Wendy C. Garfinkle
Genre: Medieval Fantasy/ Jewish Fantasy
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Date of Publication: September 2, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-62015-507-3ISBN: 978-1-62015-523-3
Number of pages: 176
Cover Artist: Loretta Matson
Dennah Dubrovnika is a formidable hunter and talented healer. However, she cannot control her own powers, which have suddenly reawakened in the aftermath of her mother’s violent capture by a powerful warlord who destroyed their village in his wake. As she races to free her mother, Dennah is accompanied by Jeth, the man she loves. But she’s increasingly, inexorably drawn to the mysterious Skallon who is allied with her greatest enemy.
Will Dennah be able to gain a measure of control over her magic or will she lose everything and everyone she loves to its raging inferno?
Serpent on a Cross is Book One in a Jewish fantasy adventure series set in Medieval Eastern Europe.
Stomach churning, a sour taste in her mouth, Dennah hovered above the massacre from her nest in the ash tree she’d climbed at the edge of the forest.
Guilt twisted a knot in her belly as she remembered Mamen’s order to flee, but she couldn’t leave; she might be needed. So she’d climbed the tallest leafiest tree she could quickly find, its branches extending almost to the roof of their cottage. She fastened the leather bracer on her left forearm, finger guards on her drawing hand, in case she was forced to shoot the ash bow. After stringing it, she set it and the bag of arrows in the cradle of two limbs a little above her and out of easy reach so she wouldn’t be tempted to fire down upon the invaders.
From her perch she saw the soldiers enter the shtetl, thundering over the ramparts as if they were fagots; they crushed the golden fields of barley, and wheat, forcing the defenders to give way or be trampled beneath hammering hooves. Seeing the guardsmen attack the horses to unseat the soldiers, her heart raced. Get them! What right have they to attack our home?! Anger boiled just under her skin. Her gaze sharpened and the branch grew warm beneath the grip of her fingers. Though there was no breeze, the limbs of her tree swayed gently.
Almost without thought, as if her hands had a will of their own, she pulled bow and quiver within reach and nocked an arrow. With precise aim, she inhaled, drawing the cord back, hearing the soft familiar creak as it stretched. She released on the exhale. Gracefully, the arrow sped toward its target, a soldier who’d edged up behind Marek and raised his sword. The shaft caught him in the throat, sunk deep and broke through the skin at the back of his neck. He fell with a thud, blood mixing with fertile ground in a muddy pool beneath him. Relieved of its burden, the soldier’s horse veered away from the melee.
Marek, eyes narrowing, seemed to find her hidden in the ash. He nodded slightly and turned to face another foe. A surge of pleasure warmed her at his wordless approval. Then there was no more time for thought; only action. Again and again her arrows flew true; but she was careful to watch for enemy soldiers looking in her direction. Her stomach dropped when she saw first Yuri, then Selwyn, and finally Yakkov surrounded and disarmed. A quick inventory of her quiver yielded only four arrows. Not enough to free the guardsmen. I’m sorry.
This is an intriguing start to a new series. There’s swords and magical and it’s set on medieval times so the setting is so atmospheric. I won’t lie, it’s dark with lots of death and evil floating around and things are different back then. The main part of the story involves a girl who has magical powers and is hunted down by an evil ruler. He’s willing to kill everyone for that power and enslave everyone else. It’s quite an adventure!
There are some very good characters but there were so many that I kept forgetting who was who and which did what. I also maybe wanted the characters to be a little more in depth. And I know some of them die but I still like to have a little but of knowledge on them, it makes their death feel more significant and makes the more main characters reactions to those death more involved. There’s also a few other point of views from some side characters that at least help you get a better grip of the things coming into play. Greed, evil, bigotry, jealousy, all play a part in the blood war happening around these characters. But Dennah, the main character definitely stood out. You get a brief introduction of her as a child to know at least a back story that started it all. I loved her strong will and loyalty. She wants to save her mother and she’ll stop for nothing and no one until she accomplishes this. She of course has weaknesses, and her powers get out of control because of it, but she’s also so strong and courageous.
The plot is based on religions and cultures and why there were sides, but I got a little confused with some of the sayings and phrases and yet it’s still poetic and makes you appreciate that other cultures are still beautiful even if you don’t understand them. And the writing is very good, it flowed nicely, so I look forward to seeing where the story will go. It’s got me wondering about some things so I’ll be picking up book two 🙂 4 PAWS!!
WELCOME!! First, tell me a little about your book ….
Serpent on a Cross is the first book in a Jewish fantasy adventure series set in medieval Poland and Kievan Rus, in which a young woman, Dennah, a healer and archer just beginning to learn about her magic, goes on a quest to rescue her mother who has been taken captive by a powerful nobleman who raided their village.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?
I’ve been writing little stories and poems since I was really young. I think the first time I remember being interested in writing was when I attempted to keep a younger child entertained with a fantastical story full of magic and dragons that I made up as I went along. I cannot remember a word of that story. Some years later, I realized that in order to remember the stories begging me to tell them, I needed to write them down.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of the stories I have written notes for and that continue to percolate in my head are loosely based on events in my own life. But the time period, persons and places have been varied to protect the guilty.
How do you chose when/which characters die in your books?
I must admit that I’ve yet to kill off a character I’ve grown attached to. Perhaps that will change in the future, when I’ve learned to be more ruthless and more willing to “kill my darlings.” For now, whenever it feels the right time to kill someone in the story, I try to be sure it’s one of the tertiary characters. In Serpent on a Cross, I killed the Rabbi pretty early on. I really liked him, but he had to die to raise the stakes of just how far Tarkan Maksimov is willing to go in his thirst for power.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Erika Johansen, author of The Queen of the Tearling, the first in a planned fantasy trilogy. The story has medieval tones, but is set centuries in the future. The story and protagonist, Queen Kelsea Raleigh, drew me in from the first page. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
Who do you look up to as a writer?
Nora Roberts. She has successfully written several different genres – romance, mystery, fantasy – and is world renowned. I love her books and her style of writing!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I think I would have tried to stretch out the scenes with Dennah and Jeth a little more, and explained more about Skallon’s history. I’ll have to try and fill some of those gaps in the sequel.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Trying to schedule my writing time around my regular job, family time, and whatever life throws my way, and stick to that schedule is quite challenging. I like schedules to a certain extent, but I also like some spontaneity. It would be lovely to be able to write whenever and wherever I want, whenever and wherever the mood strikes, rather than having to try and schedule for it.
What book are you reading now? Or what genre?
Currently reading Festive in Death by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts), Mystery.
Who designed the cover? And do you help with them?
My cover designer is the extremely talented Loretta Matson. I had some idea and a couple sketches of what I wanted to cover to look like. She came up with some options based on my concepts. The present cover actually wasn’t one of her initial mock-ups, but the last one. I was torn between that design and the one that became the “emblem” on the back cover of the book. We asked Katherine Fye Sears, Booktrope’s CMO, for her input and decided to go with the present cover for the final design. Isn’t it gorgeous?!
Are there any books you think some of us should read, just because?
The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward; Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton; In Death Series by J.D. Robb; Elizabeth Chadwick, various Medieval novels.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you so much for your support! I truly hope you enjoy the book. And if you don’t, I’m interested in knowing why, whether it’s because you don’t care for the fantasy genre, history isn’t your thing, the Yiddish proverbs scattered throughout annoy you, or you simply don’t like my writing. Whatever the reason, thank you for picking it up and giving it a try. Getting out of our comfort zone helps to expand our horizons.
About the Author:
Wendy C. Garfinkle was born and raised in South Florida. She moved to Northwest Texas in her early 20s, but returned to South Florida eight years later. She holds five degrees, including MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She’s a poet, reading addict, and collector of interesting clothing tags, which she recycles into bookmarks.
She has served as a copy editor and reader for Hippocampus Magazine, an online nonfiction lit journal, and as a reader for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Wendy is a crime analyst for a local law enforcement agency, and lives with her teenage son.
5 ebook copies of Serpent on a Cross
1 Paperback copy Serpent on a Cross (US only)
2 Amazon giftcards ($10 each)
1 pack of Swag open to US Shipping
Good Luck Everyone!! Happy reading and later gators!!