There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Review: Urban Fantasy “Magick Marked” by Chauntelle Baughman (DarqRealm Series #1) October 5, 2013

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I might write epic fantasy, but I have to say that I love reading urban fantasy a lot more than epic. There’s just something about vampires, werewolves, and ghouls (oh my!) that pulls me in, even though I have no desire whatsoever to write them. Recently, I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reading copy of Chauntelle Baughman‘s book Magick Marked, which is the first in her DarqRealm Series. This book is definitely an example of how the book can prove to be ten times better than the blurb. The blurb didn’t really get me super-excited. It sounded interesting enough, so I figured I would give it a shot. And man, was I blown away.

ImageForced into a world of ancient magick and fabled creatures, vampire Rhowen Vasile has been honored with the prestigious appointment of executioner—a promotion she never wanted. Now she has two important responsibilities: execute criminal vampires and protect her race’s Kamen, one of five ancient relics said to harness all magick in the DarqRealm.

When the Kamen Rho swore to protect goes missing, she’s assigned the most important task of her life—join an interracial team with a magick mover, a werewolf and a shape shifter to recover what’s been lost. If she fails, the executioner will become the executed, and the magick held within the relics could be lost forever.

As other Kamens start to disappear and the teammates struggle to trust one another, Rho discovers a physical bond with a powerful magick mover that shouldn’t be possible. With the survival of the entire DarqRealm compromised, she barely has time to deal with her temperamental teammates, much less a forbidden attraction. Rho and her team must put everything aside to find what they seek—before the enemy finds it first.

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My Review:

This is definitely an example of the book being 10x better than what I expected after reading the blurb.

I didn’t expect to connect with the characters as much as I did, but these characters really do jump off the page. Chauntelle Baughman does such a great job of being in their heads without giving you too much that I had to remind myself it wasn’t written in first person. I felt as though they were talking to me, which creates a much deeper connection and draw to the characters for me.

This gets a bit spoilery, so be warned.

The love story was really well played out. I felt like the resistance was done well and the progression was natural. Rho wasn’t completely emo because she felt like things would never work with Eldon. It’s just a fact to her, even if it is one she isn’t happy with (though she’ll barely admit that to herself). They both have faults (stubborn, independent, argumentative) and instead of trying to change that about one another or battle over dominance, it seems that the faults they have in common only draw them to each other more, giving them insight into what the other is thinking in a way they haven’t experienced with anyone else before.

The inter-race relations is also very interesting. They’ve all been raised to think they know about the other race(and that their race is superior, of course), but they’re proved wrong. First impressions might emphasize those stereotypes (like Tim acting like a testosterone driven jock at the beginning when Eldon stupidly downplays the bond between a pack), but we get to see the layers to each character as they discover those layers about one another.

I loved that Rho wasn’t this perfect, graceful, seductive, all-knowing vampire. She was vulnerable. She was lonely. She was damaged. But she was also prideful and had her walls up. She was more human than you would expect in a vampire story.

The action and suspense really kept you turning the pages. I’ve been at DragonCon reading this, and any spare moment I had, I pulled out this book. Once I got to chapter twenty, I was ready to go back to the hotel and finish it off. And I am definitely ready for book two!

Happily, book two will be hitting the shelves October 7th. And if you haven’t read the first book, it is on sale for just $0.99! I would highly recommend you check it out.
~Mara Valderran

Fantasy Subgenres December 5, 2012

Welcome Fellow Fantasy Writers!

So you’ve written a fantasy novel? That’s awesome! But what sort of fantasy novel did you write? Epic? High? Gritty? Arthurian? What exactly is Arthurian anyway? Well, this post is supposed to help! Below is a list of fantasy subgenres and what they are. Find out what sort of fantasy you wrote!


Alternate World(Portal): Fantasy occurring in a world parallel to our own. Often a primary piece of world building is, or should be, the portal the main character uses to get to and from our world to the fantasy one. Think C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia or Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.


Arthurian: Novels set in the time period of King Arthur, often having to deal with either Arthur himself or members of his Court. Think of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow or BBC’s Merlin ( which is an awesome show you should watch and this isn’t my minor Colin Morgan obsession).


Contemporary: Fantasy set in modern times that in very familiar settings. World building primarily includes the idea that magical creatures are walking among us. Think Neil Gaimen’s novel Neverwhere.


Dark: Fantasy subgenre that shares elements of horror or thrillers. It also will typically have a very gothic feel. Think The Black Jewels Series by Anne Bishop.


Epic: This genre is as big as the name hints. It deals with the human journey, the creation of philosophy, and it really digs into the human condition. Everything from the main character to the villain to the armies are big. Typically hinges on some sort of world destruction. Think Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien.


Gritty: One of our contributors, EM Castellan, specializes in this, so I asked her what the genre meant to her! She says, “the setting is still imaginary worlds. But instead of relying on complicated magic systems and weird creatures, these stories show us a world in shades of grey, where the characters are as flawed as we are, with the same emotions and reactions. These books touch on concepts which echo in our real world. The trend was started by Glen Cook’s Black Company series in the mid 1980s. Then George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series followed in the mid 1990s. And in the last ten years, this subgenre has grown exponentially, with authors such as Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, K. J. Parker, Mark Lawrence, Steven Erikson and Brent Weeks.”


High: This subgenre of fantasy typically tries to play with the tropes of the genre. It uses Elfs, dwarves, swords, journeys, and magic, but tries to turn those tropes on their heads. Think The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.


Historical: A specific time period in Earth’s history is turned into your personal playground for fantastical elements. Think A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray or The Princess Bride by William Goldman (also a book worth reading and its definitely not because I know all the words to the movie version…)


Urban Fantasy: This is where fantastical elements or creatures are in common, and well known, urban areas such as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. Think Sanctum by Sarah Fine.


So there you have it, a basic break down of most fantasy genres. The genres can, of course, be more nuanced, but these are the primary genres agents and editors see. So, if you think you’ve written a novel in one of these genres, great! I would read some in your genre, revise, send off to beta readers, then write that query!!

Good Luck and Keep Writing!

Jessy 🙂