Nikki Kelly’s debut novel Lailah released earlier this month, so of course I had to create a story diary for it! Learn about the world the characters live in, the creatures and the mythology behind them, read my spoiler-free review and favorite quotes, and Nikki Kelly stops by to share a little something with you! Yes, YOU, so stick around. And don’t forget to put your vote in for #teamGabriel or #teamJonah in the polls!
The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.
On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.
In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?
Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.
Gaultiero is of Spanish or Italian origin, and it generally means “strong and powerful warrior” or “ruler of the army.” Seems fitting in context of Lailah for a Gualtiero is a Pureblood whom creates second generation vampires, which makes them their master of sorts.
Did you know that styclar is an anagram of crystal? I see what you did there, Nikki. 😉
A Tour With Nikki Kelly
Let’s give a warm welcome to Nikki, who stopped by to exclusively bring us on location with her to the South of France!
On Location — Neylis, South of France.
Lailah, Book1 in The Styclar Saga, features some amazing locations!
The Prologue opens in Lucan, Ireland, and in Chapter One we find our heroine in Creigiau, Wales.
As the story progresses the characters eventually travel down to the South of France.
I like to write about places I have seen for myself and experienced first hand, so naturally I made several trips to the South of France, where I split my time researching the beautiful settings and also utilized my evenings, writing a large chunk of the book!
To detail every single location, well, we would be here a while… so instead, for the purposes of this diary, I am going to show you some snap shots of the barn conversion, which the property in the book is based on, and also highlight just a few of the locations used as settings, in a whirl wind tour!
Our group arrive in Carcassonne Airport; they then journey for around 40minutes to a small village called Neylis. This is in fact a real village, which sits at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains. I picked this spot, because as it happens my Aunty and Uncle live here and have a beautiful barn conversion, where I got to stay! (I know I am a lucky girl!) This was great, as it meant I didn’t have to search far and wide for a residence, as their home provided plenty of inspiration in which to draw from! In fact it’s nearly identical, except for some creative add-ons such as the amount of bedrooms!
A little tour…
Entrance to the property: This is the approach to the front of their barn. The front door is actually just ahead of where the car is parked in this picture.
Lailah’s basement bedroom was the room I slept, and as you enter through the ‘front door’ it opens onto this room.
The ‘basement’ level consists of: utility, yoga room, and bedroom with a set of stairs leading up to the living room come kitchen on the ground level.
You can see here where the stairs come out (far left), into the open plan living room, come kitchen—complete, of course, with sloping floorboards, as in the book.
The sitting room, where our gang watch movies:
Just off the kitchen there are several bedrooms and bathrooms, and yes, that rickety set of stairs in the story that leads to the ‘attic’ room, is very much real, including the lack of railing!
(And yes, I nearly did myself an injury trying to get up and down, on more than one occasion!)
Reading room, which Ruadhan frequents!
Attic room: This photo shows the aspect looking down to the ground floor, and currently has an additional bed for guests, but behind what you can see in this photo is another room, which is used for arts and crafts—the same room where Lailah and Jonah have a private conversation shortly after they arrive, including slanted loft windows that show the stars overhead at night.
Outside in the gardens:
Patio area—again, same as in the book, but also where I did much writing!
One of the seating areas:
View from the top of the gardens looking down onto the property:
During the visit I popped over to Mirepoix Market, where a scene in the book is set.
The main point of interest on this visit was the garish carvings set within the arches. Not only was the busting market a great backdrop, but also the carvings helped add an eerie feel to one of the specific scenes in which Lailah has a ‘vision’ and comes face to face with a very old friend…
And of course, here is a look at the properties in the market, which are described as the gang approach. What I liked most was that the owners had painted the shutters in bright colours!
And next to the market is St Maurice Cathedral, which Ruadhan visits.
I have to include the Pyrenees Mountains! I don’t want to give away *spoilers! But Lailah does eventually make a journey up Monts d’Olmes and sits next to a lake overlooked by St Barthelemy and Galinat’s peaks. This is truly a magical spot, and the most perfect setting for the ending of the book!
The lake used in the ending scenes:
And that concludes this quick-fire, whirlwind mini tour!
Thanks for taking us on a tour, Nikki, it was fun! I’m thinking about checking out these places the next time I go back to France!
Team Gabriel or Team Jonah?
So… Are you team Gabriel or team Jonah?
I can’t say that I’ve read Lailah when it was first posted on Nikki’s Wattpad, but I’m so glad that she got a book deal(s) out of it. Lailah takes on a different spin on the vampire mythology. So the vampires in Lailah are not tiresome like the majority we read and see lately. The world-building, creatures and their history are organic, so this is a refreshing paranormal read with a plot that sticks.
Cessie (aka Lailah) is having an identity crisis of sorts becomes a journey of self-discovery for our heroine, all the while being on the run from a greater force. She knows she can’t be human. For one, she doesn’t age and she can’t stay dead. She’s also having recollections of memories that doesn’t feel like hers. Cessie seems to have a Bounty over her head. Someone(s) or something out there is out for Cessie and thus begins a series of events and an epic game of cat and mouse full of twists. Whoever wants her for reasons no one knows. A guardian of angel of some sorts that goes by the name of Gabriel, whom Cessie finds an inexplicable connection with, comes to Cessie’s rescue and runs to find protection and possibly answers, and stumble upon a wounded vampire along the way with a story of his own. They get the sense that somethings brewing and facts (or lack thereof) aren’t adding up. This journey proves difficult for Cessie due to the many layers of events and the poor decisions she makes along the way. Meanwhile there’s an ominous creature lurking in the dark in the shadows (reference intended). What’s her role in all of this? All the while everyone’s wondering what is Lailah? Who is after her and why? What do the memories mean? Is Gabriel keeping things from her? Can either of them be trusted? Does she like Gabriel and Jonah? Who will she choose?
Nikki Kelly is like the Jennifer L. Armentrout/Cassandra Clare of love triangles. I say this because they all have the knack for creating a solid love triangle that is so, so difficult to choose a boy who gets the girl in the end. And it’s hard to pull that off. So hats off, Nikki! You can see where this is going… I can’t choose between Gabriel or Jonah. They each offer something different like night and day; qualities to like in a person, and also qualities you’re not quite sure about. And then there’s the whole, which one is trustworthy ordeal. Le sigh. I’m on the fence, but I’m leaning towards team Jonah. Can’t resist a bad boy. 😉
I admit that it was a little tough for me to get into it at first because almost immediately in the prologue, we’re thrust into a sequence of events, so you’re wondering what’s going on, and I kind of got lost somewhere in there. Some creatures were introduced while all the action was happening, so we get a feel as to what we’re dealing with and what is to come. No need to worry, though, for Nikki’s rich and vivid writing it will all make sense in time. And the twists will have your mind moving in a retrograde — like, it’s hard for me to keep this review spoiler-free right now! But it’s all needed for the direction the Styclar saga is going.
The ending made feel all kinds of feels, contributed by all the feels I’ve felt throughout the whole book. But it didn’t stop there. It got even more mind-boggling after. From the bonus content from Gabriel’s POV, to the ending of chapter 1 from the second book Gabriel. Actually, that ending took the cake. It’ll make you gasp and itch for the second book. Possibly shake your e-reader or book. I know I did. There’s a lot of things yet to be revealed and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.
I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, however it does not influence my review, nor was I compensated.
Meet Nikki Kelly
I was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. So it will probably come as no surprise that when I’m not dreaming in Vampires & Angels, I dream in chocolate! For the past ten years I have lived in West London with my hubby and two dogs, Alfie – the Pug & Goose – the Chihuahua.
LAILAH is my debut novel, and first launched in serial form to wattpad, a readers & writers community. Within just 6months, LAILAH had over a million reads and thousands of comments and votes.
Since then, The Styclar Saga has gone on to pick up a traditional deal with Feiwel & Friends, and LAILAH, the first book in the series is due for release on October 7th 2014.
These days I spend my time balancing my amazing job of writing fantasy fiction, with my other, very important role of Chocolate Connoisseur. I like to multitask and do the two together. It makes me happy.