My Favorite Bit: Larissa N.N. Davila talks about SHORN

Larissa N.N. Davila is joining us today to talk about her novel, Shorn. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Shorn is the first of The Sky Seekers series, a psychological fantasy about oppression and resilience, the consequences of vengeance, and the malleable nature of truth. Jacqueline Carey, author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series says “Shorn is a striking debut, filled with skilled world-building” and “complex psychological tension.” Kirkus Reviews calls Shorn a “grand-scale fantasy” with “remarkable depth” and characters who are “emotionally relatable and endearing.”

Jhared Denaban, a cursed soldier, enters his country’s service desperate to settle the generations-old debt caused by his race’s betrayal. Though shorn of his wings, like all his treacherous kind, Jhared still burns with dark desires for rebellion and flight. Oath-bound to protect Avelos from invaders, he discovers that his best intentions inevitably turn toward chaos. As he seeks the source of political and magical threats, he must defend himself from the people who believe his death is the only way the ancestral debt can be paid.

High Priestess Nemiah struggles to keep her people safe on the Sacred Path. Her temple, tasked with preserving balance in Avelos, lost its power when the priestesses rose against their rulers. Now Nemiah seeks forbidden history and heretical secrets to learn how to fight the magic that shreds her country.

Only by betraying Avelos once again can Jhared and Nemiah save their people from destruction. But what new chaos will their choices unleash?

What’s Larissa’s favorite bit?

The Paradox of the Dawnings’ Eve Ritual

The Paradox of the Dawnings’ Eve Ritual

What is it like to grow up in a society that allows you no agency in your own life—to have every important decision stolen from you because you’re seen as a danger to your country? What does it mean to endure rituals designed to remind you of your shame? How would you rejoice if instead you could grab a moment of freedom to embrace your otherness rather than to hide it?

In Avelos, the year’s end is marked by a ritual in which the community drives away bad fortune by chasing after the “wretch,” a stand-in for the country’s traitors. Once the wretch is outside the city walls, effigies are thrown onto bonfires. Shorn people, who are seen as embodying treachery, often are forced to play the wretch—and occasionally are fed to the flames. Below, the young Shorn soldier Jhared is chased by a gang of thugs not knowing if he’ll end up on the fire, and yet within the ritual meant to reinforce his status as a traitor, he finds an unexpected source of strength.

Wind streamed cool and buoyant over Jhared’s heated body. He reached for it and pushed himself harder, feeding his muscles on forbidden emotion. He didn’t doubt his ability to outstrip his pursuers; years of trying to outrun his desires had readied him for this. As he led the men through the darkness, twisting down small alleys and crossing crowded streets, he began to understand what the chase really meant: for this one night, running was not about escape. He leaped over a cart in his path, landed in a crouch to regain his balance, and pounded on. The onlookers cried out their approval. Everyone around him believed him to be the wretch. They scorned and cheered him, both. Perhaps some even wished to join him. He laughed again, giddy with insight: he was bad fortune. Tonight it was within his power to let the hunters drive him away or force them to stand and face what they most feared.

He was what they feared.

He had always known it, but never before had he felt the power in it.

We’re used to stories that portray trauma and generational suffering as something which causes irrevocable damage, but I’m inspired by the ways that individuals and communities find strength and resilience to move beyond suffering, and ultimately, to thrive. The Dawnings’ Eve ritual in Shorn—which by the way echoes a number of rituals known in our world—is my favorite bit because it highlights the moment that a young man recognizes he has the capacity to make a critical choice in his life, even while his oppressors believe that they are proving their domination. What Jhared decides to do with his new-found power changes not only his life, but the course of his people.

Throughout Shorn and the rest of The Sky Seekers series, rituals often play an important role in maintaining oppressive systems, but also provide a structure through which to overthrow those systems and create new ones. The paradox of the Dawnings’ Eve ritual is more than simple irony—it’s a deep truth about human nature that the people with nothing left to lose are often the ones with the clearest vision of a better future.

Book Link





Larissa N.N. Davila is the daughter of first-generation Mexican and Polish parents. She is the author of The Sky Seekers series: Shorn (2022), Cael’s Shadow (2022), Avelune (2023), and coming in 2025, Cael’s Legacy. In addition to writing fiction, Davila is a child psychologist and professor. Her work has been highlighted in outlets such as NBC’s Today and National Public Radio. Davila often can be found riding horses through arroyos in New Mexico.

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