Review + interview: Master of one by Jaida Jones and Dani Bennett

When I heard that I had the honour of reviewing this book AND interviewing both the authors, I kinda freaked out. There can’t be anyone in this world who thought I could resist a YA fantasy with a premise that says it has queer fae in it. Come on, I’m too weak for that! Either way, today it’s my spot in this tour and I’m excited to be telling you all you need to know about this book!

What is Master of one about?

AUTHORS: JAIDA JONES & DANI BENNETT
PUBLISHER: HARPERTEEN
RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 10, 2020
GENRE: YOUNG ADULT, FANTASY

Sinister sorcery. Gallows humor. A queer romance so glorious it could be right out of fae legend itself. Master of One is a fantasy unlike any other.

Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He’s stolen into nobles’ coffers, picked soldiers’ pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he’s caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.

But Rags could never have guessed this “relic” would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there…

With the heist and intrigue of Six of Crows and the dark fairy tale feel of The Cruel Prince, this young adult fantasy debut will have readers rooting for a pair of reluctant heroes as they take on a world-ending fae prophecy, a malicious royal plot, and, most dangerously of all, their feelings for each other.

Sounds amazing, right? You can add it to Goodreads and purchase a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indigo or Indiebound!

What did I think of Master of one?

“What we think we remember and what truly was are only distorted echoes of each other.”

Let’s just start off by saying: Master of one is a wild ride. The concept of this book just hit the nail right on the head (not just because it’s queer!) and I really loved the way these authors brought it to life. It was just interesting I guess, especially Rags’s storyline for me.

There are a lot of different storylines in this book though and it could be a bit hard to follow from time to time. At some moments I was just so confused, but that’s one of the reasons that I wanted to keep reading too! It was also just a big YES when everything started to come together.

This book could be really slow at times (not even to mention the slow-burn romance…I certainly didn’t scream while reading this, nope!). Everything was intriguing and there was some kind of atmosphere that kept me interested, but the pacing could’ve been better for me personally.

The best thing about this book is definitely its characters. They’re realistic and chaotic (especially Rags though) and when they start to become friends (or more…) I’m just sitting there behind my book like a softie. I would tell you my favourite character but I can’t choose between Rags and Inis…they’ve both stolen my heart a bit!

Can we talk about that ending now? Like for a second I was so mad and scared because…THAT ENDING? I just have so many question and I kinda don’t know what to do with my life now, so, ehm, that’s fun!

Over all I really enjoyed reading Master of one! It was a rollercoaster and I’m a little salty over the open ending (you can’t just leave me hanging like this!) but that doesn’t take away that this was amazing! I’m definitely looking forward to reading more YA novels by them, but their first one gets a 3.5/5 from me!

Love,
Alissa

Who are the authors behind Master of one?

Jaida Jones (left) and Danielle Bennett (right) are married co-authors (without wanting to divorce yet) who live in Brooklyn with 8 cats. Danielle is from Victoria, British Columbia, and works freelance as an independent editor, proofreader and plagiarism checker. Jaida is a native New Yorker.

Their published work includes four novels from the Volstovic Cycle, in addition to their many twitter rants on intersectional feminism and the NYC subway system. COMING FALL 2020 FROM HARPERTEEN: MASTER OF ONE.

Follow them on their Website, Twitter and Facebook! Find Daniëlle on Instagram and Goodreads and Jaida on Instagram on Goodreads, too!

Interview time!

1. To start off: could you introduce yourself and your book really quick?

Hello! We’re Dani and Jaida! We met on livejournal (we really miss livejournal) over thirteen long years ago, when Dani lived in Victoria, BC, and Jaida was in college in NYC. Now, we are married, slowly becoming one large brain unit, living together in Brooklyn with too many cats and one very old grandmother. We’ve been writing together since we met! Master of One is our YA debut, which is a dream come true, because we both devoured YA fantasy as wee ones, but had so little queer representation in what was on the shelves back in the day. We wrote this book in the year following Dani’s breast cancer diagnosis and chemo/radiation/surgery treatment, when we were trying to reclaim and piece together the fragments of our selves from—it felt like—where they’d been scattered across the known universe, some so shattered they were never to be seen again.

2. What were your favourite types of scenes to write?

JAIDA: Anything with Rags having a nervous breakdown, so truly, anything with Rags. Another absolute favourite of mine was any scene with Einan! And, of course, the most fun we had was coming up with turns of phrase that Shining Talon could be agonizingly literal about…

DANI: I had a lot of fun laying the tiles for Inis and Laisrean’s relationship, conveying hints on how they felt about one another in Inis’s memories so that when they finally come face to face there’s a lot of simmering romantic tension. My favourite! I’m a big sucker for childhood friends who fall in love.

3. Master of One is written from many perspectives and reads like some kind of puzzle. Was it hard to mix all of this, especially while not writing alone? How did you handle that?

DANI: A lot of people assume that Jaida is in charge of writing certain characters and I’m in charge of others, but our approach tends to be more that we’re both in charge of writing everyone equally. This goes a long way toward making sure the end result is a manuscript that feels consistent and homogeneous throughout.

JAIDA: It feels so much easier (to me, at least!) to write with someone else, because whenever I hit a point where I feel stuck, I can be a big jerk and send the document to Dani; in turn, she can do the same to me. We’ll usually vaguely sketch out what needs to happen in each chapter so we both know where we’re trying to guide the story, or talk things out by text message if we both find ourselves uncertain about what should happen next. But because we are both Sagittarius suns, we always require the element of the unknown to keep us pushing forward, hoping to find out what actually happens next!

4. Which character in Master of One did you connect most with? Why?

JAIDA: I feel like each character in Master of One really represents something that we struggle(d) with. Rags is desperate gallows humor in the face of death; Inis is anger that threatens to consume and destroy; Somhairle is an adventurer who must live and find himself around the jagged shapes of his chronic pain; Cab is nearly destroyed by guilt and regret over past actions; Einan is all fierce loyalty, sharp words that mask a tender heart. I relate to each of them, although the character I think I might relate the most to is Tomman, who was trying to do the right thing, but dies in the prologue.

DANI: For sure I connect most with Inis and her anger, but I also carry an incredible soft spot for Cab and his desire to hide away in the countryside after life gets tough. Cab has to learn that he himself is as tough as life and that’s something I relate to a lot as well!

5. Do you still remember when the idea of Master of One arose? What inspired it?

JAIDA: I was watching the first season of Voltron on Netflix, and it reminded me of my extreme love for the mech/Gundam genre. (Gundam Wing, Transformers, Power Rangers—all three defined my childhood!) I asked myself what that would look like in a purely fantasy setting, because I know very little about science. And then I started writing while Dani was hard at work editing another story, because I was extremely bored. I sent her a wild, rambling 30+ pages asking her what she thought!

DANI: As Jaida says, this was a beautiful idea she had during the long hard days of chemotherapy and it was a joy and delight to be able to escape into a fantasy realm during those times, lol!

6. If you could tell your younger writing selves anything, what would it be?

DANI: Stop reading and pay more attention in school! Or, honestly, read more and pay even less attention in school. Everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.

JAIDA: I would tell my younger writing self not to give up on writing prose and fiction just because it’s hard. And that, one day, I’ll find the collaborative partner I’ve been seeking who will actually want to tell stories with me!

7. Lastly, what’s a book you’d recommend to everyone reading this? 

JAIDA: I’m currently obsessed with the Witcher books. Geralt is grumpy, lonely, funny, weird, and wonderful. The found family of misfits and outcasts that he accumulates while being forced to save the world from terrible fate, despite the lack of assistance from wretched politicians and often in the face of their active attempts to foil his plans, makes me laugh and cry at the same time, which is my favorite thing.

DANI: STAR DAUGHTER by Shveta Thakrar because I have a special fondness for main characters who are forced to straddle two worlds without belonging to either one fully. 

Thank you so much for this interview, Jaida and Dani! You’re incredible people and it was amazing to read your answers!

About this tour!

To check out the tour schedule, be sure to click here! There is so many amazing content to be found, like from reviews to favourite quotes and more! Be sure to take a look!

This tour was brought to you by TBR and beyond tours! Thank you so much for having me! Check out their website here.

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