He hasn’t been Aleksandr Sergeyevich Volonov, legendary monster-hunting assassin for ten years. Now, he is only Sasha, charming deckhand on a merchant airship so recently destroyed by pirates.
All he wants is to find another job and keep moving. But that simple plan is thwarted when his sister sends an assassin to murder him. His only choice is to return to Saint Petersburg and renounce his claim to his family’s title.
Trapped by his late father’s machinations, Sasha finds himself surrounded by death threats, engaged to a brutal villainess, shadowed by his cheeky assassin, and forced to lead the organization bent on eliminating all supernatural creatures from the Russian Empire.
As he struggles to keep hold on the man he is, Sasha must face who he used to be in this modern steampunk fantasy adventure full of folklore, banter, and artifice.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book is a spin-off sequel. In the first book (The Exiled Otherkin), I wrote this side character Sasha. I spent a lot of time on him because I needed to have him come off in a certain way. To tell you the truth, I originally killed him in the first book, but my beta readers made such a big stink about it that I unkilled him in the final draft. I've always been interested in the history of the Russian Empire, and this book allowed me to explore that subject as well as continue a beloved character's story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters are whoever they need to be. They usually tell me who they are, and they argue with me if I try to force them in a different direction. I usually am struck by the concept of what a particular type of person would do in a particular type of situation, and then it all sort of plays out on its own.
The cold wind off the Gulf of Finland seeped into my soul, greeting me like a mother’s caress. I had left the pleasant autumn of the west behind. Nothing warmed the heart quite like the promise of a Russian winter.
Sighing, I smiled to myself and strolled in the direction of the river. A line of small steamboats with black and yellow striped canopies patiently waited on the river’s edge. Their smoke stacks, which stuck up through the canopies, puffed white water vapor, telling us they were ready at any time.
After we’d hopped into a taxi, I asked the driver to take us to Volonov Manor.
We chugged up the Neva, and I watched the grand palaces and mansions drift by. I could still remember the names and faces of their boyar residents, those I’d grown up with. Their salons and drawing rooms, the many balls and parties, the dinners and concerts: the gilded façade that was my youth. I also remembered their cellars and basements: prisons for the creatures of the night, poor souls who were only kept alive to torture for information and study to find better ways of killing others of their kind.
Of course, not all of the noble families were members of the Ubyzniki, just the trusted few. Five families, still favored by the empress, made up the Ubyzniki. Five families with their many branches filled the ranks of “monster” hunting assassins. They lurked in forests, alleys, and ballrooms alike, stalking their supernatural prey and keeping the unknowing citizens of the Russian Empire safe.
I scoffed at their hypocrisy, their righteous hubris, as all the contentment I’d felt upon landing in Saint Petersburg drained out of me.
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