Just like the main character in her debut novel, Torresdale resident Melissa Matos couldn’t resist the call.
In Song of the Wild, a high-fantasy/mystery novel penned by Matos and available now, protagonist Glade Balladeer must resist the urge to return to the Wild, an area beyond civilization where fantastic creatures live. Beings of the Wild aren’t welcome in civilization, so the traveling bard conjures an illusion over her face to hide her true identity as she plucks strings and casts spells at various taverns.
Just like Glade and the Wild, Matos finds that she can’t mask her enthusiasm for high fantasy. Self-described as quiet and shy, Matos loves to participate in immersive role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, but felt like she couldn’t enjoy these things without guilt.
Until she put those inhibitions aside and gave in to the call.
“It’s a part of my own personality I’ve tucked away for a long time, but I see I don’t have to hide it around good friends,” she said.
The character of Glade is a little bit of Matos herself mixed with different characters Matos and her friends created during Dungeons and Dragons. In the world of Drakir, Glade had just returned home from working as a Warden guarding the boundaries of the Wild. She is summoned by a powerful businessman who knows of her true identity and has a quest she can’t turn down.
The mission: Find a missing girl whose disappearance may be connected to the Hunters, a faction that assassinates Wild beings living in society. Accompanied by two Wardens who may be hiding secrets of their own, Glade must keep her identity a secret as she unravels a mystery that could restart a centuries-old war.
The mystical Drakir is worlds away from Northeast Philadelphia, though some local inspiration crept its way onto the pages. The Fonte, a familiar, bustling tavern run by dwarves where Glade spends time recuperating, is partly inspired by local bars such as Ashburner Inn or Grey Lodge Pub.
“I wanted to capture that cozy feeling of somewhere you go to hang out with your friends,” Matos said.
The book’s charming cast of characters drive the main mystery. Glade’s companions are Otsoa, a spellcasting Warden, and Thromm, a massive swordsman who knows a few magic tricks himself. Coming across as indifferent at first, the journey draws the trio closer together as Matos peels back layers of their characters, revealing surprises at every turn of the page.
Matos’s writing builds a world that can be popped one bite-sized chapter at a time but leaves a distinct impression on the reader. Just like a spell Glade can cast that can immediately ease a drowsy bar scene, Matos’s style will suck you in and leave you absorbed before you even notice what happened.
Though readers will be satisfied with the conclusion, much is teased for a second installment to be published by Kyanite Press, which Matos said she is currently working on.
“I’m planning for it to be the first in a series,” she said.
Matos is no stranger to the keyboard, running a fantasy blog called Mom Toast and working as a graphic designer. The book can be found on her site, MelissaMatosAuthor.com. ••