Clash of Fate and Fury (Interview & Review)

Book Title: Clash of Fate and Fury
Author: Rachel Menard
Release Date: March 26, 2023
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
My rating: 5/5 Stars


Seventeen-year-old Gen may have rescued her beloved father from prison, but she hasn’t saved him yet. If she fails her end of a bargain with the Olympian Empresses, they will send him right back to his cell. To keep the Empresses happy, Gen must bring them the legendary golden apples of Hesperides and the monstrous Cerberus. But both are rumored to be in the neighboring Elysium Empire, which has a long history of war with Olympia. Making matters worse, Gen’s former enemy and newly designated heir to the isle of Arcadia Castor invites herself on the journey, hoping a golden apple could end Arcadia’s reliance on Illumium for storm vials. And Castor’s twin brother, Gen’s StormMaker boyfriend Pollux, has been pulling away from Gen due to troubles stemming from her mind magic.

With Castor’s pirate-thief girlfriend and Pollux’s servant companion in tow, the unlikely team embarks on its voyage. But war is only an insult away in Elysium, and more than the Emperor has their eyes on Gen’s mission. The quest has caught the attention of one of Elysium’s Oracles, and trouble is sure to brew with Prophecy on the rise.

Author Interview:

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process for Clash of Fate and Fury? Was it similar or different to Game of Strength and Storm?
As soon as I started the Labors of Gen series, I knew it would be a duology because I wanted to follow the structure of the original Hercules. He’s assigned 10 labors to start and then has to do two more. This was the first book I’ve ever written where I actually had a synopsis first! I admittedly, did deviate from it a bit as the story developed, but it helped immensely to have a guideline and all of my world-building elements set.

Whenever I write multi-pov, I always think of the story as mostly belonging to one person. Game of Strength of Storm to me, was Gen’s story. Clash of Fate and Fury is Castor’s. She didn’t evolve quite as much in the first book so I really wanted to focus on her development in this second book. Both these stories include rich world-building. Did you use any real life examples to help you develop the world, or were you more focused on the fictional aspects of it?
I love writing fantasy because you can really do anything you want as long as you have some sort of basis or explanation for it. Writing a series based on Greek mythology, I took a lot of my inspiration from the magic and world-building already existing in those stories. One thing I’ve found consistent across Greek mythology is that the people are always at the mercy of the gods and rulers, and I wanted to make sure that element made it into my retelling. Castor and Gen are only enemies because the Empresses forced them to compete.

The magic system is so unique! How did you come up with the structure for it, and were you perhaps trying to use it as a metaphor, or a challenge of something?
One thing I love about making magic systems is creating rules and limitations. The abilities were inspired by Greek mythology, but I don’t like to make things easy for my characters. Gen’s strength is nearly limitless, but she is clumsy and haphazard using it, and her MindWorker abilities require a connection. Castor can only wield her power if she has a storm at the ready. They are both so defined by their abilities, Gen outwardly and Castor inwardly, that I think it’s revealing to see how the characters react when those powers fail.

Who was your favorite character to write about? Are there any you relate to the most?
I always love writing Castor chapters because I think of her as that friend you have who says what you’re thinking but you don’t have the guts to say it. But I find a little bit of myself in all of my characters. Gen has tied her self-worth to the opinions of others. She also holds so tightly to one ideal, she can’t see what else is happening around her. Castor is angry that despite working so hard, she can’t get ahead. Pollux has crowd anxiety and holds in his own feelings to keep from causing trouble, which inevitably eats away at him. These are things I identify with and hopefully others will too.

If you could go back and change anything from the first or second book, would you, and why?
I feel like Clash of Fate and Fury was my chance to put in the things I would have liked to have had in the first book, like meeting Castor and Pollux’s father and seeing what happens when you put Castor and Gen together in a room together for extended periods of time.

Is there anything you can tell us about what comes next on your writing journey?
With the Labors of Gen duology complete, I am working on a new YA fantasy set in more modern time period to change things up. It’s not a retelling this time. It’s something wholly unique and hopefully you will see it on shelves sometime soon!

My Review:

As someone who completely adored Game of Strength and Storm, and immediately added it to my 2022 favorites lists, I was so, so excited to read the sequel, Clash of Fate and Fury. While the first book is probably still my favorite, I also really enjoyed this one, and I’m so glad I got to see Gen and crew go through one more journey.

One of my favorite parts of Game and Strength and Storm was the world building, and that was still definitely true of Clash of Fate and Fury. I’m blown away by how easily I was able to picture every single place the characters visited by just a few sentences from Menard. Additionally, I absolutely love the way this is a Heracles retelling, but also completely different at the same time. Yes, the story draws on Greek mythology, but it does so in such a unique and creative way that I’ve never seen before. It fascinates me, and I hope, even if we don’t get anymore stories from Gen, that we get more books set in this world.

We also got an even deeper dive into the MindWorker and StormMaker magics, which I loved. I said it in my review of the last book, and I’ll say it again: I absolutely love the magic in these books. The fact that StormMakers have the ability to control an entire storm from a tiny vial is genius, especially when you consider some of the more technical facets behind the power that we get a glimpse of in Clash of Fate and Fury. Gen’s power, being a MindWorker, is one that is equally fascinating and terrifying. Because, while she has the ability to talk to animals, she also has the ability to control not only them, but also humans, all with a little drop of her blood. It’s easily a power that could be used for ill, and I appreciated the conversations had about it in this book.

Meanwhile, the characters were just as captivating here as they were in the first book. They have so much depth and each one has their own personality and motivations. Gen was my favorite in the first book, and I’d say that’s pretty much the same here, too, though I really liked Bale as well. I was just as conflicted about Castor during this book, though. She’s so intriguing to read about, but she’s also kind of a terrible person, so rooting for her should be hard, but it’s also not? I don’t really know how to describe it, but Menard does an excellent job of making us care for her, despite how infuriating and self-centered she can be. I kind of love it, haha.

Additionally, I loved the dynamics between our group of main characters. They were all kind of like a powder keg just waiting to explode. Between Gen, Pollux, Bale, Castor, Adikia, and Chomp, hardly any of them got along with each other, but they were still so much fun to follow along. And even though they didn’t always like each other, they still protected each other.

My only complaint would be regarding Gen and Pollux’s relationship. It’s a minor one, which is why I didn’t take any stars off for it, but I just wish that they’d had more conversation about their dynamic, especially concerning Gen’s MindWorker power. Whenever she and Pollux kissed, she would then be able to see into Pollux’s thoughts, which was something that caused some strain between the two of them. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to discuss how romantic relationships don’t always have to be purely physical, but that was never really brought up, which was a bit of a disappointment.

Even so, I really did love Clash of Fate and Fury! It was a fantastic follow up to Game of Strength and Storm, and I had so much fun following Gen and crew on their (maybe) last adventure. I know the acknowledgements made it sound like this’ll be the last, but it was left open enough that a third book could eventually happen, so my fingers are crossed that it will!

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing me with a digital and physical copy of Clash and Fate and Fury in exchange for my honest opinion.

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About the Author

Rachel Menard was born in New Jersey, raised in Arizona, and then relocated to Rhode Island. Throughout her life she has been a barista, college radio DJ, singer in an alt-country band, marketer, designer, and finally, a writer. Her short fiction has been featured on the Cast of Wonders podcast and her non-fiction has been seen in Writer’s Digest. Her debut novel, Game of Strength and Storm, is coming from Flux Books in 2022.

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