June 29, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with author of The Fallen Queen, Jane Kindred. (18+)

A Russian Midsummer Night’s Dream

What I miss most about Russia, besides breakfasts of kasha and blinchiki—little pancakes with jam and sour cream—midafternoon tea with sweet bulochki, trying to speak in rudimentary Russian with my khozyaika over bedtime tea with vafli, and the wonderful sound of the language itself, is the midsummer light. This time of year is when I miss it most. St. Petersburg, where I lived for a month in 2006, is in the midst of its White Nights, a period from mid-June to early July when the sun hardly sets.

There’s something magical about that light. You almost feel like you could fly. The poplar trees are also in bloom, shedding seed pods called pukh (“down”) that float in the air like fairy dust and collect on the ground like summer snow. The locals hardly sleep—why would you want to during such magic hours?

It was in the middle of this magical time that my fellow students and I went on an overnight field trip to the city of Novgorod. With its fifteenth century kremlin still standing around the silver onion domes of St. Sophia Cathedral, it’s like stepping back in time. We drank honey mead and kvass (I don’t recommend the kvass though some people love it—it’s like drinking a loaf of bread) and wandered through the kremlin as the sun finally set. We hadn’t seen any real sunsets since we’d arrived from the States, but Novgorod is a bit farther south of St. Petersburg, so it was equally surreal to see the sky turn colors and head toward a few hours of darkness at only 11:00 p.m.

Though I went to Russia as research for my House of Arkhangel’sk series, I never dreamed I’d be coming home with such magical memories. I had meant to have the book set exclusively in a fantastical Heaven patterned after St. Petersburg of the late nineteenth century, but once I’d been there, I couldn’t resist bringing my celestial angels and demons to the real thing. So they fell, and The Fallen Queen was born.

It was only natural, then, that my heroine, Anazakia, discover her destiny as the Fallen Queen among the fairies of the Novgorod woods on Russia’s Midsummer Night. Known as Tvorila Night, it’s the night before Ivan Kupala, a holiday that combines pagan ritual with the feast of John the Baptist—courtesy of the medieval Russian Orthodox Church, who realized they couldn’t stamp out the pagan ideas completely. On this night, girls wear garlands of herbs and flowers in their hair and boys jump over bonfires, and young lovers try to find the mythical flower of the fern, which blooms only at midnight on this single night of the year.

In the midst of this celebration, Anazakia slips away from her demon kidnappers and encounters a stranger:

U vas yest' rubli?” A youth of the sort Belphagor called “gypsy” stood before me with his hand held out, a falcon perched on a gauntlet on his other. Rubli. He wanted money.

I shook my head, and then thought better of it and gave him the billfold. What did I need of it? I had nowhere to go.

Spasibo.” He thanked me, his eyes wide, and then said distinctly, “Welcome to Novgorod.” He had spoken in the angelic tongue.

He was off across the road before I recovered from my astonishment.

I leapt to my feet. “Wait!”

The boy moved swiftly, and I pursued him across a footbridge over the river. Groups of young people were still out in large numbers, drinking and carousing around the bonfires on the bank, and I soon lost him among the revelers. I moved on past the bonfires, hoping to catch another glimpse of him, but there was little beyond the ancient fortress. Still, I could not let go of the idea of finding him.

I was certain he was no demon; there had been no hint of radiance. Yet he spoke in the language of celestials. He knew me for one. What could it mean?

The glow of candles floating downriver provided an aethereal illumination while I followed the riverbank out of town. Wherever my candle was, there was no chance of my wish coming true. I had wished to wake up in my own bed in Elysium. I had wished for my family.

The wind picked up with the promise of a coming storm, stirring the air with the smell of rain. I stopped and looked about the empty road. There was no sign of the gypsy. As I started back, a falcon’s screech came from the darkness. I looked up and saw the bird against the moonlight before it turned and soared away.

I began to run. Following the path of the falcon, I tumbled down hills and slid through bracken, slipping once on an embankment into a dark reservoir and wading to the other side in the light rain that had begun. The bird lit briefly on the fence bordering the reservoir as if to give me time to catch up, and then took flight again when I drew near.

Never once did it occur to me I might have flown after it.

I scrambled over the cut branches lashed together to form a crude fence and found myself on a gravel road beside the river, sprayed by rain in the whipping wind. Soaked to the skin, I hugged my chest and stared, the falcon forgotten. Hidden among a cluster of gnarled branches and wildflowers were the onion-domed cupolas of an ancient monastery. Painted royal blue and emblazoned with gold, eight-pointed stars like wizards’ hats, the cupolas perched incongruously above peeling, whitewashed walls, rusted window sashes, and decay. I had never seen anything so beautiful in all of Heaven or Earth.

I took a step toward the monastery and heard a sudden crack, realizing as I collapsed onto the gravel that the crack had been against my head.

When she comes to, Anazakia finds herself in the middle of a fairy ring, surrounded by wood nymphs who dub her the Fallen Queen and lead her to the flower of the fern.

The fern flower is supposed to give the finder power and riches beyond their wildest dreams—or at least good luck. What would you do if you found it? Your answer will enter you in the giveaway of a copy of The Fallen Queen.

About the book:

Heaven can go to hell.

Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.

Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.

Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.

The Fallen Queen is available now at Amazon | on Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Books On Board. Pre-order your copy of Book Two in The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy, The Midnight Court (Amazon | Barnes & Noble), coming in August 2012!

About the author:
Jane Kindred began writing fantasy at age 12 in the wayback of a Plymouth Fury—which, as far as she recalls, never killed anyone…who didn’t have it coming. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. Although she was repeatedly urged to learn a marketable skill, she received a B.A. in Creative Writing anyway from the University of Arizona.

She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

You can find Jane on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and on her website.



Author Jane Kindred is offering an ebook copy of The Fallen Queen to one lucky commenter! Leave a meaningful comment below to enter. Make sure to leave a way for us to contact you if you should win.

You must be 18 or older to enter. This giveaway is open international, as long as you have a way to read the book.

Good luck! 


  1. I love this cover! Very cool. I am crossing my fingers on this one!

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  2. You had me at "riches". ;)
    If I found the fern flower, I would hope it brought myself and all those close to me good luck in all things. That seems like a very comfortable situation. :)

    Thanks for posting this- I LOVE Russian folklore retellings, and they're so rare to find!

    bethwade1 at gmail dot com

  3. This looks fascinating - and thoroughly original. It's hard to imagine what I'd do if I found the fern flower. Whatever it was, it would have to be something that would benefit me and those around me... I suppose I could patron a charity.


  4. Just stopping by to show my support for Jane Kindred and The Fallen Queen, a book I devoured and LOVED - so well written. It pulls you in and holds you captive to the very end.

  5. Thanks for a great post and congrats on the release! This is definitely on my wishlist. Sounds fabulous!

  6. Sounds really good! Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  7. Sounds like an interesting new book. Looking forward to reading it.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  8. Thank you for taking the time to share with us today. When I looked up this book I noted there were two different offerings with the same title but different covers. Is this cover a rerelease or are they different books and which should be read first? This will be a first for me, reading with a Russian otherworld, and I am curious about how it all plays out :)

  9. The excerpt sounds promising! And the cover is gorgeous! :)

    Thanks for the givewaway!

    1. Oops, forgot my e-mail: leannessf at gmail dot com.


  10. I would love to travel o Russia , Jane and you've definitely inspired me. Those endless days sound magical. I REALY want to take a river cruise from Moscow to st Petersburg so I make sure I do it in the height of summer!

  11. I'd love to read this! The cover is beautiful! Thanks for the giveaway!


  12. Wow, this sounds hot and heavy! I haven't read many books about Angels and Heaven.

  13. Nice excerpt. Sounds like a good book.


  14. I would research the fern flower and find out as much as I can about the rules for using it.

    I'm intrigued by the Russian setting of this book.

    (extemter at hotmail dot com)

  15. This book is already on my wish list to read because of some comments I've read about the use of Russian culture--supported by the glimpse here--, but I wouldn't mind winning a copy :).

    As to the fern flower, power and riches come with costs I'm not willing to pay, but good luck (how wise of the Russians to specify "good") is always handy. The trick is determining whether keeping the flower or giving it to someone else with greater need is the best plan, and that depends on the circumstances. At this moment, I've had a nice run of good luck, and I can think of at least a handful of people who need it more than I do, and wouldn't go for the power and riches side of things.

  16. Sounds like a good read, thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  17. Snipets are evil!! 9 times out of 10 they make me want to read the book. This is why I have almost 1600 books to read on goodreads. :) I'd love a chance to win! Thanks for the giveaway.

  18. Wow, this sounds like a great read and what a unique storyline. Can't wait to get my hands on this and thanks for the chance to win



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