‘A Dawn of Onyx’ author Kate Golden explains why romantasy is so damn appealing

In an enlightening guest post, A Dawn of Onyx author Kate Golden joins us to explain why the romantasy genre is more popular than ever.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve just discovered the incredibly rich world of romantasy (that’s romantic fantasy, in case you’re unfamiliar) thanks to books like Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. Or maybe you’ve been reading this genre for years because of series like A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass. Either way, you have to admit these types of books give you the best of both worlds—sweet and sexy romance, coupled with exciting and engaging fantasy.

If that sounds like something you could be interested in, then I recommend adding A Dawn of Onyx by Kate Golden, the first book in the Sacred Stones series, to your TBR pile right away. Having already gone viral on TikTok, the book is getting a re-release with bonus content on October 10, 2023, so now is literally the perfect time to pick up a copy of your own.

With a stunning cover and the promise of magic, monsters, and mayhem, this one will appeal to anyone who’s a fan of this particular genre.

If you want to know more about why romantasy is so popular, you’re in luck! Author Kate Golden joins us to explain why the blending of these two powerhouse genres creates such a perfect storm of entertainment.

But let me warn you: Once you get sucked into this brand new world, don’t expect to find your way out anytime soon!

About ‘Dawn of Onyx’ by Kate Golden

Captured by the king of darkness, she was forced to find the light within.

Arwen Valondale never expected to be the brave one, offering her life to save her brother’s. Now she’s been taken prisoner by the most dangerous kingdom on the continent, and made to use her rare magical abilities to heal the soldiers of the vicious Onyx King.

Arwen knows better than to face the ancient, wicked woods that surround the castle on her own, which means working with a fellow prisoner might be her only path to freedom. Unfortunately, he’s as infuriating as he is cunning—and seems to take twisted pleasure in playing on Arwen’s deepest fears.

But here in Onyx Kingdom, trust is a luxury she can’t afford.

To make it out of enemy territory, she’ll have to navigate back-stabbing royals, dark magic, and deadly beasts. But untold power lies inside Arwen, dormant and waiting for a spark. If she can harness it, she just might be able to escape with her life—and hopefully, her heart.

a dawn of onyx kate golden

‘A Dawn of Onyx’ author Kate Golden on the appeal of the romantasy genre

Will they, or won’t they?

That question has powered hundreds—if not thousands—of successful romance novels, television series, movies, and frankly, deliciously gossip-filled office happy hours. It’s what makes any great love story—the trials and tribulations, the epic highs and brutal lows, of two people trying and failing and trying again to finally get together.

In most romance novels, whether they be romcoms or tissue-box-emptying tragedies, that question of will they or won’t they is driven to the surface time and time again by two main engines: plot and character.

Now, plot, is usually the logline you read on the back of the book. It’s the promotion neither character can stand to lose, it’s the parent the heroine can’t disappoint, or the wedding the hero can’t go to alone. And then, a handful of chapters in, the manipulative, meddling plot throws more problems at our fated duo: jealous exes, poorly timed work trips, hotel rooms with only one bed (where are all the double rooms for crying out loud!) And we, as readers, eat. It. Up. We love any excuse to drive our lovesick heroes apart, and then back together, and then apart again right before any of the good stuff can happen.

Character is a little more complex. When character drives our protagonists apart, it’s because of that pesky internal monologue stuff. It’s the chips on their shoulders, the built up walls, the childhood trauma and inner demons. Most romance books might be over before they even begin these characters had even one good therapist.

But what happens when plot takes those inner demons and makes them actual, real, snarling demons? With wings and horns and crooked grins. Or wicked witches? Or cruel Fae? What happens when that plot-focused story engine—the stakes of the novel—become so violent, so fantastical, that now nearly every chapter ends with a life or death entanglement?

Like graduating from a lovely, entertaining teacup ride, to a toe curling roller coaster that plummets your heart into your stomach at every turn—will they, or won’t they, becomes will they, won’t they… or will they even live?

And that’s why Fantasy Romance, or “Romantasy” as it’s often called on TikTok and Bookstagram, has become so wildly popular in recent years.

When we read romance, and we wonder—up with our kindles glued to our noses at 4:12 in the morning on a Tuesday—will these two put aside their personal differences, dig deep within themselves, and run through enough airports to make this relationship work, in some ways, we’re experiencing our own fantasy. We all do it: Would I have been a strong contender for the iron throne? Who would I have teamed up with on the island in Lost? (The only acceptable answer here is Sawyer, FYI.)
It’s only human to picture yourself inside the stories you are immersed in. There’s an escapist joy in reading these romantic books and imagining your own brooding, hulking hero or heroine, flashing the first smile he’s ever flashed at you. Giving up all the money, all the fame, for you.

There’s also just something so cathartic about people coming together despite all of the odds stacked against them. In some ways it’s why romance might be the most universal of all book genres—so many of us are grappling with, hoping to find, getting over, or falling into some kind of romantic love. I don’t know about you all, but I cannot remember the last time I was investigating a murder mystery.

Because of that, there is something almost addicting about upping those stakes and upping those stakes and upping them once more for good measure. Sure, that character would stand up to his hockey coach for love, but this guy would watch the entire world burn. He’d be the one to set it aflame.

And in a world of more, more, more—more TikToks, more streaming platforms, more ways to order food directly to your apartment—one where we are constantly upping the stakes of our very lives, it only makes sense that readers, especially lifelong romance readers, want to know how much more their characters are capable of experiencing to finally be together.

This was the reason I chose to write my debut novel, A Dawn of Onyx, as a Fantasy Romance. I knew the story I wanted to tell: one about a man who takes everything he wants and still doesn’t seem to have it all, and a woman who deserves a lot more out of life than she is able to demand. How do those two people affect one another? What keeps them apart? How, in the end, do they bring out the best in each other? But while I told this story, I wanted to push my characters to the very paper-thin edge of what they thought they were capable of withstanding for love, and then rubber band them back about a hundred times.

Those incredibly high plot stakes, paired with the universal, poignant character ones that make up any compelling story about being human, are what make Fantasy Romance so unbelievably successful and why the genre is here to stay.

‘A Dawn of Onyx’ by Kate Golden hits store shelves on October 10, 2023

Buy A Dawn of Onyx from Penguin Random House, Bookshop.org, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.

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