Ronlyn Domingue's The Plague Diaries will be published by Atria Books in August 2017.
Information about Ronlyn Domingue:
Ronlyn Domingue (pronounced ron-lin doh-mang, equal emphasis on all syllables) is the author of The Mapmaker's War and The Chronicle of Secret Riven, Books 1 and 2 of the Keeper of Tales Trilogy. The third book, The Plague Diaries, is forthcoming in August 2017.
Her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Mercy of Thin Air, was published in ten languages, was a fiction finalist for the 2005 Borders Original Voices Award and 2006 SIBA Book Award, and was a long list nominee for the 2005 James Tiptree, Jr. Award.
Ronlyn's essays and short stories have appeared in The Beautiful Anthology (TNB Books), New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, The Independent (UK), Border Crossing, and Shambhala Sun, as well as on mindful.org, The Nervous Breakdown, and Salon.com.
She holds a MFA degree in creative writing from Louisiana State University, taught composition and fiction writing at the college level, and served as a fiction editor and co-editor in chief of New Delta Review. During the past 15 years, she’s edited and mentored writers of fiction and nonfiction, from short stories to memoirs.
Born and raised in the Deep South, she lives there still.
Click here to visit her official website.
Information about The Plague Diaries:
The astounding, epic conclusion to the Keeper of Tales Trilogy brings together the cryptic prophecy in The Mapmaker’s War and the troubling mysteries in The Chronicle of Secret Riven - leading to an unforgettable reckoning between lies and truth.
We are all born made of gold.
Secret Riven - the mystically gifted heroine who now represses her uncanny telepathic power - works for the mysterious magnate Fewmany as an archivist in his private library. There, she stumbles upon the arcane manuscript that had vanished following her mother’s untimely death. She suspects the manuscript contains a profound secret, and she is yet unaware of its link to a thousand-year-old war and her own family’s legacy.
The tasks before her are clear: Secret must finally learn what Fewmany wants from her as well as the meaning of a strange symbol she’s dreamed of since childhood. At last, she must confront the questions haunting her and depart on a quest to find the truth about herself, her dead mother, and her fate - to unleash a Plague of Silences meant to destroy, and transform, the world as all have known it.
A dazzling, genre-bending masterwork, The Plague Diaries illuminates the power of our choices, the scars they leave, and the wounds they heal.
A REVIEW OF RONLYN DOMINGUE'S THE PLAGUE DIARIES
Ronlyn Domingue's The Plague Diaries is the final novel in the Keeper of Tales Trilogy. It's a gorgeous and unique literary fantasy novel for adults. It doesn't disappoint readers who expect to read a beautifully written and well-created fantasy story with plenty of depth, because it has everything you could ever hope to find in a literary fantasy novel. I was deeply impressed by it, because it's different from other fantasy novels and has more depth than them.
A couple of years ago I read the author's The Mapmaker's War and found it excellent and captivating. Because I enjoyed it, I could hardly wait to read The Plague Diaries and delve myself into its world. I can say that this novel was worth waiting for, because the author has clearly done her best to create a mesmerising story for readers who love literary fantasy fiction. I have yet to read the second novel, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, but I will read it soon, because I want to get a complete view of the trilogy.
Because I mentioned that I haven't yet read the second novel, there may be readers out there who wonder if The Plague Diaries can be read separately as a standalone novel. I can say to readers that it's possible to do so, because you don't necessarily have to know anything about the previous novels in order to enjoy the story. This novel has been written in a way that allows readers to fully enjoy it without knowledge about previous happenings.
The Plague Diaries is an extraordinary and genre-bending novel, in which the author engagingly combines elements of literary fiction and fantasy fiction to create a memorable and deeply touching reading experience. It's one of the most beautifully written speculative fiction novels I've ever read, because it features beautiful prose and elegant storytelling. There's an almost fairy tale-like quality to it that I found charming.
I consider Ronlyn Domingue to be a first-rate storyteller, because she doesn't hurry with her story, but lets it unfold at its own pace. She uses such elements as love, loss, magic, fate, myth, history and free will as her building tools and constructs a strong foundation with them onto which she builds her story. Elements of myth and history overlap and intertwine with each other throughout the story and enthrall readers who love mythic stories.
Here's information about the story:
In the prologue, Secret Riven tells about how Old Woman told her that she is there to shift a balance, one with the potential to deepen their darkness or bear forth a hidden light. She says that both were her fate, the darkness and the light, and the one she chose, a matter of free will. Thus begins the story of how Secret will release the Plague of Silences that will change the world.
In the beginning, Secret has been offered an archivist position at the Fewmany Athenaeum. Her task is to organise and catalog magnate Fewmany's collection. She feels that she is in paradise, because she is excited about the tremendous task before her. She explores the house and its rooms and acquaints herself with the house. As time goes by, Fewmany shows interest in Secret by asking her to join dinner parties and participate in masquerades. One day, while doing her tasks, Secret finds the arcane manuscript that vanished when her mother died. She also learns what Fewmany wants from her and why he showed interest in her. Soon she begins a great quest to find the truth about herself, her mother and her fate, and will ultimately release the Plagues of Silences.
I won't reveal more of the story in fear of writing major spoilers. I'll only add that as the story begins to unfold, readers will have great difficulties to turn their eyes away from the pages, because the story is gripping and culminates into a memorable ending.
The characterisation is excellent and nuanced. The author does an amazing job at giving Secret a strong and unique voice. Passion and yearning for knowledge intertwine seamlessly in Secret's voice in a powerful way, but also such qualities as determination, stubbornness and uncertainty manifest themselves in her voice.
Secret is an educated and intelligent young woman who does not want to waste her life, but wants to learn new things. She has telepatchic abilities that allow her to communicate with creatures and plants, but she has hidden and suppressed her ability. As she grows older, she dares to try out new experiences that she previously wouldn't have thought of doing.
Just like Aoife in The Mapmaker's War, Secret is ahead of her time and others often disapprove of her and her choices. She's rebellious and wants more for herself than settling down and having a family. As she sets out on her quest, readers get to know more about her and her feelings, because she is being driven forward by fate.
The other characters - Nikolas, Fewmany, Harmyn etc - are also well-created and interesting. It's nice that the author reveals information about them and their lives gradually over the course of the story, because it adds fascination to the storyline. It was enjoyable to read about these characters.
I liked the way the author wrote about Secret and her work as archivist. The scenes in which she does her tasks are atmospheric and the scenes in which she interacts with her employer, Fewmany, are intriguing, because there are vague hints about Fewmany wanting something from her. The author follows how their relationship develops and what happens when Fewmany's wishes are revealed to Secret.
Secret's friendship with Nikolas is described believably and fluently, because they've known each other for many years. Their lives are connected in an intriguing way, because there's an ancient legacy that touches both of them and affects their lives. I also found it interesting to read about Old Woman and Harmyn's connection to Secret, because they both have a role to play in the story.
I enjoyed reading about how Secret communicated with animals, insects and plants, because her way of communicating with them differed from normal communication. The scenes in which Secret interacted with nature appealed a lot to me, because I've always found this kind of scenes fascinating.
Because the Plague of Silences and its effects on the world have a major role in the story, I'll say a few words about them. There's a deeply mythic feel to the plague and its effects that enthralled me, because it affected every living thing from animals to humans. What happens to everyone will linger on the readers' minds, because the plague is powerful.
There's plenty of depth and thought-provoking elements in this novel, and careful readers will be able to detect plenty of underlying wisdow in the story. Themes of change, learning and growing up are handled admirably. The author writes believably and fluently about choices, their consequences and their power to heal wounds, because she deftly avoids sentimentality.
I also want to mention that I liked the way the author writes about being different. People with different abilities and gifts are feared and shunned, because not many understand them and their abilities. This reflects our world, because different kind of people are often shunned and treated badly by other people because of prejudice.
This novel has a faint touch of social criticism in the form of gender equality, because women are not expected to apply for higher education, but devote their lives for family and children. During the story, the author reveals how the protagonist has faced harassment and bad treatment for wanting to get a good education and by applying to high academies. She has been thought to be odd by doing so, because proper ladies don't behave like that and find happiness elsewhere.
Ronlyn Domingue writes well about nature and animals. Because I'm interested in nature, animals and plants, I found myself touched by many of her descriptions and enjoyed reading about what she wrote about the animals. If you're interested in nature, I'm sure that you'll be just as thrilled to read about the animals as I was.
One of the most fascinating things about this novel is that the author has the power to make mundane things seem almost magical. This is partly due to the author's descriptive writing style, because her eloquent descriptions about the happenings are beautiful. I also want to mention that this novel has scenes that will deeply touch readers. One of these scenes features Cyril the squirrel and what he says to Secret when the plague affects the animals.
The worldbuilding is exquisitely nuanced and subtly complex in a way that makes you fall in love with the world. As Secret tells her story, the world opens up to readers in an engaging way, because it allows readers to get to know the world as she knows it. In my opinion, this kind of worldbuilding is effective and immersive.
Because this novel ends the Keeper of Tales Trilogy, the author ties up loose and combines various threads from the previous novels. Readers will find much to love in the story, because the revealed mysteries and secrets are fascinating. Because I haven't yet read the second novel yet I can't say anything about how its contents are tied to this novel, but I can mention that elements from the first novel play an important part in the story.
Ronlyn Domingue's prose is beautiful, descriptive and eloquent. Her almost poetic prose brings out the nuances of the story and highlights the minor details in a marvellous way. When I read this novel, I thought to myself that the author's graceful writing style is slightly reminiscent of Guy Gavriel Kay, Ursula K. Le Guin, Stephanie Burgis and Helen Lowe, because there's something in her writing style that reminds me of these authors.
I have a strong feeling that everyone who reads this novel will be touched by the author's prose and writing skills. The prose is of such high quality that it will charm and touch readers' hearts in a profound way. In my opinion, Ronlyn Domingue's writing skills surpass those of many other authors, because she effortlessly creates a mythic atmosphere and leads her readers into another world with her words.
The diary entries, small pictures and articles from Rothwyke Daily Mercury spice up the story. The diary entries add a personal flavour to the story that deepens the overall atmosphere and provides readers a deeper glimpse into the happenings.
I sincerely hope that Ronlyn Domingue will continue to write this kind of fiction, because she is a talented author with a distinct literary voice. I look forward to reading what she writes next. Whether the next novel will be speculative fiction or not, I'm going to read it.
I highly recommend Ronlyn Domingue's The Plague Diaries to readers of literary fantasy fiction and lovers of good stories, because it's exceptionally immersive and features beautiful prose. I think that it will linger on the readers' minds for a long time after the final page has been read. If you're interested in mythic fantasy and literary fantasy fiction, you owe it to yourself to read this outstanding novel, because novels as good as this one are rare treasures.