Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Jane Kindred’s Anazakia from The Fallen Queen.
Heaven can go to hell.
Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.
Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves–fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda–who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.
Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne–even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a signed ARC of The Fallen Queen.
Demons in the Marketplace
Try as I might, I just can’t picture one of my fallen angels in the midst of a Black Friday sale. The idea of holiday shopping is problematic for them for a number of reasons. The Heaven in which The Fallen Queen takes place isn’t the traditional Judeo-Christian heaven; the only winter holiday my characters would have known, at least in their own realm, is a non-religious celebration of the Winter Solstice. And my pseudo-Victorian Elysium has no department stores.
But perhaps an afternoon in the Demon Market might come close. My heroine discovers it at the age of thirteen, giving her chaperone the slip and hitching a ride on the back of a peat merchant’s sleigh to try out her brand new skates:
With the early dusk of winter falling, and no sign of Kae or the Seraphim, I went toward the lights that had begun to sparkle before me in the spreading grey. Great strings of red lanterns dangled over an ancient wall along the river embankment, and a lovely clamor of excitement came from within. I thought it might be a faire, though my sister Maia would certainly have dragged me to it as soon as we arrived in Elysium if one were in town.
I skated to the bank and climbed up the drift of snow piled along the river, side stepping in my skates while I pulled myself along the enclosure. There seemed no way in, until at last I turned a corner and found a low arch draped with a tattered curtain—once layers of purple velvet, or perhaps black. Heavy bronze bells weighted the bottom, jangling as I ducked inside, though their sound barely registered against the vibrant noise within.
Until that moment, my exposure to the world of Heaven had been carefully controlled and scripted: dull ceremonies with the family at the Winter Palace; holidays at our gilded Summer Palace in the north at the foot of the mountains of Aravoth, and twice a year on the warm Samudran coast; studies with the tutors who followed us from one grand, supernal residence to another. Nothing in my experience had prepared me for the Demon Market.
Brightly colored awnings draped row upon row of kiosks crammed with demon wares. Stalls overflowing with bolts of cloth in wild patterns competed with colorful baubles of blown glass and barrels of tobacco with pipes carved in fantastic shapes. There were kiosks offering savory peasant breads, meat pies, and plump sausages, and a few laden with huge piles of prickly fruits I had never seen before, their ripe centers laid open to entice with red and purple juices dripping over the wooden bins.
There were other vendors as well: toothless old women hawking trinkets and potions for luck and love, mysterious women draped in sparkling veils who would tell your fortune, and less covered women who I was quite sure were not selling anything but comforts of the flesh.
More wild and colorful than their wares, however, were the demons themselves. In the vernacular of Heaven, they were the Fallen. The Host maintained a pure distinction among the four celestial Choirs and their respective elements, but the Fallen bred indiscriminately. The element of water dominated the blood of the angels of the Fourth Choir to which the Order of Principalities belonged, and though we might intermarry among the orders of our Choir—a common Angel with an Archangel of the nobility, or an Archangel with a Principality—never did we marry outside our element.
The Fallen, though they looked like us in form if not in beauty, might have the air of the First Choir, the fire of the Second, or the earth of the Third among their blood as soon as water. Their fall from the grace and purity of the Host was the consequence of the mingling of the elements. It was evident in their rough features and untidy attire, their varicolored hair and eyes accentuating their ill manners and poor breeding.
My angelic appearance in their midst drew immediate attention. These Fallen peasants no more recognized a Grand Duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk than the peat merchant had, but they knew a child of privilege when they saw one. Young demon girls surrounded me, grabbing at my golden curls and mocking my attire. I could not navigate among them in the skates, and so when a demoness admired the shiny blades, I offered to trade them for her boots.
“For the hat and this fluffy thing, too,” she demanded, pulling my muff from my arm. I agreed, frightened that they might take them from me anyway by force. The demon girl pushed the dingy boots into my hands after I unlaced the skates, taking her prizes and running barefoot along the cobblestone alley into the crowd as if afraid I would change my mind. Her friends ran after her, bartering for a share of her loot.
I put on the boots, a bit too large and worn in the soles, and wandered among the stalls, drawing unabashed stares and murmuring from the demon patrons. Delighted by the festival of senses, I paid them no mind. There were musicians at the end of nearly every alley playing rousing peasant tunes on lutes and pipes that somehow blended together without cacophony, and on the crumbling stone walkways, rough-looking demon boys played a game with colorful, irregular dice. This fascinated me, and I lingered, trying to learn how it was played, dodging the grabbing arms of laughing young demons as they gathered to watch.
“What you need, dearie, I have.” An old woman crooned to me as I ducked away from a group of leering youths. I paused and she beckoned me to her kiosk with a bauble-draped hand. “Come, come, little angel, before you’re snatched up.” She pulled back a curtain behind her and I entered, a bit frightened of her, but more alarmed by the thought of being snatched up.
My impulsive purchase that afternoon would forever alter the fate of Heaven.
When Anazakia and the boys fall to the world of Man, they take refuge in modern-day Russia, but Black Friday shopping is a uniquely American tradition. While the Russian Orthodox Church certainly celebrates Christmas, it’s not the huge festival of consumerism it is in the US, and the major celebrations and gift giving occur on the New Year, when Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) and his granddaughter Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden) bring gifts for good children.
Grand Duchess Anazakia, knows nothing of such earthly holidays, but Belphagor, one of the demons she travels with, is better acquainted with Christmas. Unfortunately, it isn’t his favorite time of year. His first time in the world of Man as a naïve young demon, he fell in with a bad crowd—the celestial messengers known as the Malakim. As a result of their exploitation of his naivety, Belphagor spent the winter of his first “fall” in a Russian prison, an experience he barely survived and one that marked him for life.
And since the Malakim are the messengers who brought about the celebration of the first Christmas, Belphagor’s likely to fly into a rage at the mere mention of them, and certainly at the sight of Christmas merrymaking. Sending him into an American shopping mall or department store on Black Friday would be a bad idea of epic proportions akin to an early morning sale at Wal-Mart. Chances are, wherever that unfortunate mall or department store happened to be, “Black Friday” would take on a new significance.
I think we’re all better off not even imagining it.
I love the winter holidays: the twinkling lights in the darkness, the delicate baubles and glitter, the reverent religious services and songs, and the humans who act a little less like the traditional concept of demons for a few weeks—so long as you keep them out of shopping malls and department stores. Let’s not sully such a wonderful time of the year with a truly spectacular error in judgment.
How about you, dear reader? Are you a bargain shopper or a misanthropic hermit like me?
Meet Jane Kindred!
Jane Kindred began writing romantic fantasy at the age of 12 in the wayback of a Plymouth Fury—which, as far as she recalls, never killed anyone…who didn’t have it coming. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed. Jane is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Carina Press/June 2011) and The Fallen Queen (Entangled Publishing/December 2011), Book One of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy.
Thank you Jane for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Contest Time! Jane is giving away a signed ARC of The Fallen Queen.. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: Are you a bargain shopper or a misanthropic hermit like me? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.