Book Discovery: The Story Raider by Lindsay A. Franklin (plus COVER REVEAL!)

Hello dear readers! It’s been a while, so it’s definitely time for a new “Book Discovery” post—AND there’s a cover reveal at the end!!

Here’s the scoop on these Book Discovery posts: they are not book reviews. Instead, the “Book Discovery” articles are meant to make us better writers by learning from the pros of published books, particularly new-and-cool books you may never have heard of. I won’t be discussing any “cons” that the novels may have, mostly because writing books is hard and why be negative when you can learn from an author’s successes? If you want my opinion on the book because you’re interested in reading it, you’re welcome to private message me through my author Facebook page. Or you can just try the book for yourself. 😉

Today’s book is actually the second installment of The Weaver Trilogy. The Story Raider released this past July, and I had the pleasure of reading it just after its release (I know, I’m way behind in my blog posts!) Without further ado, let’s discuss The Story Raider by Lindsay A. Franklin.

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(Warning—spoilers ahead!)

Magic

I’ve been in love with this magic system since reading the first Weaver book, The Story Peddler (actually, since reading the back cover of The Story Peddler). In this trilogy, art forms like storytelling, painting, etc. are magic. When the main character, Tanwen, tells stories, they form beautiful crystalline sculptures—and as Tanwen’s skills progress in The Story Raider, she learns to do much more with her gift than just create pretty sculptures.

One of the best things about this magic system is that it unfolds gradually throughout the books, and it’s well-paced. At the beginning of the first book, Tanwen doesn’t understand her gift much more than the reader does. Each discovery Tanwen makes gives the reader a new piece of the puzzle, and lets the reader experience the same wonder, shock, etc. that the character is feeling. The reader’s rate of discovery for the magic system hits a higher gear in The Story Raider, as it should—by the second book, readers are invested in the magic system and are eager to see more of its effects on the storyworld.

If a magic system is a big part of your story’s plot, play with the pacing. Control the rate of reader discovery. Whether you have a character like Tanwen who learns with the reader, or whether all of your characters already understand the magic in their world, experiment with your magic and its effect on the plot. See what works best for keeping your readers engaged. You don’t want to info-dump everything about the magic system at the beginning, because that will be overwhelming. You also don’t want to hold out on introducing the magic system for too long, or readers will get bored (they’ve been promised magic, so where is it?).

Note: Properly pacing the magic system discovery does not mean you have to escalate the magic itself. If you’ve laid down rules for the magic earlier in your story, don’t break those rules later just to create a sensation. Your reader will feel cheated. Instead of breaking the rules, let the reader discover a rule, attribute, or implication for the magic that they didn’t previously know, but that makes total sense with the previous discoveries. And as with any element of the story, make sure your magic is driving the story forward!

Characters

There are plenty of characters to love in The Story Raider. What makes them lovable? They’re human: they have flaws, but they also have qualities that make them cool.

Creating lovable characters is a balancing act. Readers don’t usually like characters who are too perfect, because they’re stiff, unrealistic, and hard to relate to. On the other hand, most readers don’t want heroes who have SO many flaws that they become unlikable.

The Story Raider introduces a new character, Diggy, that I didn’t expect to like. (I mean, I already had my favorite characters from reading the first book.) But when Diggy’s bluntness and sass entered the story, I found I couldn’t help softening toward her. It also didn’t hurt that she can throw knives with incredible accuracy, which I thought was cool. And then, the author revealed that Diggy has a unique skill related to the magic system—a really intriguing skill that hasn’t been fully explained yet (remember, pacing your magic system? Apparently all will become clear in the final book of the trilogy…). In short, Diggy is now one of my favorite characters.

The characters in The Story Raider also have different combinations of flaws and skills, which keeps them distinct from one another and makes each one interesting in his or her own way. Just as you have to experiment with pacing for your magic system, experiment with different combinations of flaws and skills for your characters. Make them honest and human. Make them really good at some things, really bad at others, and sort-of-okay at even more things. Experiment with their actions and dialogue until they have a personality of their own.

Exploration

While the first book took place in a single country, The Story Raider has its characters roaming all over the known world. Even the map in The Story Raider shows a much bigger area than the map in The Story Peddler.

The places that are explored in The Story Raider were hinted at in the first book—sometimes by mentioning a race of people, sometimes by mentioning a type of food, etc. Some of the main characters even originate from other countries. In other words, the first book made promises about the storyworld: that it’s bigger than Tanwen’s home country.

Always follow through on the promises you make to your readers. Readers usually keep reading because they’ve been given a promise of some kind, and they want to see this promise fulfilled. This doesn’t mean that you have to show them every corner of the world you’ve created. But if you keep mentioning foreign lands and you have a main character, like Tanwen, who wants to travel, then your characters will expect some exploration! So let them explore. The Story Raider is a great example of using the plot to guide exploration of the storyworld that’s been created—in other words, the plot dictates the places that Tanwen and her friends travel, and the locations impact the storyline.

Bonus: Tea!

Can we just appreciate how Lindsay A. Franklin has designed special tea blends to go along with her books? Okay, so maybe you don’t love tea like I do. But I still think it’s a great idea to make something in the real world that allows your readers to enter your storyworld a little bit. And these teas really do correspond to specific drinks or scenes in the books!

COVER REVEAL: The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin

AND…here’s that cover reveal I promised you! Today is the cover reveal day for the final book in the Weaver trilogy, The Story Hunter, and I’m so excited to join in this cover reveal!

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Graphic by Emilie Haney (a.k.a. @createexploreread). Used with permission. Cover design by Kirk DouPonce of DogEared Design.

Doesn’t the cover look AMAZING?! *swoon* Who else is going to be snatching up a copy of this gorgeous book asap?! The Story Hunter releases May 19, 2020, and is available for pre-order now.

I can’t wait to have the complete set of gorgeous books decorating my shelves—after I feverishly read through The Story Hunter and find out how the trilogy ends, of course! Below is the blurb for The Story Hunter:

Redeeming the past is a fatal quest.

In the wake of a deadly coup, the capital city of Urian has descended into chaos. Heartbreak and bloodshed await Tanwen and her friends as they discover the unlikeliest leader now rules Tir.

If they want to save the realm, Tannie and the Corsyth weavers must rescue Queen Braith and unmask the Master, ending the strife once and for all. But the success of their hunt depends upon an ally no one trusts.

The Master has a new target in sight: fragile, trauma-scarred Digwyn, whose unique weaving ability could turn the tide of any war. When the desire for vengeance proves too powerful for Digwyn to resist, Tanwen must face a terrifying truth: the fate of Tir rests in the hands of a volatile, shattered girl.

For more info, you can check out Lindsay A. Franklin’s blog post about the cover reveal!

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