Hellhound by Kaylie Austen-A Review and Interview with the Author
HELLHOUND by Kaylie Austen
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 1, 2013
Selene is the Hellhound, a powerful and ruthless descendant of the Greek gods. She is bound by tradition and tied by bloodlines to lead her people against the mortals. Although she is arranged to marry Nathanial, she falls for Demetrius, the self-professed Black Angel, and things take a bitter twist. When she stumbles across the corpses of her father and Nathanial, all eyes move in on Demetrius. Selene must take the assignment to hunt down her accused lover. Facing the untrustworthy cerebral chamber, powerful shape-shifting sentinels, superhuman archers, and a deceitful Council, the Hellhound must work quickly to uncover the truth before she is forced to annihilate her lover
REVIEW: HELLHOUND is the first storyline in Kaylie Austen’s new series focusing on the fantasy world of the Mythian. There are shapeshifters, Hellhound, Black Angel and a cerebral chamber where the truth, as seen by the mind’s eye, can always be revealed. The political infighting is rife with deceit, betrayal, nepotism and the Council of Elders whose need to rule by power and intimidation are pushing the lower classes towards an uprising of epic proportions.
The world building is intense-so intense that I will try to explain the sociological description and implications.
The story is awash in a hierarchal political system, almost caste like (and Marxist) in structure where those beneath you are considered unworthy or minions. Minions is a term that is used quite frequently (throughout the novel) by those who consider themselves above reproach and in control. The entire societal structure of the Mythian culture reeks of ethnocentrism (whereby one judges all others based on the culture and belief system of one’s own) and in this, the Mythian society believes themselves to be better and more powerful than other species, societies and humans.
There is a definitive sociological and power elite premise at work within the story. The class structure is very Marxist and the relationship between the power elite and the lower class workers is definitely a study in class, status and power. There are arranged marriages and a hierarchy of inherited families (castes), class conflict, inequality, division of labor and of course, because of the powerful ruling elite-a revolt on the horizon.
The caste-like society within HELLHOUND is similar to many South Asian cultures and belief systems. The story is a study in discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping of anyone considered not within the same class. Classes are segregated in domiciles and work levels where the physical distance between the groups is to ensure there is no unnecessary contact or interaction. There were also issues of sex and gender. Selene was either objectified as a female of worth and power, or she was considered second class because of her gender and age. And the women within one particular class were considered nothing more than whores or to be objectified as a vessel for sex.
But I digress. Hellhound is a story about Selene-a young woman who is expected to ascribe (by bloodlines) to the position of ruling royalty of which she wants no part. She is also a woman who is expected to marry into an equally powerful family and bring forth an heir to continue the royal bloodline. Two powerful bloodlines insures the continuation of their supernatural powers and position within society, culture and the Council of Elders. But falling in love with Demetrius-a tracker and a man beneath Selene’s status- is enough to send the power families to war against one another. All too soon Demetrius is accused of killing Selene’s father and her future husband (arranged by the ruling families), and the memories of others could never be wrong. Selene is ordered to hunt for her elusive lover but in doing so she knows, to extract the truth will mean death to Demetrius-one way or another.
The writing is simple. There is no sex (implied only), no graphic or vulgar language but there is some violence and death. Because of the ‘cerebral chamber’ there are many flashbacks from retrieved memories. But I had a few issues of cohesion. Perhaps it was a problem with editing but the story (in several spots) seemed to jump into another scene without a break or build up.
HELLHOUND is an interesting storyline of murder and mystery; of friendship and love. But the relationship aspect of the story was lacking. Because the author chose not to delve into the romance/sex and love issues, the love story fell flat. I did not feel the connection between Selene and Demetrius. I do not need implicit sex scenes to grasp the love between two people, but there was very little to assure me that Demetrius and Selene were truly in love or had ever been intimate and close.
HELLHOUND is also a study in class distinctions, social structure, power and control. I am not sure if many readers will see the same sociological problems as did I, but the story is a definite study in social relations and class and, the struggle of the working class to gain a foothold in society.
Copy supplied by the publicist.
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Kaylie and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the May 2013 release of HELLHOUND.
Kaylie: Thank you, and thanks so much for having me!
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Kaylie: I grew up in Austin, TX., and as it turns out, I’m pretty much what one might expect: I was a UT Longhorn, I love Dr. Pepper and Blue Bell Ice-Cream, and the annual rodeo is the best time of the year. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, am an undercover nerd, and I intend to bring plaid back.
TRC: HELLHOUND is your latest release. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Kaylie: Selene is the Hellhound, a powerful and ruthless descendant of the Greek gods. She’s bound by tradition and tied by bloodlines to lead her people against the mortals. Although she’s arranged to marry Nathanial, she falls for Demetrius, and things take a bitter twist. When she stumbles across the corpses of her father and Nathanial, all eyes move in on Demetrius. Selene must take the assignment to hunt down her accused lover. Facing the untrustworthy cerebral chamber, power shape-shifting sentinels, superhuman archers, and a deceitful Council, the Hellhound must work quickly to uncover the truth before she’s forced to annihilate her lover.
TRC: What was your inspiration behind writing a storyline about a Hellhound rather than writing about another supernatural species?
Kaylie: I’ve always loved Greek mythology. I’ll admit, I starred in the mythology portion of the Latin decathlon in middle school. Those warped, tragic stories stuck. Besides, I was tired of hearing about vampires, werewolves, and elves and didn’t have anything to add to those creatures.
TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series?
Kaylie: So far, just the one, but who knows?
TRC: How thoroughly do you plan out your characters and story before you begin the first draft or do you “fly by the seat of your pants”?
Kaylie: I guess I write the way I live, by the seat of my pants! My characters come to me and they dictate everything. They tell me where to go and how they want to behave and look. After the first hurried draft, I go back and try to make sense of everything and tie loose ends.
TRC: What challenges did you face getting your novel to publication?
Kaylie: Rejections. There were lots! It’s just something every writer has to deal with. Rejections have a purpose, they let you know you’re not hitting the mark. Sometimes it’s subjective and the way the market is heading, which a writer has no control over. Other times, it’s the craft or story itself. When it’s the latter, it’s time to get down to revisions and use those rejections as helpful tidbits toward a better novel.
TRC: Writer’s block is a very real phenomenon for many authors. How do you handle the anxiety and pressure of writer’s block?
Kaylie: I read. When I come across a great story, I think, “Why didn’t I write that!” Usually it starts a spark to another story. Sometimes the spark sets fire to an entire novel, and sometimes it doesn’t. When it comes to writer’s block on a project already in motion, I’ll usually watch something in that genre to get the creative juices flowing.
TRC: With whom do you bounce ideas and storyline suggestions?
Kaylie: Friends, husband, co-workers, fellow authors, anyone who listens. I get the reader side and the writer/professional side.
TRC: If you could change something about yourself personal or professional, what would it be and why?
Kaylie: I would be more out-going. I’m very shy and quiet. I haven’t mastered charm, yet. When I do speak, it’s not small talk, it’s to the point because I speak to people for a reason. Being a little more fluid and a people person would help personally and professionally.
TRC: Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
Kaylie: My parents. They’ve been there from the beginning and, as parents do, molded me to be the way they wanted me to be and a reflection of them. They’re honest, sweet, hardworking, and still they face injustices that seem to befall the nice ones. I’ve learned a lot from them, and I could learn a lot more.
TRC: Is there a question that you would like to be asked in an interview, but nobody has asked? If so, ask away!
Kaylie: If I could live in a movie/sitcom/book, what would it be, why, and which character would I be. I’ll go ahead and answer that: Jean Grey in the XMen comics. She’s a class 5 mutant, powerful, beautiful, desired, and the Marvel Universe is a place that is both torrid and tragic. Superheros don’t have a happy ending, and maybe I secretly like a little drama.
TRC: What five things would you like to accomplish in the next ten years?
Kaylie: Get an agent. Get a major deal with my dream publisher. Make a bestseller’s list. Finish my degree. Have a baby.
TRC: What are your thoughts on book reviews-good or bad?
Kaylie: Book reviews are subjective, just like reviews on movies. I enjoy reading good ones. They encourage others to read. When there’s a bad review, I think people should keep it nice. As long as reviews are professional, they’re okay. It’s when a person gets into hateful words that leaves a black mark on reading.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Kaylie: A multicultural new adult contemporary romance. Say that five times fast!
Favorite Food: Chicken crunchy tacos
Favorite Dessert: Chocolate cake
Favorite TV Show: The Big Bang Theory
Last Movie you saw: Iron Man 3
Dark or Milk Chocolate: Milk
TRC: Thank you Kaylie for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you all the best in your writing career.
Kaylie: Thank you again!