasp of the fallout.

In fact, the first 100 pages of The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel handles: recapping the first book, reintroducing the characters, walks back the cat on the enemies from book 1, as well as sets up the conflict going forward.  Not bad, huh?

So, if you think that the first book ended a little abruptly, without any follow through, there’s a good reason. It would have added another 50-100 pages. But don’t worry, there is enough new data here that you can read these books back to back without a problem. How do I know that? Because I know three other people who who did just that.

For those of you who fear the repetitive nature of YA books … no. Not at all. There is nothing repeated here. In fact, this one continues to wrap up plot threads left over from the first book — there actually were plot threads dangling, but I didn’t realize it after the grand shootout in the finale. I suspect the series will end in fire.

And good God, the references. I think you need a degree in classical literature and be in on the jokes of three different languages and five different cultures in order to get all of the little hints and nods in the novels. I think I only got half of them, and some PhD’s in philosophy explained some of the others to me. But that’s a general observation, not specific to this book.

In The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel, you see more sides to people we’ve already seen. Whether it’s the magical prince of Australia, or the Artful Dodger and his pet dragon, or even Vladimir von Dread (I have asked. His family crest DOES NOT read as “DREAD IS BAVARIA. BAVARIA IS DREAD”). In fact, if she ever wants to do an anthology, I call dibs on von Dread shorts, he’s just that interesting. It is a vast and colorful crew, and I suspect we’re going to see more of their own backstories as time goes on.

Now, I hear that Jagi hates having her book compared to Harry Potter. I know. It’s not fair to JK Rowling. But I’ve handed book 1 to four other people, and they read only 10% into Unexpected Enlightenment before deciding that it was a deeper and richer world than Potter. And the farther in we go, the deeper everything gets. Or maybe it just shows us how shallow Potter was and we never realized it. There are no johnny one-note characters here. Everyone has different emotions and moods and personalities. Hell, I think Rachel went through more emotions over the course of any five pages of The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel  than the entire body of Hogwarts in 7 novels.

I’m told that it’s unfair to compare the weak parts of Rowling to the best parts of Rachel Griffin. Except that there are no weak parts to the Rachel Griffin novels. The world is deeper and far more cosmopolitan. The characters are more complex. The plot is faster and more tightly written. The bad guys are more threatening. The overarching mystery is more compelling. And anyone who felt that Harry Potter presented a genuine threat to Christianity, I have only one thing to say to you: Keep your eye on the Lion.

As for the plot… the short version is that it’s really wrapping up a lot of plot threads from book 1. And there’s a lot to wrap up: the raven that heralds the doom of worlds; the Outsiders from other worlds; the “Lightbringer,” the ones behind Moriarty last time; the one behind THAT threat; her relationship status; the story behind Rachel’s father and his work as an agent … there’s an awful lot kicking around. And we aren’t even going to get into all of the new various and sundry plot elements kicking around.

SHORT VERSION: five out of five. Go read it.

The Dragon Awards are open and ready for nominations, and I have a list of suggestions you might want to take a look at. If you already  have a good idea of what you want, just click here to go and vote for them. The instructions are right there.

The Love at First Bite series. 

Review: The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin

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L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright once described her Rachel Griffin books as Fringe meets Narnia in Hogwarts. I don’t see the Fringe, but the Harry Potter is easier to see. I’ve finally gotten to The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin.

The plot is ….

Rachel Griffin wants to know everything. As a freshman at Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, she has been granted to opportunity to study both mundane and magical subjects. But even her perfect recollection of every book she has ever read does not help her when she finds a strange statue in the forest-a statue of a woman with wings. Nowhere-neither in the arcane tomes of the Wise, nor in the dictionary and encyclopedia of the non-magic-using Unwary-can she find mention of such a creature. What could it be? And why are the statue’s wings missing when she returns?

 

When someone tries to kill a fellow student, Rachel soon realizes that, in the same way her World of the Wise hides from mundane folk, there is another, more secret world hiding from everyone-which her perfect recall allows her to remember. Her need to know everything drives her to investigate. Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel finds herself beset by wraiths, magical pranks, homework, a Raven said to bring the doom of worlds, love’s first blush, and at least one fire-breathing teacher. Curiosity might kill a cat, but nothing stops Rachel Griffin!

Imagine the end of Harry Potter. You remember: the school is under full assault by the forces of darkness, things are blowing up, students are fighting, and great beasts are tramping around the campus?

Now imagine if that was book ONE, and that it was even MORE epic.

Yes, I mean that. We’ve got a dragon and hordes of the possessed out to slaughter the school. There’s even an evil math tutor (NOT named Moriarty). I had expected a few lines from Maleficent, but not this must. Heh.

There is no Hogwarts, but Roanoke Academy, in New York. Roanoke wasn’t lost, just misplaced for a while. Muggles are replaced by “the unwary.” If you wondered how the non-magical world looks, this gives you a great look at that, AS WELL AS establishes an overarching storyline. And trust me, this makes Voldemort look like Billy Crystal from Monsters University. And this time, our lead is 13 year old Rachel Griffin. She’s English royalty in America, and her classmates are from all over the world.

And yes, that paragraph alone puts it had and shoulders above the next nearest competitor, which treated America as a nonexistent land.

One of Rachel’s many new acquaintances is Sigfried Smith; who is a Dickens character, with the psychology that should come with it. (Oliver Twist is less fiction and more fantasy, orphans in the system aren’t that cute.) WARNING: Siggy is an acquired taste, but he grows on you, honest. Of course, we also have the magical princess of magical Australia.

Then we’re off to the races.

It’s all too easy to compare it to Harry Potter. It’s not fair…to Harry Potter. While I enjoyed it, the world of Harry Potter was so narrow and confined, you never really got the sense of the larger world. What did it look like? What would it look like?

Also with the books of Rachel Griffin, we get the perspective of someone who lives in the world of magic, excluding the Stranger in a Strange Land that we have in almost any other fantasy world. While Rowling relied on the tried and true “Alice in Wonderland” variety of dropping an outsider into a new world, make them the primary narrator — making information dumps to explain things both the narrator and to the audience, Lamplighter has made a complete world, while penning a narration that encompasses every question one might have about how things work. We haven’t gotten to the economic system yet, but I suspect that that’s coming.

Another achievement of Jagi here is having a full cast of characters. Unlike Harry Potter, who adopts the first two people he meets as friends, to the near exclusion of all others (let’s face it, Neville Longbottom was a punching bag until he became a sword swinging badass out of nowhere), Rachel gathers friends and acquaintances all over the place. There are mean girls, certainly, but nothing fits into the nice, neat little boxes that Rowling jammed her characters into.

There is no one house of “obviously villainy” here, despite obvious hints about it. Sure, there are ominous characters. There’s a Victor von Dread, who I expect to talk in all caps about Latveria. There’s a Salome Iscariot, who I am still very wary about, and will be until the series if over.

The characters are vividly drawn, and deeper than you’d expect. And the world is going to get very, very creepy.

It has been said more than once about Narnia that they were “too good to be wasted on Children.” The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin. might be one of them.

The short version is that this book is awesome, and you need to buy it and read it today. Just click here. You won’t regret it.

Declan Finn is a self-professed crazy person and author — but then, he repeats himself. He is also a Dragon Award nominated author for his “Catholic Vampire romance novels.“.  Most of his various and sundry ramblings can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does. He is also in the habit of talking about himself in the third person when writing biographies on other people’s websites.

The Prude and The Trollop

Occasionally, I come upon a review (there has been more than one) of The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin where the reader threw the book across the room and stopped reading at the scene in Chapter Four where crazy orphan boy Sigfried Smith encounters a young woman deliberately wearing too-tight clothing to flaunt her curves and uses the word (brace yourselves, my dear readers) trollop.

These reviewers universally agree: clearly the author (not the character, mind you) must be a disapproving prude out to slut-shame all well-endowed girls.

This is obvious, because the “trollop’s” name is Salome Iscariot–which no author in their right mind would give to a character who was not a villainess. So don’t read her book. Because, you know, evil.

Except…

Salome Iscariot is not a villain.

So, to put to bed any rumors that Salome Iscariot is not adored by her author, here is an excerpt from the soon-to-be-released Third Book of Unexpected Enlightenment: Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland.

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Valerie Hunt and her best friend, Salome Iscariot 

From: Rachel and the Many-Speldored Dreamland

Chapter Twenty-Eight:
Though the World May Burn

“Eeevil! I told you he was evil!” Salome arched her back into a bridge atop a table in the Storm King Café and raised one leg, pointing her toe toward the ceiling. Her skirt slipped down revealing her black-tights-clad thigh. She pursed her deep red lips. “Vladimir Von Dread is sooo evil! Not that I object to him anymore, mind you. He’s actually kind of cool, not to mention brain-stunningly gorgeous, but…conqueror of sixty-five worlds! Totally eeeeevil!”

Siggy’s eyes grew huge, fixed on the shapeliness of her inner thigh. A happy dreamy look came over his face. Then, yanking his gaze away, he grabbed a fork off the table and stuck it into his own thigh until he grunted with discomfort.

“Um, Miss Iscariot,” Siggy raised his palm to form blinders, blocking his view of the young lady. “I don’t mean to sound critical, but this may not be the best place for a display of modern dance. Right, Lucky?”

“I don’t know,” Lucky cocked his head to one side and then the other, “maybe it’s a mating dance. You should bite her on the back of her neck and drag her off to the harem cave. Do you have the hot volcanic sands ready for the eggs?”

“Lucky,” Sigfried replied sternly, “I have explained to you about no harems.” He leaned over and put his arm around Valerie, who rolled her eyes. “Miss Iscariot may be eye-burningly attractive, but I am a one-woman man.”

“I am with Mr. Smith, Miss Iscariot. Perhaps this is not the best venue to appear so unclad,” murmured the Princess, who sat at the same table as Siggy, sipping her tea. Her Tasmanian tiger sat regally beside her.

“Oh you people. You’re such prudes.” Salome flipped her legs over her head and landed lightly on her feet on the floor. She spread her arms. “Ta-da!”

She adjusted her skirt with lackadaisical slowness. The older boys at the far table were not as chivalrous as Sigfried and watched the whole thing with prurient interest. She turned and gave them a languid, smoky glance over her shoulder.

“Does your boyfriend mind you doing that?” Rachel asked, thinking with pleasure of the moment, during the Knight’s dueling period, when she had bested Salome’s boyfriend, the handsome and arrogant Ethan Warhol.

“What can he do about it?” Salome shrugged her shoulders in a fashion pleasing to the upperclassman boys. “If he wants the gorgeous lusciousness that is me,” she made a cute, cheerful gesture, ending with both her hands—and her flaming pink and fire-truck red nails—pointing at her face, “my entourage of lust-maddened boy-toys is part of the package.”

!Rachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland art

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Three Day’s Only! The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin on sale now!

In honor of the release of the revised ebook for The Raven, The Elf, and Rachel, the first Book of Unexpected Enlightenment, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin is

ON SALE NOW!

Only 99 cents on July 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

! Rachel Griffin Cover

For those who would rather just enjoy the fun, here is the website for Roanoke Academy of Sorcerous Arts. (Warning, it makes noise when you first get there.)

And for those who wonder whether Hogwarts will be getting its own website, check out The Setup Wizard — the diary of the Hogwarts IT guy.