Rose Hill's Writing Grove

A Fantasy author in the Twin Cities

Book Review – Servant of the Underworld

People have been telling me to read Servant of the Underworld since I published my very first short story, “Rain Child.”  The reason for this is abundantly clear–both are set within the priesthoods of fantasy Tenochtitlan.

Anyone familiar with my blog is probably well aware of my complaints about religion in fantasy–particularly the shoddy way polytheism is typically displayed.  This hits none of those problems.  It treats polytheism in a serious way, one that is true to the characters and affects every part of their lives.  You see daily rituals, larger rituals, prayers, sacrifices, offerings, all treated as perfectly normal and acceptable.  This is religion in fantasy written right.

The ease with which de Bodard immersed us in Tenochtitlan was stunning. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know every word, because the meaning is made clear and explained in the book.  For those who want further reference, there’s an appendix of terms in the back as well.

You know what else is in the back?  A list of related reading–research books about Tenochtitlan.  I’m definitely going to pick up at least two of those.  Now, maybe I just don’t read enough historical fantasy to know if this is a common thing, but I definitely loved that inclusion.  And to be honest, this is the first historical fantasy novel I think I’ve ever been interested in.  The non-Western setting was wonderfully refreshing and superbly researched.

Now, I’ve raved a fair bit about this book without going into the plot or characters, but that’s because Servant of the Underworld reminds me of what I love best about fantasy–a beautifully constructed world to immerse yourself in.  But that’s not to say that the plot or characters weren’t enjoyable.  Acatl’s desire for a peaceful life, thwarted by murder and political drama, is very relatable.  Mihmatini is a wonderfully competent little sister who has grown up without her brother’s notice.  The ever-growing mystery kept me guessing all the way to the end.  The tension stays high enough to keep you turning the pages and picking it back up.  But what I loved the most was the beautiful worldbuilding.

Recommended for: People who want non-Western fantasy, fans of mysteries, someone looking for a new voice in fantasy, worldbuilders




Hello all!

Just as a reminder, my short story “Jailbreak” will be coming out in LIKE A SPELL: WATER.  While you’re waiting for that, Circlet Press has released the third of this four part anthology series, LIKE A SPELL: AIR.

AIR features F/M pairings, so if the F/F or M/M books weren’t to your taste, this might suit you better.

Keep an eye out for the announcement of my piece in the next few months!  An omnibus will also be coming out later this year, if you want to wait and get all of them together.

Circlet Press Updates


A couple of updates from my publisher that should be putting out my story “Jailbreak” here in the next couple of months.  Keep an eye out for an announcement about the release of LIKE A SPELL: WATER.

In the meantime, LIKE A SPELL: FIRE has been released!  The second anthology of the quartet, this is all M/M erotica.

Circlet Press has also announced calls for two new anthologies.  Since they came out far enough after my listing for anthology calls, I decided to just post them here.

Theme: Asexual romance
Deadline: April 15th, 2018
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 2.5K – 8.5K

Theme: Tentacle porn
Deadline: March 31st, 2018
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 2,5K – 8.5K

Anthology Submissions

A random collection of anthology calls that I think look interesting.

THEME: Halloween horror
DEADLINE: March 30, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.03/word, 2 contributor’s copies

THEME: Military sci-fi
DEADLINE: February 28, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.03/word

THEME: Women or non-binary battle poets
SUBMISSIONS PERIOD: February 1, 2018 – March 1, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.06/word

THEME: Robots, AIs, internet, mind
DEADLINE: April 1, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.06/word

THEME: Black superhero erotica
DEADLINE: Until filled
PAYMENT: $100 flat rate
WORD COUNT: 3.5K – 10K

Theme: Sci-fi and fantasy
SUBMISSIONS PERIOD: February 5, 2018 – February 19, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.08/word
WORD COUNT: 1.5K – 7.5K

Anthology Submissions

A random collection of calls for submission that I think look interesting.

Theme: Erotic tales of Edgar Allen Poe
Deadline: February 15, 2018
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3K – 7K

Theme: Erotica with fantasy creatures
Deadline: February 1, 2018
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3K – 7K

Theme: Queer poly families
Deadline: April 30, 2018
Payment: $200, flat rate
Word Count: 10K – 20K

Theme: YA sci-fi
Deadline: December 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06/word
Word Count: 3K – 6K

Theme: Spec-fic, rebel vs insurgent line
Deadline: December 31, 2017
Word Count: Up to 7.5K

Theme: Sword & sorcery with some sort of guild in it
Deadline: December 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06/word
Word Count: Up to 7.5K




Volume 1 for LIKE A SPELL is now out! Check out LIKE A SPELL: EARTH for some lesbian erotica between magic-users.

My story will be appearing in volume 4 of the series, LIKE A SPELL: WATER, which is slated to come out around March/April.

Book Review – God’s War

God’s War by Kameron Hurley is one of the best books I’ve read in a while.  A friend recommended it to me years ago, and now I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

This book is sort of Science Fantasy bugtech, which is exactly as weird and fascinating as it sounds.  It’s set in a desert warzone with a fantasy version of Islam all around.  It’s a wonderful change from the pseudo-Christianity and pseudo-Europe we usually see in Fantasy.  Our protagonist is a bisexual bounty hunter in a country dominated by women.

The writing itself is very short and to the point.  It was fairly “tell-y” at times, but that seemed to work for the style of the writing.  Keeping the sentences short and to the point is absolutely in-keeping with the narrative voice of Nyx, the protagonist.

I will say this is not a happy book.  This is not a book you read to pick yourself up, though it might be one you read for some catharsis.  This is graphically violent and doesn’t shy away from any of it.  In the same way that some of my previous reviews have said “this is not my style”?  Well, this book IS my style, but it might not be yours.

I will admit that I was already a fan of Hurley’s writing after reading The Geek Feminist, but now I’m going to have to seek out her other fiction as well.


Recommended for: fans of dark fantasy, feminist fantasy, people looking for POC protagonists, people looking for WOC protagonists, fans of Atomic Blonde, fans of bounty hunters and other low-life characters, people looking for queer protagonists

Book Review: A Wizard of Earthsea

This book is considered one of the classics of Sci-Fi/Fantasy as a genre.  It was originally published by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the legends of Fantasy, in 1968.  For as long as I’ve been working on my novel, people have been telling me I need to read this book for two reasons: a similar setting, and non-white protagonists.

And this book certainly has that, so if you’re tired of pseudo-European fantasy or were frustrated with the thinly veiled racism of the Lord of the Rings, this is definitely a classic you’d want to check out.

As to whether I actually enjoyed reading it…  No.  This is not my style of book.  I like high-action stories with engaging characters I can get behind.  This is not that.  I kept putting it down for long stretches, and finished it more out of obligation than any real desire to.

Ged reminds me a lot of Draco from Harry Potter, and despite my fondness for shipping, that’s not actually a fun protagonist to follow.  He spends the early part of his life with everyone talking about how powerful and important he is, and it goes to his head fast.  His arrogance gets kicked hard at one point, and then he spends the rest of the book trying to fix his mistake.  At no point did I actually like him as a character.  There was no sympathy there.  His proactivity felt more like a magical compulsion than any choice of his own.  And I felt like his competence was more told than shown.

…which is actually a problem I had with the entire book.  A Wizard of Earthsea has the same mythopoetic feel that Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia have.  I can easily see why they are compared.  It feels like someone is telling you a story, rather than letting you experience it through the character.  That sort of distance is not as popular as it once was, and it’s not something I enjoy.

I would like to clarify that this is not a bad book, it’s just not my style.  If this is your type of book, don’t let my review of it scare you away.


Recommended for: Fans of LOTR, fans of Narnia, people looking for fantasy classics written by women, people looking for non-white protagonists

Anthology Submissions

A random collection of anthology submissions I think look interesting.


Theme: Lovecraftian universe
Deadline: June 30, 2017
Payment: $0.08 per word
Word Count: 3K-6K


Theme: Weird creatures
Deadline: July 15, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: 1.5K – 3K


Theme: Underground and underworlds
Deadline: July 31, 2017
Payment:  3 cents per word Canadian
Word Count: 1.5K – 7K


Theme: The dark side of culinary life (female-identified characters)
Deadline: July 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: Up to 5K


Theme: Mythical romance
Deadline: November 1, 2017
Payment: PDF contributor’s copy, coupon code for three physical copies at cost
Word Count: Up to 10K


Theme: Sexual healing (sci-fi/fantasy context)
Deadline: June 15, 2017
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3.5K – 7.5K


Theme: as the title
Deadline: July 1, 2017
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3K – 7K


Theme: water in spec fic, mythology focus
Deadline:November 1, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: 2.5K – 7K

Book Review: If I Were An Evil Overlord

I don’t know if I have previously mentioned my love of anthologies (I’m reasonably certain I have), but in case I haven’t, let me state it again.  Anthologies are a great way to discover how a bunch of different authors tackle the same sort of theme.

If I Were An Evil Overlord is, as might be guessed, an anthology about evil overlords and dictators.  Being an anthology, there were some stories that I liked better than others.  This time around, I decided to do a quick recap of each story, and my general thoughts on it.  Keep in mind, this is based exclusively on my personal taste, which yours probably won’t match up with.

  • If Looks Could Kill: The story was a delightful LOTR spoof, then ended on a transphobic joke.  Disappointing.
  • The Man Who Would Be Overlord: Eh.  I don’t know whether it was a stupid character or plot holes, but there were too many big gaps in this story to find it truly enjoyable.
  • Ensuring the Succession: I liked this one.  There is something satisfying about competent evil characters.  Plus, a successful succession is the main problem most empires face–this handled it well.
  • The Life and Death of the Fortune Cookie Tyrant: Not bad.  The premise is a bit silly and incompletely explored, but it is still entertaining and ended in a satisfying fashion.
  • Daddy’s Little Girl: I have a deep love for creepy children, so this was perfect.  Just perfect.
  • Gordie Culligan vs Dr. Longbeach and the HVAC of Doom: This story made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions.  Plus, I enjoyed the conversational tone and the look at ordinary people using totally practical skills to save the day.  Probably my favorite story in the anthology.
  • The Sins of the Sons: Intriguing, especially the family dynamics.  Not bad, but also not memorable.
  • Loser Takes All: This has a particularly satisfying ending.  The actions in-game reflect in reality and reach their expected bitter consequences.
  • The Next Level: Eh, I feel like the planned rape at the end was gratuitous to establish the character as an evil overlord.  It left a bad taste over what was otherwise an entertaining story.
  • Advisers at Naptime: I’m tickled by this simply for the direct reference to the Evil Overlord List about five-year-olds.
  • A Woman’s Work: I love smart villains.  Especially ones smart enough to make themselves beloved of their people.  This was perfect.
  • To Sit in Darkness Here, Hatching Vain Empires: Okay, this was actually one of the more chilling ones.  The villain won.  Completely.  And he has the resources and skills to do it again, world after world.
  • Stronger Than Fate: A delightful story with an excellent closing line.  Pay attention to the details.
  • Art Therapy: This story felt almost disappointing.  I liked the voice of the villain, but he went all soft at the end.


Overall, I liked the blend of stories that let the villains win and those that didn’t.  Definitely an entertaining read.

Recommended for: Fans of fantasy anthologies, fans of villain protagonists