I wonder why some books received so much attention while other amazing stories slip past us. Thrall almost slipped past me, and that would’ve been disappointing because Thrall is a solid, YA-fantasy read that I didn’t want to put down.
I stumbled across the series via a collection of short stories that was recently released – Empower: Fight Like a Girl. A friend of mine told me to check out this collection, all written by female writers in the film and TV industry. There are heavy hitters in the collection, like Jane Epenson who has written and produced for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time, Battlestar Galatica, and more. A story about the daughters of Lilith by Jennifer Quintenz captured me.
Fortunately, there’s more than a short story – there’s four books! Thrall is the first novel of Jennifer’s Daughters of Lilith series. It’s a coming-of-age story about 16-year-old Braedyn who’s struggling to do the right thing, which is hard for any teenager but made worse for Braedyn who’s just learned she has growing Lilitu powers, her father and her crush at school are both part of The Guard that kill the Lilitu trying to break into our world, and she can tell no one about it. And you thought learning to drive stick at 16 was hard!
What I appreciated with Jennifer’s choices as an author is that she doesn’t shy away from the difficult or gruesome option. Characters die, are manipulated, and routinely make the wrong decisions. But their wrong choices aren’t thrust into the novel for the sake of making them flawed; they’re the natural choice a person would make in anger. Braedyn lashes out at her teenage enemies in a way any of us wish we could’ve at sixteen. It goes horribly wrong for her, but that’s part of growing up.
What stood out to me with Thrall were the characters. I’ve read a few books lately that have been well-written and I’ve enjoyed – to an extent – but something was missing. I didn’t feel the desire to pick up the sequel and keep going. It’s because the characters were lacking. I didn’t connect with them. Fortunately, I was right there with them in Thrall. Braedyn is relatable, unlike some protagonists in other books who seem untouchable or narcissistic. The stand-out secondary characters for me were her dad Murphy and her uber-rich, gay best friend Royal, both willing to protect Braedyn and sacrifice themselves in very different ways.
And for a twist, pick up Empower: Fight Like a Girl and read as the characters you championed in Thrall turn into the enemy! I actually read Jennifer’s short story in Empower first, which was a bit of a head trip when some of the characters hunting the protagonist show up as good guys in Thrall.
This week Guardian, the fourth book in the Daughter of Lilith series, was released. The books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and most major retail outlets. If you haven’t had a chance to read the series, go for it! I’m looking forward to diving into the rest of it.
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