Beginning with the Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander and the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Leguin, Kyra Halland has always loved fantasy. She has also always loved a good love story. In 1990, as a new stay-at-home mom with a young baby, she finally decided to combine those two loves - like chocolate and peanut butter! - by writing the kinds of romantic fantasy novels she wanted to read.
Complicated, lovable heroes; strong, smart, feminine heroines; magic, romance, and adventure; and excursions into the dark corners of life and human nature mixed with a dash of offbeat humor - all of these make up Kyra Halland's worlds. She is excited to share those worlds with readers, who she hopes will enjoy her stories and characters as much as she does.
Kyra Halland lives in southern Arizona. She has a very patient husband, two less-patient cats, and two young adult sons. Besides writing, she enjoys scrapbooking and anime, and she wants to be a crazy cat lady when she grows up.
Where to find Kyra Halland online
Where to buy in print
The Lost Book of Anggird
(5.00 from 1 review)
By Kyra Halland
Published: October 28, 2013.
Stuffy Professor Roric Rossony's life is changed in ways he never expected by his new assistant Perarre Tabrano. It's changed even more when he digs too deeply into lost and forbidden books, and finds the last thing he expected. Overnight, he goes from respected scholar to wanted criminal, and Perarre joins him on a dangerous quest that will change magic, and their own lives, forever.
A Cure for Nel, and Other Stories
By Kyra Halland
Published: September 3, 2013.
Three short fantasy stories of love, family, greed, ambition, and the desires of the human heart.
Chosen of Azara
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
By Kyra Halland
Published: June 21, 2013.
In a quest that spans centuries, Sevry, the last king of the land of Savaru, searches for the woman who holds the secret to bringing his destroyed homeland back to life.
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
By Kyra Halland
Published: February 14, 2013.
Rashali, an Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the Sazars who conquered Urdaisunia. Prince Eruz, the heir to the Sazar throne, walks a dangerous line between loyalty to his own people and doing what's best for all the people of Urdaisunia. Then a chance meeting between prince and rebel and a bet between two gods set Eruz and Rashali on intertwining paths of love, danger, and war.
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Smashwords book reviews by Kyra Halland
- Storm Dancer (Dark Epic Fantasy)
on April 08, 2013
(I was given a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)
Storm Dancer is a big, sweeping, epic fantasy set in an exotic desert land, with colorful and compelling characters. Dahoud, possessed by a djinn who urges him to horrifying acts of rape and other atrocities, is fighting to control the djinn and make amends for the terrible things he's done. Merida, a magician and loyal citizen of the extremely ordered and rigid Virtuous Republic of Riverland, has been sent to the desert countries on a mission to bring rain and enlightenment. Their paths cross as both of them face setbacks and challenges on their repective quests, then finally join together when they unexpectedly find a common cause to fight for.
The writing is clear and colorful, painting a portrait of harsh, exotic lands. I have a soft spot for fantasy that takes place in desert settings, so I really enjoyed the setting of this book. I also sympathized with the characters as they struggled to make their way through this harsh world against the thoroughly nasty plotting of the main villain, Kirral. There were a few times when I wanted to give Merida a good shaking for her obtuseness and refusal to adapt to her new situation. Frustration with characters is a big reason why I don't finish books. But in this case, it seemed clear that Merida was being set up like this on purpose so that the readers could follow her through her process of growth and learning. She did learn and grow, and I took more than a little satisfaction in seeing her cut down to size and then becoming a much stronger and wiser woman. I also enjoyed watching Dahoud's progess as he came to understand the true nature of the darkness within him.
It's a long book, which I'm not complaining about because I do love me a good doorstopper. The plot did seem to lose momentum and focus a few times, particularly in the end of the first half or about in the middle third. The structure of the book could maybe use a little tightening up to stay more focused on Dahoud and Merida and their problems and what they're trying to do. But during these slower spots, I was interested enough in what was going to happen to the characters to keep reading. I also felt that there were places where the author backed off from really diving into the full emotions and experiences of the characters, just touching the surface instead of giving the full depths.
The end was satisfying, and I would enjoy reading the further adventures of Dahoud and Merida. On the whole, Storm Dancer is a rich, colorful, exciting, and rewarding read, and I enjoyed it very much.
- Grace Under Fire
on Aug. 02, 2013
Grace Under Fire is a wild ride through a world filled with tricky magic and lurking threats with two amazing characters. Grace is a Summoner with only middling powers but mad rune skillz who is sent to deal with a difficult problem that the other Summoners in her local group (Grove) would really rather not have to deal with. While trying to figure out what wiped out the entire Grove of Summoners in Spokane, she runs across a teenage boy, Robert, a foster kid who has just discovered his own Summoning powers to disastrous effect. Summoning is one of the worst crimes there is in this alternate version of our world, and Grace and Robert have to keep out of trouble with local law enforcement while battling a giant, evil, massively powerful, orange raccoon-porcupine demon from another dimension (dubbed "Rick"). It sounds absurd, and it is, but that thing is also one of the scariest monsters I've ever come across.
The book almost bogs down a little at the beginning, when Grace is explaining how Summoning and runes work, but her voice and the problem she's trying to solve are engaging enough that I kept going, and then she found herself stuck with a much bigger problem. And then it gets to the first chapter in Robert's point of view, and that's where the book really takes off, and never lets go until the end.
The story is told in alternating first-person point of view, which can be hard to pull off, but Grace's and Robert's voices are so distinct and the characters are so engaging that it works beautifully. Robert's voice and outlook especially made the book for me. He's a band geek (as a former band geek myself, I always appreciate finding one as the protagonist in a book, which doesn't happen nearly often enough), a smart kid, world-wise in some ways from being shuffled through the foster-care system for all of his teenage years but still very much a little boy in other ways. Grace is a fun character too, with her interesting combination of skills and obsession with good food.
The magic system is complex, and the one minor flaw in the book is that sometimes the explanations of how it works are a little complicated, but they're integrated pretty well into the action and once I got the hang of the idea behind it, it was pretty easy to follow how it worked.
The action is wild and suspenseful, and even when the fight against Rick the Demon Raccoon lets up for a bit, you still know it's out there and you're wondering how in the world Robert and Grace are going to deal with it. The ending fight is long, but the action is nonstop and constantly escalating, and I couldn't put the story down.
The writing is clear, smooth, and vivid, with a wry sense of humor and a lot of understated emotion.
The book seems to be aimed at an adult audience, but I think older teen boys would also enjoy it very much.
I highly recommend Grace Under Fire, and am looking forward to the next book in the series and more adventures with Grace and Robert.
- The Last Ranger of Sarn
on Dec. 30, 2013
The Last Ranger of Sarn is an epic fantasy telling the story of a young woman, Vespias, who grows to become the commander of the legendary Rangers at a time of terrible war against a demon-possessed prince and his armies of the undead.
Last Ranger is a big, sprawling book, mainly focusing on Vespias's growth and progress from hunter's child to commander of the entire Castian military. It goes into her early life quite a bit to show how she becomes the woman she eventually becomes, and illustrates the loves, tragdies, triumphs, and losses she experiences. I originally read this book a few months ago, and felt that other aspects of the story were shortchanged, but in this new edition, the book is well-balanced between Vespias's story and the events that led to the downfall of the Prince and his war against the Castians.
The book features of number of strong female characters, and I came to care about not just them but all the main characters. The writing is clear and easy to follow, though there are some missing commas.
Overall, engaging characters, an intriguing world, and lots of exciting action makes this a fun, gripping read.
- The Guardians Book 2: Sorcerer's Duel
on Feb. 28, 2014
[I received a free copy of this book as a gift from the author.]
Sorcerer's Duel picks up after the climactic battle at the end of Path to Vengeance. Grogaan and his team head for the Ladorran Republic to rest and put the pieces back together. While there, Grogaan's developing relationship with Ellarna deepens, and they both begin training in magic to become Guardians. Then the destiny which Grogaan has seen in dreams and visions and has dreaded begins to unfold around him.
This book was a lot of fun. It's space fantasy that owns its magic instead of trying to pass it off as pseudoscience. There are wizards good and evil, exciting space battles and shiny spaceships, interplanetary intrigue, and a good dose of romance. The first part dragged a bit; large sections, especially the diplomatic maneuvering after the evil Empire's latest moves and Grogann and Ellarna's magical training, are told in narrative summary. Which actually works pretty well for the training; I find long chunks of people just learning stuff to not be very interesting. But a few more specific scenes to show what they're learning and how would have spiced up that section a bit.
Before long, though, Grogaan's destiny starts to catch up with him, and that's when the pace picks up and it's non-stop to the end as Grogaan faces battles both external and internal, and Ellarna fights to save the man she loves. I really cared about what happened to the characters.
A fun read, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Especially recommended for fans of Star Wars or fans of epic fantasy who want to read something in a non-traditional fantasy setting.
- The Colors of Passion and Love
on Feb. 28, 2014
(I won a free copy of this book in the Library of Erana Valentine's Day giveaway, and I would like to thank Library of Erana and the author for the book.)
I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I won a copy of it. The cover on the edition I received looked like it might be a children's book (in spite of the title), but I was delighted to discover that it's a very charming romantic fantasy (and it's definitely for adults and older teens, with some mildly to moderately explicit love scenes).
Elly, the Princess of Quail, has the gift of the women in her family to see the colors of men's auras and emotions. So when she sees Magesty, the bastard son of an enemy king, for the first time, she knows they were destined to be together. Fortunately, Magesty is open to the idea, if a little wary. As the two of them are feeling their way around their budding relationship, a treacherous attack on the royal palace of Quail forces them, along with Elly's brother Jode and her best friend Daina, to flee for their lives, to take refuge in Magesty's realm and then to defend against more treachery.
I enjoyed Elly's character as she's in that awkward stage of being both a sheltered teenage girl and discovering love and danger for the first time in her life. She's brave and smart, and although she makes a few mistakes along the way, she avoids the trap so many spunky teenage fantasy heroines fall into of doing stupid things just to show that they're strong and independent. Magesty is also admirable; he's older and more experienced, but when he finds himself faced with a young girl - the daughter of his country's enemy, no less - claiming that they were destined to be together, he handles it well and becomes an ideal friend, protector, and lover.
After an intriguing and exciting beginning, where Elly and Magesty begin their relationship and the palace is attacked, parts of the middle of the book were slow. We get a tour of the lands that Elly, Magesty, Jode, and Daina pass through to get to Magesty's personal realm of Arete. They're being pursued by enemies, but there isn't as much sense of danger and tension as I would have liked, and some political intrigue also slows things down a bit. But the land is beautiful and Elly and Magesty's developing relationship is sweet enough to make that part enjoyable. Then the last part picks up again as their enemies corner them in their refuge.
Written in a clear, pleasant style, with lots of colorful detail (color is very important in this book), this is an enjoyable book and I would like to read more about these characters and this world.
- The Dreamweaver's Journey: The Age of Awakenings Book 1
on March 02, 2014
[I would like to thank Library of Erana and the author for the free copy of this book which I won in the Library of Erana Valentine's Day giveaway.]
The Dreamweaver's Journey is a sweet fantasy for preteens and teens that takes the reader on a tour of a world the author invented for her children. It starts out with two pairs of young sweethearts becoming engaged at a ball. When one of the teens goes missing, the other three go searching for her, and find themselves on an adventure through their magical world where they meet the mythical Guardians and learn more about their own powers.
At first I had trouble with this book until I realized it's written for a much younger audience than the books I usually read are written for. With that perspective, I was better able to enjoy the journey through the world and the gentle lessons (mostly gentle; there's one shocking moment) our young heroes and heroines learn. There's a framing device where the story is being told by a Storyteller to a group of children, which makes the target age of the book seem much younger. Going by the reviews, some readers enjoy this story around the story, but I found it distracting. The sections that cut away to the Storyteller can be skipped without missing anything important if you prefer to concentrate on the main plot. The novel also includes legends and history, which aren't essential for understanding what's going on, but are fun to read and add interest to the tour of the author's world.
The pleasant writing style invokes a charming, colorful world and is very easy to read. Recommended for readers of all ages who enjoy light YA fantasy
- Buck Johnson: Dragon Wrangler Collection I
on March 04, 2014
If you're looking for a western with something different, this has it all - cowboys, lasers, dragons, stoned lizard-people trail hands, holographic campfires and fake freeze-dried cowboy coffee, smugglers, and spaceships. Follow Buck and his sidekicks Skeeter and Snort as they round up dragons on a distant planet and drive them across the desert to sell, hoping for a payoff big enough to let them get off the planet and go somewhere else (where they can get a decent drink). The stories are pretty much self-contained, but they also follow one another in a longer storyline. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop; I had to find out what happened next. Written in an entertaining and down-to-earth (even though it's set on another planet!) style, this is a fun mix of authentic old west cowboy tales and science fiction.