Over the past several months, my partner and I listened to the audiobook versions of the four-book Ayala Storme series by Emmie Mears. The ebook versions are available for free via Kindle Unlimited, and you can purchase the Audible version for an additional $1.99 each. The Audible version is narrated by Amber Benson, whom you may recognize as the actress who played Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I thought she did a pretty good job. She definitely made you have Feelings during some of the more emotional parts of the story.
The series is made up of four books:
My partner is sort of picky about what books she reads. She tends to read either non-fiction or speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy) with LGBT main characters. We listen to audiobooks together while we’re driving and it can be challenging to find something we both agree upon.
It’s also excruciatingly difficult to find queer women protagonists in sci-fi/fantasy novels, especially if you’re looking for an audiobook versions. And then we found the Ayala Storme series! Ayala is bisexual and, as you find out for sure in the second book of the series, there are other queer Mediators.
Mediators are people who are taken from their mothers at birth if they happen to be born with violet eyes. They are humanity’s line of defence against invading hellkin (as they’ve been trained to kill demons since birth). Mediators protect the norms (humans, witches, psychics, and Morphs… this world’s version of shifters). They are confined within their own territories, to the point where they’ll get painful stomach cramps and eventually pass out if they get too far outside of their territory lines.
Ayala works at a PR firm by day and kills demons by night. She lives alone and doesn’t have many friends. Over the course of the four book series, Ayala finds her chosen family, including a few love interests along the way (though romance is definitely not the focus of the story).
The writing is a little shaky in the first book (one character is repeatedly referred to as having a “cabbagey face” and by repeatedly I mean at least seven times), but the story and the world is so interesting that we jumped straight into the following book, which was a great decision. The pacing is great, flowing between the action and the quiet moments. There’s hack and slash, interpersonal relationships, slight romance, magic, and political intrigue. There is a ton of stuff going on (Ayala is the queen of multitasking) but it’s all pretty well balanced.
I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes urban fantasy with a strong female lead. Especially if you’re looking for queer lady protagonists. If you have any suggestions for books with queer lady protagonists, comment below!