~Note from Eden: Read all the way to the end for an exclusive giveaway!
TITLE: The Magestaff
AUTHOR: Cordelia Castel
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
CHARACTERS: Cendrilla and Lord Bluebeard
Cendrilla is swapping her glass slippers for combat boots
After being sold in marriage by her stepmother to a wife-killing ogre, Lord Bluebeard, 16-year-old Cendrilla Perrault flees for her life.
Armed with a magical staff, she must reach the safety of the Anti-Magic Capital’s city walls before her murderous betrothed and his henchmen catch her.
But getting there means braving the badlands of the United Kingdom of Seven, a land teeming with trolls, bandits, swindlers and magical foes.
If you like damsels who defy distress, you’ll love the Magestaff.
Perfect for fans of Xena The Warrior Princess, Brienne of Tarth, and Celaena Sardothien!
Get it now.
Thank you for visiting The Dragon Lair! So tell me a little bit about The Magestaff?
My story is a different kind of Cinderella retelling, which takes place in a world where all the fairytales exist and are happening all at once. The main character, Cendrilla, lives in the United Kingdom of Seven: a continent where magic and magical beings are outlawed.
Cendrilla is sold in marriage by her stepmother to Lord Bluebeard, an ogre rumored to have killed his wives. Three days before the wedding, she discovers his basement full of dead wives and decides to run for her life. She also helps Lord Bluebeard’s slave, Jack from the beanstalk, to escape.
Cendrilla and Jack traverse the United Kingdom of Seven, aiming for its walled capital, Metropole. It’s the headquarters of the Anti-Magic Army, where they believe ogres, like Lord Bluebeard, will be killed on sight. Throughout her journey, they meet a range of fairytale heroines and villains, swindlers and mercenaries, all while trying to avoid Lord Bluebeard and his band of cut-throat henchmen.
Where did the story come from?
I love fairytale retellings, and I wanted to write something other than a fairytale romance. It started with the question, what if Cinderella’s stepmother decided to sell her stepdaughter to raise money for her own daughters’ dowries? Then I asked myself who was the worst fairytale husband imaginable? I decided on Bluebeard, because anyone who keeps a bunch of dead wives in a locked basement and hands his new wife the key must to be a fun character to write.
So that’s how I came up with the idea for The Magestaff. It combines my love for both fairytales and kick-ass heroines.
Can you tell me a little about the characters?
Cendrilla isn’t your typical Cinderella. She’s six feet tall, awkward, with a conniving, materialistic stepmother. For as long as she can remember, she has lived with ‘Mother’ and her stepsisters as a servant. At six feet in height, she towers over most people in her village, and her stepfamily never let her forget about it. When Cendrilla discovers that she’s been sold in marriage to an ogre rumored to have killed his six previous wives, she runs for her life. This begins an epic adventure where she grows in strength and confidence, overcoming the restrictions of her formative years.
‘Mother’ is the quintessential social climber, obsessed with shopping, punishing Cendrilla for imagined grievances, and securing good marriages for her spoiled twin daughters.
Lord Bluebeard is the main villain of the story. He’s even taller than Cendrilla with a violent temper and hands large enough to crush a woman’s neck. According to local gossip, he marries and murders heiresses for their fortunes, then uses his vast wealth to escape justice. As Rilla’s vast inheritance reverts to him upon their marriage, she has every reason to be scared.
Jack is Lord Bluebeard’s slave. They both hail from Steppe, a country in the Enchanted Realm where giants and ogres reign, and humans live in abject poverty. When Jack climbed a beanstalk and killed a giant, the giant’s younger brother, Lord Bluebeard, enslaved him to make him work off his transgressions.
What about these characters fascinated you, and made you want to tell their story?
The characters feature in some of my favorite fairy tales. I relished the idea of bringing them all together in a setting where all the other fairytale characters exist and magic is punishable by death.
Can I meet them?
I’ll see what I can do… Jack will be too afraid to face his former oppressor. He and Cendrilla are currently on the run from Lord Bluebeard, so please don’t let him snatch her during the interview.
No problem. I’ll try to keep them apart.
Lord Bluebeard swaggers in through the door on the right with a curved scimitar sword on his belt. A large bluebird with a red breast flies in after him and perches on his shoulder.
The door on the left opens a crack, and Cendrilla pokes her head inside. Her eyes widen at the sight of Lord Bluebeard, but she clenches her jaw, takes several deep breaths, and enters the room, clutching her staff to her chest.
Lord Bluebeard bares his teeth and advances on Cendrilla. Cendrilla scowls and balls her fists. Eden rushes between them and ushers Lord Bluebeard to his seat.
So… Lord Bluebeard. While remembering to keep this PG-13 in case my mother reads this, what’s your favorite thing about Cendrilla?
His eyes gleam and his face broadens into a grin: She’s a well bred girl who will give me seven sons.
Cendrilla, same question. What was it about Lord Bluebeard that drew you in, and made you decide HIM. I want HIM? Other than his manly bits, of course
She clenches her fists: I don’t want him! He’s a brute who beats his servants, and he has six graves in his basement. One for each of the wives he murdered. And there’s a space for a seventh. I’d rather throw myself in the Well of Despair than go anywhere near him!
What do you think is the best part of the story?
Cendrilla: the part where I run away from Maison Bluebeard with Jack is particularly satisfying.
Lord Bluebeard’s face splits into a malicious grin: I catch up with her eventually. That part is gratifying.
Cendrilla turns away: ugh. No it isn’t.
So, now that the book is over, how are you all behaving for Cordelia?
Cendrilla: actually, I’ve heard that the story continues over six more books.
Lord Bluebeard waggles his eyebrows: Aye, and Cendrilla changes her tune about me.
Cendrilla: I can’t see that happening.
Lord Bluebeard fixes her with a glare that could cleave mountains: It does.
How do you feel about your love story being out in the world, for everyone to read?
Cendrilla scowls: It’s not a love story.
Lord Bluebeard leafs through a book: Listen to this: ‘Rilla advanced on Lord Bluebeard and unpinned him from the wall. He dropped his scimitar, scowl melting into a smirk. “I knew you would choose me.”
“Silence.” Rilla wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss.’
Cendrilla flushes: That doesn’t happen in The Magestaff. I would never kiss you.
Lord Bluebeard picks up another book: ‘What started as a press of lips against lips turned into something more heated, and Lord Bluebeard ran his fingers through Rilla’s loose curls. She let out a soft whimper. Who knew Lord Bluebeard’s kiss could be so pleasurable? If she hadn’t run away with Jack, she could have been kissing those lips every day…and more. Her face heated, and she raised her right arm and ran her hand over his strong bicep, shoulders, up to his neck. He shuddered, deepening the kiss. Rilla’s hands threaded through his luxurious curls and settled to cup his neck.’
Cendrilla’s eyes flare: You’re making that up. Or replacing your name with Prince Armin’s. Let me see that book.
Lord Bluebeard stuffs both books into the inside pocket of his jacket: Why don’t you come here and get it?
Cendrilla scowls and folds her arms.
You have been awesome. Thank you so much for visiting me. Is there anything else you’d like to add about The Magestaff before I let you get back to your lives?
Cendrilla: Yes. Lord Bluebeard has an overactive imagination. I wouldn’t want to touch him with my enchanted staff, let along kiss him.
Lord Bluebeard’s eyes widen: Where did you get the staff of a mage?
Cendrilla ignores him: It was nice talking to you. But I’ve got to go, as I’ve left Jack—
Lord Bluebeard pulls out his scimitar: Where is that wretch? I will cleave him in half for stealing what is mine.
Cendrilla whacks him over the head with her staff and sprints out of the room, and Lord Bluebeard runs after her, brandishing his sword.
Cordelia, they are so much fun. Thank you so much for visiting me, and allowing me to drag these characters out to play! Is there anything else you want to add before I let you get back to your life?
The Magestaff is the first book in a series called The Seven Kingdoms.