Jean Lee’s novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, is a story with a heart. Yes, it’s a racing, pacy quest story, but the main character, Charlotte, cares. Cares with attitude though. Charlotte doesn’t know the meaning of passive. She’s a girl who can and will fight for her space, and that of those she cares for.
As the story opens, Charlotte is a talented young pianist hoping to study music at Lawrence university. She’s taking her younger sister out of their dysfunctional home, and is heading across country so they can live with their aunt. There’s a problem on the journey, though, and the sisters transfer to the wrong sort of bus.
As in any well paced story, quite how wrong that bus is, is tricky to pin down. Is it the vehicle?
A green bus thunders and belches a black fog of smoke as it approaches. Only Charlotte sees the raven watch the bus as intently as the others do. Its brakes sound terrible, and the E in the old SCENIC TOURS sign is peeling off as if to flee before anything else can happen to it. The bus groans as it halts, then regurgitates a burly man with chalky white skin.
The language is certainly sinister. But there are other worrying elements. Amongst the unattractive other passengers is a man Charlotte calls, Potential Homicidal Maniac. As for the driver’s mate, Jamie, it’s not just his habit of sniffing the luggage as he loads that raises hackles for Charlotte, her instincts scream, ‘Don’t go, stay here.’
Luckily for us, there’s not really an option. The road the sisters set out on will lead to Charlotte’s quest, and the situations she encounters will reveal the true nature of her character. Like us, she enters the realm of River Vine with no understanding of potential dangers, which may seem like a weakness, but we soon discover that this can be a strength, too.
The people of the realm are locked in a power battle that resonates beyond the walls that should contain it. Charlotte’s involvement in the situation will lead to unforeseeable challenges to the balance of power. Human flaws and weaknesses, it seems, can be a source of unexpected strengths too. Charlotte is not a straightforward character, she’s a girl who carries hidden scars: a dark secret.
Co-incidentally, I’ve also been reading Homer’s, The Odyssey. It makes an interesting parallel. Both Odysseus and Charlotte journey into unknown lands to encounter beasts who may or may not be monsters. It’s been good to see a twenty-first century girl taking up that three thousand year-old mantle and making it her own.
Nice read Jean, thanks for keeping me hooked.
- Today, (31st October 2018) from sunrise to sundown this Halloween, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is Free. Click on the title to find it on Amazon.
List of Sources: MUSIC MINI POST From Jean Lee
My many thanks to Cath for such a beautiful review! To celebrate my novel’s release as well as embellish the reading experience, I wanted to share just a few snippets of music that helped inspire portions of my story. Some of these artists I’ve already written about on my site, Jean Lee’s World, and so I invite you to my site to learn more about these pieces.
“Bus,” by Mychael Danna for The Sweet Hereafter
I love the unsettling nature of this track. It’s short, yes, but it provided me with a sense of silent unease—how even when you’re around other people, an isolating landscape makes the most picturesque forest eerie intimidating.
“Overture,” by Daft Punk for Tron: Legacy
Dorjan is the first of the (good) shapeshifters that Charlotte meets. This moment of transformation stuns Charlotte—and, in its own way, Dorjan, too, having not walked on two legs in many years. I wanted to feel the pause of life with this change, that moment of awe striking Charlotte’s senses as Dorjan recovers his own.
“Heroes,” covered by Peter Gabriel for Scratch My Back
Ever since I first drafted this story, I imagined a scene of magic creation with this song. Liam is an artist, and with this song I could imagine his magic and heart’s memory coming together to build a piece of beauty for Charlotte.
“Hanging/Escape,” by Craig Armstrong for Plunkett & Macleane
When it comes time for Charlotte to face The Lady of the Pits, she’s totally out of her element. All seems lost, and her sister’s surely a goner. Yet Charlotte fights back. Hard.
This music helped me feel that.
“Love Reign O’er Me,” by The Who
I used quite a bit of The Who’s Quadrophenia when I wrote, but I love “Love Reign O’er Me” in particular because it’s a song of washing all of society’s expectations away and becoming pure and free in hope. Both Charlotte and Liam are slowly learning to overcome what their past lives heaped upon them, and wash themselves clean with hope.
“Alice’s Theme” by Danny Elfman for Alice in Wonderland
This likely feels like a given, as this music helped me write the moment Charlotte chases one of The Lady’s followers through a forest behind the Wall. It’s very much a “down the rabbit hole” moment, with disregard for the unknown surroundings in order to pursue a magical small creature. Elfman’s got the perfect balance here with the strings in their heavy arpeggios and the choirs singing to Alice as she leaves her reality behind.
“The Promontory” by Trevor Jones for The Last of the Mohicans
There comes a time when you’ve got to face an old demon, that which represents all that you once stood for. This music helped me feel this moment for Liam when he stands alone against The Lady of the Pits and her followers. When your heart burns with love instead of fear, you move with a warrior’s unwavering rhythm, just as Jones’ strings and percussion do here.