Author: Marlena Frank
Narrator: Caoilainn O’Horen
Length: 11 hours 32 minutes
Series: The Stolen Series, Book 1
Publisher: The Parliament House
Released: Dec. 16, 2020
Genre: Fantasy; YA
It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.
In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy.
Marlena Frank is the author of books and novellas that span genres from young adult fantasy to horror. Her debut novel, Stolen Book 1 of the Stolen series, has hit the Amazon bestseller charts twice. She has two books coming out in 2021: Chosen, the final book in the Stolen trilogy, and The Impostor and Other Dark Tales, a collection of dark fantasy and horror short stories.
Marlena has also written several fantasy and horror short stories, which have been included in notable anthologies such as Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Not Your Average Monster Volume 2, and The Sirens Call issue #29.
Although she was born in Tennessee, Marlena has spent most of her life in Georgia. She lives with her sister and three spoiled cats. She serves as the Vice President of the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association and is an avid member of the Atlanta cosplay community.
She is also a Hufflepuff, an INFJ, a tea drinker, and a wildlife enthusiast.
Caoilainn is a narrator hailing from Los Angeles, they work from their professional home recording studio. Having grown up in the generation inspired by the Disney renaissance, they fell in love with animation and the voices behind the characters. Having been an avid reader, Caoilainn was originally going to school for animation and game design but switched their career path when they learned about audio books and how one person could bring so many characters to life. They started their Voice Over career in early 2017 and it has been their primary focus since then.
Author Marlena Frank’s TOP TEN LITERARY INSPIRATIONS
The problem with reading a lot of different books means that you have a bunch of literary inspirations as an author. I read a lot of different fiction, but my reading tastes skew toward fantasy and horror. I have always read a bunch of young adult fiction too. Of the six books I’ve written, Stolen is my love letter to the fantasy stories from my youth with a focus on lush worlds and vibrant characters that I’ve loved.
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a big inspiration. Alice is trapped in a world that doesn’t make sense, but she must navigate it anyway to get home. Her key to survival is negotiation and playing mind games with the creatures she encounters. One of the pieces of Stolen that I love so dearly is the dialogue and banter. There are so many layers to everything going on, so there is a lot that can be gleaned on each reading.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is another book I love. Something about the quiet, rather unlikeable Mary at the start of the story having to learn and grow during the book impacted me. So many people tell her she’s mean and rude, not caring how she feels, then she learns to find her own place, find people who accept her, and reach out to her grieving father. The descriptions of the garden are incredible too. Although the leaves look dead in winter, they slowly grow back in over spring, and as they come to life, Mary also finds her own happiness.
In Stolen, Shaleigh is kidnapped and taken into the Land of the Fae, a world filled with faeries and other strange beings with an unusual portrayal of magic. The inspiration for the magic came from my love of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s a long book with footnotes galore. Although it starts slow, it builds into an inspiring portrayal and use of magic. Somehow Clarke seamlessly mixes the absurd with reality. One of my favorite parts of that book were the dark and surreal portrayal of the Fae and how their magical pacts worked in bizarre ways.
It would be wrong not to mention perhaps the biggest inspiration for Stolen, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This was a favorite book of mine growing up, and my favorite scene involves the banter between two characters. The whole story builds up to the encounter of Bilbo the hobbit and Smaug the dragon, and after seeing the destruction this dragon can do and the hoard of gold he has collected, what does Bilbo do? Distract him with riddles. It’s great! I love seeing characters have to use their wits to overcome challenges rather than their strength alone.
Stolen was really a culmination of a bunch of stories I’ve loved, of concepts I was drawn to, and of worlds that captivated me as a child. Not only is it a world I loved building, but it’s one that I went on to expand on in the following books in the trilogy: Broken and Chosen. I hope it inspires others as I was inspired by so many incredible fantasy books over the years.
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