Elisa A. Bonnin
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 2nd 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
A teen girl must bring together two broken worlds in order to save her nation in this lush, Filipino-inspired young adult fantasy novel from debut author Elisa A. Bonnin.
“Be dauntless, for the hopes of the People rest in you.”
Seri’s world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.
Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts – a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she’s ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.
“Dauntless captures the best parts of every action-packed fantasy—breathtaking scenes of power and victory that push the limits of human tenacity. This is a triumphant tale of courage and self discovery that will make you believe in your own strength.” —Kyllie Lee Baker, author of The Keeper of Night
Seri bought two cups of mango juice from the nearest stall and settled on a bench with the strange girl to watch the dance. Her name, Seri learned, was Tsana, which was not a name she had ever heard before. She couldn’t place its meaning immediately, but she liked its sound.
“My name is Seri,” she said, holding up her own right hand to show Tsana her name-mark, a glyph stylized into the small flame of a candle fire. They watched the dancers in silence while Seri worked up the nerve to speak. “Are you from Vethaya?”
“No. I’m only visiting. I arrived here a few days ago.”
“What brought you here?”
Tsana’s eyes were on the dancers. They had switched places now, the women clacking the bamboo sticks while the men leapt in and out of the space where they met, the rhythm growing faster and faster.
It was impossible to read Tsana’s tone. “Do you . . . like it?” “It’s . . . different from what I expected.”
Seri laughed nervously, wincing inwardly at the sound. “It is, isn’t it? There’s so much of it. I don’t even know where to look.”
“You aren’t from Vethaya?” Tsana sounded surprised. She turned toward Seri for the first time. Seri found herself staring into her eyes, and it took her a moment to answer.
“Um . . . no. I’m visiting, just like you.”
Tsana’s gaze drifted to her vest again, and Seri realized Tsana had probably marked her as an aspirant. It was a notion she would have been quick to correct in anyone else. This time, she didn’t bother. A part of her wanted Tsana to think she was an aspirant— someone to be admired.
“Can I ask you a question?” Tsana asked.
Seri nodded. “Sure. Anything.”
“How did you get that armor?”
Seri raised a hand to the vest she was wearing, her fingers brushing against the feel of the leather. She remembered the weight of the bolt in her hands, the recoil of the ballista as she fired it at the beast attacking Eshai. “An attack on my settlement. It wasn’t anything special. I got lucky.”
Something flashed in Tsana’s eyes, something strange, yet familiar. Seri couldn’t place it just then, but it bothered her. It felt important she understand that look.
Elisa A. Bonnin was born and raised in the Philippines, after which she moved to the United States to study chemistry and later oceanography. After completing her doctorate, she moved to Germany to work as a postdoctoral scientist. A lifelong learner, Elisa is always convinced that she should “maybe take a class in something” and as a result, has amassed an eclectic collection of hobbies. But writing will always be her true love. Publishing a book has been her dream since she was eight years old, and she is thrilled to finally be able to share her stories. Dauntless is her first novel.
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