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Venom & Vow

By Anna-Marie McLemore & Elliott McLemore
Venom & Vow by Anna-Marie McLemore & Elliott McLemore digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

Two enemy kingdoms are forced to work together to break a curse in this lush YA fantasy, featuring a transgender prince and a bigender dama/assassin in the lead roles.

Keep your enemy closer.

Cade McKenna is a transgender prince who’s doubling for his brother.
Valencia Palafox is a young dama attending the future queen of Eliana.
Gael Palma is the infamous boy assassin Cade has vowed to protect.
Patrick McKenna is the reluctant heir to a kingdom, and the prince Gael has vowed to destroy.

Cade doesn’t know that Gael and Valencia are the same person.
Valencia doesn’t know that every time she thinks she’s fighting Patrick, she’s fighting Cade.
And when Cade and Valencia blame each other for a devastating enchantment that takes both their families, neither of them realizes that they have far more dangerous enemies.

Cowritten by married writing team Anna-Marie and Elliott McLemore, Venom & Vow is a lush and powerful YA novel about owning your power and becoming who you really are - no matter the cost.

38 Reviews

“3.25 stars Everything about this story screamed that it was right up my alley, but ultimately, it just didn't hit right for me. I love what was trying to be done here, and the representation is top-notch, and I love it for that. I like how they combined real-world cultures with this fantastical universe. Unfortunately, I struggled to get hooked on the story until about the halfway point, and even then, the grasp on my attention felt flimsy at best. I love how it ended and where the characters were left, but in the end, I was ultimately still left wanting a bit more. The premise is great, this story just wasn't for me.”
“As a longtime fan of Anna-Marie, I was very excited for this newer release from them co-written with their partner, a nonbinary trans man. The premise of a bigender assassin/lady-in-waiting and a transgender prince from warring kingdoms connecting with one another was very unique, but I feel that it could have been better executed. Personally, it felt like there wasn’t really that much happening in the story. I felt a bit bored throughout the whole thing, and felt it lacked the usually flowery writing of Anna-Marie that could have made that more tolerable. That’s not to say I disliked it! I enjoyed the unique premise and the diverse cast. I especially enjoyed the unique addition of a monastery for trans men and gender-nonconforming people. The environment there was very queer-normative and I feel like it gave a lot of insight into Cade’s character. It was nice to see the queer monks take Val in and teach them things like binding. There is also a lot of diversity rep as both of the main characters are cane users! All in all, it isn’t a bad book, and the representation in the main cast is really important! It just wasn’t really for me personally. I was interested enough to finish, but not enough to reread.”
Slightly Smiling Face“Such a lovely, transpositive story about love and growth. A sweet and easy read. The ending didn’t leave a huge impact — room for a sequel if memory serves? — but I enjoyed reading. I’d be eager to see more from these authors. The audiobook also features Vico Ortiz, if that’s of interest to anyone!”
Believable charactersDiverse charactersLikable charactersEasy to readMagical settingComicalComing of ageFeel good
“I stuck with it and I’m glad I did”
“I liked the two main characters and the representation in this book, but I felt really confused by the plot and world building throughout. It almost felt like this was the second book in a series, and I was already supposed to be familiar with the world. There were a lot of interesting ideas in the world building, like cats that come to life out of tapestries, sea monsters who serve as societys judges, giant foxes, maybe sentient walking sticks...the list goes on. Unfortunately, none of the ideas felt fleshed out enough to really seem like concrete parts of the world. I was also confused by the plot. After getting like 30% into the book, I even started over because I was SO confused that I felt like I had missed major plot points / world building info. There's a war going on, but who's the war between? I -think- between the two main characters kingdoms, but Cade (disguised as Patrick) just marches straight into the enemy castle at the beginning? Lowell is the bad guy, but what did he even do? There are vague references to him maybe hiring bandits to terrorize road goers but it seemed so vague and flimsy to me. The lady...I forget her name...doesn't want Patrick to be king, so she poisons Cade?? Idk maybe I'm stupid but none of this made sense to me”

About Anna-Marie McLemore

Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by their family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. They are the author of The Weight of Feathers, a finalist for the 2016 William C. Morris Debut Award; 2017 Stonewall Honor Book When the Moon Was Ours, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and was the winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award; Wild Beauty, Blanca & Roja, Dark and Deepest Red, The Mirror Season, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, and Lakelore.

Elliott McLemore is a nonbinary trans guy who comes from mountains and loves trees. As a child, he romped in dresses, fought with plastic swords, and dreamed up his first stories. Between then and now, he has focused on academic and professional writing, research, and advocacy, including work toward adding nonbinary gender markers to California identity documents. Venom & Vow is his debut novel.

Elliott McLemore

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