This is how Veronica Dale described the launch of Dark Twin, the second book in her Coin of Rulve fantasy series, which entered the realm of published novels in November 2016. It followed the debut of Blood Seed, the book that opened the series in January 2015. “Now both brothers are out in the world,” Vernie said, “and we’re well on our way with the Coin journey.”
The Coin series, Dale explained, consists of four novels that comprise one story arc. The protagonists are twin brothers, Sheft and Teller, who are born in a land terrorized by a despotic lord. For their own protection, they grow up apart from each other, not realizing they have been chosen by the Creator Rulve to save their homeland. The brothers land in communities that don’t accept them, and they must deal with prejudice, violence, and greed. They find tender love, experience bitter heartbreak, and undergo trials that can kill them. Meanwhile, through it all, they struggle not only to survive, but also to come to grips with a compelling call buried deep inside. “They are what we might call mystics,” Vernie said, “who experience the divine presence, but also the dark night of the soul. With the help of a small resistance community—and the love of two extraordinary women—they must face what it means to walk the savior’s path.”
“Blood Seed,” Dale said, “is the story of what happens to Sheft, the first brother, and Dark Twin is all about Teller. Sheft learns the hard way who he really is, and Teller has an equally difficult road to travel.”
Teller is only a boy when he’s snatched into a brutal lord’s subterranean stronghold. Mind-probes twist his memories of home, and he grows up into an eighteen-year-old dark rebel. He simmers with hatred for the extended family he believes abandoned him and the lord’s four Vols whose mission is to corrupt and redefine him.
“A kind of turning point comes for Teller,” Dale said, “when he comes upon a mysterious parchment that hints of a chosen one with a name similar to his—and a connection to the twin brother he barely remembers. When he discovers within himself the legendary power of fire, the determined young slave Liasit demands he decide who he truly is. It’s a terrible decision for Teller, because of the three names among which he must choose, one will break his heart, another will break his will, and the third will condemn what is left of his soul.”
Reviewers of both novels have been enthusiastic. “A richly-imagined tale of the struggle between the persistence of goodness and the corruption of power within the heart of a single youth,” said Debra Doyle, winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Diane Donovan, senior reviewer at Midwest Book Review, wrote that the novels are genre-bridging: “a potent mix of fantasy, romance, and moral and ethical issues.” She recommended the books to readers “who like their fantasies complex and thought-provoking.”
Oddly enough, Dale reported, people who say they don’t read fantasy often tell her how much they enjoy her books. “Maybe they were expecting elves or Conan the Barbarian or something and were relieved to find two very human young men struggling to believe in themselves.”
Or maybe, Dale added, they realized that all of her books, though certainly dark, are really about hope. “Perhaps because of my background in pastoral ministry, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.” Three people have been her inspiration. “One is psychologist Carl Jung, who found that those who met the challenge of their dark side discovered an inner light. Another comes from Tolkien, whose Lord of the Rings describes what he called a ‘eucatastrophe.’ This is a tragic event that can be redemptive, as Christians see in the Passion narratives. And the third comes from the 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich. She’s the one who wrote that famous line ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’”
Dale’s debut as a fiction writer appeared with Night Cruiser in 2014. This is a collection of short stories—some funny, some spooky, and some inspirational—in which ten people struggle with their inner shadow.
Blood Seed, which appeared a year later, opens the Coin of Rulve series with the story of Sheft. At age eighteen, he has good reason to fear there is a connection between him and a deadly entity that haunts the nearby Riftwood. So when Mariat falls in love with him, he must decide whether to share with her the devastating realization of who he is discovering himself to be, or to embark alone on the dark journey his destiny demands.
Veronica Dale’s books are available in print and digital editions on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.com.