Welcome to the Empire.

In this article, we talk again with S.A. Gonsalves, who weaves a thrilling dark fantasy story of tyranny and rebellion that converges into a climactic ending. Most people think fantasy is the usual classics like LOTR or Wheel of Time. However, Gonsalves beckons you onto a darker path.

Worldbuilding: The Dark Landscape After a Cataclysmic Event

It all started during “The Shift,” which is our world a hundred thousand years into the future. This cataclysmic event shifted continents into one through thousands of earthquakes. “With the continents going back together,” Gonsalves says, “I merged countries that would work while making sure to keep it formed as a Pangaea would.” This was the start of the evolution of Vartugaul. The people of the world hung closely to their beliefs and traditions. In time, those faded and were replaced by a more unified look from the original. Gonsalves blends a mix of rebellion and tyranny. With both, you’re always an enemy of someone else whether you participate in it or not.

Approaching the Gray Areas: A Deep Narrative of Emotional Complexity

Everyone is morally grey. In The Blood Princess, this isn’t an exaggeration. Gonsalves says, “I view each character’s light and dark as more than that.” The World of Vartugaul isn’t an easy one to live in. There’s blood on everyone’s hands, and their path is set by how they move forward after the incident.

“I also wanted to make characters that people could resonate with even though it is a fictional world,” Gonsalves says. She mentions the importance of mental health, which is incredibly impactful as Gonsalves is open about her own struggles. This is reflected in the characters as the events in their lives shape who they are and are reflected in their choices and actions.

Hope in the Face of Darkness

“I find that the story goes in an up and down pattern; while there is never a flatline in the story, there are calmer, humourous times that then build into chaos before going back down.” The characters grow throughout the story as they learn more in calmer times, bettering themselves and remembering how they got there along with who they are. There’s doubt, but it’s integral to the story to follow suit. It is, after all, dark fantasy. There are moments when the characters feel they can do anything, but it’s far from sunshine and rainbows. At times, the characters fail; at others, they succeed. Gonsalves weaves a tale that reflects the ups and downs of real life. It reminds us how we need to stand up and try it again.

Crafting a Setting that Enhances the Narrative

Gonsalves set out to understand the story she wanted to tell while creating the world. “Vartugaul in itself, is a world that had been ravaged by nature in the far past.” Here, humanity is chaotic and sometimes kind while both selfless and selfish to others. Even creatures long since extinct have come into existence again. Vartugaul is a world about balance, hope, and redemption. However, it can’t be reached without anger, sacrifice, and tyranny.

In Vartugaul, you can’t have light without the darkness. In The Blood Princess, S.A. Gonsalves opens the window to a new world of intrigue where tyranny and rebellion collide as hope thrives in the people’s hearts. As darkness tightens its grip, The Blood Princess is a tale that’ll draw you beneath its surface and have you rethinking what you know of Dark Fantasy.

The Blood Princess releases April 15th

Preorder now or add it to your wish list!

Written by Matthew Angelo, a prolific author of urban fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Grimdark, and Cyberpunk. He is the voice and face behind the podcast Neon Shadows & Eldritch Whispers, an experience that blends all the genres he writes in. Subscribe to his substack and podcast at Whispers of the Looking Glass.