PART ONE IS DONE
Cheese and crackers, guys. 42k in 19 days. If you’re not sure what that means (I have a lot of people that just go uh what whenever I quote word counts at them), that’s 73 single spaced pages. I’ve never done novels in parts before, but this one felt like it should be? The Shades of Magic trilogy and Crows duology both had parts, and I really liked how that felt. Plus, this one has three very distinct moments in it, things that feel like the endings of something and the beginnings of something else. Here, have some stats:
The first part is 15 chapters long. Each chapter is generally about 3k words, give or take a few here and there. There are 7 POVs in total, which I know seems like a lot, but 5 out of the 7 are our Saints, and one of them is a priest that only has two chapters at the beginning and the end, and I’m going to stop right there before I spoil something. It was only supposed to be 6, too, but then I accidentally discovered who my favorite character was, and I wanted to write for him, OOPS.
Now, I promised that I would explain a little more in depth about what this novel is if I finished part one today. (Series, I’m not going to lie to you, it’s going to be a series. Probably a trilogy. Maybe more. No one knows at this point.) Well, hi. It’s been 16 minutes since I finished part one, and I’m listening to celebratory dance music.
So, you know the Saints. We’ve got Landon, our fearless (maybe literally) leader. Vivian, katana-wielding badass. Ezra, quiet and deadly (accidental favorite character). Miles, obnoxious about his guns and also apparently a foodie? Madison, explosions expert. Which, honestly, doesn’t tell you anything about them.
Landon is a tall, dark stranger. He wears a literal bone mask when he’s out doing terrible things, has a history of headaches and migraines, likes to smudge kohl across his face when he’s out doing said terrible things to hide his freckles because there is an actual constellation of them on his face, rides a motorcycle that in this universe is called a hellcat and is a total nerd about how much he loves it, is very fond of his fellow Saints and kind of acts like a dad to them sometimes, has a mega crush on Ezra that he is going to hide in a very, very large hole that he’s dug, occasionally initiates midnight baking wars with Miles, has a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good father that you’ll all appropriately hate, and HAS MAGIC OH MY GOSH.
Hi, there’s magic in this book.
There’s magic in all of my books except Alex.
Landon’s magic is pretty cool, though. He can create life, but only with plants. So, when he kills the priest, all the way at the end of that scene I shared on National Day of Writing, a small green bud grows in the pool of blood. HA. Life in death. I’m sorry. Anyway, he’s gifted with plant life. He can manipulate the earth, loves the Arboretum, does landscaping sometimes for the upper class, and (this is my favorite part) can heal himself via water. Whaaaaaat. Think about it, it makes sense. Plants need water to grow. Landon uses water to heal. This is made even more interesting by the fact that Ezra also has magic, and his gift is with fire. Literal light and dark, these two are, and it’s going to break hearts, and I CAN’T WAIT.
So, Ezra. He is your typical broken boy trope. He’s got the worst of the unforgivable pasts of the Saints (see: Sam Roth in Shiver; his parents were a pretty big inspiration, ouch), has the uncanny ability to basically exist without making noise and totally uses this to be a punk and scare the crap out of people, though he also dutifully makes noise when approaching Vivian because he knows how much she hates it, once said he had to see an alley about a cat and showed up a few chapters later with a black cat named Shadow, is a terrible sleeper, so he can often be found under the bunk beds (YUP) he and Miles share (DOUBLE YUP) or in the back of the closet (which has knives hanging off the door), will eat literally anything you put in front of him, but somehow still remains thin as a twig, but is also stupid strong because hello, he doesn’t carry weapons, just a lighter for his fire. The thing with magic is that you can’t create out of nothing, right, so Ezra carries the lighter around so that he has constant access to fire. Ezra’s a bit of a goon, but he’s so sweet and sad that he’ll make you laugh and cry in the same scene.
Then we’ve got Miles, who is runner up for my second favorite character. Miles turned into a foodie with absolutely no influence from me, and is now a cooking champion, also works as a mechanic and pretty much taught Landon everything he knows about hellcats, has a very soft and tender spot for Ezra and just wants to hide him from the world, thinks clothes should be optional, goes with the flow almost always because hey, if he’s going to get to shoot someone, it’s going to be a good day, so he’s not about all that drama, doesn’t believe in the cathedral’s religion and definitely thinks he’ll catch on fire if he tries to go in there, and is asexual.
Madison and Miles spend a lot of time together in my head. They don’t on paper yet, which is concerning, so I’ll have to remedy that soon. Madison is Landon’s younger sister, is as different from him as possible in that she’s bright, lively, and all around a joy to be around, is an actual certified genius, so she attends a prestigious university in the Highlands with people way older than her, thinks Landon needs to smile more and scowl less, though she followed him to the Saints because she believes he’s going to change the world, is feared almost as much as Landon purely for her fierceness, still attends services at the cathedral, and is hopefully going to get a girlfriend in book two.
Last, but certainly not least, is Vivian. She has the second worst past of the Saints, sleeps with her katana, works at a jail in the Midlands where she’s a total boss, is exceptionally good at getting information out of people (translation: torture) even though she despises it, thinks that the Saints are doing Ioth’s (God) work, and thus they’re in the right when they kill people, which is completely backward logic, and it’s not going to be fun when she finally acknowledges that sometimes they kill just because they can, has the absolute worst crush on Landon in the world, and is going to be pretty crushed when Landon stops digging his feelings for Ezra into a hole, kind of wants to save everyone she comes across, and will ultimately be the one that convinces the Saints to take Cole back.
Cole? Who’s that? Well, I also accidentally added two characters to the roster. Beyond the Saints, the other characters we’ll see are Henry and Isaiah Ash. Sam (Isaiah’s son) is mentioned, but we honestly don’t see him a lot, and he won’t have POV in this book. (I almost said ever, but that might be untrue.) There are unnamed priests, deacons, and bishops that show up (and one cardinal), and a few minor characters that the Saints smuggle out of the city, but Henry and Isaiah are the other two big characters. And then, whoops, there was Bellows and Cole.
Bellows is someone that really won’t be a character until the next book. He’s in two scenes, I think? He’s a prisoner at the jail Vivian works at, and his first scene is when he escapes just so that he can tell her he wants to speak with Landon. His second scene will be at the end of the book when he actually gets around to having that conversation with Landon. Spoiler: they’re going to break him out of jail, and he’ll become a Saint. He’s crazy. It’s awesome.
Henry and Cole go hand-in-hand. When Henry was young, the same father that is awful to Landon, came at him with an iron knife and blinded him. Their father (I’m not telling you his name, so don’t ask) is vehemently against magic, and iron, like with faeries, is bad for people with magic. I mean, the whole knife part would have done, but, you know, salt in wounds and all that. Henry was four. This is one of the primary reasons why we hate their father. Which means, obviously, that Henry’s got magic. Bingo. Now, Henry’s not a healer, but he can read and manipulate energy. He can tell when someone’s in pain, and where that pain is in their body. He has private tutors, and just excels with his biology and anatomy tutor. He can’t heal broken bones, but he does know exactly what to do with them, and this is both because of his studies and because of his gift. Because sometimes, even though the prescribed method is path a, Henry’s magic lets him know that the more efficient way will be path b. Spoiler: eventually, he’s also going to leave his father and join the Saints.
Cole comes into this in a funny way. Originally a Saint, Cole did something truly awful (no spoilers because I haven’t figured it out yet) and Landon threw him out as a consequence. Whatever it was, it was bad. However, Landon’s a resourceful little sneak, and he knew that he couldn’t just throw Cole to the wolves. Instead, he sussed him out a few months later, and told him he had a job for him. Landon sent Cole to look after Henry, to be his caregiver, both to actually help him and to protect him from their father. Fast forward five years, and wow, Cole’s so in love, it’s stupid obvious to everyone but Henry, of course.
And then there’s Isaiah Ash. The Ash family is basically the Black family. They’re the oldest, most dangerous, and worst possible people in the world. They hate those with magic, and they’re hellbent on getting rid of everyone that does. Isaiah, always one to outdo his awful reputation, kidnaps those with magic to experiment on them to see if he can separate the magic from them. He can’t, and all of them end up dead. The sticky part of this is that the cathedral backs him. Quietly, of course, but they do nonetheless. Their reasoning is that they believe the magic is a holy gift from Ioth, but shouldn’t be in the hands of lesser people. Translation: those that don’t work for the cathedral, that aren’t “holy”. So, they help Isaiah in his wicked plot because they believe they’re trying to separate Ioth’s gift from Kull’s (the devil) unworthy vessels.
Starting to see a plot in all this? I hope so. If I had to break it down into one sentence, it would be this: A group of smugglers who call themselves the Saints are at war with the church and the rich, who believe magic is a sin.
The Saints smuggle people with magic out of the city before the cathedral or Isaiah can get their hands on them. And when they can’t in time, that’s when the killing and the blowing things up happen.
And that’s about as much as I’m willing to give up. Lies. Here’s a sneak peak of the chapter in the picture I posted on Instagram yesterday:
The world was falling into darkness. Shadow storms were old, unforgivable things. In twenty years, Landon had only gone outside during one once. Shadow storms were often the setting for bedtime stories that parents told their children meant to warn them of the dangers of their home. The Dying Lands, a large, barren stretch of desert visible only from the very edge of the Lowlands, was what happened to cities when they did not obey Ioth’s wrath during the shadow storms, when they tried to stand against His will.
As the hellcat thundered its way through the emptying streets, Landon prayed. He prayed as he hadn’t done in years, actual words taking shape. They fell from his mouth in whispers, scattered across the street, and twisted away in the howling wind. He didn’t think his prayers would save him now. Even as a young boy, in love with his god, he’d known what shadow storms were.
This was not Ioth’s wrath. This was Küll, revealing how complacent they’d become and reminding them how meager their lives were. Ioth was not with them now, would not protect them from the shadows falling all around them. Even so, Landon prayed.
Prayed for a safe journey, prayed for Vivian, prayed for his friends, and even the house, prayed that they would make it out of this alive.
It occurred to him, his prayers overflowing and flooding the streets, that this, this unnamed thing he was afraid they would not survive, was not the shadow storm, but something larger, something colder. Someone, truthfully.