Thursday, May 24, 2012

Elanraigh: The Vow Review, Interview, and Giveaway

Author: S.A. Hunter
Goodreads Rating: 4.33
My Rating: 3.75
Pages: 216
Reviewed by: Nicole 

This post is going to be a little different than my usual one's I'm going to have a shorter review followed by an interview with the author. I don't usually read fantasy, so I liked the chance to come out of my comfort level for this book.

Goodreads Synopses:

Only Thera of Allenholme hears the voice of forest-mind…and heeds its warning . Thera doesn’t know why the Elanraigh forest-mind chose her, of all the Allenholme folk, to hear its voice and to awaken her gifts of mind and spirit. The Elanraigh sends a warning dream; black sails swooping toward Allenholme from across the western sea—the Memteth, an ancient enemy, armed with blue fire that hungers to consume life. As Thera awakens to her gifts of bonding with raptor birds and reading hearts, the knowing; she also awakens to love. Will she choose Chamakin the young Ttamarini warrior who is a kindred in spirit to her, or the polished young nobleman who covets her beauty even more than her estate? Forest-mind is aware she is yet too young for such power and responsibility. It has no choice—the lives of all Thera’s people and the existence of the Elanraigh Forest itself, depend on Thera fulfilling her destiny. Can she learn what she must of gift, and heart, to survive what comes their way? 

My Review:

At first this book was a little tricky, like I said I don't usually read fantasy so it took some getting used to. Once I got past that initial discomfort I was able to fall into a nice rhythm of this book. There were a few moments that I wished she had been a little more descriptive. Thera proved to me a powerful force to be reckoned with, I liked the world that Hunter created, the idea of being able to communicate with nature and call on it for favors and help when defending her people. There was love, there was loss, this book had everything in it. The only thing that left me wanting was that this world world could have been further explored. Hunter not only left me wanting more of this world, but a sequel as well, which it was left open to.

Follow the jump for my interview.

First I want to tell you a little bit about Sandy Hunter:

Sandra attended school in Victoria, B.C. and later graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in English Literature.  After her daughter came along, she chose to work close to home and indulge her love of animals by working for an amiable, if thrifty, veterinarian. She believes in promoting the right of all creatures to live the existence that Nature intended. This value is strongly evoked in her novel.
Sandra’s always lived at the edges of ocean and forest, so it came naturally to have a sentient forest as a major character in Elanraigh: The Vow.  She loves kayaking the scenic Island coastline, swimming and walking. She has a ready sense of humor and an optimistic outlook (a good thing when you’re a writer).
Her publications include Dark Fantasy short stories in pro magazines and she is currently working on a sequel to Elanraigh: The Vow.

Now onto my interview with the gracious Sandra Hunter:

Tell us a little about yourself.

Apart from what is contained in my actual bio, Nicole; I’m newly retired and live in a small town located on the east coast of Vancouver Island in the Pacific Northwest. Bill and I have just celebrated our 39th anniversary. I’ve always had a cat to keep my keyboard warm, although we just lost our dear tabby of 18 hrs and I’m not ready to even think about trying to replace her as yet. I enjoy people, and yet can be a bit of a loner at times. I have a whimsical sense of humor, which can make the real left-brain, prosaic types roll their eyes at me a little.

What inspired Elanraigh: The Vow?

In 1995 I read an intriguing article in the Vancouver Sun, titled “Lumber firm wails the blues over “singing forest”. Apparently a local tree planter had a spiritual experience in a forest near Tenise Creek; she says, ‘something akin to the voice of angels rose from the landscape.” I tucked the thought provoking article away and some years later, was sorting through my tattered old file full of various newspaper and magazine articles, the “Story Idea File” and read the “singing forest” article again. I began to type and wrote, “The Elanraigh quivered with deep unease. Forest-mind sifted the westerly wind and breathed its warning.” And so a sentient forest came to be both a major character and the setting for my YA fantasy.

The way you ended Elanraigh: The Vow made it seem like there was a possibility of a sequel, are you considering it?

Yes, indeed. I’m currently work on the sequel…Thera has more adventures ahead of her.

Were there any scenes or information that you didn’t get to include?

Actually yes.  Back in the early days my manuscript was a 120 thousand word novel. An agent I queried suggested that I should adapt Elanraigh to a Young Adult market. This would entail, amongst other things, reducing word count to approximately 80 thousand words. A lot of cutting! I balked at first; however, in the end I’m glad I took the advice. I reduced Thera’s age from 20 to 14 years. Many of the battle scenes I now have take place “off screen”. Some readers have since said that this was unnecessary, after all, look at the violence Voldemort commits in the Harry Potter series…

What made you decide to become an author? Have you always wanted to write books?

I’ve always had an imagination working in overdrive. That being said, I was in my 30’s before I finally submitted anything to a publisher.

What is your favorite scene in Elanraigh: The Vow?  Least favorite?

Another difficult choice, Nicole. Amongst many favorite scenes, I loved writing Thera and Chamak’s first kiss on Lorn a’Lee bluff.

Least favorite might be writing the final scene for Nan and Innic.

Were there any scenes that were easy or hard to write?

Some scenes do just flow…Thera’s first flight in hawk form; her battle with the Memteth’s lizard beast; her first meeting with Lord Ambraud and the mage. Those times when you’re really there are magical and everything your mind’s eye sees in brilliantly vivid.

Any scene where my characters suffer grief and loss are hard to write.

Do you have any plans for more books?

I am continuing to write the sequel to Elanraigh: The Vow…Thera has more adventures ahead.

Perhaps in the future will be a paranormal involving sea dwelling beings…

If so what were your inspiration for those?

In part because I love the ocean and have always been intrigued with the Celtic mythology around the Selkie folk.

Where did you find your inspiration to become a writer?

Inspiration mainly comes from a desire to explore any strong emotions evoked by something you’ve read, heard or seen and you want to explore why and how those feelings arose.  Why do I feel so strongly about the rights and dignity of both animals and people; the right to live your life in peace with freedom of choice; the wrong that is done by those who covet power for its own sake.

Were there any authors that influenced you?

As a kid I soaked up animal stories such as jack London’s White Fang and Call of the Wild. In High School I got hooked on classics; Dumas, Alcott, Melville, Bronte, etc. University had its own requirements but I was introduced to Jane Austen’s works and will be a lifetime fan of Pride and Prejudice. For the last 20 yrs my reading of choice has been fantasy and sci-fi. There are some authors whose work has influenced me strongly in what I desire to achieve: Robin McKinley, especially Beauty and the Damar novels; C.J. Cherryh, especially Pride of Chanur series and Hunter of Worlds, Elizabeth Moon, especially the Deed of Paksenarrion series, Mary Stewart especially her Arthurian Saga. I’m currently reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Who is your favorite writer?

Ouch. How do pick just one…I have to admit I’ve had a lot of enjoyment from Anne Rice’s vampire books centering on Lestat; and I re-read my C.J. Cherryh books like comfort food.

Who do you think has had the biggest influence on your writing?

The writing style I have most admired is that of Mary Stewart’s in her Arthurian novels, especially The Crystal Cave and the Sword in the Stone.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I suppose it must be attracting the attention of editors at Eternal Press. The day I got their acceptance of my manuscript and ran out the front door and danced around the yard, to the amazement of nearby dog walkers and drivers by.

What do you do when you get writers block?

Sometimes leaving the computer (big white screen) and sitting somewhere more scenic with a coil notebook and pen in hand will get things moving again. Otherwise, I take a break and read a book or sometimes poetry. Music helps too…I have a playlist just for writing Elanraigh. Damian McGinty’s, Falling Slowly, is a favorite.

How long did it take to write Elanraigh: The Vow?

Would you believe it was six years in the works? I was working as a property manager at an airport then, and we had many evening board meetings, community council meets etc. It seemed Sundays were about the only day I had for writing with time enough to get re-immersed (so to speak) in my world.

How much research went into writing Elanraigh: The Vow?

I researched medieval times and the warfare methods of their day; learned about different swords, bows and armor. I also had to learn a little bit about seamanship…since I’m a kayaker, not a sailor. =D

Nicole, thank you so much for this opportunity to visit with you and your blog buddies. 

Now if you're still with me, here is your chance to enter to win a copy of the book as well as a signed bookmark and a $20 Amazon gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



  1. Thank you so much for your post!!!

  2. Nicole, thank you so much for hosting Elanraigh: The Vow, and for the great review. I appreciate that you ventured out of your usual reading preference when undertaking my epic fantasy.

    I'll look forward to meeting some of your blog buddies...maybe we can entice some readers into the world of Elanraigh.

  3. Sounds intriguing--thank you for the intro to Sandy and her writing!

    1. Thanks for visiting and appreciate the comment :)

  4. Big fan of SA's and loved Elanraigh. Am awaiting the sequel. Great interview! Dina Rae



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