This is my stop during the blog tour for Issaura’s Claws by Katharine E Wibell. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 10 till 23 April. You can see the tour schedule here.
Issaura's Claws (The Incarn Saga #1)
By Katharine E Wibell
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: 29 November, 2016
According to legend, when the world was young, the goddess Issaura appeared among men. Those who treated her with kindness received the gift of the gods—the ability to transform into an animal form. This was a great honor but one that separated this race from other humans. Before Issaura departed the mortal realm, she promised to return if her people were ever at the point of destruction.
“Now a threat is rising from a land across the mists of the ocean, a threat that will push this race to the brink of extinction. Responding to the call to war, seventeen-year-old Lluava heads off to find her destiny, one that will carve her name in history.”
You can find Issaura's Claws on Goodreads
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‘…The man hobbled up to the first girl and measured from fingertip to fingertip. Then he measured the circumference of her chest and waist. Finally, he noted the girl’s height and length from waist to heel. Kentril then told the girl to step behind the wooden divider and shift into her dual form. When she reappeared, she had turned into a smoky kitten. The tailor marked on his piece of paper the kitten’s color and size measurements. He turned to the next girl and repeated the entire process. When he was finished, the girls were allowed to transform and dress.
When Rosalyn changed into an elegant swan, the tailor cooed, “Very pretty. Yes, very pretty.” She flew gracefully behind the wooden slats. All eyes watched as the beautiful girl emerged.
Lluava was next. She fidgeted when the tailor’s old fingers quickly moved around her body, making notes of her size. Walking behind the inch-thick wooden wall before transforming, she wished it were thicker. She removed her clothes and concentrated on shape shifting. It was not as easy for her as for the other girls, for she had not changed as often as they had. Her father had warned her of the dangers of her animal form, so she had avoided changing shape. She had been eleven years old the last time, running from a stampeding herd of cattle in a neighbor’s field.
Although the process would take only a few seconds, it always seemed to last much longer. Concentrating, she felt the heat build from inside her very soul, growing and growing until every part of her body burned. A sharp pain erupted from her spine; she heard cracking sounds, and her skin seemed to boil and bubble and ooze into a different shape. The sharp pains increased as her bones reformed and switched places; her gut twisted as her organs realigned in her new body. She tasted blood as sharp teeth erupted from her gums and the others dissolved. More cracking sounds occurred as her skull distorted and reformed. The pain was overwhelming, and she fell on all fours when her tail burst forth. Although pain blurred her vision, she could still make out the white and black fur sprouting from her skin. She lay still, panting, until the pain crept away.
Kentril heard the gasps of the girls and looked up as a large white tigress emerged from behind the divider. His jaw dropped. His eyes remained on Lluava as the tailor quickly scribbled notes. Rosalyn, too, caught her breath at the beast that slept above her bed.
Lluava saw the fear in the eyes of the girls and the men; she could taste the fear in the air. Her heart beat faster. An inner whispering encouraged her to run, but she did not understand and tried to ignore it. She approached the girls, but they backed away. Kentril was shouting at her. She tried to concentrate, tried to listen to what he was saying, but his words made no sense. She moved toward him, trying to figure out what he meant. She made out only a couple of words: change, away, help.
Was he in trouble? She wanted to help but did not know what was wrong. The tension in the air increased, which only agitated her further. She felt as if she were being smothered; she had to escape. A voice in her head began screaming, “Run, run!” She turned toward the door, but several officers ran in and closed the door behind them.
Lluava needed to flee, but her way out was blocked. Panic engulfed her; she had to be free. Leaping toward the drill sergeant, she tried to make him understand that she had to escape. The tall man grabbed the hilt of his sword, and she backed away, knowing, somehow, that he intended to hurt her. A roar emerged from her throat. Screams sounded throughout the room. Another pain erupted as small, sharp objects pierced her rump.
Lluava turned to defend herself. A sleek black panther faced her, one forepaw outstretched and claws extended. The dark beast snarled at her. She snarled back. Each tensed, waiting for the other to make a move. It was time to fight…’
Animal Lead Characters: How to Connect and Keep Readers Interested
The Incarn Saga, my fantasy series geared for Young and New Adult readers, is a war story in which the Kingdom of Elysia must fend off the Viking-like Raiders who seek to conquer and subjugate their country. In order to do so, both humans and Theriomorphs, a race of beings that can transform into animal form, must put aside their current distrust of and hatred towards one another and unite if they are to survive. The entire adventure is told through the eyes of Lluava Kargen—a 17-year-old, female Theriomorph who is drafted into the army, trained for battle and sent into war.
As a reader, can you connect with a main character that is not human? Well, when developing the concept of the Theriomorphs, I wanted readers to feel a connection with these beings, especially as the main character is one. Each Theriomorph has a singular animal form. Lluava can transform into a white tigress. In human form, she looks like an ordinary girl and experiences the full range of thoughts and emotions as any other teenager. Indeed, in most regards, Theriomorphs are exactly like humans. They feel love, sorrow, anger, hatred, and remorse. They can be compassionate, brave, joyful, or terrified depending on the situation. Just like humans, Theriomorphs can be petty and deceitful or friendly and open. Emotionally, they are complex—neither purely good nor utterly evil.
Yet, since Theriomorphs can and do transform, or shift, into animals, there are some subtle differences beyond the forms they take. Like animals, they have hyperactive senses so they can sometimes hear or smell better than humans. Lluava often utilizes her keen sense of night vision. In their animal form, Theriomorphs might be able to fly, swim, or climb better than when in their human form. Once again, like animals, they are more in tune with their instincts. This could cause problems, for example, when a fight or flight response is triggered during battle. Although some of their nonhuman attributes might influence their choices, overall, I believe readers will find it easy to relate to this race of beings.
Furthermore, to add dimension to Theriomorphs, as well as a fun little additive, I made sure their personalities and some of their physical characteristics mirror the animal forms they take. For example in Issaura’s Claws, a small, chatty, buck-toothed boy transforms into a squirrel. In contrast, Lluava has platinum blonde hair, dark eyebrows, and a strong build. Her personality is fierce, protective, and feisty all of which compliments her white tigress form.
As a former wildlife rehabilitator, I enjoy utilizing my knowledge of animal behaviors and incorporating them into what would otherwise be considered very human-like beings. If you were born with an animal form, what would it be?
About the Author:
Katharine Wibell’s lifelong interest in mythology includes epic poetry like the Odyssey, Ramayana, Beowulf, and the Nibelungenlied. In addition, she is interested in all things animal whether training dogs, apprenticing at a children’s zoo, or caring for injured animals as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. After receiving degrees from Mercer University in both art and psychology with an emphasis in animal behavior, Wibell moved to New Orleans with her dog, Alli, to kick start her career as an artist and a writer. Her first literary works blend her knowledge of the animal world with the world of high fantasy.
You can find and contact Katharine here:
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