How dark is too dark for a young adult/teen fantasy adventure? And is ‘marketing cabin fever’ a recognised condition?

With Dunn released for over 6 weeks now and the initial flurry of marketing done, I’m turning my attention to my work(s) in progress ….

Because, I feel like I’ve got something I’m calling ‘marketing cabin fever’. Maybe it’s the unusual heat here in the UK; maybe it’s that I don’t seem to be able to get any sales figures past June; maybe it’s my impending return to work and the fact that as some kind of rebellion, I’ve loaded the summer holidays to the brim with trips that I need to fit running/swimming training around and feel overwhelmed. But for the moment, albeit a few days, I’m done with marketing Dunn. I need to step away from it and breathe some fresh air!

I was going to write a whole post analysing the reviews Dunn has received, but I’m sure that would be boring for everyone, so I’m just going to summarise. Some have been really lovely 5 starers; some have been positive with caveats and fewer stars than I’m happy with; some have been mediocre and it had one bad one. I talked about that previously. You can’t please everyone.

Troubadour also let me know that Dunn’s been downloaded from Netgalley quite a few times and that people gave the cover a thumbs-up…. Hopefully some more reviews will come out of that! Hopefully some will be good ish….. I wrote what I wanted to write with Dunn and I’m glad about that still. Even if it doesn’t appeal to everyone.

But I want to give the ‘Longhand Chronicles’ a shot, whilst still writing what I want to write. I am a firm believer in writing books with a message. Dunn had several (discussed previously), and the underlying message in the ‘Longhand Chronicles’ is that of our need to try to stop climate destruction before its too late. If it isn’t already.

The problem is, I have quite a high body count! There’s a lot of death, a lot of sacrifice (no actual physical sacrifices to the Gods and Goddesses, but lots of beings sacrificing themselves for ‘the greater good’) and some pretty dark scenes….

For example, my main character, Louis Longhand – a reincarnation of the Celtic Sun God, Lugh, has to decide whether or not to allow elemental spirits that have helped him to get his powers back to die so that he can become strong enough to save planet earth; on a similar note, he has to decide whether or not his mother should live or die. She is the daughter of darkness and quite evil, but still….pretty dark. I also kill a Pixie; a Dolphin; A dog and it’s druid master’s wife, on top of letting Louis vapourise a wraith that was trying to hurt him in the Nothingland. There’s a lot of death and a lot of dark decisions.

So, how dark is too dark?

Is there a body count limit for teen/young adult books? And how dark is too dark?

‘The knife of never letting go’ by Patrick Ness has many dark parts and deaths; ‘the children of blood and bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi, and Phillip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights Trilogy’ had lots of dark themes (though I read those so long ago, I should probably revisit them) to name just a few …. But have I gone to far?

Draft one/two of book one, ‘The Raven’s test’ is complete and freely available on wattpad. I’d welcome constructive (but not mean) feedback. Chapters 1-7 are second drafts, but the rest is still first draft form. It’s under its working title ‘The Seagull’ (They play a prominent role ….) and can

be accessed here.

The first draft of chapters 1-5 of book 2, ‘The Host and The Oak Tree’ is up there too.

That’s all I’ve written of that one so far. I’m going to post some of it here too when I’m back with access to my PC between amazing but exhausting trips.

3 thoughts on “How dark is too dark for a young adult/teen fantasy adventure? And is ‘marketing cabin fever’ a recognised condition?

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