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Hope in the Time of Apocalypse, a guest post by Jodi Meadows

“There is no Incursion.” 

“Think of it as a cycle. A natural cycle of good and evil pushing against each other. Evil may be pushing now, but good will push back.” 

“We do not need to worry about another Incursion. Stop listening to the paranoid masses. I’ve heard no trustworthy reports of malice or rancor or any other abnormalities whatsoever. People are safe, and you must stop encouraging their fears.”

In NIGHTRENDER, my newest book, an Incursion is a cataclysmic event in which monsters (rancor) and dark magic (malice) break free from their prison and lay waste to the world. It can be stopped—prevented, even—if the signs are noticed in time, and if the Nightrender is summoned. For thousands of years, this immortal champion kept the three kingdoms just this side of catastrophe.

But four hundred years ago, something changed, and the kings and queens of Salvation tried to erase the Nightrender. They burned the books about her, all the ancient records of her deeds. They outlawed discussion of her, save for whispers. They forbade anyone summoning her, denying that they might ever need her again. 

Decade by decade, century by century, people chose to forget. Now, they view her as a terrifying winged figure, a dangerous being who sleeps in crumbling tower. They tell only one story—that of her last, horrible act, the Red Dawn.

But an Incursion is coming. It might be upon them already. 

Dark omens are everywhere. Strange phenomena occur throughout the land: gravity vanishing, time running backwards, and startling die-offs of animals. The Malstop—the magical barrier meant to trap the darkness—is weakening, as evidenced by the flickers and thin spots. Soon, it will fail, and all that malice will come spilling over the three kingdoms.

The signs of Incursions are always obvious. And what happens during one—that isn’t a mystery, since there is an entire record of Incursions going back thousands of years. How deadly they were. How the battles were fought. How close the world came to collapse. 

But since the Red Dawn, the kings and queens of all three kingdoms are locked in a troubling pattern of ignoring the threat. They refuse to do what is necessary to end this calamity before it’s too late. 

Instead, they spend their time fighting, plotting ways to hurt one another, and doing everything they can to deny that their world is about to end. In fact, they would deny that their actions have had any kind of effect on the next Incursion. 

Does any of this sound familiar?

Over and over, I find myself looking at climate change through the lens of fantasy, using magic and dragons and Incursions to tell the story. It’s a heavy topic in any world, and I’ll be the first to say that I don’t have all the answers—not even close. But I am a person who lives here, who grew up listening to reports about acid rain and holes in the ozone layer. I am someone who likes clean air and water. And I’m someone who wants my young readers to look toward the future with hope, not fear.

Recently, I spent several hours knitting and watching a marathon of videos about the geological history of Earth. (This is totally normal behavior, right?) The topics went from continental drift to what creatures lived when, and—as naturally comes up when discussing the billions of years our little planet has been floating in space—the mass extinction events that devastated life everywhere thanks to meteors, volcanic activity, and (notably) climate change. 

That may seem pretty dark, spending my free time studying the major mass extinction events, but in a way, I find it comforting. This planet has been through a lot, but you and I are here because life survived multiple apocalypses. Chances are good that life will continue to endure. And regardless of whether we are here to see what happens next, our beautiful, resilient world will spin on. (At least until the sun begins to die, at which point it will swell, engulfing Earth. But that’s about 5 billion years away, so no need to worry just yet.) 

But hey, let’s not end on that dim note. Here, in the real world, we’re doing a much better job of acknowledging the problem. And we’re making measurable improvements to the way we treat our planet. And in NIGHTRENDER, it is not a spoiler to say that one person in power truly is concerned about the coming Incursion. He sees the signs. He knows the Nightrender must be summoned. 

And so he does it.

So perhaps there is a reason for the people of Salvation to have hope after all.

Meet the author

Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy, the ORPHAN QUEEN Duology, the FALLEN ISLES Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen), and the NIGHTRENDER duology (Holiday House). She is also a co-author of  New York Times bestsellers MY LADY JANE, MY PLAIN JANE, and other books in the Lady Janies series (HarperTeen). She lives in rural Virginia. Visit her at www.jodimeadows.com

Links:

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About Nightrender

Kingdoms will fall, gods will die, and hearts will be broken in this sprawling new fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jodi Meadows.

In the middle of nothingness is the Island of Salvation.

Reality bends easily here. Villages disappear. Forests burn forever. Pockets of inconsistent time are everywhere, their boundaries strung with yellow ribbon. And the three kingdoms of Salvation have been at war for a thousand years.

But the greatest threat is the Malice, an incursion from the demon plane slowly tearing its way through the world’s weakest seams. Seams that—once split—will lead to the total unraveling of night and day, light and dark, life and death.

Not that the human world takes much interest. Of more concern is the upcoming marriage of Rune Hightower, Prince of Caberwill, and Johanne Fortuin, Princess of Embria—the serpent bride, a girl of famous cunning—which offers a possible end to the ancient conflict. But Rune has noticed the growing darkness, and he is determined to summon mankind’s only defense: Nightrender, the hammer of the gods, an immortal warrior more weapon than girl.

There is only one problem. The last time she was summoned, she slaughtered every royal in Salvation, and no one knows why. Will she save humanity from the Malice… or plunge it deeper into the fires of eternal war?

ISBN-13: 9780823448685
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: 01/11/2022
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years