The City of Snow & Stars Book Review + Interview with Author

Trinia’s Gift is the ability to duplicate herself perfectly in mind and body yet, every time she uses it, she feels like she loses another piece of her soul. Her abusive and power-hungry father, Caderyn, wishes to exploit her gift to create an army that obeys his command and rebuild the Airgíd Empire that fell a thousand years before.

Going on the run, Trinia seeks out the aid of the kingdoms that destroyed her people. When things don’t go as planned, she’s forced into trusting a failed mage, a man of legend with a vendetta, and a talking wolf to help her reach her goal by making a promise she isn’t sure she can keep.

As she wrestles with the ghosts of her past trauma and new ones that keep piling up, Trinia begins to wonder where the justice is in it all, and whether she has what it takes to stop her father and save her people.

I preordered this book during Stephen’s campaign back last July and got my copy in December, binging it in about four hours.

I did not expect this book to be as good as it is. I had read some of the author’s work before and had heard the first chapter read aloud early in its drafting stages, and figured it would be “good” at best, but not anything spectacular. Needless to say, having read the final product, that opinion has changed.

I don’t read much pop fantasy, so most of my fantasy knowledge comes from classics such as Lord of the Rings or indie fantasy writers. This book was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. There was nothing great in the prose, which is often a driving point for me, but I think it is the story itself that really stood out and captured me, which is not something I can say for a lot of books, usually there needs to be something more than the story. I was held captivated by the story and plot, and I loved the world-building elements spread throughout that, amazingly, didn’t confuse me. And while the characters have a lot of similar traits to other characters in fantasy books (sorry, but Udar reminds me too much of Aragorn to be his own unique self xD), I ended up loving and caring about them as well.

My only two critiques of the story would be the fact that Batanny’s change seemed a bit off. Without giving away spoilers, I felt that her change once Udar finds her again seemed rushed and like something was missing. Trinia, when going through something similar, felt so much more realistic. Batanny seems to bounce back no problem, which confused me. And Branwen stepping into the white flame scene felt rushed as well.

I appreciate the warning of content in this book. While not necessarily graphic, it does touch on some sensitive topics and I would only recommend this to older teens and adults.

But beyond those things, I really enjoyed this book, especially the twist on Christianity in it. Jayden is resident prince bean. However, I am both pleased and furious at the cliffhanger this book ends on, and when, exactly, is the sequel coming out? I need it now!

Order your copy of the first book here:

Preorder your copy of book two before time runs out! Link:–2/x/24334028#/

And now we have the interview with the bardtastic author himself!

Without further ado, here is the first question!

1. What made you decide to write this book?

I actually started this book on a whim of frustration. I had injured my left shoulder during NaNo several months before starting this book, and I was working on a fanfiction story. Since I had missed it, I decided to do it in January 2019.

Originally, it was going to be set in a post-apocalyptic world, but as I wrote it turned into a fantasy novel. The characters literally came as I wrote with no plan or plot to guide them; I was just along for the ride.

That came back to bite me in revisions due to lack of world-building lol

Haha, I can relate. This is why I try to have a vague outline at least so the editing isn’t so much of a hassle, but I’m the worst at following my own advice.

2. What were the hardest and easiest parts to write?

The hardest part of the story was the subject matter. I tackle abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, and mental), human trafficking, and the question, “Why does God let bad things happen?”

My grandfather sexually abused me growing up, and it wasn’t until I was in recovery for my porn addiction that those memories of what happened resurfaced. Writing about them in the book was part healing and part triggering for me, and one scene in particular really hurt to write.

The easiest parts were probably the character interactions. Exploring how they react to each other and how they respond in situations was fun to write. Especially scenes with Batänny because she’s such a loose cannon, haha.

Yes! Honestly, while those are often the hardest things with writing a story like this, I feel like they are in the end the best parts of the story because our struggles and our stories can help so many people. And yes, Batanny is awesome. 😀

3. What is your favorite part of the story/the part that touched you the most?

The fountain scene. Hands down. I actually repurposed that scene from Draft 2 when it was between Údar and Branwen, and it was very different. I loved it and wanted to keep it, so I switched it up to fit the new direction of the book.

It’s where Jayden’s best line (imo) is: “Everyone is a little broken.”

I agree. Those were the scenes I liked best too, and remember the clearest.

4. Which character would you go on vacation with and why?

Hmmm… That’s tough. If I wanted a quiet and relaxing vacation, I would have to say Údar. If I wanted to have one filled with adventure, Batänny.

Interesting choices!!

5. What are your goals for the coming books?

MWAH HAHAHAHA I haz such goals!

Currently, I’m running a pre-order campaign for my Illustrated Edition, which I’m stoked about. In the lineup are the hardcover and the audiobook editions of the book. The hardcover is shooting for an August release, and the audio should be up on Amazon in mid-to-late September if all goes well.

I’m currently writing book two, The City of Stone & Sorrow, and am aiming for submission to New Degree Press (my publisher) in October when the next round of submission will be open. The goal is to release in either April or August next year.

After that, it will be on to Book Three to wrap up this trilogy and begin planning the next one in the series!

Sounds awesome! Can’t wait to read more of this story!! And thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. 😀

If you’re unable to support this novel’s preorder campaign but are still interested in getting a copy, check out this giveaway here:

Giveaway includes the following:

  • Grand prize: 1 Signed Illustrated Copy + 4 one-hour Coaching sessions with S.D Howard. (Winner will also receive a free eBook of standard edition)
  • 1 Signed softcover copy
  • One 30 min coaching call with S.D. Howard
  • Free ebook of the standard edition

Author of Christian Fantasy. Developmental Editor. Story Coach. Entrepreneur. S. D. Howard helps authors create and polish their books through his work in the publishing industry and through his own platform at The Editing Bard. For years, Howard has devoted himself to helping authors put their best books forward.

Howard’s writing tackles issues of abuse and trauma, of the perils and triumphs of faith and, most importantly, of the sturdiness of the human soul through the lens of a fantastical world. Within the stories, survivors of trauma will find comfort in the fact that they are not alone. Those who haven’t experienced trauma are given a glimpse of what they can do to walk beside someone who has.

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