Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Review/Interview: Secret of the Phoon by Corinne Foster
Secret of the Phoon by Corinne Foster
Review by Lauren
Source: copy from author; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Stalked by wolves and facing certain death, Avira knows she can't outrun them. Her only chance of survival is by summoning the Phoon, a long secret and deadly supernatural force.
And it would have remained a secret, had the pride of her protégé Shastia not been dented by the king of the Varg, leading her to exaggerate her own powers, boasting that she could summon this deadly force. This sets in train a race between the Varg and their arch-rivals the Trillon, who both send raiding parties to chase her back to Domina, each craving the power of the Phoon to ensure victory over the other.
But bigger than this threat is the one that comes from within Avira's own community of outcast girls. When will she recognize that challenge and can she withstand it?
Review: Secret of the Phoon was such a fascinating book. It revolves around Domina, a house that seems to have powers of its own, where a bunch of girls live and work together. They are known as the Unloved, and while they do not mind men, they ultimately stick together. They have a connection to the woods surrounding their house, they can create medicines using herbs and other ingredients, and they are skilled in fighting. Along with these things, all the Unloved have a power within them that the woods only strengthen. It is used for good, but it can always be corrupted...
Avira, the leader of the girls, is the only one of them that can summon the Phoon. I was mesmerized by the description, so I won't give away the bigger details. I will say that I'd love to see this moment come alive on some kind of screen, to truly see the force that can effortlessly destroy, but also protect. One of the Unloved will become the Next, the one who holds the power, but it can always be changed, if something goes wrong.
Shastia is a girl who has lived her whole life at Domina, but when she meets a man who has come to the town next to them on a visit, she wishes to live with him and see the rest of the world. She is allowed, but this brings trouble to Domina and the others because Shastia is too boastful of her powers, even the one she doesn't hold like the Phoon. Now warring parties, the Varg and the Trillion, want to get their hands on this power, if only to keep the other side from using it against them.
Secret of the Phoon was a fascinating look at a group of girls whose strength and power allow them to live on their own and flourish. It also shows those who wish to take advantage, and those that will do what they can to help them. These characters were realistic, faults in all, and it was fascinating to view various points of view (all in third person).
This book is very naturalistic, as the woods provide strength to the girls, and I liked how Foster described the setting around them from Domina to the places Shastia visits in her travels. While the beginning of the book is a bit slower, since it's setting up various aspects of the story, it never falters too much. By the end, I was definitely ready to read more about these women, curious as to what their futures held.
Mini Interview with Corinne Foster
1. Secret of the Phoon focuses a lot on females, but not all of them are entirely good. Did you consciously include well-meaning men to balance things out?
When the idea for the book first came to me, one of the men (Ekon) was already there as Avira’s trusted advisor and past lover. Then, as the story and Shastia’s character started to develop, it just fitted with her character that, when she met Carn, she would get mesmerised by a ‘bigger’ life than she had in the house. I had to think through their relationship, and how it would develop – for a short time I wondered whether he would be able to quash her ambition (and spirit) but she ended up being too strong for him. Amongst the rest of the men, Fenhorn stands out as being different from the rest of his rather arrogant Trillon companions, which is why I wanted him to survive!
2/3. The house that the women live in is a character in itself. Is there any aspect of the house that you haven't included in the book but could share here? And...any future stores in the works for the Unloved?
I can answer 2 and 3 together, as I have finished the first draft of the prequel and am currently polishing it (I write so fast I have to go back and fix bits of it afterwards!). Amongst other things, it tells the story of how Avira arrived at the house (Domina) and she is told its history and how a siege led not just to it growing into a sinister presence but also to the original formation of the Phoon. The house has lots of secrets. There is more about the Unloved and who they are – including the arrival of some of the main Unloved characters in ‘Secret of the Phoon’ (both Avira and Vabo). I have also started work on the third book – the one that comes after ‘Secret’ - and how Shastia will return to challenge Avira for the leadership of the Unloved and the power to summon the Phoon.