Self-published (May 19, 2020)
Series: A Disaster of Dokojin #1
Cover Artists: George Cotronis
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Welcome to my stop on Storytellers on Tour’s blog hop for Jesse Nolan Bailey’s The Jealousy of Jalice, the author’s thoughtful plunge into the murky seas of dark fantasy.
As always, a group of amazing bloggers has been selected to join the tour (we fight in a pit till blood is drawn. It’s a great method) so be sure to check out the schedule for all of their posts:
You can also enter the tourwide giveaway to win a signed copy of the book and an assortment of prizes, including a really neat pin to instill fear in your enemies. The giveaway ends May 31 and is open to US entrants only.
Before sharing my thoughts on what I found to be a well-paced journey that could easily become your next comfort read (if you get your kicks from bloodthirsty demons. I know I do) here’s the synopsis:
The Realms have split apart, the Stones of Elation have been hidden, and warnings of dokojin drift among the tribes.
The land and its people are corrupted. The Sachem, chief of the Unified Tribes, is to blame.
It is this conviction that drives Annilasia and Delilee to risk their lives. Afraid of the aether magic he wields, they enact a subtler scheme: kidnap his wife. In her place, Delilee will pretend to be the chieftess and spy on the Sachem.
Unaware of this plot against her husband, Jalice is whisked away by Annilasia. Pleading with her captor proves futile, and she rejects Annilasia’s delusional accusations against the chief. After all, the Sachem has brought peace to the land.
Yet a dangerous truth hides in Jalice’s past. As she and Annilasia flee through a forest of insidious threats, they must confront the evil plaguing the tribes and the events that unleashed it.
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When the monster within us calls for blood, are we strong enough to deliver mercy?
The Jealousy of Jalice explores the grim darkness within ourselves, those ugly, ravaging feelings that we dare not admit. A skillfully macabre debut with an eerie atmosphere constantly haunting its pages, where humans, godly beasts, and monsters clash together in a stomach-churning tale.
I never thought I’d read a book that was a dark, bloody blend of Tangled and Horizon Zero Dawn, but that’s exactly what the story delivered.
The catalyst to it all is Annilasia, a tillishu assassin whose tribe has been enslaved by the bloodthirsty Sachem, leader of the forcefully united Vekuuv and Ikaul. Intent on ripping the Sachem from his dearest possession, Annilasia and her co-conspirator Delilee plot to kidnap his chieftess, Jalice.
No strangers to each other, Annilasia and Jalice were once childhood friends, a bond long broken by Jalice’s acquiescence to her husband’s crimes. Yet as quickly as they come together, we realize that Jalice’s compliance hides a secret, a truth buried within the confines of her imprisoned memories. As much as Annilasia pushes for remembrance, there’s something stopping Jalice from recalling the Black House and the events that transpired there. But forgetting is not an option Annilasia will grant Jalice, and as these things usually go, the one with the big sword gets to choose the song— I mean, the destination.
With each step towards the Black House, dread settles, and you fear knowing the truth as much as Jalice.
The story easily pulls you along foggy forests and pitch black caves, where every corner hides something dark and hungry. Hungry for bones, hungry for flesh, there’s a lot of those being broken, shredded, and torn apart for the satisfaction of readers braving the monstrous sides of fantasy.
This uncanny atmosphere takes hold throughout the multi-pov narrative because every time the action steadies on one side, the other picks it up in a conspiracy uncovered or unexpected violence lashing out. It was easy for me to get drawn into it and flip the pages to find what came next.
Blood-curdling creatures prowl and abound both in the dying landscape of the Terrestrial Realm as well as within its people. No realm is safe from the claws of darkness, and varied are the realms in this world. Every translation —the term for transitioning between the worlds— holds its dangers and every aetherwielder —those who can manipulate the aether, an otherworldly energy element allowing for this inter-realm travel— brings with them a unique take on this intriguing magic system where intent and emotion can breed creatures.
Undeterred to write outside the binary and the conventional, it sets aside Eurocentric concepts and pens non-binary characters alongside our two mains.
The peeks into the distinct tribal customs especially thrilled me, because I live for these cultural and traditional details such as the language of feathers braided in hair. I’m eager to discover more about the tribes in the sequels, as this installment seemed to hint at a widening world.
Our two mains, Jalice and Annilasia, are allowed their flaws without being villainized or minimized — Jalice with her constant tears and Annilasia her rage. They couldn’t be more different and it was refreshing to read a story where women get to be monsters without the usual brutalization reserved for them.
At its end is a message of unearthing all the ugly parts of ourselves to carve a way forward and making peace with the mistakes we once made to right what that way still holds.
Enthralled by the magic that written stories contain, Jesse Nolan Bailey has always wanted to be an author. With his debut novel finally released to the masses, he can now claim such title with relief. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he has embraced the equally-gratifying lifework of hosting a trio of spoiled cats.