Welcome to my MTMC Tours stop for Kingdom of Essence by Holly Karlsson!
With captivating characters, daring heists, and dangerous magic, this enchanting fantasy adventure spins a tale about the power of hope and friendship and our connection to the world around us. This is a tale that promises everything you could ask for in a fantasy: heists and mysteries, unique and interesting magic systems, unstoppable characters, and worlds to get immersed in. It’s also the perfect read for autumn, bringing in those fall vibes to deepen the world.
I’ve made an aesthetic mood board below 😍👌🏻📚 and am interviewing the author, Holly Karlsson, as well, so be sure to check it out!
Title: Kingdom of Essence (Book #1)
Author: Holly Karlsson
Publication Date: May 20th, 2022 (audiobook)
Purchase a copy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Blackwell’s | Audiobook Links
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Elitsa Serlov only cares about two things — earning enough money to start a new life and finding the rogue mage who murdered her mother. But years without leads have left her jaded, and she won’t let anyone — friend or foe — get in her way.
In Casekraia, anyone can use magic if they’re desperate enough to rent relics from the Tower, a corrupt guild of mages more concerned with their own wealth than the welfare of the people. Elitsa has spent the last three years as a reclamation agent for the Guild, hunting down her own people for precious coin and the hope of uncovering what happened to her mother.
Just one week before her contract with the Tower is set to expire, Elitsa is coerced into a dangerous conspiracy by a gang of rebellious thieves. With her loyalty to the Tower in question, Elitsa must decide between her quest for revenge and charting a new course for her life.
With captivating characters, daring heists, and dangerous magic, this enchanting fantasy adventure spins a tale about the power of hope and friendship and our connection to the world around us.
Holly Karlsson writes epic and adventure fantasy filled with magic, dangerous quests, compelling characters, and mythical creatures. Holly is the author of the Daughters of Fire & Sea trilogy, and Kingdom of Essence. She enjoys connecting to her readers and regularly releases flash fiction stories on her website www.byhollykarlsson.com. Other places to follow her are Instagram, Facebook, and Bookbub. Website | Goodreads | Instagram
Hi Holly! So excited to chat with you today about your book ✨🤗 Tell us about yourself and how long it took Kingdom of Essence to go from spark of an idea to finished novel on our shelves!
I’ve loved epic and adventure fantasy since I first picked up a book and had so much fun imagining myself as a character inside those worlds. Naturally, this led me to live inside my imagination a lot of the time and decide I wanted to tell stories. I wrote hundreds of story beginnings, but it wasn’t until my thirties that I finally finished a book, the first in my epic series, Daughters of Fire and Sea.
Since then, I’ve been lucky to release one novel a year, but with the pandemic and a move from Washington to Sweden, I needed to take a break from my series and write something new (I have SOOO many cool ideas, I wish I could write them all now!). The story that became Kingdom of Essence was supposed to be a fast, short story that I started in October 2020, but then the story evolved, and I couldn’t step away from it until I finished. Instead of a month or two, it took most of a year to finish writing, and I was thrilled to be able to release it the following October. The book is set in the fall, and I really wanted it to be released when readers could easily imagine the changing leaves and brisk mountain air.
Absolutely love books with strong season aesthetics! What inspired you to write Kingdom of Essence?
It started as a random idea to write a fall-inspired murder mystery in October with a magic system that involved metal and the question, “how would you extract magic from plants?” From there, my imagination just ran wild (there is a bit of a murder mystery, but not quite what I’d envisioned) until it eventually became the book you have in your hands! I also wanted to write a Slavic-inspired world to bring some of my Ukrainian heritage into the story in the mythology, food, and fashion.
Such a fascinating combination of things! Introduce us to your main character, Elitsa Serlov!
Elitsa is the equivalent of a magical bounty hunter who reclaims magical relics for the Tower, a guild of mages that is the true power in her country. When we meet her, Elitsa is reaching the end of her employment contract and is disillusioned with the world and what she thought would be an exciting and honorable job. One of her primary reasons for joining the Tower was to find her mother’s killer – an unknown rogue mage – but life hasn’t worked out how she expected, and she’s questioning what to do next and what type of person she wants to be going forward.
Favourite thing about writing fantasy?
I love imagining new worlds and interesting magic systems (many of my stories start with an idea for magic) and figuring out what kinds of people and creatures would exist in my stories.
What kind of things did you get to research while writing your book?
It’s hard to keep track since I’m constantly researching all kinds of things, but two things I remember from working on Kingdom of Essence were looking up Ukrainian embroidery patterns, inspiration for Casekraia’s style of clothing, and the scents of various plants and wood, specifically how it smells when burned. In KoE, magic is the essence extracted from the elements (like wind/air, fire, water/rain, earth/stone etc), plants, and living creatures. You can smell when someone is using magic!
Love Which is your favourite to write: beginnings, middles, or endings?
I think that beginnings are the most fun but also the most stressful, as I want to immediately draw readers into the story.
Can you give us a sneak peek about what you’re writing next?
Before beginning the sequel to Kingdom of Essence, I’m finishing the last book in my epic fantasy series, which is more traditional high fantasy with dragons, old gods, and twin sisters who discover they have magic. I’m currently working on The Demon Queen (Daughters of Fire & Sea #3). I’m still in the early drafting stage, so all I can share is this line, which may change later:
“Runa staggered backward, deflecting the demon’s spear with a slap from her palm.”
Favourite author moment so far?
It would definitely have to be when I heard Kate Reading read Kingdom of Essence aloud for the first time. She’s my favourite audiobook narrator, and hearing my story through her voice made it feel entirely new and exciting, almost like I was listening to something written by someone else.
It was lovely chatting with you, Elsie ✨ Thanks so much for this interview and all the fun answers!!
Listen to an Audiobook excerpt!
(Audiobook narrated by Kate Reading)
Enter the Rafflecopter below where two readers will win a physical copy of Kingdom of Essence sent via Amazon. Ends on July 9th, 2022. Winners will be announced in the Rafflecopter & contacted via email.