Monday, September 19, 2022

Dreadful Beauty Review Spotlight

 


Welcome to the book tour for Dreadful Beauty by L.M. Rapp. Read on for my personal thoughts on this book, information about the book and more about the author behind this engaging fantasy novel!

 Dreadful Beauty is a fantasy novel by L.M. Rapp. This beautifully told fantasy novel depicts a world inhabited by humans and other creatures called Chimeras. Once, the Chimera’s shared the world as equals with the humans around them. Then, something changed and they began to be hunted down and killed. Now, anyone found to be “less-than-pure” is disposed of. They are not tolerated, only feared. So when Neria begins to show signs of nymphosis, her caretaker and her mother do what they must to save her life. Neria will face hardship in the days and weeks to come, but if she survives it all, can she fight for change? Will she have the courage to stand up for what is right, and the truth?

Dreadful Beauty is the first book that I have read by L.M. Rapp. This book has a slower-than-expected start, but gradually the author is laying the groundwork for a young girl whose life is about to be changed forever. She is one of the “More-Than-Pure.” It’s what she’s been told and it’s what she believes. Yet, she watched something truly tragic and terrible happen to her younger brother. She has no way of knowing that what happened to him could happen to her. It’s shrouded in secrecy, and no one in the family speaks of it.

Of course, the question will plague you as you read – what happened to him? Why the segregation between the Chimera and the humans? Is nymphosis truly that terrible? Is it genetic or is it just “bad luck” that you happen to contract this disease? But nymphosis isn’t the only thing that is to be feared apparently. Because when Neria is smuggled out of the palace, she’s not sent alone.

As you delve deeper into this story you’ll watch Neria be forced to grow up. She’s lived a pampered and spoiled life with her family. Now that she is without all those luxuries she must adjust to what she is becoming. In time she will learn the truth of what has happened to lead up to where they are now. That particular story is well told and will keep you engaged as you read it. It will even create a spark of hope that, unfortunately, will end up being snuffed out. Don’t let it be snuffed out completely though. Hold on to a small flicker of that hope.

There is an interesting variety of characters in this book. While Neria is the main character of the book, and the focus, those who surround her contribute nicely. Some help her mature and grow stronger, while others will test and challenge her. Neria grows from a whiny girl to a strong young woman who learns to make hard choices.

When this novel ends, I’m left with a conundrum of a question – will there be more? Or is this the end of the story? On one hand, it would be easy to say that the future is unknown, but these characters will forge a new path for themselves. Would I like to know more about what comes next for them? Absolutely. Only time will tell as to whether there will be more or not, but this book has a perfectly imperfect ending.

I’m choosing to rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. This is an interesting novel and I encourage anyone interested in reading it to do so. You’ll find much to enjoy and characters who will intrigue you.


Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A girl undergoing a terrifying transformation goes on an epic quest to find a refuge from her ruthless father.

Nymphosis, a disease that turns Humans into Chimeras, is ravaging the land of Gashom. The More-Than-Pure, determined to protect themselves, have seized power and enacted segregationist laws.

The daughter of a high dignitary, young Neria learns she is afflicted by the very disease her father is determined to eradicate. Forced to surrender her privileges, she must flee her home in the capital and traverse the strange wilds to seek refuge with her fellow kind.

Will she have the courage to fight oppression to emancipate the Chimeras from the yoke of the More-Than-Pure?




A Dreadful Beauty

Excerpt


One moment, she had been enjoying the security and comfort of her family home. The next, she was left helpless in a deserted square. An oil lamp rested in Neria's hand. A clay container, filled with a greenish-yellow liquid. A wick, coiled within its heart, snaked up to the groove that guided it into the open air. A flame danced on its tip, a paltry defense against the darkness of that night, one of those gentle nights that often follow the heat of the day. The moon watched her with a wry smile.

Neria suddenly felt she was going to collapse, crumpling like a sheet that had fallen to the ground. Without the warmth of the hand curled inside hers, she would have indeed done so. She remembered the last time she had seen Arhel's hand, crimson and reaching out of the covers. Who knew what the disease would do to her? But before she succumbed to it, she would save Anaëlle.

She breathed in, then out, and took a step forward. Her aching limbs strained at first, but after a few minutes, she was walking briskly, her head bowed like a servant, the child in tow. First, she had to find the secret passage her mother had told her about and cross the wall of the High District without going through the ever-guarded gates.

She came to a dead-end and saw the dried-up well and a withered pistachio tree lined with shrubs of rosemary leaning against the perimeter wall. It concealed a narrow, low opening. She went in first, crawled into a tunnel bereft of cobwebs and emerged behind an olive tree, also surrounded by shrubbery. Crouching down, she peeked between the branches. No one was there. She called to Anaëlle in a hushed voice, the child joining her. They emerged from their cover and arrived on the street. Before long, they had made their way to an impoverished part of town they had never been to before. The hovels were huddled together, separated here and there by narrow, randomly arranged passageways. The first on the left... The second on the right...

Hey there, little lady! Where are you off to in such a hurry?

Three guards had concealed themselves in a nook to drink to their heartscontent.

Lady Yarine’s sent me on an urgent errand.

She hoped they would be too drunk to do anything and turned away. She tried to maintain her composure, a technique that had worked for her that morning. Yet heavy footsteps came ever closer behind her before her arm was seized by a coarse grip.

Youve got more than enough time to come give us a little cuddle.

One of the guards looked at her, a yellow smile spread across his brown beard. He reeked of alcohol and nauseating filth. She tried to pull away from him, but his grip tightened.

Stay still or we'll give you a good hiding. Itll go better for you if you dont put up a fight, believe me. Leave the kid here and come on.

The two others approached.

The lamp fell and shattered. Neria took out her knife and stuck it in the arm restraining her. The guard howled in pain and let go of her.

Youre going to regret that you whore.

The guards now surrounded her. She threatened them with her bloodied weapon. She couldnt believe shed been so stupid not to have stabbed him in the stomach. Her assailant barely seemed bothered. She spun around, Anaëlle clinging to her clothes. The girl was sobbing.

One of the men drew his sword, Drop the knife or I kill the kid.

Nerias hand trembled. The knife fell on the dusty ground with a dull thud.

Run, Anaëlle, get out of here!” 

The wounded guard threw himself on her, seized her elbow, slipped behind her, and choked her with his good arm.

The child, small and spirited, ran away. Just as Neria thought she was going to make it, the man with the sword grabbed her mid-flight.

Neria struggled, hitting the arm that choked her. His hold tightened. Her mouth gasped but the air would not come, and her movements weakened. Suddenly, the guard holding her let out a yowl of pain and released her. She collapsed, heavily panting gulps of air on all fours. Her assailant lay there with his throat slit. The coarse, black-nailed hand that moments before had clamped down on her arm now clawed at the earth. The corpse's glassy eyes stared up into the starry sky. His red tongue in his gaping mouth, his fleshy lips, his fat cheeks swallowed by his beard... like a giant sea urchin washed up from the sea, his insides hanging open. A shrill cry rang out and she covered her ears.

A monster, half-man, half-beast, had ripped open another guard and had now set its sights on the third. The remaining guard was still holding Anaëlle hostage and keeping the beast at bay with his sword.

While the tiger and guard danced their macabre dance, Neria, still on all fours, fumbled for her knife. She grasped its hilt, ran towards the soldier, raising her weapon, a wild howling in her throat. The monster took advantage of the diversion to pounce on its adversary. Neria sheathed her knife, picked up the child who had fallen to the ground, and fled, pursued by screams of agony.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3JrBPFS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60560084-dreadful-beauty

Author Bio:

L.M. Rapp has lived in different countries and practiced several professions: dentist, web developer, artist, aikido teacher, farmer. Eager to learn and discover, she uses her experiences to enrich her stories. She has also written a thriller, Of Flesh and Tears.


Website: https://www.lmrap.com/


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/L.M.Rapp


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/l.m.rapp/


Twitter: https://twitter.com/LMRappAuthor

Author Interview -

On writing:

In your book, you describe the gargoyles’ people. What made you use elements of Gothic architecture for creating these characters?

During a visit to Notre Dame de Paris, I was able to admire the sculptures of gargoyles that adorn its facade. Their mere presence evoked a fabulous universe and served as great inspiration in my novel. 

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

The ideas seem to me to be floating around, in books, events, and encounters, and that it is enough to sit for long hours in front of a computer screen and concentrate on arranging them in a new way.


There are many books out there about chimeras. What makes yours different?

The story follows a family and a people through a tone that is both intimate and epic, which is rather unusual in this kind of literature. The plot captures the struggles of humanity through a fantasy lens, making it both digestible and thought-provoking.

Fun stuff:

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? The scariest? The strangest? 

I was kidnapped by aliens who looked like Buster Keaton. Just kidding… I live a quiet life, like many writers I suppose. Most of my adventures take place in my head.


What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I hesitate between leaving France, my birth country, or having three children.


Any hobbies? Or Name a quirky thing you like to do.

The main ones right now are Aikido and basketry. I like making sculptures or baskets with branches I find in the garden.





  




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